Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Recently in Finals

Fourth Class: Complete!

Last week was my final week of class!  My fourth semester, and fourth class of grad school is over!  I'm done with LIS 451: Academic Libraries!   I originally thought it was a bit strange having our big final group project due, and then having one final week of class with lectures, readings, and participation after that, but as our final week was about academic library careers and job interviews, as well as future trends in academic libraries, I think it was a nice way to wrap up the class.  In all of my other classes, the final week has been this big stressful build up, and then I turn in my final project, and then that's it, we're done.  While sometimes that's very cathartic, I really appreciated the opportunity to reflect and think ahead in the final week of this class. 

I ended up completing my final week of class on the road because I'm currently on a short summer break for my job!  Yay for intersessions!  As I work in an academic library, I'm following their university's schedule, and they had a three-week break, so I went to Iowa to visit some of my extended family during my time off.  This is one of the nice things about online classes--as long as you have access to Wi-Fi, you can take the class with you wherever you go. 

My next class (LIS 404: Principles of Management) is due to start up in mid-June, and I'm excited for the short break from school.  Even though I loved my class this semester, and I love my job, between work, school, and my personal life, this past semester was a bit stressful.  Getting that school-work-life balance right is a tricky thing, and these short breaks away from school and work really help me unwind a bit. 

During my short break from school, I plan on catching up on my reading.  I always try and do some non-school related reading throughout the semester, but towards the end, I always end up abandoning it in favor of my schoolwork.  Here's what's on my reading list for the break:

  • Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart edited by Krista Halverson

Books | Finals | Online | SLIS | Summer

Third semester: It's a wrap!

I'm all done with my third semester at SLIS West!!! Even though my courses this semester were in many ways "easier" than my others, I don't think I've ever experienced such a massive sense of relief. There was a lot going on in my personal life these past few weeks that made the end a major struggle. For example, the first thing I did once classes were over was to finally take my poor ailing five-year old to the doctor and find out he has a double ear infection (ouch!). I am a worrier by nature, and two things guaranteed to create a lot of worry for me are school and sick children.

The difficult thing about being a mom AND a grad student is that you literally get no break. You're with the kids all day long, and any "personal time" you manage to etch out must go to homework. You can't just go to bed early one night if you're super tired because then you'll get behind in your homework and there will be no time to catch up. The important thing is, I survived with my honor intact (I think). Both my presentations on Saturday went off without a hitch, even though I didn't practice, and even though I got NO sleep the night before. Dare I say that giving presentations is becoming easier? It should get easier eventually, right?

Now I'm more than halfway through my degree with five classes left. I had been toying with the idea of cramming them all into the rest of the year so I could finish in December, but I've since scrapped that option. The course offerings and availability weren't in my favor, and I also decided it might be too much. Most of us at SLIS West take two courses per semester or less. I have heard of some people doing three, and it's always spoken of in hushed tones of awe and wonder. "How do they do that?" we all ask. I also didn't want to take that many online classes. I value the face-to-face experience a lot; enough to drive two hours both ways for it.

I will be taking an online class over the summer, so I'm sure you'll be hearing from me here and there. And if you're wondering why the in-person experience is so worth it, just check out our SLIS West class picture below. Many of these people have become my good friends and have greatly enriched my time at SLIS West. Some of them are graduating and they will be missed. Aren't we the motley crew?


Finals | People | SLIS West | Students | classes

The End is Near

I have less than one week until my first semester is over.  My final project is due next Tuesday, May 1, and then I am done with my first semester at Simmons.  I'm happy, stressed, excited, and terrified all at the same time because it's crunch time and I'm working away on my project and I can see my deadline looming closer but I know I have a break coming up (until my summer class starts).

This semester has gone by so fast and I'm so proud of the work I've done and all of the new skills I've acquired.  In just this one class, I've learned how to conduct reference interviews, I've learned about ready reference sources, I've learned about ethics and professional standards in the library and archives industries, I've learned a variety of new search strategies and techniques for databases and web sources, I've learned about evaluating information and resources, I've learned how to plan and create a basic instruction session, I've learned about making LibGuides, and so much more!  I think I picked the picked the perfect class to start with as it has given me such a great foundation to continue to build on during my time at Simmons, and all the skills I learned will be useful throughout my time here, and during my career.  If all my classes at Simmons are like this, I will be so prepared for my career.

Classes | Finals | classes | skills

Crunch Time

We've now entered the last two weeks of the semester, otherwise known as "crunch time." I have three end-of-semester projects on the horizon that I'm busily plugging away at. Now is the time when my kids get away with a little extra TV in the afternoons and I remind my husband daily, "just two more weeks...." The summer break is so close you can taste it, as it hovers like a sunny promise just out of reach. Oh how the pleasure reading and the hobbies and the home organization projects are calling! In my experience, you never know quite how the end will play out until it is suddenly upon you, but this semester (so far) I feel like the crunch won't be too bad.

The end of the semester is always an exciting time, and not just for the prospect of homework-free evenings. It represents the culmination of all we've been studying and working on throughout the semester and usually includes some kind of presentation in front of our peers. The project I'm most excited about is the database that I'm building. All semester in Database Management we've been going through the steps of designing our database conceptually while practicing our coding with sample tables. Now in these last few weeks, it's finally time to put our conceptual designs and coding knowledge into practice.

This means I've been spending significant portions of my week with a delightful little activity known as "debugging," which is basically diagnosing and solving problems with your code. You're grappling with a breakdown of communications between the human and the computer - something's been lost in the translation. Although it can be time-consuming and aggravating (some might say excruciating), I find the whole process extremely satisfying. If I've learned anything from my technology classes it's that there's always more than one solution. Sure you could find answers online or email your professor, but the most rewarding option is to work at it until you figure it out yourself. That moment when things suddenly become clear to you or the thing actually WORKS, you feel like you could conquer the world. Such a rush.

I know I've said this before, but if you come to library school with an open mind and a willingness to work hard, you will grow and develop in surprising ways. Wish me luck for the rest of crunch time!

Classes | Finals | SLIS | SLIS West | Technology

School and Stress

I'm in the final push of my first semester of grad school.  I just checked Moodle for my online class and I only have four weeks left.  FOUR WEEKS.  This semester has been so amazing, but unfortunately it is currently the most stressful part of the semester with readings, essays, online forums, and final projects being due soon.  Add real-life interference and Fall 2018 class registration being this week and that leads to stress.  Here are some things that I am doing to combat stress that may be useful in your life:

  • Make a list:  Making a list of everything that needs to be done and checking things off of it as those things get done actually can be very soothing because you can really see what has and has not been done.
  • Walk:  My mom has always stressed the power of walking, and how much good it can do for you, and I never actually believed her until I went to college, and I got stressed while writing a paper.  I went on a walk, and then I returned to my paper, completely refreshed and de-stressed.  I might change this to "walk away" but the point still stands- walking works.  Or if you don't like walking, any type of exercise works.
  • Get enough sleep: To be completely honest, I'm not exactly following this one due to real-life interference at the moment but getting at least 8 hours of sleep is important for everyone, and really helps cut down on the stress. 
  • Drink more water: The more water you drink, the better you will feel. 
  • Take deep breaths:  I was introduced to the concept of "square breathing" during high school.  Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds.  If this doesn't work for you, just take deep breaths, or do whatever works! 
  • Stretch:  Often times our muscles cramp when we're hunched over working at our computers or when we are leaning over when reading books or taking notes, so stretching can help. 
  • Talk it out: Talking with someone about what's going on is always helpful to me.

I hope some of these methods will help you as you tackle the stress in your life.

Classes | Finals | Students

One Rather Late Semester Wrap-up

So... it's been a few weeks. My first semester of grad school ended five days ago and since then I've been processing, and recovering, and "making it up" to my family. Those last two weeks of class were kind of a whirlwind. And even though I had jotted down ample notes for a blog post, I just couldn't take the time to sit down and type one out. I poured all the time I could into my final projects and trimmed everything "non-essential," or at least able to be put off for two weeks. I scrambled around doing the bare minimum to take care of the kids and the house and let me tell you: bare minimum is not pretty. The kids (aged 4 and 2) were super great considering my parenting could be described as something resembling benign neglect. Or in other words, "Have some goldfish for dinner and watch all the TV you want and sleep in your clothes tonight." I still shudder now to think of it and it was all I could do that last week to keep the mom-guilt monster at bay. I think this blog is supposed to be about real life so there's some real life for you.

Wow my first semester of grad school is over! Only about five or six more to go! You know, this first semester really was a big experiment. It's been seven years since I graduated from college and I had no idea how it would be getting back into school with two little kids to care for. Honestly this week has kept me so busy I'm wondering how I did it with homework on top of everything else. But you know what? I did do it. And for most of the semester I felt cool, calm, and under control. Not only that, but alive and thriving. I packed so much into every day that when I collapsed into bed at night I did so with a full and satisfied feeling of accomplishment and gratitude.

This week I have felt strangely listless and apathetic. Yes, I am relieved the semester is over and delighted to be able to spend leisure time with the kids without the nagging tug of homework in the back of my mind. But I have also struggled to find the motivation to do and to care about some of the other duties and responsibilities in my life. I thought it would be so lovely to have some of my free time back to tackle a list of to-dos. But as it turns out, in the absence of the pressures and demands of school I feel a tad directionless. Or, as my husband told me earlier in the semester: "You're better when you're busy." It's not the busyness in and of itself, of course. I still felt plenty "busy" this week without school. It's being engaged in the pursuit of a clear and definable goal that I care deeply about that makes me better. It's the work that broadens my understanding, challenges my perspectives, and stretches my capabilities that makes me better.

The biggest surprise of the semester was the core technology class - LIS 488. I was a little apprehensive going into this class. In our family, my husband is the "techie" one and I'm the "bookish" one. I've never considered myself very interested or inclined toward technology. Throughout the semester we learned the basics of technology issues and troubleshooting, software/hardware, computer components, the Internet, and web design. Our final project was using everything we'd learned in the class to create our own personal websites - writing the code and uploading it to Simmons' web server. That's right folks, I made a website! And it was so FUN. I got totally hooked on coding this thing and I feel so much pride and ownership for the final product. Suddenly I'm considering new directions for my coursework and career that I never EVER would have thought suitable to my talents and inclinations. I'd heard the advice before to take as many tech classes in library school as you can, but now I genuinely want to do that because I feel like I could really enjoy them! Not to mention how marketable those tech skills are.... In short, library school will teach you to embrace the tech, not fear the tech. The most important thing to bring to your introductory tech class is an open mind and faith in your own ability to learn something new.

So that's it for now, folks! Stay tuned for posts about my summer class which will begin in three short weeks (and who knows, I may even have some thoughts to share with you over break)!


Finals | Real World | SLIS | Students | Technology | classes

The Week Before Finals

'Tis the week before finals, and all through the land
SLIS students are scurrying to finish up plans.
Slides, lesson plans, websites galore!
We finish up presentations that we hope the teach will adore.
We tidy up projects and put citations in papers
As the weather turns ready for frost and scrapers.

So forgive the silent blog, dear fans, as we put on our thinking caps;
When really our brains are ready for long winter's naps.
You'll hear from us again soon, with good tidings and cheer.
For after 12/10 will be finished with half of this school year!

We'll take long breaks or graduate,
and play and work, work, work
To make use of the break.
You'll see us in society again, and we won't just lurk.
We'll have lives again - at least for a month.
So bear with us, dear fans, as we finish up this crunch!

Finals | Fun | SLIS | SLIS West | Students