June 2014 Archives

Cracking the Lock on Open Access Collections

openaccess.jpgIt's no secret that accessibility is a big part of what we do here at GSLIS. Within libraries, museums, archives, and information institutions - many of us act as the tether between information and patrons.

In recent months, a handful of influential institutions across the globe have begun jumping on the Open Access bandwagon - a movement which the Public Library of Science defines as "unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse." A burgeoning topic on the horizon of information science, we as GSLIS students can acquaint ourselves with Open Access collections and create OA projects of our own.

While a number of considerations lay between institutions and the creation of online open access collections, they reveal new opportunities for research, engagement, and scholarship. Once an institution has determined which objects or collections qualify, they start working forward from there to reconfigure the terms applied to the pieces within their OA initiative. For an example of these terms, browse through the specifications stated within the Getty Open Content Program.

While many factors go into the creation of OA collections, we as GSLIS students can begin thinking about how Open Access fits into our ideas as future archivists, librarians, and informations scientists. As an archives concentrator interested in digital collections, open access, and the curation of digital objects, I compiled select objects, news, and resources into a visually charged blog focused around open access collections - just an example of the variety of projects you can get started on today. To see if Open Access collections are an area you would like to explore further - create, connect, and browse through the following resources.

OpenGLAM: "OpenGLAM is an initiative run by the Open Knowledge Foundation that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums."

Open Glam: Resources http://openglam.org/resources/

Archives | Libraries | leave a comment


Hanging out with JFK

Did you know that just a short bus ride away from the JFK T stop on the red line is the JFK Presidential Library and Museum? Did you also know that the papers and writings of Ernest Hemmingway are also stored there?

No?

Well, neither did I. That was, at least, until I went on a field trip with my Preservation Management class last Thursday. Yea, that's right, I went on a FIELD TRIP! Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus would have been super proud of my class.

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Not only did we get to learn about the responsibilities and skills required to be an archivist and deputy curator to a Presidential Library, but we also learned about the JFK Library's disaster plan and how it was tested during an actual disaster that happened last year. For those who don't know, the library had a fire last April and though smoke, water, and firefighter damage was great, the library and museum did not lose a single item. Now that's what I call impressive. Considering that my course, Preservation Management, has been all about learning how to handle and treat archival and library materials and keep them safe from the dangers from decay, mold, damage, and other environmental conditions, this was an excellent example of how a great disaster plan and potential risk awareness and assessment can ensure that even when a disaster occurs, precautions have been make to help reduce the potential damage. As for the museum part of the Presidential library, it is a fantastic walk through history. The photos, items, and re-creations of famous locations associated with JFK truly creates a one-of-a-kind experience. Words cannot describe how cool this museum is, including their special exhibit on the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you can, definitely check it out. And while you're there, poke your head into the Hemmingway exhibit. Stepping inside, you feel as if you are standing in Hemmingway's living room, surrounded by books, statues, and the very paintings that inspired some of his stories. As for the story as to why one of America's greatest writers is housed at the JFK Presidential Library, it's quite the tale. Just try not to step on the lion.

Classes | leave a comment


Breaking up is just so hard to do

throwing-out-books.jpgThe librarian's best friend and arguably ongoing nemesis is the never-ending task of weeding. To remain on the cutting edge or at least to remain in the realm of the present with your collection it's important to evaluate all of the resources on and off the shelves that the library provides. This means, that in any healthy library there should generally be a project going on that removes, or weeds, outdated items. I am fortunate to work in a very healthy academic library, your very own Beatley Library at Simmons, and I find myself these days withdrawing beautiful, yet ancient, reference books. Let's face it, the future of reference does not lie in the obscure tomes published 50 years ago with the solid leather bindings. However, I stand there in the stacks with The Encyclopedia of Fairies in my hand and I'm sure it's not my imagination that I hear a little cry from within as I place it on the withdrawal cart. These books know where they're going. They know their fate. I assumed they were going to the land where the old books have lots of grass to run around in, playing all day and taking turns reading from their authoritative pages. These concordances of Yeats and Dickens are breaking my heart. They leave these shelves forever and I know there are no quality electronic equivalents. I also know that the only pages that give these books the time of day are the reference students in LIS 407 on their treasure hunts for obscure facts. Night after night I continue to pull from a 30 page list of titles and every time I fill the cart I see the massive furnace the toys from Toy Story 3 faced and think of their gruesome end: stripped bare and recycled. If they're lucky they will be donated to an organization who distributes old library books to underserved populations that will appreciate them. But with shrinking library budgets and the cost of shipping for heavy leather-bound books it's hard to see that future for many of these books. I, of course, enjoy the book art on pinterest and tumblr and I wonder why there aren't more artists mining the weeding projects of libraries. If they can't be read they should at least be immortalized as something stunning that reminds us of the importance of the book. Moral of this story is: I respect the importance of weeding in all libraries but I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! Let's find them a home!

Libraries | leave a comment


Summer Reading

summerreading1.jpgIt's June, which means Summer Reading time at public libraries across the country.  Last summer I was temporarily working as a young adult librarian, juggling my first ever summer reading program, and I can tell you that Summer Reading is both the most exhausting and rewarding part of being a youth librarian.  It is seriously two months of stress and terror (did I bring enough snacks for this program?  Did I bring enough prizes?  What about the kids who didn't sign up but want to come anyway - did I bring extra supplies?) but it's what the bulk of the programming budget is spent on, too, so it's an interesting time with lots of fun things happening.  As the YA librarian I had my hands full enough, so I didn't help out much with the children's Summer Reading program, which is about 300% busier.  (If anyone is thinking about becoming a children's librarian at a public library, I would advise them to spend a summer helping out with Summer Reading first, so they know what they are getting into, because holy crap, it is ridiculously busy. Rewarding, but busy.) 

My situation last summer was a little special because I started the job in May and had about a week to plan all of the programs and get the brochure printed off and distributed to the schools, so... don't do that.  The programs all revolved around the "Beneath the Surface" theme (this year it's "Spark a Reaction") and mostly went really well, despite the lack of real planning time.  The only one that didn't was the movie night picture Tremors, which I loved when I was a teen.  Unfortunately, I don't think I've seen it at all in the last decade, and a rewatch before choosing it for Summer Reading would have been a good idea.  Do you know how much profanity is in that movie?  Yeah, a lot.  My 12-13 year old audience loved it, but I heard from parents for the next month.  Oops. 

summerreading2.pngThis summer I am both sad and relieved to not be working at a public library so I can be part of all the craziness (the thing they don't tell you is that you will never stop having great programming ideas, even long after you stop putting together programs) and the ultimate goal of getting books into the hands of kids.

YA Literature | leave a comment


Serious Business

Twenty-something and caught between earning that graduate degree and staying sharp in a competitive job market - I know the feeling. When navigating a sea of internships, interviews, and conferences while completing full or part time classes, that extra boost of professionalism and confidence can make a difference. While all of those qualifications featured on your well-rendered resumé speak for themselves, having a business card can help have your bases covered on the perilous and formidable frontier of professional networking.

For a long time, the word business card alone evoked imagined landscapes of beepers and shoulder pads for as far as the eye could see. But sure enough, after seeing peers arrive to events with a business card in tow changed my ideas upon seeing their convenience and functionality in action. When you meet a someone that you'd like to collaborate with in a professional context, writing their number on a nearby receipt or popping them a friend request just won't cut it - and that's where business cards come in.

Okay, we get the point; business cards are a thing - but how do you get business cards? While there are a number of different avenues toward this goal, I'll share how I got mine. At the recommendation of friends, I decided to order a small batch of business cards from the printers over at us.moo.com. Faced with over 350 designs to choose from, I selected one which would print my contact information on none other than tiny books - an LIS student's dream come true, right? Finding what to put on your business card can be a difficult step when lacking a concrete job title between multiple internships and job opportunities - to simplify this process, I chose to feature my name, area of study, website, and email address. As one of the many functions of a business card is to express your professional identity, what you put on your card is entirety up to you. After an approximate week, they arrived on my doorstep ready to help stimulate collaboration at an upcoming conference. While business cards aren't for everyone and are by no means a professional necessity, they can serve as a trusted middleman between you, your peers, and establishing yourself in the field of LIS one conversation at a time.tumblr_n58ileHugK1qbwvhpo1_500.jpg

Jobs | leave a comment


GSLIS Tech Lab. AKA GSLIS Awesomeness

You may have glimpsed its capacious depths in a class evaluation. Or maybe you remember it vividly from orientation. Either way, hopefully your travels have taken you once or twice into the Tech Lab at Palace Road. Having been on the job as a Technology Reference Assistant for a few weeks now I feel bound to tell you that the Tech Lab is far more that a room filled with computers for class evaluations. It is staffed by some of the coolest, smartest and funniest people at GSLIS who work hard to make sure our students are informed about the latest trends in Technology. Guys, this is not a required class but it should be. Knowledge and hilarity oozes out of every crevice of these hard drives. Much of my time here is spent posting to the Tech Lab's Tumblr or watching Lynda tutorials. Did you know that the Tech Lab actually has Google glasses? For serious, they have a LOT of stuff. If you don't like intelligent, hilarious people then come for the amazing gadgets. Annie and Nicole are the dean's fellows and they rock my world. This is one of those extra awesome bonuses that make going to Simmons completely worth it. They, like the amazing people at the library, know many things. I now work at Beatley Library and the Tech Lab and I am learning loads. The most important of which is to surround yourself with interesting people with new ideas. It's the best way to make sure you're learning all the time.nicole_anne_techlab.jpg

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


(Not) A Lazy Summer

When I look out my window, I find it hard to believe that less than three months ago, there was still snow on the ground. Not only that, but it felt like the winter of 2013/2014 was never going to vacate the Boston area. And yet, here we are; the sun is out in full force and people are starting to gather in any air conditioned space that they can find. However, considering just how unbearably cold the first half of the year was, I won't be complaining about the heat anytime soon. But if the city gets hit with another heat wave like it did last July, well, let's just say that you will most likely be able to find me sitting at a table inside JP Licks.
Speaking of summer, this one will be my first ever as a resident of Boston! But just like my last few summers back home in Long Island, I will be spending the bulk of this summer tucked away inside, either at work at the BPL or in a law library on Atlantic Av. Oh, and at Simmons as well. Yea, that's right, SIMMONS! 
Call me crazy, but I'm the type of person who likes to have things to do. While it's true that I now have two jobs to occupy my time, I still felt that there was something else that I could be doing this summer. And since I mastered knitting and crocheting over the last two summers, I decided to try going back to school. After experiencing a long break last summer between graduating undergrad and starting Simmons wherein I felt like my mind essentially turned to mush, I thought that maybe a summer class stretched over the course of the summer would be perfect for me. What did I ended up signing up for instead? A two week intensive archives class! Instead of having class one or two days a week over the course of maybe six weeks, I'm taking one class over the course of six days that meets for seven hours a pop. So much for a lazy summer. 
Well, on the bright side of things, if I can get through this, I can certainly get through anything.

Classes | leave a comment


Fenway Flag Ceremony

fenway02.jpgI am not a sports person, as I've mentioned, but I always seem to become friendly with massive sports fans who try to cure my sports apathy with huge infusions of exciting sports... stuff.  Well, exciting for them.  Mostly incomprehensible to me.   I spend a lot of time struggling to look like I care, if you know what I mean.  One of my friends is a huge - and I mean huge - Red Sox fan.  As a way to try to inspire a similar love for the team in my cold, dead heart, she invited me to go to Fenway to help with the giant flag that unfurls from the top of the Green Monster before the game.  (Here's an image of the flag (not from that day), for other non-Fenway go-ers.  We're the people who are actually behind it, who you can only see from the knees down.)

Basically, we got to Fenway about two hours before the game started, before the gates were open to ticket holders, and got to walk around the nearly empty ballpark, which was pretty cool, even for a baseball-hating heretic like myself.  Then, as we waited for the the flag to get ready to unfurl, we got to walk on the field while the players were warming up, which is probably a much bigger deal to Red Sox/Fenway fans. 

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The flag only took a few minutes to unfurl, and we grabbed the edge and held it down so it didn't flap around.  Behind the flag the world was red and white and blue, and all you could see were the other people behind it with you.  It only hung down on the field for a few minutes, and then we and military people stationed in front of it (who the flag unfurling was really about) gathered the flag up and marched it off the field.  That was all we had to do - we got free admission to the game from that point on.  No seats, but Fenway has a bunch of standing room sections, and they offer a great view.  (I guess.  A view of baseball people doing baseball things.) 

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the flag ceremony part and being part of it all, but I'm still not a baseball fan.  With this conversion ploy was a failure, I'm a little worried about what the next attempt will be.

Boston | Relaxing | leave a comment


THATCamp New England and the Rise of Digital Humanities

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Coffee was stirred, bagels were nibbled, and discussion had  begun filling the twittersphere. This past weekend I attended my first professional conference - THATCamp New England. Between May 30th and 31st, individuals gathered to the Boston College General Studies campus to talk about one thing: digital humanities. Digital humanities, otherwise known at DH, has been creeping across institutions and campuses in recent years and leaving untold innovations in it's wake. While there is no single static definition of DH, it can can be described as the interdisciplinary meeting ground between technology and the humanities.

Unlike other events on the conference circuit, THATCamp is structured around the idea of a "not-conference". Traditionally, conferences often follow a strictly structured format. THATCamp has diverged on a few key elements to follow a different approach through fluidity, collaboration, and engagement. In all realness, I've never considered myself to be an at-the-last-minute kind of person. Especially one who would sit down and organize an informal panel with a recent graduate from my alma mater aiming to open dialogues about stimulating interdisciplinary undergraduate activity in DH.  Between two days, I attended talks and workshops which created an approachable environment where folks met to share ideas, new technologies, and of course - twitter handles. For an overview of what events were offered, check out the information linked below.

Stepping out of the cloud of metadata and discourse which had accumulated after the two day conference, THATCamp had me hooked. A cordial, constructive, and not to mention free interdisciplinary conference opportunity with much crossover in LIS, I'm looking forward to seeing you there in 2015!

About THATCamp: http://thatcamp.org/about/

Event Schedule: http://newengland2014.thatcamp.org/schedule/

Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/hashtag/thatcampne?src=hash

DH Overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_humanities

Events | leave a comment