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

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Building Blocks

One of the things I love about my classes at Simmons is that they build on each other.  It's exciting when a topic I learned about in one class is referenced or expanded on in a different class.  It's fascinating to go more in depth on certain topics and to see how they tie together.  Even though this semester is only three weeks old, it has already referenced a lot of what was covered in my previous semesters.  

Collections Development has built on many of the subjects covered by Introduction to Management (LIS 404).  This includes types of budgets used by libraries, how those budgets are used, mission statements, and vision statements.  It has also mentioned environmental scanning, which is a topic that came up in Digital Libraries (LIS 462).  Environmental scanning entails keeping track of what similar libraries are doing in order to measure what your library is or is not doing, and what it can do in the future.  It's a way of staying competitive and relevant in the community.   

Metadata has expanded on topics introduced in Information Sources and Services (LIS 407) and will cover even more as the semester progresses.  Info Sources is one of our three required courses.  It gives an overview of many different methods and services used in libraries but doesn't go in depth because of time constraints.  I finished that class wanting to know more about what we covered, and I am really happy that I get to do this in metadata.  This week we're starting on Dublin Core, which is a standardized way to create metadata for a variety of objects.  It seems simple but it's actually pretty complicated, and I am looking forward to examining it more closely. 

I love learning more about these topics.  Having a thorough background in these topics gives me a lot of confidence.  Librarians deal with a lot of different procedures and pieces of information, and the more I get to know those pieces, the more successful I will be in the future. 

Classes | Learning | SLIS | skills

Library Setup

I had my first assignment for Collections Development last week and it was very interesting.  Each student chose a different library to focus on for the semester, and the first thing we had to do was visit that library and observe how it was set up.  I visited my library late on a Thursday afternoon.  As I went through each room, I noted what was there and how it was arranged.  I also focused on who was there and what they were doing.  I normally don't spend a lot of physical time in the library because I request items through the online library catalog and go directly to the circulation desk to pick them up.  I know where everything is in the library, but I never thought about how it was arranged.  Obviously setting up a library is more complicated than simply placing books on shelves.  It must have an order and be easy to navigate.  I never had to think about that before, but I tried to keep that in mind when I browsed my library.   

The library I chose is small, but everything is organized very well.  The stacks were easy to maneuver, and there were lots of signs telling you where you were and where other items were located.  The lighting was bright and natural.  Every room had at least one study area and a few comfortable chairs.  There were several interactive activities set up for patrons, including a large chess set in the teen area and a community puzzle in one of the quiet rooms.  This particular library had murals on all the stairwell walls, which was a great use of space that is normally ignored.  It made me smile to see all the paintings of characters from books and pop culture.  There were a lot of people in the library, and they were using all parts of the library.  People were studying, working on the puzzles, using the computers, browsing, or simply hanging out.  It was awesome to see so many people using the library.

My main takeaway is that the library truly is a community space.  But how a library becomes a community space is complicated.  Librarians, specifically collections development librarians, are vital to making libraries successful.  They identify what the community needs and build a collection to serve and reflect the local population.  They will also anticipate what the community will need in the future.  Every library is different because every community is different.  I am really excited to delve deeper into how libraries develop their collections and am looking forward to the next assignment.

Classes | Learning | SLIS | Students

New Year, New Semester

Happy New Year everyone!  Welcome to 2020 (although it is now halfway through January)!  I had about a month off of work and school and even though it was great to have time off, it's good to be back in the saddle again.  This week is the first week of the Spring 2020 semester for me here at Simmons, and it is also the first week of the Spring 2020 semester for the students at the university library where I work, so things have been busy for me both at school and at work! 

This semester I'm taking LIS 453: Collection Development and Management, although sadly I'm not in the same section as Amie.  I'm very excited for this class and to learn more about how library collections are developed and maintained and get a thorough understanding of the collections process. While a few of my previous classes have briefly touched on some topics relating to this, such as budgeting and weeding, this class is going to be an in-depth look at collection development as a whole.  Also, I don't really have much, if any, practical collection development experience, so I'm excited to be taking this class to learn more about the overall process!  

The class just started a few days ago, so I don't have too much to tell you yet, but the upcoming assignments look really intriguing!  I'll keep you updated on my progress throughout the semester!

Classes | Learning | SLIS

Two Years Down!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am now officially halfway through my program!  I started at Simmons back in Spring 2018, and I have completed 18 of the 36 credits needed to get my MS in Library and Information Science.  WOO!!!  I've learned so much in these past two years, and I've grown a lot as a person.   Last December, I did a post of the lessons I learned and my takeaways from the program, and I thought I would expand on that now that I'm halfway done. 

  • I've learned so much over the past two years.  I came to Simmons with no library experience whatsoever, and getting this degree has been such an education for me.  My first year I took all the core classes, so that really laid the foundation of learning about search strategies, information organization, technology, and professional standards in the LIS industry; whereas this year I took all electives that helped me explore different areas of LIS, and helped supplement my knowledge. 
  • I've learned the importance of having goals.  All of us came to Simmons with one goal in common--to get our degree, but it's important to also have your own personal goals as well. 
  • I've learned that there is no "right" way to do this degree.  Simmons has so many options so you can make this degree work with your lifestyle.  You can go to school full-time, part-time, or take one class at a time (like me!).  You can do all of your classes online, you can take them all in Boston, you can take them all at the SLIS West campus, or you could mix and match as you like.  The only thing you have to do is meet the program requirements and complete the program within six years.  If you are willing to put in the time, money, and effort to get this degree, make it work for you. 
  • I've learned to make the most of my time in grad school.  You get out of the program what you put in to it and I'm hoping to get as much experience as possible and to take advantage of all the opportunities available to me. 
  • Getting involved and getting experience is so, so, so important.  This was in my post last year, but I'm doubling down on it this year.  Whether it is volunteering in a library, getting a job, joining a professional organization, joining a club at Simmons, volunteering at SLIS (like writing a blog post here!), or something else, it can help you become more connected with the industry and with the program and can lead to more opportunities later on.  Getting involved and getting real-life experience has been invaluable for me. 
  • I've learned that all assignments are important, and will help you in your career.  For example, this year I learned how to prepare a grant proposal.  I had grant proposal assignments in two of my classes this year, and going through the process of writing a grant proposal is an incredibly valuable real-world skill. 
  • I've joined a few professional organizations!  Last year I joined the American Library Association and the Massachusetts Library Association, and this year I continued my membership with both of them and I also added memberships to the Association of College and Research Libraries and the New England Library Association. 
  • I've learned the importance of thinking about and planning for the future.

These are just a few of my thoughts on my time in the program so far.  I've made a lot of strides both personally and professionally over the past two years, and I'm excited to see what the future holds!  I know there's a lot of hard work up ahead, but I'm looking forward to what comes next.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season! 

Learn more about SLIS here!

Learning | Resources | SLIS | Students

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

The Dog Days of Summer

It's Week 4 of LIS 404!  Oh, my goodness, this class has been keeping me on my toes!  As I've said before, this class is a lot shorter than a regular semester class, but we're doing the same amount of work, which is a little bit intense!  There's a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, so each week there's an abundance of readings to be completed, notes to go over, and lectures to watch.  I know that theoretically it is same amount of work as a regular semester class just in an accelerated timeframe, but between this class and my summer class last year, I feel that there is a lot more reading in summer classes than there is during the semester.  However, this could just be because of the timing- maybe I just don't notice the amount of reading as much because it is more spaced out during the regular semester classes?   

These past two weeks have been more 'participation' weeks rather than 'assignment' weeks, with us participating more on the forums and wikis instead of having papers or projects to turn in.  Last week we learned about Organizational Culture, Personality, Decision Making, and Strategic Management.  In one of our forums we took the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test and shared our results and a brief summary of our background and it was one of the most interesting and enjoyable assignments that I've had since starting at SLIS.  In online classes sometimes it feels like we don't get to know our classmates except for maybe a brief hello during the first week in the introduction forums, so it was nice to have an opportunity to get to "meet" my classmates and get to know them on a deeper level.   I really  enjoy it when the online classes feel less remote and more personal!  Additionally, I've always been fascinated by the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test.  I've taken the test a few times before, and according to my results I'm an INTJ.  If you are interested in taking an online, free version of the test, this is the version that we took for class. 

The remaining half of this class is going to be a lot of hard work, but the material is really interesting and engaging!  Wish me luck!

Classes | Learning | SLIS | Summer

Changing Direction

Let's take a trip down memory lane to when I was applying to college for the first time.  I had several conversations with my dad that went like this:

             DAD:    You should major in computer science! 

            ME:      Ugh, no!  I'm artsy, not techy!

My dad is a computer engineer (happily retired now, although still the go-to computer troubleshooter for everyone in our large extended family), and he wanted me to major in something useful that could get me a job after graduation.  I, on the other hand, wanted to major in something that I enjoyed, like history and writing.  I majored in art history and ended up working at an accounting firm, which was not what I was expecting, but I have no regrets.

I'm bringing this up because I had a full-circle moment last week.  I decided to switch out of the archives concentration and into a design your own concentration focusing on...drumroll please...computers.  Specifically, my focus is going to be on digitalization, digital libraries, and programming.  I'm excited about it, and surprised, too.  The technology course was the one I was most worried about heading into this semester.  But programming is not as scary as I thought it would be.  In fact, it's actually quite straightforward and logical, as long as you follow the rules.  All the code has to be entered in a particular order, and if you forget a single comma or add an extra space somewhere, it will not work.  That is very frustrating and can take a long time to troubleshoot.  I've had a few assignments that I spent unnecessary hours on because I made silly mistakes.  But it's gotten easier with each assignment and will hopefully continue to get easier the more I practice. 

The most important thing is that I love it, and I want to learn more.  Libraries are integrating new technology all the time, and someone needs to keep up with, teach, and develop that technology.  I want to be that someone!  So last week I spoke to my potential new advisor and he answered all of my questions and gave me good advice.  I've made a tentative plan of classes I want to take, including metadata, digital stewardship, digital libraries, and social informatics.  I'm looking forward to learning everything that I can, and I can't wait to see where this is going to take me in the future.

Learning | SLIS | Students | Technology | classes | skills

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