#GSLISchat Conversation - 7/24/2014

Did you miss our lastest #GSLISchat? Check out the feed below to read what you missed and ask additional questions. Thanks to all who participated!

#GSLISchat | leave a comment

Perk of Being Here: Learning in the hallways at GSLIS

scrabble.jpgI spent much of the spring interviewing candidates for the library assistant position at the school library where I work. I met a great many qualified candidates. I was impressed by extensive resumes, many filled with a plethora of technical prowess as well as life experience. The ideal candidate is meant to be entering the library profession but not have an MLS. I assumed that most of our qualified candidates would be attending Simmons or starting in the fall. I was mistaken. Most of our savvy candidates were keeping their options open by attending online degree programs through other universities. Their sound reasoning was that these programs were cheaper than many of their campus counterparts and left them free to pursue library jobs wherever they pleased.

This is a completely valid argument. Anyone who goes to Simmons knows the cost all too well. Anyone who has ever looked at the trends in online education knows that it's what's next for GSLIS and most LIS programs. I tried to mine the library literature at Beatley to read some articles about distance learning and was shocked to see how little there was published. Instead, I turned to trusty Mashable.com for insight into online education trends and found some interesting pieces on the future of higher education on the internet. Learning online is a flexible, feasible way to provide education to a great many people who don't live in urban areas. This is all very true.

However, there is something to be said about being here. I say this mainly because I have been working at the Simmons main campus almost every day since the end of June. I thought it would be a ghost town. I thought there would be nothing to do. But between working the reference desk at Beatley and manning the Tech Lab information desk on Palace Road I have learned a great deal. I have not been picking up too many salient lessons in the classroom, sad to say. My curiosity has been piqued by the great many professors and students I have the pleasure of running into on a regular basis. Striking up a conversation about Melvil Dewey with an incoming student in Foundations (LIS 401) or watching someone write out code for a website for Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488) compels me to synthesize what I have learned in the field and the classroom like nothing else ever has.

Having a discussion with professors about their latest assignment or their upcoming study on pop culture's portrayal of librarians is something that doesn't just happen in an online forum. Twitter, moodle forums, and collaboratory google docs can take students on a structured path to discussion but perhaps what I love most about going to school here is the open nature of scholarship. Everywhere you turn there is an opportunity to sit down and talk about something you're passionate about. Last night, I joined a professor, two alums and a fellow student at a story slam in Cambridge.  Relationships are built here when the amazing Jim Matarazzo passes me a jolly rancher, or when Linda Watkins and I talk blogs and how to make them or when Monica Colon-Aguirre tells me about the fabulous frozen yogurt experience she just had. These interactions may sound inconsequential, but they make my experience on this campus completely worth it.

GSLIS | People | leave a comment

Job Hunting

I have about six months left until I get my degree, and that is both incredibly exciting and incredibly terrifying.  The point of library school is, of course, to be able to get a job at the end of it, and these days the competition for that job is stiffer than ever - especially in the Boston area.  I'm a little more fortunate than a lot of my peers because I have more than a decade of professional experience under my belt, but that's no guarantee of anything. 

Luckily, the same class that gives me a dose of real world internship experience (LIS502) also gives students a crash course in resume, cover letter and interviewing dos and don'ts, then lets students discuss their own experiences. The discussions are really the meat of it, because we give each other encouragement and tips, everything from interesting job boards to tricks for combatting nervousness and professional dress (I have to admit that I am in my 30s and still can't walk in heels particularly well. It's an issue!).  We're all anxious about finding a job, and sometimes just knowing that you're not alone can be the most comforting thing. 

I'm also a little more fortunate than some of my classmates in that I don't have any strong ties to the Boston area, and am eager to look for jobs in other parts of the US and Canada, and even further afield than that.  I'm not even particularly picky about what kind of job I get.  The thing about library school is that you're exposed to a wealth of information that isn't going to all be relevant in the professional world at the same time.  I love coding and XML, and would be keen on doing something in digitization, but I also love working with teenagers and working in a municipal setting. These things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but... they kind of are.  I'm actually thrilled that I have a whole career in front of me to figure out which I like best.  

Jobs | leave a comment

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

It's not news that popular aesthetics of librarianship are steeped in stereotype. Between visions of bibliographic babes with starched collars, pulled back hair, and horn rimmed glasses - librarians break these archetypes on a daily basis every time they get of bed in the morning to reveal looks as diverse as our professional responsibilities.

The blog This is What a Librarian Looks Like has accepted the mission of displaying the real face of librarianship across the globe. On their about page, blog creators Bobbi Newman and Erin Downey Howerton write "Think you know what a librarian looks like?  Go beyond the bun and challenge old, outdated librarian stereotypes. In the spirit of This is What a Scientist Looks Like, we bring you the ultimate complement to Library Day in the Life: This is What a Librarian Looks Like." Through photographs and personal blurbs submitted by librarians from Norway to Oregon, this blog reveals a face of librarianship that spans across different ages, genders, and national boundaries. In development for over two years, This is What a Librarian Looks Like shows no signs of slowing down. If you're interested in seeing your own look represented in this project, visit the link below:


People | leave a comment

Real World Experience

When I was looking at grad schools and deciding where to apply, the things I was really looking at were the program's requirements: GPA, recommendations, essays, etc.  I didn't delve too far into what the different programs actually offered in the way of classes, since before I started library school and understood a lot of the skills and terminology, the course descriptions and requirements meant next to nothing to me.  Still, one of the things that really stuck out for me about the Simmons GSLIS program was the emphasis on internships.  Most of the programs that I looked at didn't require any sort of internship or real world experience, but Simmons requires two - two! - internships to graduate.  To be perfectly honest, that seemed like a nightmare.  All I wanted to do was go to class, do the work, eventually graduate and then start worrying about getting professional work in actual archives. I didn't want to have to attempt to work in archives before I even had my degree.

Once I got in to the Simmons program and started taking classes, things changed.  A little.  My first semester at Simmons I took LIS438, the introductory archives class.  It requires a 60-hour internship, and I spent the weeks leading up to class worrying about that.  Would I have to find it myself?  Would the internship site expect me to know a lot about archives and archival work that I didn't?  What, exactly, would I be expected to do?  The thing is, once I actually started the class, I found out I wasn't the only one with those questions - and they were all anticipated by the instructor, who spent about an hour of that first class going over the internship requirement.  No, we wouldn't need to find it ourselves.  No, they didn't expect us to know much - and our knowledge base would grow as the semester went on, so the theories we learned in class would (or should) dovetail nicely with the practical applications we were using at the internship site.  I suspect, though it was never said, that the initial internship in archives is to give students a real look at what archival work is all about before they get too far along in their studies.  If they decide it's actually not for them, then it's caught early enough for them to switch to another track.  It's important because most archival work - unlike library work - is done out of sight, so it's hard to know what the work is really like until you're doing it.  

If the first internship is a test drive, the final archives track internship, LIS502, is the final exam, to test whether or not you know what you think you know and to learn more than a few advanced practical applications.  Of course, by the time the second internship rolled around I was actually looking forward to doing it, excited when it came time to choose my internship site.  You might think I would've learned from this not to fear things I don't really understand, but unfortunately that has not been the case.  Yet.

Internships | leave a comment

Cracking the Lock on Open Access Collections

openaccess.jpgIt's no secret that accessibility is a big part of what we do here at GSLIS. Within libraries, museums, archives, and information institutions - many of us act as the tether between information and patrons.

In recent months, a handful of influential institutions across the globe have begun jumping on the Open Access bandwagon - a movement which the Public Library of Science defines as "unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse." A burgeoning topic on the horizon of information science, we as GSLIS students can acquaint ourselves with Open Access collections and create OA projects of our own.

While a number of considerations lay between institutions and the creation of online open access collections, they reveal new opportunities for research, engagement, and scholarship. Once an institution has determined which objects or collections qualify, they start working forward from there to reconfigure the terms applied to the pieces within their OA initiative. For an example of these terms, browse through the specifications stated within the Getty Open Content Program.

While many factors go into the creation of OA collections, we as GSLIS students can begin thinking about how Open Access fits into our ideas as future archivists, librarians, and informations scientists. As an archives concentrator interested in digital collections, open access, and the curation of digital objects, I compiled select objects, news, and resources into a visually charged blog focused around open access collections - just an example of the variety of projects you can get started on today. To see if Open Access collections are an area you would like to explore further - create, connect, and browse through the following resources.

OpenGLAM: "OpenGLAM is an initiative run by the Open Knowledge Foundation that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums."

Open Glam: Resources http://openglam.org/resources/

Archives | Libraries | leave a comment

Hanging out with JFK

Did you know that just a short bus ride away from the JFK T stop on the red line is the JFK Presidential Library and Museum? Did you also know that the papers and writings of Ernest Hemmingway are also stored there?


Well, neither did I. That was, at least, until I went on a field trip with my Preservation Management class last Thursday. Yea, that's right, I went on a FIELD TRIP! Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus would have been super proud of my class.


Not only did we get to learn about the responsibilities and skills required to be an archivist and deputy curator to a Presidential Library, but we also learned about the JFK Library's disaster plan and how it was tested during an actual disaster that happened last year. For those who don't know, the library had a fire last April and though smoke, water, and firefighter damage was great, the library and museum did not lose a single item. Now that's what I call impressive. Considering that my course, Preservation Management, has been all about learning how to handle and treat archival and library materials and keep them safe from the dangers from decay, mold, damage, and other environmental conditions, this was an excellent example of how a great disaster plan and potential risk awareness and assessment can ensure that even when a disaster occurs, precautions have been make to help reduce the potential damage. As for the museum part of the Presidential library, it is a fantastic walk through history. The photos, items, and re-creations of famous locations associated with JFK truly creates a one-of-a-kind experience. Words cannot describe how cool this museum is, including their special exhibit on the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you can, definitely check it out. And while you're there, poke your head into the Hemmingway exhibit. Stepping inside, you feel as if you are standing in Hemmingway's living room, surrounded by books, statues, and the very paintings that inspired some of his stories. As for the story as to why one of America's greatest writers is housed at the JFK Presidential Library, it's quite the tale. Just try not to step on the lion.

Classes | leave a comment

Breaking up is just so hard to do

throwing-out-books.jpgThe librarian's best friend and arguably ongoing nemesis is the never-ending task of weeding. To remain on the cutting edge or at least to remain in the realm of the present with your collection it's important to evaluate all of the resources on and off the shelves that the library provides. This means, that in any healthy library there should generally be a project going on that removes, or weeds, outdated items. I am fortunate to work in a very healthy academic library, your very own Beatley Library at Simmons, and I find myself these days withdrawing beautiful, yet ancient, reference books. Let's face it, the future of reference does not lie in the obscure tomes published 50 years ago with the solid leather bindings. However, I stand there in the stacks with The Encyclopedia of Fairies in my hand and I'm sure it's not my imagination that I hear a little cry from within as I place it on the withdrawal cart. These books know where they're going. They know their fate. I assumed they were going to the land where the old books have lots of grass to run around in, playing all day and taking turns reading from their authoritative pages. These concordances of Yeats and Dickens are breaking my heart. They leave these shelves forever and I know there are no quality electronic equivalents. I also know that the only pages that give these books the time of day are the reference students in LIS 407 on their treasure hunts for obscure facts. Night after night I continue to pull from a 30 page list of titles and every time I fill the cart I see the massive furnace the toys from Toy Story 3 faced and think of their gruesome end: stripped bare and recycled. If they're lucky they will be donated to an organization who distributes old library books to underserved populations that will appreciate them. But with shrinking library budgets and the cost of shipping for heavy leather-bound books it's hard to see that future for many of these books. I, of course, enjoy the book art on pinterest and tumblr and I wonder why there aren't more artists mining the weeding projects of libraries. If they can't be read they should at least be immortalized as something stunning that reminds us of the importance of the book. Moral of this story is: I respect the importance of weeding in all libraries but I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! Let's find them a home!

Libraries | leave a comment

Summer Reading

summerreading1.jpgIt's June, which means Summer Reading time at public libraries across the country.  Last summer I was temporarily working as a young adult librarian, juggling my first ever summer reading program, and I can tell you that Summer Reading is both the most exhausting and rewarding part of being a youth librarian.  It is seriously two months of stress and terror (did I bring enough snacks for this program?  Did I bring enough prizes?  What about the kids who didn't sign up but want to come anyway - did I bring extra supplies?) but it's what the bulk of the programming budget is spent on, too, so it's an interesting time with lots of fun things happening.  As the YA librarian I had my hands full enough, so I didn't help out much with the children's Summer Reading program, which is about 300% busier.  (If anyone is thinking about becoming a children's librarian at a public library, I would advise them to spend a summer helping out with Summer Reading first, so they know what they are getting into, because holy crap, it is ridiculously busy. Rewarding, but busy.) 

My situation last summer was a little special because I started the job in May and had about a week to plan all of the programs and get the brochure printed off and distributed to the schools, so... don't do that.  The programs all revolved around the "Beneath the Surface" theme (this year it's "Spark a Reaction") and mostly went really well, despite the lack of real planning time.  The only one that didn't was the movie night picture Tremors, which I loved when I was a teen.  Unfortunately, I don't think I've seen it at all in the last decade, and a rewatch before choosing it for Summer Reading would have been a good idea.  Do you know how much profanity is in that movie?  Yeah, a lot.  My 12-13 year old audience loved it, but I heard from parents for the next month.  Oops. 

summerreading2.pngThis summer I am both sad and relieved to not be working at a public library so I can be part of all the craziness (the thing they don't tell you is that you will never stop having great programming ideas, even long after you stop putting together programs) and the ultimate goal of getting books into the hands of kids.

YA Literature | leave a comment

Serious Business

Twenty-something and caught between earning that graduate degree and staying sharp in a competitive job market - I know the feeling. When navigating a sea of internships, interviews, and conferences while completing full or part time classes, that extra boost of professionalism and confidence can make a difference. While all of those qualifications featured on your well-rendered resumé speak for themselves, having a business card can help have your bases covered on the perilous and formidable frontier of professional networking.

For a long time, the word business card alone evoked imagined landscapes of beepers and shoulder pads for as far as the eye could see. But sure enough, after seeing peers arrive to events with a business card in tow changed my ideas upon seeing their convenience and functionality in action. When you meet a someone that you'd like to collaborate with in a professional context, writing their number on a nearby receipt or popping them a friend request just won't cut it - and that's where business cards come in.

Okay, we get the point; business cards are a thing - but how do you get business cards? While there are a number of different avenues toward this goal, I'll share how I got mine. At the recommendation of friends, I decided to order a small batch of business cards from the printers over at us.moo.com. Faced with over 350 designs to choose from, I selected one which would print my contact information on none other than tiny books - an LIS student's dream come true, right? Finding what to put on your business card can be a difficult step when lacking a concrete job title between multiple internships and job opportunities - to simplify this process, I chose to feature my name, area of study, website, and email address. As one of the many functions of a business card is to express your professional identity, what you put on your card is entirety up to you. After an approximate week, they arrived on my doorstep ready to help stimulate collaboration at an upcoming conference. While business cards aren't for everyone and are by no means a professional necessity, they can serve as a trusted middleman between you, your peers, and establishing yourself in the field of LIS one conversation at a time.tumblr_n58ileHugK1qbwvhpo1_500.jpg

Jobs | leave a comment

GSLIS Tech Lab. AKA GSLIS Awesomeness

You may have glimpsed its capacious depths in a class evaluation. Or maybe you remember it vividly from orientation. Either way, hopefully your travels have taken you once or twice into the Tech Lab at Palace Road. Having been on the job as a Technology Reference Assistant for a few weeks now I feel bound to tell you that the Tech Lab is far more that a room filled with computers for class evaluations. It is staffed by some of the coolest, smartest and funniest people at GSLIS who work hard to make sure our students are informed about the latest trends in Technology. Guys, this is not a required class but it should be. Knowledge and hilarity oozes out of every crevice of these hard drives. Much of my time here is spent posting to the Tech Lab's Tumblr or watching Lynda tutorials. Did you know that the Tech Lab actually has Google glasses? For serious, they have a LOT of stuff. If you don't like intelligent, hilarious people then come for the amazing gadgets. Annie and Nicole are the dean's fellows and they rock my world. This is one of those extra awesome bonuses that make going to Simmons completely worth it. They, like the amazing people at the library, know many things. I now work at Beatley Library and the Tech Lab and I am learning loads. The most important of which is to surround yourself with interesting people with new ideas. It's the best way to make sure you're learning all the time.nicole_anne_techlab.jpg

GSLIS | People | leave a comment

(Not) A Lazy Summer

When I look out my window, I find it hard to believe that less than three months ago, there was still snow on the ground. Not only that, but it felt like the winter of 2013/2014 was never going to vacate the Boston area. And yet, here we are; the sun is out in full force and people are starting to gather in any air conditioned space that they can find. However, considering just how unbearably cold the first half of the year was, I won't be complaining about the heat anytime soon. But if the city gets hit with another heat wave like it did last July, well, let's just say that you will most likely be able to find me sitting at a table inside JP Licks.
Speaking of summer, this one will be my first ever as a resident of Boston! But just like my last few summers back home in Long Island, I will be spending the bulk of this summer tucked away inside, either at work at the BPL or in a law library on Atlantic Av. Oh, and at Simmons as well. Yea, that's right, SIMMONS! 
Call me crazy, but I'm the type of person who likes to have things to do. While it's true that I now have two jobs to occupy my time, I still felt that there was something else that I could be doing this summer. And since I mastered knitting and crocheting over the last two summers, I decided to try going back to school. After experiencing a long break last summer between graduating undergrad and starting Simmons wherein I felt like my mind essentially turned to mush, I thought that maybe a summer class stretched over the course of the summer would be perfect for me. What did I ended up signing up for instead? A two week intensive archives class! Instead of having class one or two days a week over the course of maybe six weeks, I'm taking one class over the course of six days that meets for seven hours a pop. So much for a lazy summer. 
Well, on the bright side of things, if I can get through this, I can certainly get through anything.

Classes | leave a comment

Fenway Flag Ceremony

fenway02.jpgI am not a sports person, as I've mentioned, but I always seem to become friendly with massive sports fans who try to cure my sports apathy with huge infusions of exciting sports... stuff.  Well, exciting for them.  Mostly incomprehensible to me.   I spend a lot of time struggling to look like I care, if you know what I mean.  One of my friends is a huge - and I mean huge - Red Sox fan.  As a way to try to inspire a similar love for the team in my cold, dead heart, she invited me to go to Fenway to help with the giant flag that unfurls from the top of the Green Monster before the game.  (Here's an image of the flag (not from that day), for other non-Fenway go-ers.  We're the people who are actually behind it, who you can only see from the knees down.)

Basically, we got to Fenway about two hours before the game started, before the gates were open to ticket holders, and got to walk around the nearly empty ballpark, which was pretty cool, even for a baseball-hating heretic like myself.  Then, as we waited for the the flag to get ready to unfurl, we got to walk on the field while the players were warming up, which is probably a much bigger deal to Red Sox/Fenway fans. 


The flag only took a few minutes to unfurl, and we grabbed the edge and held it down so it didn't flap around.  Behind the flag the world was red and white and blue, and all you could see were the other people behind it with you.  It only hung down on the field for a few minutes, and then we and military people stationed in front of it (who the flag unfurling was really about) gathered the flag up and marched it off the field.  That was all we had to do - we got free admission to the game from that point on.  No seats, but Fenway has a bunch of standing room sections, and they offer a great view.  (I guess.  A view of baseball people doing baseball things.) 

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the flag ceremony part and being part of it all, but I'm still not a baseball fan.  With this conversion ploy was a failure, I'm a little worried about what the next attempt will be.

Boston | Relaxing | leave a comment

THATCamp New England and the Rise of Digital Humanities

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 3.37.37 PM.png

Coffee was stirred, bagels were nibbled, and discussion had  begun filling the twittersphere. This past weekend I attended my first professional conference - THATCamp New England. Between May 30th and 31st, individuals gathered to the Boston College General Studies campus to talk about one thing: digital humanities. Digital humanities, otherwise known at DH, has been creeping across institutions and campuses in recent years and leaving untold innovations in it's wake. While there is no single static definition of DH, it can can be described as the interdisciplinary meeting ground between technology and the humanities.

Unlike other events on the conference circuit, THATCamp is structured around the idea of a "not-conference". Traditionally, conferences often follow a strictly structured format. THATCamp has diverged on a few key elements to follow a different approach through fluidity, collaboration, and engagement. In all realness, I've never considered myself to be an at-the-last-minute kind of person. Especially one who would sit down and organize an informal panel with a recent graduate from my alma mater aiming to open dialogues about stimulating interdisciplinary undergraduate activity in DH.  Between two days, I attended talks and workshops which created an approachable environment where folks met to share ideas, new technologies, and of course - twitter handles. For an overview of what events were offered, check out the information linked below.

Stepping out of the cloud of metadata and discourse which had accumulated after the two day conference, THATCamp had me hooked. A cordial, constructive, and not to mention free interdisciplinary conference opportunity with much crossover in LIS, I'm looking forward to seeing you there in 2015!

About THATCamp: http://thatcamp.org/about/

Event Schedule: http://newengland2014.thatcamp.org/schedule/

Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/hashtag/thatcampne?src=hash

DH Overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_humanities

Events | leave a comment

How to be a Public Library Director in 5 Very Packed Days

I got to spend last week talking about one of my favorite things, public libraries, with one of my favorite professors, Mary Wilkins Jordan. During my time at Simmons (so far) I've taken three intensive courses and I must say I love the format. While learning about the many aspects of library management (budgeting, outreach, programming, evaluation, collection development, and advocacy to name a few) in one week was a bit overwhelming at times, it's also a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly and get to the heart of issues. Many people in graduate school, especially at GSLIS, are also working and do not always have a whole semester to devote to classes like LIS 450 Organization and Management of Public Libraries and the week-long intensive format is a great alternative.

The class was structured in five jam-packed days over the course of one week and we covered a lot of ground in a very short time. This is a subject that I'm incredibly passionate about so it was wonderful to be in class with a group of like-minded individuals. We had students such as myself with limited experience in small public libraries as well as people who've never worked in a library and a couple who have been full-time for years. The range of experience mixed with tons of stories and anecdotes from Mary made for a lively and interesting week of class.

Cramming an entire semester's worth of work into a week wasn't a picnic but Mary sets very clear (and realistic) expectations right up front so it was easy to know what to expect. This was a great class for me as I'm wrapping up my time at Simmons because it reminded me what I love about public libraries, as well as some of the challenges, and inspired me to continue to be involved with my local library as I move on to other opportunities. If you're thinking about GSLIS and are worried about scheduling, I strongly urge you to think about intensive courses as an alternative to traditional weekly courses. And, in case I haven't mentioned this before, if given the opportunity, you cannot go wrong taking a class from Mary Wilkins Jordan. In my many years of schooling it's been rare to come across a professor with as much passion and dedication to her field and I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Classes | leave a comment

It Isn't Always Easy Being a Librarian

The experience of throwing out books is perhaps the one part of being a librarian that I do not like. I'm not sure why, but I just find the notion of tossing books away to be kind of sad. Unfortunately for me, this past Friday at my new job working as a library assistant/intern at a law library, my co-workers and I had to toss out a good chunk of the library's collection. Going into the day, I had come in prepared to do some moving, thinking that we were merely going to be moving boxes over to the library's temporary location until the building was finished being renovated. What I did not know was that we would be throwing out books. However, since all these books were outdated and the library could not find any one who would be interested in purchasing them, there was only one solution left. The thing is, in the world of law libraries, things change frequently. Once something is outdated, even if it just under two years old, its most likely going to be useless.

At first, it just felt strange tossing the books into massive recycling bins. I was actually told by my supervisor to just chuck them in, that I didn't need to worry about placing them down gently. Two hours later, a good third of the library's bookshelves were emptied out, an entire dumpster now filled to the brim with law books and other related materials.

"Well that was sure something," I said, my arms extremely sore from all of the heavy lifting and such.

"Yea," a co-worker said, "too bad we have to do this again next week."

I practically fell out of my chair when they said that. We were going to be doing this again?

In school, they prepare us to go out into the world of library and information based institutions and instruct us on how to work with both people and different types of information materials. We learn not only how to properly index and catalog sources, but how to handle them as well. In some classes, we learn the necessary skills to help repair, restore, and preserve materials. What we don't learn (or at least I haven't yet) is to say goodbye when the material is simply no longer needed. To me, books are precious materials. Over the years, I've learned how to treat and handle books with care, to show them the respect that they deserve. Throwing them out into oblivion is not my first instinct when a book is no longer needed, and yet, it is often the only option.

This past Friday, I learned what perhaps others already knew: that being a librarian is not always easy. Even so, in the capacity of a librarian, we often have to get rid of the old to make way for the new. Removing a large amount of books might be a tough reality, but if they removed for the sake of providing necessary improvements to the library, then their removal is at least not in vain. Going into work next week knowing that there are more blue recycling bins waiting to be filled saddens me a bit, but I know that at in the long run, it will all be worth it.

Libraries | leave a comment

Visit a New Library

Biblio Burro.jpgI haven't been on a real vacation in over a year, but two weeks ago I unplugged completely and made the drive to Portland, Maine. Portland was everything I wanted it to be and more. I think I really needed to sleep and not look at my email for a stretch.  For anyone who hasn't tried these highly attainable things...you really should. Sleep is luxuriously restorative.  Also, I never fully appreciated how much time I spend on email until I turned off my phone and spent time in the moment in the glorious outdoors. One of my other big takeaways from my mini-break was library tourism. I had never really been aware of this as a conscious act on vacation, but I realize it should be planned into almost any vacation. Check out the local library. See what they do differently. Open your eyes to the way they lay out their space. It's fun to walk into a library that's new to you. You have to experience it from the patron perspective and you can steal some great ideas for your own library. When I say steal I mean borrow, and when I say borrow I mean share in what successful librarians have been doing for centuries. We build off of ideas that are successful. What do you think listservs are for? People share their great ideas and you can grab onto someone's great idea or shelve it for use at a later date.

But getting back to my Portland experience. The Portland Public Library was stunning! From the moment I walked in I was guided past a sunny high ceilinged room filled with café tables and chairs, rows of computers and a circulation/information desk. Beyond that was an area for recent acquisitions (newly released books, audio books and dvds).There was a plethora of shrubbery and greenery and fountain that left the entire space feeling serene. I suppose the moral of this story is. Take some time to visit libraries in your travels. It's inspirational! And when it's not you feel happy that you're taking steps to make your library friendly to the infrequent, but still important library tourist.

Libraries | leave a comment

Here and There: Visiting the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

It's no secret; events and conventions are a big part of almost any interest group. Whether it's through the relay of colorful lore, mailing list messages, and social media coverage - conventions and events are an exciting part of life and times at Simmons GSLIS. From presenting new projects to raising questions and dialogues, attending events can be an important step to rooting yourself into your professional field. Unbeknownst to me, I came face to face with my first professional event by complete accident.

This past April, I was in Manhattan walking home from none other than my high school reunion. Passing the Park Avenue Armory, the banners adorning it were unmistakable, reading: New York Antiquarian tumblr_n3ob9xeoAT1qbwvhpo4_500.jpgBook Faire. Heart be still -  I knew I had a couple of hours before evening plans, and I fully intended to spend those hours inside that building, seeing all that was humanly possible between now and then. I picked up student admission and quickly encountered a sea of exhibitors hailing from locations from Austria to Washington state which were spread throughout the convention floor and displayed objects ranging from edgy punk zines to an original Mozart manuscript.  Quickly making my way across the convention floor to make the most of my limited time, I amassed a considerable loot of catalogs and business cards between short conversations with vendors which not only recognized Simmons GSLIS upon mention, but were themselves occasional GSLIS alumnae. As an archives student, seeing the value of priceless manuscripts expressed in monetary terms rather than expressed by their significance and impact as objects was a new and unique experience. Making my way from this whirlwind of rare books and manuscripts, I considered the many lives an object can live through the changing of hands by institutions, vendors, and private collectors - and how information professionals from GSLIS and beyond mediate this process. For current and prospective students interested in learning more about the myriad applications of an education in LIS while familiarizing yourself with influential ideas, figures, and issues in the profession, conventions and events are a compelling way to achieve this.

For more information on regional book fairs, scope out the following links:

Boston Antiquarian Book Fair


New York Antiquarian Book Fair


Events | leave a comment

Derby Dames

derbydames.pngI am not a sports person.  In Canada we have our hockey, yes, but even people who don't like hockey are allowed to go about their daily lives with a minimum of head shakes and eyebrows raised.  Even hockey, it's understood, is not for everyone.  That's not possible in Boston.  Sports are a religion here.  It's hard for me, an outsider, to say which team inspires the most passion in Bostonians; if hard pressed I would have to guess the Patriots, but the Patriots-Red Sox-Bruins trifecta is everywhere.  Trying to explain that no, you haven't been to Fenway to see the Red Sox play because you're not actually a baseball fan will get you both head shake, the raised eyebrows, and an immediate invitation to come see a game, with the obvious expectation that yes, you too will soon be converted.  (Which is why I will be not only going to a game on Thursday, but participating in some sort of giant flag (?) holding ceremony (??) on the field before the game (!!).  I... don't know.)

I am not a sports person, but one thing I do love to go and see whenever I have the chance is roller derby.  A lot of people aren't really sure what rollerderby02.jpgmodern roller derby is, and let me just say that it has come a long way from the '70s scripted version.  I don't have any particular team or league that I follow; I just love how fast-paced and fun the bouts are to watch.  The great thing about the Boston area is that there are 6 different teams within an hour drive: The Boston Derby Dames league, Southeastern Massachusetts' Mass Attack league, New Hampshire's Roller Derby league, Worcester's Roller Derby league, the Seacoast (NH) roller derby league, and Providence's roller derby league.  This is all an embarrassment of riches for any roller derby fan, and means that there's something going on in this area nearly every weekend.  I spent Saturday evening at a double header at the Derby Dames' home base in Somerville, watching the Boston teams crush both the Mass Attack All-Stars and the Bronx Gridlock.  It was a great day altogether, and I seriously doubt that any day at Fenway would be as much fun.  I suppose I'll find out this week.

Boston | leave a comment

Semester Wrap Up and a Library Gala

My final "real" semester of school has finally wrapped up and it was quite a whirlwind! Had I known how difficult it would be to simultaneously juggle two intense classes and two demanding part time jobs I'm not sure I would've done it. That said, looking back I'm happy I survived and managed to find a reasonable amount of balance along the way. Next Friday I will participate in the GSLIS graduation ceremony and receive an empty diploma as I still have two courses left before I'm officially done. I'm looking forward to listening to our speaker David Weinberger and participating in the ceremony.

The courses I'll be taking over the summer are both week long intensives and should be a lot of fun. First I'll be taking LIS 430 Organization and Management of Public Libraries the last week of May with Professor Mary Wilkins Jordan. I started this class in the fall semester but dropped it (because I signed up for too many classes) and I think it will be a fun and informative week. My very last class at GSLIS, LIS 425 The History of the Book with Professor Martin Antonetti, will take place on the Mt Holyoke campus in Western Mass. Wrapping up my time at Simmons with a course I wanted to take long before I applied to the program feels fitting. Especially after this last semester of two tech heavy and demanding classes, it will be nice to conclude with courses I'm much more excited about.

Sunday afternoon I hit "submit" on my final project of the semester and got dressed up for my library's annual gala fundraiser event. We were fortunate enough to have Andre Dubus III as our speaker, the author of The House of Sand and Fog, among other best sellers. The event had a fantastic turnout and everyone was incredibly impressed with the speaker. Dubus spoke at length about his craft as a writer and what that process means to him. His most memorable comments were about democracy and the value of libraries. He said that democracy is able to continue because of public school teachers, independent bookstores, and public libraries. This comment was met with resounding applause. If my time at GSLIS has taught me nothing else it is the importance of libraries in society as places of free access to information. I may not be going to work in a library straight after graduation but this sentiment certainly rings true. Listening to this speaker, surrounded by many people in my community who also hold the same ideals was a great way to end a difficult but exhilarating semester.

Classes | leave a comment

Read more posts »