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Touring the Library of My Dreams

A few weeks ago, the Panoptican and Special Libraries Association student groups, put on a joint field trip to tour the Museum of Fine Arts's library that is located not too far from campus! As a new officer of Panoptican and especially as an aspiring art librarian, I was very excited to attend but also to meet and chat with other Simmons students with similar interests and goals in the library profession. Getting back into the swing of things at the start of a new semester can be overwhelming but I knew this was an event I did not want to miss! 

While the actual MFA is basically diagonal to campus, the MFA's library is offsite on Mass Ave by the Symphony T stop. While the main purpose of the library is to be a resource for the museum staff, they are also open to the public Monday through Friday from 1-5 pm. However, the stacks are closed and anyone interested will need call slips in order to view any materials, which I thought was actually kind of cool from the standpoint of harking back to the old days. I have never been to a library that is still like this (although fun fact for my archive internship, the collection I was working on did have a lot of call slips from the Harvard libraries that the person had kept with scribbled little research notes dating around 1940-1950). We got a tour of the library's holdings from the head of technical services who was really wonderful about showing us the different aspects that make up the library. We had a large group (see photo below featuring your favorite goofball in the denim jacket) so it took a little while to corral all of us but the MFA's librarian was really sweet and excited to show us around and answer any of our questions. 

We  got to go into their lower-level storage area where they keep a lot of their auction catalogs, which was quite a huge selection. The greatest part of the whole tour though was when the librarian "let us loose" to explore the main stacks and even go up to the second floor of the library which I wanted to do the moment we got there but was too shy to ask about. And it was grand! This event was so perfect for my professional aspirations because I was able to look into one of the my dream libraries for such a large art museum. This segways nicely into some great news I have for this coming year...I got a job as the Collections Assistant at the Harvard Fine Arts Library! I've only been there for a week now but stay posted on that experience for a later blog post where I can get into more of the work I will be doing there. I am so excited for this semester because as cheesy as it sounds, things are finally starting to fall into place and I am living my art library dream. 

Events | Fun | SLIS | Student Groups


Classes and Events at SLIS

It's that time in the semester when all you do is study, eat to take a break from studying, and try to get in some sleep.

     As a library student in the SLT school library program, I need to start preparing for next semester. Next semester, I will be doing my first of two practicums, which consists of 150 hours of student teaching in an elementary and then high school library. I have the placement school picked out, and in a few weeks the paperwork will begin. With my classmates figuring out their course preferences for Spring 2020 registration that happens in a few weeks, it is nice for me not to have to worry about what courses I will be taking. Those in the School Library Teacher concentration at SLIS plan out their course outline in their first semester, and will stand by that course outline as they make their way through the program.

   The first course I am taking this spring will be a Writing for Children class in the Children's Literature department. This will count as one of my two electives. I will get to take the other fun elective in a future semester. My other spring course will be LIS 460: Technology for School Library Teacher students. It is a special technology course taught by a current high school library teacher meant to prepare SLT students for the field.

   Right now, my social life is mostly line dancing at Loretta's Last Call, studying, and reading lots of YA books and articles about how to serve the teen populations in libraries. In my LIS 483 class, I learn so much about how to serve teens in libraries, while in my Writing for Children class, I learn how to write books for them. As we near the end of the semester, it is time to start thinking about the big papers. It is week 7, and my professors are preparing us for the big projects we will be doing in the last half of the semester.

   This week has also consisted of a lot of emails planning for an event at Simmons in two weeks hosted by SCIRRT (Student Chapter of the International Relations Round Table. I am currently the only SCIRRT officer for our SLIS student chapter. This event I have been working on, hosted by SCIRRT, is specifically geared toward SLT students. A Simmons SLIS grad, Maya Bery, (also a former SLIS Admissions blogger), will be coming to give a presentation at Simmons on October 30. She will be giving a presentation titles "Bringing the World to Your Classroom," on how we can make learning more global in the school library. Bery is a successful school library teacher in Carlisle Public Schools, and presented this past April, on this topic at MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association conference).  Student leadership is a great opportunity for SLIS students who want to get involved in planning events that they think will interest students and will help students build their professional knowledge of the library science field.

  Now it's time to enjoy the windy weather and soak in the beautiful fall colors in Boston.

Classes | Events | Leadership | SLIS | Student Groups


Always Say Yes to Free Pizza

Having survived a crazy, first few weeks of the semester full of extensive planning, and then replanning, I'm starting to finally feel settled again. And with the start of a new semester here at Simmons is all the fun events! Since I haven't been an on-campus student since last Fall, it was really great coming back and seeing so many familiar faces! 

An event that I remembered hearing about last fall, that I was lucky to be able to actually attend this fall, was Pizza with the Dean. Besides the obvious reasoning of free food, I thought this was a really great opportunity to actually meet and talk with our COCIS Dean Marie desJardins in a casual, conversational setting. If there is one goal I have been really trying to work on throughout grad school, it is being more outgoing in a work meets social type setting. Networking has always been a terrifying concept for me and, while I like to think I am an interesting person to talk to, once I start interacting with professionals I look up to, I find my mind always goes blank.  

What made this event so perfect? It was a relatively small group of us, around 12 students total, and Marie was so lovely and easy to talk to about both fun topics -- like her go-to coffee shop/cafe in Boston, (Athan's Bakery near the Washington Square T stop in Brookline for those curious!) and on more serious topics such as keeping the word 'library' in the school of library and information science, despite the trend of other universities becoming just 'information schools'. Another great opportunity that Marie discussed with us is that since COCIS is one of 4 graduate colleges at Simmons, she would love to see more cross enrollment amongst the programs; for example, LIS students taking courses in the School of Social Work or Management courses in the School of Business. 

I'm glad I went to this event, not only because I got to speak and hear from our COCIS dean, but also because it was a great way to hear from my peers in the program too. Everyone at Simmons is coming from all sorts of backgrounds, whether that means straight out of undergrad, or people looking for a career change/broadening their professional skills. The fact that Simmons offers these type of events for students is really helpful, and I feel it's reflective of the program itself. As librarians, we can always benefit from collaborating with each other. It was just an added bonus that in this case there just happened to be free pizza involved!

 

Events | SLIS | Student Groups | Students


Baby's First ALA

A few weeks ago I took part in a librarian rite of passage, and made my way down to Washington D.C. for the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition. 

As a grad student on a tight budget (especially a full time grad student living in Boston), attending conferences can be expensive. That is why I was extra thankful that LISSA offers Professional Development Reimbursement at Simmons! More information on PDR funds can be found here, but essentially LISSA will reimburse students for up to $250 incurred by engaging in LIS-related professional development activities. My $250 went directly towards my ALA experience, including covering a good chunk of the gas I purchased making the 879 mile journey from Boston to Washington, D.C. and back. This ALA trip truly was brought to you by a giant cooler filled with sandwiches, a 15 hour long playlist, PDR funds, and lots of iced coffee! 

As you probably know by now, one of my jobs is working as a SLIS Admission Student Ambassador. This meant I also manned the Simmons booth at ALA with SLIS various faculty and staff. It was great to interact with tons of alums, as well as a few prospective students.

 

Heading into ALA, my co-workers had warned me to pack light, anticipating bringing back boxes and boxes of advanced reader copies (ARCs) from vendors and publishers, but I was still shocked by the smorgasboard of amazing literature to pick from walking the booths of the exhibition hall. I walked away with one or *echem* six bags of books that I can't wait to dive into, as well as a few titles to pre-order. I was able to score books that perfectly fit the interests of each of my family members. A book detailing a conversation between Michelle Obama and Melania Trump played into mine and my mother's love for first ladies. My Game of Thrones fanatic father was gifted a book that provided a look at the historical events that loosely inspired the series. It's sometimes hard to tell, but I think my sporty teenage brother was excited by a book penned by Kobe Bryant that combines magic and athleticism. 

While the ALA conference was my first priority, how could I not take in the beautiful sights of D.C. in my spare moments?  

Of course I was able to explore the mall, dodge electric scooters, and coo over the baby ducklings in the reflecting pool. I also managed to catch up with some old friends!  

Because museums are my happy place,  I had to be sure to check out the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Here are two of my favorite pieces from the museum! 

 

Lastly, I was able to swing down to the National Archive for another peek at the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while many of the Smithsonian museums have extended hours in the summer, many of them stay open until midnight on the days surrounding the summer solstice. Luckily for us librarians, the solstice and the ALA overlapped, allowing me to explore the museum of natural history late into the evening. 

My first ALA was definitely one for the books. I'll see all of you in Chicago for ALA 2020! 

Fun | SLIS | Student Groups | Summer | conferences


SLIS Tavern Night

Our amazing end of the year event for SLIS took place at a Tavern Night hosted at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum! Each one of the actors stayed so perfectly in character that when Paul Revere told me to follow him for the "baby shower," I was frazzled and felt the need to clarify that we were library students here for a tavern night! It quickly became apparent that the "shower" was just a cover for our booze-filled gathering, which was illegal by 1773 standards.

I rubbed elbows with John Hancock and his Aunt Lydia, Dorothy Quincy, Samuel Adams, and several other relevant Bostonians. Each actor was believably living in 1773, and kept throwing various "easter eggs" that were particularly funny if you're well versed in history! I grew up attending Renaissance Fairs, was a "theatre kid" in high school, minored in Art History in college, and have two history-loving parents, so this was quite my cup of tea (pun intended)! As a budding information professional I was ALSO very impressed that the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum's website featured an extensive reference page! We love citing sources!

For the tavern night, I was sat at Dorothy Quincy's table! I might be a bit biased, but I'm convinced she was the best of the lot. I am a firm believer that you get back what you put in, so I was pepperring Dorothy with questions about her family, gown, and political leanings, as well as her relationship with John Hancock! Two fun interactions: I wear a ring from my alma mater Mount Holyoke, and was able to play our founder Mary Lyon, upon Dorothy seeing the date on the ring and exclaiming that I must be planning to FOUND a school in 1837, as it was 64 years in the future. In a much more contemporary vein, I could barely contain my laughter as I tried to explain the TV show "The Bachelorette" to Dorothy Quincy and John Hancock as if it were a series of ads in the local newspaper. Overall the night was not only hilarious, but also an excellent exercise in history, communication, and out of the box thinking.

Dinner was delicious and I definitely enjoyed the "delicate selection of fruits," and the "roasted sweet meat of swine." I snagged a picture of the beautifully displayed "rosemary roasted chicken's legs." Everything felt so fancy! I also can't complain about the open bar, which allowed me to sample "grog," and old fashioned Dark and Stormy drinks!

Other activities for the night included singing tons of 1773-esque songs, as well as learning a line dance of sorts! You can tell we're a fun crowd because everyone grabbed a partner and was up on their feet.

We ended the night with another one of my favorite activities: a word game! The tavern night concludes with a red coat getting extremely drunk. Our task as word conessieurs was to string together phrases to describe just how intoxicated the red coat was.

It truly was a night full of drinking, giggling, and merriment! The tavern night was just what I needed to close out the semester, celebrate being halfway through my SLIS courses, and gear up for summer.

Events | Fun | SLIS | Student Groups


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


Trying my Hand at Student Leadership

Taking online coureses this semester has been really great in terms of flexibility in my schedule for my part-time job, and for my internship, but it has been not so great for socializing and being involved at campus events. Since I did not have to come to campus as often for class or meetings for group projects, I spent way more time these past few months in my bed then I'd like to admit. So to get out of my comfort zone and really try to challenge myself, I decided to run for a leadership position in Panopticon,(the student art librarianship student organization). Which means you can now call me Madame Secretary! I knew I wanted to get more involved since time is going by so fast and I want to experience as much as a can in grad school before it's over! Panopticon has always been the student group I have been most interested in, and I am so excited to now be a part of their leadership team.

Having a background in art history, it is no surprise that I am interested in all the great activities Panopticon has planned throughout the semester. I remember at the start of fall semester they actually planned a really fun social get-to-know your classmates event called Drink and Draw where we all went to Felipe's for food, drinks, and coloring books. I still have my Bob Ross coloring book page hanging up on my apartment's fridge! The group also plans some more educational trips throughout the semester. For example I just attended their tour of MassArt's library focusing on their collection of Artist books. Not only was it wonderful to interact with the artist books, but also to speak with librarians working in an art focused academic library. Speaking with the MassArt librarians also brought up ARLIS/NA which is the Art Libraries Society of North America and how their New England chapter has a $10 student membership! So not only are student groups great for socializing but also networking!

Other event highlights that Panopticon puts on throughout the year include, student art shows (1 in the fall and 1 in the spring), field trips to local art museums and art libraries, and a graffiti art walk with SLIS professor Ann Graf, which I am hoping will become an bi-annual thing like the art shows because it was a such a fun excursion out exploring the Allston neighbourhood and seeing some cool street art.

 

Fun | Leadership | SLIS | Student Groups | Students