August 2013 Archives

Whirlwind Summer Wind Down

Yesterday I was getting on a plane for Rome, right? It feels that way anyhow. I cannot believe it is the end of August and summer is coming to a close. I don't remember a summer in recent history where I did so much or went through so many changes in such a short period of time. What a ride it has been and now, just as my routine feels settled, things are about to shift again. I am in the midst of my last full week at my job with the National Park Service and I start my new public library job on September 5th! The fall promises to be full of challenges that come with a new job, new classes, and a new schedule, but I cannot wait to get things started.


I will be working a few more hours per week this semester than last and with three classes, my time management skills are going to get a workout. That said, I will finally have personal experience working in a library to draw upon for course discussions and assignments.


As of now I am signed up for four classes but I only plan to take three. I know for sure I will be taking two required courses: Principles of Management (LIS 404) and Evaluation of Information Services (LIS 403), but I am torn between Organization and Management of Public Libraries (LIS 450) and Business Information Sources and Services (LIS 430). My plan is to attend the first session of both courses and make my decision after seeing the syllabus and learning a little more about what each class entails. I really wish time and finances would allow me to take both but sometimes tough decisions need to be made.
Fall is in the air and I will be sure to report back on new adventures as I change gears and get back into school mode.

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Winter is Coming

I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones on June 22 as an escape from the afternoon heat in Washington, DC. Fast-forward 24 hours, and I had watched five more. The only thing stopping me from completing the entire ten-episode season by dinnertime on June 23 was my flight back to Boston. I hurried home from the airport and immediately went to my library's webpage to request Seasons One and Two on DVD. When I saw that there were 100-something holds on 90-something copies of each season (my library is part of a network of libraries in the greater Boston area, hence the large numbers), I added myself to both hold lists and vowed to start reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the Game of Thrones television show is based.

It didn't take long to become so immersed in the books that I forgot about the queue for the DVDs. The novels initially intimidated me, as there are currently five (with two more forthcoming) that are each over 800 pages long and weigh as much as three pounds. I considered getting them on my Kindle, but while reading the first book in print I was often flipping back to earlier chapters (there are several plotlines) or forward to the appendices containing detailed family trees (there are many characters), so I decided to stick with print. That way, my brain could better process everything that was happening and my arms would get a modest workout.

Last Tuesday I hit the Game of Thrones jackpot, as the fifth book and (finally) Season One DVD arrived at the library with my name on them. That very night I watched the first three episodes, and was cursing the fact that I had evening commitments for the remainder of the week and would be out of town all weekend. But after waiting over six weeks for the DVD, waiting six days between episodes seems manageable. Plus, I have the fifth book to provide my daily fix while commuting. In short, Game of Thrones has kind of taken over my summer.

I would not have characterized Game of Thrones as a mild addiction until I realized that I had read the first four books, totaling over 3,200 pages, in six weeks and felt like a lottery winner when I snagged the Season One DVD off the hold shelf. My biggest concern, however, is what to do while I await the next installments. The sixth book is rumored to be published sometime in 2014 and Season Three comes to DVD on February 18, and my goal is to be first on the library hold list for both. I have considered reading the first five books again to really etch them into memory, but I think my arms might need a bit of a break. Moreover, winter is coming, along with classes, homework, and job applications - all distractions from my addiction, but likely not enough to fully silence the sweet melody of A Song of Ice and Fire that has been playing on repeat in my head.

People | Relaxing | leave a comment


The Ultimate Group Project: Saving Kingston Part 3

wordle-team.JPGI am recovering from the summer term and the intensity of two classes.  You may have followed our ground-breaking alternate reality game in my online Management class with Mary Wilkins-Jordan.  (See earlier Kingston posts)

As fabulous, dedicated Simmons GSLIS students, we did, indeed, save Kingston and all its libraries!  We battled blizzards, naysayers, and gloomy politicians to raise the level and value of the library and information science industry of our fictitious town.  To do so, we had to be a team, and all flag-waving aside, the collaborative effort was the likes of which I have not seen before in any of my classes.

Early in the term, our professor gave us complete flexibility to work alone or in groups related to our organizations (public, corporate, prison, archives, etc.) or across our base groups (our classes - management, reference, etc.).  She cautioned us, however, that while working alone remained an option, we might need to work in groups in order to accomplish it all in the compressed summer session. I am pretty driven, but she was right. I needed my peers, but not just to get it all done.  I needed their skills, their expertise, and their support.

In the world of our alternate reality game, we watched our point levels rise each week, as we continued to strive for Titanium level through completion of our assignments, projects and challenges. Behind the scenes, however, our groups collaborated, finding ways to offer new insights and perspectives to each other. Our biggest project was writing an actual grant proposal for our chosen library organizations, including not just the idea, but the budget, staffing, marketing and evaluation of our designed projects. Not only did we all team up effectively for our own projects, but we took the time to read those of other Kingston organizations, offering additional resources and ideas.  When I printed off a copy of my team's proposal at home, my husband's jaw dropped when he looked at the document. "You guys did all this in a few weeks?!"  He suddenly knew why he hadn't seen much of me this summer, but truth is, what we achieved together was so much greater than what I could have done alone.

In Kingston, we learned a lot of things, but the biggest takeaway was the value of collaboration.  When it comes to saving libraries, never underestimate the power of a team of librarians.  

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#GSLISchat Round 2 Results!

Hi everyone, 

We just completed our 2nd #GSLISchat. Check out the conversation here: 

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Exploring Your Neighborhood

For the first time in seven years, I am so happy that this coming September 1, my husband and I will not be moving.  I will be excluded from the uHaul hassle, the security deposits, the shady landlords, and dealing with the fact that dishwashers are still a sought-after commodity despite our foray into the twenty-first century. 

In the past year, knowing that we wouldn't be moving in September, we have made our little apartment a true home (rental-style) - temporarily replacing the dim lighting fixtures, accruing beautiful (if eclectic) art and photographs, even adopting a puppy for our pet-friendly pad!  But one of the things that we have admittedly slacked on is learning our area.

When my husband randomly plugged our address into Walkscore.com and a 97 popped up, his friend asked what great coffee shops, bars, parks, and restaurants were in the area to inflate our score so much - sadly, we had no idea.  It wasn't until very recently that we actually made exploring our area a priority - and we have discovered essentially paradise.  There is a craft shop two blocks away, to meet all of my crafting needs; there is a liquor shop/convenience store around the corner; there is a bar literally across the street from our apartment, becoming our own MacLaren's (from How I Met Your Mother).  While Kendall Square is known as "technology square," I have to say that the accompanying East Cambridge neighborhood is amazing - and definitely worth a visit. 

And, here are a few of the places that I have recently discovered, should you happen to be in the area: Lizzy's (a bar whose fan base practically rioted when they closed briefly due to liquor permit complications), Courthouse Sea Food (a fish market, where you can buy a pound of sashimi-grade salmon for $15 bucks) or the restaurant of the same name next door (with $5 burger and fries), Poultry Fresh Killed (Boston's best butcher with a dubious name),  and Cafe Kafofo (makes the best iced coffee I have ever had).  Just sayin'.

Boston | People | leave a comment


Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Graham Herrli

Graham_Herrli.jpgI have fallen into the habit of falling in love with fellow classmates in my past few semesters at GSLIS. I share my crushes through this blog to you, the GSLIS community. I first met my friend Graham in LIS 408, User Instruction. While there were many talented people in the class with lots to contribute, Graham always intrigued me because of his usability perspective on library science issues. Graham is one of those students that blows you away with his passion and genuine interest with the way patrons interact with information. I want more Grahams in my next class, though I suspect he may not be taking storytelling in the fall. Regardless, I am thrilled to present Graham Herrli.

1) What made you choose the GSLIS program and what is your focus while here at Simmons?

I came to GSLIS initially because I was interested in how people interact with information and I thought I might want to become a librarian.  Since arriving, I've found that librarianship isn't for me, but I'm still intrigued by how people interact with information. I spend a lot of my free time reading and reviewing user experience (UX) books and articles. Recently, I've begun a great job as an interaction designer and shifted my focus at Simmons to courses that will support me in this role.  I look forward to taking Visual Communication this fall.

2) What is the greatest technological advantage GSLIS students can have when they graduate?

That depends on what the students intend to do.  For librarians, having the ability to explain technological systems to their patrons could be highly useful.  For archivists, a thorough understanding of XML and XSLT could help them to modernize their finding aids.  For students interested in other branches of information science, sundry other bits of technological knowledge could be most useful to them.  For example, students interested in a career in knowledge management or in content strategy would benefit from a firm understanding of the capabilities and limitations of content management systems, especially the budding idea of "adaptive content": content stored wholly independent of format so that your computer, phone, music player, or...I dunno, fridge?? can pull the content that best fits its particular form, factor and context.

3) Tell us about UXPA@Simmons and the role you play there. Why is usability and the user experience so important for GSLIS students to be aware of?

I'm one of the two new co-chairs of UXPA@Simmons (the Simmons branch of the User Experience Professional Association).  We're still in the process of planning programming for this upcoming year, and I encourage students to contact me with suggestions.  I hope that the club can serve three purposes:

  • to inform students who aren't familiar with UX what the field is all about.  The hyper-abbreviated version is that UX is about making things behave the way people expect them to behave. Notable subfields of UX are:
    • user research--gathering feedback on how people interact with things (i.e. holding a focus group to determine why people might want to buy shoes online)
    • information architecture--making sure that people can find information where they expect to find it (i.e. labeling the shoes section of a website in a way that people looking to buy shoes can find what they're looking for)
    • interaction design--making things behave the way people expect them to (i.e. giving an online shoe shopper clear feedback when he/she clicks on a button that the shoes have been added to a virtual shopping cart)
  • to enable students who are interested in pursuing user experience professionally to gain a sense of current hot topics in the field.  Personally, I'm interested in such topics as:
    • emotional design--making interfaces more than just usable...making them fun and memorable and meaningful.
    • adaptive design--creating designs that work on a variety of devices in a variety of contexts.
    • gamification--finding the game inherent in everything and using this knowledge to make interfaces more enjoyable to use
  • to evangelize for the importance of considering the user in all professions.  Prospective librarians, archivists, and others who don't intend to pursue UX professionally will still benefit from joining UXPA@Simmons because they still work with users and thus still need to find ways to best identify and serve their users (aka "patrons") needs.

4) What's the best class you've taken at Simmons so far?

I most enjoyed (and learned most from) an independent study of mobile usability testing with Professor Rong Tang.  Rong is an expert in the field of usability, and with her, I was able to explore the various ways in which the mobile context differs from the traditional desktop context and to look at how usability testing might be changed to fit this new context. Fun fact: a Pew internet survey from April 2012 found that 42% of Americans age 18-29 use a phone as their primary method of accessing the internet. That means if you don't account for mobile usage, you're alienating a large portion of your potential audience.

5) If you had a super power what would it be? Would you use that power for good or evil?

I would have advanced telekinesis (which is probably cheating).  This telekinesis would allow me to manipulate matter finely on a small scale so that I could regenerate my cells making myself immortal, access the internet through direct mental contact, fly, read minds, freeze time, and all of the other things your run-of-the mill superheroes can do.  As long as I get to write my own story, no need to write in the limitations that make for interesting character development in popular works of sci-fi/fantasy, right? And of course, yes, I would use the power for "good," but everyone assumes they're acting for "good" so that doesn't really say anything. I suppose the good I would do would be to avoid imposing my conception of what is "good" on other people.

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Bookstock 2013 and My New Job

Bookstock.jpgLast weekend marked the fifth annual literary festival in Woodstock, Vermont, whimsically named Bookstock. This event brings together many community groups and businesses including the public library, both of the independent book stores in town, the National Park Service, and private vendors. I've been able to participate in this weekend long celebration of the written word through my job with the National Park Service and it is absolutely a highlight of the summer. The event appeals to tourists and locals alike and really offers something for everyone. In addition to a tent of exhibitors there is also a huge used book sale; I was able to get 6 books for $10! Quite a steal! I am so happy to see this event thriving and expanding every year because community events like Bookstock are why I want to work for a small public library. (Interested in learning more? Check out: http://www.bookstockvt.org/)

Starting in September I will have a new job that I hope will allow me access to more behind scenes details of similar community events. I have accepted a part time job as Reference Assistant at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, Vermont! I could not be more excited to start what I am sure will be an amazing learning opportunity. I will be manning the reference desk, helping with circulation, readers' advisory, interlibrary loan and hopefully expanding the library's presence on social media.

How will I manage to take classes in Boston and work in Vermont you may ask? Great question! I have a feeling the fall is going to be very interesting as I adjust to splitting my time between Boston and Vermont. In anticipation of getting a new job in the fall, I arranged my schedule to only have classes on Monday and Wednesday and luckily my library job is Thursday-Saturday. Two three hour long classes every Monday should keep me busy, so will commuting back and forth to Boston. Challenges aside, the opportunity to work in my hometown public library promises to be worth the sacrifices of a crazy schedule and I cannot wait to begin.

Events | Jobs | leave a comment


Petition to Proceed into the Library World

Most people know what it's like to have an email inbox that is constantly full of crap. Listservs, gimmicks, promotions, mass emails that may or may not pertain to you but you should probably read anyway just in case...you know. I do my best to keep my inbox as crap-free as possible, which necessitates a fair amount of deleting things based solely on their subject line. Who knows how many emails I delete that I shouldn't, but I do my best to diligently discard blatant crap emails while still opening anything that is, or might be, relevant. Last week, my usual subject line deletion system was jarred by an email from the GSLIS Student Services Center with the subject: PETITION TO GRADUATE form - 2013-2014.

This petition clearly pertains to me as I enter my final semester; thus, the email was granted the esteemed privilege of being opened and read. I expected the petition form to be long-winded and daunting, asking me to list every GSLIS credit that I took with which professor on which days and at what time. Instead, it was a very basic form that is intended to tell Simmons that yea, I'm ready to face the library world. After printing my name in my very best penmanship and confirming that I am indeed on the general (as opposed to archives or school library teacher) track, I made my merry way to the Student Services Center on campus and handed it over, and that was it. I have officially petitioned to graduate from GSLIS.

(Please hold your applause.)

Unless I completely mess up my last semester, or someone belatedly informs me that I have not met the core course requirements or that I actually failed that second semester class that I thought I aced, I will graduate in December. This is not breaking news, as I have spent the past two years telling people that I will graduate in December 2013, but completing and submitting that unassuming graduation petition was my first reality check. It was certainly an easy reality check, as the ones that follow are bound to include, but are not limited to: thinking about jobs, talking about jobs, searching for jobs, applying for jobs, interviewing (hopefully!) for jobs, being rejected from jobs, and (hopefully, fingers crossed, please please PLEASE have this happen by the time classes end) actually getting a job.

Come December, after a fall full of reality checks, I hope to look back on this post and wonder what the heck I was so worried about (and I ask that you continue to hold your applause until that very moment). In the meantime, I should start being more careful about purging my inbox - I can't afford for any potential opportunities to end up in the trash.

Classes | Jobs | People | leave a comment


#GSLISchat Results!

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#GSLISchat

We're going live on Twitter in about 45 minutes - 10am EST! Tweet your questions to us at #GSLISchat and/or join us on Twubs to follow the discussion: http://twubs.com/GSLISchat. If you can't join us today, we have two more scheduled for this month: http://www.simmons.edu/gslis/admission/events/.  I'll also be putting up some of the questions on the blog today after the chat is over. We hope you'll join us!

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