March 2014 Archives

Tumblarians!

I spend way too much of my time every day online.  I am fully aware that it's a problem, but not one that's going away any time soon.  It's gotten even worse lately, as I've been trying to use social media to learn more about archives and archivists, and have been working on networking through Twitter and tumblr (since I'm so terrible at doing it in person.)  I'm not entirely sure about the librarian/archivist community on twitter, but the tumblr community of tumblarians (tumblr+librarians) is vibrant and very friendly.  (I'm libromatic on tumblr, by the way.)  The wonderful thing about tumblr (and Twitter, too) is that if you're shy and nervous about posting a lot when you're not entirely sure you know what you're talking about, reblogging (and retweeting) are completely acceptable ways to share ideas!

If you're not on tumblr already, and you're looking for ways to meet people in the library/archives field, here's how to get started.  After joining the site, find people to follow.  A list of library and librarian tumblrs can be found here; a list of archive and archivist tumblrs can be found here.  I started out following just about everyone, and gradually cut down the list to just the ones I really enjoyed reading.  Library Journal posted a "Tumblarian 101" starter kit that has a lot of good pointers, too.  One thing I love about tumblr is that it is such an image-based site; as librarians we're surrounded by words all the time, so it's a nice change.  (Not that there's anything wrong with text!  But it's definitely a good thing to mix it up once in a while.)

Connecting on social media to people in the field is something almost every professor I've had in GSLIS has mentioned as a great way to make connections - and possibly get a job down the line.  Besides that, it's a wonderful way of sharing knowledge that doesn't cost anything but time.  And, you know, it's also a lot of fun.

Libraries | Technology | leave a comment


Let it Go!

frozen_elsa_by_meddek-d6w674h.pngSo, I'm going to come clean. I watched Frozen for the first time this weekend. I don't want to say it changed my life, but I'm definitely in some sort of magical place. I was thinking about the last time I was in this euphoric state and I remembered it exactly. It was when I finished the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. No, I'm not a sadist. I don't enjoy suffering and death. It was just such a wonderfully romantic story. It filled me with hope and I think pushed me to further understand the human condition.

I tell you all this because I think libraries are in a unique position insofar as they are the dispensaries of these emotionally transformative materials. Amazon is not the only peddler of these fine products. We too share these artistic treasures, and what's more, we put a human face behind it all. We have the opportunity to share our opinions about these books and films with patrons in a number of forums: blogs, reference interviews, readers advisory, programming events, displays, tweets, tumblr, facebook posts, shelfari, goodreads. In this information age, the librarian has a number of ways to reach patrons.

So, this is my wisdom for the week: Spread the word and find more ways to do just that. Watch a great film (COUGH - Frozen) or read a gripping book (COUGH - anything by John Green) and find an enticing way to share that item with a patron. We do an excessive amount of critical analysis and technical tasks in our line of work, and that's incredibly important. It's what separates us from the beasts (i.e. computers). However, I relish the sharing that our profession also demands from us. We need to share our passions with others. We need to be passionate. So go forth and be pumped about your latest love affair with a book. The people who use libraries will be thrilled that you are.

Relaxing | leave a comment


A New Kind of Storytime?

One of my greatest regrets about leaving home is that I don't get to see my five-year-old niece, Riley, very often. But, lucky for me, I got the opportunity to video chat with her this week (bless technology!). One of the greatest challenges about video chat, though, is remembering that not everything you do can be seen. And this becomes particularly important when you're reading picture books. Or so I've come to realize.

Simmons faculty Megan Lambert teaches a method of reading picture books called the Whole Book Approach. This is basically just a way of interacting with the picture book as an art form. When reading via this approach, children are asked to engage in a dialogue about the text. They move from being passive listeners to active participants in the story. Though I haven't (yet) been formally trained in this approach, Megan demonstrates it often in her classes. If you're curious, you can learn more about this method by taking her course at the Eric Carle Museum this summer.

Anyways, I tried to use the Whole Book Approach with my niece during our webcam storyime. This was as much a validating experience as it was a troubling one. We were able to pay attention to most parts of the story proper but video chat made interacting with the whole book difficult. Smaller images disappeared in the pixelated graphics. Because of this, I often had to hold the page closer to the webcam for Riley to pick up on certain things--and then I felt as though I was mediating her reading. I was choosing what to show her, which didn't give her the autonomy the Whole Book Approach allows for.

As much as I enjoyed practicing some of the things I've been learning at Simmons, I was also struck by the circumstances in which I was reading to my niece. How cool is it, first of all, that our current technology allows for a bedtime story (or in my case, four) in a highly personal way? I think it's incredible. I never imagined that I would ever be in a place where this sort of reading would become necessary, but I imagine I'm not alone. There have to be parents who work away from home or can't be around who have to settle for this kind of interaction. This brings me to my second point: I feel like someone could make a lot of money developing software to make webcam reading easier. Or maybe I just need to get a better camera.

Either way, I recommend you try it out. If you don't have a child in your life, read to your friends. You never know when this sort of skill might come in handy. Maybe someday Simmons will even teach a class. What say you to that?

Children's Literature | leave a comment


City of Neighborhoods Exhibit

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This past Saturday, the map gallery where I work, the Leventhal Map Gallery, premiered their newest exhibit to the Boston public. The new exhibit, City of Neighborhoods, celebrates the racial and ethnic diversity of the city of Boston. While the former exhibit, Made in Boston, had featured antique maps of both Boston and the New England area from the late 1600s through the 1700s, this exhibition "Compares the neighborhoods of today's 'new' Boston with those of 100 years ago." Through the use of photographs and maps, the exhibit is colorful and enlightening. As music representing the cultures that form the social fabric of Boston plays in the background, one can see the areas where newer immigrant groups have settled and how the physical appearance of the city had changed to reflect those who live and work there.

As part of Saturday's opening, the map gallery pulled out 

neighborhoods_exhibit2.jpgall the stops. In a separate room, we had activities for families with children while a band played music from Cape Verde. For many people who attended the event, this was the first time they had ever realized just how diverse the city was. A few people approached gallery attendants like myself and inquired about the location of Cape Verde since they had never heard of it before (it's off the western coast of Africa in case you are wondering). While children created their own bookmarks using scraps of old maps and/or decorated their own map with stickers, parents and other attendants labeled two maps, one of Boston and the other of the world, with Post-Its as a means of identifying not only the area of the city in which they were from, but also where in the world they drew their ethnic and racial identity from.

This was the first new exhibit to come into the gallery since I started working there back in Febuary and I have to say, setting it up was an absolute blast! While I didn't get to handle any of the antique maps from the previous exhibit, I did get to see what it takes to set up an exhibition. Detail truly is everything!  From the placement of photographs and images to the angle that newspaper is placed, my co-workers took great care in ensuring that everything in the new exhibit was placed in a fashion that would be appealing to the public eye. Since I'm rather petite, my co-workers kept asking me to stand in front of an exhibit and offer my insight on whether something was too high or too low.

City of Neighborhoods will be at the Leventhal Map Gallery from March 22nd-August 22nd. If you happen to need something to do on a weekend, stop on by and check out the exhibit.

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Events | leave a comment


New England Archivists Spring Meeting

This week the New England Archivists held their spring meeting in Portsmouth, NH, and I (and a good portion of my archives classmates) were in attendance.  This was actually my first professional conference, and I went to see and hear professionals in the archives community talk about their jobs, the current state of the archives field, and of course, a decent dose of networking, networking, and more networking.  (I am terrible at networking, and would generally rather rip out my own tongue than talk to a complete stranger, but I went into the conference knowing that I would have to do exactly that at least once because it was an assignment for my LIS440 class.  Let the record show that I did manage to talk to one stranger and did not die as a result, so I think I may be a better person for the experience.)  (Let the record also show that one stranger was exactly how many I talked to, so... baby steps.)

buttonmaker01.jpgThe thing about the archives field is that it is incredibly diverse in terms of both the types of archives institutions that exist and the types of archiving jobs within those institutions.  The two internships that archives concentrators take in GSLIS give us a taste of that diversity, but professional organizations and conferences like the NEA really drive the point home.  The highest points of the conference for me were presentations that helped me see sides of archiving I'd never considered before: a talk by international archivists about how archives work in their countries on Saturday and a talk about using a buttonmaker to do outreach on campus and in the community for a college archive on Friday.  (The picture is of the buttonmaker, which they pulled out after the talk to let people play with - I need to learn how to take decent photos with my phone.)  As someone who used to work with teens in a public library, I'm very familiar with the idea of outreach, but I'd never really thought about outreach and advocacy for archives - and how similar creative and fun tactics could be used, far beyond the usual flyer and poster distribution.  I'd definitely never known that Outreach Archivist was an actual job, but the more I learn about it, the more intrigued with the idea I get.

When I entered the GSLIS program I was certain I knew what sort of job I'd want when I graduated, but the longer I spend in the program the more opportunities I see that interest me.  This is how things should work, I think, but I really wish I had some sort of time machine that could let me take a peek at my life a year from now, because at this point I'm leaning in a lot of directions at once.

Conferences | leave a comment


Storytelling Semi-Finals this Weekend

Semis2014.pngThis is a shameless plug for a certain storyteller (ME) who is competing in the MassMouth Story Slam Semi Finals this Sunday at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge at 6:30 pm. I'm telling a story from my days in the Peace Corps, so it should be ...hilarious. A story slam is every bit the event you are conjuring in your imagination: a forum where people from the audience tell personal stories, within a time limit and people cheer for a well told tale. In this particular story slam there will be no judges. The audience decides! So come out to hear some great stories and support a fellow GSLISer. Storytelling is a big part of our society these days thanks to organizations like MassMouth and the Moth. Librarians should stay involved in an arena they championed so many years ago. Let's get back in this game and begin telling our stories!

GSLIS | Students | leave a comment


March Madness

Clever title, right? It's fitting because of everything going on right now, I cannot believe March is almost over already! This semester ends in just about a month and I'll have finished 10 of 12 classes to graduate. In fact, just this week GSLIS made an exciting announcement, August grads (like me) will be able to walk at the May graduation ceremony. Although it will feel weird to receive a (fake) diploma for a degree I haven't technically earned yet, I'm so excited to participate in the graduation ceremony! The one downside of finishing in the summer was that I thought I wouldn't get to walk at graduation, so props to Simmons for changing their policy. It wouldn't feel real to me if I didn't participate in a graduation ceremony to make it official.

March madness doesn't just refer to school and my basketball bracket, last week I accepted a full-time job starting in June! I'll be working for a tech startup company called Green Mountain Digital working on an amazing (and free!) app called Yonder (www.yonder.it) focusing on connecting people to the outdoors. Stop what you're doing and go download it now! I'm going to be working with amazing, smart, motivated, innovative people and I'm so looking forward to this new challenge.

Is my job going to be in a library? No, but that's okay. I'll be using much of what I've learned at GSLIS at this new job, and learning so much more about technology, skills that will certainly translate into a library someday. I'll also be finishing my degree during a weeklong intensive course in July, I didn't get this far to bail at the last minute! So why take a job that's seemingly not in my field, a field I've been waxing poetic about for years now? Because now is the time to take a crazy risk. Librarians as a group are not the biggest risk takers and up until now I've fit that mold perfectly. Now is the time to change and try something totally different and super exciting. If I've learned nothing else during my time at GSLIS it's that it's important to do things your own way and to try new opportunities as they present themselves. I'm really looking forward to this next chapter in my life and starting my first "real" (read: full-time) job! My list of books to be read is also looking forward to my homework-free existence. 

Jobs | leave a comment


Gateway to Reading

Welcome back! Here's hoping your vacations were as pleasant as mine. I was able to return to the Pacific Northwest, and I spent some time in a museum in Oregon that a friend of mine works at. It was interesting to see the ways that libraries and museums differ. I wanted to ask the librarian about her collection, but it was her birthday and she was out. I did get to see the way certain artifacts are stored though!

What I really want to talk about happened before my vacation. Just before I left, I had the opportunity to see Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur television series, at the Boston Public Library. The talk he gave was part of BPL's Lowell Lecture Series. Luckily for me and other kid lit types, this year's theme happens to be "Gateway to Reading." Marc Brown is only the second of many more lectures--many of which you might want to check out. (I'd extend my commercial beyond this, but I think you can decide for yourself what you'd be interested in.)

Things I learned from Marc Brown: Arthur is now the longest running children's television program (just renewed for two more seasons!); Arthur has taken to addressing more difficult issues, such as cancer or Asperger's syndrome; and, lastly, Arthur's nose used to be longer when he was originally drawn. I won't go into the details here because you should be able watch the talk for yourself on the series homepage.

As you can see, the structure of his talk was to answer questions that children asked him as opposed to giving a lecture about his work. It was an interesting concept--and certainly less self-aggrandizing. I appreciated the way the librarians had prepared some students from around the area ahead of time to submit questions to answer onstage, while also opening it up to live audience members. It's definitely a strategy to tuck into one's back pocket. The kids get really excited, and it's awesome to watch them in the spotlight.

Needless to say, this isn't the first of the lecture I'll be going to. Perhaps I might see you during Norton Juster's talk on April 2. Don't be afraid to say hello!

Events | leave a comment


Going Home and Coming Back

In the weeks preceding spring break this year, I'll admit, I was starting to get a bit stir crazy. You see, for the last four years, I had the luxury of being able to journey off my undergraduate campus for weekend hikes all around Massachusetts. These weekend adventures not only provided me with a break from my academic responsibilities, but also helped fend off any possibility of developing recklessness.  As an individual who can't ever seem to stay in one place for too long, you can imagine how much I miss these weekend outings. While I absolutely love living in Boston, sometimes, a person just needs a change every now and then and I hit that wall about a month a half ago. Of course, without access to a car or enough free time to venture off on the commuter rail, I've found myself essentially stuck within the confines of the city. Now don't get me wrong, one can never go wrong with a bit of urban exploring, but sometimes, a person just needs to get out. And so, I decided to do just that and last Wednesday, I said adios to Boston, and hello to New York.

Returning to my hometown was like seeing a classmate I had not seen since graduating high school. True, the last time I was home was in January, but my town seems to have a case of restlessness all its own; it is not uncommon for local businesses to come and go within two months' time. And just like said metaphorical friend, my hometown was still essentially the same, although sporting some new features. A restaurant had closed its doors; a new dance club had opened; a fire had destroyed a number of buildings near the edge of town; and a number of local places apparently decided to spruce up their interiors. Naturally this is not the first time my town has decided to change itself while I've been away, but I always find it to be somewhat jarring when I discover these changes. It feels like slowly but surely, the town of my childhood is slowly being replaced by some new entity. Needless to say, I don't like it very much when such changes happen.

On the positive side of things, I did get to reconnect with some childhood friends that I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. And just how did we spend our time together? Why by going to the Big Apple for some hijinks of course. And it was while I was strolling around the streets of New York City, the city of my childhood that I discovered something startling: I not only missed Boston, but actually preferred Boston over NYC!!!!! Talk about a shocking epiphany. For the longest time, NYC to me was the greatest place on Earth but now that I'm older and have actual experience living in a place like Boston, I've come to realize some of the major pitfalls of NYC. For one thing, the place is just too big. Depending on what your plans are, you could spend forty-five minutes to over an hour simply traveling around. The same principal does apply to Boston, but the commute doesn't always feel that bad. Another thing I noticed, sometimes being in the city that never sleeps isn't always a good thing. While most places in Boston shut down around two in the morning, in New York, the party doesn't stop until at least four in the morning. Public transportation on the other hand, does. One of my friends wanted to stay out later but we had to head back to Long Island around one am since the next train didn't depart until four thirty. That sentiment was not shared by the rest of us. Were we in Boston, such a night out wouldn't have been such a big deal since I could have called a taxi service like Sidecar or Lyft to take my friends and I back to my apartment. Since I live in Long Island, something like that was simply not an option.  All in all, as my friends and I took the Long Island Rail Road back home to Huntington, I realized that without a doubt, I desperately wanted to get back to Boston. Any reservations I might have had about moving to Boston for graduate school had literally flown the coop.

Now that I'm back and settled into my Brighton apartment, I'm not really sure where home is anymore. While Long Island will always be my childhood home, I feel like I might have outgrown the place. For where I am in my life right now, Boston is absolutely the place where I want to be. New York is a nice place to visit, but would I live there full time? NO WAY. Going home just to get away from everything is nice, especially if I haven't been back in a while, but I think right now, I'm quite content to stay exactly where I am. Even if it means I might get a bit restless every now and then.

Boston | leave a comment


Alternative Spring Break

schoollibrary02.jpgThis week I took advantage of one of the many opportunities that are offered during spring break to try something new and spent an afternoon volunteering at the school library of the Boston Teachers Union School.  I've spent a lot of time working with teens and adults in public libraries, but have not really spent a substantial amount of time in the children's rooms.  I've also never worked in or even volunteered in a school library before, so I thought it would be a really interesting and fun experience -and that I was pretty much guaranteed to learn something.schoollibrary03.jpg

Given my lack of experience, it was a good thing that our day consisted of labelling, barcoding and shelf reading; anything more advanced probably would have been a little nerve-wracking because I would have been too worried about screwing up something completely new to me.

Boston Teachers Union School is K-8, so we got to see kids of every age throughout the afternoon, and process materials for every age as well.  We also got to see a little bit of how a library gets up and running: the school is only 4.5 years old, and is cooperatively run by teachers.  The library has only been in place for a couple of years, and runs entirely on donations and the hard work of one part-time intern and one staff member who isn't a librarian.  It's a set up that has an awful lot of possibilities for creative fundraising and collection building, and getting to be part of it, even for just an afternoon, was amazing.

School Libraries | leave a comment


Being a Librarian 20 years ago... today

Today I worked in a library system 20 years ago. Ok, that's a lie. I don't wake up every day, hop in my time machine and travel back to the simpler age of the card catalog. Though, if I did have a time machine I would choose a much simpler time with cooler clothes and become friends with Billy Shagspar (see Bill Bryson's biography of a certain Elizabethan playwright). No, today my colleagues and I were mostly immobilized by the World Wide Web (the birthday present it re-gifted to us). Our circulation program, Millennium, just decided not to work. We began running around like chickens with our heads cut off for a good fifteen minutes, calling every supervisor under the sun to no avail. What could be done? Without computers how do we run the library?library-cards-digital-scrapbook-paper.jpg

Technology is not the maker and breaker of libraries these days, although it seems like it. If it were the only thing holding a library together then there would be very little point to getting an MLS degree.  The cooler heads of librarians do prevail over the fickle lords of the technology dance, though I had no idea in my moment of crisis. Librarians think ahead. They have contingency plan after contingency plan in place for just such a moment. They're like four star generals going into battle to serve the patrons to whom they are dedicated. What was in place for me after I talked to the 3rd on-call supervisor was the following: write down the information on a spreadsheet (provided) for all of the books being checked out. That was all: write it down, get all of their information and call the people who fix Millennium.

I don't want to admit that this is why I should strive to pay more attention to the history portions of my classes here at Simmons. I probably can't admit to myself that there is indeed a great deal to learn from our collective past. Having worked in a library from the past today though I can see why it's useful and why I will tell you that I'm on my way to talk to the oldest librarian I can find and pick his or her brain ASAP. Card catalogs: not so ridiculous now.

Libraries | leave a comment


180 Degree Perception Change

In the fall of 2011, when I first started telling friends and family I was planning to pursue a masters degree in library and information science, the response across the board was something to the effect of "you need a masters degree to be a librarian?" I would reply by saying things along the lines of "well libraries are about a lot more than books" and "technology is so key now, I've got a lot to learn." This all sounds well and good, but at the time I think I was more or less parroting back what I'd read and heard from those already in the field. I knew this was all true, but in the back of my mind a little voice kept asking "is it really about more than books?". This self doubt was justified, especially given that the public image of a librarian is a matronly woman surrounded by books making shushing noises. That said, it didn't take me long at Simmons to realize that, yes, it's about a whole lot more than books.

Now, as I'm starting to wrap up my degree at GSLIS, I cannot imagine working in this field without the skills I've gained from this program. I can see the value of what I'm learning during my time at GSLIS. My own realization of how valuable this degree will be is much less impressive than the change in perception I've observed from those outside the profession.

This past week I had a strange networking experience, one that started because the red line train unexpectedly shut down (problems with the T are a common occurrence in Boston). I wound up splitting a cab with a business man who happened to be going in the same direction and whose patience for waiting on the T was equally short. We got to talking and I mentioned that I'm finishing my degree at Simmons in library science. His response? To paraphrase: "wow, what a cool field to be pursuing, there's so much going on in the world of libraries, and technology is so interesting, and the field is changing, you're so cutting edge!" What a difference a year makes. Instead of commenting that libraries are outdated or making a joke about the necessity of a masters degree, this guy got it! A man who looked to be in his mid-fifties, wearing a suit, who works for a tech startup no less.

I'm not sure if its the fact that I'm in different situations than I was a year ago, talking with people who really get it, or if public perception really has changed, perhaps a combination, but I'm happy about this change. For those of you just starting your journey into this field, know that you're not entering a dying profession, you're not behind the times, instead you're futuristic and awesome and entering a profession that's got a very exciting future! Even if for starters you're just in it for the books.

GSLIS | leave a comment


Little Libraries

One of the first things I learned from working in public and special libraries was that even though they all provided more or less the same services to the community they served, there were countless differences in how they functioned and what people even meant when they said "library."  The wonderful thing about libraries is that they don't have to exist in a certain way. They can be the giant buildings with borrowing littlelibrary04.jpgcards and policies, but they can also just be a small shelf of books that people are invited to take and replace as they will, all for free. 

Little Free Libraries are a network of tiny libraries set up on street corners and curated by anyone who wants to put in the work, who have free books that anyone can come along and take, and leave their own books in.  There are 10,000 - 12,000 Little Free Libraries set up around the world, including seven in the Metro Boston area, mostly in Cambridge and Somerville.  They each have their own eclectic selection of books, so they're all worth visiting. littlelibrary01.jpg

Simmons GSLIS has its own Little Library for GSLIS students to borrow from freely.  It's stocked by the PLG (Progressive Librarians Guild) student group, and free for anyone to use.  It's located in the second floor lockers in the Palace Road building - just look for the one with the red and black "Locker Library" label right outside the Tech Lab.  The combination is on the outside, too.  It's a fun way for GSLIS students to share resources with each other, and the collection inside the locker is always changing, so it's worth it to check several times a semester.  

Libraries | leave a comment


Librarian for a Day (Or Two)

I may have mentioned before that I volunteer at the Public Library of Brookline on Thursdays. A few weeks ago, I helped a record number of patrons: six. While this probably seems inconsequential to most people, this number is a breakthrough. This means six people thought I might help them; six people thought I looked like a librarian (whatever that means); and six people thought I was qualified. The usual number is zero, sometimes one or two. And, most of the time, I just get asked where the bathroom is.

Fact: I am the Teen Room monitor. This means I basically just sit in the room and make sure nothing too disastrous happens. But, since the kids aren't particularly rowdy on most days, I basically hold an after school study session. And the vast majority of the time, I'm doing my homework along with them. Or writing these blogs.

I think perhaps that I sometimes look like I'm terribly busy. But, really, I love being interrupted. Having never worked in a library setting before, this volunteering gig is my basically my introduction. It's a taste of what's to come--even though it's not exactly a complete picture. So, when I'm feeling brave, I sometimes like to pretend that I actually am a librarian. Because ultimately I am, right? I'm in library school. And these patrons won't really know whether I have the degree or not. They just see my badge (which looks terribly official, I might add).

I know I don't yet have reference training; I know I don't yet have any formal experience with reader advisory. And yet, on that day with six patrons, I dared to give out a list of recommendations to a mother. I wasn't familiar with the book (Maze Runner), so I gave her what advice I could. A title or two I was able to conjure from my limited experiences with dystopian YA. She seemed satisfied enough with my answer. But I wasn't. While she perused, I handwrote a list of more books along with their call numbers even though she didn't ask. It was literally the highlight of my week. I even told all of Facebook.

Anyways, this mother came in while I was volunteering this week. Her words to me: "You're the guy that gave me that list a few weeks ago. The City of Ember is a hit. He's onto book two. Thank you."

Sometimes, the people here make me feel like I actually am a librarian. But it's moments like these when, even if I don't have a job or a degree in the subject, I start to believe that I am. Or, at the very least, I know I must be doing something right. 

Reader's Advisory | leave a comment


What Happens When I Fly Away?

Is anybody else amazed at how fast this year is flying by? Yes, spring break is upon us and we are all grateful, but speaking as someone who will be graduating in December (heaven help us if I don't) I feel these days slipping away faster than usual. I'm losing track of time. Every email whizzes past my inbox and I begin to crave and fear the future. What happens after graduate school? I imagine big paychecks, tomes that in no way resemble textbooks, and oodles of time to sit down in a garden somewhere.  These are the lies that we tell ourselves. Life will be easier after graduate school. Will it though? Will you receive updates about the latest technologies enhancing our profession? Will you have the opportunity to network on a weekly basis with super smart people? This is all food for thought for you, but mostly for me. I'm aching to leave and begin my life as a fully-fledged librarian. I want my wings soooo badly!  I think the question I continue to ask Linda Braun though, brilliant library technology brain that she is, is how do you keep up? We are not relevant if we lag behind and fester in comfortable ignorance. So, I make it my mission this year to prepare for a time when I won't be hounded by professors on "what's hot and what's not" in the world of library science. There will come a time when our inbox might be less crowded with LISSA mails but that means that we sadly must replace them with emails that keep us vibrant, relevant and essential to our communities and the people we serve. This was supposed to be a whistful entry about the ever-quickening passage of time, but now it seems to be a call to action to get amped and to be prepared. A world without the ample support of GSLIS is almost upon us. 

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Students | leave a comment


Baking a little bit of springtime

Normally, I am a very big fan of winter. Snow, ice, the cold; I love it all. Or I used to. Although I am no stranger to New England winters, this year, the winter seems longer, colder, and snowier than ever before. And normally, I wouldn't be complaining. However, it seems my love for winter has waned over the course of these past few months. I guess the same would happen to anyone after experiencing temperatures in the single digits for almost two straight weeks and a seemingly never-ending bombardment of snow storms. Indeed, I am so done with winter that I am actually keeping track of how many more days are left until spring (fifteen days to go!).

Although it seems like it is forever and half away, soon (hopefully) all the snow will be gone, the flowers will bloom, and most importantly, it will be WARM. And to help get myself amped up for the upcoming warm weather, I decided to bake a springtime dessert this past weekend, just a little something to help remind myself that soon, the warm spring sun will be shining down on me. And I have to say, when I pulled my gooey lemon blondies out from the oven, I did indeed feel like a little bit of springtime had crept into my kitchen. And of course they tasted like absolute sunshine as well (minus the burning sensation that would happen if we all actually tried to take a chomp out of the sun). Everything about these simple, citrus treats just screams springtime.  And when I say simple, I mean SIMPLE. There is a total of six ingredients in this recipe, eight if you include the two ingredients needed to make the glaze. That glaze by the way, is amazing! The flavor is just the right amount of sweet and tart. However, the blondies without the glaze are still simply divine. Either way, one bite of these sunny little beauties and you will feel like springtime has finally come at last!

Gooey Lemon Blondies

Recipe from the-baker-chick.com

Ingredients

¾ cup flour

¾ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, soft

1 egg and 1 yolk

juice and zest from ½ lemon

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

additional lemon zest for sprinkling

Instructions

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and pale. Add the egg, yolk, juice and zest and mix until well combined.

Sprinkle the flour and salt over the wet ingredients and mix on low until well combined - (do not over mix)

Pour batter into a greased 8x8* baking pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until the edges are just golden and the center of the pan is set. Cool bars before glazing.

For the glaze:

Stir the powdered sugar together with the lemon juice (1 tablespoon to start, adding more if needed) until a smooth consistency is reached.

Spread glaze over the bars and top with lemon zest. Makes about 16 bars

*I used a pan slightly larger than an 8x8 so I just made a second round of batter and poured it on top of the original because I was worried it wouldn't be thick enough. You don't need to do this if the batter looks thick enough to you*

Relaxing | leave a comment


Things to do in Boston in Winter

When I moved to Boston from Vancouver, BC, I was a little afraid of the winter.  Maybe more than a little, actually.  We don't get a lot of very cold weather in Vancouver, and it rains pretty much every day from October 1 to April 1.  (This may be a slight exaggeration, but believe me when I say that it's very slight.)  We don't get a lot of snow.  We don't get a lot of ice.  I was a little terrified at the prospect of having to drive in either, having to walk around in either, and really just having to exist in either. 

I had this idea of winter in Boston as a dark, cold wasteland, with people spending most of their time gathered around heaters, dressed in five or six sweaters, hats and gloves on, shivering as they heard the wind whistling outside the ice-caked windows.  

It's not really like that.  Life goes on in Boston in the winter, without people letting the weather ruin their plans.  In fact, there are a lot of things that only happen during the winter, even within the Boston/Cambridge area.  A few examples:

1.      Winter Farmer's Market in Cambridge

Farmer's markets are usually something that are associated with summer and fall, when there's a lot of fresh produce to pick from.  That doesn't mean they just disappear in the winter, though - the Cambridge Winter Farmer's Market operates from the beginning of January until the end of April, and features a lot of live music, arts and crafts, cooked food and weekly special events.  I've gone a couple of times, and it was a lot of fun!

2.      Ice Skating on Frog Pond

frogpond01.jpg

Frog Pond is a small pond in the middle of Boston Common.  From mid-November until mid-March (weather permitting - and it usually is) there's public skating seven days a week.  It tends to be mobbed on the weekends, but it's amazing in a light snow when there aren't a lot of people.

3.      Winter Carnival in Harvard Square

In January and February Harvard Square celebrates winter with a Winter Carnival on the weekends, with a different theme every week - including the Chocolate Festival, Chili Tasting, Chinese New Year Celebrations, and the annual Boston Celtic Music Festival.  

Harvard Square is a madhouse on the weekends anyway, and it only gets worse during the Festival, but it's worth it to brave the crowds anyway, at least for the Chocolate Festival and the Boston Celtic Music Festival.  It's almost enough to make me wish we could delay spring.

Boston | leave a comment