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It's Not Easy Being Green

My senioritis went out the window this week as my schedule really started heating up. I'm currently involved in two group projects: one for my online Metadata class and the other for a conference presentation! Way back in January, Eric Poulin, SLIS West program director and instructor for my User Instruction class, asked me if I'd be interested in presenting at one of the state library conferences with some other students. I said yes, of course, and nothing much happened until last week. Our proposal had been accepted for the Massachusetts Library Association conference to be held on May 21, but then Eric found out (unbeknownst to him) that we were also on the schedule for the Connecticut Library Association conference on April 29! Eek! So now I feel like I'm drowning in virtual group meetings and deadlines and everything is coming up so quickly.

Fortunately, I just taught the last class for my internship this morning so at least that part of my work load is winding down. All told, I taught 8 sessions of EN12 classes (with the same pre-determined lesson plan) and 2 one-shots that I got to plan myself. I found out that I really enjoy teaching (as I suspected) but that the prepping can be time-consuming and stressful. It does get easier the more you do it though. I was never so nervous again as I was for my first time and today I was barely nervous at all! I did a TON of prep for this class though, feeling like I had to compensate for my inexperience and...greenness. During my first one-shot I felt like my inexperience was really showing and so I worked hard to improve that for the second time around, with some success. I have no doubt that experienced instructional librarians can get the same results with much less prep time and stress. You have to work a little extra when you are green.

The next few weeks are going to be intense. On top of all the schoolwork my family is getting ready for a move! We bought a house here in Norwalk and our move-in date is mid-May. Our apartment is going to be listed, so that means keeping the place clean and tidy and starting to pack. I feel exhausted just thinking about it, but I sure am excited for all these big things coming up.

Presentations | Real World | SLIS West | Workload | classes | conferences

Book Talk Beats Bed

Sometimes, as a student with a mishmash of jobs and an objectively messed up sleep schedule, it can be hard to find the motivation to go to SLIS events, even if they are right up your alley! This Tuesday was one of those days where I just needed a nap. I was ready to trek to the bus, journey home, and wrap myself in covers. But, at the invitation of my friend Lee, I powered through and ended up at Professor Jeannette Bastian's talk on her new book: Decolonizing the Caribbean Record: An Archives Reader. 

I'm so glad I went! In undergrad I took a slew of courses on colonization in Latin America and Caribbean women writers that changed my entire outlook on life. This event, put on by the Student Chapter of ALA International Relations Round Table (SCIRRT), brought me right back to those amazing classes!

Professor Bastian's background as the Territorial Librarian of the United States Virgin Islands from 1987 to 1998 means that not only is she an expert on the subject, but the collection is near and dear to her heart. Decolonizing the Caribbean Record is a collection "forty essays by archivists and academics within and outside of the Caribbean region that address challenges of collecting, representing, and preserving the records and cultural expressions of former colonial societies, exploring the contribution of these records to nation-building."

As Prof. Bastian told us, this book was inspired by work she completed in 2014 as a part of a UNESCO-funded team for designing a library and information science curriculum for the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and was meant to serve as a text for the program. The UNESCO team, and by extension this collection, sought to create material that "was sensitive to the cultural heritage of the Caribbean as well as to the archival concerns of a small former colonial islands in tropical climates."

Our book discussion included the 'owning' of memory, and who can lay claim to records, as well as oral traditions and how recorded history (or lack thereof) shapes self image. In a similar vein, we briefly discussed Professor Bastian's 2003 book Owning Memory, How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History. I really enjoyed her expansion of the traditional definition of an archival material, asserting that Caribbean carnivals are an archival record in themselves! We also talked about the difficulties and rewards of editing a book, including organizing and bringing together all of the essays, seeking out contributors, and following through on deadlines set for said contributors.

Professor Bastian joked that her 800 page collection was quite a 'door stopper,' but said it's more of an occasional reader that something to binge: you pick it up, read an essay, then put it down for a few months. Maybe I'll write a follow up blog post in a few years when I make my way through this exciting and rich (but somewhat daunting) text! 

Events | Presentations | SLIS | reading

International Opportunities at Simmons SLIS

One of the great things about Simmons SLIS is how many events are hosted each week! We have a very active student body and there are more panels, workshops, field trips, socials, etc. than anyone could ever hope to go. While being a graduate student is synonymous with overbooking your time, I have made an effort to attend a few events, specifically anything that has to do with international librarianship. I have always loved to travel and learn as much as I can about different cultures. So any chance I get to combine this passion with my passion for libraries, I will seize it! In this past month, I went to two really amazing presentations from faculty about their work abroad.

The first was with Professor Lisa Hussey, who I currently have for 407, and Professor Nanette Veilleux on their Summer course in Rwanda. This program is only a year old but offers students interested in international librarianship, archives, and computer science an opportunity to gain hands on experience working with a handful of schools throughout Rwanda. Listening to both professors and past participants stories about working with the Rwandan students was really inspiring. It also helped that Professor Hussey is an amazing baker and brought goodies and Rwandan tea that was so delicious. I could see anyone interested in working in a school library really getting a lot out of this course as both professors stress how wonderful the students are, and how eager they are to engage with Simmons students.

The second event on international librarianship I attended was put on by the Student Chapter of the International Relations Round Table (SCIRRT) which is a student organization on campus that while inactive for a brief period is making a come back! The event consisted of a panel of faculty speaking about International Librarianship and Libraries in Iraq. Faculty members included, Caryn Anderson and Michele Cloonan (who is also my advisor in the Cultural Heritage Concentration). I honestly could have listened to both of them talk for hours about their experiences working with libraries and archives throughout the Middle East. Professor Anderson started the discussion with her work as an Information Resource Officer in Iraq. She explained she did a lot of work helping to develop libraries, providing resources with a focus on modernization. She had a funny story about how because of the difficulties of being in such a warm climate frequently without AC libraries resorted to storing laptops in the fridge to keep them from overheating and crashing! Next, Professor Cloonan talked about her experience working with the Zhean Archives helping to work with preservation of newspapers, historic records, Kurdish documentary and journalistic heritage. Both professors stressed the importance of flexibility, openness, self-reflections, and following up with people.

After having attended both these presentations I am fired up to start looking up international opportunities that would best fit my interests in the library science field!


Events | International | Librarians | People | Presentations | SLIS

Post Spring Break-a-thon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

FRBR is dead, long live FRBR!

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

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

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

Have a good weekend, all.

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

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

Classes | Conferences | Presentations | SLIS

Guest Blog Post About Medical Librarianship

We have a special guest blog post this week by current SLIS student Jessie Cass. 

Jesse is currently (Spring 2016) in her last semester at Simmons SLIS. She is finishing up an internship at the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester doing collection development and creating a libguide. She hopes to continue to do similar work in the future, though she would also love to combine her interest in cognitive science with the skills in library and information science gained throughout her time at Simmons. She has always lived in Massachusetts and will be remaining in the Boston area since it has so much to offer! When she is not doing homework she loves walking her dog and reading science fiction novels. You can learn more about her academic career at

Medical Librarianship 

Guest Blogger, Jessie Cass

In the spring of 2016 I completed an independent study which I called "Comparing Medical Librarian Roles: Circuit Riders, Clinical Librarians, and Informationists". I worked with a medical librarian (Catherine Carr) from the Lamar Soutter Library (Umass Medical School, Worcester, MA). She provided me with readings on circuit riders, clinical librarians, and informationists (listed below as "sources consulted throughout the semester").

After doing these readings I identified patterns that I had found in terms of defining the different roles and their similarities and differences. Additionally, when creating this blog post to share those conclusions, I found similar blog posts for readers to look at which also describe being a medical librarian.

 Comparing Medical Librarian Roles

 Circuit Rider: A librarian travels weekly to a set of health science-related institutions to provide library services (especially reference and document retrieval).

Clinical Librarian: A librarian works in a healthcare setting and provides services (especially literature searches, information literacy education, point-of-care support, and critical appraisals supporting clinical decision-making).

Informationist: A librarian embedded in any team (especially clinical, biomedical research, and public health settings).

 Common elements:

  • Domain (health sciences) knowledge
  • Library and Information Science education
  • Provide reference (literature searches / selecting appropriate documents / prepare & deliver materials)
  • Provide instruction (including continuing education and database demonstrations)
  • Support clinical staff and patient care
  • Attend case conferences and/or staff meetings

Additional perspectives on medical librarianship (first-person accounts):

 Sources consulted throughout the semester: 

- Aldrich, A. M., & Schulte, S. J. (2014). Establishing a new clinical informationist role in an academic health sciences center. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 33(2), 136-146.
- Brettle, A., Maden-Jenkins, M., Anderson, L., McNally, R., Pratchett, T., Tancock, J., ... Webb, A.(2011). Evaluating clinical librarian services: A systematic review. Health Information and
  Libraries Journal, 28(1), 3-22. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2010.00925.x
- Davidoff, F., & Florance, V. (2000). The informationist: A new health profession? Annals of Internal Medicine, 132(12), 996-998. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-12-200006200-00012
- Feuer, S. (1977). The circuit rider librarian. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 65(3), 349-353.
- Oliver, K. B., & Roderer, N. K. (2006). Working towards the informationist. Health Informatics Journal, 12(1), 41-48. doi:10.1177/1460458206061207
- Pifalo, V. (1994). Circuit librarianship: A twentieth anniversary appraisal. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 13(1), 19-33.
- Rankin, J. A., Grefsheim, S. F., & Canto, C. C. (2008). The emerging informationist specialty: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 96(3), 194-206.          doi:10.3163/1536-5050.96.3.005
- Schacher, L. F. (2001). Clinical librarianship: Its value in medical care. Annals of Internal Medicine, 134(8), 717-720. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-134-8-200104170-00023
- Stumpff, J. C. (2003). Providing medical information to college health center personnel: A circuit librarian service at the University of Illinois. Journal of American College Health, 52(2), 88-91.
- Tan, M. C., & Maggio, L. A. (2013). Expert searcher, teacher, content manager, and patient advocate: An exploratory study of clinical librarian roles. Journal of the Medical Library Association,    101(1), 63-72.
- Wagner, K. C., & Byrd, G. D. (2004). Evaluating the effectiveness of clinical medical librarian programs: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(1), 14-33.
- Whitmore, S. C., Grefsheim, S. F., & Rankin, J. A. (2008). Informationist programme in support of biomedical research: A programme description and preliminary findings of an evaluation. Health I I     Information and Libraries Journal, 25, 135-141. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00756.x

Classes | People | Presentations | SLIS | Students

Homework Craze(d)

There's been a little radio silence from me in the past few weeks, but it wasn't intentional. It's just that the semester decided to get ridiculously busy. In the past two weeks, I've learned javascript over the phone, shown my friends how to write javascript for an assignment, written 12 double spaced pages and four single spaced pages, taken a quiz, and all around tried to keep ahead on my homework. It's been a very busy few weeks. However, Friday I was able to start to get ahead on my homework, which was a blessing and a half. April, for whatever reason, seems to be a little less crazy, though there's still a lot to do. For 403, besides the third assignment and the final 25 page paper, I signed up as part of an extra credit Usability team. For 453, I finished my tweets and usage statistics assignment early but still have the final policy to write and put together. 488 still has a paper, the final webpage, some graphics work and a relational database assignment to get started on. 

Oh, and Camp NaNoWriMo has started up again (you remember my November NaNoWriMo post). This year I've halved my goal for camp down to 25,000 words to focus on schoolwork, but I'm definitely hoping to be able to push myself to do more than that. While I chase productivity for the next month and a half, you can follow my camp NaNoWrimo progress here!

Classes | Presentations | SLIS

Beating The Bug

Most of my week was unfortunately consumed by a stomach bug, and I didn't make it back to work until Thursday morning. Is there anything more frustrating than wasting PTO to be sick? I spent many hours on the couch and felt so miserable that I couldn't even get ahead on homework. Instead, I watched/dozed through a lot of Jane Austen movies, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Becoming Jane, and Mansfield Park. I also got really sick of toast and applesauce.

By Wednesday, when I still wasn't well again, I was starting to freak out because I had presentations in both my classes this week; Wednesday was my individual presentation on a legal research database, and Thursday was a group presentation on reference in special libraries. Luckily I'm not a procrastinator so all my research/design was done, but I knew that there was no way I could make it to campus on Wednesday night.

Google to the Rescue: 
Channeling my inner Rob, I started searching for technological solutions. I quickly found a Chrome plugin called Snagit that would allow me to capture my screen and record a narration. After a few awkward attempts, I successfully recorded a 9 minute video file of my presentation that I could upload to YouTube or share via Google Drive. I sent this to my professors, who actually graciously offered to let me present next week. I don't mind that I spent time making the video, because now I have learned a new tool and I have some practice under my belt for this presentation.


As for my Thursday presentation, I did somehow make it to campus, and I think it went really well. It's always easy to talk about something that interests you, so I hope that it showed in the way that I spoke about law libraries... even if I wanted to crawl under my desk the whole time.


Classes | Presentations | SLIS