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Public Spaces in Macedonia and Boston

ourmarathon.pngWhen I lived in a country that had a strong socialist history, I spent a lot of time in one of the remaining relics from that equalizing time: the dom na kultura. This translates from Macedonian to the house of culture. It's a place where people come together for concerts, art exhibits, dance  recitals, poetry readings, and other such endeavors.  This is a public space that can be used by anyone. You can book the space and it, and all of it's resources are available to you. I happened to take dance classes there as well as hold a photography exhibit. It was one of my favorite places. I remember walking down the main street on a Wednesday afternoon when the director of the dom na kultura saw me, crossed the street and thrust a postcard into my hand, "COME!" he said with such enthusiasm that I could not refuse. The postcard advertised a band named "Amniotic Fluid" (no joke) that was playing that night. I went. It was the most intense jazz trio I have ever heard in my life. The clarinetist turned out to be from Macedonia but had just come back from spending 4 years at Berklee in Boston. This is why I loved the dom na kultura and THIS is why I want to be a librarian.

How do the two connect? What public space is for the people and everything they need and desire? The library. Where can you go to hear someone sing or dance or discuss books among friends? The LIBRARY. I was on my way to work the other morning when I heard a short piece on WBUR about the central branch of the Boston Public Library at Copley holding an event called "Share Your Story". Being a fan of anything and everything to do with stories I perked up. As it turns out Copley is hosting a number of events for the public to commemorate the marathon bombings.  I don't know why this surprised me. Every institution in town is holding a ceremony of sorts to commemorate the year anniversary. I suppose in my imagination though, the idea of people gathering in the library to share their stories, to commune with one another, is one of the exact reasons I came to Simmons. I want to be that person to open the doors and welcome a community of people inside. I want to build a space that welcomes people of all faiths, races, talents and ages. I am so proud to be an almost graduate from a program that enables us to watch over these community spaces. It's an amazing responsibility but one that I really look forward to having for a long time.

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Simmons Neon 5K

This past Saturday, me, my sister, and close group of friends came together to participate in Simmons Neon 5k. For most of us, this was the first time any of us had run a significant distance in a long time. Although I used to run competitively, I haven't run a race since my senior year of high school, so going into a race like this was both exciting yet nerve racking. A part of me really wanted to run the race as fast as possible but I knew that that would be a pipe dream; there was no way I was in any shape to run a 5k in about 25 minutes. So, I decided to aim for something else; finish under 30 minutes and do it without walking. Even if I did have to stop, I knew that both my friends and my sister would be there to support me.

On the day of, the six of us met on the course with mixed emotions. My sister and I were excited to get started, the others were a bit more weary. Even so, they all had signed up and were determined to finish one way or another. Afterwards, we had already decided that we would reward ourselves by going to a local pizza place and stuff our faces with delicious food. 
So how did the race go?
Well, I did manage to run it non stop and finish ahead of thirty minutes. The rest of my ragtag group did finish as well, although I think out of all of us, I was perhaps the one taking the race the most seriously. Once we had all caught our breaths, I was eager to know who would be interested in running another race with me at one point in the future. Let's just say that I don't think any of them (with the exception of my sister) will be running again in the foreseeable future. 
On the brighter side of things, at least we all got to eat some awesome pizza!

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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.

neighborhoods_exhibit3.jpg

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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!

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Judy Chicago Comes to Boston!

I can't believe this is already my last semester in graduate school - not to mention that the semester is halfway through.  As some of you know, I am taking my 502 - my capstone internship - at the Schlesinger Library, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.  As an intern exhibit researcher, I am working to coordinate an exhibit going up on October 14th regarding the Civil War.  But as that's months away, I want to share with you an exciting opportunity that's coming up much sooner...Judy Chicago coming to Boston! 

I am sure that most of you know Judy Chicago, but a bit of background on her: she is one of the most influential women artists this century.  Ostensibly her greatest work, The Dinner Party, is not only massive, but massively successful (and definitely on my bucket list of "to-see's") and lives in Brooklyn permanently; I highly recommend (re)reading the Wikipedia articles on both her and The Dinner Party, and then coming to see the new exhibit opening - featuring Judy Chicago and her work - at the Schlesinger Library!  The Schlesinger holds the largest collection of Judy Chicago papers, and will be displaying artifacts, articles, and more on Chicago.  The exhibit will run from February 26th until September 30th, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. 

To celebrate the opening of this wonderful exhibit, Judy Chicago will be giving a talk on Tuesday, March 4th, at 4:15 at the Knafel Center (formerly Radcliffe Gymnasium) alongside Jane Gerhard (a historian whose newest book, The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007, provides some fascinating insight and history into Chicago's themes).  Their interaction is one that I am beyond excited to see, especially because I can have their talk fresh in my mind when I visit the exhibit afterwards. 

If you are interested in art, feminism, their intersection, exhibits, archives, or even just have some spare time on Tuesday afternoon, I highly recommend that you take the time to come to this free lecture and view the exhibit!  Below is additional information if you are interested.  

Facebook page featuring events and more information for the Schlesinger: https://www.facebook.com/SchlesingerLibrary

Events page for the Schlesinger: http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/event/2014-judy-chicago-through-the-archives-exhibit

And, of course, her personal website: http://www.judychicago.com/artist/exhibition-schedule.php

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Where were you 50 years ago?

My answer to this question would be nowhere, my mother was six and my father was thirteen so I was not even a thought fifty years ago. Despite their young ages both my parents remember exactly where they were, and so do the majority of patrons walking into the library today. The mood is really interesting as each patron sees our book display and instantly starts to reflect about where they were and how they felt when President John F. Kennedy was shot.

With all the media buildup to the anniversary of this infamous day I have become somewhat desensitized and didn't give any thought into how I would feel on the actual day. I'm so interested to hear more stories as the day goes on and to reflect on how one event changed our country's history. Working with the public every day as many pros and a few cons, today the pros most certainly outweigh any cons. Today I am so grateful to get to work in an environment where I can learn more about our history through listening to the memories of people in my community.

All Americans know this quote, and those working with the public can certainly relate, so I think it is only fitting to conclude with some of JFK's most famous words, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Have a wonderful weekend and take some time to listen to those around you with lots of interesting life experience to share.

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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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Getting Involved

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

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

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

Kidlit Night:

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

https://twitter.com/KidlitNight

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

Children's Books Boston

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

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

InfoLink:

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

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

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Bookstock 2013 and My New Job

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

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

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

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ALA Conference: Chicago Summer 2013

My fantastic summer of adventures has come to a close. I am home in Vermont settling back into a routine of working full-time for the National Park Service and part-time as a waitress at the local (only) restaurant in town.  I have been home for two weeks already and my brain is still buzzing from my experiences in Chicago attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference.  So many librarians in one place! I had a fabulous time traveling with new friends from GSLIS and catching up with old friends from undergrad during spare moments away from the conference.

Highlights from my trip include:

  • Opening remarks from Freakonomics author Steven D.  Levitt
  • Attending a panel of graphic novel authors and artists who discussed the growing popularity of the graphic novel format
  • Trying my first ever Chicago style hot dog
  • Engaging in a heated discussion about the role of prison libraries at the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable
  • Listening to nominees for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction praise the role of libraries as important influencers in their lives
  • Meeting Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) and listening to her read aloud from her latest new books The World Will Follow Joy and A Cushion in the Road
  • Concluding my travels with a week in Northern Michigan on Drummond Island with one of my best friends and her family

I could continue with more highlights but suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was completely overwhelmed the entire time (except my relaxing days in Michigan).  The conference exhibit hall alone is enough to occupy and overstimulate; I went home with more free books than I would have imagined possible.  Meeting and conversing with librarians from all over the country renewed my confidence that I have found the right future profession.  The only problem I have now is the challenge of figuring out which direction to pursue... will I work in reference or with young adults? in a public library, or for a corporation or law office? I am hopeful that my courses next semester and a possible job opportunity (fingers crossed!) will help narrow my focus as my time at GSLIS continues to fly by.

For now I plan to enjoy the little free time I have in Vermont and continue to tackle my ever growing list of must read books. 

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The Friends of the Library Book Sale

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The majority of my weekend was occupied by the Friends of the Library Book Sale at the library where I work. Most people don't give much thought to library sponsored book sales, other than, "Do I have books to donate?" and "Oh, such great deals to fill (and overfill) my book shelves!"  Like many other public library Friends' groups, our library's Friends raise money for all kinds of programming expenses and museum passes, and we rely heavily on their continued support and generosity, especially in these lean fiscal times.  The most vital piece of the Book Sale that I had, until recently, overlooked was how much this was a community event and what community really means for public libraries.

Here are all the pieces of COMMUNITY that came together to make our Book Sale a great success:

  • Donors - So many members of our community cleaned out their homes and donated great books and movies.
  • Town support - The Firefighters and the Community Church shared their tables with us so we had a great organized space in our beautiful library community room.
  • Boy Scouts - We could not have done it without you!  The town's boy scouts came over the night before to move all the heavy boxes of books into the sale location, and again after the sale to help clean up.
  • Volunteers - Many members of the community showed up to set up tables and organize materials for the sale.  Others helped to man the check-out table and keep things running smoothly the day of the sale.
  • Giving back - My library director has a strong sense of community and made gifts of many items to smaller libraries, and the prison and halfway house where I volunteer.
  • Patrons - I saw regular library patrons and many new faces, of all ages.  A most memorable shopper was about eight years old with a pink purse and a determination to acquire as many Junie B. Jones books as we could find.
  • The Garden Club Plant Swap happened right outside on our lawn at the same time!
  • The Transfer Station - Even my dump run to the "Used Room" with the unsold encyclopedia sets had a sweet sense of community as the transfer station employees helped to unload my car, in the hope that someone will give those encyclopedias a home.

It was a weekend that celebrated the best of a small town community library!

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Boston Strong

I am neither eloquent nor competent enough to put into words the thoughts, fears, feelings, and emotions that I experienced last week during and in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt. It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes something this tragic and senseless to bring out the best in people, but Boston responded with the heart and spirit of a city that will not let this tragedy define one of its greatest traditions. If anything, the marathon will come back stronger next year. Boston Strong(er).

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Information Overload

The whole world knows what happened in Boston this past week. I don't wish to ruminate on the agonies, rather focus on the lessons. As common with tragedies, there are many. One that I came across, that might seem minor in the scheme of human suffering this week, nevertheless is the one I want to focus on because of its tie-in to library science.

There has been much media coverage over the "social media aspect" of the Boston Marathon Bombing and in the horrific misidentification of the suspects in the New York Post but even before the New York Post coverpage there were thousands of people on Reddit and other websites trying to solve the crime like amateur Sherlock Holmes. I do believe their intentions were good but more and more I saw links to the supposed Twitter of the suspects, their Facebook, statements such as "if this is the same so and so then they worked here" or "if this is the same guy he won this award in the year X".

We've already seen the dangers that come from jumping to such conclusions too rapidly. And it reminded me of lesson from my reference classes at Simmons. Mainly, that the first answer you come across isn't necessarily the right one. You have to be sure of your sources. You have to know how to sift through the useless data. You have to be able to not only find the information but validate it.

People ask all the time, in what they think is a funny way, why one has to go to school to be a librarian or why libraries are still useful in the digital age. This is why. Yes, there is information at our fingertips. There is information overload, in fact. There is more to reference than finding the first answer that pops up in Google. You need to know where to start and also where to stop.

As a law librarian I am reminded of this every day. If I did my job the way the Reddit users approached the Boston Marathon "investigation" I could put the lives of innocent people in jeopardy. I need to be sure the person I am looking up, the article I am seeking by a defendant or an expert witness is really their work and not just another John Smith from L.A. Information may be instant but your judgment cannot be.

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World Book Night

What a week this has been! I'm overwhelmed with relief, grief, exhaustion, and patriotism. It's been a week. Incidentally, aside from being the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing, this week was also Library Appreciation Week, and this Thursday was also Poem in Your Pocket Day. How I wanted to celebrate these holidays. Yet they slipped through my fingers, and got away from me.

Today, as we breathe a collective sigh and remember what's important in life I'd like to point out another way to celebrate books, Boston and general well being. Next Tuesday evening, as you're walking home from school or work keep an eye out for the ladies and gentlemen giving away free books in celebration of World Book Night. While April 23rd (this Tuesday) is UNESCO's Day of the Book as well as Shakespeare's birthday the people of World Book Night give away books, donated by a varietyWorld Book Night.png of authors, to promote the love of reading. This program is only 2 years old! It's free to sign up to be a distributer of books. I'm going to Brookline Booksmith to pick up my box in a few hours. My job is simple. Give away all of the copies of The Handmaid's Tale in my box in a place that people do not normally associate with books. It's a pretty amazing premise: Give away books! Spread the joy of reading!

Some people don't have books. Nor do some make reading an integral part of their lives. Receiving a book from me at a T stop may not change any of that. However, I believe that this community is ready for a slew of random acts of kindness. We've already been brought together by senseless acts of violence and gunfire. Now it's time for another kind of event to make us even stronger. World Book Night is celebrated all over the world. So wherever you may be, keep an eye out for this particular brand of magic and hope on Tuesday night.

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Marathon Monday

Forgive me for writing about sports for a second consecutive week, but the Boston Marathon is kind of a big deal. The Boston Athletic Association claims that in terms of media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world. Yowzer. As I wrote at this time last year, I love watching the marathon, and it is another unique Boston experience.

Simmons is about a mile from Mile 25 of the marathon, where Beacon Street and Commonwealth Ave will be absolutely packed with people cheering for runners as they gut out the last few miles through Brookline and Boston. Today is Patriots' Day, which is only a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine (although for some reason in Maine they move the apostrophe and call it Patriot's Day), so many people either have or take the day off to witness thousands of people running. Watching people run sounds fairly boring, but the emotion and camaraderie are palpable. You have to be there. This is not an event that is "as seen on TV."

Last year I made an effort to make the marathon relevant to GSLIS. This year, I am unabashedly promoting it as another perk of Boston. Even if you're not at GSLIS, and even if you're not in the Boston area, it is something that you should do your best to see in person. Oh, and the Red Sox play an 11 o'clock home game every year on Patriots' Day, if you feel like capitalizing on this and my last post in a single day.

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Being Frank About Fenway

Today is opening day at Fenway Park. Granted, the Red Sox have already played six games on the road to start the season, but baseball doesn't really seem official until the boys of summer suit up within the confines of friendly Fenway. I am not a huge Sox fan, and they aren't even supposed to be very good this year, but somehow that doesn't seem to matter. Baseball has started, which means that spring is here and having a few afternoon beers is excusable in the name of watching "tha Sawcks." ("Tha Sawcks" = "the Sox" with a Boston accent.)

Boston sports teams have more or less of a cult following that can be borderline offensive to the uninitiated. For the next six months, many Bostonians will be living and dying with each and every pitch of the remaining 155 regular season games. I can guarantee you that people will come out of the woodwork to be in the Fenway area this afternoon, and I plan to be one of them. I think that "Red Sox Nation" is annoying and overrated, but it seems like a rite of passage to immerse oneself in the mob of the Fenway faithful.

Simmons is very close to Fenway Park. Weather permitting, I walk past it on my way to the train after class. The area has been fairly quiet for the past few weeks, but that is about to change. Regardless of whether you like the Red Sox, baseball, or sports in general, there is something special about Fenway. I don't really care how the Red Sox do this year. In fact, if they are terrible, tickets will probably be cheaper and a layperson like myself might actually be able to afford to set foot inside Fenway a few times. If you're at GSLIS, you should do your best to experience a Red Sox game either in or around Fenway Park. Love them, hate them, or don't care about them at all, tha Sawcks are close enough to Simmons that you should at least spend an afternoon or evening with them. It's an experience that is truly unique to Boston.

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The Art of the Symposium

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a very cool symposium put on by many of GSLIS' student organizations including SCoSAA, LISSA, ALASC, ASIS&T, Panoption, SLA, and UXPA.  This Symposium was the second one GSLIS has ever put on, and provided a really interesting glimpse into many different areas of GSLIS. 

There was a keynote speaker, GSLIS' own Martha Mahard, and four panels of students and past students.  Each panel had a topic, and the panelists gave a presentation on their specific area of study and then answered questions.  Overall, there were a wide variety of topics, from Technology to Ethics, and it was incredibly interesting to see what my fellow students were working on (not to mention impressive... I'm feeling like a bit of a slacker for not having presented!). 

An additional super-cool part of this Symposium was that it was available for both live and future streaming.  As the Facilitator for the Archives Management Cohort Online, it was awesome to be able to present this opportunity to the online students that I work with all over the country, and even internationally.  This also allowed for student presenters to be able to include family and friends, which made for a very integrated experience that I appreciated immensely. 

Another part of the symposium that was unique and very much appreciated was the hashtag #gslissympa13 - a Twitter tag where members attending the symposium, both streaming and live, could silently exchange thoughts, ideas, and appreciation for aspects of the symposium.  This was another way I loved the integration between the streaming viewers and the in-person viewers, and was impressed at the level of social media know-how of the student orgs.

I sincerely hope and believe that all of these new technological integrations between in-person attendees and internet-connected attendees will be the new direction for both future Simmons conferences and the field of LIS in general.  For me personally, flights down to New Orleans for the SAA Conference this summer are looking a little steep, price-wise - I will be very interested to see if they attempt to integrate some of this technology so that I can "attend," even if I can't. 

And way to go, SCoSAA and all the student orgs that put this on - your symposium was a roaring success!  And the literally cherry on top?  Ice cream at the end!   (Although it may be difficult to have a virtual ice cream social... I'm sure we'll figure out something.)

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Restaurant Week

jpgOther than all things library and literary, I am also very passionate about food. I love exploring different restaurants and trying new things, I will eat just about anything. Although I'm absolutely loving library school thus far, I realize I've been spending nearly every waking moment thinking about school and need to spend a bit more time relaxing.

Enter restaurant week. Boston is a fantastic city with lots of fun events throughout the year and one of my favorites is restaurant week. Twice annually, once in March and again in August, this event is a time when many of the most exclusive and expensive restaurants in the city offer a limited three course menu at a fixed price, check out http://www.restaurantweekboston.com for more details!

Many of my friends enjoy food as much as I do and over the past few years we have developed a game around restaurant week to select our destination. We start an email chain where, after pouring over the menu selections online, we each list our top five or ten choices. These then get narrowed down by eliminating places someone has already been and overlapping suggestions. The ultimate goal is to choose a restaurant with a fantastic menu that none of us have already visited.

This year I broke my rule and went to a tried and true favorite, The Capital Grille. My partner in crime was one of my sorority sisters and we had a lovely lunch and a long overdue catch up session. Restaurant week is just one of many examples of the plethora of fun events around Boston for those times when you need a break from all things library.

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Finding Archiving Principles at PAX

With a computer programmer/gamer boyfriend there was no way I was going to forget that PAX East, one of the country's biggest video game conventions, was this weekend. Not being a gamer myself, I steered clear of making it a four day event complete with the Pokemon pub crawl (gotta drink them all!) like he did. I did, however, tag along Sunday out of curiosity. (And I would have you know that I beat, nay, alienated three men in Ticket to Ride) Upon seeing there was a panel on the preservation of video games, I also dragged the aforesaid three men along. I was greatly amused to listen for two hours to five panelists discuss the job of an archivist without ever saying the term.

The panel was sponsored by The American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM), a non-profit organization in NH that strives to preserve pre-1980s arcade games. Also present was a researcher trying to track down the original names of some of the early game designers, a professor of game design, and a gentleman that ran a webshow about retro games. Despite their different positions, they were all brought together on the panel to basically discuss one major impediment to preserving the actual games or studying the past of gaming...the lack of records. The researcher told stories of companies who didn't know what games they had produced in the distant past and had to rebuild the history of their company via outside sources like game reviews. One of the ACAM directors told of other companies who didn't even know what games they held the rights to because mergers with other companies had brought in undocumented inventories. And it isn't just the issue of paper records being lost, but it also effects the games themselves. Without the documentation of the coding behind the games, many are lost forever. Or, without the proper migration of data to new formats, the games may work but can no longer be played because the equipment no longer exists.

The professor must have recognized the glazed-over look in the eyes of some audience members because at one point he jumped in and remarked, "I don't think we've done a good of explaining why it is so important to save this stuff." He went on to explain that as a professor he felt it was important for his students to see the legacy the present gaming culture had come from and to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the past. Although these gentlemen were only concerned about the world of video games, their struggles and reasons regarding preservation are universal. The job of the researcher would be a lot easier if these companies had archivists or records managers. Although some larger companies do, it is still not the norm and it's interesting, yet sad, to see the consequences. It was also interesting to see how many gamers were unwittingly introduced to archival principles during a panel at PAX.

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Librarians vs. Archivists

There are two camps in the library profession, the librarians and the archivists. Sometimes it feels like they are rival gangs and everyone has to pick sides. This doesn’t seem to be much of a problem because most students enter GSLIS with a clear idea which side they are on. But what about the rest of us? I see so many interesting ways to pursue this profession and I have wavered back and forth about whether to choose courses with an archives focus or take the librarian path. Two roads diverged in a wood one could say.

After much internal struggle, I have chosen to take the librarian track with an emphasis and goal of working in a public library. Given that I had six different college majors, only time will tell if this current path ends up being my ultimate direction. If I end up in a public library I may very well be responsible for maintaining a small archives collection. Especially in rural communities, it is common for the public library to also house a small archive.

This field does not seem to have many role models for individuals coexisting in the worlds of librarians and archivists. However, I have found one excellent example, the current National Archivist David Ferriero. He is the tenth archivist for the United States and the first to have been trained as a librarian, not an archivist. He is also a Simmons GSLIS alum!

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ferriero last summer when he spoke near my hometown. I am slightly biased towards him because, like me, he is also an alum of Northeastern University. After he spoke, we had the opportunity to ask questions and I asked what advice he had for a student who is just beginning to pursue a career in this field, especially someone who is torn between choosing archives or libraries. His advice: don’t choose. He reminded me that it is important to be in control of my own education and to make my school work for me. That’s what I’m paying for, isn’t it? Since hearing him speak I have tried to do just that. Despite being on the public libraries track I am still planning to take an archiving course or two, even if that is not the norm. GSLIS has all kinds of different students and the most effective are the ones who pursue the courses they want and make the degree work for them.

For more information about David Ferriero and his interesting background check out: http://www.archives.gov/about/archivist/archivist-biography-ferriero.html

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