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

Recently in Real World

It's the Final Countdown!

Happy 2020, everyone! I've been kind of absent from the blog last semester, so I am way overdue on given y'all a HUGE life update. I'm officially in my final semester and I am busy. Last semester I had the opportunity to work for the Fine Arts Library at Harvard University as well as intern for the Museum of Fine Arts Registrar's Office. Now for anyone who doesn't know me, this was a dream come true! My background is in art history and I have always seen myself working in either a museum library or a specialized academic library. 

At Harvard, I was working as the Collection Assistant and was able to learn so much about how they run their library and also see first hand some of the incredible things that the Fine Arts Library collects. I also on a few occasions got to work with the paper conservator on flagging some materials for preservation. All the things I loved learning about in my classes were really coming into play in my new role. 

At the MFA, I was able to help them with their massive amount of incoming loans of artwork. It is a lot of paperwork but I genuinely love everything about it! It is so interesting to watch the whole exhibition planning process and learn more about the logistics that go on behind the scenes for all the artwork that you see on display in the galleries.  A lot of the work that I do with the MFA certainly overlaps with what I have learned at Simmons and in my library jobs. 

Now that I have given you guys a full update on what I was doing, I can update y'all on what I am doing now! For those who don't remember from previous blog posts, I had a summer internship at Fidelity Investments last year and over the winter break, I was offered a position as their new Research Content Specialist. Since I am still in school full time, I am only working there 3 days a week at the moment but come graduation I have the option to review my contract and see if a full-time gig is in the realm of possibilities! While I never would have really seen myself working in an investment library before that internship, I have really come to love the job and especially the other librarians I work with at Fidelity. A large part of my role there is the management and upkeep of the physical and digital investment library, including working largely with our serial subscriptions and such. 

So on top of leaving my job at Harvard and starting a new job at Fidelity this semester, I have also started my final semester as a full-time student taking one in-person class, LIS 477 Digital Asset Management, and two online, LIS 453 Collection Development and Management and LIS490 International and Comparative Librarianship. I never saw myself as someone who could tackle this much in one semester but I haven't slowed down yet. The end is near! Wish me luck!


Classes | Internships | Jobs | Real World | SLIS

End of Semester

Unlike my classmates in LIS 483, I submitted my final paper almost a week after the last class. If I have learned anything this semester, it is that we are all human - trying to make a difference in this field of library science. This semester hasn't been easy, but I made it through with the help of two amazing professors. Amy Pattee has been with SLIS for fifteen years now, helping prepare Simmons students to go out into the world after graduation.

One time I was at my local Boston Public Library branch seeking help from the children's librarian (who also manages the teen/YA collection), and I showed her my Moodle course page for LIS 483: Library Collections and Materials for Young Adults (taught by Pattee). It was so fun seeing the librarian's reaction to what I am studying. The fun part is that about ten years ago, this librarian in the Brighton area of Boston also had Pattee as her LIS 483 professor at Simmons. This is just one example of how the professors you have in Simmons' library science classes will be valuable networking connections as you go out into the field.

This particular course was hard for me because my brain had to figure out how to not think in general statements such as "all teens like reading fantasy." These statements are not how we should be looking at our young patrons in the field of youth services. It took some time to deveope this concept and fully grasp it. It wasn't just me, though. Talking to my classmates, I could see that quite a few of my peers struggled with the concepts we were learning in this course. 

On the morning of my last class with Pattee, I had to send her an emotionally hard email. I told my professor that mentally there was no way I could get my paper done before class with tragedy hitting my family all at once. I expected Pattee to tell me I have until Friday or Saturday, but she let me grieve through the pain and gave me a gracious extension on my paper. Moral of the story: no matter how hard you are on yourself, SLIS professors want you to succeed and getting to know them just may be the key to networking (which later leads to your dream library science job). 

Classes | Real World | SLIS | Students


I was struggling to find a topic for this week's blog.  I've been consumed with finishing year end projects and figuring out how to complete this week's work in time because of the holiday.  I won't be able to do any work on Thursday (I'll be too busy stuffing stuffing and pumpkin cheesecake in my face) and then I'm going away with my mom and sisters on Friday and Saturday, so those days are out, too.  And then I started reminiscing about last Thanksgiving and found my topic.

Because last Thanksgiving, I was just starting to get my application together to apply to SLIS.  I had already figured out who to ask for references and was ready to fill out my application.  I was thinking about how excited I was to possibly be starting school again, but I was also so nervous that I wouldn't be accepted.  Once I "discovered" the idea of becoming a librarian, I couldn't think about doing anything else, and I would have been devastated if I wasn't accepted at Simmons. 

Things happened pretty fast after that.  I originally expected to start this semester, but when I visited campus and the admissions director told me there were actually a few places still open for the spring 2019 semester and I decided to go for it.  Within a month I was accepted and starting classes, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Now I'm three weeks from being officially halfway through the program.  I have learned so much already. 

Which bring me to next Thanksgiving.  I'll be a few weeks away from being finished with school.  Maybe I'll already have a job lined up (fingers, toes, everything crossed!), or maybe I'll still be looking, I don't know.  But what I do know for certain is that I'm excited to learn even more in my final three semesters, and to share everything here in this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving all!

Librarians | Real World | Relaxing | SLIS | Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Events | Real World | SLIS

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

Jobline for the Win

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have decided that I had too much free time as a full time student and part time employee. Looking towards the summer and itching for some real world library experience, I was trawling through the weekly Simmons Jobline posts for something that might fit. A few things caught my eye, but I knew my resume could use a revamp.

Luckily for me, Maria's post in December about meeting with Amy Ryan (former President of the Boston Public Library) for resume help gave me with the motivation I needed to meet with her myself. I was still somewhat intimidated, but went in with high hopes. Together we tore my resume to shreds, then let a new and improved one rise from the ashes! Amy was simultaneously so approachable and knowledgeable! I left feeling armed with a rad resume.

Apparently the Watertown Free Public Library felt the same! I submitted an application for part time circulation work (as advertised on the Jobline) as soon as I'd made the edits Amy suggested, and was called for an interview a few days later. It was great to visit a library so packed with Simmons alum-librarians. I did my version of a touchdown dance waiting for the T when they called to extend the job offer!

Completing the onboarding for the WFPL job, I thoroughly enjoyed the training videos featuring people with thick Boston accents. As someone who has only had 'real' employment in New Jersey, it was a "We're not in Kansas anymore" moment for sure!

I should be starting the circ job in a few weeks, and can't wait to put what I'm learning in my classes into practice! I somehow also managed to snag a nannying job watching some super great kids, so this is the story of how I went from one job to three in the span of a week. Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes!


Getting a Job | Real World | SLIS


If you haven't been able to tell from some of my posts, I've been battling an extreme case of senioritis this semester. Now that the sun is out and the birds are singing it has become even harder for me to get down to work. I'm sitting outside right now watching my kids play and I just can't think of anything more interesting to write about. You see, there's a very small part of me that wants nothing more whatsoever to do with libraries, databases, websites, research, emails, and due dates from the moment I turn in my last assignment of the semester. This really is the final countdown for me, and I am so beyond excited to be almost DONE.

Then there's the question, that I've been getting a lot lately, of what I plan to do after I graduate. What I really want to say to people is: "Do I have to do anything after I graduate!? How about just enjoy my accomplishment and not having any more homework?" It's fine, I know what people mean. This reference and instruction internship may have the distinct possibility of turning into a part-time job, and I've been telling people for a while that I might look for part-time work after I graduate. In many ways, working part-time at the Fairfield University library is EXACTLY what I want to do with my degree and I can't think of a better opportunity or situation.

At the same time, I am in the enviable position of not necessarily needing to work to support my family. My husband and I have always felt that the best way for me to support my family is to be at home with the kids while they're young. But if I went back to "just" being a stay-at-home mom (for now), doesn't that mean that all the time, money, and work I put into my degree would be wasted? Well, that's for me to decide. When I applied to Simmons, I had no other long-term goal in mind beyond realizing my dream of going back to school and earning a Master's degree. I will have accomplished that, so maybe it's enough.

Anyway, there are a lot of big life decisions ahead for our family and many factors to consider. Beyond a doubt, 2019 is shaping up to be a momentous year with lots of transitions and changes. I don't know exactly what the next chapter holds, but I do know that I will always feel proud and grateful for all the learning and growth I've experienced during my time at Simmons.

Getting a Job | Librarians | Real World | SLIS

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

The First 100 Days - Guest Blogger - Hanna Soltys, '17

Hi Everyone, 

Please join me in welcoming our one time, guest blogger Hanna Soltys! She recently had the most exciting opportunity at the Library of Congress. 

Bio: Hanna Soltys '17 MS, Archives Management is one of five in the Library of Congress's pilot Librarians-in-Residence Program. She was placed in the Reference & Instruction track, within the Prints & Photographs Division, and began her six-month appointment in late June 2018. 

soltys_hanna_Photo.jpgThe First 100 Days 
As a Librarian-in-Residence at the Library of Congress

Since I'm now in DC, it only feels right to reflect on my First 100 Days. Let's be real, a residence program at an institution such as this is intimidating. The anxiety and doubt bubbled up as that plane took off from Logan Airport with just my luggage in tow. Though from Day One, I quickly saw how Simmons and my experiences throughout Boston had prepared me for this program.

The work I completed with Simmons students and former professor Martha Mahard in the Boston Public Library's Prints Department ensured I wasn't too green coming into the Library of Congress. This part-time job from the Simmons JobLine provided me with an understanding of photographic processes, assessing time periods, and more importantly proper handling techniques. My LIS 438 class internship and later contract work at the Roxbury Latin School showed me the power of using an archival collection for outreach and reference projects, in addition to gaining exposure with rare and fragile items, all of which continue to be useful when serving materials to patrons.

No matter your institution, the reference game is a lot of improvisation, becoming knowledgeable about a topic and/or collection quickly, and all about customer service. The Reading Room of Prints & Photographs has a dedicated team of Reference Librarians answering inquiries and questions from afar (online or by phone) and in-person; in addition to other roles, responsibilities, and projects.

With holdings boasting 16 million items, you quickly become familiar with best practices for handling and searching across a wide array of formats. Architectural drawings, posters (circus ones are a personal favorite), comic illustrations, lantern slides, stereographs, portfolios, scrapbooks, contact must be agile and plan ahead on larger items to pull with another set of hands!

As a rookie, the team had me complete a handful of exercises to become familiar with the arrangement, materials, and how to search collections. One very wonderful thing about the Prints & Photographs Reading Room is how much original material is out for self-service. With a Library of Congress Reader Room card, researchers and patrons can peruse the various collections at their pace.

This is by far the largest library team I've worked with and the amount of pop-up projects is abundant. From moderating Flickr and hosting Reading Room tours to working with technical services on digitization and staffing special events, you see the different hats, titles, and jobs a Librarian wears.

The Library of Congress offers educational programs for employees, with classes ranging from technology and systems to understanding the work of other divisions and seminars. The Reference Orientation class I took visited a different Reading Room each week, showing materials and collections throughout the Library of Congress. In addition, my colleagues, both in and out of the Prints & Photographs Division are always willing to answer any and all questions while sharing their experiences. The mentorship is abundant here and I'm thankful for a field that is so supportive.

In my day-to-day, I'm continually pulling from knowledge and experience in LIS 407 (it was a major help during my internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame), LIS 446, and LIS 415. While I currently don't use the coding languages from LIS 488 and LIS 440, these two class made me comfortable with unfamiliar technology, which was a benefit when learning about new systems and databases.

The next few months will be busy ones with a few project deadlines approaching (writing for the Picture This blog, a Reference Aid for the postcard collection, transferring a Finding Aid into a LibGuide), though it's exciting to see the varying amount of work completed in a mere six months. This has been a magnificent place to begin my professional library career and build upon my knowledge and experiences from Boston.

Postscript: Hanna's Librarians-in-Residence contract was extended for four additional months, and she will continue working in the Prints & Photographs Division in 2019.

Photo Caption: Hanna is seated in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room holding "Simmons College, Boston, Mass." from the Detroit Publishing Collection. This photograph dated between 1910-1920 is available as a digital file in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (LC-D4-72328)

Jobs | Librarians | Real World | SLIS

Fall Beckons!

My penultimate semester at Simmons has begun and the summer is officially over. I'm at this stage of my school journey in which things are beginning to feel very repetitive. Here I am: getting up before 6 am every Saturday, driving the same route to South Hadley, Mass., stopping at the same places for gas and a bite to eat, walking the same paths to familiar classrooms, seeing the same faces, eating the same lunches at the SlIS West office.... This is not to say that there's nothing unique about this semester, just that it's begun to feel very routine.

In many ways, though, this semester is unprecedented. For the first time, both of my kids will be at school for some portion of the day, giving me chunks of dedicated homework time in the mornings. The kids' school schedules force all of us to be up and at 'em fairly early so there will be more discipline and more routine. And I'm starting this semester with more planning, motivation, determination, and better personal organization than ever before. As my program has progressed it's become increasingly important for me to stay on top of my stress and anxiety and manage everything in my life so that the most important things do not get neglected.  

So how am I accomplishing this? First of all, I spent the weeks leading up to this semester organizing everything. My house and my own personal space is cleaner and neater right now than it's been since we moved in. I've attempted to do something similar in my mental space: relaxing, organizing, preparing. All of this has been aided and informed by an amazing book I read called The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin (a neuroscientist). The book explains how the brain receives, organizes, processes, and retrieves information and details various strategies for organizing your home, time, social life, and workplace to maximize your brain's ability to deal with today's information overload. I think it should be required reading for every librarian/aspiring librarian. The author included multiple references to information organization, records management, and devoted a whole section to information literacy.

I've devised a system for managing my time and my schoolwork that should help me stay on track, determine whether I'm spending too much or too little time on things, and recall what I've read all week so I can engage in discussions in class. My archives class has only 6 people in it and is very heavy on readings and discussion...which means none of us will be able to hide if we've slacked off that week! So I'm feeling quite optimistic about this semester and excited for the cooler weather which is clearly on the way. Bring it on Fall!!

Real World | SLIS | SLIS West | reading

A Season's Change

I was listening to a podcast by one of my very favorite authors and speakers, Rob Bell, earlier this week. This gem of an episode was entitled "Everyone Is Your Teacher," and it turned out to be one of those well-timed bits of amazingness that was dropped right into my lap. The day was oddly gloomy, I was on my way to work when I would have much rather been curled up in my pj's while binge watching The Bold Type. Still, I had a half hour walk and decided to tune in and see if Rob had any words of wisdom and humor for me. (Spoiler alert: he did.) He shared a short vignette about the seasons that we experience in life, and how the various seasons we have teach us different things. He said that part of the power in celebrating any particular season is being honest with ourselves and letting it be what it was after it has run its course.

Now, what am I getting at here? A few things...fall is just over a month away, and for me personally, summer is ending much too soon. Classes start up again at the beginning of September, bringing with them all the hustle and bustle of a fresh semester. I'm moving out of my current apartment and into another in a couple of weeks--which reminds me, I have all sorts of packing and cleaning that I need to do. I started taking on some new responsibilities at my library job, and I'll be helping out with publicity and marketing for the foreseeable future. Hooray for outreach! As a side note- y'all, it has been way too much fun and I enjoy what I'm doing a whole lot. Who knew work could feel this much like play?! But the combined force of all these changes made me realize that I won't have the capacity to continue blogging here. Do I hear the sad Charlie Brown music playing there in the background? Just maybe?

This much is clear: I have a difficult time with seasons passing, even though they're a natural part of the world and our lives. A part of me wishes certain things could just go on forever and ever, amen. But it turns out we're not stuck in a perpetual state of day or night or a decades-long winter like the good citizens of Westeros. We're in a continual state of flux, of ebb and flow. I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to use this space to work on my writing and share my thoughts, and I wish all of you out there a happy rest of the summer! Maybe I'll even get to meet some of you if we overlap here at Simmons! J

Real World | SLIS

Staying Busy and Finding Meaning

I've been wracking my brain this week trying to come up with a good metaphor to compare summer online courses with regular semester ones. The one I keep thinking about is running. Let's say the normal semester course is like running the mile. You know it's going to be four laps around the track and you know you can't sprint the entire time and so you pace yourself, trying to keep your speed steady and saving your energy for a little burst at the end. This online summer course is like running 800 meters. You can still try to pace yourself, but there's not as much distance in this race and so you mostly just run and hope your strength holds out. (I don't actually have any experience with these kinds of races so I apologize if the metaphor doesn't fit.)

There are just two weeks left in my class and today I went and signed my kids up for summer camp at their adorable little preschool. At the beginning of the summer my husband and I decided not to do summer camp so we could save some money, but I've reached the point where I'm willing to throw money at just about anyone who will take my kids for a few hours and show them a good time. Can you put a price on sanity? The thing is, grad school has been tough for our little family. Since I started at Simmons I've become the busiest person in the house and I know that my kids and my husband sometimes feel like they have to compete for my time. Most weeks I feel like I'm being pulled in many different directions by all these different forces demanding a piece of me: my kids, my husband, my house, my friends, my school responsibilities, my church responsibilities, my hobbies and passions, my own self-care needs. Sometimes it feels like a wave about to swallow me and other times like I'm juggling an impossible number of precious things.

Despite the challenges and the ever-present lack of rest for the weary, I know deep down inside that I'm happy. I feel more like myself than I ever have since the birth of my first child. And as my husband loves to remind me: "you like being busy." While I certainly don't enjoy the stress and anxiety and exhaustion, I do enjoy being engaged in acts of learning, progressing, exploring my talents, trying new things, and working toward a meaningful goal. And it would be a lot harder if I didn't love what I do. As I like to tell other moms: everyone needs a "thing."  Be it a hobby, a side-hustle, a guilty pleasure, a community group, political activism, a secret obsession, a social experiment, a new religion...find a thing that you love and make it your own. Life is only worth living if it means something.  

Real World | Summer | classes

A Glimpse of Summer

I had almost forgotten about the feeling of that sweet exhale summer break brings until now. I don't know if what I'm doing 100% qualifies as a "break" since I am working a lot and still managing to keep my schedule quite full, but it is nice to be doing all of those things without having to worry about homework and readings for a few months!

In terms of work, I'm still filling in as a senior substitute at the Somerville Public Library. I love it for...well, many reasons. 1) SPL is an awesome place and you should come visit us, okay? Okay. 2) We've got three branches, and I've been fortunate enough to work in various roles at each of them. Plus, I have amazing co-workers who have been so helpful and supportive. A little circulation here, some reference desk there, and my personal favorite--the children's room. I got to do an impromptu preschool story time a couple of weeks ago and it was only a little scary, but mostly a lot of fun and way cute! The parents and caregivers there were the real champs since they helped me out with all of the songs I didn't know. It was great. 3) Did I mention SPL is awesome?

I've also been picking up some catering gigs in between my shifts at the library, which has taken me to a lot of interesting places and introduced me to some pretty cool people. I never fully know what to expect from any given event, so it keeps me on my toes while helping me pay the bills.

And behind the scenes of work and sleep and getting together with friends, I've been taking time out of each day to foster my creativity. I committed to doing this 12-week course from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm coming to the end of week 2 now, and it's been challenging and frustrating, but yes, already rewarding. Fingers crossed that I can stick with it to the finale. Hope all of you are having lovely summers so far!

Boston | Fun | Real World | Summer | classes

Some Thoughts on Cars and Parking Permits

Hello, people of the world! I'd like to pass along some practical advice about what it's like to bring your out of state car to Massachusetts, because there are a number of things I've had to learn the hard way since I did just that a couple of weeks ago.

First off, there are a number of cities in the Greater Boston Area that will require you to have a street parking permit if you aren't lucky enough to land in a place with a driveway or garage. Know that you have been blessed by the parking gods if such fortune falls upon your head. And since the spaces in the lot behind my apartment complex were already filled up, I was in need of such a permit. I made a big, fat assumption that since I was a grad student living here temporarily, I'd still be able to get some kind of permit. Oh, I was wrong. So very wrong.

It turns out that when you're living here and have your vehicle here, you're required to register said vehicle in MA. And I had to do just that if I even wanted to think about parking my car in the vicinity of where I am living. *deep sigh* So I've been jumping through hoops and filling out all sorts of paperwork and couch-surfing at the homes of various friends who DO have available street parking (which I'm super grateful for and has been very fun and sweet, actually) until all this gets settled. Fingers crossed that it will be soon!

Another note- Be sure to order an E-ZPass transponder for when you're taking toll roads.

Anyway, if you're planning to bring your car here like I did, I hope to save you some of the hassle I've been through! I'm leaving a link below to the state government's blog that provides all sorts of handy information, from what all you need to do to the paperwork you'll need to bring when you brave the lines at the RMV. There's also another link for setting up an E-ZPass account and ordering the transponder. Best of luck to you!


Boston | Real World

Pondering the Future

So, readers, my little summer break is almost over.  My new class starts next week (LIS 415: Information Organization).  As I've mentioned in a previous post, it's an online class again and I'm excited to start.  I am a little bit ambivalent about the shorter timeframe, but I'm really excited about the topic and I've already started in on the reading. 

Over the past few weeks I've been pondering my future a lot.  Currently, I'm doing the Archives Management concentration within the MS in Library and Information Science program.  Even though I'm near the beginning of the program and am still taking my core classes, I can't help but wonder whether or not the Archives Management track is right for me and if I should instead be doing the design-your-own option.  I've been doing a lot of informal networking lately, and through my discussions with other librarians I've started to think about what I really want to do with my life once I graduate from Simmons, and if archives will play a role in that.  I started to think about this when doing course planning and seeing all of the awesome LIS classes Simmons has to offer and trying to pick what electives I'd want to take in the future.  It's just so hard to choose as all of the classes sound so fascinating.  On one hand, I don't think I'll fully know whether or not archives are for me until I actually take an archives class.  I don't think I could go wrong either way, but I feel I'll miss out on something great, whether it be some amazing electives or archives classes, no matter what I choose.  But, this is the time to figure out what I want.  Right now, I work in an academic library as a reference assistant and I love it, so maybe academic libraries are my future!  Maybe something completely different!  Who knows what the future could hold for me- but the one thing I do know is that I'm going to love each and every class I'm going to take at Simmons. 

If you want to learn more about the course offerings at SLIS click here.

Getting a Job | Librarians | Real World | Summer | classes | skills

A Much Needed Break

I'm afraid I don't have any exciting summer adventures to report on yet; with my son's preschool still in session our summer hasn't officially started. To be quite honest, I've been laying pretty low since the semester ended. I've written no blogs (until this one), largely ignored my school email, and given barely any thought to school or libraries. I've also been sick almost the entire time (thanks kids) which has necessitated taking it easy. That means watching shows, reading books, and playing silly games on my phone. But the best part of my break so far has been all the unstructured quality time I've been able to spend with my family, without the worry of school deadlines weighing me down and subtly siphoning away my energy and attention. My husband and kids are thrilled to have mommy back in full for a little while.

And yes, as others have mentioned, spring is in full swing here in New England. It's that brief and magical time of year when the house needs no heating or cooling - a few open windows does the trick. The insects are beginning to reappear but have not become a nuisance yet and the rain is charming and soothing. It's one of the few times of the year that I can lord it over my friends in Virginia, who are already contending with heat and humidity.

It's lovely, it's relaxing, it's easy right now - the exact opposite from life a month ago. It's given me time to think about the big picture, and about what happens after graduate school. Unfortunately my thoughts have been tending more toward the "will this all be worth it?" variety. Honestly if I had to start classes again tomorrow I think I would be dreading it. Let's chalk it all up to a "mid-program slump" and the fact that I really needed a break. There are still about three more weeks until my online class starts, and I feel confident that by then I will be ready to dive in again. Thank goodness for the seasons and the cycles in our lives that bring variety and balance and keep life interesting.

Real World | Relaxing | Summer

Job Hunt

Before I applied to Simmons, I did thorough research on the Master's of Library Science programs and what types of jobs you can get after you graduate.  Unfortunately, what I did not have was experience working in a library.  The only experience that I had working in a library was volunteering in middle school to help sign people up for the summer reading program (I'm pretty certain that doesn't count).  The thing that was stressed over and over in the information sessions that I attended before applying, and while meeting with my advisor, and in class was to get experience during your time at Simmons.  So, right now, I'm looking for that experience. 

The Archives Management concentration does require an internship course, LIS 438: Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, so I know I will get some experience when I take that class.  However, I'm not taking that class now so I'm hoping to find something before I take that class, whether it be a paid job, an internship, and/or more volunteer experience.  As I said before, SLIS really encourages getting work experience while at Simmons, so much so that they created the Simmons Jobline which advertises professional positions, pre-professional positions, internships, volunteer opportunities, and opportunities for current students.  The Jobline is an incredibly important tool and has been so useful to me in my job search. 

The SLIS program at Simmons is a professional program, so what I've found so far is that every reading, every assignment, every activity, and everything you learn in your classes is something useful and is something you can use in interviews.  You are not doing any busy work at SLIS- everything is for your future career.  Before I started this program, I actually had a few interviews at libraries and I wish I had the knowledge from the program to draw on, because then I might have a library job right now.  I recently had an interview for a part-time library position, and I felt it went so much better than the interviews I had before starting this program.  They've even called me back for a second interview.  Wish me luck, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes! 

If you are interested in the Simmons Jobline you can find it here here.

Getting a Job | Real World | SLIS

Librarian Advice

Spring break has come and gone (while we're still waiting for actual spring to arrive) which means we're entering the second half of the semester. It's amazing to me how different this semester has been from my last. In the fall I had the same number of classes and the same number of credits, but 20 hours a week was barely enough time to complete all the assignments and I struggled to keep up with the reading (I was also doing my 60-hour archives internship). This semester, 20 hours a week feels fairly sufficient, and my current two classes require lighter reading and fewer written assignments.

Last Saturday we had one of our Day-in-the-Life lunchtime programs that could have been called "Personalized Advice from a Career Librarian." It was awesome. These lunchtime events are one of the best things about SLIS West. There's free food and the opportunity to mingle with classmates and librarians from around the area. Saturday's speaker was Barbara Friedman, current part-time director of Erving Library with nearly fifty years of library experience. We had a small group sitting around the table in the SLIS West office, so Ms. Friedman allowed each of us to tell her a little bit about ourselves, to which she then responded with some career/library advice. What she told me has changed my entire outlook.

I've always felt that my situation of being unemployed for the past 6 years and busy raising my young children puts me at a disadvantage in terms of getting somewhere with my degree. Most of my classmates are busy earning their library degree and accumulating real-world library experience at the same time. All of the job ads that I see require both a MLIS and a certain amount/type of professional experience. The MLIS is not a "golden ticket" all on its own (spoiler alert).

After I somewhat sheepishly admitted to Ms. Friedman the circumstances of my life that I saw as limitations, she expounded on several reasons why these are not limitations at all. She told me about some of the interesting library opportunities she found while raising her own children (like organizing the private library of a wealthy Connecticut couple!). I realized that while I may not be able to independently choose where I go or what I do, I don't have the pressure of supporting myself financially with my degree. I can work part-time or volunteer for a while and hopefully be able to gain a variety of experiences.

I am grateful to have found a program like SLIS West that fits my situation and my family's needs. I am grateful for a small program, with opportunities like personalized advice from a career librarian. I do worry about the future, and about what will happen after I graduate. But I know that I've chosen the right field and I'm prepared to enjoy whatever path it takes me down.

Events | Librarians | Real World | SLIS West

In Case of Free Time

Due to some marvelous twist of fate, I indeed have some of this coveted free time mentioned in the title, even in the midst of three classes, two part-time jobs, and an internship. Phew. Did I mention that the twist of fate was marvelous? Of course, a fair amount of said free time is spent taking care of important things (i.e. homework & blessed, blessed sleep) along with the everyday banalities of life. But how else to fill in those special gaps of nothingness? Here's how it looks for me:

I still read for pleasure. Honestly, I've found it impossible to stop! I tote books around to read on my train or bus commute, and I've joined a couple of different book clubs in the area. I was a little shy to jump in at first, but they've helped me be motivated to read new things regularly, and I'm also getting to meet some great new people.

FYI- the Meetup app is an awesome way to get plugged into groups like this!

Speaking of great new people, there are a lot of them all around me in my classes and at work. It's been wonderful to befriend a few and be able to hang out when our schedules allow. While I love being alone and need the space to recharge my inner battery, as we all do, I feel like making the time to be social and branch out has played a big part in enriching my life here.

Last but not least, I get creative. Literally. For me, this takes the form of writing. Whether it's journaling or blogging or whipping out some kind of prose, it doesn't matter. I've found that honoring the innovative force within helps me be more focused during other parts of my day, and hey, it also makes me real happy.

I guess that's the point I'm trying to make to us both--find what brings you joy, and do that. Take care of yourself. And don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! Rinse and repeat.

Fun | Real World | SLIS | Students