October 2013 Archives

Get WISE

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There has been a lot of blog talk lately about online classes.  I have taken all three types of classes in my two years here at GSLIS - face-to-face, blended and online. My personal favorite is face-to-face although with a long commute, blended and online can be more convenient.  I love the face-to-face interaction of my traditional classes, but a well-done online or blended class can be just as involved and highly interactive. (See my posts on Saving Kingston and my alternate reality class!)  Any kind of long-distance learning requires one to tap into a different skillset and requires good time management and self-motivation.

As all styles of learning have their benefits, which vary from individual to individual, I am a big fan of trying them all.  I have taken classes on both the Boston and West (South Hadley) campuses, in-person and online.  This semester (my last!), I have added the final GSLIS choice and am taking a class online through the WISE program at Syracuse University. WISE stands for Web-based Information Science Education. It is a cooperative consortium of ALA-accredited Library school programs that opens up even more opportunities for GSLIS students.

There are just too many classes I want to take, many more than my degree requirement. (Thank goodness for post-grad continuing education!) With so many choices here at GSLIS, why look further? I have specific goals I have set for myself to feel prepared for the real world.  WISE is a way for LIS schools to expand their course offerings and share their expertise.  I am taking Library Budgeting, Fundraising and Grant Writing at Syracuse.  The topic is one I covered within my Management class, but this semester-long course allows me to dig deeper, explore further, in a subject that I think will be important for my career.  I am really enjoying the WISE experience, and the interaction with faculty and students in another part of the country has been a great way to round out my education.

Classes | Online | leave a comment


Not a Group Work Groupie

Given my mostly virtual schedule this semester, I figured that group projects would be out of the question. How could I possibly work with a group when nearly all of my classes meet online? I didn't choose online classes to avoid group work, but as someone who tends to work best alone, I was looking forward to doing solo assignments and projects. Plus, haven't I already met my GSLIS group project quota?

No and no.

As it turns out, only three of my twelve GSLIS classes did not involve some sort of group assignment or project. (Two of those were reference courses, which makes sense, as reference is usually not a communal endeavor.) I am struggling to think of a job that does not involve working with other people, and have come to appreciate that this focus on group work is a necessary preparation for the real world. Group work can be easier, harder, more stressful, less stressful, more effective, or less effective than working alone. I have experienced each of those sentiments in the midst of a single group project - there are just so many factors involved in working with other people, many of which are out of any one individual's control.

Control is the main reason that I prefer working alone - I can do my own thing, my own way, at my own pace. I am clearly not a group work groupie, but completing assignments with my classmates has taught me a lot about group dynamics and how to work directly, and often intensely, with anywhere from one to four other people. Additionally, a lot of that work has been over email or in GoogleDocs, which was a new experience for me. Virtual collaboration can be easier, harder, more stressful, less...ok, you get it. No matter the medium, group work will never be my favorite thing, but GSLIS has helped me realize that I am capable of doing it, even if I don't love it.

Classes | leave a comment


Daily Musings: Twelve Years a Slave

As a big fan of historical dramas, be it a novel, a play or a film, when I first heard about the film 12 Years a Slave, I knew it would be a film worth seeing. Well, I just got out of the theater and I have to say, I made the right choice. Set during the mid 1800s, the film depicts the experiences of a kidnapped free black man, Solomon Northup, and his struggle to both survive and return to his family. Based off the book with the same name, the story perfectly captures the attitudes that were prevalent towards slavery during this point in American history.

I won't give away any details other than the fact that director, Steve McQueen, did an excellent job with casting for the film.  Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, and Benedict Cumberbatch are all outstanding in their respective roles. You feel differently for each of the characters that these actors represent, emotions ranging from pure sympathy to absolute disgust. I haven't had the chance to read the source material, so I cannot really compare the two entities together, although I can only imagine that the film did its best to remain faithful to the book. I will confess, that the fledgling archivist in me is a bit curious to know the other sources that they used when creating the film. Call this nerdy wishful thinking, but when they release the film on DVD or BluRay, I hope there is a making of documentary that discuses this process.  I think it would just be so cool to hear how they were able to recreate the lives of both Solomon and the people he interacted with over the course of his time as a slave.

As you can already imagine, I'm clearly going to tell you to see this movie. I will warn you now, there are a few graphic scenes of violence throughout the course of the film. For those of you who don't like scenes of torture, then this might not be the best film to see on the big screen. Yes they are relatively brief, but the emotions you feel as they occur will stay with you long after the scene has ended. Beyond that, this is still a fantastic film and definitely worth seeing if you are a fan of historical dramas.

Relaxing | leave a comment


I Dream of FRBR

frbrerd-1024x770.jpgHave you ever gotten down and dirty with the people who put the numbers on books at your library? You know, those call number people who keep to themselves and in the words of Ron Burgundy, "have many leather-bound books." I assumed with the aid of the World Wide Web, cataloging and classifying would be a cinch. Sadly, I was very wrong and those catalogers that sit in the back room of the library should be revered as Gods who walk among mere mortals. The organization of the data associated with things like books, DVDs, periodicals, and all the other fabulous stuff we house in our hallowed halls can take many forms. And get this: the experts in our field cannot agree on the best way to do it!

It is said that the best kind of classes are the ones that make you question many things. All I'm questioning is why organization has to be so difficult. I could talk to you about Dublin Core (not from Ireland, but Ohio), MARC, AACR2, RDA, and the guiding principle that will lead us all to the dark side of the force, FRBR. But that would make me sound like an idiot and not worthy to sit in my Organization of Information class. I think the question that I contemplate, more often than not, when I browse the various Moodle posts and listen to lectures is why there isn't one definitive right answer to our organizational needs? This is indeed a naïve question, but I consider my colleagues in the LIS field to be some of the smartest I know. I mean, aren't we supposed to be professional learners? We should be experts at assessing our needs as an information community and meeting those needs with an organizational scheme. But I'm thinking of the differences between a work and an expression and I get lost. I'm wandering in this sea of organizational uncertainty. If the classes that are the best are the ones that push you to question then I must be taking the most thought-provoking class of all time as I am now so prone to wonderings of this nature. There's a plug for LIS 415 if I ever heard one, and I never thought it would come from me. 

Classes | leave a comment


Notes from the Field #1

It's now six weeks into the school year here in Massachusetts, and I am happy to say that I love my job. It's wonderful. The community is supportive and values the library, my colleagues are welcoming and helpful, and I'm so lucky to have ended up in such a lovely place.  I'm at an especially interesting vantage point, because many of the people who were in the GSLIS program with me when I began have now entered their second and third years of teaching, and they all seem to be thriving: enjoying their jobs, contributing to their school communities, and generally being exemplars of the graduates of the Simmons GSLIS SLTP program. 

It's also six weeks into the start of the Instructional Technology Licensure program (ITL), the two-year, entirely web-based course for post-master's candidates pursuing additional licensure in instructional technology.  We've discussed learning styles, how to foster collaboration, and are now moving into our study of Web 2.0 technologies and their applications in education.  What I value about this course is that it encourages us to think critically about technology, to be adopters, but smart ones.  Our instructor, immediate past president of the American Association of School Librarians, Susan Ballard, is always willing to listen to feedback, respond to questions, and engage with us in the comment threads, which can get quite lengthy.  Apparently we have a lot to say! 

Balancing work and school is a tricky thing - I know many of my GSLIS colleagues did so throughout their time, but it's no easy feat, balancing a 7:30-4:00 job (those aren't my official hours, but that's what they work out to when all is said and done), having time for other pursuits in life and remembering to reply to comment threads, interact with and learn from my cohort, and do the assignments.  The online format has taken some getting used to, but I'm very grateful for the opportunity to further my education in a convenient manner.  If I had to juggle getting from the far suburbs to campus once or twice a week, I don't think my participation in this program would be possible. 

That's it from me for now, but I'll be posting again soon with another "dispatch from the field."

Post-Master's Programs | leave a comment


The Reference Desk

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My professor in Literature for the Humanities also happens to be a reference librarian at a large university.  He offered each of the students in my class an opportunity to shadow him for a day. I never pass up such great learning opportunities.

My "typical" day had varied experiences, including a Library Instruction class and a meeting with a new faculty member to discuss how the library could support his research and students, but my favorite part of the day was our shift on the reference desk.   It was an exceptionally busy day at the reference desk, with both walk-ups and email chat questions, and so my professor just looked at me and told me to go to it.  Huh? Me? I appreciated the vote of confidence so without a missing a beat, I jumped right in to be a reference librarian, alongside my professor.  Here I was in an unfamiliar library, suddenly helping a student with an obscure search related to the reproductive systems of pigs and cows.  Yep, former history major turned librarian was helping with pre-veterinary reference questions!  The amazing piece of this experience was how transferrable our librarian powers can be, from one discipline to another. (Okay, they aren't "powers" exactly but it felt that way at the time...) That afternoon, I delved into RefWorks, MLA citations, bovine uteri, sports-enhancing drugs, and Japanese literature. All these walk-up students were on last-minute deadlines, and they needed librarians to connect them with the right resources.  I quickly navigated my way around a university catalog I had never used before, and uttered silent prayers of thanks to the wonderful specialist librarians who had created useful LibGuides for these unfamiliar subjects.  The sweetest piece of the day was when our pre-vet student gave us both a hug - she was that grateful for our help!

Libraries | leave a comment


Online Classes : To Overthink or to Not Overthink, That is the Question

Despite the fact that I have been the Facilitator for the Archives Management Cohort Online for almost a year and a half now, I personally have never taken a class online.  I have taken face-to-face classes for almost 20 years, but had my first online class experience happened last Monday when my Management class was held online for Columbus Day. 

We had a fairly "traditional" online class, which required several hours sitting in front of the computer reading through articles, and then watching powerpoints, reading lectures, and participating in discussion activities - a fairly typical week in the life of an online class. 

I cannot speak for the other students, but I for one quite enjoyed the structure of the online class.  It was laid back and didn't require an hour's travel to and from school (if you live around the Boston area, you're familiar with the "reliability" of the green line...), but it was difficult to motivate myself.  While we normally have classes on Monday afternoons, I found myself starting the readings on Monday evenings, and eventually posting my discussion on the Saturday after we would have normally had class - almost a week late! 

In addition to the structure, it was really cool to read everyone's opinions.  I for one am much more comfortable with reading opinions and responding to them - to make sure I say precisely what I mean to say - and is significantly easier than speaking in class.  It was also very interesting to read everyone's opinions. 

Emily Boyd, a fellow blogger, and I were talking about the structure of the online class, and one downfall of the online class that we both felt was that it's difficult to convey meaning in an online format.  This is something I personally struggle with, especially in writing emails - my email may be concise and informative, but is it coming off as harsh and uncompromising?  If I make it too flowery by overemphasizing my respect for the other person's opinion, does my own response get lost?  I can imagine that this issue will become less of a problem in a more practiced and regularly-meeting online classes. 

Overall, I am interested in the concept of the online class, especially one that convenes regularly.  It's a refreshing change of pace from standard face-to-face classes, and one that I will definitely consider pursuing! 

Online | leave a comment


Mastering the Master Plan

It happened. I got a job. My master plan - starting my job search in September, taking one class online and one blended night class for maximum schedule flexibility, and continually using this forum to express my job-related anxieties in hopes that someone would sense my urgency and offer me a position - came together last Tuesday when I was offered a job offer doing prospect research at Boston University. I will not be in a traditional library setting, but this is the type of research-oriented, special library/information center position that I have been interested in since I took the Corporate Libraries course in May 2012.

I start on the 28th, so I will have about six weeks of overlap until my classes end in mid-December, but the scheduling could not have turned out much better. I gave two weeks notice at my internship and part-time job, which means that this and last week involve finishing up with those while simultaneously reveling in the glory of having mastered my master plan.

Thus far, my glorious revelry has been limited to telling friends, having a few celebratory drinks, and periodically patting myself on the back. As this continues to sink in, however, I need to start moving away from my state of celebration and toward one of preparation as I anticipate the beginning of my new career.

Jobs | leave a comment


Baking Fun!

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If you haven't noticed, we are already more than halfway through pumpkin month! It is kind of hard to believe that October is nearly over, meaning that I've already been a student at Simmons for two months. Time certainly flies when one is busy at work with their studies. But between learning about MARC, RDA, AACR2, and how to create a finding aid, one needs a little time to unwind. Well, considering that I love to bake and it is almost Halloween, I decided to take some time off between writing papers and MARC to try my hand at something new.

Whoopie pies are something that I have known about for a long time but have never had an opportunity to make. Well, this past week I decided to take a break and try something new. Well, the whoopies pies I ended up baking turned out to be not only phenomenal but super easy to make. So the next time you feel like taking a study break, give this recipe a try. The results are super worth it!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Recipe adapted from a recipe by The Baker Chick 

Ingredients for the cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the Filling
    • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and combine thoroughly Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly mix both mixtures until just combined.

With a small ice cream scoop, form a tablespoon of dough and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool and repeat with remaining dough

For the Filling With an electric mixture, beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and beat until smooth. If you want to a firmer filling, add more powdered sugar.

To assemble, either pipe or use a knife to spread the filling on the flat side of one of the cookies before topping it with another cookie. Press down slightly so the filling spread. Repeat until all cookies are completed. Refrigerate for about a half an hour before serving.

Relaxing | leave a comment


That Time Already?

It's hard to believe, but yes, this week I chose my courses for the spring semester! My new classes don't start for nearly three months but I'm sure that will go by in the blink of an eye. I did not sign up for any online courses but who knows if that will change in the coming months. While looking through past course evaluations to determine which professor might be the best for the dreaded and difficult LIS 415 Information Organization, aka Cataloging, I got some great advice from the all knowing Student Services Manager Richard Gates.

Prior to Wednesday I had never interacted with Richard other than reading his many emails providing students with crucial information about course registration and events on campus. He is such a wealth of knowledge and I gladly accepted his advice about potential courses and professors. Once again I was reminded how different my graduate school experience has been compared with my undergraduate. At Simmons it seems like there is always someone available to help, from advisors to professors to administrative staff. I really love the many different perspectives offered from a variety of sources and that it is so easy to find advice.

Speaking of advice, I still need to get more about online classes. I have mixed feelings about my first experience with the online course format this week and I find myself still debating the pros and cons of the format. As my schedule sorts itself out in the coming months an online class may become more appealing. For now I'm looking forward to (and a bit anxious about) my cataloging class and excited to delve more into technology in Database Management (LIS 458).  The technology course meets twice a week in one and a half hour blocks instead of the usual three hour class format, a brilliant idea for a technology course in my opinion.  Not having to wait a week between classes will allow me the time to reflect and ask questions as they are fresh in my mind. I'm hopeful that the divided class will make the brand new technology seem more approachable. 

Classes | leave a comment


Entry-level Expectancies

I spent some time with my brother on Sunday afternoon, and we were talking about school, jobs, life, and all that fun stuff. My brother just turned 22 and will graduate college in May. He must be living the life, right? One and a half more semesters of partying, hanging out with friends, partying, sleeping in, and partying. I can assure you that he has the partying part covered, but what is creeping closer and closer to the forefront of his mind is getting a job. Ugh...total buzz kill.

The good news is that my brother is way ahead of where I was at this point during my senior year of college. He acknowledged that he isn't sure what he wants to do, and said he's having a hard time finding "entry-level" positions. (My response: Do those even exist anymore?) Compare that to when I was 22 and about to graduate college: I was positive that I wanted to go into publishing, and getting a job would be no problem. I could not have been more naïve or wrong. Fortunately for him, his job-related reality check is hitting much sooner than mine did; fortunately for me, I learned my lesson and have had job applications on my mind since September.

It is far too easy to get caught up in the "woulda, coulda, shoulda" when it comes to school. My brother has not even graduated yet, but he already said that he would choose a different major if he had the opportunity to do it over again. For me, college was a time of self-exploration, while GSLIS has been all about professional growth. My GSLIS mindset is completely different than my college one, and thus far my personal and professional development reflect that. I feel like I will reemerge into the working world as an improved version of my bachelor's degree-holding self.

That said, don't apply to an advanced degree program in the library, or any other, field solely to look more desirable to employers. The fiscal and time requirements are too demanding to be squandered on something that you are not at least 95% sure about. (Note: This is not meant to suggest that I have everything all figured out, but I think I'm gradually getting there...maybe.) When it comes to your career aspirations, take advantage of reality checks and "aha!" moments when they occur, as those will encourage and motivate you to pursue your desired career path. I was oblivious to those moments in college, but am now quite aware of them as I once again seek an entry-level position (I'm hoping they still exist!), albeit this time with a master's degree.

Jobs | leave a comment


Course Registration Jitters

So it seems that it is already that time of the year again, that magical time when we the students are asked to pick our next round of classes for the following semester. During my undergrad years, course registration went something like this: at the end of October, the course list would be released and we would have about two or three weeks to figure out which courses we wanted to take. At Simmons, this process is a wee bit different. In the course of this upcoming week, not only will the official spring semester course list be released, but by Friday, I'll officially be registered for the spring semester. Talk about covering a lot of ground in just five days!

Although I, like my peers, do not know which courses will be offered this spring, I am thankful that I was able to sit down with my advisor to discuss registration. Fortunately, since I am still only in my first year, I still need to complete LIS 407. One class down, two to go. To make things more complicated, I recently submitted an application to the history department since I have decided that I wanted to be part of the dual degree program for archives and history. While my status is still up in the air, if I do manage to get accepted, I will need to take at least one history class next semester, preferably one of the core requirements. That just leaves me with one more class slot to fill. I have a few classes in mind though I won't share them here since I'd hate to jinx myself. However, in preparation for this week, let me leave you all with some sound advice:

If you don't get into the class you want, don't freak out. 

Classes | leave a comment


Better than Thanksgiving or Christmas...It's Registration Season!

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If you're like me and you're finding the Christmas fliers in your mailbox irritating, then I invite you to celebrate a new season: Registration! Yes, 'tis the season to be planning your future. What classes will you take, and with whom? Talking to friends and colleagues is a great way to get started but another option when checking out professors is look at their ratings. Ever wonder why we fill out those reviews in the tech lab at the end of every semester? It's so people like you can say, "Hey, I've heard that Storytelling (LIS 423) is a hoot and a holler. Why shouldn't I take that? It should be an easy A." If you read the evalutations though I'm sure it would say the opposite. Storytelling is an intense class involving a lot of research and performance.  I know this because I'm taking it, and I also reviewed the class in those handy binders outside the student lounge on the second floor of the Palace Road building before I took it. It is NOT an easy A. It is thrilling, nonetheless.

Another good thing to do is meet with your advisor and talk about your degree's requirements. Your professor can help you plan a calendar of what to take around when. I know my advisor told me that it would be good to not run through all of my core courses as they are always available. Good advice! Your advisor has a lot of nuggets of wisdom to share, and can probably also clue you in to what courses they LOVE to teach. Professors do have favorite courses to teach. Find out what they are and TAKE THEM!

This is an exciting time: time to research, time to think about the future, time to learn about cool new offerings.

Check out the calendar for Spring 2014 (will be updated on Tuesday): http://simmons.edu/gslis/for/current/courses/schedules/

Also check out descriptions of all the courses offered at GSLIS: http://simmons.edu/gslis/for/current/courses/descriptions/all.php

Make sure you check your registration time on AARC: "My Registration Start and End Time"

Classes | leave a comment


Long Weekend!

This semester started just over a month ago (although it feels like longer) and I've been going nonstop, this weekend it's time for a break. Three of my closest friends from college are coming up to Vermont to enjoy the long Columbus Day weekend and I cannot wait for them to arrive! On Sunday we will be running in Harpoon Brewery's Annual Oktoberfest Road Race and enjoying the festival afterwards. I am researching the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) for my Business Reference class so I can count sampling Harpoon beers as research, right?

In more library related news, both of my Monday classes will be online this week instead of meeting in person. This works well because it allows me an extra day off to enjoy time with friends and a great opportunity to experience an online class. Registration for the spring semester starts next week (hard to believe) and I'm hoping this week of online classes will help me choose which format will work best for my schedule next semester.

Finding balance between work/school and life is important and this weekend I can't wait to take a mental breather and enjoy time with friends. Have a nice weekend everyone!

| leave a comment


Okay Google Now...

I need to talk about Google.  Most librarians have a love/hate relationship with Google as it is such a useful tool, the ultimate federated search, but also often perceived to be the biggest threat to our job security.

With my last tuition payment this month (cheers all around!), I celebrated by finally joining the smartphone world.  I opted for a Motorola Droid phone as they have good antennas and I live in the boonies, and I expected to love being able to check email and have a really nice camera with me at all times.  I did not expect to fall in love with its excellent voice recognition software and my ability to ask Google whatever I wanted to know. 

I remember when a computer with far less processing ability than my little phone would literally fill a room, so I am enthralled with the power in this little device.  My favorite feature is "Okay Google, now..." which allows me to ask it anything. 

Gasp!  A librarian who is having an affair with Google.... We librarians need to get over ourselves and applaud any efforts that make information more accessible. We don't need to feel threatened as truth is, Google is a great FIRST step in gathering information, and it is awesome for ready reference questions like "Okay Google now...how long is the Golden Gate Bridge?"  We don't need a master's degree to answer that question now, nor did we in the age of print encyclopedias. The world does, however, need all our librarian skills to conduct useful searches on more in-depth topics, whether on freely available internet sources or through subscription databases or through WorldCat, the world's online catalog (which still gives me goose bumps when I think about it.).

I recently joined a faculty member on a busy reference shift at UMass, where students sought our help when their basic Google searches didn't quite give them what they needed. That's right, they came to us.

The daringlibrarian.com recently posted:

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Point taken.  I really don't think we have to worry.

Libraries | People | leave a comment


31-36 of 36

Well, here it is, folks: The last installment of my "What classes is Sarah taking this semester?" posts. I suppose it is bittersweet (for lack of a better cliché), although at this point it definitely feels more sweet than bitter. I think that I have taken about all I can from GSLIS, and am ready to start applying my newfound knowledge and skills to a full-time job. But enough about me, what about my last two classes?

Online - LIS 401; Foundations of Library and Information Science

This is a new core class, and all students are now required to take it in their first semester. So why am I taking it now, as one of my last classes? Well, it fits my schedule (my class is completely online, but there are also sections that meet exclusively in-person), and I thought it would be patently poetic to finish the program by taking a course that is now required to start the program. Not surprisingly, many of the lecture topics are familiar to me, but the online discussions and assignments have been quite interesting. We have already had to write three papers, two of which involved thinking about what we want to do with our degree. Most of my classmates are just starting the program, so they are thinking ahead to when they get their degree (in at least two years), but for me, the assignments have been helpful to get me thinking about what I want to be doing when I graduate (in about two months). I will be one of the few who take this at the end of the GSLIS program, so my experience with this class will likely be much different than yours; however, this course serves everyone as not only a survey of the foundations of library and information science, but also a strong foundation for your tenure as a GSLIS student.

One Wednesday per month, 6-9pm - LIS 453; Collection Development

This class meets one Wednesday per month, which amounts to only four times all semester...why wouldn't you want in on this? Well, the weeks that do not involve an in-person class have an online portion, so there's always something. Plus, this is my first night class, and I have found that I much prefer to be in my PJs than in class at 9pm. Anyway, collection development is an often unsung, yet crucially important, aspect of any library, archive, museum, or information center. It seems straightforward, right? All you have to do is buy books. Wrong. There are also audio/visual materials, databases, newspapers, donations, and myriad other things to consider. Oh, and you also need to think about the needs of your user population and stay under budget. Suddenly this doesn't seem quite so simple... Throughout the semester I am working with a group on six discrete parts of a collection development plan that will come together as a final project. I have no aspirations for a career in collection development or acquisitions, but what I learn in this course will likely help with any materials-related decisions that I may encounter in my career.

So that's it - I've nearly met my GSLIS credit quota. Any credits beyond these 36 will come from practical experience, and fall into the dreaded "what I didn't learn in library school" category. I can't write extensively about that yet, but I have a feeling that what I did learn in library school will amount to only a fraction of what I didn't.

**Please note that all students entering Fall 2013 and after will need to complete 39 credits to graduate due to the implementation of a new core curriculum**

Classes | leave a comment


Internship Time

Tomorrow afternoon, I start my internship requirement for LIS 438, Introduction to Archival Methods and Services. For those of you who don't know, each student enrolled in LIS 438 needs to complete a 60 hour internship project. While the list of potential internship sites was numerous, each student was told to select just three potential locations and from there, one of the three would eventually be chosen. Well, after waiting anxiously, two weeks ago I was finally given my placement; the Cambridge Historical Commission.

As someone very interested in history, I couldn't be more happy with my placement. Tucked away in Cambridge, the Commission is an institution concerned with preserving and chronicling the development of the city. Although on the smaller side, the Commission is filled with photographs, registries of those who have lived in the city, and other items related to the city's history. As for the people who work there, they seemed super excited to have another Simmons student working with them for the semester. Fortunately for me, I couldn't have shown up at a better time. Currently, the Commission has two projects that need attending to. The first deals with going through a collection of photographs, make a finding aid and uploading the pictures to Flikr, making the photographs available to anyone. The other project is concerned with going through items and documents donated to the Commission by a former employee of a now defunct electronics corporation. What's exciting about this project is that the woman who donated the collection is still alive! What does that mean? It means that if we have any questions, we simply can get in contact with her and ask whatever questions we might have. With a primary source just a phone call away, who knows what we might learn?

I cannot wait to get started at the Commission so expect updates throughout the semester. If I make any earth shattering discoveries while at the Commission I promise, GSLS will be the first to know.

Internships | leave a comment


The Horn Book Awards at Simmons

I am always marveling at my good fortune. I live in a beautiful city, rich in history. I have a wonderful job that challenges me. I have supportive family and friends. I do not, however, appreciate enough the opportunities that Simmons provides to its student body (that includes me) every week. Between the lunchtime lectures, the LISSA conference sponsorship, and all such other offerings it is sheer neglect that I don't give a shout out now and again to Simmons and GSLIS itself.

Today, though, I'd like to offer up praise to my forsaken program, the department of Children's Literature. While I was only in the dual degree program for a day until I dropped it like a hot potato I do appreciate all the unique opportunities the Center for the Study of Children's Literature offers YA junkies like myself. Last night at The Horn Book awards I got to listen to nine of the best authors and illustrators in the world speak about what they are passionate about.

Robert Byrd, author and illustrator of Electric Ben; The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,and winner of The Horn Book award in the non-fiction category, spoke about the power of illustration in picture books. He told us that images can inspire us and endure within our collective memory for decades, preserving the power of the physical book. Open This Little Book's author, Jesse Klausmeier, winner of the one of the picture book honor awards, revealed that a love of reading can inspire much more than just passionate readers, it can create a book. The first draft of her book was in fact written at the age of five.  She dedicated her book to America's inspiration to readers of my generation: LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow. Finally, and most dramatically, the incomparable Rainbow Rowell, author of The Horn Book award for fiction, explained that Eleanor & Park was the most painful experience of her life. Writing this book forced her to confront some of the most painful parts of her past to the point where it actually made her sick. She made it through the wilderness somehow, and she swears she will never write a sequel (WINK*), but she inspired the room to address and attack the things that scare them the most. That is where our most valuable contributions to this world come from.

So thank you Cathy Mercier, The Horn Book, The Boston Globe, and the many people who worked so hard to make this event accessible to Simmons students. We are so lucky to be able to attend such events, we should be singing your praises on a much more regular basis. 

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Closed Until Further Notice

The government shutdown this week has me reflecting on my work with the National Park Service and what it means to be a public servant. With this partial shutdown has come a great deal of confusion and frustration from the general population and government employees alike. The National Park Service seeks to provide access and interpretation to our nation's most treasured and unique places, something I think we can agree appeals to members of all political factions. The shutdown came mere days after "Forest Festival Weekend" at my national park, the biggest event in our calendar. This year the event was an absolute success, with perfect weather and visitors from all over the country. It was truly a weekend when I felt proud to be a federal employee and represent my country as I shared my amazing park with so many visitors. On Monday my boss sent an email to our staff expressing how he thought the weekend went:

"I wanted to pause for a moment to recognize and thank all of you for providing an extraordinary example of public service during this event. I feel strongly that as a National Park we have an obligation to the American people and others from around the world to provide the best in interpretation and visitor services. You all passed with flying colors. I am honored to work with you all and am so impressed with each of your diverse skills. The feedback from all I spoke to was overwhelmingly positive.  What I saw was superlative."

Not to say that my boss doesn't give positive feedback, because he most certainly does,  but he is rarely this eloquent when it comes to expressing the work that we do.  It takes a certain kind of person to work as a public servant and it does not always come with rewards. That said, it makes positive feedback like this all the more meaningful.

I see many of the same kinds of people working for the National Park Service as I meet at GSLIS, people with a desire to be constantly learning, and more importantly to pass that knowledge on to other people. There are many career paths to take in the field of library and information sciences and not all of them involve working for a publicly funded institution, or even working directly with the public. I see a great deal of crossover when it comes to the skills and compassion required to succeed in this field and other careers serving the public. A librarian working for a consulting firm exhibits these skills by providing the best information possible in the quickest time; an archivist may never work at a public desk but her attention to detail and care in preserving artifacts for the future is vital.

The American Library Association posted an article called "The Government Shutdown and Libraries" (find it here: http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/government-shutdown-and-libraries) detailing the many organizations and resources being effected by these closures.  Hopefully Congress will come to some agreement and all parts of the government will be back to business as usual very soon. In the meantime, perhaps the shutdown will serve as a reminder about some of the very important things the government does.

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How smart is your dog?

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My dog has been my best audience for all the presentations I have had to prepare over the last two years. One of my big surprises when I started graduate school was how often I would be presenting to my peers.

There are many ways that people practice public speaking, and while I am very comfortable speaking to a group of kids in the classroom, speaking to a group of adults can be a little nerve wracking. I don't do well talking to a mirror because I can't help but notice a new grey hair, and I find that totally distracting! I like to imagine my younger self is giving this talk, as that gives me more confidence, so the mirror is definitely out.  I have found, however, that my dog is a very willing audience.

My dog has learned the following over the last 2 years:

  • He knows how to make a website.
  • He can define the role of a system librarian.
  • He knows all about the value of a good survey instrument to assess patron needs.
  • He knows how databases work.
  • He has listened to many proposals for new programs.
  • He has heard the justification of a collections budget.
  • He has taken a user instruction class or two.
  • He can participate in a good reference interview.
  • More than once, he has unintentionally participated in website videos using Jing and Voicethread (Just when you thought it was perfect, a dog can be heard...)
  • He also knows more about Boolean operators and federated searches than is probably appropriate for a dog.

I recently took a webinar from the Public Library Association on presentation skills. It had some great tips for what makes a good presentation because whether we like it or not, we will be presenting our ideas to colleagues, trustees, students, administrators, and other stakeholders in our libraries.  The webinar was very valuable.   My dog liked it too.

Classes | leave a comment