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

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Ready to Go!

It was nice to have a few weeks off but I'm ready for classes to start again.  2020 is going to be an important year for me.  Not only is it a big birthday year (I'm entering a new decade!), but it's the year I'll be graduating.  Since I have a lot to do between now and the end of the year, I started browsing the Simmons Career Education Center website to see if it offered anything to help me through the process.  It turns out that the CEC offers a lot of services to students and alumni.  I was a little overwhelmed by all the options, to be honest, but I found two things that seem especially useful: the resume review service and the career fairs.  I could use some feedback on my resume.  I am not sure it's as strong as it could be, so I'm going to make an appointment to have someone from Simmons review it.

This will be especially important because I'm planning on attending at least one of the career fairs that Simmons will be offering in February, March, and April.  I don't think I can make it to all three, but I'm going to try.  It's never too early to start thinking about job opportunities and making connections.  It's good to practice talking to employers about who I am and what I am looking for in a library job.  Plus, I get to hand out my business cards along with my updated resume.  All Simmons SLIS students can order business cards through our Student Services office , and I ordered mine last year when I started classes.  I think they will come in handy at the career fairs.

While I'm happy to have a plan for the coming months, I'm also happy to focus on the present.  Classes start this week and I am excited.  I switched from Information for Diverse Users to Collections Development and Management because I thought it would be useful to learn about that aspect of library work.  For this class, each student gets to pick a library to focus on for assignments throughout the semester.  This allows us to get an in-depth view of how the collections process works.  I also finally get to take the Metadata class.  I've wanted to take it for a while, but I couldn't fit it in my schedule until now.  Overall, I think this should be a very productive and enlightening semester.       

Classes | Getting a Job | Resources | 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


Moving Across the Country

In September, I moved to Boston from Texas so I could attend Simmons and try and get a real winter. I'm only 3 months in and it's already way colder here than it ever gets in Texas.

I wanted to go over some of the things that were part of the challenge of moving here and how Simmons helped me with the move. The major thing was finding a place to live which can be difficult wherever you go. Finding a comfortable space that is also affordable is a challenging process. Thankfully, Simmons has a really great listing that students can access that lists available places within the area. It took me a while but I managed to find a little place in West Roxbury that a Simmons alum owns and managed to find a great roommate.

The next thing to deal with was how to get to school and figuring out public transportation for the first time. In Texas, there's no real convenient transportation service because everybody has cars and because Texas is such a big state. Its challenging and frustrating at times but getting to learn the MBTA has been a fun thing to do as a way to learn more about the city.

Finally, deciding which classes to take and which ones are required has been a major point of moving to Boston. As an Archives and History student, I have some structured courses that are required but I have enough flexibility to be able to take courses that still interest me like an upcoming one called Moving Image Archives that fits very well with my interests and eventual career goals. Moving across the country has been a challenge but I encourage everybody to do something similar at least once to get yourself out of your comfort zone and see how other places are similar yet different.

 

Boston | Resources | SLIS | Students | Weather


How a Hungry Floridian Feeds Herself without Publix

Now as someone born and raised in Florida, I have very strong opinions on which supermarket is the best. Publix is the greatest gift that Florida has given to the Southeast and I will always make whoever picks me up from the airport come with a chicken tender pub sub in one hand, and a Publix arnold palmer in the other. 

So as nearly a cult member to the religion that is Publix, moving up to New England and not having access to my pub subs and near endless BOGO deals was honestly quite worrisome. But don't fret fellow Floridians, or any folks who care to read my crazed musings about grocery shopping, I have taken it upon myself to visit the nearest grocery stores to me and let y'all in on all my crazy thoughts and opinions. I'll not go to in depth since this is one of those weird topics that I could talk about for hours, but honestly I feel like this is helpful information for fellow foodies moving to the Boston area from another part of the country. 

Bfresh - 5% student discount on groceries, I REPEAT 5% DISCOUNT ON STUDENT GROCERIES! This is a very small grocery store near the Harvard Ave stop on the B line but they for the most part have everything you need. I personally really love this grocery store because I'm more likely to stick to my list since its so small and I don't get lost looking for the simplest things. This one is my top pick for people in Brighton. 

Trader Joe's - an obvious choice, a classic stable in the grad student's budget for their wide range of frozen foods as well as excellently priced produce. Just don't go on a Sunday, it will be a mob scene. I would say that Trader Joe's almost has a similar following to Publix and I get it, there in house brand products are so tasty and affordable. That being said, sometimes I just need Oreos, not Joe-Joe's. 

Stop & Shop/Star Market - I'm lumping these two places together because they are both so very average. The Star Market near me is possibly my least favorite place to go because it is organized in a way that I just can't figure out. The one near campus is so much better so I guess it just really depends on the location. 

Wegmans - I hate admitting this but Wegmans is great. I had to text one of my old roommates who was from upstate New York because we would always fight over Publix vs. Wegmans yet neither of us had been to the others favorite. The closest Wegmans to me is in Chestnut Hill, so I had to get my cousin to "steal" her boyfriend's car (a minivan, perfect for all the food we were about to buy) and we dragged all the other roommates out on an epic adventure. It was glorious, all the groceries were located on the first floor, and then all the alcohol on the second (they had an AMAZING selection of craft beers, some even from my favorite breweries in Florida!) If you have a car or live in Chestnut Hill, I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't be shopping at Wegmans. 

Whole Foods - I am really only including Whole Foods because it is actually the closest grocery store to my apartment and it is both a blessing and a curse. I will cave into my lazy nature sometimes (especially in the winter) and go there for groceries and every time I am either paying too much for things or they don't have the things I want. I will say though that their hot bar is amazing and while I feel like it is overpriced, sometimes my happiness and need for chicken tenders is greater than my frugalness. 

My research is far from over for this but I had a  way more fun than average exploring and judging grocery stores around Boston. I still want to try out two other places that people keep recommending to me, Market Basket in Sommerville and Russo's in Watertown. I'm especially excited about Russo's since it's a family owned market and I've been told has an amazing selection of all types of produce and such.

 

Fun | Resources | SLIS


Guest Blog Post - MLA Conference Experience - Professional Development

Hi Everyone! We are lucky enough to have a fabulous guest post from one of our current students in the program -- Kerri MacLaury. Kerri was kind enough to share with us her input on the recent MLA conference she attended. I hope you enjoy this exciting guest post! 

One of the reasons why I chose to attend Simmons University's School of Library and Information Science program was its support of students' professional development. Every fiscal year, each SLIS student, courtesy of the Library and Information Science Student Association, receives $250 which they can put toward various professional development activities. Funds can be used to be reimbursed for professional association dues, workshop or conference fees, and travel and lodging expenses.

This year I considered using my funds to pay for American Library Association, New England Library Association (NELA), and Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) membership dues, but ultimately decided to use the funds to attend the MLA conference. I made that decision because I know that I will remain in Massachusetts at the conclusion of my schooling and wanted to start growing my professional network in Massachusetts now, rather than waiting for graduation. The funds reimbursed me for all but $9 of the student-rate conference fee to attend for all three days. It was a deal that I could not resist!

This year, the MLA Conference was titled "The Greatest Job on Earth" and was held on May 20th-22nd at the Sheraton Conference Center in Framingham, MA. This. Conference. Was. FANTASTIC! I found such value in the workshops offered, that at the conclusion of the conference, I found the members of the MLA's Conference Committee and asked to join it so that I might help with next year's conference.

Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to network with library directors, librarians, and library volunteers from across the state. It exposed me to fantastic readers' advisory, programming and fundraising ideas that I hope to implement in future library positions. And, most importantly, it helped give me concrete actions that I can take to build equity in both programming and staffing at future libraries.

Here are some highlights from my favorite speakers and workshops:

  • Radical Respect in Troubling Times Keynote Session & Communicating Across Differences Workshop - Deborah Plummer, PhD, Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care

    • Focus on being respectful versus being right

    • Admit when you have made an assumption about someone else

    • Treat addressing diversity as a challenge instead of as a threat

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Recommended resources: Project Ready

  • Fundraising with a Read-a-Thon - Janina Majeran, Reference and YA Librarian, Swampscott Public Library

    • Select date for read-a-thon and map out promotional plan for press releases, social media video post, and flyers

    • Reach out to schools and library book groups to participate

    • Solicit donations from local businesses to provide refreshments during the event for participants

    • Promote the fundraiser to patrons and volunteers, provide them with pledge sheets so they can ask friends to support their read-a-thon reading

    • Select a charity to donate half of the funds to after the fundraiser

    • Thanks participants with gift bags and business supporters with a follow up press release and social media posts

  • Readers' Advisory: Connecting with Patrons Using Themes - Katie Stover, Director of Readers' Services, Kansas City Public Library; Kristi Chadwick, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System; Victoria Caplinger, Director of Book Discovery, Novelist

    • Romance Themes: Secret baby, friends to lovers, marriage of convenience/opposites attract, hating to dating

    • Mystery/Suspense Themes: Bad seeds, unreliable narrator/missing memories, too good to be true

    • Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction Themes: Robots with emotions, alien invasion, band of survivors, evil corporations, pandemic apocalypse

    • Christian Fiction Themes: Sinner redeemed, home again, test of faith, life outside the flock

    • Urban Fiction Themes: Church drama, cheaters, payback

    • Graphic Novel Themes: Origin story, women of steel, no power but still super, sidekick spotlight

    • Recommended Readers' Advisory Resources: NoveList, Book Riot, New York Times Book Reviews, NPR Books, GoodReads, Book Club MeetUps, The Millions, Books in Tumblr

  • Equity Program Design and Delivery - Valerie Wonder, Community Engagement Manager, Seattle Public Library; Josie Watanabe, Student Success Program Manager, Seattle Public Library

    • Look at which demographic groups your library is spending your money on and spend money where the need is the greatest

    • Listen to what different community groups say they need, not what you assume they need

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Identify your audience and prioritize them based on greatest need

    • Recommended resources: Youth Service Learning model, Social Emotional Learning: Empathy Domain, RACE Forward: Racial Equity Impact Assessment Guide

  • Seeking Stellar Staff, or, There Must Be a Better Way to Hire and Interview the Best People for These Library Positions! - Maxine Bleiweis, Library Innovation Consultant

    • Connect and match people with what they need to be successful

    • Do not hire for the moment, hire for what is coming next

    • Always be in recruitment mode to be prepared for the inevitable loss of staff

    • Use experiential interviews and have interviewees assist with events, great patrons at the door, show you something that they know, serve refreshments, find out what they learned recently, provide them with a real assignment that you are grappling with

    • In the sit-down interview ask what they know about the community, what they love to do outside of work, about past feedback they have received and how it impacted their performance, what's held them back and what they are doing to change

    • Recommended Resources: Helping Business: The Library's Role in Community Economic Development by Maxine Bleiweis, David Rock's SCARF Model

As I mentioned before, I highly recommend attending this conference, particularly if you will be staying in Massachusetts at the conclusion of your studies. Even if you will be moving elsewhere, you can use your professional development funds to attend a similar conference in your destination state. Upon leaving the conference, I had so many wonderful ideas to tuck away for future implementation. I am so excited to become more involved with the Massachusetts Library Association Conference Committee and hope to see you at next year's conference!

 

Events | Fun | Resources | SLIS | Student Groups | conferences


SLIS Career and Networking Fair - Come for the Networking, Stay for the Swag & Brownies

Every spring, SLIS Student Services puts on the annual SLIS Career and Networking Fair for the students and alumni of the program. I am have been looking for some summer internship or part-time opportunities in Boston and I really wanted to attend this event as an informative experience, and a chance to practice my networking skills (something that still stresses me out constantly and I am always trying to improve). I am so happy I went. Even though I did initially have to hype myself up a bit with some caffeine. It was really nice to attend a career fair that was actually catering to my specific field. In undergraduate, I attended one career fair and since my college had a lot of business and technology students I did not feel too well represented as an art history student. There were definitely ways I could apply my liberal arts degree to different careers at the fair but it was nice to have that taken care for me at the Simmons SLIS Career Fair.

Some of the top highlights from the career fair were:

  • Professional Headshots! Making a LinkedIn has been on my to do list for some time now, so having a good, professional photo of myself has finally kicked me into gear on that front. Pro tip: Do this first thing so you don't have to take off and try to restick the nametag you get for the event.

  • Talking to such a diverse group of organizations. I spoke with people from archives, public libraries, academic libraries, a corporate library, a law library, and there were so many more options. Pro tip: Plan enough time to talk with everyone you want, I missed speaking with the Cape Ann Museum because I got to the event later than I anticipated and they packed up a little early.

  • All the swag. I'm talking pens, pencils, stickers, tote bags, candy, folders, those things you stick on the back of your phone that can hold your charlie card, there was so much stuff to pick up and I was not shy about asking for all the things. Oh and the event was also catered, huge perk for any type of student! Pro tip: Either bring or look for someone giving out tote bags first, you will be getting so much information that it is impossible to carry it all while still holding your resume and having a hand open for introductory handshakes.

Overall, even though I am still in the program and not looking for a full-time gig yet, I think that the career fair was a really invaluable opporunity to speak with current library and information professionals. Just being myself (and as friendly and outgoing as an introvert on two cups of coffee can be) was really helpful to see where people with library degrees can go. There were a lot of Simmons alumni recruiting at the event and I had some really informative conversations about what people recommend for me as someone still in school to diversify myself in the field. Even at times when I felt awkward walking up to tables and initiating a conversation, I knew that it was an opportunity to improve and practice my elevator pitch that I can really nail down for next year's fair when I am actually starting to look for full-time work after graduation!

 

Events | Getting a Job | Jobs | Resources | SLIS | Students


Meeting Connections and Chatting with Friends

   It's early April, and you want to hang out with fellow book lovers. The obvious thing is to go to MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association) on a rainy Sunday. MSLA is a chance for classmates you see in your classes to interact with school library teachers who are your professors, as well as other school librarians in the field. The day started off with an opening keynote on diversity, an issue very big among our community at Simmons and in public schools around the state. Many sessions were offered. I chose the talk on new AASL (American Association of School Librarians) standards, since I am working on creating lessons that align with those standards in my 461 Curriculum and Instructional Strategies class. 

  The instructor of the session on AASL was the former Simmons SLT program manager, from about ten years ago. Half the school librarians in the session were alums of the Simmons SLT program. Throughout the guided exercises at the AASL Standards session, I was able to get good ideas for my future school library, also given the opportunity to network with my fellow librarians.

   During the lunch break, I worked on my interview assignment -- to interview a library teacher who works in a suburb of Boston. This was the best time for my subject, and she was able to introduce me to other librarians in her district. I was able to learn that this library teacher presented at MSLA in 2018 on how she recruits library volunteers, making herself a leader in her field. The time I spent at this conference assured me that Simmons is able to connect me with alums who are currently working in the field through the courses and networking with MSLA. Simmons MLIS is developed with graduating with a job in mind, and I know after attending this conference that there are plenty of Simmons alumni in the Boston area who want to help me be a good school librarian.

MSLA Logo.jpg

Resources | SLIS | Students | classes | conferences


Registration Time!

Registration for the Fall 2019 semester starts this week, and I know which classes I want to take.  One of the many great things about the LIS program at Simmons is that we are required to fill out a form with all the classes we plan to take.  It's not a binding contract, but it forces you to think about what classes you want to take and when, because not all classes are offered every semester.  I am a planner by nature, and I loved scheduling out my potential classes.   I had to re-do my schedule when I switched from archives to the Design Your Own program, and it was a bit of a project.  The archives program was relatively simple to plan out because eight of the twelve courses in the program were required.  The difficulty was not what classes to take, but when to take them.  The DYO, however, has only three required choices, and there are a lot more classes to choose from.

This is where the Two Year Schedule came in handy.  It lists all the courses, when they will be offered, and whether they are in-person or online.  To make things easier for myself, I input all the possible classes into an Excel worksheet.  It took a while to set up but it was worth it because it enabled me to filter by semester and focus on the classes with limited offerings to make sure I don't miss my chance to take them.  Since the Intro to Programming and Social Informatics courses are only offered in the Fall, and I want to take them as early as possible, I need to take them this Fall.  Those will be my classes for the semester.  Easy peasy, right?   Well, I also think that taking Digital Stewardship would fit best with other classes I want to take later.  This means I'd have to take three classes instead of two.  I checked out the course syllabi archive (which is an invaluable Simmons resource!) to get a basic feel for what the class structures will be like, and I'm fairly confident I can handle these three classes.  I'm a little nervous about it, but I can always drop one class if it's too much.  I think it's worth it to try.

Of course, this is all still a plan in my head, because registration isn't until the 10th.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have any issues signing up for these courses.  It wouldn't be the end of the world if I couldn't get into a class, because I have backup classes I could take.  But I would prefer not to mess with my schedule.  I'll feel much better when registration is over and I can focus on being excited about my classes!

Classes | Resources | SLIS | Students