Student Snippets


Why You Should Go to Library School (or more specifically, SLIS West)

A post from our new student blogger, Megan Ondricek.

Since you are here, reader, I can probably safely assume that you are already in grad school or seriously considering it. Maybe you don't need convincing. But if you're like me when I was researching my options, you might be having some questions like, "Is library school/SLIS West for me?" "Will it further my dreams and ambitions?" "Am I going to like it?" Here are some of the happy discoveries I've made so far that have confirmed that coming to SLIS West was the right thing for me to do:

  1. SLIS West is small! The program generally enrolls around 80 students. Your classes will be small, your discussions will be intimate, and you will get to know most of your classmates and make friends quickly.
  2. The setting is quaint and beautiful. Don't get me started on how much I love the Mount Holyoke campus and surrounding environs. This really needs its own blog post.
  3.  Students here come from all ages and stages of life, and bring diverse experiences to the classroom. It's wonderful to interact with your classmates and learn about their past and current lives and come to the realization that any path can lead to grad school, with the right motivation and determination.
  4. Homework could be more properly referred to as "professional development." The assignments are interesting, relevant to your field, and lead to practical knowledge that you will most likely use on the job!
  5. Group work turns out to be something you enjoy! What was once an onerous chore in undergrad has transformed into a real-world practice of professional collaboration. In my limited experience, teamwork has only ever improved my grade on an assignment.

In short, I am loving my grad school experience so far. If someone had explained all these things to me when I was making my decision, I might have wasted less time feeling fearful and uncertain. Best of luck to you all!


Introducing a New Blogger!

Hello everyone! We'd like to introduce one of our new student bloggers, Megan Ondricek. Please read her bio below:

My name is Megan Ondricek and I live in Norwalk, Connecticut with my husband and two children, a four-year old boy and two-year old girl. I'm currently in my first semester of grad school, driving two hours to attend class on Saturdays at SLIS West and so far, I haven't met anyone else who travels farther! My current profession is stay-at-home mom, and past jobs have included library assistant, administrative assistant, and a Smithsonian museum intern. I've lived in Connecticut for about three years now, having lived in southwestern Virginia for the previous fifteen years. I am a small-town girl, outdoor enthusiast, cat-lover, Francophile, art admirer who at one point wanted nothing more than to become a park ranger. Fun fact: I met my husband on the library shuttle eight years ago, and so I guess libraries were always destined to make bold brushstrokes on the canvas of my life. I love school always and forever and I'm not ashamed to say it!


Post Spring Break-a-thon

So long Spring Break, and thanks for all the fish! 

Spring Break was fun. You know: non-stop parties, sunbathing, margaritas, that kind of thing. JUST KIDDING! hahaha. buwahhahahahah! (I could go on but will spare you).

I'm in grad school and per my situation in life that was not my personal spring break experience. It was nice, though, to have a break from classes so that I could catch up on homework and reading for class (so exciting, right?!) and because I just increased my working hours. Why the increase in hours? Well...

I got a professional librarian job! Wohoo! I'm now the Bicentennial Metadata Librarian at Amherst College and thoroughly stoked about it. I get to create metadata and metadata guidelines for digitized collections that are going to be made available in ACDC (rock on! No, actually it stands for Amherst College Digital Repository). I'll especially be working on digital collections that highlight the history of Amherst College and its alumni and students for the upcoming Bicentennial of the college in 2021. So that's fun! It means that I'm going to pull some late evenings and keep having Sundays as The Day of Bountiful Homework Work (Saturdays would be this too, but I have class and work at the school) until the end of the semester when I graduate, but that's a-okay with me.

In other news, we have our Dean's Lunch this coming Saturday at SLIS West, and I always enjoy that event. The Dean of SLIS comes out to the west campus and has lunch with us in between our 2 Saturday class sessions. We get to ask questions, provide input on the program, and all that kind of jam. Plus, lunch is delicious.

Otherwise this week I'll be finishing up a cataloging assignment, and it's ridiculous how much fun I have referencing RDA and getting down to nitty gritty details like:
me: "should this have a space semicolon or just a semicolon immediately following the word?"
other me: "I think a space."
me: "hmm, well can you cite the RDA rule for that?"
other me: "no."
me: "well then, let's go to RDA and investigate! shall we?"
other me: "splendid idea! genius!"

I'm also finishing up a presentation for my digital libraries class on the International Children's Digital Library which has been really fun because that site is just cool and you can read kid's books in a lot of different languages! Digital storytime ideas are abounding. Plus I'm working on metadata for that class and reviewing DCRM (a content standard model- i.e., not the structure of how you describe something, but how and what you should describe about something. RDA is a content standard too.) so that I'm ready to create a best practices document with the rest of the metadata team in my digital libraries class. Lastly, I'm investigating the changes from FRBR to the IFLA LRM, how they might affect RDA, and especially how it might change or improve the way we treat aggregating works. It's okay if that last part doesn't make sense, you learn all this lingo in lib school. Or you don't. It depends on what you're into, friends! That's one nice thing about library grad school versus the nurse practitioner grad school I went to, unless you're in a specific concentration of the program, you can pretty much design your own curriculum and explore what you wish.

Anywho, busy week but good week. Hopefully this nor'easter won't make it to tough to drive to class in Boston on Wednesday night. Everyone stay safe, have a great week, and learn something new!


This week's The Great TP quote (sorry I skipped this last blog post since I didn't want to sully his name by having it anywhere near my bad metadata poetry).
"It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history."
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites.

Events | Getting a Job | Presentations | Real World | SLIS West | Students

Guest Blog About Internships

We have a special guest blog post this week by current SLIS student, Sarah Nafis.

Sarah is in her second year of the dual Archives/History (MS/MA) program. Since moving to Boston, she's exploring the city one restaurant at a time and has learned to embrace the quirks of public transportation.

Exploring Internship Opportunities

It's hard to believe that it's spring break and the semester is already halfway over. Summer will be here before you know it. This year instead of taking summer classes, I decided look for a summer internship.

One of the great parts of being at SLIS is the exposure to practical, hands-on skills and experiences inside and outside the classroom. Since starting at SLIS, I've already had two internships. My first internship at the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts was part of the Introduction to Archives course (LIS 438). LIS 438 is one of the first courses archives students take and a 60 hour internship is built into the class. Simmons has a wide network of internship sites and students are typically matched with one of their top three choices from the LIS 438 internship database.

It's also possible to find internships on your own that are not taken for credit. There are mulitple ways to learn about internships. Faculty and student organizations will email possible job and internship opportunities. The Jobline is another great resources for students look for internships. And finally, there's your personal and/or professional network. I found my current internship at Harvard's Collection of Historical Scientific instruments (CHSI)  via a co-worker. CHSI has a large collection of physical objects as well as books and archival materials relating to the objects in the collection. My supervisors worked with me to tailor my internship experience around my interests. I'm working with a collection of records for a Boston surveying company to create an online finding aid and exploring digital preservation possibilities. This internship has been a great learning experience, especially because I don't have a background in science or surveying instruments. But now I can use Mino-Blake-type automatic rotary microtome (a tool to cut extremely thin slices of materials for samples) in a sentence. If you're interested in seeing the collection, CHSI currently has two exhibits, Life, Time & Matter: Science in Cambridge and Scale: A Matter of Perspective (opening 3/10/2017). 


Ode To Metadata

We've reached that time in the semester that I refer to as the grind. It's not overwhelming, it's not all time-consuming, but it is a grind. Read, write, exercise (cataloging exercises, not the sweatin' to the oldies kind), repeat. And so, I need a grind break. Therefore, this blog post will be a poem- a bad poem.

Ode to metadata

We learn all about you,
data about data,
and then we learn quickly-
that that don't come near to explaining ya'

You're the label on the can of soup.
The title of a book,
the stuff we need to know to find that
for which we look.

You help us keep stuff separate;
and so, we can lump things together.
Because of you, I run a search,
and find all the books written about leather.

You're the love notes to ourselves,
and to future library fellers.
So that we know how to take care
of the treasures in our cellars.

Without you
I would not know who took this pic,
or if it's of a magic wand
or just a wayward stick.

So here's to you metadata
because I never met a data
I didn't like.


Fun | SLIS | SLIS West

Other Librarianing Fun

Well hello there, blog watchers! It's been a whirlwind of a time for me the last couple of weeks. I'm thankful to have a few big presentations inside and outside of classroom out of the way so I can catch up on some reading (for class- of course, but also for Discworld- of course). Yesterday was sunny and reached up into the high 40s where I am in MA, so I'm feeling pretty good this fine President's Day.

I thought it would be fun to devote this blog post to some things you may not get a lot of in depth experience with in LIS school, but you will get to experience in the wide world of libarianing (with variation of course depending on your specific position). This post was inspired by my SLIS West buddy Jenney when she told our friend "way to embrace the glue and glitter!" after he shared some recent projects he'd done.

Readers' Advisory - okay, you do get time spent on this in school- especially depending on the classes, and certainly in reference which is a required course. But the frequent practice of it in the library in the "real world" setting made me put it here. There is still a need for librarians to love books and to love suggesting them to folks based on their interest, reading level, and whatever else!

Book Displays - Murder on Valentine's is always a fun one

Decorative displays - paper hearts, snowflakes, a Dungeons and Dragons decorative display, oh my!

Seed cataloging - because it's not just books, ebooks, audio cd's, cassette tapes, VHS, Kindles, records, Walkman's, board and card games, CD players, DVDs, headphones, magazines, parks passess, museum passes, kayaks (yup), lifejackets, flashlights, camping kits, kid's outdoor study kits, microscopes, and electricity use testing supplies we have at the library! And no one wants to find out that they're growing fennell when they wanted to grow basil. Oh- so you should also make sure you know how to use all these things too! Yup, even that typewriter you allow patrons access to.

Book repair­ - 'cause, you know, stuff gets used. You know how it is- who wants to put down that page turner just because you have to bathe?

Help people figure out the organization of the shelves - whether it be Dewey, LC classification numbers, or even last name of author or illustrator. Hey, don't judge 'em, I had a tough time as a patron with LCCNs especially at first too- and I still have to sing my alphabet in my head when I'm re-shelving.

Interact with people, all types of people, at all different stages of their life, from different places, with different languages, with different abilities, with different stories. It's easy, right? We're librarians, we love stories, and every person has a story- so just love people too, okay? Be nice. Don't comment on their book selections. Be okay with them talking about PTA or selling their house or being a soldier stationed abroad. We're lucky that people want to talk to us. So, listen.

And on that last note, we had a great speaker at SLIS West this weekend. Rodney Obien, Head of Special Collections & Archives at Keene State College came and spoke with us about the human side of archives. The fact that you're working with materials of lived experience, often meaning that those who created them are no longer living, or that those donating them are at the end of life or end of career or end of well, you just don't know. But, they're often in transition. We talk a lot about theory and working with users/communities. But, you can't teach everything in a class. And every person and every relationship is it's own story, not a case study. It was wonderful hearing from Rodney about this aspect of working in archives, this human relationship side of archives and living and working with the reality that we are all mortal. Memento Mori.

Thanks for reading y'all!

This week's The Great TP quote:
"WORDS IN THE HEART CANNOT BE TAKEN." ― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Fun | Reader's Advisory | Real World | SLIS | SLIS West

The Interview Process

I'm in my last semester at SLIS West, and that means it's time to start applying for professional jobs! Woohoo! Especially because I'm primarily interested in working in an academic library, I've got to be applying for things pre-graduation whenever possible. Sometimes the academic library hiring process can take a little while, and I'm hoping to have a professional level job immediately after graduation if not before it. Of course, this all depends on jobs available and all that jazz. I have been lucky enough to get a few interview opportunities for professional jobs this semester, and the hiring/application process for academic librarian jobs is quite different compared to what I experienced as a nurse or as a library student. Sometimes it involves 2 interviews- one with just a search committee, and then if you're invited back, a longer interview day with more library staff. Sometimes it's just one interview. Often, for the longer interview day, you're also required to present on a topic assigned by the search committee.

So, yes, I know that having multiple presentations you have to do in every library class can be frustrating, but it also is totally worth it. Public speaking is tough, at least for me, and the only thing that makes it better is having to do it over and over again. So, thank you all you instructors out there who've made me give presentations in front of classes.

The longer interview day also usually consist of a tour, meeting with library departments where they may ask you questions, and a meeting with HR. Each interview day has been a bit different organization wise, of course, but a lot of them had all these main elements. What a difference from my nursing interviews that involved meeting one on one with the nurse manager and then maybe a quick tour! I think it's evidence, though, of the nature of academic librarianship. Libraries seem willing to really invest in their employees and there's a lot of internal (library departments) and external (other academic departments/people) collaboration. I won't lie, these type of interviews have been a bit more stressful for me than the ones from my prior career, but I just remind myself that nervousness and excitement involve nearly identical physiological responses. So, it's all in your frame of mind. So I'm telling myself "hey, you're not nervous, you're excited you rock star you!!!"

Good luck to all as they are applying and interviewing. If you're a SLIS West student- there's also going to be some events coming up in a Spring 2017 Career Series Panel: Nuts & Bolts of Library Resumes and Cover Letters on February 25 and a panel discussion with library directors and managers on April 8. See ya there!

PS: This week's Terry Pratchett quote:

The Library didn't only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to their shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren't also dangerous, just because reading them didn't make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader's brain.
-TP, Soul Music

Getting a Job | Jobs | Real World | Students

Hands-On Archival Experience

As an online student, I almost felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw that school would be cancelled in Boston on Thursday due to the imminent snow storm. But then I remembered that means I don't have to deal with the snow. Or the ice. Especially the ice--with an armful of books, I'm a walking disaster, and it's a rare moment that I am without an armful of books. Instead, I decided to gear up for internship season--with deadlines looming, I feel as though I am constantly sending emails to professors arranging for references when I'm not reading course material. Now that my Introduction to Archives course has begun, I have also been spending a significant amount of time at my internship location. I currently work at a non-archives job while attending school, so it has felt unbelievably amazing to get my hands on archival materials again. These materials belong to a public library whose archive contains a significant amount of local history materials. I am currently processing the personal papers of one local preservationist who was very active in the community spreading awareness of the unique history and architecture in the city where I live. Looking through her papers has given me an opportunity to get to know my city better, and I am constantly sending local friends images from this collection (with permission, of course!). The collection has also spurred several ideas for potential collaboration between the library and local schools--the individual's papers feature a significant amount of educational material related to local history that could potentially be used to provide students with insight on their city. Additionally, the archive has a lot of primary source material that can be easily duplicated or viewed and used as topics of study in courses covering local history. Suffice to say, nobody can call this collection monotonous--I am constantly pleasantly surprised by some of the things that I've found.  

Archives | Classes | Fun | Internships | New England | Online | SLIS

I Chose Simmons SLIS Online

It's a bit surreal to think that last year around this time, I had just submitted my applications for various library schools around the country. I was still torn between whether I wanted to attend an online or in-person program, but I knew that I wanted a high quality education to enable me to be a contributing and active member of the archival profession. I also wanted to be part of a cohort of students that was thoughtful and engaged in their approach to their education and would take a proactive approach in becoming competent and capable professionals. As you can tell, I chose Simmons. Recent events served to solidify my decision that I made the right choice.

Watching Simmons students take an active role in archiving materials created by the Women's March on Washington only served to cement my decision--this was not a group of individuals pursuing this degree in an apathetic way. These were people who wanted to make a genuine change in the profession, and who I would get to grow with as a cohort and discuss ideas with in class.

As an online student at Simmons, I receive exactly the same experience that I would were my classes in-person. The primary difference is that I can complete courses according to how I learn best, and not be concerned with how I can schedule classes around my job. I find that my ability to participate in discussion is greatly enhanced in an online format. Rather than verbally discussing ideas that are often immature, I have the opportunity to carefully consider my thoughts and increase my understanding of the subject. One consequence is that I can then discuss these ideas with prominent scholars on the faculty at Simmons, and further learn from these dialogues. 

Archives | Online | People | Students

FRBR is dead, long live FRBR!

Okay, this post won't really be about IFLA LRM, the model that will be replacing FRBR LRM/FRBR/FRAD/FRSAD, but I couldn't resist putting a little nod to it as the title of this week's blog post. Those who heard news from ALA Midwinter regarding FRBR and the conceptual model IFLA LRM might think it's funny, and so that title was for you, kids. Though it's not going to be called FRBR anymore, and it certainly is not FRBR- there's a lot of similarities with FRBR in the IFLA LRM- so never fear, peasants. There is still a lord in the land of understanding the bibliographic universe.

Okay, so for you non-cataloging enthusiasts out there, hello! and back to reality and "normal" English we go...
We're in our second week of classes for the semester. I have one (descriptive cataloging, hence the above little intro) on Wednesdays, and one on Saturdays. Both are on topics that I'm super excited about and that are really applicable to my current job as a metadata intern, so I'm pretty stoked this semester. My Saturday class is digital libraries. Both classes, however, also seem a bit like camping, in that they are intense. (in tents, intense, get it?) So, you might see some weird or stressed out blog posts from me this semester. SLIS West had a nice first day of classes last week with LISSA West hosting a yummy lunch in the SLIS West Office. This week I'm reading like a mother goose and I'm working on mapping out the dissected pieces of an information resource. Sound like fun? You should totally go to library school then.

I'll have lots more to write about next week, but that's pretty much all I got right now. Like I said, my hours are filled up with reading when I'm not working, so there's a little glimpse (snippet) at the life of a student, for you. I'm also still trying to spend time working out, meditating, cooking, and advocating for refugees. So, you may get a future post from me about libraries & refugees. and/or libraries & cooking and libraries & exercise and libraries & mindfulness, ha- those would be fun too.

Have a good weekend, all.

PS: I'm going to start ending every blog post with a Terry Pratchett quote, because I am still an avid fiction reader when not reading about cataloging and digital libraries, and mostly because I totally love the Great TP's work. So let's begin with:

"Someone out there was about to find that their worst nightmare was a maddened Librarian. With a badge."
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

Classes | Conferences | Presentations | SLIS

"SLIS Wester"

PS (presript in this case rather than post): I like the term SLIS Wester. SLIS Westerner would of course be more technically appropriate if you're uptight about prescriptive language. I'm not sure if anyone else uses either of these terms- so if you decide to start going around being like "hey, SLIS Westers, let's go party!" and get only blank stares, don't say I didn't warn you.

Welp, the winter break is coming to a close. I've started my pre-class reading for the course that required it, but mostly this weekend has been about lounging around and working on fun little projects- taking advantage of my last weekend without class or homework for a while. Recently, I had someone ask me about being a SLIS West student compared to being a Simmons Boston student, and I figured- hey! why not make this explanation a blog post too. Now, of course the problem with trying to answer "what is it like to be a SLIS West student?" is that it's like asking someone "what's is it like to be a student?" or to get real broad on ya, "what is it like to be a human?" My perspective and experience is not going to be an accurate representation of all SLIS Westers, cause I'm just me. Nevertheless, I'll speak about what it's like for me.

SLIS West has been a great choice for LIS school for me. I'm in this area with my hubby while he gets his doctorate. We moved around the country for a while based on life goals for each one of us- and coming here and staying here for the time it takes for him to finish school was a joint decision. We'll be in this area (Western Mass) for about 6 years or so most likely- and we bought a house last year. So, up and moving to Boston wasn't really an option. I know a lot of SLIS Westers have careers and children and partners and equally can't really move to Boston for school. Plus, tbh, I've lived in Boston often the last 10 years or so and it's not really my fave place to live. If we were just moving somewhere for my school and SLIS West didn't exist- I probably would have ended up at a different school. I could commute to Boston and be a Simmons Boston student- and indeed I'm taking one in Boston this semester, but having SLIS West as a campus is nice for more than just avoiding that commute and the crazy price of parking in beantown.

There's a nice sense of the SLIS West community out here because there's only 70 or so of us compared to, I don't know, thousands of SLIS students at Simmons Boston. Folks do drive from all over, so it's not always easy to coordinate hang outs- but if I wanted the live-near-campus-and-have-most-my-other-students-near-me feel I wouldn't have picked SLIS West. It is nice, though, that I feel like I know a lot of my fellow students and LIS students are generally pretty swell peeps. We have pretty small class sizes and really get that whole shared & participatory learning experience that I dig. Our professors are mostly adjuncts with full time librarian or archivist jobs at nearby institutions- so they have lots of practical experience and can help you network in the area. We have classes on Mount Holyoke's campus, which is gorgeous. It's kind of an interesting feeling- I mean it's not really our campus, but it also is. I take advantage of this and use their library, campus center, and chapel often (it's great for meditating). We do have borrowing privileges through their library (not for eresources, though) and through Simmons (like all Simmons students). You can't really sign up for MHC library classes and workshops like you could if you were a Boston student with Beatley, but being able to use that library is super nice, and the staff is helpful and friendly. We do have some workshops here hosted by the office or LISSA West too- mostly speakers working in the surrounding area telling us about a typical work week for them. Also, of course we can access all the tutorials and what not online and contact our Simmons librarian via email. We've got a SLIS West office with computers, printers, scanners, and the like. That's where I do a lot of my homework since the course reserves are there. Plus- I'm the office assistant and that's where I do my work work for SLIS West. Of course, I'm a LIS student- so I also study at my public library and other college libraries in the area bc I love libraries.

Overall, the best things for me about SLIS West have been:

1. It's a part time program- so I can have all the internships and jobs I've had and still be able to attend school since classes are primarily on Saturdays and Thursday nights.

2. I can get face-to-face classes without always having to drive to Boston. South Hadley (where classes are) is only 40 mins away from me- and the parking is free. I'm not a big online class person, though I have taken some online courses in this program. Getting to have face to face as an option that's not to far away is pretty splendid.

3. I really like the community- my co-students, SLIS West admin, the faculty coming out to teach us from Boston, and all our awesome SLIS West adjuncts. I also really like the non specifically SLIS West community/area- the surrounding public library network, the 5 colleges, the pretty woods, and the people.

If you're looking for a similar experience to what you may have had in undergrad if you went to a 4 year school and lived on campus- SLIS West probably isn't for you. Everyone commutes. Most folks have work and families. Many students are career changers. You have lots of resources- but it's not exactly the same as living in Boston and being right near the main Simmons campus. It's been wonderful for me and for my current situation in life, though. If you're struggling to decide between Simmons online, Simmons Boston, or Simmons LIS West- feel free to reach out to me and I can surely talk your ear off some more. There's information sessions for all options too, I think- definitely at least for Boston and West. And whatever you end up deciding, you're allowed to change your mind and you can take any Simmons course as a Simmons student (so for instance I'm SLIS West but I'm taking a Boston course and I've taken online in the past too).

Alright, let's get this (final) semester started. Hasta pronto, friends.

Classes | SLIS West | Students

Preparing For Next Semester

It feels incredibly strange to not have any classes for the rest of the year--even though I took a year off between undergraduate and graduate school, I still feel a bit lost when I'm not doing some sort of course reading or conducting research. In preparation for next semester, I decided to take a close look at the syllabi for the courses I am taking in the spring. Because I'm in the Archives Management concentration, and I've decided to try and focus on the digital aspect of archives, I enrolled in Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, Digital Stewardship, and Metadata. Since the first course includes a sixty hour internship, this means I'll have a pretty intense semester, to say the least!

However, I am excited to work with some of the special collections in my area (Wheeling, WV) which are frequently under utilized and would benefit immensely from a student intern. I'm also exploring some potential projects that I can complete over the summer term--there are excellent local history resources that are rife with possibilities for exhibition, research, partnership, organization, or digitization. Suffice to say, my winter break will not be a lazy one!

Archives | Classes | Internships | Online | SLIS


Howdy fellow interwebs browsers! This week I wanted to talk about the NECode4Lib event on 12/5. So, NECode4Lib was a fun and informative informal conference organized by librarians from around New England (with special attention to Johanna Radding, former SLIS West program manager, and Abby Baines, current SLIS West prof, who did a lot of the work!). It was held in the Red Barn at Hampshire which is beautiful, especially with sparkling snow on the ground outside. Talks included a range of topics. For a full list, visit here: I think some of the slides will be going up soon too. 

Librarians are so great at collaborating and sharing information (duh on that last one I guess). I love that I'm in a profession now where there are often conferences like this one- and ones bigger and smaller than this. It's such a great way to meet people and learn about what other folks are doing. I especially enjoyed a lightening talk on lightening talks by a couple folks at MIT because they talked about how their department does a monthly lightening talks meeting. What a great idea! You could get a quick glance at what your colleagues are doing without getting deep in the weeds, and then everyone has a better idea of the holistic picture of the library. There were a lot of great talks yesterday at the conference, and I'm looking forward to learning more about some new to me concepts and techniques for work and non-work. And- I'm totally going to start using Habitica ( Plus, I learned some fun ways to present- for instance Ian Walls from UMass did his presentation in story format- making a teachable moment from his work into a story about a young wizard with computing powers :) 

I gave a lightening talk (5 mins) too, on Twine- an open source tool I just started using. If you loved choose your own adventure games growing up and want to make something similar online, this site is for you. Check it here: I used it to make a plagiarism game and the first draft of a SLIS West virtual orientation. The plagiarism game is here: The other I'll hold off on showcasing until it's a little further developed, but I got the idea from Smith College Libraries who has one here: Rose, the librarian who created that tour was also there yesterday so that was really helpful when folks had questions about Twine (since I'm still new to it myself). MHC is working on a virtual tour using Twine too, so woot! 

Oky doke, well that was fun. Now back to my last final of the semester! 

Stay warm, friends. 



A Day in the Life

9:30 AM: Drive to the public library archives to look at some materials for my LIS 415 final project. Discuss with the librarian how they organize their online archives, and whether the initial proposals my group has suggested are acceptable. Talk about my progress on my LIS 407 final project, and discuss with her the audience and whether my analysis of local history sources is of an appropriate breadth and depth based on her experience with the user population.

10:45 AM: Acquire coffee and French pastries!

11:00 AM: Go into my actual job. A chocolate croissant gets me through the first hour. The remaining eight are survived through a combination of coffee and tea to fend off the cold office air.

3:00 PM: Lunch. Go back to the library because I forgot to grab my book that has been on hold since Monday.

??:?? PM: Sporadically edit and compile the group parts of the LIS 415 final project. Start creating slides for our presentation.

8:00 PM: Leave work to walk home, relish the fact that it's a nice 45 degrees outside.

10:30 PM: Decide to stop working on my LIS 407 and 415 projects for the night.

??:?? : Watch Netflix and until a time that I'm not comfortable sharing. Go to sleep. Repeat, with some variety on the exact assignments worked on.

Classes | Libraries | Online | SLIS | Students

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

Applying Coursework in Libraries

Before starting my program, I made a commitment to try and use course assignments to assist local institutions in some way. I wanted my library school experience to be grounded in practice, rather than theory. Even though I am only in my first semester, I have been able to use my intro courses to create resources for my local public library, benefiting both the library and their patrons. This is in addition to creating distinct deliverables for my personal portfolio, and giving me experience in working with libraries as "clients" who expect a polished final product.

So far, I have organized a group project to create a metadata standard for the small collection of digitized historical images help at my local library, created a pathfinder to assist local history researchers in researching their historic properties, and I'm already planning other potential projects with local universities that have archival institutions and connecting their resources with students through local history projects. Because I live in West Virginia, in an area that has a fairly low population of library and information science professionals, I have the chance to use something like attending school to begin implementing change at an early stage. 


Stress Management

This semester's taken a turn for the rough and stressful these past few weeks, and we're looking Thanksgiving break in the face. Thankfully, my management professor has us each prevent in groups on a specific topic--this week, my partner and I were the ones presenting on Conflict Resolution and Stress Management. While we had a specific focus on how managers can help reduce stress in the workplace, I think that as we are running into the last couple weeks of school we can all use a fast refresher on how to manage stress.

  • Take deep breaths
  • Exercise, if you have time! Drink enough water! Get enough sleep!
  • Make a plan ( so you don't stress out chaotically.
  • Talk it out. If you need someone to talk to, my friends and I have always had great luck walking into the student lounge and announcing our problems to whoever is in there. Librarians love to talk.
  • Try coloring or popping bubble wrap to calm down.
  • Watch some funny videos or find some other way to have a laugh.
  • Meditate! It's always a great idea to meditate to remove yourself from the stress and situation.

Over break, try to get ahead, and remember that if you need someone to talk to, Simmons does have counselors on staff and you should always reach out to your professors. Most of the time, they are willing to work with you to help you do well in their classes.

Still--try to take a little bit of a break over Thanksgiving and come back refreshed to tackle the last few weeks!

AAOTP (Acronyms All Over the Place)

I was in healthcare, then I was specifically a nurse working for a state government, and now I'm a librarian. Oh, acronyms & nomenclature. I guess they abound in every profession, but between government, medicine, librarianship, and texting/social media lingo- I feel very acronymical in life. I thought I'd share some good ones for new students to know here: 

  • SLIS: School of Library & Information Science
    (So, we used to be GSLIS- graduate school of library & information science, and you'll hear that still being used a lot. We've been SLIS, though, ever since I started. Some people say it as S LIS, some as SLIS. We'll see what happens in the long run I suppose). 
  • LIS: Library & Information Science 
  • AARC: Academic & Administrative Resource Center 
    (that connection thing online where you can see your classes, register, access Simmons email, and what not). 
  • MHC: Mount Holyoke College
    (We use this as SLIS West students a lot since our classes are on MHC's campus)
  • LITS: Library & Technology Services 
    (Mount Holyoke's Library- again good for SLIS West students to know). 
  • LISSA: Library Information Sciences Student Association
  • SAA: Society of American Archivists
  • ACRL: Association of College & Research Libraries
  • ALA: American Library Association
  • ILL: Inter-library loan

There are a ton more, but y'all get the picture. We like acronyms. Also, ALA has this if you want to browse some more: 

Now, for funsies, here's one time of many when acronyms led to confusion in my life: 

OCP: For me this meant oral contraceptive pills in 2009 when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because I had been nurse right beforehand. For my hiking buddy- this mean oatmeal cream pies (from Little Debbie), which he ate all the time. I realized pretty quickly that he was not referring to what I thought of as OCP, but it was still hilarious. 

As much as I find it useful to get to know these acronyms and library lingo in general, I also think it's good to try and use plain speak as much as possible. Even if you're talking to another library student, you never know how much of the nomenclature has been cemented yet. I was certainly intimidated and confused at first when I started school and was trying to get all the jargon and acronyms after only having experience as a public library volunteer prior to starting at Simmons. Plus, it's good to get the habit of plain speak for our patrons because I think everybody can always use a bit more clarity and simplicity in life.

Enjoy the break everybody! 


An Event-filled Semester

If I'm not wrong, then this semester has been stressful and crazy for everyone I've talked to, and I'm definitely trapped in that cycle so I've been a little MIA for this blog. I'm definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving break!

However, the student leaders and associations have been hard at work creating and promoting events to cut the tension of the semester. Most recently, we've had large potluck thanksgiving event, with just about fifty people in attendance, followed by an "Illuminated Manuscript Crawl" hosted by SCOSAA and Panopticon. Besides being well attended, these events were amazingly fun and great ways for students to connect with each other. Panopticon has had a lot of great events, including hosting a SLIS art show, with at least a dozen submissions. They even had a wonderful opening on Veteran's day which was packed. LISSA partnered with them to host a Drink and Draw to cut the tension of the semester at the end of October and the art created at that even was brought to the Art Show.

PLG has also had some really great events, including their Prison Book Program (there's one day left in the semester to attend, on December 3rd!), and has been committed to their mission and goals. Their partnership with DERAIL remains strong and submissions are open to help address major Social Justice issues in LIS.

SLA has also been highly active, hosting a LinkedIntro event and will be hosting their annual ResumeX just after break. SLA has a great career focus and provides and produces strong events to help students reach their aspirations.

Of course, there are many more events that I didn't get to attend, but with so many different groups, it's easy to feel included. I've always loved the community created by SLIS, and the events this semester have been amazing. And, don't worry--LISSA has one last huge party planned for the end of the semester on December 9th. The dress code is cocktail attire suggested, but the main suggestion is that you attend! We can't wait to see everyone turn out!


Out with the Old, in with the New

In January I left my last nursing job so that I could better pursue a position in the wonderful world of librarianship. When I did so, my partner and I sat down and talked about how to make that decision work economically. He's in grad school getting his doctorate in science, so he gets paid through that. It's a pretty fixed amount, and not something that would keep us easily afloat for long without me working as well. Especially since I went to Nurse Practitioner grad school for a year, and I'm still paying off those loans, plus now I'm gathering more debt from LIS school, and we bought a house last year. We've both spent years saving up for all of this, but still. So, we sat down and thought of the lowest priorities for spending and how and where to cut corners. We ate a lot of rice and beans until I starting get more jobs, and we cut our cell phone plans. Now- we still had cell phones because we'd paid those off quite a while ago- but we started using them for internet only, got a pay by the minute plan, and kept them on airplane mode at all times. Last month or the month before, I got really into a fanfiction story I was reading on my phone and so I took it in the bathroom with me since I just didn't want to stop reading it for a minute. You can likely guess the rest. My phone is no longer with us. I shorted it out by dropping it in water. So, now for a little while I've also been living without my handy little portable computer.

The phone thing, though, is what really got people. Most folks just did not understand why it was tough to contact me, or completely balked when I said I didn't have a cell phone. I have Google Voice (free service) so I can still text with my family and get adorable pictures of my nieces, don't worry. And- I do have a landline. It's not like I've gone off the grid and I'm wandering the forests of the Yukon, here, I just didn't have a mobile phone. The more people were weird about it, too, the more I wanted to keep not having a phone. Like- yes, doctor's office, you may have to find a work around here- no I can't just call you back whenever. I thought about some of my WIC clients in the past too and all the rigmarole you have to go to in order to stay on government assisted programs. Systems can be real rigid sometimes, y'all. This week I really needed to make a call when I was on a college campus, and- guess what- no more public access or pay phones on that campus! (thank you college librarian who helped me confirm this was true rather than my continued trek to every building on campus).

So, all this reminded me of why public libraries still sometimes have fax machines (really important, actually) and VHS movies and cassette tapes. It also reminded me of a correctional facility library I visited with my LIS 422 class. Incarcerated individuals can't have access to the internet without supervision usually, if at all. The library we went to had typewriters for the inmates to use for typing, but no computers other than one behind the desk (I think I'm remembering the numbers right, here). They were struggling with the typewriters because manufacturers are no longer making some of the replacement parts since it's an ever shrinking population of users. (typewriter attachments to fancy devices- not the same). People who were incarcerated are getting out of prisons and sometimes have no experience using a mouse or a computer. Have y'all tried to apply for a job without getting online lately? I thought about the cassette tapes I made when I was a kid and how I recently scoured the land for a cassette player to use in digitizing these. 

My lack of a cell phone and the little internet and camera device it also was, got me thinking about the digital divide, what happens to those dependent on "old" tech as a consumer majority switches to the new, and what happens to information held in an obsolete format. All of these questions, highlight the value and responsibility of our profession and libraries and archives to me. Feel free to use this as fuel in your "why do we still need libraries?" responses, I certainly will. 

Classes | Libraries | SLIS | Students | Technology