February 2011 Archives

Workin' 9 to 5...and taking a courseload of all core classes?

We are well into the semester, almost at Spring Break even, and classes are in full swing.  So far, my second semester has been quite different from the first in that this time around I’ve had to balance the demands of a new full-time pre-professional library job in addition to my GSLIS course-load.  I am absolutely excited about the opportunity to gain some valuable experience while I’m in pursuing my degree, but this also means that I’ve had to really take a step back and re-think my approach to school.

I initially signed up for two courses for the Spring semester, just to keep the momentum going from the Fall.  A few days into my job, though, I had to face that maybe taking two courses while I was still learning the ropes might be a bit more challenging than I thought.  Especially since those two courses happen to be two core classes that I was told could be quite a mental workout to take together: 407 (Reference) and 415 (Information Organization).  When I registered, I was fully aware of what I was potentially getting myself into, but I was also genuinely excited about taking the two together.  They just felt so perfectly complementary and like the right way to fully jump in after a semester of re-adjusting to being a student.

After attending the first session for each class, I realized that doing things “right” had changed now that my employment status had changed.  I was hesitant at first because I worried that dropping down to just one class would slow me down way more than  I wanted.  But in reality, I'm know I'm making sure that I get the most out of both my classes and my hands-on experience.  I also haven't completely dropped the idea of picking up my courseload; I just want to make sure I can balance it all.

So my final advice?  If you’re thinking about keeping a full-time job when you start school, I highly recommend taking one course your first semester back as a student.  This will give you time to really figure out what your strengths are as a student and what you find challenging about balancing school with “the real world.”  You also have to complete the TOR your first semester at GSLIS so it's really more like taking a class and a half (especially if you're like me and sometimes a littel intimidated by wikis and technology).  If you're feeling confident about your skills and have the support you need from family and friends, go ahead and up the ante your second semester.

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A year ago Susan Glover went on WEEI. Great stuff.

1 year ago almost to the day, the Acting Keeper of Prints, Rare Books, Manuscripts and Archives from the Boston Public Library (Susan Glover) called in to WEEI's Dennis & Callahan to explain what she does.

Quick context; this came up after the release by the Boston Herald of the salaries for all state employees; which led to a discussion (if you listen to WEEI you might use that term loosely) of "why do taxpayers pay for the Boston Public Library", i.e. "what is so great about libraries, why should MY hard earned tax dollars go to a library. WHY!! So kids can play World of Warcraft? Old books suck!" etc...

For all the hackle raising this might produce, Callahan reveals a crucial point; if people are asking these kinds of questions, then someone at the library is not doing their job. If the popular belief is that google and wikipedia can reveal the answer to everything then libraries are not doing their job (if just joining, then due to intellectual property rights alone, the answer is a huge NO. Simple example; you can't read Encyclopedia Britannica entrys online simply through google -but you could read it in print or online if inside a library, etc.).

Susan Glover of the BPL very gamely agreed to speak to D&C to, in effect, defend the library, and did a fantastic job of conveying enthusiasm for her work and the BPL in general. Great stuff in a hostile environment. Kill them with kindness. The irony/kicker is D&C are both confessed fanatical readers... Listen.

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Last semester... OH NO!

The semester is in full swing and I thought I would write about some of the classes I am taking. I have already finished my requirements and now I get to pick some electives! This is my last semester here at GSLIS (and I am devastated) and I am taking three (3) classes to close out my Masters of Science in Library and Information Science.

Class 1: Medical Libraries – I am very much interested in Special Libraries (my career goals involve government libraries). Medical Libraries sounded immensely interesting and was recommended to me by a number of GSLIS Alums. We are a few weeks into the class and I love it. Everything about Medical Libraries is interesting. We just took a field trip (yes this building is on the same street as the Palace Road building but still it was a grad school field trip!) to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Library. There we spoke to the director of the library and its head of reference services. It was interesting to see a library with a small collection of books and a huge collection of online resources. The director anticipates not having a print collection soon and he is okay with that revelation. While I do love me some books I think in the medical world there is no longer a need to maintain medical print books, as digital copies fit better into a field that changes with discoveries made almost daily.

Class 2: Competitive Intelligence – This is an all online class and I was very hesitant to take it because I am an admittedly bad class blogger, but I decided it would be best if I blocked out time weekly to do the homework, and it is exactly like going to class. The professor also does lectures that we can listen to on our own time throughout the week. She also has her own knowledge management firm so it is interesting when she brings up her own personal experiences versus what the text book says. (Side note: she knows the author of the text and gets you a huge discount!)

Class 3: Digital Publishing – In this class our major project is to create a business plan for a business that does not have a digital presence. Our “client” this semester is the Cambridge Farmers markets. I am so excited about this project that I am sure I will blog about it later once we get started. The clients are coming next week to present their product to the class and our final is our presentation to the clients. Talk about real-world experience. I do not think I have ever been so excited to do class work.

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Ripped from the Metro... Libraries Are Invisible

Had not thought of this point recently raised by Marilyn Johnson (author of This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All) but worth noting, and potentially tough to reverse.

Libraries are invisible to people in power. Politicians [and corporate bodies generally i would say -ed.] have their own research staffs and IT support and newspaper subscriptions; they don’t see how dependent the rest of us are on that shared information.

-Marilyn Johnson

Endnote: I always come back to a quote from my tutor Alan Smith, worth repeating;

"Show me a town that denies funding to a library, and I'll show you a librarian who stays in the office. Show me a town that funds its library, and I'll show you a librarian who takes donuts down to the fire department. Who goes down to the city hall and goes into offices asking if they need anything. You have to be proactive. It might come as a shock to some of you, but a large part of the success of that library is your personality and the way you treat people."

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GSLIS Mixer and Trivia

On Friday LISSA (Library and Information Science Student Association) had a GSLIS Mixer and Trivia night at the Bell in Hand Tavern here in Boston. LISSA is a student group you are automatically entered in once you start here at Simmons GSLIS and they plan different types of events, everything from Guest Speakers to Trivia nights.

Let's just state that my group had the best name of the night. I had some pretty funny names (being somewhat of a trivia connoisseur) but we decided to go with "This is how we Dewey it" (which I thought was weak to my other suggestion: "Junk in the truncation" [which is hysterical I might add]) but majority rules and we went with Dewey. Clearly we won the name contest.

Then the trivia began. What do you ask a bunch of Library Science students you ask? Oh just some facts about Libraries/Librarians. The first round asked pop culture related questions. One such example is the quote:

"Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am... I... am a librarian. " and sadly enough I was the only one who knew that it was from The Mummy.

My group missed one question and we were in a DOMINATING lead. The next round was history. I did not do so well here, but we held our top spot. Then were were given a sheet of obscure acronyms. A group called the "Furry Aardvarks" (who were in second place) tied us after this round. Then it came down to the last round. One of our teammates had to go read questions for the round called "Random" and oh man was that round random! Crippled by the loss of a key player after this round we dropped to second and never recovered. I call shenanigans. We should have won... Also, we never got points for winning best group name. What is up with that?

All and all, despite our second place finish it was a lot of fun. Library Science students packed the second floor of this bar and I got to meet some cool people. Simmons GSLIS has about 800 students currently enrolled (one of the biggest LIS programs) and you tend to only get to know the people in your classes. This was a good chance for me to meet some Archives, Dual Degree and even some PhD students.

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Walkin' in a winter wonderland

I commute to school and work on the T and/or the bus. This means some walking and standing around waiting for a bus or T in the elements, while carrying around my daily essentials: coffee, water, food, reading materials for school and for fun, and sometimes my gym clothes.  And as my fellow bloggers have all mentioned, we've been getting crazy amounts of snow lately.  If you plan on commuting too, you might want to think about investing in a few things to get you through the snowy, slushy wonderland.

1) You're gonna need a good, waterproof backpack. Not a shoulder bag. Shoulder bags are fine when the weather's warmer or when there isn't any slush, snow, or ice on the ground, but on a snowy day it just becomes something else that might throw you off balance. A good backpack with lots of compartments, including those side mesh pockets for easy access to your water bottle or coffee mug, has worked really well for me.

2) Good waterproof boots with textured soles. Uggs are super warm, but a bit slippery because they don't really have any traction. I usually wear my LL Bean duck boots with warm socks during my commute and change into my work shoes once I get to the office. (This is another reason why a backpack works better than a shoulder bag.) They've also come in handy for those extra slushy days when the sidewalk is full of patches of what I call "liquid concrete." Basically, that perfect mix of slush and water in night lighting that looks like the rest of the sidewalk 'til you step in it and realize it's an ankle deep puddle. Wet feet--yuck!  This is also why I like to tuck my pants into my boots as opposed to simply just rolling them up.

3) Waterproof gloves. Even if you aren't a gloves-scarf-and-hat person (which you might also want to reconsider and just get yourself one of each), you'll end up wanting at lease a pair of gloves. You might want to sip on a hot caffeinated beverage or catch up on your reading while you're waiting for the T or the bus.  And then when it gets there, you'll have to get your Charlie card out to pay your fare.  These have also come in handy when I need to climb over a snow bank.

4) A waterproof coat with a hood. Preferably something with room for layering and about mid-thigh in length. Having a hood comes in handy just in case you do get caught in the middle of a blizzard or wintry mix or just regular old rain storm.

And just in case you haven't picked up on the trend yet, make sure whatever you go with is waterproof.  The snow and cold really aren't that bad as long as you're prepared for it and you do your best to stay dry.

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A great big balancing act

In the Fall 2010 semester, my student loans allowed me to pay for the mandatory health insurance – not only for me, but for my husband and 17-month-old son as well. That’s a pretty big chunk of change, but the insurance covers a calendar year, and I was able to take two classes with the money left over. Since I don’t have that expense in the Spring 2011 semester, I’ve taken on a third class, and boy, does my plate feel full! I’ve got Picture Book and Children’s Lit and Media Collections back to back on Mondays – that’s six straight hours – and Management on Wednesdays. For me, the LIS courses come naturally, because they’re about doing, and they train me to accomplish something practical, but the CHL classes are much more challenging in that I must force my brain into academic/analytic mode. I’m more comfortable there than I was last semester (CHL 401 whipped me into shape pretty well), but I still find it hard to get those gears turning.

I feel so lucky to have made friends in my programs – people to study with, commiserate with, be confused with, and make discoveries with. It’s wonderful to be part of a group of future children’s librarians; it’s such a specific calling that we necessarily have a lot of common ground. And having a like-minded adult friend to chat with after a day of making block towers and cooking invisible potions with my son recharges my batteries.

And now if you’ll excuse me, my son is taking his morning nap, so I should get started on homework. Time to read ten picture books and cut things out of construction paper!

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