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

Thinking of Spring

Yes, I know it's only October, but the Spring 2020 course list came out last week and it's all I've been thinking about.  I love looking at the course list each semester.  There are so many interesting classes I could take!  I'm taking two classes in the Spring, and I already know that one of them will be LIS 445: Metadata.  I'm very excited for that class, because metadata is the key to many library services and is the foundation of information retrieval.  I am curious to learn more about how that metadata is created and how it is applied to different objects.  I already have a good foundational understanding of it from LIS 415: Information Organization and LIS 462: Digital Libraries, but I'm looking forward to a whole semester's worth of lectures on the topic.  It should be very interesting.

Choosing my second class is going to be tough.  I could take LIS 450: Public Libraries or LIS 451: Academic Libraries.  Either of those would be interesting because they would give more information about how those particular types of libraries work.  But I don't know what kind of library I'd like to work in yet, and I feel like these classes would be more beneficial if I already knew that.  Still, I'm keeping them on my list.  I'm more likely to take LIS 465: Knowledge Management or LIS 467: Web Development and Information Architecture.  Both of these are tech oriented, with the first covering how knowledge is created and shared (particularly through social media and websites) and the second on how to better organize web-based content for the user.  I think either class would be beneficial, but I think I'm leaning towards LIS 467 a slight edge.  Registration isn't until November 12, and I'm sure I'll be endlessly mulling over my options until then.  I don't think there is a bad choice among any of these classes, and I could take one or more of them in the Fall semester if I wanted.  

One class that I would love to take but can't is LIS 532: Reader's Advisory.  It's a brand-new class, but it's currently on-campus only, and I can't get to campus in the Spring.  I am so interested in Reader's Advisory and taking a semester long class about learning how to find and give book recommendations is my idea of heaven.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be offered again in the Fall, when I could make it work with my schedule. 

Classes | SLIS | Students


Referencing Spook

I recently moved from circulation up to reference at the Watertown Free Public Library where I work! It was interning at the reference desk at my local public library in college that sparked my desire to be a librarian in the first place, so it felt a bit like coming home! It's already been fun to help people that I recognize from working in circ with some of their more in depth questions.  


My first shift on desk (after my training) was Wednesday night, and I was able to help patrons with flyer making, provided information on literacy classes, completed some reader's advisory, and updated some bib records. But my favorite thing by far was getting to design a book display! Whenever I do displays, I make sure to showcase the voices of authors of color and of various gender alignments. Displays are a chance to recommend books -- even to people who don't engage with you at the reference desk -- and a fun challenge!

I wanted to create something spooky, but not overtly Halloween-like, as we are only a few weeks into October.  The sign is a little bit difficult to make out, so above is a copy of what the flyer looks like. 

A few books I compiled for the display and recommend: 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado (a favorite) 

The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg 

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (creepiest book I've ever read -- cw for assault) 

The Cask of Amontillado and other works by Edgar Allan Poe 

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 

Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal 

Feel free to pop into the library to come say "Hi!" or to check out some ghoulish or ghastly books from my display!

 

Books | Fun | Librarians | SLIS | reading


Touring the Library of My Dreams

A few weeks ago, the Panoptican and Special Libraries Association student groups, put on a joint field trip to tour the Museum of Fine Arts's library that is located not too far from campus! As a new officer of Panoptican and especially as an aspiring art librarian, I was very excited to attend but also to meet and chat with other Simmons students with similar interests and goals in the library profession. Getting back into the swing of things at the start of a new semester can be overwhelming but I knew this was an event I did not want to miss! 

While the actual MFA is basically diagonal to campus, the MFA's library is offsite on Mass Ave by the Symphony T stop. While the main purpose of the library is to be a resource for the museum staff, they are also open to the public Monday through Friday from 1-5 pm. However, the stacks are closed and anyone interested will need call slips in order to view any materials, which I thought was actually kind of cool from the standpoint of harking back to the old days. I have never been to a library that is still like this (although fun fact for my archive internship, the collection I was working on did have a lot of call slips from the Harvard libraries that the person had kept with scribbled little research notes dating around 1940-1950). We got a tour of the library's holdings from the head of technical services who was really wonderful about showing us the different aspects that make up the library. We had a large group (see photo below featuring your favorite goofball in the denim jacket) so it took a little while to corral all of us but the MFA's librarian was really sweet and excited to show us around and answer any of our questions. 

We  got to go into their lower-level storage area where they keep a lot of their auction catalogs, which was quite a huge selection. The greatest part of the whole tour though was when the librarian "let us loose" to explore the main stacks and even go up to the second floor of the library which I wanted to do the moment we got there but was too shy to ask about. And it was grand! This event was so perfect for my professional aspirations because I was able to look into one of the my dream libraries for such a large art museum. This segways nicely into some great news I have for this coming year...I got a job as the Collections Assistant at the Harvard Fine Arts Library! I've only been there for a week now but stay posted on that experience for a later blog post where I can get into more of the work I will be doing there. I am so excited for this semester because as cheesy as it sounds, things are finally starting to fall into place and I am living my art library dream. 

Events | Fun | SLIS | Student Groups


Classes and Events at SLIS

It's that time in the semester when all you do is study, eat to take a break from studying, and try to get in some sleep.

     As a library student in the SLT school library program, I need to start preparing for next semester. Next semester, I will be doing my first of two practicums, which consists of 150 hours of student teaching in an elementary and then high school library. I have the placement school picked out, and in a few weeks the paperwork will begin. With my classmates figuring out their course preferences for Spring 2020 registration that happens in a few weeks, it is nice for me not to have to worry about what courses I will be taking. Those in the School Library Teacher concentration at SLIS plan out their course outline in their first semester, and will stand by that course outline as they make their way through the program.

   The first course I am taking this spring will be a Writing for Children class in the Children's Literature department. This will count as one of my two electives. I will get to take the other fun elective in a future semester. My other spring course will be LIS 460: Technology for School Library Teacher students. It is a special technology course taught by a current high school library teacher meant to prepare SLT students for the field.

   Right now, my social life is mostly line dancing at Loretta's Last Call, studying, and reading lots of YA books and articles about how to serve the teen populations in libraries. In my LIS 483 class, I learn so much about how to serve teens in libraries, while in my Writing for Children class, I learn how to write books for them. As we near the end of the semester, it is time to start thinking about the big papers. It is week 7, and my professors are preparing us for the big projects we will be doing in the last half of the semester.

   This week has also consisted of a lot of emails planning for an event at Simmons in two weeks hosted by SCIRRT (Student Chapter of the International Relations Round Table. I am currently the only SCIRRT officer for our SLIS student chapter. This event I have been working on, hosted by SCIRRT, is specifically geared toward SLT students. A Simmons SLIS grad, Maya Bery, (also a former SLIS Admissions blogger), will be coming to give a presentation at Simmons on October 30. She will be giving a presentation titles "Bringing the World to Your Classroom," on how we can make learning more global in the school library. Bery is a successful school library teacher in Carlisle Public Schools, and presented this past April, on this topic at MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association conference).  Student leadership is a great opportunity for SLIS students who want to get involved in planning events that they think will interest students and will help students build their professional knowledge of the library science field.

  Now it's time to enjoy the windy weather and soak in the beautiful fall colors in Boston.

Classes | Events | Leadership | SLIS | Student Groups


Planning for the Future!

We are now in Week 7 of the Fall 2019 semester!  When I was watching my professor's introductory lecture for this week and she said we were halfway through the semester I almost couldn't believe it!  Then, a couple of days ago, the Spring 2020 course schedule dropped.  My goodness this semester is flying by!

As the Spring 2020 course schedule just dropped, I'm now intensely studying the course schedule, course descriptions, and trying to figure out what my game plan is for next semester (and beyond).  Registration isn't until November, so I have some time to think about what I want to take, and to strategically plan. 

I mentioned in my last post one of the things I was hoping to get out of my current class (LIS 401: Foundations of Library and Information Science), was to sort of get an overview and introduction of what's out there in the LIS world and see what I'm interested in before I dedicated individual classes to topics.  This class has been really interesting, and I've learned a lot about LIS, myself, and what I want to get out of the rest of my time in this program and we're only halfway through!  Even though the class is nowhere near over, I'm already starting to think about some of the topics that I've learned about, and think about the path I'm on.  After this class, I'm going to be halfway through my program.  Before I've gone through the SLIS Course Descriptions List and I've thought that everything sounds interesting and fun, and to a point, it does.  But I don't have unlimited classes, and I have decisions to make.  As I go through this class, reflect on other classes, as well as things that I've learned at work, I've been making notes of topics that I want to learn more about, or that I could see myself taking a whole class on and am cross-referencing that with the Course Descriptions list.   I'm doing this to create a wish list of classes that I would like to round out my time at Simmons with.  I think this is a good start to thinking about my remaining time at Simmons and planning for the future! 

If you would like to learn more about the courses offered at SLIS, click here!

SLIS | classes


Live Session!

I had a live session of my Social Informatics class last week, and I really enjoyed it!  There were three sessions available, each on different days and times, and we were required to choose one.  I chose the evening session that started at 9pm.  This made me a little nervous because I'm usually wrapping my day up at that hour, but I'm pleased to say that I made it through without yawning every two seconds.  The worst thing about the meeting was that I looked horrible on the camera (laptop cameras do not do anyone any favors), but I'll take that over a technical malfunction or brain freeze any day.

We didn't do anything major in the live session.  It was more about allowing us all to talk and interact in real time.  We started out talking about any questions we had about the course or the assignments, and then talked more about how information is transmitted and used.  One of the most important themes of this class is recognizing that there is always someone in charge of disseminating information, and that person influences what the public gets to know.  It's a more complex issue than you'd think, because it involves how people access information, their physical location, and their cultural biases, among other things.  As future LIS professionals, we need to acknowledge that we are the ones in charge of information in libraries.  We therefore have to be aware of how we present that information, and always make sure that everyone has free access to that information.  We also have to think about how to provide that access to everyone, regardless of physical and mental ability.  Taking this class has really opened my eyes to how I get my information, and how I filter that information through my own experiences and biases.  It's incredibly interesting and will be something I think about as I embark on my career in the future.

Overall, I was very pleased with the live session and actually wished it could have been longer.  It was great to see my classmates and my professor and to interact with them.  We have pretty lively conversations in the class forums but being able to see and hear and talk in real time was a real treat.  I wish we could have more live sessions, but I know that they are not easy to schedule.  One of the main perks of an online class is that you can attend class on your own schedule, and live classes defeat that purpose.  But I am happy that we had this one session, and if there were more live sessions available, I would definitely attend!

Online | SLIS | classes


Book Bound in Boston

Perks of living in Boston and being a library school student: meeting famous children's/YA authors. Just a couple weeks ago, my Writing for Children professor ended class early so a couple students can go meet Rainbow Rowell at Brookline Booksmith. Rowell is the author of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Carry On! About a week ago, Brown Girl Dreaming author Jacqueline Woodson was at Harvard Book Store, and then last Saturday, they hosted R.J. Palacio. If that name doesn't sound familiar, R.J. Palacio is the mastermind behind the Wonder books, and is known for her character Augie Pullman.

Before I was able to meet R.J., I had the privilege of meeting six authors at an amazing awards ceremony and reception for the Horn Book hosted at our very own Simmons University. My Writing for Children professor had strongly encouraged us to attend last Friday, and I'm am so glad she did! While I met so many amazing authors, I unfortunately wasn't able to meet Angie Thomas, the famous woman behind The Hate U Give. Although I didn't get to meet Thomas, her proxy read out loud a pretty dope acceptance speech. On the positive side, I was able to meet so many amazing people at this awards ceremony. I was privileged to meet an American hero, hear a young girl give an acceptance speech for her dad, and talk to a first generation Iranian-American about our shared experience of having immigrant parents. 

Horn Book Awards.JPGThe American hero is Jo Ann Allen Boyce, a 78-year-old woman who desegregated her high school in Clinton, Tennessee. The young girl was the daughter of Jarrett Krosoczka, author of Hey, Kiddo. Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel memoir that tells of Jarrett's not very happy childhood, and this book won the 2019 The Boston Globe Horn Book Award honor book for nonfiction. The smile on this girl's face when she was signing her father's books after her acceptance speech was so beautiful - I am willing to bet that someday this girl will be a prolific author. Lastly, Abid Khorram won the Fiction & Poetry Horn Book Honor Award for Darius The Great is Not Okay. When I went to meet Abid after the awards, I shared with him how this book spoke to my personal experiences, as I had gone to visit my family in India when I was 10. Throughout the whole book, I related to the main character Darius. The book is so fun to read! Laughing about long-distance calls to our family abroad with Abid made me feel like I truly connected with this celebrity as a friend and peer - such a magical moment. 

Meeting Abid Khorram.JPGAs if meeting all those celebrities at the Horn Book Awards Friday night was not enough, that Saturday afternoon I went to meet R.J. Palacio at Brookline Booksmith. Brookline Booksmith is an amazing independent bookshop in Brookline. This bookshop has famous authors visiting just about every week. R.J. Palacio gave an enthralling talk about writing, how she gets her ideas, her mission to bring more compassion into the world using books, and how she is open to writing YA. Meeting her after the talk was a wonderful moment. R.J. was so kind. I got the White Bird graphic novel signed for my little cousins and the book Wonder signed for a friend in Galway, Ireland. If my week proves anything, it's that living in Boston - especially going to school at Simmons - there is never a shortage of opportunities to meet famous children's/YA authors. 

RJ Palacio at Brookline Booksmith.JPG

Books | Events | SLIS | YA Literature | reading


I'm Back!

It's been a little while since my last post!  At the beginning of August (literally less than 12 hours after my summer class ended) I was in the hospital getting major surgery.  Unfortunately, the recovery time for this surgery is rather lengthy, and I've been staggering my return dates, but now I'm back in the saddle for school, work, and now blog writing!  Woo-hoo! 

Thus far at Simmons I've taken all of my core classes (LIS 407: Information Sources and Services, LIS 415: Information Organization, and LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals), and two of my electives (LIS 451: Academic Libraries and LIS 404: Principles of Management).   I mentioned back in April that I had registered for LIS 421: Social Informatics for the Fall 2019 semester.  Since then, I ended up switching classes to LIS 401: Foundations of Library and Information Science.  This class was recommended to me when I was talking with someone late last year about switching out of archives, and had the two year projected course schedule that SLIS puts out been a little different, and if I took more than one class at a time, I probably would have taken this class a bit earlier.  If you've read some of my past posts, you know that I've been kind of at a crossroads because I came in to Simmons doing the archives concentration, and then I realized through doing research, informational interviews, and discussions with colleagues that I didn't really think it was the right fit for me, and I've been equivocating over what path to take, and how to structure the rest of my time at Simmons. 

I know that I love academic libraries because I currently work in one, and taking LIS 451 reaffirmed my interest. I know I enjoy reference and instruction because of LIS 407 and LIS 451, and a large part of my job is doing reference work.  I also really enjoyed my time in LIS 415, so I'm interested in information organization.  However, I know there are a lot of things under the LIS umbrella that I don't know about or only know minimal details about, and before I chart my course for the rest of my time at Simmons and dedicate individual classes to areas of interest, I want to see what's out there and what I'm interested in, and this class is providing me with a good introduction and overview.  For example, we're going to have a unit on Evaluating Information Services in a few weeks, and if that's something I'm interested in, Simmons has a class on it--LIS 403: Evaluation of Information Services!  We had a unit on the History and Evolution of LIS two weeks ago, and guess what?  Simmons has a class on the History of Libraries (LIS 452) if I want to explore that further!  Additionally, one thing that this class goes over is all the different settings that LIS professionals can work in, and types of jobs I could possibly have when I graduate.  This has been touched on in previous classes that I've had, and I know there are devoted classes to specific areas (such as LIS 451: Academic Libraries), but as I'm really interested in hearing about this as a general topic.  I think choosing to take this class was really good idea for where I'm at in my MSLIS right now, and it will help me figure out my journey for the rest of my time here at Simmons. 

It's great to be back, and I'll keep you updated on how things are going!

If you are interested in learning more about the courses at SLIS, click here!

SLIS | Workload | classes


Connections and Libraries

With a big paper due this week, I knew I was going to need a few study breaks. On Tuesday night, I went back to Loretta's for a good workout of fast-paced line dancing. Wednesday was a busy day for me with meeting with a professor for my paper due this week, class, and then a conference called Connect Boston. The first conference of its kind, Connect Boston has a goal of connecting Catholic young adults to like-minded professionals around the Boston area.

The event started with opening keynote speeches from the founder of Young Catholic Professionals and the CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). After these two opening talks, there were breakout sessions for networking with Catholic professionals in similar fields. As a school library student, of course I went to the education panel. As I expected, I was the only library student in a room full of teachers. The three panelists in my breakout session were a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, the headmaster of St. Benedict Classical Academy in Natick, and the headmaster of St. Sebastian's School in Needham.

After the panelists talked about their education backgrounds and the importance of their Catholic curriculums, I stood up and asked a few pressing questions: Do the two Catholic schools have libraries? If so, what are their collections like?

First, the headmaster from St. Sebastian's School said that as much as he believes the Catholic faith is important, he has also ensured that his school has a large library with a diverse collection. Headmaster Burke stated that he believes in having many different perspectives offered in the library collection. After answering my questions, Headmaster Burke said we need more passionate librarians, and applauded me for my work.

The headmaster of St. Benedict's Classical Academy talked quite a bit about how he has just acquired a new space for his school's campus. In acquiring this new space, he had to choose an architect and make a list of things he wants in the new school building. Thankfully, a library was at the top of this list. One of his prospective architects tried to tell him "You don't need a library in your school," clearly not understanding the purpose of libraries. With that comment, the architect lost his potential gig. Hearing this headmaster refuse to work with this close-minded architect gives me hope that administrators still see the need for school librarians, as there will always be a need for information and technology professionals in schools.

Hearing about collaboration in the library space and the need for modern libraries from the two Catholic headmasters just reminded me that the scholarly articles I read in my school library program classes are relevant to the field. Spending my Wednesday night at Connect Boston was a clear reminder that Simmons is giving me the education I need to feel comfortable making networking connections with both fellow library teachers and school administrators in the Boston area.

Conferences | Events | People | SLIS


Putting Theory into Practice: Tackling Information Literacy for Incarcerated Students

One of the components for my Information Services for Diverse Users class (LIS 410) this semester is a service learning project. I did a lot of community based learning in undergrad, so this was right up my alley! I signed up to work with the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College (TUPIT), which brights Tufts faculty and students "together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, corrections staff, educators, and scholars of criminal justice to facilitate creative and collaborative responses to the problems of mass incarceration." Because I have a background in restorative justice and a vested interest in the rights of the incarcerated, getting to combine these passions with my library studies was a dream come true! This past Friday, I was able to meet with my project supervisor to get a better idea of what our goals are for the semester.  

As it turns out, we will be creating an annotated bibliography and miniature lit review on the subject of education and information literacy in prisons, as well as the book to prison pipeline. We are looking to discover what successful collections look like in prisons, as well as how educators would be able to get around limited or no access to technology, especially while teaching information literacy. We will also be seeking out people and organizations who have successfully done this work before, and conducting interviews to identify potential landmines, opportunities for improvement, and successes. Our final for LIS 410 will be to compile an outreach plan that TUPIT can then put into place after our semester is done! 

One of the key parts of mindful service learning at Simmons (and in general) is reflection. Throughout the semester, we have been advised to keep a journal tracking our experiences, documenting our feelings about the process, and relating these to our scholarship. As a stream of consciousness writer and blabbermouth with a lot of thoughts, I love having a space (beside this blog) to break down my feelings! 

On Thursday, October 3rd and Friday, October 4th, TUPIT is hosting a symposium entitled Engaging Justice: Inside/Outside Prison. It is free and open to all, and "aims to engage issues resulting in and resulting from mass incarceration, promote empathetic listening, foster vicis discourse, and center voices of those with deep knowledge of incarceration." I'll be attending with my group members and am so excited to further engage with TUPIT! Overall, lots of exciting things on the horizon -- I'll keep you updated! 

 

Learning | Projects | SLIS | classes | skills


When to Stop

I had a very busy weekend.  I finished most of my digital libraries project and I am very happy with it.  The only thing I haven't done is write up my annotated bibliography, but that shouldn't take too long.  I also spent a lot of time on an assignment for my programming course, which I was not expecting.  We have a lab and an assignment each week, and they both take time, but nothing like this.  I simply could not get my code to work.  I spent more than two hours just on the first question.  I tried over and over to make it work.  I changed my names, variables, punctuation, formulae, and it still didn't work the way it was supposed to.  It was almost there, but not quite, which was even more frustrating.  I decided to take a break and try next question, but I could not get that to work all the way, either.  So I put the assignment away for the day.  When I picked it up the next day, I still had no luck.  At that point, I decided to simply turn in what I had and not waste any more time on it. 

Normally I like to have everything fully completed before submitting an assignment.  But what I've learned in the past two semesters is that sometimes there is nothing more you can do.  And that's ok.  It was clear that I was NOT going to get the assignment correct, and I was only driving myself crazy overthinking and getting worked up about not being able to find a solution.  I had spent hours on this assignment, which, in the grand scheme of things, would only be worth a teeny tiny part of my overall grade for the semester.  It didn't make sense for me to spend any more time on it, especially when I had another, more important project to complete. 

If this had happened when I was in college the first time around, I would have seen it as a failure.  Now, I see it as part of the learning process.  Sometimes you understand concepts the first time, and sometimes you don't.  But there's a difference between giving up and realizing that you are simply not understanding the concept at the moment.  It's ok to be wrong, as long as you take the time to find out how to do things correctly later on.  I never thought I would be looking forward to finding out the answers to an assignment, but I am.  I need to know what I was doing wrong!  I'm also curious to see if anyone else in class had trouble with this assignment, too.  I'll find out soon, and until then, I'm not going to waste any more time stressing over it. 

SLIS | Technology | classes | skills


Lots of Reading

   I was very busy this past weekend getting readings done, and my first written assignment for my YA Library Collections class was due on Wednesday. The assignment was to read a Young Adult book. Figuring out what is Young Adult is the hard part. I went to talk to my local children's librarian at the neighborhood branch of the Boston Public Library, and she showed me her recommendations for good YA books in the collection. Sitting down with the pile of books, it was hard to choose just one. Instead, I chose to read one for the assignment and bring two other books home to read later. Spending all weekend reading Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina was quite fun, especially when you can lounge in the library's comfy chair. But after reading that, I realized I have another task to do. Peggy_Books1.JPG

   When I was in the library this weekend, I saw a teen hanging out in the adult section and the teen section. I asked her to show me what books she likes to read on the shelves, which got her very excited. She showed me a few different authors that I didn't recognize, and it was nice to see this teenage girl so excited about reading. I then told her I am plotting an outline of a YA story for my Writing for Children class. Sometimes it is the little things that remind us why we are going into a career, for me, serving library patrons.

  Monday afternoon, I went off to Simmons' Boston campus to work on a project in the SLIS Tech Lab. This project is something I wanted SCIRRT to do for Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week ended today, and it is a week to celebrate the banned books in America. To recognize Banned Books Week, I did research on banned books from around the world. Printing out trivia questions about different countries, I scattered these fun facts on colored paper all around the SLIS Lounge. My goal in doing this project is to promote diversity and awareness of how books are censored in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Peggy_Homework2.jpg

Classes | SLIS | reading


Always Say Yes to Free Pizza

Having survived a crazy, first few weeks of the semester full of extensive planning, and then replanning, I'm starting to finally feel settled again. And with the start of a new semester here at Simmons is all the fun events! Since I haven't been an on-campus student since last Fall, it was really great coming back and seeing so many familiar faces! 

An event that I remembered hearing about last fall, that I was lucky to be able to actually attend this fall, was Pizza with the Dean. Besides the obvious reasoning of free food, I thought this was a really great opportunity to actually meet and talk with our COCIS Dean Marie desJardins in a casual, conversational setting. If there is one goal I have been really trying to work on throughout grad school, it is being more outgoing in a work meets social type setting. Networking has always been a terrifying concept for me and, while I like to think I am an interesting person to talk to, once I start interacting with professionals I look up to, I find my mind always goes blank.  

What made this event so perfect? It was a relatively small group of us, around 12 students total, and Marie was so lovely and easy to talk to about both fun topics -- like her go-to coffee shop/cafe in Boston, (Athan's Bakery near the Washington Square T stop in Brookline for those curious!) and on more serious topics such as keeping the word 'library' in the school of library and information science, despite the trend of other universities becoming just 'information schools'. Another great opportunity that Marie discussed with us is that since COCIS is one of 4 graduate colleges at Simmons, she would love to see more cross enrollment amongst the programs; for example, LIS students taking courses in the School of Social Work or Management courses in the School of Business. 

I'm glad I went to this event, not only because I got to speak and hear from our COCIS dean, but also because it was a great way to hear from my peers in the program too. Everyone at Simmons is coming from all sorts of backgrounds, whether that means straight out of undergrad, or people looking for a career change/broadening their professional skills. The fact that Simmons offers these type of events for students is really helpful, and I feel it's reflective of the program itself. As librarians, we can always benefit from collaborating with each other. It was just an added bonus that in this case there just happened to be free pizza involved!

 

Events | SLIS | Student Groups | Students


Project Time!

I can't believe we're already into the fourth week of classes!  I've gotten into the rhythm of classwork and due dates (thanks in part to my awesome new planner), and I've been balancing everything well.  I have two individual projects due in early October and I've already started my research for them.  The first is a presentation on a digital library for my Digital Libraries course, and the second is a paper on the influence of technology during a specific time period for my Social Informatics course.  They are both very interesting, but I wanted to focus on my digital libraries project in this blog.

One of the first topics we discussed in class is how digital libraries are difficult to define.  Is a digital library literally a collection of digitized objects?  Does it need to be limited to books only?  Does it need to be organized by time, subject, object, or location?  Should it be easy to search through?  My classmates and I get to answer some of these questions by each evaluating a particular digital library.   The digital library that I chose is the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library.  The title is a bit of a mouthful, but it's probably the most efficient way of saying "the entire library of John Adams which he left to the Boston Public Library." The collection consists of more than 3,000 books and pamphlets collected by Adams during his lifetime. 

The first thing I noticed is that there is no real theme to the collection, other than the fact that everything once belonged to John Adams.  The collection is large and contains material in many different languages and formats, including political treatises, dictionaries, and almanacs, and it's hard to search unless you are looking for something very specific.  While the library allows you search by language, format and date, etc, this only narrows things down so much.  It would take a lot of thought and focus to find exactly what you needed from the collection.  That being said, the digital copies themselves are wonderful.  Each item is scanned in full and is of very high quality.  You can literally browse through each item.  This is a fantastic way to gain access to books that you otherwise would not be able to handle.  At this point, my early conclusion is that this digital library is more for scholars who are interested in John Adams and/or a particular volume in his collection.  To the casual viewer, it is a nice site to browse, but a bit overwhelming and unorganized. 

I'm looking forward to viewing all the presentations and seeing how other digital libraries are set up.  I think this project is going to be very useful because our semester-long project is to create our own digital library.  Investigating other digital libraries allows us to see what works and what does not work, so that our main project will be as successful as possible.  In the meantime, if you want to peruse the John Adams Library, you can find it at https://archive.org/details/johnadamsBPL?sort=titleSorter

Libraries | SLIS | classes


Moving on to Fall

 This week was fairly uneventful, as all I did was read teen books and sneeze a lot. I really enjoy this program in SLIS! All my assigned readings are really fun, and I never thought homework in grad school would be fun. The only hard part about being slammed with so much homework is I woke up on Monday with the sniffles. The sniffles are really no fun, especially when a sore throat follows a day or two later. Lots of naps this week with the sniffles, but by next week I should be back to Loretta's for line dancing.

  For my Young Adult class, I am evaluating trends in publishing. It is so interesting, and makes my course seem so relevant to the profession I will be going into in about a year. The critical texts we read correspond with the assigned young adult books we read, which is really nice.

 In my other class, I have a lot of textbook readings about story structure. I've always loved writing, so I don't mind all the reading - as dense as it is. This week was the first big writing assignment for the Writing for Children class, and I feel so lucky to be taking a class with MFA students in the Simmons Children's Literature program. Simmons has blessed me with two wonderful programs of courses and one degree that will lead to a future career in school libraries (and writing children's books during the summer).

   This is the last weekend of summer before the fall weather comes. I've already brought out the gourds and apple cider, but I guess that fall will have to wait until Tuesday. My weekend plans are ice cream at Abbott's frozen custard in Brighton, a picnic in a park (a lovely pond in Brighton) with fellow SLIS school library friends, and lots of studying. Looking forward to summer weather this weekend, but not so much the studying. 

SLIS | classes | reading


Intro to Programming

I wrote a post last year explaining all the different ways that discussion happens in online classes (http://blogs.simmons.edu/slis/student-experience/2019/04/participation.html).  This semester, I have another new format for my Introduction to Programming course (LIS 485), and it relies on mainly on classmate feedback.  Each week, we have to complete a lab and an assignment.  The lab is where we practice our coding skills, and the assignment is where we answer questions and/or perform a coding task related to what we've learned in the lab.  It's very similar to the format of Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488), except that now we are required to post our work to the forums for our classmates to review.  I was pretty anxious about this at first.  In a normal class, if I mess up, I'm the only one who knows besides the professor.  With this format, there's no secrecy.  If I struggle or have the wrong answers, everyone will know.  What if my classmates judge me for being wrong? 

Thankfully, this has not been the case.  It turns out that looking at and commenting on everyone's work is not as scary as I thought it would be.  In fact, it's actually very helpful!  There is a lot of variety in programming and many ways that you can get to the same answer.  It's been interesting to see everyone's work, and I've gotten lots of ideas on how to approach different coding situations.  Everyone has been very friendly and helpful with their comments.  It's a supportive atmosphere, not a judgmental one.  For the labs, we can comment on anyone's work, but for the assignments, we have "code partners," and we discuss just between the two of us.  Overall, I think this format is great for improving my coding skills and for getting to know my classmates better. 

This week's assignment is particularly interesting and will probably generate a lot of discussion.  We had to write pseudocode for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Pseudocode is basically an outline for your code, where you to write out everything in detail and get the steps organized before you actually start to code.  I made several drafts of my pseudocode.  I started by explaining the sandwich making process in full detail, from taking out the jars of peanut butter and jelly to unscrewing the lids to cutting the sandwich.  I think I had too much detail there, and I whittled it down a bit.  I still wasn't happy with that version and I completely re-wrote it to be very basic.  I think I might have been a little too basic, but it was hard to make the choice between too much info and too little info.  I'm sure the responses this week are going to be all over the map in terms of detail, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

SLIS | Technology | classes | skills


Change the Subject: Dartmouth Students Take on the Library of Congress

What better way to spend Friday the 13th than at school watching a documentary about the weight of -- and potential harm associated with -- naming as well as the intersections of subject headings and activism? I did just that, settling in for a viewing and panel discussion of "Change the Subject," which follows "a group of students at Dartmouth College, whose singular effort at confronting anti-immigrant sentiment in their library catalog took them all the way from Baker-Berry Library to the halls of Congress. 'Change the Subject' shows how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight, and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill." You can check out the trailer for yourself here

The documentary was fabulous, but the high point was hearing from all of the panelists. Óscar Rubén Cornejo Cásares joined us via Skype. He is a former undocumented student activist who was involved with CoFIRED (Coalition for Immigration Reform and Equality at Dartmouth), and one of the film producers. He is currently working on his PhD at Northwestern. Óscar spoke about finding his voice, and gaining a better understanding of complex library systems, as well as his general experience with CoFIRED and studying at Dartmouth. 

Filmmakers Sawyer Broadler and Jill Baron were also on the panel. Jill and Sawyer had originally planned on creating a 15 minute video to document the process, but opted for an hour long documentary when they amassed 30+ hours of footage. It was Dartmouth student Melissa Padilla's interaction with Jill that set off the fight for removal of the subject heading "illegal alien" from Library of Congress records. Jill had been conducting a reference interview with Melissa when searches for "undocumented immigrants" led to the subject heading in question. Jill spoke extensively about confronting her own whiteness/privilege and her journey challenging the Library of Congress instead of blindly accepting their naming conventions as gospel. 

Community activists rounded out the panel. Irma Lemuz is a migration, gender and environmental justice organizer with Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network. She is originally from Honduras, and spoke about her difficult journey to the United States, and emphasized that the world has no true borders. Irma brought her son to the event. He sat near the front and was clearly so proud of his mom. He recorded every answer she gave on the panel. I only cried a little bit. 

Catalina Santiago is a immigration justice organizer with Movimiento Cosecha Massachusetts, who arrived to the panel from a Quinceañera outside the Massachusetts State House. The Rainbow Times writes that "after fifteen years of empty promises saying action will be taken on drivers' licenses for migrants, the community and allies will gather to demand change through a mock celebration." Catalina spoke about the reclamation of slurs and how labels have specifically affected her life. 

At the conclusion of the event, Andrew Clark -- who is a Discovery and Metadata Librarian at Beatley -- shared with those in attendance that the Fenway Library Organization (FLO) is working to strike "illegal aliens" from member library catalogs. I am elated that Simmons is willing to put in the work to ensure that harmful naming practices do not have a home on our campus.

 

Events | Real World | SLIS


A Break for Some Fun!

  This week, I tried to have some fun.  I was assigned three books to read this week for my YA Library Collections class I spent most of my week studying and reading! The books are: Judy Blume's Forever; Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly; and Looking for Alaska by John Green. I gave myself a goal on Monday. If I could finish all of the readings for my Writing For Children class, and get halfway done with Looking For Alaska, then I would do something fun on Tuesday night. Howdy, cowgirl! Out I went to a country bar.

   Walking from Simmons to Fenway, I had never realized how "hopping" the area is. Before heading to Fenway on a Tuesday night, I checked to make sure there was no Red Sox game. The crowds out in Fenway Park can get crazy on game night. With no game, I was good to go line dancing. Growing up listening to country music, I was really excited to learn that there is a country bar in Boston. With school and volunteering, I could never find the time to go to Loretta's Last Call, which is down the street from House of Blues. I finally got the courage this week!  

   Every half hour at Loretta's, there is a quick lesson for a new dance, and then you practice to a couple songs. There are free line dancing lessons on Sundays and Tuesdays at 8 pm. The "regulars" (the people who come every week) are very welcoming to new faces. In the midst of a busy week of studying and work, it is good to get a break. You don't have to be a good dancer! You really just have to know which direction everyone is facing when you dance. I tried out some hard line dances, but caught on pretty quickly. For any fan of country music or someone who loves dancing, this is definitely a great break from studying!

Books | Boston | Classes | Fun | SLIS | Students


Keeping Track

My first week of the semester went well.  Usually the first week is a bit lighter than the rest of the semester, with the professors introducing themselves and giving a basic overview of the courses, and the students answering some forum questions to get to know each other and the course topic.  Week two is where the more serious work starts.  I certainly have a lot of work this semester, with several group projects, research papers, and presentations. 

I was overwhelmed when I first read my course syllabi.  For my first two semesters, all my classes have followed a similar format, with Day 1 being the first day of class, and Day 7 being the due date for the assignments.  I didn't write down any deadlines, because I knew that I had to get everything done by the end of the week.  It was pretty simple to manage.  This semester, however, is different.  All my classes have work due on Day 7, but two of my three classes have additional work due before the last day of the week.  So there are a lot more deadlines.  To make things even more confusing, all of my classes start on different days.  Thankfully, I went out and found a nice planner with lots of space to keep track of everything that's due.  I've already entered all of my weekly assignments and big project deadlines.  I actually entered my big project deadlines twice--once on the weekly calendar and once on the monthly calendar.  It took a while, but it was worth it because now I can see everything that's due and can plan for busier weeks.  And I won't worry about forgetting an assignment.  If only completing the work were as easy as planning it.

SLIS | Workload | classes


Who Knew Fidelity Investments has a Library?

Hello, Student Snippet readers! Long time no see(read?)! Happy start of the new semester, I have had one of the busiest summers of my life this year. For a quick recap: I had to put my on-campus job in the SLIS admissions office on hold since I was working at Fidelity Investments full-time as their Research Services Intern, while also taking Metadata online which was offered this summer as the SLIS travel course to Yonsei University in South Korea!

Since I could write about my trip to South Korea for ages, I thought I'd focus my first "back-to-school" blog post, on my internship this summer. I found and applied for my summer internship using the SLIS jobline. I was fortunate enough interview, and be offered the internship at Fidelity Investments in Boston, where I would be working with their research services team. Now I'm sure I am not alone in that I had no idea that Fidelity even had a library, and with it some super cool librarians! Because it was a corporate library, the job came with some cool, hip corporate lingo too, we weren't reference librarians, we were information consultants. Functionally though, the work I did wasn't very different from other libraries it was just mainly focused on finance and economics. As someone with an art history and non-profit background, I was honestly quite terrified of working there, I did not feel qualified to handle reference questions about factor investing but spoiler alert: I handled it! I answered reference questions on all sorts of topics like when people buy furniture or which grocery store chain has the highest market share in New England. I also cataloged/checked-in new books and periodicals to the physical collection, and helped with content management of the collection as well.I also learned some sweet, sweet excel skills through this internship; and nothing makes me feel more like a wizard than data organization and visualization in excel with charts. 

I really loved the time I was able to spend at Fidelity and this internship really helped broaden my horizons on different career paths in librarianship. If you had asked me last September, when I was first starting the program if I would ever see myself working in a corporate library I'd probably just say a quick and simple: no. But, it turns out, I really loved it from day one! Most of the people I worked with there were Simmons grads, and it really felt like a great community. My takeaways from this internship were ultimately that I am capable of more than I lead myself to believe, and that my library science degree is applicable in more ways than I could have ever imagined!

 

Internships | Jobs | SLIS | Students | skills