Takin' Care of Business

Good news! I have a cataloging internship for the spring (January-May 2015). It's at WGBH (a Boston TV and radio station that produces two thirds of the country's public broadcasting, like Masterpiece Theater, Antiques Road Show, and Frontline) at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB). Besides cataloguing, I'm going to contribute to their blog and sit on an advisory sub-committee for PBCore (Public Broadcasting Core), the metadata schema the archive is using and developing for audiovisual material. I'm really excited. It's been tough for me to find a cataloguing internship in the Boston area.

The internship isn't paid, so I need another way to make money. Fortunately, I was able to schedule two of my classes on the same day and one over Spring Break, so I have a flexible schedule to accommodate work. I've been applying for a lot of jobs, and I have interviews for three. Two are at local education institutions, one is at a museum, and they all are at libraries. Most of the employers that want to interview me wanted to do so during the end of December, but since I am in Miami until the new year, I've had to hope people doing the hiring would be accommodating. For the most part, they have been. I'm really grateful. Two interviews are now in January, and one is happening on Skype next week.

I really hope at least one works out. I'm thrilled that I'm at a point in my education and experience where I can begin to get paid to do what I love. 

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Movie Time

For today, I wanted to do something a little bit different. Now that the semester is over, I have time to pursue some of my other interests, and if you've looked at my profile, you know that one of the things I've been trying to do for the last few years is watch through Empire Magazine's 500 Greatest Films. So here's my own take on the handful of films I've watched since the semester finished.

312. Suspiria 1977

            Terrible. Truly. The music that accompanied this film gave both me and my roommate a headache within the first five minutes. I think if it hadn't been for the terrible sound-editing, it may have been an okay movie. However, even the special effect sounds were obnoxious. I literally wanted to sit in absolute silence after this movie was over so my ears could recover.

142. Almost Famous 2000

            I had no idea how many well-known actors were in this! Also it starts with the Chipmunk's Christmas song and a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird, so we're off to a good start. This movie was so good! It was a movie about music, but unlike some other movies about music, it didn't make you feel like a failure for liking "mainstream" music. It was about the ups and downs of being in a band and starting to get famous. I think it's probably still really applicable to bands today even though it is set in the 1970s.

157. True Romance 1993

            I'm tempted to like it right away because Quentin Tarantino wrote it, and I love Tarantino. But he didn't direct it, so we'll see. Oh gosh, remember when Christian Slater was like the hottest actor? So I'm a huge feminist, and when I first heard of the Bechdel test, I was like, this is too easy. Every movie must pass this. For those of you who don't know, the Bechdel test is used to guage representation of women in media. It consists of three parts. 1. There have to be at least two women in the movie. 2. They both have to have names. 3. They have to talk to each other about something other than men. True Romance fails the Bechdel test. In fact, the only female character gets "rescued" from being a call girl. Then gets beaten up later (when she's half-naked for really no reason). I did quite like the ending though, so overall, I'd give it a shot, if you want.

98. North by Northwest 1959

            Not as good as Rear Window. It has a pretty slow start, but the climax is exciting. Over all, I thought it was going to be more adventurous.

410. A Hard Day's Night 1964

            I was mildly ambivalent about The Beatles (themselves not their music), but after watching A Hard Day's Night, I'll consider myself a fan. I spent half the movie laughing my bum off. They're hilarious. And their music added a nice background to the film. I would say that the screaming fans got sort of annoying, but then I started to wonder if they hired actors or actually just told fans where they were filming.

So there we go! 5 films in 6 days. Not too shabby. What about you? How many of the 500 "greatest" films have you watched? What do you think should be on there that isn't?

All the Best - Hayley

 

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Just like they said in class!

Yesterday, at work, there was a dilemma.  It was a fairly sticky issue, and had multiple perspectives and points.  (I know, you're rolling your eyes, thinking: what kind of crazy problem could there be in a Children's Department?  Just take my word for it.)  As the librarians debated how to handle the situation, reviewing library policy, professional ethics, and good sense, I said "This is exactly the type of thing we discussed in my 401 class!  I can't believe things the professors teach us actually happen in a real library!"

Actually, I can believe it.  The SLIS program is a professional degree, and the focus is on teaching the skills we need for a particular job.  Our professors know what employers are looking for, and they make sure that we're exposed to the practical, applicable parts of library science.  We learn how to handle problems, use particular skills, and take what we've learned and apply it to different situations.  We are getting a top notch education that can be put to work in the field right away.

Thank you, my first semester professors.  I really appreciate what you taught us this fall, and I look forward to the rest of my classes at SLIS.

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Free Time

This week was blissfully uneventful. Mostly, I stuck to my routine. I had class (for the last time this year), volunteered in the library at the Boston Arts Academy, and finished my internship. Things happened that were outside of my routine too. I interviewed for jobs and internships for the new year, which was both stressful and exciting. (I won't tell you which ones, because I don't want to jinx it.) I also went to a holiday party at my friend Meaghan's apartment and went to the movies and out for dinner with my roommate to celebrate the end of the school year.

On a more productive note, with all my newfound free time, I ran dozens of errands I've been procrastinating, so my eyebrows now don't resemble Frida Kahlo's and my wardrobe is newly expanded with clothes I finally got dry-cleaned. On top of that, I checked out a lot of books from Beatley Library (Simmons College Library) to read over the break. Currently, I'm in the middle of The Night Circus, a fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern. I love a plot involving competition and rivalry! It's really exciting.

On Wednesday I leave to visit my family in Miami, Florida. I haven't been home for the holidays in six years, so I'm happy to have the opportunity to go. I'm going to be staying in my family's house for two whole weeks. That seems like a long time, so I'm a little nervous. I'll let you know how it goes. It's around 70 degrees there right now, and my dad keeps talking about how cold it is, which makes me laugh, because it's literally freezing right now in Boston.

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Semester by the Numbers

The end of the semester always makes me think about numbers. The big GPA looming over my head. How much time I spend wasting instead of working on my finals like I should be doing. This week, I decided to do a little bit of calculating and submit for your perusal the important numbers from my semester.

4: The number of classes I took (That's 14 credits. Yes, I might be crazy. No, people usually don't take that many classes.)

29: The number of hours I volunteered at Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School Library.

160 : The approximate number of hours I spent physically sitting in a classroom.

53: The number of books I had on hold at my local library.

101 : The number of books I read (YA, middle grade, beginning readers and picture books).

168 : The number of articles I read.

27, 251 : The number of words in all my papers.

6: The number of presentations I did.

As you can see, it was a lot of work. But it was all so worth it.

All the Best - Hayley

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Simmons Wrap Up

When I decided to apply to Simmons for my Master's, I was working as a records management professional in a corporate setting.  I loved certain parts of my job, and I wanted to make sure I would be able to keep a career in records management going - so a Master's seemed like a sound (if possibly unnecessary) investment in my future.  (Corporate records managers haven't really needed a Master's in the way that a librarian would, although in the current climate it is becoming more and more necessary to have some education or certification to make you stand out from the rest of the pack just to get a job in the first place.)

I was worried about how I was going to balance school and working full-time.  I was especially worried that I would end up only being able to take one class per semester, and would be in school for 4+ years - that I might lose momentum, or that there were so many things that might happen to knock me out before I finished the degree. 

It took two full years, but I managed to finish when I hoped I would.  Over the course of my time at Simmons, I have changed my mind three or four times about what I want to focus on once I have the degree.  The thing you don't understand before you start is that it's not just archives or libraries; there are different types of libraries and different types of archives, records management, digital repositories, etc.  Even now there are a lot of classes I really loved and a lot of different career paths I think I would enjoy, and choosing just one is difficult.  I've been interviewing a lot over the past few weeks, and have had one offer so far, so it really is time to make a decision, finally.  No matter what I end up doing, I am extremely excited about the future.

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That's All, Folks! (For Now)

I'm finished!!! I turned in all of my work for the Fall term and did all of my presentations. I think everything went well, but I won't know until I get my grades in a few weeks. Technically, I still have one more week of class for LIS 407 (Reference), but since I gave my presentation last week, I can basically just show up in my pajamas and kick back while other people get stressed out. I won't, but I am enjoying that I could, hypothetically speaking.

My presentation last week, which I gave with four other people, lasted forty minutes and was about PubMed, which is a public medical database run by the National Library of Medicine. A small percentage of our grade depended on how professionally we were dressed during our time in front of the class, so it was pleasantly unusual to see everyone looking so nice. It's not that people in the program are slobs or anything, but around this time of the year, everyone is looking at their laptop and not in the mirror.

I was not, however, pleased with the outcome of the website I designed for 488 (Technology for Information Professionals). Pretty much everyone else's was better than mine. I didn't realize my classmates were going to be so competitive about it, or I would have upped my game. I mean, I always do my best, but some people took "doing your best" to a whole new level by doing things like teaching themselves Java script and using Flash. Um ... this was the class for tech beginners, right?

After class I spent the next 24 hours (with some sleep) re-tooling my CSS design and asking people for help with it. It's a little better now, by which I mean it's not totally embarrassing. Here's a screen cap. of the "About Me" page:

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 2.44.28 PM.png

So what's next? Applying for jobs, deciding if I want to study abroad with UNC in London in May, watching Mockingjay on the big screen, holiday parties and tomfoolery with friends, and then going home to Miami to visit my family for two weeks in mid-December. In short, I'm getting a well-deserved and much-needed break.

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Happy Study-mas!

Well, this is it. The final weeks of the fall semester have finally arrived! Yes that's right, the end is finally in sight; what we see up ahead is the light at the end of the tunnel. Now the only thing standing in our way from kicking off winter break: Finals. 

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Ah finals. Like Christmas, finals is that magical time of the year when everyone comes together and collectively moves into the library for a week or two. Instead of putting up decorations and baking cookies, we get to write essays and stand before our peers and present our group projects. While some people eagerly check off the days until their respective winter holiday begins, we'll be busy checking off the number of hours we have before the dropbox on Moodle stops accepting submissions. The season of giving and joy might be upon us, but so is the season of all-nighters, study groups, and the feeling of triumph one feels when everything is finally completed.
I recently researched the month of December just to see what special micro holidays occur throughout the final month of the year. My results included: National Eat a Red Apple Day, National Cookie Day, Miners Day, National Cotton Candy Day, National Cocoa Day,  World Peace Day, Humbug Day, Christmas (of course), Festivus, and (and my personal favorite) National Chocolate-covered Anything Day! While December already had a handful of great holidays to celebrate, I propose that we should add one more day to this list: Study-mas!
 
With a far more cheerier sounding name then 'finals', Study-mas is a winter holiday that can be celebrated in a number of ways for however long a person or group of people wish to observe it. People can observe Study-mas anywhere; at the library, in their homes, in the SLIS Lounge, or wherever else they feel comfortable and, hopefully, academically productive. Food that is traditionally consumed during Study-mas ranges far and wide. Ramen, takeout, muffins, and home-cooked meals are just a handful of dishes that are commonly enjoyed by those who celebrate Study-mas. Gifts are not required but a study group will always appreciate the group member who arrives with a box of cookies or donut holes. And if you are worried about not knowing how to dress during Study-mas, don't sweat it. Pj-bottoms, sweatshirts, snuggies, and whatever else you have in your closet will do just fine. Save your money on a nice holiday dress or suit for some other holiday; Study-mas is a very laid-back and casual sort of holiday. Christmas might represent the season of giving, but Study-mas signifies the season of giving it your all. 
 
This year, I'll be celebrating Study-mas on campus. On whatever days I don't have to work, I'll be somewhere either in the library or the Main Campus Building. I have a few Study-mas traditions that I like to keep up; eating Chinese takeout at least once is a personal favorite of mine. And while I know that everyone deals with finals in their own unique way, there is one tradition related to Study-mas that I think everyone should take part in. This tradition is shockingly simple, and doesn't require any money or decorative skills. All you need to do is take a deep breath, and relax. The tunnel might seem a bit long right now, but just take each day as it comes. In no time at all, you'll be through the tunnel, standing on the other-side, and ready to spend the last few weeks of 2014 with your friends and family.
 
Happy Study-mas everyone, and good luck with finals!

 

Classes | leave a comment


Networking

One thing I have not been very good at while at Simmons (and that I have mentioned here several times before) is networking.  The idea of going up to a stranger in my field and talking about myself pretty much makes me break out in hives, and I know I'm not the only person who reacts that way.  The unfortunate part is that networking, especially in the libraries and archives spheres, is a huge career booster, and the sort of thing that you pretty much need to know how to do, no matter how much you might hate it.

Our NEA mentoring group recently talked about ways to network at our last meeting, and there were some concrete suggestions on ways to do it that I think are a little less unpleasant than having to make awkward small talk with complete strangers.  Here are some of them:

  • Join professional organizations like New England Archivists, Society of American Archivists, the American Library Association, etc.
  • Once you do, join the professional discussion lists, like NEA Discuss, the ALA lists, or SAA lists.  Joining in the discussion on those lists can be intimidating at first, but even just lurking on them can be helpful professionally, since they talk about a lot of topics that can be helpful to early professionals. 
  • Any professional organization has committees relevant to any interest that you can join and contribute to, often virtually.
  • Professional organization board meetings are often open to members, and can be a good place to go and learn about the org's priorities and personalities.

When you do talk to people, professional conferences are a great place to do it - possibly the best place.  Bring business cards to hand out to people, so they have something to remember you by.  Have your elevator speech ready, where you describe who you are (professionally) and what your interests/goals are.   If you do find yourself at a conference, and it has a Day of Service or other activities that get you out of the conference center with a group.

For professionals who aren't complete strangers that you may want to talk to about questions or other archives or library-related issues, there is nothing wrong with emailing them and inviting them out for coffee - the worst thing they can say is no.

There are lots of ways to network; the nice thing is knowing it doesn't always have to be the worst thing in the world.  The more you do it (so I'm told), the easier it gets.   

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Just in time for the holidays - Volunteering at PBP

I love volunteering, but I never know what exactly I can do.  I know I'm not qualified to be building anything, or cooking anything in mass quantities.   But recently, a fellow classmate advertised the opportunity to volunteer at the Prison Book Program, a local organization in Quincy, Massachusetts easily accessible on the Red Line.  I jumped at the chance, and spent several hours there last Thursday.

Located in the basement of the historic United First Parish Church (where John Adams, Abigail Adams, and John Quincy Adams are buried), the Prison Book Program sends out hundreds if not thousands of books to prisoners in United States penitentiaries and correctional facilities.  According to their website, PBP does what it does because they believe that "books are crucial to the political, spiritual, and educational development of all people... In a time of cuts in educational programs for prisons, we serve a vital purpose."

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All of the books and packing materials are donated to this organization, but the cost of shipping is expensive.  Among the PBP's new and used books, they send prisoners across the country anything from dictionaries to novels, language learning books to basic legal information for prisoners via their "Legal Primer" document.  The library includes fiction and non-fiction regarding a diverse range of historical, religious, political, cultural, and LGBT-related subjects.  Volunteers do their best to match up handwritten requests from prisoners (and the requirements from the prisons) to items in their library, but because the organizations depend on donations, often the specific kind of book is not available.  For example, while I was wrapping up packages, I noticed that the book included did not directly correspond with the prisoner's letter.  He had asked for a book on Lakota culture, but a visit to the PBP library showed that the book selectors had chosen as best they could - the Native American literature and non-fiction sections did not offer such a specific resource.

Other than sending books, the PBP's mission specifically notes that they want to provide "a quality volunteer experience that introduces citizens to issues surrounding the American prison system and the role of education in reforming it."   They frequently host volunteer nights like the one I attended on the 20th of November, and have regular volunteer hours which can be found on their website here.  There is so much to be done, so if you can open a letter, wrap up a package, apply sticker stamps, or excel at book selection, you will easily find something helpful to do at the Prison Book Program.  They also have special opportunities for librarians and book store employees that are dedicated to better organizing their donations library.

If you are looking for a way to give back this holiday season, consider volunteering at the Prison Book Program or donating money or new or gently used books to their library.  You can find more information about their mission, their volunteer opportunities, and discover testimonials from prisoners who have benefitted from this organization on their website PrisonBookProgram.Org.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

People | leave a comment


The Rainbow Fairies

I can't believe I am about to say this, but... I don't hate the Rainbow Fairies.  The completely formulaic chapter book series centers on two tween girls, Rachel and Kirstie, who become friends with fairies.  There are about 150 books total, broken into themed sets of seven.  In each set, Rachel and Kirstie have to help the fairies solve a problem before Evil Jack Frost and his Goblins mess things up forever (forever! It's very dramatic!).  Aside from the theme, each book is essentially the same.

Kids love these books.  LOVE.

Parents hate these books.  HATE.

I have been known to say that reading these books is like sticking a fork in your eye, but they actually have some redeeming qualities.

  • Rachel and Kirstie are best friends.  They totally have each other's back in all sorts of weird (yet repetitive) situations and circumstances.  Being friends is important to them -- so important, that in one book, when they start fighting, they realize that Evil Jack Frost must be up to No Good.
  • The girls outwit the boys.  Sadly, girls still need to be told that they're just as smart as boys.  Rachel and Kirstie repeatedly outsmart the goblins, who are usually trying to disguise themselves as regular boys.  Working as a team and using their brains, the girls solve the problems faster than the goblins (every. single. time.  Did I mention there are 150 of these books and that they are all the same?).
  • The books showcase diversity.  Each series centers around seven different fairies, and each group of seven includes fairies with different skin colors, hair color and facial features.  Sure, they're all stick thin and have wings, but there's an effort here to show readers that fairies -- just like people! -- come in all colors.
  • Vocabulary.  The plotlines may be dull as dirt, but the books introduce readers to all sorts of different words.  The girls don't just "say" something, they exclaim!  They don't walk, they spring!  Rachel and Kirstie drive me up a wall, but I appreciate the fact that they introduce readers to different vocabulary.
  • They're a gateway drug to reading.  For whatever reason, kids love these books.  And they read them.   And since there are 150 of them, they read them a lot.  And that's what we want, right?  Kids reading.

Looking for something more?  Try Fairy Realm, a great series with lovely strong female characters and stories that actually have a plot.

Books | leave a comment


The Next Step

I'm still mired down in final projects and papers, so it while it feels like last week moved very slowly, I oddly remember very little of it. One momentous thing does stand out, however. Remember a few weeks ago when I contemplating switching out of the Archives program only to decide to stay in it? Well, this week I ended up switching out of it after all. That's right-- I'm on the general track now! It's scary to change the course of my life and career like this, and a little sad too. These feelings are understandable, because I'm giving something up, but that change also allows me to make room for something that's a better fit for me.

Ultimately, my decision came down to where I saw myself being happier to work every day. During my internship at the Emerson College Digital Archives, I realized how much I missed working, serving, and interacting with people. I have a strong background in hospitality. Actually, I thought it traumatized me and scared me away from wanting to do reference work, but that's not really the case. So the internship made me think about my past, especially my past as a concierge, and how much I really liked answering people's questions. Guests came to me seeking information like the public transportation schedule, area hospital hours, town history, local laws, and directions to the restroom. Guess what? Librarians provide that information too! That works out well for me! And I'm not downplaying how complicated librarianship is here with that comparison. I'm just saying information science seems like a logical next step for my professional life, given certain basic similarities it has with my past jobs. It fits well with the career experience I have and what I already know brings me satisfaction.

So now all I have to do, apart from graduate, is start liking cats. Kidding! Just a little bit of library humor for you, which incidentally, is way funnier than archives humor.

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It's also way cuter.

Libraries | leave a comment


NBA All-Stars

NBA in this case is not basketball. It's the National Book Awards which were held last night. I have a lot of interest in the National Book Awards. More specifically, I have a lot of interest in the Young People's Literature category of the National Book Awards.

This year, I am thrilled to share the winner was Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson's memoir of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s between South Carolina and New York.

This win is particularly exciting if you follow the We Need Diverse Books movement. Basically, the We Need Diverse Books movement is a grassroots campaign to get more diverse books published and out to readers. What are diverse books? According to the WNDB mission statement, "We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities."

This year's short list for the National Book Award included some aspect of diversity in every book. That's amazing! Kathleen T. Horning wrote a stellar article about the importance of the National Book Award committee's selection of this year's nominees and how it could change the face of children's literature here. I'd encourage you to read it! It's not very long, but it's a great informative article about the work to get more diverse voices in young people's literature.

Horning ends the article by saying "Want more diverse books? Recognize them with more awards." The National Book Awards have been consistently doing so. Of the last five years, three of the award winners have been people of color and their books featured main characters of color. That's pretty fantastic. If you keep following the award farther back, you'll see that it isn't unusual either. The National Book Awards (at least in their Young People's Literature category) have usually honored diverse books with awards.

So if you think diversity in literature is important, support diverse voices. Check out any of these books from your local library. Or, if you can afford to, buy them from your local bookstore. Keep your eye out for the (hopefully many!) new and great books from writers of diverse backgrounds.

Here are the other short-listed nominees in Young People's Literature:

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

And in case you're curious, here are the winners of the other categories:

Fiction: Redeployment by Phil Klay

Nonfiction: Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

Poetry: Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück

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An Evening with SCoSAA

With the final weeks of the fall semester just around the corner, life has been a bit hectic around here. In between the reading, papers, and projects that I need to do for all three of my classes, finding time to relax has become somewhat of an afterthought, at least for me. However, every now and then, an event on campus catches my eye, something that despite how busy I am, I want to try and find time to attend. Well, last week, I found out from a classmate that SCoSSA (the Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists) was going to be hosting a panel discussion on the topic of community and social justice archives. With guest speakers from Northeastern, Brandeis, and Simmons, the event, which was held last night, would focus on discussing the challenges and considerations connected to community and social records and the responsibilities and decisions of the archives and archivists to handle them. Considering that  1). I only live about ten minutes away from campus, 2). this was a topic that I was genuinely interested in, and 3). there would be free food, I decided that this would be a perfect reason to take a break from my homework and other projects and come down to campus.
As mentioned, the event kicked off with a free meal in the Faculty and Staff Dining Room. Not only was the food delicious (the lasagna in particular was met with acclaim), but it was also a great chance to talk with fellow students and professors alike outside of the classroom. It was nice to actually be on campus and not be worried about writing a paper or finishing up an XML project. Sometimes, I forget about the many wonderful events and opportunities that the student groups in SLIS frequently offer throughout the year. At the same, I also forget that I can come over to campus for something other than class or homework. Yes, those are its main uses, but the campus is also a great place to meet and catch up with friends and often has multiple activities going on; you just need to know where to look. Last year when I lived further away, I would only come to Simmons if I absolutely had to; now I pop over frequently. Not only does the area serve as a nice change of scene for when I get sick of being inside my apartment, but it enables me to feel more connected to the student community that SLIS and Simmons is trying to foster. While this post wasn't meant to be a plug for coming to campus more often, I do suggest it if possible. There are a lot of opportunities and fun events there that are worth checking out. Anyway, back to SCoSAA...
 
After dinner, we all took a quick field trip to room C103 where the actual panel was taking place. For the next hour and a half, we, the audience, learned about social justice and community archives from the perspective of the guest speakers. Of the three speakers, my personal two favorites were the archivists from Northeastern and Brandeis. The archivist from Northeastern, Giordana Mecagni, started off the group by talking about a recently completed project that focused on creating a model of one of the first buildings related to Northeastern University. The model replica of the location, the YMCA, was created through the collaboration of various departments within Northeastern, including the archives. Her discussion of the entire process, which included examining historic blueprints and converting them into digital renderings, was fascinating. The building itself was important not just to Northeastern, but to the local community as well from both a social and historic perspective. The speaker from Brandeis, Maggie McNeely, spoke about the importance of ensuring that the archive is acting the same in both social justice and the community. At Brandeis, the academic curriculum is one that ensures such topics do not go un-addressed. That level of interest not only makes her job more fun, but also ensures that the archive remains a vital part of the university for generations to come.
 
Overall, this was a great event, and I'm happy that I was able to find time to attend. If you are interested in SCoSSA, check out their website: http://gslis.simmons.edu/blogs/scosaa/ and facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SCoSAA for more information. 
 
Well this was fun, but it looks like it's time to get back to work. After all, a month from now, the semester will be over!

Students | leave a comment


Prospect Research Internship (Part 2 of 2)

The end of the semester is swiftly approaching, and I have less than a month left of my prospect research internship at Joslin Diabetes Center.  One thing that I've spent a lot of the last month or so doing was working on getting my meetings done: all interns in the Development Department are required to set up and attend meetings with most members of the Development staff, to get a feel for what their job entails (this is true even, and especially, if your internship doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their work.)  It's a very good way for people who might be considering a career in fundraising or marketing to see what kinds of actual roles there are, and what those roles really do on a day to day basis.  I thought it would be a lot less helpful for me, as someone who is pretty set on a career path and is definitely not interested in looking at other aspects of development.  It was still very interesting, because I got to see firsthand how the research I painstakingly churn out every week is actually used by the gifts officers when they approach prospects, and it's nice to see your work put to good use.

One of the meetings I had was with the department's Director, a VP at Joslin named Rick Price.  (A bigwig, in other words, and not someone who you would suspect of having a lot of time to give to interns, but he makes sure to meet with every single one that goes through the office.)  He gave me a great overview of the department, and how each of the various cogs contribute to the whole, and then we ended up talking about hockey for twenty minutes.  (I'm from Canada!  This is what we do!)  I have two meetings left, and I should finish them up right around the time my internship ends.

Now that I have a little more experience with the work, I'm not sure it's for me - not as a career, anyway.  My first impressions of prospect research weren't wrong - it is like a puzzle that you have to gather the pieces for, but what I didn't see at the beginning is how much of a grind the work of putting those pieces together can be sometimes.  I've definitely gotten faster at researching people and companies, and have learned what websites I can generally trust, and what needs to be fact checked a few more times.  But being faster and better at it doesn't detract from the repetitive nature of it, or the frustrating reality that sometimes you just can't verify things, or find the pieces you need.  (Or that sometimes, after you've done hours of research on a person, the gift officers decline to follow up due to time constraints or other things that are outside of your control.)  Repetitiveness and frustration are the realities of any job, at least on occasion, so that isn't enough to knock it out of my consideration of careers.  It is good to know ahead of time, though, if I do take a job doing this fulltime. 

My last few weeks at Joslin are going to be spent really trying to learn the tools of the trade, as well as picking up tricks that my internship supervisor gives me about research.  And, of course, talking about hockey. 

Internships | leave a comment


Local Bookstore of the Week

Like the good librarian stereotype that I am, I left my two cats to visit David'sTEA (probably while wearing a cardigan) last Saturday when I stumbled upon Commonwealth Books in downtown Boston.  Right off the Freedom Trail, between the Old State House and the Old South Meeting house, this seemingly little bookshop is not little at all!

I had no idea that this bookstore existed until I noticed their covert sign pointing down the narrow alley to the shop's front door.  When I first moved to Boston, I had searched for local bookstores and hadn't seen this particular shop listed in Google Maps or in the many "Best Bookstores in Boston" lists online.  This bookstore might just be another great Boston secret.

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At first glance, Commonwealth Books appears to be just another used book store a la Brattle Book Shop (another great shop near the Boston Common, if you're looking).  But take a few more steps inside their wooden store front and you'll notice an amazing selection of antiquarian items, including rows of old prints, engravings, and maps from New England and beyond.  I could have spent hours rummaging through these prints, and plan to return once finals are over and I'm on the hunt for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.  Before visiting in person, you can even take a look at some "rare and unusual items" that the store offers on their website's "gallery."  In addition to these artistic items, Commonwealth Books hosts a large collection of used books relating to art and architecture, with other sizable collections for history, literature, philosophy, and religion titles. 

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As much as I loved thumbing through the prints, I was even more amazed by the amazing selection of rare and antique books.  If you are interested in archives, museums, or just a normal human being who appreciates awesome old stuff, please visit this bookshop and admire the beautiful manuscript leaves for sale in the rare book section (located behind the large main desk).  There is so much to discover at this bookstore, and you might become a little overwhelmed - but not to worry!  Comfy armchairs are littered throughout the store in little book-lined nooks, perfect for reading that first chapter before purchase.

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I was so excited to stumble across this used bookstore and had to share it with you all.  The city that Simmons calls home is so proud of its literary history, designating the first ever Literary District in any United States city just last month.  I hope that, if you are located in or around Boston, that you spend an easy Sunday afternoon visiting Commonwealth Books or any of the other magnificent used book stores in the Boston area.  For our online students far away from Massachusetts, I hope that you continue to support your local independent bookstores and used bookstores as well!

Books | leave a comment


Since I started library school...

I've noticed that since I started library school, people have been posting an increasing number of library-related things on my Facebook page.  

People just like libraries, I guess.  When I was a lawyer, no one posted legal jokes on my Facebook page (actually, Facebook didn't exist when I went to law school).  Still, librarians are way more popular than lawyers, even with the whole librarian "shhhh" reputation.

Anyway, here's a sampling of things friends have posted for me. 

12 Children's Books with Non-Princess Female Protagonists

This type of list is big in the circles I run in, and now that I'm in library school, many of my friends think I've automatically read all of them.  I haven't, and I'm always thrilled to learn of another book that fits in this category. 

The Librarians TV Show

 I don't actually know much about this -- a TV show about superhero librarians?  Sounds good to me!  It premiers on December 7 -- I'll set the DVR now.

What Do You Do, Dear?

My librarian crush.  I wrote a whole post on her a few weeks ago.  SO glad a friend saw this and thought of me!

What have people wanted you to see since you started thinking about becoming a librarian?

People | leave a comment


The Home Stretch

Classes end the first or second week of December (depending on whether or not the class started in the first or second week of September). This generally means that SLIS students are working on a final project for every class right about now. This isn't like undergrad. There is no big final examination. It's intense.

For one class I have to build a working website with five HTML pages and use CSS manipulation, which I'm sure is no big deal for some people, but it's a huge deal for me. For another class (Reference), I have to work with a group of four other people to create a 40-minute tutorial for a medical database called PubMed. I'm gearing up by watching video guides that PubMed currently has posted on its website. The shortest one is an hour, and it covers just one aspect of the site. It's going to be interesting to see how we condense all of this information into a manageable, cogent presentation. I also have a literature review due for my archives class. I didn't even know what a literature review was until two days ago when I started doing research. And I still don't know anything about Chicago Style (which I have to use for it), except that footnotes and endnotes are terrible and a sign that archival literature needs to evolve already and use APA. All the classes have other assignments due in addition to these, but these are the big ones that have me up late at night, hunched over my computer, losing sleep, hair, and tears.

So this is the glamorous life of an LIS graduate student. Really, it's better than this, but I feel like complaining right now, since all of my peers are too busy to distract me. And while I'm complaining I really should add that I'm learning a lot by doing these final projects--way more than I would cramming for some cumulative multiple-choice test. But that's the point. I know I'll be really proud (and relieved) when I've completed everything.

People | leave a comment


Interviews

I've had a few job interviews in the last couple of weeks, and I have another big one coming up soon (so cross your fingers for me, if you would), so it seems like I've been interview prepping for months now. 

I've probably had a hundred or so interviews in my life, so I've got the general idea of them down pat, but every one is different, so there's always (for me) something to be nervous about.  (Being so nervous in important interviews is definitely something I do, to the point where my mind goes blank.  It's an issue.)

The main thing to remember is this: no one likes interviews.  Not the interviewee, who is usually at least somewhat stressed and under pressure, and not the interviewer, who isn't under the same pressure but is still in the awkward position of having to ask questions of someone who is. 

My worst interview ever was with a library in Massachusetts that quizzed me on Library of Congress call numbers and then made me to a skills test on a software I'd never used before (and that wasn't listed in the job ad.)  It did not go well.  In the middle of the interview I wanted to push over the table I was sitting at and run away.  On the one hand, the whole experience was somewhat humiliating, but on the other hand: great cocktail party story.  So not a total loss.

Most of them aren't that bad, of course, and thank goodness for that.  Most places don't throw you intentional curve balls.  The key to good interviewing, at least on the stuff I can control, is practice.  I grab common interview questions from websites like this or this and actually write down my answers.  (I find that writing them down longhand does help me remember them better than just practicing them in my head or even typing them out.)  I read them over until I can remember them easily, and also try to think of certain situations that have really stood out in my past jobs, both good and bad: mistakes I've made or opportunities I've spotted, that I can use for the "Tell me about a time you..." questions you know are coming.    

I also try to come up with 5-10 questions to ask the interviewer about the job or the organization, and write them down to bring with me.  (I definitely don't trust my nerve-ridden Day of Interview Brain to remember them if I don't write them down.)

Once the interview is over I usually feel nothing but relief on my way home, but as soon as I close my eyes that night it becomes Here Is What I Should Have Said theater in my mind for the next two or three hours.  Never fails.  One thing I have learned not to ever do is schedule interviews on back-to-back days, because the HIWISHS theater doesn't usually let me get enough sleep to be overly-coherent the next day.  (That lesson, like most of them, was learned the hard way.)

Let's just all hope that the job interview I have lined up for this week goes well and I'm offered the job - and that I'll have whole years before I even need to think about interviewing again.

Jobs | leave a comment


Sweatpants and lovin' it

I made it through high school without drinking coffee.  Despite all of my friends running to Starbucks after school (but before theatre rehearsal), I only developed an addiction to the little packets of honey.  I thought I was being sneaky, but soon the employees began to notice my pocketing the honey packets and soon I was no longer welcome in the downtown Annapolis Starbucks location.

My refusal to drink coffee only lasted until sophomore year of college, when I was forced to pull an all-nighter and my roommate convinced me to have a cup.  She soon regretted giving me the caffeine, and I ended up bouncing around the room all night, somehow managed to finish my paper, and then passed out hard around 5:30AM.

I was thinking about that first cup of coffee when I purchased my first pair of sweatpants.  I know, I know, I don't know how I've managed to live a full 24 years without outright owning a pair of sweatpants -  I think it was because I didn't want to disappoint Karl Lagerfeld, who stated that "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants."  Now, I wouldn't say that I've been defeated by this first semester of grad school, but I've come pretty darn close.  My new sweatpants have actually made studying a little more pleasant, at least comfort-wise.

I don't know exactly what point I'm trying to make here with this post.  Perhaps some sort of "You can get through it," "Don't let anyone (especially Karl Lagerfeld) keep you from doing what you need to do."  But I hope that, if any of you are struggling as this semester draws to a close, you have some comfy sweatpants to get you through.

(And if you are fans of rap, you can also listen to Childish Gambino's "Sweatpants," which (as far as I can tell) has nothing to do with sweatpants, but will definitely make you feel motivated, even if you might be fibbing a little when you sing along with Donald Glover as he declares that he's "doing me better than you doing you.")

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