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Presentation Time, and a Lucky Coincidence

I finished my first project of the semester this week.  It was a Power Point presentation for Collections Development on a book genre of our choice.  We had to research current trends in our genre, identify helpful resources, and analyze publishing statistics.  We also had to create a two-page handout with a brief overview on the topic.  This allows us to discover and share what is trending in the book world, so that ultimately we can build a library collection that satisfies user needs. 

Before I was back in school, I thought 5-7 minutes was a long time for a presentation, but it turns out it is not a lot of time at all.  It goes by fast, especially if you have a list of items that you need to cover.  Whittling down all the information into a narrative that is thorough, concise and makes sense is not easy.  I've completed audio presentations for other classes and I've never recorded anything within the time limit on the first (or even second or third) try.  It takes a lot of time to put together something that hits all the marks, but it is so satisfying when you finally get a take that hits all the points.  

I chose young adult mysteries as my genre because I am a huge mystery fan, love YA books, and wanted to learn more about the topic.  I really enjoyed my research for this project.  I found lots of new sources for book info, including YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), which is the YA division of the American Library Association.  It has lots of information on YA genres of all types, and also has a book finder database.  I also had a lucky coincidence while doing my research.  I kept seeing One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus at the top of many YA mystery book lists, and I found out the author was giving a talk at a local bookstore.  I wasn't able to go there in person but I livestreamed it on Instagram and it was fantastic.  She was a great speaker and gave lots of information on why she loves writing YA mysteries.  I speed-read the book after and I loved it.  Thanks to this project, I've added a lot of books to my To-Be-Read list.  And as I make my way through viewing my classmates' presentations, I know I'll discover even more books that I want to read and genres I want to explore. 

Classes | Projects | SLIS | Students

Let's Talk About Books!

This week I have one of the most fun projects that I've had since starting at Simmons!  I get to talk about BOOKS!  I know, I know, this is library school, shouldn't this be a common thing?  Actually, no, this is not a usual assignment. I don't think I've actually had an assignment where I've gotten to wax poetic about books, genres, publishing, or anything of that nature since we talked about readers advisory waaaaayy back in my first semester when I was taking LIS 407: Information Sources and Services. This week is my Genre/Topic project for LIS 453: Collection Development and Management.  For this project, I get to talk about a particular topic or book genre and discuss publishing trends, what's hot and what's not, popular books, any books that are going to be released as movies and/or TV shows in my genre, etc. Doesn't that sound like fun?  I'm excited for this project for a variety of reasons.  First, as I mentioned earlier, I GET TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS!  Like many others who came before me, and many who will come after me, one of the reasons why I wanted to be a librarian is because I like books.  It's not the only reason--I also like to do research, I like helping people, and I feel like the library is my home away from home, but a love of books and reading was definitely a part of it.  I'm also excited for this project because it's so different than other projects that I've done at Simmons.  Maybe it's just the classes I've chosen, but with the exception of a few times in LIS 407, I really haven't gotten many opportunities to talk about books.  While I appreciate all of the projects that I have done, and they have definitely helped me professionally, this is a project that I know I'll have fun doing. 

We got to choose from a long list of book genres and other topics for this project.  I say "other topics" because as this is Collection Development and Management, a library's collection doesn't just consist of books, it also consists of other items such as board games, video games, movies, television shows, and apps (all of which were topics that we could choose from on the list).  For my project, I selected "Contemporary Romance" as my genre. I really wanted to write about books, so I decided to choose a book genre that I felt was super different than what I usually work with in my day-to-day library job (I work in an academic library that focuses on the health sciences) as well as different than what I did for any book-related assignments that I may have had earlier on at Simmons, and a genre that I could have fun with.  When I read for fun, I don't tend to stick to one genre--I will read anything that I think will be interesting and grabs my attention.  I really didn't know a lot about the romance novel industry as a whole before starting this project, so I've been learning a lot. 

This class has been so exciting so far!  I know I'm going to have a great time finishing up this project, and I'm looking forward to my upcoming projects in this class! 

Books | Classes | Projects | SLIS | Students

Public Art in Providence

At the close of last semester, I was able to participate in one of my favorite final projects I've ever done! For LIS 446: Art Documentation with Ann Graf we were tasked with cataloging three instances of public art in a location of our choosing. I partnered up with my good pal Willa, and we decided to explore Providence. I took the commuter rail from Boston (how does Willa do it every time we have class?) to Providence on a frigid but sunny day, and we set off to observe and take pictures of the works we had selected. 

The first piece we chose was Dear Urban Females (2019) by AGONZA. It is located on the back of the Weybossett Facade if you want to take a look for yourself! 

AGONZA is the truly rad woman and artist of color responsible for this piece, which was created as a tribute to strong urban women of all backgrounds. Dear Urban Females is a self-portrait of sorts. AGONZA was born in Providence, but spent her formative years in the Dominican Republic and has many cultural influences, so each panel features an earring with a different national flag. The center panel has the Black power fist combined with the feminine symbol, highlighting the intersectional identity of the artist and themes of the piece. 

Here is a close up image of the work, as well as a snippet from our record. We went really specific on the subject matter, using the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus as our controlled vocabulary. 

I was ecstatic to be able to get in contact with AGONZA after reaching out to her on Facebook. She provided me with additional information to insure that our records were correct and true to her vision for the work. Our discussion bought additional subjects, such as PTSD and mental health to light. I was already won over as a fan, but chatting with AGONZA cemented that status for life.

The next piece we chose to feature was Still Here (2018) by Gaia. As you can see by the photo, Still Here is MASSIVE. The piece is located on Custom House Street facing the Blackstone Canal, and takes up the side of the entire 5 story building.  

This work calls attention to the Indigenous history and people of Rhode Island. We loved that this piece is so large that it is literally incapable of being ignored. Still Here was created in collaboration with the Tomaquag Museum, and features Narragansett woman and educator Lynsea Montanari holding a portrait of Princess Redwing (the founder of the museum) to celebrate Indigenous resilience. It was fun trying to identify all of the flora and fauna in the piece, as well as figure out if they were properly represented in our available vocabularies. 


I took this pretty comical (to me, at least) photo of Willa and I attempting to measure the width of Still Here with a not quite 25 foot measuring tape. From there, we employed MATH in order to estimate how many feet tall the piece was.


The final piece we chose was The Revolution Starts with the Earth (2019) by Jess X. Snow. Jess X. Snow is a queer woman of color and a RISD grad!

This piece was inspired by the thesis work of Gavriel Cupita-Zorn on connections between oppressed populations, and brings the conflicts of the US/Mexico border and the Israel/Palestine border into conversation. The work is surrounded by a chain link fence, which mediates the viewing and may further enhance a viewer's experience of the piece. The two women pictures are Vanessa Flores-Maldonado and Amira, who both work as activists based in Providence and New Orleans Respectively. 

This project was so fun to work on that Willa and I have made plans to expand our public art cataloging in the future! I hope everyone has had a great new year so far and that you find something that makes you as excited as this project makes me! 


Classes | Projects | SLIS

Creating a Digital Library

I wanted to write about LIS 462: Digital Libraries, because it is unlike any class I've taken before.  It's not just about studying digital libraries, it's also about creating one.  For our semester-long project, we are creating a digital library highlighting a late 19th century children's scrapbook.  The scrapbook, which was donated to the Boston Children's Museum, contains drawings of different rooms of a house, with lots of color images that were cut and pasted into the book.  There are also a few paper dolls.  It's a darling little scrapbook and I can imagine a little child having a lot of fun putting it together.  

To handle all aspects of the digital library's creation, we have a project manager and several committees.  These committees are responsible for different parts of the library.  For example, the digitization committee scanned, digitized, and posted the scrapbook on our shared class Google Drive.  The systems committee is creating the website and layout, the metadata committee is creating metadata for all the images, and the environmental scan committee looks at similar digital libraries to evaluate what methods and presentation would be best for our library.  I am on the content committee, and we are responsible for writing descriptions of the images, as well as providing background information on the scrapbook.  I'm also on the rights management committee, and it is our job to make sure that we have the rights to publish the material.

Each committee got together at the beginning of the semester to decide what work needed to be done and when.  It's definitely been a very involved process.  Keeping track of deadlines is especially important because they are not on the syllabus like they are for more typical classes.  Also, our professor is letting us do the bulk of the work.  He's there for guidance and instruction, but he's letting us make the decisions.  It's truly a class effort and we have been proceeding nicely.  The only frustrating thing is that I can't actually see how our library is progressing.  I know what work each committee has done because it is all shared on our Google Drive, but the website input hasn't started yet.  It will happen fairly soon, and then we'll be able to get a sense of what our library will look like.  I can't wait to see it and see how all of our efforts will come together. 

Classes | Projects | SLIS | Workload

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! 


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