Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Student Leadership

  It's finally Friday! This week was a busy one, starting off on Sunday using Google Docs to be a part of a LISSA (Library and Information Science Student Association) officers meeting. Tuesday was a student leaders meeting, for all officers of the eleven library science student groups. After I got out of the student leaders meeting, I checked my phone to find five emails from my other SCIRRT (student chapter of International Relations Round Table) officers regarding an event we are planning. Wednesday was the most fun of all the meetings, since I got to attend a faculty meeting as a student faculty representative. From there, the week got easier.

   How did my week get so busy? Well, back in December, a fellow student posted on the SLIS current students Facebook group asking if anyone was interested in being a student faculty representative. I had no idea as part of this position I would be accepting a role as a LISSA officer, or what I would be doing in this role. But my logic was "why not," it'll be fun...?" and that's how that happened.

   Rewind to October, I was sitting in the SLIS lounge in the Palace Road building waiting for my 6 pm class to start, and I heard some other students talking about international-type events. I kept hollering across the room, as I liked some of their ideas. Then, the current co-chair of the club told me how all the officers are new to the leadership team. Soon I found out that this was the club for international librarianship (SCIRRT), and I was hooked. I went home that night telling my dad I was now the new co-chair of the club. After two months of my first semester of the program, I was in a leadership position. At Simmons SLIS, it is easy to be a leader and getting involved helps students professionally and for making new friends.

 Check out all of the student groups at SLIS here.

Leadership | SLIS | Students


Hello Peggy!

We are adding another new blogger. 

Everyone welcome Margaret "Peggy" Hogan-Rao to the team. Here is a Peggy's Bio:

Hi, I'm Peggy! I'm fairly new to the Boston area, so far I love it here. I started the Simmons LIS program in fall 2018, and moved to Boston a few weeks before classes started. Originally from the mountains of upstate NY, coming to Boston is a big change for me - getting used to the city life in Boston. I completed my undergrad degree in Media & Communication and English Writing at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, few hours west of my hometown in Eastern New York. My dream job for after I finish the Simmons MLIS degree is to be a certified school library media specialist in a city school district, and a bestselling children's author. You can find me most weekends exploring a new church or a cool independent bookshop in the Boston area. My hobbies include collecting more books than I can read, cuddling with cute dogs, visiting beautiful beaches, traveling the world, and volunteering in the community.

Peggy will be a regular blogger, look for her first post soon!

People | SLIS


Breaktime

Last week was Spring break.  I didn't go anywhere, because I still have a full-time job, but I was able to relax.  Instead of coming home every day and doing schoolwork, I got to come home and read, or knit, or catch up on my tv.  I still worked a bit on a group project, but I didn't have to spend nearly as much time on that as I would my usual work.  While it was really refreshing to have a break, I have to admit that I got a bit antsy after a few days.  I've been so used to my study schedule that I feel a bit lost without it.  A week was great, but I'm ready to get back into school mode.

I have a lot to think about for the second half of the semester.  I have a group project for my tech class that's due next week, and then two projects due at the end of the semester: a group project for my info organization class and an individual project for my tech class.  I have to create my own website for my tech class, and I'm a bit apprehensive about it.  Even though I've learned the basic building blocks of web design, I haven't yet done anything as complicated as creating my own website from the ground up.  I'll have to think about layout and content, as well as images and colors.  It's going to be time consuming, and I plan on starting as early as possible.  My group project is about cataloging a collection of rock and roll posters from the San Francisco area in the 1960's and 1970's.  I'm a huge classic rock fan, and I'm excited to work on that topic for class.

I also have to think about classes for the Fall semester.  I'm currently on the archives track, but I've been thinking a lot lately about switching to the Design Your Own curriculum.  I really enjoy my tech class and think it would be interesting to focus on that area.  Simmons has several classes that focus on digital libraries and digital records management, and it would be fantastic to combine these with some programming and tech classes.  So this week I'm going to email my current advisor to ask if she can recommend someone that I can talk to about possibly changing tracks.  I want to get all the info so that I can make the right decision for me.  Luckily, I still have some time before registration starts.  Both archives and tech are exciting and integral to the future of libraries, so I'll be happy with whatever track I choose.   I just have to make the decision.

SLIS | Students | classes


Developing and Managing Collection Development and Management

I, Katie Carlson, am a 'microwave thinker.' This idea was introduced to me by a professor at Mount Holyoke, and indicates that given a moment, I can always supply an idea. Put simply, my brain moves fast. (Sometimes too fast - especially when the goal is quality over quantity.) Microwave thinkers are placed in opposition to 'slow cooker thinkers.' These are people who need time to let their ideas marinate, especially before they feel comfortable sharing them with a group. A round table discussion can be torture for these 'slow cookers,' especially when the room is populated with 'microwaves.' While I originally responded negatively to being a 'microwave' -- thinking of unevenly heated food with weird textures -- my professor stressed that one brand of thinking is not better or worse than the other! We landed on the idea that in any educational setting, it's important to plan activities and allow for opportunities that work well for both 'slow cookers' and 'microwaves.'  

 

 

The reason I bring up this 'thinker' dichotomy is that my online class in Collection Development and Management (LIS 453) is forcing me to step away from the 'microwave' and make my way to the 'slow cooker.' Class being taught asynchronously means that I am presented with a few hours of content and have the whole week to consume it. While Wednesdays are my hunker-down and get it done day, the work almost always spills into other days of the week. I never would have guessed it, but I'm slow cooking! I jot down notes during lectures, and highlight my readings, but I'm thinking about patron demographics while I cook dinner, and list checking while I wash my hair! Of course I've always been a ponderer, but putting all of my comments into forums (with an end of week due date) has meant the content I'm sharing is more fleshed out!

Another welcome addition to my online learning experiment is hearing from everyone! In an online class, nobody takes a seat in the last row and avoids sharing their opinions. My favorite thing about education is the collaborative thinking aspect, so I'm grateful to be able to hear from my 'slow cooker' classmates, and learn a thing or twenty from them, too!

 

Learning | SLIS | skills


Putting It All Together

These past few weeks have been about putting things together and wrapping up everything I've been learning into an actual product. At my internship, all my previous class work, observations, readings, and discussions have finally culminated in an actual teaching experience! I have now taught undergraduate freshmen and lived to tell the tale, haha! But really, my first teaching day went as well as I could have hoped. It was rigorous - three 75-minute classes in one day - but rewarding. I did not realize how unaccustomed I would be to talking and standing that much in one day! My very first class was a little wobbly and I couldn't quite shake the nerves, but my second two felt much more natural. By the last one I wasn't even looking at my outline or checking the clock. Whew! I am relieved to have the first day over with so that I never have to be teaching for the very first time again.

In my metadata class we are working on an assignment that involves several pieces, each of which we have learned about and practiced previously. We have to create our own XML schema and then create three XML records based on our schema. This is the third Simmons class I've taken that requires actual coding, and I quite enjoy it. I never thought I'd be coding this much in library school, but I've seen so many practical applications of this skill since I started. Many of us begin our tech-heavy classes with some trepidation, but I can almost guarantee you'll find something fun about coding. I do recommend, however, that you take those classes in-person if possible. I've realized that troubleshooting code is a bit trickier in an online class. There's a delay waiting for responses to your question and something is always lost in translation. It is much easier to have someone else looking at your screen with you and being able to walk you through something. My advice is: take tech classes in person, and if you have to do it online, start your assignments early so there is time to get help.

In other news, we've begun the painfully slow slog toward spring on the heels of what was probably our biggest snowstorm this season. Since I've lived in Connecticut for four years now, I know that March-April often feels more like a second winter than spring, but the signs are there. The sun is coming out more and the birds are beginning to sing - as if nature knows something we don't. Simmons' spring break has given me a little extra time to do my work, but other than that, life goes on as usual. 

SLIS | classes | skills


Spring Break!

It is Spring Break everyone!  Does it feel like Spring Break to you?  It certainly does not feel like Spring Break to me.  We are not having Spring Break-esque weather with the snow and the freezing cold and everything. 

Last year for Spring Break I participated in the SLIS Alternative Spring Break program at Papercut Zine Library, but this year I have to work so sadly I am unable to participate this time around.  This year they are working with The History Project, The Prison Book Program, 826 Boston, and Papercut Zine Library. I had a great time last year and I learned a lot, and volunteering is a great way to give back to the community while also gaining valuable experience!  Also, last year I had recently moved to the area and it was a great way for me to meet new people.  The Alternative Spring Break program is an excellent way to get involved at Simmons, to give back to the community, and to gain experience. 

This year for Spring Break, as I mentioned I have work, and I also have schoolwork.  Even though I technically have this week off, there is still lots off schoolwork to be done- projects to be worked on, readings to be completed, group meetings to be had, etc.   Even though my class (LIS 451: Academic Libraries) is a lot of work, every assignment is so, so useful and everything we learn has a purpose.  We aren't even halfway through the semester and one of our biggest individual projects was due last week.  We had a Mini Grant Proposal project, where we had to go through the process of applying for and creating a proposal for a grant.  Grant writing is such a useful skill, and not just for academic libraries.  Next week our Three Minute Teaching Assignment is due, and again, that is a skill that transcends academic libraries.  I know I've said it before, and other bloggers have said it as well, but there really is no busy work at SLIS.  Every assignment is important.  All of your assignments, all of your readings, and all of your projects are like professional development.  I think in this class I just might see it even more clearly because I am currently working in an academic library, and the class is about academic libraries, but it has rung true for each and every class I've taken here. 

I hope that everyone is having a fabulous Spring Break no matter what weather you are experiencing, and whether you are relaxing, volunteering, or working!  Happy Spring Break!

Students | classes | skills


Tongue-Twisting Terminology

When I tell people that I'm in school to become a librarian, they are immediately curious and ask what my classes are like.  I usually give the same response: "Classes are awesome!  But there's a lot of...terminology."  I know ellipses are overused nowadays, but I can't think of another way to represent the long, slightly awkward pause in which I scrunch up my face, look off into space and try to find the best way to describe my classes. 

It's difficult because my classes are very broad.  Both LIS 415: Information Organization, and LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals are required classes, and they are meant to introduce students to concepts and standards that will be used later on in our classes and careers.  They're not meant to make us experts in any one area, but to be a starting point on our journey.  So, we go through a lot of topics in a relatively short period of time. 

There are different types of information in each class.  For Info Organization, it's all about the acronyms.  Everything from cataloging methods, standardizing organizations and processes has its own abbreviation.  For example, we recently had to read chapter 7 of our textbook.  The chapter was on resource description, and the glossary at the end of the chapter included thirty-seven different acronyms, including AACR2, CDWA, DCMES, DCMI, ISAD(G), LC-PCC PS, RDF, VRA, and XML.  

For Tech for Info Professionals, there's a lot of coding, which we've used so far to create simple HTML pages.  The coding itself is not the problem, it's the fact that you have to code every single thing, and there are so many variables.  To center a paragraph, you have to define the margins, padding, and borders.  Each of these can include top, right, center, and left properties, as well as codes to fix their positions.  There's also text size, text font, text color, background color, background image, image alignment, etc.  It goes on and on.   

I'll be honest.  It's overwhelming, and sometimes I wish I had a second brain to process all the information.  I don't always fully absorb one week's topic before the next week starts, and it's frustrating.  Thankfully, our assignments are practical and hands on, and we get to use these concepts instead of simply reading about them.  That helps a lot.  And in spite of this seemingly endless glut of information, I really do love my classes.  I'm learning a lot, and I know that I will go over these topics more thoroughly in the future.  I'm confident that by the time I graduate, I'll be able to rattle off acronyms and programming codes with the best of them.  Until then, I need to take it one term at a time.

SLIS | Students | classes | skills


Enjoying the Journey

As the semester goes on I continue to feel very pleased with the way that it has turned out. Taking that two-week preservation course at the very beginning was the best thing I could have done. I enjoyed the topic more than I thought I would, and it left me with just one class to worry about for the rest of the semester! It does feel a little strange to not be driving up to South Hadley every Saturday, but I am thrilled to have my weekends back and to spend them with my family. It is a good thing too, because the weekly class schedule for metadata makes all the assignments and discussions due on Monday - which means I'm pretty busy over the weekend.

Fortunately my internship makes up for the missed classroom interaction and sociality I enjoyed up at SLIS West. On Thursday I got to observe Matt, the senior instruction librarian, teach the class that I'll be teaching next week! The lesson plan, activities, presentation and materials are already provided for me, I just need to work on my delivery. It's like teaching with the training wheels on, letting me focus on getting comfortable with classroom dynamics and the flow of a lesson. I know I'll be super nervous for my first time next week, so I just keep reminding myself of three things. First, that it's not my first time teaching/speaking/presenting in front of people and all those other times have generally gone very well. Second, that I am prepared to do this and right where I want to be. Third, that it's not that big of a deal and it's okay to be a little shaky at first. Matt and I talked about how reading and taking LIS classes and observing can only prepare you so much before you just have to start doing it. Being nervous and shaky is all part of the journey, part of the ground that must be traversed before you arrive at your destination.

Speaking of the journey, my time at Simmons is quickly winding down and while I'm very much focused on what comes next, I'm also trying to relish my last semester. I love school and I have loved being a Simmons student and I may never be a student like this again. School is stressful and a lot of work and while the end result is very important, there is a lot to be gained from the journey itself. Try to soak it all up while you can!

Internships | Online | SLIS West | classes | skills


Never Thought I'd See One of Those in an Archive...

I am now approaching my 5th week of interning at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Archives and it could not be more of a perfect fit! After graduating with my MSLIS, my dream is to work as an art librarian, so you can imagine my excitement with my placement at this institution! To further sweeten the deal, MassArt is right next to Simmons and my supervisor is a Simmons alum! So easy it is an easy commute and I love hearing about her experience while she was in the program.

Just as a quick recap in case anyone isn't too familiar with how the LIS438 internship works, you are required to complete a 60 hour internship in conjunction with your regular course assignments. The great thing about this internship is that Simmons set it up for you so there is none of that application stress and decision fatigue. I should point out though that the one downside to that is you don't have any say in where you get placed. You fill out a survey where the only real question is whether you have a car, so they can place people to appropriately located institutions.

So given these conditions, I was extremely lucky with my placement! I didn't even have to change the bus I take since Simmons and MassArt are so close (as someone who may never get accustomed to Boston public transit this was a HUGE perk). I have only just started but I know I am going to love this internship. I am working on a small collection of papers from a MassArt alum and faculty member named Theon Cain, who taught from around the 1920-1950s. He was a professor of drawing and perspective so there are a lot of cool sketches among the records as well. But the best thing about this whole collection and my supervisor has told me an intern has never really got to work with before is...a GARGOYLE! That's right there is a gargoyle of Mr. Cain in this collection that I get to process for the archives. It's pretty dang cool. I even got an image from my supervisor to share.

I'm only just starting going through and describing the records in the collection but I already love playing detective and piecing together all the names and publications. I feel lucky to be working with such a small collection because I truly get to look at each individual item and dive deeper into Cain's life not only as a faculty member at MassArt but a student as well.

Another quick plug unrelated to my internship, since Simmons and MassArt are both a part of the Colleges of the Fenway, as a Simmons student we get access to their library system as well! There library is on the 12th floor of their tower building so not only do they have some great resources on art and design but also one of the best views of the Boston Skyline. Definitely worth checking it out if not for the books but for the view. Oh and they also have some really funky chairs with built in tables and plugs that make studying for hours a little more bearable.

Classes | Internships | Librarians | Students


Searching for the Unknown

We are taught early on how to search for information in a library.  You search by author, title, or subject, and find what you need.  But the reality is, it's not always easy to find exactly what you want unless you have a good idea of what you are looking for.  In LIS 415, Information Organization, we completed an assignment where we searched for the word "grey" as author, keyword, and title.  Predictably, the results were numerous and varied, as "grey" is a fairly common word that can be a name or a color.  That assignment gave me a lot to think about.  I use the library a lot, both for school and for myself.  Most of the time I have an author or title in mind when I'm searching, or at least a subject that can narrow down my search.  But how do I search when I don't know what I want?  And more importantly, do I ever search for the unknown?

All these questions came up because of my trip to the Needham Public Library last week.  They had a "Blind Date with a Book" table set up, and it immediately intrigued me.  The books were wrapped in brown paper, with only the keywords taped to the front.  I browsed the table and chose two books.  It was not an easy decision!

Book 1:  Death--Afterlife--Making Amends--China--Ghosts--1920's

Book 2:  Paranormal abilities--search for truth--academic life--rivalry--magazine    editors--past lives--philosophers--aunts--relationships

It was disorienting to search for books using only those identifiers.  I've spent considerable time so far learning about the complexities of categorizing information, and this simple exhibit forced me take a closer look at what exactly that information provided.  Clearly the keywords gave some idea about the book's content, but not about how everything tied together.  Consider Book 2.  How exactly do past lives, paranormal abilities, and (this one makes me laugh) magazine editors relate to each other?  What is the book actually about?  I had no clue, but I wanted to find out.

I don't know if I will like either of these books, but that's not really the point.  The point is that I was open to checking them out and to getting out of my reading comfort zone.  Reading new books is the perfect way to take a risk.  If I don't like a book, I can return it.  But if I love a book, I can discover a whole new world.  The next time I'm at the library, I'm going to take another chance.  Because sometimes not knowing what you want allows you to find just what you need.

For those who are interested, the mystery books were:

Book 1:  Three Souls by Janie Chang

Book 2:  The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Books | Fun | reading


Time Flies

Oh my goodness as of today I have officially entered Week 5 of LIS 451: Academic Libraries!  My class is already a third of the way over!   It feels like we just started. Can you believe it's almost March? A part of me thinks that is a good thing though- this class keeps me so engaged, so interested, and so busy that it doesn't feel like it has been a long time (although five weeks isn't too long of a time). 

This class has been so interesting and so, so useful for me.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I currently work in an academic library as a Reference Assistant, and between my job and this class it has really given me a sense of what the future might have in store for me if I were to make academic libraries my future after I get my degree.  Just this last week in class we had a Journal Subscription Budget exercise where we were given database usage statistics and their cost for some universities, and we were told to imagine that we were the Electronic Resources Manager for one of the schools and we had to eliminate $15,000 from the budget, so we had to decide which databases would be renewed and which would be cancelled.  This exercise and all the factors to consider when doing a budget is something that was incredibly valuable for me to learn, and I'm really excited to see what's coming next!

In other news, I had my first honest-to-goodness crisis as a graduate student and I survived!  I suppose this entire situation depends on your definition of the word "crisis" because it's not like my life was in danger, but something that is almost as important was definitely in danger.  Here's what happened: my laptop broke.  I have been taking online classes for the past few semesters, so my entire student existence has been completely dependent on my access to a computer (particularly this laptop) and a WiFi signal.  When I was in undergrad, I was an on-campus student, so if I ever had a problem with my computer, I could easily either go to Tech Services, or I could just go to one of the libraries at my university and use one of their computers to finish my assignment.  While I do live in Massachusetts, coming in to Simmons at any given moment isn't feasible--it requires planning and coordination, especially because my job isn't in Boston.  What this entire situation has reminded me of is the importance of having a backup plan in case if everything goes wrong.  I did have a half-baked plan for if my computer ever broke, but I never thought it would happen anytime soon due to the relative newness of my computer.  One thing that I did have before my computer broke was a backup of all of my data, so thankfully I didn't lose anything; however, I now have that data backed up in multiple places because I am now paranoid.  Anyways, the good news is that this situation happened early enough in the week so that I was able to get my computer fixed in time for my weekly assignment to get turned in (although it was a very close call), and I now have a very thorough plan so it won't be the end of the world if this ever happens againAnyways, this is a PSA about having a plan in case if your computer breaks.    

Also, we're coming up on my one-year anniversary of being a student blogger!  Happy Blogiversary!  I can't believe it's been a year already! I've really enjoyed sharing my thoughts and my journey of being a SLIS student with you, and I look forward to continuing to do so!

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes


Everything is (Kind of) Organized

As I enter my fourth week of classes, I'm kind of in shock. I can't believe I've been in school for almost a month!  It feels like it's been much longer, but not in a bad way.  It's just that I've learned so much already, and it's still only the beginning of the semester.  I have notebooks and papers strewn on my kitchen table and files and folders on my laptop to keep track of all my assignments and emails, not to mention multiple calendars with all my reminders and due dates. It's a lot to handle, especially with working full time, and it's clear that I need some sort of system to keep track of everything.

Which brings me to my topic this week: organization.  One of my classes this semester is LIS 415--Information Organization, and it's already given me a ton to think about.  Information organization may be one of the pillars of library science, but I have never given much thought to how and why things are organized.  I realize now that everything in the world is organized in its own way, but I don't always see it.  This class has made me take a closer look at how I organize everything in my life, especially my school, work, and personal life.  It's been a lot of trial and error so far and I'm still working things out.  Surprisingly, the actual classes have been the easiest thing to manage.  Both my classes are online, and I study every day after I get home from work.  I haven't had any problems getting all my schoolwork done this way, and it feels natural to block out time every day, rather than only working on certain days. 

What I'm struggling with is what to do with the actual information that I have, and where and how to store it.  I thought I would keep track of most everything electronically, so I didn't buy any folders or binders.  But I've found that I prefer having a paper copy of assignment explanations and certain readings.  I like having copies to highlight and scribble on and hold in my hands. The same goes for my calendar.  I have deadlines in my phone but I also have a giant paper calendar, color coded and highlighted, because I love to see everything laid out.  It's a bit of overkill but I can't let go of paper just yet.  Old habits die hard!  Even though all that paper is piled on my desk at the moment, my goal this week is to get it bound and organized.  That way my work space will be nice and clean, and I will be less stressed about the mess.  Because if there's one thing I've learned so far, it's that being efficient and organized is key to succeeding in school, and in life.  I'm sure I'll get everything organized eventually.  Until then, I'm taking it one day at a time.

SLIS | Students | classes


Which Side Are You On?

Do holidays completely de-rail anyone else's week, or is it just me? One of the harsh realizations I have had as a mom is that holidays and celebrations all come down to you. All those fun and magical things you expect to happen on special occasions have to be planned, shopped for, carried out, and cleaned up by somebody, and that somebody (in my family) is me. So thanks to Valentine's Day (or week, as it felt like), I'll be playing catch-up this weekend.

I've realized something interesting about the work I'm doing this semester and about the library profession as a whole. My metadata class and my reference/instruction internship are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of librarianship. Metadata belongs on the "technical services" end, along with cataloging, circulation, inter-library loan, database management, etc. This side is known for its back-end, back-room work and lesser degree of human interaction. My internship belongs on the more public facing end, with reference, instruction, outreach, etc. where a much higher degree of human interaction is expected and required. It is interesting to see how this general division exists and how I could probably sort each of my Simmons classes into one side or the other. At the Fairfield University library, this division is made even more explicit by a physical separation of the two "sides:" all the offices and work spaces for technical services folks are on one side of the building, while all the reference, instruction, and outreach librarians live on the other side of the building!

To be clear, these two sides of librarianship do NOT need to be mutually exclusive. There are plenty of places where boundaries are fuzzy and the librarians wear many hats. I have worked in a small academic library where my job as a library assistant was a good mix of both. But even there, we had a dedicated cataloging person who almost never interacted with patrons and a reference/instruction person who was very much the "public face" of the library. It's probably worth thinking about which side you might be more interested in and suited for, because as I noted in my last post, we each have to take responsibility for creating our own specialized librarian identities. I am loving my internship so far and if I decide to pursue this route toward instruction and reference, I wonder if I'll ever really need or use anything from my metadata class (which is very interesting and instructive nonetheless). It's increasingly beginning to seem like I can't have both. So which side of the library do I want to live on?

Librarians | Real World | SLIS | Students | classes


A Lightbulb Moment: When You Finally Realize What You Want

How did I get here?  I've asked myself this question a lot the past few weeks.  I've spent the last fourteen years as an administrative assistant for an accounting firm.  It's not what I was planning on doing with my master's degree in art history, but life doesn't always take you on a straight path.  I always thought I'd move on and find something else to do, but I didn't know what I wanted.  So I stayed, got comfortable, and saw myself continuing with the firm for awhile longer. 

But then, an unexpected shakeup left the future in doubt.  My plan to stay with the firm when the younger partner took over was no longer feasible.  For the first time in awhile, I had to seriously think about what I wanted for the future.  I started thinking about the things that I love--books, organizing, helping people--and what jobs would fit that criteria.  I thought being a librarian would be perfect, and browsing through Simmons' website, I knew I was right.  I read the program and course descriptions, and thought, yes!  THIS is what I want to do.  Before that, I couldn't really articulate what I wanted.  It was just a nebulous idea in my head, but now it had form.  And when I read about the archives concentration, I was completely on board.   

So here I am, going back to school again, only this time, I'm approaching it from a completely different angle.  With my previous degrees, I took classes in the hopes that I would get some kind of relevant job afterwards.  Now, I know that I want a job in working in an archive, and every class I take will help me get there.  While I'm a bit nervous, I'm also completely excited to learn everything I can, ask questions, and get my hands dirty (maybe literally?) with an internship.  It feels amazing to finally realize what I'm meant to be doing, and I can't wait to find out what the future holds.

Real World | SLIS | Students


Welcome New Blogger - Amie Grosshans

Hello readers! We'd like to introduce our new student blogger -- Amie Grosshans! She will be posting regularly soon.

Read a little bit about her below:  

Welcome Amie! 

Hi, I'm Amie! I was born and raised here in Massachusetts and have a master's degree in Art History. As soon as I read about Simmons's LIS program, I knew that I wanted to be a librarian. It's a bit of a shock to be back at school again after almost twenty years, but I'm loving every minute of it. I'm finally in my element and so excited for the future. I'm currently in the archives concentration but am open to exploring other areas of librarianship.

When I'm not working or doing schoolwork, I'm usually reading or listening to an audiobook. I also love to knit shawls, sweaters, and socks and am pretty much never without my needles. My handknits make the crazy Boston winters a bit more bearable. Aside from my family, my dog Peggy is my biggest supporter and study buddy.

People | SLIS | Students


Going Home and Going Online

I got back from winter break a little later than everyone else since I had my brother's wedding to attend the last week of January. If anyone needs a refresher (I'm sure I mention it in nearly every blog post) but I am from Florida, and in true extra Florida fashion, my brother got married on a 3-day Disney cruise to the bahamas. It was fantastic, I got to spend quality time with my own family and my new sister-in-law's family, most importantly though I got to spend that time with family in the sunny caribbean.

I mention this lovely vacation not to brag (that's a lie, I am totally bragging about how great Florida is) because in order to spend the most time with family over break and for the wedding, I decided that this semester I will be taking classes fully online!. It just made the most sense given that I wanted to spend as much time as possible home in Florida. Which is one of the great things about Simmons, they offer nearly all the core course needed for the program online!

So this semester I am enrolled in LIS438 (Introduction to Archival Methods and Services) and LIS439 (Preservation Management) both key courses in the Cultural Heritage concentration. This is not my first time taking online classes but it has been quite a while especially considering that the only other time was when I was 19, in community college taking 100 levels courses over the summer.  My biggest concern is probably obvious but self-motivation is a very important part of taking online classes. Simmons online course are asynchronous so you don't have a specific time where you have to sign-in to "attend class". You do have deadlines like any other course but the great thing is you don't have to get up super early to try and beat rush hour traffic to make it to your class on time or rush to campus after work to make your evening class.

I'm only on my third week but so far the experience has been going pretty well. I'm naturally a night owl so I like being able to watch lectures and do assignments on my own time but I can't stress how important it is to stay on top of deadlines for online courses. I'd argue it's more important than face-to-face course since you don't see you classmates or professor around in person to remind you of what's coming up. So far though both my professors have been great about emailing and messaging us through moodle with updates and reminders, but I constantly find myself referring to my syllabus just to make sure.

I also want to say how important it is to take breaks when doing online courses. The first week I was quite overambitious and thought I could crank out my assignments in a day if I devoted all my time so that I wouldn't have to worry about them leading up to the cruise. Annnnnd that lead to a wonderful migraine and even more stress. So seriously remember to pace yourself and take breaks, learn from my overconfident idiocy.

A final word of advice, which seems kind of obvious, is to not just hole up at home doing your classes. Sure, I may have decided to take online classes Spring semester because winter in New England is criminal but I am not doing myself any favors academically by sitting in bed on my laptop trying to write a reflection on agents of deterioration. Get to a coffee shops, a library, or a community work space. A change of scenery really helps perk you up and re-energize you to get back to work (caffeine and the social pressure of having others working around you certainly helps too).

 

Classes | Online | SLIS | Students | Weather


HTML-ove Affair?

This week in LIS 488, we learned the basics of HTML. As my last post shows, I was really quaking in my boots for this course! This week went really well, as we worked through a Code Academy tutorial, and coded a simple HTML site about bears!

My (very minimal) experience with HTML stems from a tumblr blog I've been updating since I was 14. I remember the excitement of selecting my first theme, and writing my first little bio. With the help of the Wayback Machine of www.wayback.com, introduced to me by Danielle Pollock, I don't have to just fondly remember my blog in 2011: I can see it! And now, on display, my greatest pride and greatest shame, all rolled into one. 

Check out this screenshot of my blog from November 6th, 2011. My first background was a wicked cool purple and black flannel. I "hated people," and loved tea.

I remember sitting in a newly funded computer lab in 3rd grade, and wondering why I was being forced to complete my report on platypi on this stupid machine when my school library had perfectly good physical books. (Sidenote: It took a whole office effort to track down the title of these books I'd convinced myself were a fever dream.)

Flash forward to middle school. I remember being in awe of my teachers who could operate e-Boards. When I discovered the blogosphere, I was even more impressed with the people who could design web pages with multiple colors, with flashing pictures and bold lettering!  I went through high school, then on to college, and learned to love melding physical and digital research together. Times and tech changed, but my blog was always a constant. When it came time to design and redesign my own blog, I scoured the web for the perfect format to properly showcase my teen angst! As these screen grabs from April 30th, 2014 and May 27th, 2017 indicate, I had a penchant for lace, and talented friends willing to doodle avatars for me!


I think it's funny how I've come full circle! Now I'm learning the very HTML that allowed me to express myself throughout my teen years, and I love it! To me, there's something so calming about reading in a "different language," and the way the code changes color in the ATOM software for HTML writing I've downloaded on my computer. It's been a fun trip down memory lane to see what I wrote, selected, and pseudo-designed at different stages in my life. Now it's even more fun to think about what type of code was written to make my blog look and act the way it did! I think when I'm done this course, my blog circa 2019 might need a face lift! 

Fun | SLIS | Technology | classes | skills


Finding Your Librarian Identity

I have two interesting stories from this week! For the first, I unexpectedly came face-to-face with a real life preservation situation and I knew exactly what to do. I keep all of my family's important documents and records in a heavy duty plastic file box. The other day I was pulling out a package of extra file folders when I noticed an icky smell. The outside of the package smelled really bad, and looked a little....wet, or maybe greasy? I looked back in the box and noticed the pocket folder next to the package was deformed and buckling, like it had gotten wet. I gingerly pulled it out and observed some interesting damage and deterioration all over the surface where the glossy finish was wrinkling and peeling. I cracked the folder open, which in retrospect, wasn't the best idea because it was stuck together with MOLD!!! I stared at it for a good three seconds with equal parts fascination and repulsion thinking, "so that's what active mold looks like" before I hustled the whole thing into the trash and washed my hands.

What's cool about this is that I immediately knew exactly what I was looking at and exactly how to handle it. The next day I inspected the rest of the contents of the box, removed everything and cleaned (and dried) the inside thoroughly because I know that mold is serious business. Nothing else in the box was damp or moldy, so I'm guessing the folder was already wet when it was tucked into the box. Luckily my little mold outbreak was very small and did not damage anything too valuable, and I caught it before it spread. The lesson here is, take preservation if you can, because it is such a fun and interesting class and you will definitely use your knowledge and never look at materials storage or old buildings the same way again!

My second story comes from my internship. My mentor/supervisor and I were discussing an article I had been assigned to read, and he called my attention to this line: "Rapid changes in the profession, combined with the evolution of the many different types of information professionals, have made it all but impossible to pin down a core identity shared by librarians" (citation below). We then talked about the importance of setting your own narrative, managing how you perceive yourself (and thus how others perceive you), and determining your own librarian identity. My mentor said that library school gives us a "generic" education about librarianship and that it's our responsibility to pursue/create our own specialties or areas of strength beyond library school. We have to set the narrative for ourselves or other people will set it for us, and it will probably be based on incorrect assumptions or stereotypes.

I realized I have a lot more work to do in this area. Part of the problem is the uncertainty of life: where my family will end up and what kinds of jobs will be available when I'm ready to work full-time (or even part-time). I want to be able to be flexible and try a lot of different things, and not pigeonhole myself into one specific area. But I also know that there are certain things that brought me to librarianship, and special ways for me to contribute as my own individual. I guess I was hoping that life, or fate or something would decide the path for me. Anyway, it's something to think about as I approach graduation.

Miller, R. K. & Benjes-Small, C. M. (2016). "Identifying as an Instruction Librarian" from The New Instruction Librarian: A Workbook for Trainers and Learners. American Library Association. p. 9. 

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes | skills


First Weeks

So it has been a crazy few weeks! 

First, the weather has been insane.  We've had super cold weather, we've had snow squalls, we've had ice, we've had rain, we've had sun, we've had wind, and yesterday the high was 63 degrees!  We've had a little bit of everything!  Will the weather ever make up its mind?  Every day is a surprise!  I thought one of the things about living in New England was guaranteed freezing cold weather all the time in the winter, but the past two days have proved me wrong (although I'm certainly not complaining because I did not enjoy the snow squalls last week, and I do not want anything similar to the polar vortex the Midwest experienced). 

The first few weeks of class have been going great!  As you know, I'm taking LIS 451: Academic Libraries this semester.  It's my first elective at SLIS, and my last blog was posted on the first official day of my class, so I didn't have many details to share, but now I do!  The material for this class is so, so interesting, and because I work in an academic library, it is very relevant to my life now (and it will be relevant later if I decide I want my future library career to be in academic libraries), and I am really happy I chose to take this class this semester.  I've learned so much already.  We've talked about mission statements and goals, understanding student audiences, outreach to students, and so much more.   Also, even though I'm taking this class online, there is so much participation, and I do not feel disconnected from my classmates at all.  So far, this feels to be the most participation-heavy online class that I've taken.  However, there was something that seemed a little strange though: in most of my online classes, there was an "Introduce Yourself" forum where you get to "meet" all of your classmates.  This class didn't have that; however, we did have an introduction forum for our group project, and our participation/activity forums have been very lively which I have really enjoyed!  

 I can already tell that I'm going to need to be at the top of my time management game this semester with all of the projects, readings, and weekly assignments.  There are so many projects in this class.   However, every single project, every single assignment, and every single reading has a purpose in this class (and in every class at SLIS).  One of our projects is a mini-grant writing application--that is so useful, and I know I will use that later in my career.  Our big semester-long group project is a Committee Group Project, where we all sign up for a committee and we submit a written report, a presentation, and we all take turns being chair and submit a chair report.  Committees are how work gets done in academic libraries, and in universities in general, and this will be so helpful for my future. I've said it before: there is no busy work at SLIS, everything you do for homework is like professional development, and I know that is the case with this class.  Even though I know this class is going to be a lot of hard work, I'm really excited to be taking it, and I'm excited to learn more!

Online | SLIS | Students | Weather | classes


Spring 2019 Kickoff

With the first week of classes coming to a close, I thought I'd give my first impressions of my second SLIS semester so far!

On Tuesday I had my first section of LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals (my final core class). I was extremely nervous about this class, so it's not a coincidence that I saved it for last! I am someone who loves technology and is always excited to learn new things, but after a few too many attempts at troubleshooting, I go into meltdown mode. Danielle put my mind at ease when she started class by having us go around the room, share our tech backgrounds, and rate our feelings about technology on a smiley face scale ranging from love to hate (just like this one).

 

Most of us placed ourselves on the scale at "meh," with various justifications for why. Some rationales for not providing a more positive score were frustration, privacy concerns, and lack of sociability. Danielle stated that the course would take on all of those subjects! We moved to the COCIS tech lab for the second half of class, where we signed up for our first presentation, and then spent an hour learning some simple coding via a tutorial website. I chose to create my own Google doodle. It isn't perfect, but I'm pretty proud of it! It ended up looking like this!

 

On Thursday I had my LIS450: Public Libraries class. I was super excited for this course, as public librarianship is my "jam," and it did not disappoint! I know about one third of the people in the class, but was excited to make some new friends. This is by far the bubbliest group I've encountered.

I was originally placed on the waitlist for LIS 453: Collection Management and Development. The class is only offered online, and is apparently very popular, as I started out 22nd on the waitlist. I was briefly enrolled in LIS 493: Intellectual Freedom - which I was very excited to take with my advisor Laura Saunders - but thought that Collection Development and Management better fit my personal goals of public and reference librarianship. Luckily for me, the registrar's office looked at the long wait list, and enlisted Michael Leach to teach another section of LIS 453. I've only just started exploring the moodle page for our online section, but so far I'm feeling super optimistic. I loved that we had a forum to post introductions (including fun facts and where we're from!). I was worried about lack of human connection, but that doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem! I'm looking forward to the flexibility an online class offers me!

 

 

Fun | SLIS | classes | skills