November 2012 Archives

Finishing My School Library Teacher Degree

If I am not mistaken, this blog entry represents my penultimate contribution to the Simmons GSLIS admissions blog.  For I, dear reader, am exactly one week away from finishing my library school career after 2.5 years.  I am excited about that, but it's also bittersweet, but that is not the focus of this post.  This post is about how I finished my high school practicum yesterday.  Yes, 150 hours, a 22-page practicum log, six lesson plans with reflections, 12 artifacts of different types, and a lot of paper later, I am done.  It's a tremendous sense of accomplishment seeing this giant binder come together with its pretty colored dividers, the cover page, the table of contents.  I've taught lessons galore on how to find non-fiction books and generate keywords to run effective searches in the OPAC and in the Gale databases.  I've learned to use iPads and researched a dozen apps that have really, really cool implications for students with special needs.  I created a rocking pathfinder for students researching Romney and Obama's positions on different key election issues.  I helped make the library website more aesthetically pleasing, rewrote the parent section, designed a beautiful poster on copyright and fair use, and made a YouTube channel for the library to house my two book trailers.

But the practicum experience isn't just about what you do, it's about what you learn, about the profession and about yourself.  After two practicum experiences and courses taught by school library veterans, I have accumulated a wealth of tips and tricks for running a great program.  I have developed my teaching skills and become more confident as an instructor.  I now feel fully capable of going to a job interview, talking about my accomplishments to date and the kind of program I hope to run, and then setting about creating that program.  Maybe some of this is idealism speaking, but I genuinely do feel like the knowledge I have gained from my time at Simmons has gotten me to this point.  And that is an awesome, awesome feeling.

GSLIS | People | School Libraries | leave a comment


Rejection

About two weeks ago, I got notification of the *perfect* job. It was a full-time information-literacy librarian position at a small, private college close to home. In my mind, I fit all of the qualifications. The pay wasn’t great, but as someone without much library experience, I thought it would be the best opportunity to get my foot in the door. As soon as I saw the posting, I got to work on updating my resume and writing a cover letter. I applied and heard back very quickly. I was initiated into the first round of the interview process and you would have thought I was a 13-year-old with Bieber fever, I was that excited.

The first step was to write a proposal about how I would spearhead an initiative to integrate information literacy across all levels of the curriculum. I was super-confident. I wrote up my proposal and had it proof-read by my peers, my boss, by anyone who would read it. They all gave me great tips and told me it was excellent. I sent it along and received another quick response…

“Good morning Ms. Delnero,

After careful consideration by the application review committee I am sorry to say your proposal was not selected for further review.”

I’m not going to lie, I did cry. I was at work which made it even worse because I had to cry in the bathroom where no one would hear/see me. I had been so absolutely sure that I would at least make it to the second step of the interview process. I thought I was qualified, my resume is great, I have experience with information literacy, I could go on and on about how perfect that job was for me. But the harsh reality is that it wasn’t perfect for me. Someone who was more qualified got the position and it was their perfect job, not mine. It hurts, but it’s the truth.

As graduate students, we all have at least one common goal: to get a job. Unfortunately, we have to accept that the job market really isn’t that great. We are also competing with each other for the limited positions available and so we all have rejection ahead of us. I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic. It’s better to be prepared for the rejection and to toughen up and keep applying.

That night after a lot of Chinese food and a glass (…or two) of wine, I was able to cheer up and realize that my perfect job does exist. There will eventually be a position that I am qualified for and excited about that I will be selected for. And I’m probably not the only one trudging through rejection letters to get there.

Events | 1 comment


Let’s Take This Outside (the Classroom)

Two of my three courses this semester have required that I interview a library professional. Those interviews, plus my internship (more on that next week) have provided me with practical knowledge that simply cannot come from a classroom setting. The two classes for which I had to do interviews are “Principles of Management” and “Knowledge Management,” both of which are very theoretical and situation-specific. Talking to people in the field has been a great supplement of my overall understanding of the concepts that have been discussed in class.

A write-up is required after both interviews, but frankly, I have found myself less concerned about the grades that I get on the papers than how I might be able to apply what I have learned in a professional setting. Talking to real life library professionals has been an interesting, thought provoking, and relevant addition to the time spent in class. I’m not suggesting that you invent a non-existent class or assignment in order to have an excuse to talk to someone who works in a library. Instead, just ask! The people I interviewed have busy schedules, but were very accommodating in terms of taking an hour to meet with me.

If you are thinking about pursuing a library degree at GSLIS, the best way to get an idea of what librarians do is to talk to them. Taking classes will get you a degree, but the practical application of things that you learn in class will augment your degree and make you a more desirable candidate for your library dream job. Plus, every person that you talk to is a potential connection if you ever need anything down the road. In two semesters at GSLIS, I have found that what I do outside of the classroom is just as, if not more, valuable than what I am learning in class.

Libraries | People | leave a comment


East meets West – Part III – The Follow-up

I would like to follow up on Chelsea’s two blog posts about some of the differences between the Main Boston campus and West campus in South Hadley.

For a general feel, I will start by referring you back to my earlier post, “The Tale of Two Campuses,” but I will try to be more specific in this post.

Class Size – Chelsea is right here.  I don’t know the names of half of the people in my Boston class but all my West campus classes have been small, leading to a very bonded group of people. At West, we bake brownies for class and seek out opportunities to work together via discussion boards, email, etc. during the week. The small class size does make a more “family” atmosphere.

Demographics –In general, we tend to be older on West campus and in my experience, there are also more men at GSLIS -West.  There are many more career changers on West, and that leads to the bonding over fitting in classwork and group projects around family and job commitments.  The majority (but not all) of GSLIS students I know in Boston are young, unmarried, and full-time students.

Exams – My biggest surprise in Boston is that exams are NOT the norm.  Everything is projects. On West campus, it is more of a mix.  I have confirmed this by talking to other students and comparing experiences in the same courses.

Days/Times – Boston offers classes six days a week, with many options for morning, afternoon, and evening.  West campus offers one evening per week, and morning and afternoons on Saturdays only.  That scheduling difference is part of the appeal for the career changers who, like myself, work during the week and are too far to pop into Boston for an evening class.

Involvement – Chelsea is also right here, but to be honest, I am not all that involved in either location because I have a very long commute. It is true that Boston offers more involvement opportunities, but whether you can take advantage of them depends on your life.  In my case, I have one day in Boston, and one day at West campus, and I work the rest of the week so if an event doesn’t happen to coincide with my free time on that campus, I am not able to attend.

City Mouse or Country Mouse – The campuses are so different.  You will think you stepped into Hogwarts when you walk into the buildings of Mount Holyoke College on West campus.  A private residential women’s college at which we are guest students is very different than the bustling city campus of Simmons-Boston.  This is just a preference thing.  I like them both.

Technology – Both campuses offer technology courses, but there is just more of it at the main Boston campus.  The ready availability of the GSLIS Tech lab in Boston allows classes to have labs more often, and the Tech Lab also offers many workshops all for free. Technology support and labs do exist on West but it is not as readily available.

Beatley Library – This is my one mark of favoritism.  I LOVE Beatley Library in Boston, and the fun of being in a library school library, filled with mentoring librarians.  That said, however, Beatley does FedEx books to the front doors of GSLIS West students (for free) and provides readily available online chat and support, and Mount Holyoke’s library is beautiful…I just can’t help myself though that I like to browse the GSLIS shelves in Beatley.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to post a comment.  If I don’t know the answer, I will find it…after all, that is what librarians do!

Boston | Classes | GSLIS | GSLIS West | leave a comment


Working for the Weekend

In high school and occasionally during college summers, I worked on Saturdays. It wasn’t ideal, and I’m sure my bustling social life suffered irreparable damage, but somehow I survived. Since then, most of my Saturdays have been unadulterated Sarah time. A typical Saturday involves waking up (not sleeping in, as I have lost the capacity for that), going for a run, sitting on the couch, and going out for dinner and drinks. In short, Saturdays are great.

Now imagine my horror when I found out that the branch library where I work, which until two weeks ago was closed on weekends, would now be open on Saturdays, and that I will sometimes have to work on Saturdays. I was out of town the first weekend the library was open, but this past Saturday I had no excuse. I went to work. And it wasn’t all that bad.

I must confess that I was only scheduled for two hours, so there was still ample time for running and sitting and going to dinner. And it was nice to make, rather than just spend, money on a weekend. Working on weekends is not, however, something that I want to get used to. One of the things that I fear about full-time library job is coming in low on the totem pole and having to work shifts outside of the Monday-Friday, 9-5 workweek. Frankly, the Monday-Friday schedule is one of the things that I find appealing about a corporate library job. That is not to say that all library jobs outside of the corporate sphere have non-traditional hours, but working nights and weekends is a distinct possibility. Would working weekends be a deal-breaker for me when choosing a job? Honestly, it might be. It would certainly end up on the “cons” list.

I’ve never really thought about it this way, but for the past several years my weekends have largely been spent doing things that I want to do. All it took was two hours on an idle Saturday to make me realize how lucky I am to be able say that, and how in libraries, work-free weekends are not guaranteed. I suppose that Sarah time does not need to be limited to weekends off, but I would always prefer to work for, not on, the weekend.

Events | leave a comment


Boston Book Collector Weekend

Yesterday was Boston’s Book Collector’s weekend. There were two shows, the bigger one being the 36th Annual International Antiquarian Book Fair and the other was the Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show. I spent a little time at both.

The Antiquarian Book Fair is more for serious collectors; way out of my price range but it was quite fun to look around and ogle at the beautiful things money can buy. Dealers were there from Europe as well as all over the US.  Out of curiosity I sought out the English dealers. I am a HUGE fan of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. Many people know of the book and have had to read it at some point in their school career but few realize it is actually the first in a 20-some book series. Only the first one ever made it into print in the U.S. For years I have been scouring used book sales for copies (Yes I could buy them offline but it’s not as fun). Sure enough, the third English dealer I found had two of the books in his class case. I was ecstatic until I learned that 800-some English pounds was almost 1000 U.S. dollars. While talking to the owner he explained that because they were first editions and still had their slipcovers intact they were worth a lot. I explained that I didn’t want them from a rare book perspective, just to read. According to him I had never thought to bring the less expensive reprint copies to an antiquarian book fair, they are everywhere in the U.K. So my search continues…

The Antiquarian Book Fair was mostly books as the name implies but every so often there was a booth that was different. One such one was The University Archives. The glass case up front displayed items signed by certain individuals and such oddities as a piece of computer hardware that purported to be part of a device that the FBI used to eavesdrop on Whitey Bulger and Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. How can you authenticate that? I have no idea but I was seriously confused at first. What was an archives doing selling off its stuff? It’s not an archives but a company from Connecticut with a very ambiguous name. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Expo was a bit more laid back (Though the other wasn’t too stuffy. A man had his movie star photos in a binder labeled "A Binder of Women"). Instead of class cases and men in suits it was more like a huge yard sale (though still with some very expensive pieces) and many other things other than books including posters, newspapers, pamphlets, just about anything paper based. Looking through a box labeled “Mid Atlantic States” I found someone’s 1953 photography thesis that featured a street I used to drive down every day when I lived in New Jersey! It sure made my day! The picture (which I took with my dying cellphone) is on the left and the right is the Google maps street view of it today. It actually looks like it thrived more in the 1950s.

After seeing this 60 minutes clip about the FBI/NARA scoping such fairs for lost National Archives treasures I really wanted to spot the Feds and perhaps get a word with them  and network (As an archives student currently in a federal job) but alas, either they weren’t there, I missed them or they were “undercover.”  However I did overhear a man who said he was an Antiques Road Show appraiser (and boasting about being recognized by middle aged ladies on airplanes, funny because I can’t match his picture to any on the Antiques Road Show website) chatting about appraising the IRA archives for the U.S. Government.  Doesn’t sound like something you should be chatting about in a public place but I lingered nearby to listen. ;)

I love Boston.

Archives | Boston | Events | Students | leave a comment


Dude...that's hot

Today is exam day at my school, so the library is chillingly quiet. Not a creature is stirring...not even the cockroaches we sometimes find under the desk. EW!

In celebration of this peaceful respite from the sound and the fury my colleagues and I are catching up on wonderful YA blogs/excellent blogs/pinterest/goodreads quizzes. It really feels like a two hour holiday. The following blog post is a snapshot of 12 of the "hottest" and most talented male authors on the YA scene today. Marginalized by their gender, they're exerting their manliness and proving that the YA realm isn't just a game played by lady writers. It's pretty hilarious. Enjoy!

The Dudes of YA, a "Lit-Erotic" Photo Spread

 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="270"] Kevin Emerson, author of The Lost Code, the Oliver Nocturne series, Carlos is Gonna Get It, and the forthcoming Fellowship For Alien Detection.[/caption]

 

Reader's Advisory | leave a comment


Transferability

It often amazes me just how transferable the skills I have gained as a school library teacher in training are to the wider world. It brings a measure of comfort to know that should (heaven forbid) I one day find myself struggling to find a position that I will not have a useless degree.  On the contrary, I will have a very relevant degree (take that, Forbes magazine!).

For a start, during my two practicum experiences, I have gained a lot of experience creating things.  What sorts of things? Brochures. Posters. Website design. Video guides. Written guides. Pathfinders. Sure, these are all topically library-related, but the skills I've learned and honed include design, layout, how to use different software and presentation tools.  Between my practica and the LIS460 class, I've also gained experience using WikiSpaces, Tumblr, Prezi, Screenr, Piktochart, Microsoft Publisher, Audacity, Twitter, Wordpress, and more.  I've learned how to create materials that are clear and well-written, which some might say is a dying art. And let's not forget the awesome powers of Google-fu we librarians possess. People are eternally grateful to you if you know how to locate relevant, reliable information for them and they tend to be in awe of people who can find that information in a seemingly effortless fashion.

I've also gained teaching experience, which in the business world is known as presentation skills.  The ability to be engaging while presenting admittedly dull content at times (how to run a database search, for example - a vital skill, but not the world's most fascinating stuff) is a true skill, and its one that great teachers and great librarians have in spades.  There's also the ability to explain complex concepts to people clearly and succinctly without reading off a Powerpoint slide.  Let me tell you, when you're faced with a room of 25 kindergartners, it can be a trial by fire. You either know your lesson inside and out and know every point you want to hit, or you don't.  As librarians responsible for fostering critical thinking and inquiry skills in our students, we're also excellent at asking questions and conducting reference interviews to get to the heart of a problem and find a solution. If I throw in the skills gained from pursuing the instructional technology license that Simmons also offers, I have just increased my skill set again.

Far from being a stodgy profession, the field of school librarianship is a dynamic, exciting, technology-centric field that equips its teachers with 21st century skills, vital skills needed for success in any field.  I fully intend to have a long, satisfying career in a school library of my own, but it's reassuring to realize that this degree has been an excellent choice in more ways than one.

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East Meets West Part II: The Details

After last week’s post, I got a comment from a prospective GSLIS student, Jodi. She

writes, "As a prospective student (probably West), I would love to hear more about the differences between the two, especially from a student's perspective. Anyone care to summarize that discussion at the Squealing Pig?"

Jodi, and all who are curious (this is certainly a frequently asked question!), I will do my

best to answer your question. We did talk a lot about some specific differences.

I personally have not yet taken classes on both campuses, but I am taking a course in

Boston at the main campus next semester. After talking with GSLIS Boston students,

it really seems that the biggest difference between the campuses is class size, with the

smaller classes at GSLIS West. My classes have never had more than 20 students, and

only the core (required) courses were that large. Last Spring, I had a class with only 8

total students. According to the Boston students I spoke with, classes there tend to have

at least 20 students. This certainly has to do with the student enrollment numbers. GSLIS

West has approximately 70 total students, where there are about 700 on the main campus.

Another difference was the level of involvement of the student body. At GSLIS West,

some of us have very long drives, most of us work at least part time and many of us

have families. It is therefore difficult to form student groups and organizations, since

so many students are unable to participate. That is not to say that we do not have an

active community; we do have events, both social and academic, hosted by the Library

and Information Science Student Organization (LISSA West) that get good turnouts.

However, the Boston campus is able to have active chapters of a variety of student

organizations such as the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), the Society of American

Archivists (SAA), and many others.

Similar to what I mentioned above, the final major difference that we discussed at The

Squealing Pig is the campus environment. Because GSLIS Boston is a larger community,

there is a lot more happening. While we visited, there was a conference being held on

campus. If you check out the GSLIS Events calendar, you will see there is something

going on at least once a week. At GSLIS West, we only meet on campus once a week.

We do hold events almost every Saturday, but they are not as large or involved as some

of the events held on the Boston campus.

I really don’t think there is one campus that is better than the other; it is all a matter of

preference. I personally prefer GSLIS West because it is a smaller community. I like

the intimacy of smaller classes and I enjoy having the same people in my classes every

semester. However, I can certainly see the appeal of going out to Boston. It would be nice

to have so much library culture happening around me every day. So the choice is yours,

Jodi. I think that no matter which campus you choose, you’ll love Simmons GSLIS!

GSLIS | GSLIS West | Students | 2 comments


The Librarian Toolbox

Librarians have lots of tools….our fabulous brains, all that stuff we learn at library school, binders of ready reference questions and answers, reference books, databases, and of course, bookmarks on our desktops to all kinds of useful links. I was inspired by Maya’s post this week about Reader’s Advisory to share some of my favorite Reader’s Advisory tools.

Novelist – Novelist is included in many database packages, at least here in NH public libraries. Two of my favorite features of Novelist are the Read-Alikes and the book reviews.   The Read-Alikes allow you to pick a book you like, and Novelist does an instant reader’s advisory by showing what other books are “like” that one.  You can limit the selection based on certain terms or it will just do a general read-alike search.  Then the book reviews allow you to learn more about these other titles.  Novelist offers many more features and if you have it at your library, I highly recommend logging on and exploring some of your favorite authors, titles, or series.

KDL – What’s Next – Speaking of series, want to know “what’s next?”  Have you ever discovered a whole series with no volume listing and been frustrated to figure out the order? Kent District Library of Kent County, Michigan welcomes other libraries to link to their database:  What's Next™: Books in Series Database of Kent District Library http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp and I use it all the time at my library to help patrons figure out the order of a series. Explore an author or look at different series in a favorite genre…  Finally, you can read all those Charlaine Harris books in the right order.

Fantastic Fiction – The UK site http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ is full of reviews, read-alikes, and more for the latest titles in the US and the UK.  It is a bright, flashy site that also includes links to buy the books…but why buy when you can borrow from your library?

Reviews by Nancy Pearl – No list would be complete without Nancy Pearl, model for the Librarian Action Figure and TV host of Book Lust with Nancy Pearl.  Check out her website for the latest reviews: http://www.nancypearl.com/

Events | leave a comment


A Case of the Mondays

Today is Veterans’ Day observed, and GSLIS does not have classes. How will I be spending my morning, you ask?

In class.

Barring Thanksgiving next week (yay!), the only holidays this semester fall on Mondays. That means there ends up being one less class meeting for Monday classes than for their Tuesday-Friday counterparts. So despite the holiday today, my professor (and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, a few other professors as well) will be holding class. The thing is, I’m not even mad. I’m not dreading going. It just feels like another Monday.

Everybody enjoys a day off (and especially a long weekend), but when classes only meet once per week, not having a class is a considerable setback. My professor isn’t having class to spite us, as she is also coming in on what could have been a day off. We have a lot of material to cover, and just finally got caught up after falling behind a few weeks ago. And, frankly, the point of being at GSLIS is taking classes, right?

I’m not proposing that GSLIS stop observing holidays, but it does seem odd that Monday classes meet fewer times than the rest. Plus, Simmons was closed on the Monday of Superstorm Sandy, so that was another Monday lost. It’s common knowledge that no one really likes Mondays, and we’ve established that Monday classes don’t give students an equal opportunity to learn. The solution seems pretty clear: GSLIS should do away with Monday classes. For the sake of learning, it seems like the right thing to do.

Boston | Classes | GSLIS | leave a comment


A Reference Lesson at Trivia

I am a sucker for trivia. All forms of it; quizzes online, Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit (especially the Star Wars edition), Scene It and trivia nights at the bar. I had a QuizWiz growing up and loved it! Pop-up Brady? I’m there. So it’s no surprise that you can often find me at local bars on trivia night.

Now all this love of trivia does not mean I’m any good. When the topic is history, literature or classic movies I do pretty well – science and sports….nope (and bar trivia seems to be heavily slanted towards sports).

But last night at Penguin Pizza (great pizza, great beer and pretty ok trivia on Saturdays at 8!) a question during one round asked us what language, after English, was the most frequently spoken language in Australia. After debating the merits of various options (and trying to decide where the world’s highest airport was) we came to an agreement to put down Mandarin because one of us knew there was a large Asian community in Australia.

The use of smartphones during bar trivia is of course prohibited as a means of getting the answers. However as soon as our answers were turned in we all quickly pulled them out to “fact check” our responses and tally our points. Well the world’s highest airport is in Tibet, not Nepal like we guessed but George Harrison is in indeed the Beatle most closely affiliated with Hare Krishna. A quick google search also pulled up that Mandarin is the second most spoken language in Australia and we high fived each other.

A few minutes later our score sheet came back telling us that Italian is the second most frequently spoken language in Australia.  Excuse me? We pulled out our cellphones again and pulled up the Wikipedia article that says “According to the 2011 census, 76.8% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin 1.6%, Italian 1.4%, Arabic 1.3%, Cantonese 1.2% and Greek 1.2%” in order to support our case and went to ask the trivia master where she was getting her information (because we all know that Wikipedia is always correct, but in this case it was cited to the 2011 census).

Her first responsive was a defensive, “I don’t write the questions” and then a reminder that we weren’t supposed to be using our phones but she agreed to change our score. Library grad students that we are we started to talk amongst ourselves about the importance of having correct information and how much smarter we are at reference.

But when I got home curiosity caused me to search again and this time I found this statistic, “According to the 2006 census, close to 79 per cent of Australia’s population spoke only English at home. The three most common languages other than English were Italian (accounting for 1.6 per cent of the population), Greek (1.3 per cent) and Cantonese (1.2 per cent)”.

Mandarin isn’t even listend on this list though Cantonese is, And in 2001, “English was the only language spoken in the home for around 80% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home were Chinese (2.1%), Italian (1.9%), Vietnamese (1.7%) and Greek (1.4%).”

Why the big leap? Was Mandarin and Cantonese combined for this census making Chinese so much higher? All these results are from the official census. Are any of them wrong? Are any of them right?

It’s been a while since I took my reference course at Simmons but navigating reference questions was a big topic. You need to be sure of the specific question the patron is asking. Did the trivia master want the most recent data? 2006? 2001? You also need to be sure that you don’t just go with the easiest answer, the first one that pops up on google or even in a reference book. You have a responsibility to your patrons (in libraries and in archives) to provide them with the correct information. Even something straight forward may not be as simple as it seems. Always keep that in mind!

Relaxing | leave a comment


Do you buzz?

Yes, do you buzz around like a bee? You see where I'm going with this? This week I represented the school I work for in the Wellesley Spelling Bee. With thirty lists of words to study I was engrossed and could talk about little else for the past few weeks. No joke, ask my friends and family who are glad it's over. I learned words like butyraceous, jeroboam, tabetisol, and my personal favorite kakistocracy. I spent time with my colleagues/teammates from school as we chatted, studied, and laughed over the silliness of the words we were spelling. It was bliss for a true spelling bee nerd like me.

You see, I was in the Peace Corps a few years ago. While I was there one of my biggest accomplishments was founding the National Spelling Bee of Macedonia with my friend Matt. We were both very passionate about making language learning engaging for students of every level. We knew that our students loved competition and this seemed the most logical way to make learning English fun.We put together a bee, formatted for the students of Macedonia with lists based on the state curriculum and hoped for the best. We had around 2,000 students compete nation wide the first year and 3,500 the second year. The bee lives on in Macedonia today, and grows with every passing year. One of the big buzzwords that Peace Corps LOOOVES is "sustainability" which is why this may qualify as my only truly successful project. It is funded 100% by the people of Macedonia, run mostly by the teachers and librarians of Macedonia and brings together students of 4 different ethnicities that represent every region of Macedonia.

Despite all of my experience with spelling bees and my belief in their incredible power as a teaching tool I had never participated in one. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I made flashcards. I repeated the words out loud in the car on my way to work. I bugged my husband to quiz me. And yet,

"urceolate"

will forever be ingrained on my skull, for it is the word my team lost on. Now I know how my students felt. Now I understand. Now I see the pictures with expressions of sheer joy or utter disappointment on the National Spelling Bee website and can now say, "I feel you, man!" I wish I understood what it was like for my students who won...but I'll live to fight another day. For now, my hats are off to the ladies representing the Wellesley Council on Aging who prove that age really does matter. Wisdom can only come with time. Check them out in their matching red outfits. They really are the coolest.

http://theswellesleyreport.com/2012/11/wellesley-spelling-bee-has-a-fishy-finish/

Events | leave a comment


Reader's Advisory

One of the hot topics in reference is reader's advisory. It's the reason many people engage in reference interactions with librarians, but it's often hard to narrow in on exactly what a patron liked about a particular book.  And for me at least, when a patron admits that they don't enjoy reading or actively dislikes it, I feel a lot of pressure to deliver.  I have long felt that there is a book out there for each person, it's just a question of matching the two together.  But doing that can be a complicated, frustrating, and sometimes disheartening experience.   If I sound down, it's because I've just handled two reader's advisory interactions which went less well than I would have hoped.  In the first case, I had a freshman who "hates reading" looking for a short, funny book, but not one that would make her feel dumb (so graphic novels were out), no vampires ("read my lips: N-O, NO!"), no romances, no chick-lit books, nothing I could suggest caught her interest. "You know who's really good at finding me books that I like? Mrs. F_____" (the librarian, who is out today).

Finally, she started to drift onto the fact that she wanted to know more about why she felt sleepy after getting enough sleep, and mentioned that a classmate had told her she could get shaky from low blood sugar even if she wasn't a diabetic.  Aha! Science books!

Continue reading Reader's Advisory

People | Reader's Advisory | School Libraries | leave a comment


East Meets West

I bet many of you have seen this map before. It’s funny! And sort of true. But some of us out in the dragon-filled regions see Boston not so much as the center of the universe, but more as a big scary jungle. That’s why last week, LISSA West sponsored a field trip to the Simmons main campus in Boston. Our goal was to give GSLIS West students the opportunity to visit the Boston campus and become familiar with things like parking and the layout of the library. Our hope was to eliminate fear of the big city and encourage GSLIS West students to take courses at Simmons Boston.

There were four of us total and we had a busy afternoon! We started with a tour of Beatley Library led by the wonderful Linda Watkins, Liaison Librarian and Kate McGrath, Dean’s Fellow for GSLIS West. We got to see how things work in the stacks and behind the scenes. We had the opportunity to meet Justin Snow in the archives who let us into the vault where the library stores lots of historic goodies.

We then met Pablo Morales Henry in the tech lab who showed us the space there as well as the media lab and the usability lab. We even had the chance to speak with Pablo about what technology and workshops are most important to GSLIS West and how the tech lab could serve us better.

After that, we met with Em Claire Knowles, Assistant Dean, and a few students from the Boston campus for light refreshments. They told us all about their student organizations and some of the events they have planned which all sound so exciting! GSLIS West and some of the Boston students then left campus and walked to the Squealing Pig where we had drinks and dinner and got to really talk about the similarities and differences of our GSLIS experiences.

[caption id="attachment_1740" align="alignnone" width="300"] GSLIS West with Boston staff and students in the GSLIS student lounge.[/caption]

I wish more GSLIS West students had made it out that day. The Boston campus is not scary. It’s actually really friendly and fun! Maybe next semester we can get the Boston students out to South Hadley so we can prove that we don’t have any dragons...just a lot of trees.

GSLIS | GSLIS West | Students | 3 comments


Who You Gonna Call?

I apologize for wimping out, but I am swamped with work this week, both school projects and extra hours at my job at my local library.  Please forgive me and enjoy this great view of the New York Public Library Reading Room…ghosts and all!

http://youtu.be/wKB7zfopiUA

Libraries | People | leave a comment


Don’t Judge a Donated Book by Its Cover

I work at a small branch library, and I was surprised to learn that we are not supposed to take book donations. One or two books here and there is ok, but an “I’m moving tomorrow and here is my entire book collection” drop off is too much. It’s not that we don’t want them, but since the main library is better equipped to handle donations people are encouraged to bring their books there. I don’t necessarily agree with the policy, but after reading this I might be more inclined to enforce it.

If I were going through donated books and came across a gun, I probably would have uttered a few choice words other than “Oh my.” A gun…in a book? The write-up doesn’t make it sound malicious, but still, a gun…in a book? Knowing nothing about guns, I would say that gun actually looks kind of cool – like something a cowboy would tote in a saloon. But that’s not the point. What is the real story? Why was that cool looking gun hidden inside a book? And, arguably most ridiculously, why did this same thing happen at that same library twelve years ago?

We may never have the answers to these pressing questions, but from now on I will certainly remember this article when people want to donate their books. Strange things happen at public libraries, but finding a gun in a donated book is quite an odd (and literal) application of why it’s best not to judge a book by its cover.

Events | 2 comments


Tweeting NEA

Blake Spitz@bgspitz

At the mothership in Boston @simmonsgslis for #NEAfall12. Excited for a full day!

The event/conference of the week was the fall meeting of New England Archivists (NEA), hosted by none other than your very own Simmons College! Since I currently work in a library and not an archives I did not have the option of excusing myself for professional development and missed the workshops and banquet on Friday night. (Though I did go to Guy Fawkes Pub Night on Friday and drank Samuel Adams with Samuel Adams’ spirit in the Old State House!) But living in the dorms means that I rolled out of bed at 8 am and walked over to the academic campus where sessions started at 9. I tweeted the conference through my twitter handle (which until last night was simmonslazylibr now it’s puschartwarrior) so here is the day in tweets!

Stacie Parillo@stacieparillo

Every room I've been in seems really young. I wonder what the average age is of NEA attendees? #neafall12

Since Simmons hosted there was A LOT of Simmons grad students present, substantially bringing down the median age of the attendees but spending a day with my friends learning about cool things was awesome! (Wait, I do that every day at Simmons!)

Jessica Bennett@pushcartwarrior

Sitting on the floor at #neafall12 archival software session. Very well attended 

It was crowded but that made it all the more exciting. This meeting’s theme was “Proactive Archivists” and many of the sessions dealt with new innovations and technologies. People weren’t complaining about the crammed rooms though, they wanted to hear the speakers instead of going to another session so we sat on the stairs, the floors and lined up against the back wall.

Continue reading Tweeting NEA

Conferences | Events | 1 comment


Ladies and Gentlemen, Hannah Gomez

I met Hannah while dissecting the motherboard of a PC in LIS 488. I think we had the most fun of anyone in the class because we made up names for the parts we didn't know. She is a dual degree Children's Literature/Library Science student here at Simmons, so she's a superhero in my mind. Enjoy meeting Hannah Gomez, with these incredibly serious interview questions that really get to the heart of who GSLIS students really are.

1) If you could be assume a role in a book who would you be?

As I kid I was always jealous of Dinnie in Sharon Creech's Bloomability because she got to go to international school, which seemed so much more exotic and intellectual and independent than plain old school. Now that K-12 school is behind me and that's not an option, I can't think of anyone in a book I really love whose life I'm not already living (hence my liking them).

2) What's been the most exciting part about being in the dual degree program so far?

Sorry, what? I'll get back to you on that when I'm done reading six children's and/or YA novels a week and learning both critical theory and practical, real life applications of it. Really the best part is that I'm finally not considered quirky (or at least not as quirky), because everyone who studies children's literature is a nerd. I have found my people!

3) What does a typical day look like for you?

Oversleep, snooze the alarm between three and seven times, finally get up. Shower, eat, and Internet my morning. Do homework or read a novel (most days I have to read an entire one if I'm going to stay on top of things). Go to work or school, followed by the other one. Come home, Hulu or homework (okay, both), look up and realize it's 2am, crash. Repeat. I think I have been claiming to work out and write a novel, but I'm not sure where those have gone. Any time I consider them, I get a call from Buffy, Liz Lemon, or Mulder and Scully, and then they win.

4) What has been your favorite LIS class so far?

My favorite class has definitely been 422 (Literacy and Services to Underserved Populations: Issues and Responses) with Shelley Quezada. I'm not as interested in the library science part of things (though that's slowly changing as my new job and my love for digital content management and creation start coming out) as I am about the library service, so learning about advocacy, early literacy, outreach, and other types of service really spoke to me. Also, how often in your twenties do you get field trips? We had three!

5) If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

Can I call mermaid abilities a superpower? I love to swim, and I assume that the ability to swim in salt or fresh water and travel fast would be useful, as would what I assume are the whale-like lungs--I could throw away all my inhalers. And then I could go on vacation without having to pay for a plane ticket, because anywhere with a coast would be easy to get to.

Dual Degree Programs | Students | 1 comment


"We're Open to Serve You During Storm Recovery"

Unless you live under the proverbial rock, you know that this week, the east coast was battered by Hurricane Sandy before the remnants of the storm moved inland to cause further havoc as far west as Wisconsin.  It was a pretty remarkable sight seeing essentially every school in the state closed for the day on Monday, and on Tuesday, many districts still opted to stay shut, but it's back to business here now.  We got extremely lucky in that Boston was spared a lot of the damage that places further south of us, namely New York and New Jersey, have had.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with libraries.  Well, earlier this summer, I wrote about how the libraries in Boston were opening as cooling centers on some of the hottest days of the year - a place where those without air conditioning could come, for free, and be safe and cool.  In the winter, libraries often offer the reverse service - a warm place for those in need of protection from the harsh winter elements.  But libraries serve other purposes, too: vital purposes, like linking people with information and resources, empowering them through job assistance or ESL classes.  The Queens Public Library, which has had several of its branches affected in minor ways by Sandy, explained in an email that four of its branches have been so badly affected that it will take several months for them to reopen.  Yet, highly cognizant of the role these libraries play in their communities, they are working as quickly as possible to find alternate locations so that they can continue to deliver their adult learning and job search services.  In fact, the title of the email I received from them says it all "We're Open to Serve You During the Storm Recovery."  They are to be commended for their efforts to get back in working order so that people have a place to get the news, to charge their electronics, to learn about vital federal disaster aid money, and so much more.

It's truly remarkable, and it speaks volumes about the dedication the staff of the Queens Library system (and, I'm sure, the staff of the NYPL and other library systems similarly affected).  Our libraries are vital components of our communities in ways we often neglect to think about, and we as librarians and future librarians are the ones helping to make these spaces safe, welcoming, and most of all, relevant in the lives of those we serve.  It makes me really proud to be part of this profession.

Events | leave a comment


Crossing the Finish Line

[caption id="attachment_1713" align="alignnone" width="300"] I'm on the left, #2! With my work friends after the race, looking sweaty and tired[/caption]

My last post was about yoga, and this one will be about running. But first, I need to provide a disclaimer: I don't do fitness. I'm not claiming to be in shape or know anything about how to get there. I am someone who is completely new to the idea of physical challenge but I am finding that it can be just as rewarding as challenging myself intellectually and I want to share my experience.

Last weekend, a close friend and I ran our first 5k. And by "ran" I mean jogged. And by "jogged" I really mean jogged 1 out of the 3.1 miles, and not consecutively. Regardless of this, the rush of adrenaline I felt when I crossed the finish line was incredible. There was a crowd of people cheering us on and waiting to congratulate us on finishing. We took our time but accomplished something great and didn't even come in last place!

I know it's cliche to compare running a 5k to other non-physical accomplishments (like getting a masters degree in LIS), but it's so true! We constantly push ourselves and get tired and weak but we've got plenty of people waiting at the finish line, ready to congratulate us! The feeling of finishing what you've started, no matter how slow or out of shape you are, is truly amazing.

I've signed up to run another 5k in December and I can't wait! My training starts tomorrow. Now if only I could be this enthusiastic about studying. I'd be super woman!

Events | leave a comment