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East meets West – Part III – The Follow-up

I would like to follow up on Chelsea’s two blog posts about some of the differences between the Main Boston campus and West campus in South Hadley.

For a general feel, I will start by referring you back to my earlier post, “The Tale of Two Campuses,” but I will try to be more specific in this post.

Class Size – Chelsea is right here.  I don’t know the names of half of the people in my Boston class but all my West campus classes have been small, leading to a very bonded group of people. At West, we bake brownies for class and seek out opportunities to work together via discussion boards, email, etc. during the week. The small class size does make a more “family” atmosphere.

Demographics –In general, we tend to be older on West campus and in my experience, there are also more men at GSLIS -West.  There are many more career changers on West, and that leads to the bonding over fitting in classwork and group projects around family and job commitments.  The majority (but not all) of GSLIS students I know in Boston are young, unmarried, and full-time students.

Exams – My biggest surprise in Boston is that exams are NOT the norm.  Everything is projects. On West campus, it is more of a mix.  I have confirmed this by talking to other students and comparing experiences in the same courses.

Days/Times – Boston offers classes six days a week, with many options for morning, afternoon, and evening.  West campus offers one evening per week, and morning and afternoons on Saturdays only.  That scheduling difference is part of the appeal for the career changers who, like myself, work during the week and are too far to pop into Boston for an evening class.

Involvement – Chelsea is also right here, but to be honest, I am not all that involved in either location because I have a very long commute. It is true that Boston offers more involvement opportunities, but whether you can take advantage of them depends on your life.  In my case, I have one day in Boston, and one day at West campus, and I work the rest of the week so if an event doesn’t happen to coincide with my free time on that campus, I am not able to attend.

City Mouse or Country Mouse – The campuses are so different.  You will think you stepped into Hogwarts when you walk into the buildings of Mount Holyoke College on West campus.  A private residential women’s college at which we are guest students is very different than the bustling city campus of Simmons-Boston.  This is just a preference thing.  I like them both.

Technology – Both campuses offer technology courses, but there is just more of it at the main Boston campus.  The ready availability of the GSLIS Tech lab in Boston allows classes to have labs more often, and the Tech Lab also offers many workshops all for free. Technology support and labs do exist on West but it is not as readily available.

Beatley Library – This is my one mark of favoritism.  I LOVE Beatley Library in Boston, and the fun of being in a library school library, filled with mentoring librarians.  That said, however, Beatley does FedEx books to the front doors of GSLIS West students (for free) and provides readily available online chat and support, and Mount Holyoke’s library is beautiful…I just can’t help myself though that I like to browse the GSLIS shelves in Beatley.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to post a comment.  If I don’t know the answer, I will find it…after all, that is what librarians do!

Boston | Classes | GSLIS | GSLIS West | leave a comment


East Meets West Part II: The Details

After last week’s post, I got a comment from a prospective GSLIS student, Jodi. She

writes, "As a prospective student (probably West), I would love to hear more about the differences between the two, especially from a student's perspective. Anyone care to summarize that discussion at the Squealing Pig?"

Jodi, and all who are curious (this is certainly a frequently asked question!), I will do my

best to answer your question. We did talk a lot about some specific differences.

I personally have not yet taken classes on both campuses, but I am taking a course in

Boston at the main campus next semester. After talking with GSLIS Boston students,

it really seems that the biggest difference between the campuses is class size, with the

smaller classes at GSLIS West. My classes have never had more than 20 students, and

only the core (required) courses were that large. Last Spring, I had a class with only 8

total students. According to the Boston students I spoke with, classes there tend to have

at least 20 students. This certainly has to do with the student enrollment numbers. GSLIS

West has approximately 70 total students, where there are about 700 on the main campus.

Another difference was the level of involvement of the student body. At GSLIS West,

some of us have very long drives, most of us work at least part time and many of us

have families. It is therefore difficult to form student groups and organizations, since

so many students are unable to participate. That is not to say that we do not have an

active community; we do have events, both social and academic, hosted by the Library

and Information Science Student Organization (LISSA West) that get good turnouts.

However, the Boston campus is able to have active chapters of a variety of student

organizations such as the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), the Society of American

Archivists (SAA), and many others.

Similar to what I mentioned above, the final major difference that we discussed at The

Squealing Pig is the campus environment. Because GSLIS Boston is a larger community,

there is a lot more happening. While we visited, there was a conference being held on

campus. If you check out the GSLIS Events calendar, you will see there is something

going on at least once a week. At GSLIS West, we only meet on campus once a week.

We do hold events almost every Saturday, but they are not as large or involved as some

of the events held on the Boston campus.

I really don’t think there is one campus that is better than the other; it is all a matter of

preference. I personally prefer GSLIS West because it is a smaller community. I like

the intimacy of smaller classes and I enjoy having the same people in my classes every

semester. However, I can certainly see the appeal of going out to Boston. It would be nice

to have so much library culture happening around me every day. So the choice is yours,

Jodi. I think that no matter which campus you choose, you’ll love Simmons GSLIS!

GSLIS | GSLIS West | Students | 2 comments


East Meets West

I bet many of you have seen this map before. It’s funny! And sort of true. But some of us out in the dragon-filled regions see Boston not so much as the center of the universe, but more as a big scary jungle. That’s why last week, LISSA West sponsored a field trip to the Simmons main campus in Boston. Our goal was to give GSLIS West students the opportunity to visit the Boston campus and become familiar with things like parking and the layout of the library. Our hope was to eliminate fear of the big city and encourage GSLIS West students to take courses at Simmons Boston.

There were four of us total and we had a busy afternoon! We started with a tour of Beatley Library led by the wonderful Linda Watkins, Liaison Librarian and Kate McGrath, Dean’s Fellow for GSLIS West. We got to see how things work in the stacks and behind the scenes. We had the opportunity to meet Justin Snow in the archives who let us into the vault where the library stores lots of historic goodies.

We then met Pablo Morales Henry in the tech lab who showed us the space there as well as the media lab and the usability lab. We even had the chance to speak with Pablo about what technology and workshops are most important to GSLIS West and how the tech lab could serve us better.

After that, we met with Em Claire Knowles, Assistant Dean, and a few students from the Boston campus for light refreshments. They told us all about their student organizations and some of the events they have planned which all sound so exciting! GSLIS West and some of the Boston students then left campus and walked to the Squealing Pig where we had drinks and dinner and got to really talk about the similarities and differences of our GSLIS experiences.

[caption id="attachment_1740" align="alignnone" width="300"] GSLIS West with Boston staff and students in the GSLIS student lounge.[/caption]

I wish more GSLIS West students had made it out that day. The Boston campus is not scary. It’s actually really friendly and fun! Maybe next semester we can get the Boston students out to South Hadley so we can prove that we don’t have any dragons...just a lot of trees.

GSLIS | GSLIS West | Students | 3 comments


Happiness, already rampant at a library near you!

Does anybody else feel incredibly lucky? Seriously, does anybody out there feel like they've hit the profession jackpot? I do. I mean, it's been quite a year for me in general. I finished 3 years of serving in the Peace Corps, married the love of my life who I met in the Peace Corps (yeah, those statistics are real), started a new job at a school library, and began my first two classes at GSLIS. I really don't know how next year could compare by any small stretch of the imagination unless I sprout wings and fly to Neverland. However, I don't think it's only me that feels this way.

I've spent the last three weeks getting to know my first year peers in my core courses and they couldn't more jazzed about what they do. I remember all of our introductions on the first day of class and everyone's talking about how they came to love libraries. You know what I'm talking about. Everyone has a story about how they came to the library. It's always one that makes you smile and nod, because you've been there too! Maybe not in exactly the same way, because let's face it, no one comes in to Narnia through the same wardrobe. But after talking to GSLIS students in the moodle forums, listening to how people are so excited about helping people meet their information needs, discussing the latest technology trends and how they're being applied to libraries today I can't help but feel pumped, amped, and quite elated that I've found a place where people appreciate the C.S. Lewis reference. No wonder librarians have to die in order for a position to open up. They never retire, because they're too darn content at work!

This is my first post and I wanted to introduce myself. I feel like anyone reading this post will think I'm a ray of sunshine and light, which of course, is not always the case. I think it's the "happiness is contagious idea" philosophy, and I just happen to be in libraries a lot more, surrounded by interesting, inquisitive minds, and that makes me happy.

GSLIS West | Libraries | People | leave a comment


The Tale of Two Campuses

I started my Simmons GSLIS career on beautiful West campus, at Mount Holyoke College.  It was a long, two and a half hour drive, but other than a few dicey snowstorms, the commute through the meandering hills of NH and Massachusetts was a pleasant one.  I enjoyed many great books on my MP3 player during the commute, and the faculty and students at GSLIS West were (and still are) a brilliant and supportive bunch.

I had two classes that took place on campus and one online…I will blame my online one, with a remarkable Boston professor, for what happened next.

Boston?  I got it in my head to take advantage of ALL Simmons had to offer a library science student.  Was I missing something by being on only one campus? Or is the choice simply one of geography?

I decided to find out.

So, last Saturday I attended my Database Management class on West campus, taught by a library professional and professor from Harvard (who also teaches the class in Boston), and on Monday, I started Reference on the Boston campus with the outstanding professionals at Beatley Library.

I left my house at 5 a.m. for the long commute into Boston – a car, a bus, and the T – knowing it would be longer than the West campus commute. Longer, but worth it.  You might question that logic, but have you been to Simmons’ Beatley library?

The Simmons and Mount Holyoke library staff were so accommodating when I took classes on West campus, free FedEx to my door for any books I requested from Simmons, along with full access to Mount Holyoke’s beautiful library collection.  I will admit, however, that wandering the stacks of the library science section of Beatley gives me chills…the thrill of standing in the place at the other end of the online search.  Okay, so it is not the Bodleian, but I have wanted to attend Simmons Library Science program for nearly 20 years (yes, I am that old), so for me, it was a bit like the Holy Grail.  And it was Boston.

I haven’t spent much time in a city in many years…I live on a dirt road in the woods.  While I hate to sound like one of the Beverly Hillbillies, I was excited to be in the hustle and bustle, grab lunch at the Pru and take a whirl through the MFA, something I had not done in over a decade.

So, do I think that one campus is better than the other? Does one offer more? The answer is no, but what they offer is different.  They offer the same high standards of education, faculty and expectations, but the packaging is different and so is the experience.  I can’t say if I will choose one campus over the other, but I think that I will, instead, choose the class, the professor, the schedule that works for me and take from each place all it has to offer, knowing that the experiences of both locations will enrich my degree and make me a better librarian.

Boston | Classes | GSLIS West | leave a comment


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