September 2013 Archives

The (Updated) Tale of a (More) Reformed Networker

I had my first networking revelation a little over a year ago, and my second one happened last Friday at the Special Libraries Association New England Fall conference (which conveniently took place at Simmons). I spent the day listening to presentations, pondering the meaning of special libraries, and, well, networking. For some reason there was a ridiculously long 90-minute lunch break, so I figured I would mill around for a few minutes, grab some food, then sit outside and read a magazine. Well, it turned out that instead of embracing my inner introvert, I found myself breaking bread with three complete strangers (gasp!). Ok, so they were fellow special librarians and conference attendees (calling them strangers is a bit dramatic), but still, this was a major deviation from my plan.

It seems absurd that this lunch conversation was such a big deal for me, but I am pretty proud of myself for being sociable on Friday. My first networking revelation made me realize that networking truly is important, and this one made me realize that hey, I can do this. I will not claim to be an all-star networker, but I'm working on it. GSLIS has provided the classroom and practical experience that have given me the confidence to be a better networker. When I started the program I had no library experience, so I felt not necessarily intimidated, but definitely out of place, when talking about library-related stuff. Boy have I come a long way since then.

Networking begins with shared experiences, and Friday was the first time that I felt that I had enough special library experience to banter with the other attendees. Bantering is absolutely not one of my strengths, which is why this seemingly insignificant lunch conversation was revolutionary for me. Perhaps someday I will come to fully embrace the idea of networking, but until that happens I will continue aspiring toward all-star networking status.

Conferences | People | leave a comment


Tastes of Fenway

IMG_20130918_124055_1_20130930001959135.jpgSo for those of you who don't know, besides being a bibliophile, I am also a foodie. As a person obsessed with all things food, I always love a chance to try a new restaurant, type of cuisine, or entrée. However, since I commute from Brighton, I don't usually get a chance to explore the neighborhoods surrounding Simmons. This is a rather unfortunate fact since just outside of campus, is a slew of eateries that every Simmons student or faculty member should check out. The one I'm featuring here today, Neighborhood Coffee and Crepes, is a place perfect for anyone who likes a good cup of coffee (or latte), mouthwateringly delicious crepes, and chill atmosphere excellent for reading a book or doing some casual studying.

Located just seven minutes from campus, this little gem is tucked away amongst a number of other eateries. Since this was my first dining experience in the Fenway, I decided to pull out all the stops. Although Neighborhoods offers a number of yummy looking baked goods, I decided to go with the café's specialty; crepes. With a choice between savory or sweet, I had to put some careful thought into my selection, finally opting to go sweet. My final decision? The Tudor, which features thinly sliced apples (or bananas, or both if you ask), and creamy peanut butter. All of this sweet goodness is wrapped in a fresh crepe and drizzled with honey and cinnamon. As for my drink, I opted for a flavored latte, since I'm not much of a coffee person. Although I cannot recall the various flavor choices they had, I can tell you that the gingerbread latte I received tasted just like the winter holidays. For about $12, I can honestly say that this was a meal worth having.  While this place has been the only eatery I've had the pleasure to experience in the Fenway area, I cannot wait to try others. The bar has been raised and I can sense that I won't be disappointed.

So if you ever have some time to kill between classes or need a break from the joys of studying, take a stroll over to the Neighborhoods and try a crepe. Your taste buds will be glad you did.

Neighborhoods Coffee and Crepes is located on 96 Peterborough St
(between Kilmarnock St & Jersey St). You can their menu online: http://neighborhoodscafe.com/

Boston | leave a comment


Banned Book Week

censorship.pngThis year the American Library Association (ALA) has deemed the week of September 22-28 to be Banned Books Week. According to the ALA website:

"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community -- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types -- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship." (Get more info at: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek)

The lofty goals of this movement are very noble. Censorship is a huge issue that needs to be discussed more openly and this week brings a lot of awareness.  That said, in my opinion, talking about banned books can quickly become very dramatic. The concept of Banned Books Week seems somewhat outdated. Although books are challenged in isolated incidents on a regular basis, the reality of our society is that it is very hard for a title to actually be banned.

My doubts aside, I decided to put up a display at my library to highlight titles that have historically been challenged or banned. Using bright yellow paper I made signs that say "Banned," "Censored," "Challenged," and "Forbidden" and put them in front of books have have ever faced resistance. My goal in selecting titles was to shock patrons by choosing books they might not know had ever been considered controversial. This wound up being much more successful than if I had taken another route and purposely chosen scandalous titles to highlight.  My goal was to make a point about classics being challenged, not to highlight more controversial books.

challenges.pngThe display was much more successful than I had anticipated and actually provoked conversations with patrons! Many people were shocked at some of the titles on display. We discussed how our views have changed over time and the importance of access to books and information, I felt like an important dialogue was started. I'm very pleased that the simple book display went better than expected, bright yellow paper goes a long way!

A coworker and I discussed the possibility of the library hosting a forum or discussion about intellectual freedom and censorship after seeing how interested patrons were in discussing the display. I'm not sure if or when that will happen, but I love that part of my job involves engaging the public to think about censorship.

Libraries | leave a comment


I might sound like your mother, but...

volunteer.png

I am old enough to be your mother, so it's okay.

I know you are so busy that the thought of giving your time away might seem near impossible.  Like many of you, I have a job, a home, a family, and of course, school. We are all in different stages of our lives, and so some of us have a cat, others a spouse.  Many of us have kids - ranging from the tiny squirming variety to adult children, and everything in between.  We rent apartments, live with our parents and own homes.  We commute minutes and hours, and we are so tired and busy.  I know what you are thinking. "I don't have time to volunteer."

I got my first library job in recent years by volunteering at the library first, and then working my way up as positions became available. I volunteered in a prison library and found my passion to be a correctional librarian.  But I am revisiting this topic (I have mentioned it in previous blogs...) because Tuesday night, I ran into a young man who had, several months ago, asked me about library school.  He is 24, about the same age as many of you, and he had worked a little in his college library, was living at home with his parents, and struggling with what to do.  My advice to him was "Try out some libraries by volunteering in them.  It makes for good resume lines and it gives you a risk-free opportunity to see what you like.  And it might even land you a great job."

So, he did.  First, he volunteered with me at the public library.  Then he moved on to the archive of a local college.  He really liked the college, he told me, and so when a very part-time (4 hours a week!) position came open, he applied and got the job.  They knew him, liked his work, and he knew he wanted to work there.  A short time later, a sudden staff departure opened up a night circulation position for 20 hours a week, and he got that job.  Now he is getting great experience and saving for library school. Win, win.

So, even if you don't listen to your own mother, consider listening to this mother. Try a library on for size and find your passion.

Archives | Libraries | People | leave a comment


Let's Talk About the Cloud

The cloud: depending on who you're talking to, it's

  1. a magical place where dreams are born and an infinite amount of data is stored forever;
  2. an invitation for hackers to steal your identity, your money, your husband, and your cat;
  3. something mysterious that your boss keeps talking about but that you never really understood; or,
  4. those puffy white things in the sky that people started recently referring to in the singular (isn't it cloudS?). 

The cloud has somewhat recently made the foray into the "personal" market.  One of the first that got me personally hooked was Dropbox - they were giving away free space if you signed up with an email account.  (Throughout the years and various promotions we have somehow accrued about 80 Gigabytes of storage for free...Dropbox is awesome.)  On Dropbox, I can access all of the files I upload on virtually any computer in the world once I enter in my dropbox information and install the software (which is the best price - free - by the way). 

After the cloud foray via Dropbox, other companies with pre-existing products started making cloud storage available.  Apple introduced their iCloud, which is a syncing cloud storage for all of the information on your iTunes (including songs, apps, and more).  Amazon followed, making purchases of digital media stream-able via the cloud.  Now, it's hard to find a large software company that doesn't make use of the cloud - and businesses are definitely taking that into account. 

Some research that I did for a job recently concluded that while certain types of media - mylar sleeves, for example - can end up preserving data for a long while, their lifespan is dependent (at best) on circumstance.  The cloud, according to my sources, was the one storage method almost virtually untouched by things like humidity (except for the server storage, and frankly, as a user, that's just not your problem).  Generally, the cloud has a very low rate of going offline due to multiple-site servers - for example, if another hurricane knocks out New York, the servers in San Diego will still be up-and-running. 

One big concern with cloud storage is the access to personal information.  There is a fear that just because the information isn't kept under a physical lock-and-key, it is less safe than the paper records we are all so familiar with.  However, it doesn't matter; your information is likely stored on the internet somewhere if you have been "on the grid" for more than five minutes.  Hospitals, banks, and online stores - like Amazon - all use the internet to access and store personal information.  Has your identity been stolen yet?  I didn't think so.  (Well, actually, mine has, but that was because I used a credit card at an incredibly sketchy Chinese restaurant downtown, but that's another story.  But see?!  My identity has been stolen more times via analog than digitally!)

Overall - cloud storage is just convenient.  It's convenient for me to use for storing almost every kind of document I could imagine.  It's convenient for me to need to haul around a giant hard drive to access my files.  And, it's convenient that I don't need to pay an ungodly sum to store my own documents.  Overall, kids: give clouds a chance.  And if you don't like this particular cloud, well... you still have your analog clouds to fall back on.  

Technology | leave a comment


Chillin' with my Professors

Friday afternoon I spent thirty minutes with a professor, then went to the office next door and met with another professor. This was the second of my five planned trips to campus this semester, and was a nice change from my mostly virtual class schedule. First I chewed the fat with my de facto advisor, then had a one-on-one introductory meeting with the professor for my online course. The meeting was far from introductory, however, as last fall I had a face-to-face class with that same professor. Our meeting ended up being more of a "how are things going?" rather than "hi, nice to meet you" encounter. I was with professors, who are officially my superiors, but it almost felt like hanging out with friends.

Don't worry, I have no plans to start ditching my friends to spend time with professors, but it was great to spend a bit of time with professors outside of class. It's easy to get lost in a whirlwind of classes and homework and forget that professors are people, not machines programmed to disseminate information and give grades. I have found that it is important to have a relationship with professors, and not in the goody two-shoes, teacher's pet sort of way. As much as I have learned from professors in class, I have also received advice and guidance from them outside of class.

Despite all the discussions, group projects, and online forums that are part of each and every class, I have occasionally felt that I am going through GSLIS alone. But when it comes down to it, professors want the best for every student and are there for support. I have been in professors' offices to ask questions about assignments, talk about internships, seek curriculum and career advice, and just to chat. I would not recommend trying to become besties with all of your professors, but fostering a relationship with one or two is truly invaluable. Don't forget that relationships take work, although it might prove to be some of the most worthwhile work you do at GSLIS.

GSLIS | leave a comment


#GSLISchat

Hello readers! 

It's that time again - Simmons GSLIS Live Q&A with Katie - an Admission Rep and current student in the Dual Archives/Hist program! If you have any questions about the application process, life as a student, types of careers, etc., then you can tweet them all to #GSLISchat from 4:30-5:30 EST today! It's probably time to start thinking about applications for Summer and Fall 2014, and it may be possible for you to still apply for Spring 2014. I'll help you out to the best of my ability, so don't hesitate to ask! You can follow the hashtag #GSLISchat to get all the information you need. Also, you can join the conversation on Twubs, which is an application which makes it easier to see all the tweets in the discussion - it will also add the hashtag for you: http://twubs.com/GSLISchat

If you aren't a fan of Twitter or don't feel comfortable using it to ask your questions, you can always email me at gslisadm@simmons.edu, message me on Facebook or LinkedIn, leave a comment on this blog, or call me at 617-521-2868. 

I hope to hear from you soon!

Katie

#GSLISchat | leave a comment


The T and Me

I'm sure that this has happened to everyone at least once.

Picture this: It's a school day and you have class at 9am. It's 8:15am, and you have just rushed out of your apartment, running as fast as you possibly can to the T with high hopes that it will be pulling in just as you arrive. Instead though, the T is just leaving, the passengers all turning to watch you as the train leaves you behind in its dust. Now its 8:30am and the next train has finally pulled in. Hallelujah! But with only 30 minutes left and a number of T stops to go AND a lengthy walk separating you from the T stop and your classroom, the question remains: will you make it to class on time?

Well when the above scenario happened to me, I ended up making it to class with ten minutes to spare. Yes, I was out of breath and somewhat half crazed from worry, but I had made it to class on time. As I boarded the T back home later that morning, I had decided that from then on, I should always try to leave my apartment at least an hour before class, just to play it safe.

Although I know that not everyone relies on the T to get to school, those of us that do have probably developed a love/hate relationship with the thing. On one hand, this beauty of public transportation provides access to places all over Boston, making our commute just a wee bit easier. On the other, its not something you can ever fully rely on. Sure the Red Line has those nifty signs that let us know how soon until the next train arrives but that's a luxury only Red Line commuters have. The moment you cross colors into another T section, like the Green Line, you are at the subway's mercy. Given the unpredictability of the T, how do we all manage to live with it? Easy, with compromises. For example, as mentioned above, I have since made it a tradition to leave my apartment at least an hour before class. I do this for two reasons. 1). I know better than to take the T for granted and that it's always better to be early then late and 2). I'm giving myself just enough time to get in line for my morning mocha or latte.  If my timing it right, I usually end up getting to Simmons with at least thirty minutes to spare. Although I could foreseeably sleep in a bit longer, I've made the conscious decision to leave obnoxiously early for school because I know that within the unnecessary forty extra minutes that I have given myself, the T will come and I will definitely get to class on time.  Not only do I get to school with plenty of time to kill, but I usually have first choice of where I want to sit in class and I come off to be a far more responsible student then I truly am (just kidding).

Sometimes we have to give a little to get a lot.

Boston | leave a comment


Getting Involved

It's September and all around us we are inundated with announcements. Don't forget, tomorrow on the quad, the annual picnic to save the squirrels! Save the date for next Friday's twister mixer! And then there are the events that you really do want to attend.

 All GSLIS students automatically receive LISSA updates, and orientation is a swathe of sign-up sheets that put us on a million list-servs that remind us that there are learning opportunities for GSLIS students and librarians all the time. Weeding out the good events from the bad, rather the ones you're interested in versus the ones you could not care less about, is a chore. It takes time to slug through the many, many emails you receive in your school inbox, your work inbox, and your personal inbox. Pretty soon, you're ready to call the whole thing quits and give up on professional development altogether.

I wouldn't say that I have the whole thing figured out, but I do know that I need to participate in the dialogue that's happening outside the confines of my classroom on Palace Road. Maybe you don't want to hear from ALA every week, but find time in your week to scan the scene for events for library-oriented people such as yourself. You won't regret it once you're there.  So here are a few ways I try to put myself out there. If you are not of the children's librarianship persuasion these might not apply to you, but that certainly does not mean there aren't events happening that pertain to your interest. You just have to look, listen up in class, or ask around.

Kidlit Night:

My colleague from work started an informal gathering of librarians, who work with children and young adults, as well as local YA authors and publishing people about a year ago. They get together once every other month in Cambridge and talk about the latest books on the market, what kids are reading, and other fun stuff. To get the updates about the latest meeting times and locations follow them on twitter or facebook:

https://twitter.com/KidlitNight

https://www.facebook.com/groups/kidlitdrinknightboston/

Children's Books Boston

Some of the best events I've been to in the Greater Boston area have been author events at book stores or public libraries. Horn Book just created a comprehensive calendar of author events and the like in the children's and YA category. Great fun, if you like to hear an author read their book.

http://www.hbook.com/calendar/

InfoLink:

I also recommend InfoLink, the GSLIS newsletter. This is just to find out what's going on at Simmons and who's doing cool new things. We have so many resources right here. Why not take advantage of these fabulously intelligent professors while we can!

http://simmons.edu/gslis/for/current/news/blog/infolink/september-2013-1/

Events | GSLIS | leave a comment


My iPad is Mad at Me, and Other Fun Technical Things

Last week my iPad and I got into a fight. I'm not sure what I did to upset it but it refused to cooperate. This led to a long (but thankfully free) visit to the Apple store. As it turned out, there was a software issue that wasn't my fault at all, and the Apple Genius even told me he could tell I take great care of my iPad. I was less excited to learn that I have been using the "iCloud" storage function entirely wrong. I added insult to injury when I mentioned I should know better seeing as I'm working towards a degree in Information Science! The Apple Genius laughed and kindly taught me how to use the storage function more efficiently in the future. Although it's never fun admitting that you don't know something I'm glad to have had the whole system explained to me, not only for my own selfish reasons but also so I can explain it to other people who have difficulties.

Despite having some technical mishaps in my personal life, helping patrons with their technical troubles at the public library has proved easier than I expected. Often all a patron needs is another set of eyes or someone to help them remain calm as they navigate unfamiliar websites or use a new program (such as excel) for the first time. I find it easy to relate to patrons' struggles because I tend to have similar frustrations.

I may still not be where I'd like to be with my techie skills (the Apple store won't be hiring me to work as a Genius anytime soon) but I'm miles ahead of where I was last semester. Two of my classes will be having an online class one week this semester and I'm looking forward to the virtual classroom experience. I'm considering taking an online or blended course next semester and this should be a great introduction. Taking a course entirely online still feels a bit daunting since I'm pretty old school but I'm determined to keep an open mind. As always, I'll be sure to report back!

Technology | leave a comment


Five Things I Have Learned Joining GSLIS

Before I packed up the family car with dad to drive up to Boston for school, my mom decided to impart some advice for me to mull over during the course of my four and half hour long car ride. She said "Keep your mind open, everyday you are going to be learning something new, in and out of school." I've got to give my mom a hand; she doesn't normally offer such thought-provoking advice. However, since I was unable to go back home to Long Island for the Jewish high holidays, I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately, especially what she said to me two weeks ago. So, for my first official blog post for GSLIS, I've created a list of the top five things that I have learned since becoming a member of GSLIS.

*The following is in no particular order and can probably apply to the experiences of students outside of the GSLIS program*

Moodle is your best friend: Although this seems like an obvious one, Moodle is a resource that should not be taken for granted. Not only is this the website where we have to upload our assignments, but course readings, syllabi, power point presentations, and other resources and be found there as well.  Basically, everything you need to succeed at school can be found, to a degree, on Moodle. If you haven't done so already, take a few minutes and explore your Moodle page; who knows what academic goodies you might find.

Love the library; they are there for you. Seriously: For those of you who have had the pleasure to meet Linda Watkins, I think we all can agree that she perfectly encapsulates all the amazing things a library can do when administered by a dedicated staff. While I am sure all students who are part of GSLIS already respect and appreciate the library as an institution of knowledge, I implore you, take advantage of the Beatley Library and its devoted staff. They aren't just there to check out our books.

Bring a sweater if you have class in the Palace Road Building.  You are going to need it: While it has been very nice to sit in a cool room during these obnoxiously hot days we've been having lately, let's just be honest here, those rooms are COLD. Be smart, bring a sweater with you to class, especially if you are like me and get cold very easily. Trust me, having that sweater will really make the difference.

Your GSLIS classmates are the friendliest classmates you probably have ever had: Perhaps this is just a GSLIS thing, but every student in the program is super friendly. Be it in the classroom or on Moodle, there always seems to be an interesting conversation going on, and everyone is invited to join in. It seems that even though we have all come to GSLIS for different reasons, deep down, we all have shared connections one way or another, be it in TV shows, movies and books, hobbies, academic pursuits, or that we simply share the same commuter route. And no, I am not just saying this to promote the program; this is a legit fact and it makes this experience all the more awesome!

The professors are fantastic. Nuff said: Just like the staff members over at Beatley Library, the faculty members in GSLIS are not just here to lecture for three hours; they are here for US. Personally, having an approachable professor is one of those things that is an absolute must for me, How am I supposed to succeed if the professor won't take time to listen and answer my questions? From what I have experienced so far, I can honestly say that that won't be a problem here. Trust me, you can never go wrong when an enthusiastic professor can manage to keep your attention for three hours despite it being 9am.

So that's my list. If you think that there is something that I missed, leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear other students' (and not just the new ones) stories about their experiences with GSLIS. 

Classes | GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Teaching in the Library

teacher2.0.png

I want to talk about librarians as teachers, and I don't mean librarians in schools.  I mean librarians everywhere.

I have encountered many academic librarians who talk about teachable moments at the reference desk.  I have had many teachable moments in the public library, too, and in the prison library.  Teachable moments come in different varieties, just like patrons.  Some of my recent "students" include: 

  • An older gentleman who reminisces about the old card catalog and hasn't a clue how to search and find on the OPAC.
  • A ten year old girl who wants to know if we have more books "like this," as she holds up her latest read.
  • A teenage boy who is watching Under the Dome on TV and wants to know if we have King's novel on CD...and while he is here, what other Stephen King books do we have?
  • An inmate who wants the next book in a Science fiction series.
  • A middle-aged woman who has gone back to school and wants to learn how to use our databases.
  • A homeschooling mom who needs some guidance on choosing appropriate history curriculum materials.
  • A new colleague who needs to learn how to navigate our website from the administrator side.
  • A retired professor who needs to know if I can get an obscure title on inter-library loan.

All these requests were teachable moments, times when instruction in information literacy had the power to connect a reader with his book at that moment but also in the future.  Taking the time to give instruction, not just answers, is the greatest gift we give our patrons.  Even if you don't plan to work in a school or an academic library, you may find yourself doing instruction at the point of need or creating web tutorials or suddenly giving eReader classes.  I can't say enough about the benefits of the User Instruction class I took over the summer.  I thought I knew how to teach my patrons, but now, using what I learned, I can feel the energy as my patrons become empowered.  Excitement in the library!  Who knew?

Libraries | People | leave a comment


Making the Most of Autumn

I am originally from the Midwest and moved out to Boston for the graduate opportunities out here.  One of the best things about Boston is that there is so much to do, and with autumn rolling around I can't think of a better time to explore some history the Boston area has to offer!  These recommendations aren't the "traditional" places to visit, and are often overlooked.  For us Bostonians, however, they provide a wonderful opportunity to explore without tourists!

Walden Pond

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden_Pond

Long known for the place where Ralph Waldo Emerson owned land that Henry David Thoreau lived on for two years while writing Walden, Walden Pond is separately a beautiful location that is only made more breathtaking by the changing of the trees.  If you're interested in the movement of transcendentalism, or even just want a peaceful place to ponder your navel, Walden Pond is a great place for you.  The downside is that it's difficult to get to if you don't have a car - it's in Concord, Mass - but if you do, it's worth a visit for sure. 

And in that vein, the Concord Museum and the house of Ralph Waldo Emerson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concord_Museum

Includes the "one if by land, two if by sea" lantern, Ralph Waldo Emerson's study including his desk and chair, and the world's largest collection of Thoreau possessions.  For students, it's a steal with an admission price of $8. 

USS Constitution

http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/index.html

A good friend of mine had her archives internship here and couldn't speak highly enough of it.  In addition to being historic and exquisitely preserved, there is an amazing archives/museum that speaks not only to the ship, but to the entire time period as well.  And - it's free!

McGreevy's - America's First Sports Bar

http://www.mcgreevysboston.com/

If you're interested in going somewhere historic but don't want to get bogged down in a metaphysical crisis, consider going to McGreevy's, America's first sports bar!  Established in 1894, the bar has undergone name and menu changes, but has overall remained the same.  You can bask in the history of the Red Sox and down a pint of beer as you watch the game and consider the 110-year-old history of the establishment.  Cheers!

 I will be looking to make a Part II of this list after I explore more around the city and the surrounding areas.  Even if you don't get to go to these places in particular, make sure you make the most of autumn - in my opinion it's the most beautiful season.  So have a pumpkin spice latte for me and enjoy the leaves changing! 

Boston | leave a comment


You Could Technically Be A Better Librarian Than Me

The GSLIS curriculum offers four specialized programs: Archives, Dual Degree Archives/History, Dual Degree LIS/Children's Literature, and School Library Teacher. If none of those "tracks" suit your fancy, then you are considered a generalist and essentially create your own track. Given the sheer number of course offerings, you can cater your classes to get down and dirty with a particular topic of interest.

Given my interest in corporate/special libraries, technology is one aspect of the GSLIS curriculum that I essentially neglected. I took the one required tech class during my first semester, and that was it. GSLIS offers fourteen technology courses, which is more than enough to fill the eight electives that you need to graduate. Technically you could earn a GSLIS degree having only taken three library-specific courses, which would technically make you a better librarian than me. And I'm ok with that.

There are all kinds of IT, systems, information architecture, web development, and other technology-oriented jobs out there, and I've heard that they generally pay quite well. Some of those jobs are in libraries, more probably aren't; but either way, a GSLIS degree with relevant technology coursework and experience would make you a qualified applicant. I have no regrets about my own technologically barren GSLIS track, but it is strange to think that I missed out on a bulk of the "information science" aspect of this "library and information science" degree. So take it from me: when considering GSLIS, it doesn't matter whether you are a luddite or technology enthusiast - you will ultimately find your techy niche somewhere among Simmons' array of technology courses.

Classes | Technology | leave a comment


Autumn in Boston

autumn_in_boston_iv_by_edgard82-d4ghs5y.jpgWhy does cold weather feel collegiate? Walking into school yesterday was preposterous. It's September. There's a reason people fall for the "Back to School" sales at the mall. Autumnal wind, the smell of crisp leaves and the feel of a brand new notebook beneath my fingers is infectious. Don't you just want to sharpen some pencils?

I've gotten into the habit of arriving at my classes 15 minutes early, mainly because I like to people watch. I like to observe my new GSLIS cohorts lay out their new pens, write their name on the top left hand corner of their new composition notebook, and stack their textbooks underneath their chair. There's something comforting about getting it just right on the first day even though, full disclosure, you don't need any of these things for your first class. You need to come with an open mind and the capacity to listen to others.

And yet, is there anything more refreshing than walking to class with the crisp morning air brushing your cheek, know that your backpack is laden with everything you might possibly need and more? No there isn't, with the exception of when the humidity is nearing 100% and the temperature induces your legs to sweat.  Ridiculous hot weather aside, it is my personal belief that New England in the fall is a big reason people come to school here. Sure, Simmons has one of the best Library information Science programs in the country, but I think a big factor is this crisp cool weather accompanied by the breathtaking myriad of colorful leaves.

The message, the underlying theme in this shameless plug for Boston is enjoy this time in your semester, it's inspiring.

Boston | leave a comment


Back to the Grind

One week of commuting down and three months to go... Does that sound pessimistic? I really don't mean it to. On the contrary, my week of commuting went better than expected! I used both two hour bus rides to catch up on my leisure reading and had three full days in Boston for classes, schoolwork and catching up on errands (including lunch and a shopping trip to the Copley Plaza with my aunt).

After a full semester in the spring and my trip to Rome over the summer, GSLIS is finally starting to feel like home. I already know at least one student in each of my classes and a couple of my professors as well. As I mentioned in my last post, I have signed up for four courses with the intention of dropping one and this decision is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. I had hoped after the first week of classes I would have a clear idea of which course I should drop. That was not the case, I absolutely loved all four courses and cannot decide.  It's a tribute to the strength of the GSLIS curriculum that I am so torn between my courses. (That said, I wish I had a crystal ball to see if one of these classes is being offered again in the spring.)

I'm giving myself the weekend to weigh the pros and cons of Organization and Management of Public Libraries (LIS 450) and Business Information Sources and Services (LLIS 430) before I choose. One thing is clear, with a 25ish page final assignment in one course and a 20ish page final paper in the other, there is no way I could swing taking all four classes, an idea I had toyed with briefly. Both my core courses, Evaluation of Information Services (LIS 403) and Principles of Management (LIS 404) are off to great starts and will complement my third course, whichever one that ends up being.

In the meantime, I'm back at the reference desk for week two of my fabulous new job. Have a nice weekend everyone!

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Last Semester Blues

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I started the GSLIS program in January 2012, and with the completion of my three courses this semester, I will have finished my degree program.  Woohoo!  Well, mostly woohoo.

I think I have the last semester blues.  I know that sounds totally ridiculous.  I will be done with homework, done with long class commutes, done with tuition, and I will have my MLIS, which will hopefully be my ticket to the job of my dreams.  What in the world am I sad about?!

I think I am more afraid than anything. Will it be too easy not to learn new things?  Will I get tired, complacent and frumpy?  Will I turn into deadwood? Will I stay committed to knowing what I need to know to be the best librarian I can be?

I know these fears are unfounded.  I will never stop learning with so many opportunities for continuing education through Simmons and ALA, and other LIS universities like Syracuse (where I am taking a WISE course this semester). I even have my eye on a second Master's degree program.  I have to believe that if I continue to surround myself with inspiring colleagues, I will not get tired in a bad way.  Tired from hard work is fine, but not too tired for new ideas, and I hope never to tire of change.  Already, I have networked with other librarians in my state and fostered professional relationships so opportunities for connections and sharing of ideas and resources outside of grad school are well underway. So, why am I still worried?

My latest concerns remind me of my list of fears when I started the program.  Would I develop the technology skills I needed? Would I be able to balance work, school, and family, etc.? Those fears were unnecessary and symptomatic of a big step outside my comfort zone.  Every chapter of our lives brings new challenges.  My comfort zone is so much wider than it was just two years ago, which is just amazing to me, and yet, finishing my degree and moving on to the real world is another big step. 

I bought a new coffee mug to help me out. It reads, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." It is okay to be afraid of that next big step, so long as we take it anyway.

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Database Management

It feels so odd to be back in the swing of the graduate program.  The transition from working full-time to the calendar of a graduate student...well, let's just say there are pros and cons (pro: lots more time to refill prescriptions, go to the post office, make dinner, sleep... cons: well, a moth just flew out of my wallet.  Oh yeah...this is why I need a job).  I actually accidentally have been waking up at 5 am, which is odd because even when I was working I didn't wake up at 5 am.  I guess it's my brain's way of protesting at the schedule switches. 

But time presses forward, and what I really want to talk about are DATABASES.  Databases are awesome wonderful tools that almost everyone on the planet uses daily.  I was recently talking with a friend of mine, who complained that every job she has worked uses Excel spreadsheets, and why did everyone think they were so useful.  Honestly?  It's because they're primitive databases - data storage with lists of attributes and unique identifiers able to be sorted, counted, and broken down in an infinite number of ways.  And while that may not seem useful, like my friend mentioned it is used in practically every career and industry you can think of. 

Which leads me into my next point: database management.  I am taking database management this semester, and I am so excited.  One of my colleagues this past summer is a Simmons alum, and she mentioned that not only could she not speak highly enough of the class and its' professor, but it was chockfull of real-world applications in our industry.  While it's easy enough to get by without taking the class, she said that it gave her an advantage when using and building databases in an industry - understanding how databases operate on a code level gives an expansive knowledge of what is and is not possible, the time commitment it takes to build a database to specifics, and has the added bonus of making you look like you know what you're talking about to the technology department who will ultimately create these databases. 

I am talking a lot about my database management class, but truth be told I haven't even attended a class yet!  Can you tell I'm just a little excited?  I will continue to update posts about this class, as I learn and expand my knowledge about databases.  I hope you have all had a great start to the semester - and that you're as excited about your classes as I am about mine! 

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Career Over Curriculum

At the beginning of each semester I expect to briefly plunge into a state of anxiety because classes are starting. This semester, however, feels different to me for three reasons: 1) It is my last semester, 2) My current work schedule is staying exactly the same, and 3) I will be physically on campus only a few times all semester. Despite those changes, of late my requisite anxiety has been superseded by an odd state of calmness, bordering on indifference. As auspicious as that sounds, I am suspicious that this calmness is just a temporary placeholder for anxiety...but for now I can't complain.

I have two classes this semester; one fully online and one blended, which means that some class meetings are on campus and some are online. My biggest fear with such a heavy online schedule is forgetting to do the work - it seems all too easy to accidentally skip a class that I need not physically attend. I chose this more remote schedule mainly to give myself extra flexibility at work and with my job search, but also to try a new type of learning. Online classes may sound like a cop out, but they require their own form of self-regulation and time management. Plus, as webinars and other online learning opportunities become more and more ubiquitous, I think it will behoove me to have a basic grasp on virtual learning. GSLIS has a stellar Continuing Education Program with a number of online workshops, and I somehow feel that I might be more likely to sign up for those in the future if I have some understanding of how an online course works.

Or, who knows, maybe this grand online course experiment will be a total bust and leave me eternally shunning virtual classrooms. I really don't think that will happen, as long as I remember to "go to" class and do the assignments. Frankly, it's not online classes that have quelled my anxiety about this upcoming semester; rather, my usual class-related anxiety has transferred to a new concern - getting a job. I have no plans to slack off in my classes, but in my old GSLIS age (30 credits) I have prioritized career over curriculum. With any luck, my next spell of anxiety will be about starting a new job rather than forgetting to do online assignments.

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The Library Lady

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All stereotypes come from somewhere. This, we all know to be true. How many of us, though, work with all of our might to confound the stereotype when it comes to being a librarian? I believe that many of us do. We despise the stereotype that all librarians are surly wenches with their hair wound so tight it seems as if it never gets let down. We counter that librarians are a force for positive change in this world of information overload, not the gatekeepers of dusty, musty books. Then I ask you why, why oh why does every librarian I know own a cat?! Now, before I am pegged as the cat-hater in GSLIS let me first just say that I myself just got a kitty at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Her name is Eva. She jumps on my face. She naps on my tummy and her arch nemesis is a ball of tin foil I rolled off the counter a few nights ago. I am quite the opposite of the naysayer. In fact, I'm loving this particular stereotype. But the question I posed earlier is still festering: Why are we, as a profession, drawn to cats? Why do cats go so well with books and moreover, technology? Every time I turn a page I know Eva is ready to pounce. My ipad is a source of constant fascination for her. And don't even get me started on how she began pulling books off the shelf last night (she picks out King Lear, A Raisin in the Sun, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). I'm bumfuzzled! I bring this question up mainly because it's something to ponder as we go through our time here at GSLIS. What about the stereotype of our profession is just plain wrong, and what is just plain FABULOUS! Nothing is ever black and white, and I'm sure one day I will find a librarian without a cat. But until that day arrives just think about it: How will you confound expectations? How will you deliver way more than is expected of you by a patron? How will you embrace some of that stereotype and just dance like a kitty cat!

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