A Day in the Life

As a first semester MLIS student, I would be the first to tell you that I don't have much experience with archival work.  Aside from volunteering in public libraries and a brief stint as a shelver in college, my only real exposure to archives was researching the Theatre and Performing Arts special collection at my undergrad's university archives.  I had the opportunity to hold a Shakespeare First Folio and other amazing artifacts, and got a little spoiled when it came to the joys of archival discovery.

When I volunteered to work several hours at the Brookline Historical Society for the REPS Day of Service 2014 this past Saturday, I didn't know what to expect.  Google Maps brought me to a little old house with a white picket fence, but thankfully the curators found me lurking in the backyard before I convinced myself that I was trespassing on a private residence.  In a small room in the back of what I learned was the historic Edward Devotion House, I was assigned two boxes from a new collection that they received from a long-standing Brookline family.  Tucked away in the corner, I was able to rummage through Box 15 (Religion) and Box 7 (Sports).

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A photo from the day: I'm tucked away in the back corner with my first box and handy friend, Microsoft Excel. (Photo cred: @danbullman)

I felt as if I were going through my own grandparents' attic, sorting church directories and football game programs from the 1950s, my favorite of which featured a boy in an overlarge football helmet siting next to his patient basset hound.  There were also two scrapbooks of sports clippings from 1938 to 1941, lined with yellowing newspaper articles and black and white action photos.  I wasn't working with letters from King Henry VIII or Charlotte Bronte's manuscripts, but this was even better because these objects belonged to ordinary people, what they cared about, what they kept.  I could easily imagine the members of this family going to football games and keeping score with a blunt pencil, or hanging up a church calendar in their kitchen with all of their fellow parishioners' birthdays listed in neat little type, or pasting their varsity letter onto thin paper with pride.  I wonder if 75 years from now, someone will be sorting through my own papers, come across birthday cards, ticket stubs, and photo books that I've treasured and catch a glimpse of my life in the 2010s.

Thank you so much to Dan Bullman, curators Camile Arbogast and Jesus MacLean at the Brookline Historical Society, and everyone else that was involved in planning the REPS Day of Service!

I hope those of you in New England were able to participate in the REPS Day of Service in participating locations in Newton, Vermont, and Connecticut.  If you are interested in future opportunities to volunteer, I highly recommend following New England Archivists on Facebook and Twitter (@NEarchivists) or seeking out your local archivists association!

Events | leave a comment


The Balancing Act Begins!

Well, my first full week of school is over, and my two biggest accomplishments were getting a student discount (10% at Tags!) and making my kids do my homework.

Kidding.  Kind of.

Going back to school at age 41, with a husband and kids and part-time work, is, in some ways, just like going to school at any age.  I puzzle over how long it will take me to get to school from our home in Somerville (almost an hour!), where to get my ID (the campus card office), what kind of notebooks to use, whether I needed a snack during a 3-hour class (yes!).

There are some major differences, too.  Before I leave for class, I make lunches for my kids and get them ready for school.  I check my phone during breaks to make sure the school hasn't called.  I drag myself to book club one night, and we talk about our parents' health problems (probably not what my 20-something classmates are discussing over dinner).  I balance my freelance work and shifts at a nearby library with one daughter's gymnastics practices, teaching the other to ride a two-wheeler, and being a room parent at their elementary school.  I forget that I need to allocate time -- plenty of time! -- for homework and class assignments.  I wonder how exactly this balancing act will work out.

But back to the accomplishments.  The student discount is really pretty great.  And the at-first overwhelming Organization of Information class has turned out to be both awesome and a family affair -- my kids selected the books for an assignment in LibraryThing, then came up with the tags themselves.  (Will I be able to hand off any other homework to an 8 and 6 year old?) 

I know I'll find a rhythm.  It's only the first week.  My professors seem fabulous, my classmates inspiring.   The Simmons campus is picturesque, the facilities top-notch.  And there are certainly advantages to going back to school in my 40s - I have roots in this community, family support, many years of professional experience and perspective. 

Here's hoping the second week is as positive as the first!

Classes | Students | leave a comment


Dissecting Computers

I blog and I'm in library school, so sometimes people think I know a lot about computers. While I can understand why they would make this assumption, to be perfectly honest, technology really intimidates me.

This goes back to a when I was in the second grade and my family got a new peripheral device and remote control for our cable television. There were so many colorful buttons! I started pushing away at them, trying to find the guide channel. As result, the TV froze and would not turn back on. It took two days to get someone from the cable company to reset everything, and by the time it was all over, I had a fear of touching expensive machines and always tried to get other people to handle technology for me. My first personal computer? My boyfriend set it up. My first iPod? My brother put all of my music on it and on every iPod I've owned since. When I moved away from home for the first time? My boyfriend at the time configured the wireless and router and hooked up the printer.

I really hated depending on other people like that, and I felt like my actions perpetuated negative gender stereotypes about women and machines. But as time went on, the most important point for me was that I couldn't become competitive in information science without first becoming comfortable with technology.

So when I decided to study Archives, a big reason I chose Simmons was for its SLIS Tech Lab. The lab has long hours and a knowledgeable staff to help me and other students troubleshoot or learn the latest or most basic computer stuff--- and they do it with a pleasant attitude and no judgment. You can't beat that!

My first time there was when I was completing the mandatory Technology Orientation Requirement (TOR) over the summer. I was using a text-editing program called Text Wrangler for the TOR's HTML section, and even though I saved my work, when I went back to it, it wasn't formatted properly, and I couldn't restore it. I started to panic. The TOR was due in two days.

When I took my laptop into the lab, the Technology Reference Assistant (TRA) on duty was a little stumped too. He spoke with one of his supervisors, Annie, who suggested I try new editing software. At this point, on the verge of hysteria, I cut her off, telling her I couldn't do that, because I'd lose all my work. She smiled and very patiently explained that she would walk me through installing the new software and show me how to import my work.

Annie was right, of course. After all, she practically designed the TOR herself.  And since that day, I've been really comfortable visiting the Tech Lab for any problem or question I have. I am even going there tomorrow (a SUNDAY), because I am doing a tutorial for a class about an open source self-publishing platform called Omeka. I can't seem to get Omeka to download to my computer, even though according to its website, my computer meets the compatibility requirements.

Many classes use the Tech Lab too. Last Thursday, my Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488) class used the lab during our second meeting. LIS 488 is one of the most basic technology classes SLIS offers, and like me, many students take it to fulfill their technology core curriculum requirement. Our class will have several more sessions in the lab this coming term, and these will allow us to apply everything we've learned in our lectures and readings in a hands-on way. It's great for kinesthetic people who learn better through doing. On Thursday, for example, after discussing our reading on the parts and structure of a personal computer, the class went to the Tech Lab, split off into teams of two or three, and each team dissected a Dell computer. Armed with screwdrivers and instructions with diagrams, we located all the drives, the motherboard, the CPU, the heat sink, the battery, and much more. After taking a computer apart and putting it back together, I have a newfound confidence around these machines. It's hard to believe I was ever so afraid to break one!

Want to know more about SLIS Tech? Here's a link to their webpage: http://www.simmons.edu/slis/for/current/tech/

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Above: Teammate Taylor removes the cover.

Below: We are in search of the hard drive.

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Grad School Year Two: Bring it On!

I'd like to start this blog post by first welcoming back my fellow returning grad students and by welcoming those starting their first year in SLIS! I have a good feeling that this semester is going to be a good one, and I wish the same to all of you.
Since the last time I posted something here, I've made the move from Brighton to Roxbury Crossing. Not only am I now living with other students from SLIS and the Children's Literature program, but I am also within fifteen minutes from school. Essentially, I will be at Simmons a lot this year, either at the library, at the Student Services Center desk, or in the tech lab. I even purchased an awesome blanket from the Simmons Bookstore to keep me warm while inside the Palace Road Building. Still deciding if bringing a blanket to class would be a bit too much. What do you think?
Beyond the above, I'm sort of ashamed to admit this but, the reality that my second year of grad had started didn't come when I went to class this week but rather, when I ordered my first pumpkin spice latte of 2014. I've always associated the PSL as a special treat to help get me through midterms in fall, especially if I have to pull a few all nighters. But with its early debut this year, it really brought home the fact that summer is over and that school has started. Of course, the real realization should have struck me when I attend SLIS orientation last week. This year, SLIS really out did itself. Held in the Main Campus Building, master of ceremonies Em Claire Knowles did a fantastic job welcoming in the new class of students while also unveiling the program's new identity of SLIS. Although I will miss GSLIS (Graduate School of Library and Information Science), SLIS (School of Library and Information Science) seems to unite the various graduate programs -and one undergrad program- that make up the Library School in a far better fashion. The ice cream social that was held in the student lounge was also a major success, allowing me and my fellow SSC co-workers a chance to hang out and chat with the new students. Also the weather, which had originally shown rain, was beautiful. 
Now with the week just about over, my schedule is packed with readings and response papers. It feels both strange and familiar to have homework again, and my fingers are crossed that I haven't forgotten how to write a concise reaction paper that compares two primary sources or how to craft a finding aid. After a long summer like this, I always find the first few assignments to be the hardest as I make the transition into academic mode. However, things always get easier once I've re-acquainted myself with skills that have been dormant since early May. Even so, I've been waiting for year two of grad school to start for a while now and can't wait to see what I learn this time around.
Bring it on!

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Dressing for the Interview: Feel Unstoppable, Be Unstoppable

You got the interview - high fives all around. Applying and interviewing for jobs is without doubt a big part eventually becoming the unstoppable librarian, archivist, or information scientist you have set your sights on. After scheduling an interview, you're prepared, you're qualified, but there's another secret level to securing that job that can produce undue stress and unease the day of - what to wear.

It's a couple hours until your interview and you're amid a hellscape of button down shirts and khakis trying to piece together a puzzle which will somehow reveal the perfect interview outfit. The interview that might get you the job. You're interviewing for a job that you see as an important step on your path to becoming an unstoppable librarian, archivist, or information scientist, right? If you want to be unstoppable, feel unstoppable. Sitting down with your interviewer, it's easy to become unsure of yourself, and wearing something which will make you feel more confident during the process can make a huge difference. Equip the threads which will remind yourself that you're there for a reason and that make you feel your best in order to put your best foot forward.LKFitz_dressinginterview.png

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Ahts Festival

ahts.JPGOne thing I love about Boston is the amazing diversity and frequency of the festivals and events that happen in the city throughout the year.  This is especially good if you're new to town and aren't quite sure what to do with yourself - I know I spent my first fall here learning the city by going to harvest festivals in neighborhoods all over the place, and it's how I learned the T/commuter rail routes.  Fall may be the best time, the quintessential New England time, really, but summer is a busy time for festivals, too, and it's hard to go more than a few blocks in the city without stumbling on tents and music and food trucks.  This happened to me Labor Day weekend, when I went into Boston mostly to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art but also just to poke around Haymarket and enjoy my last free weekend before classes started. ahts02.jpg

The Ahts Festival is proof that no matter what anyone tells you about not being able to hear the accent you've grown up with, Boston people are very aware of their accent, and more than willing to make fun of it when they feel like it.  If you're in Boston next year I fully recommend heading down to Ahts if you get the chance - the highlights this year were the many, many stalls of local artists and NPR's the Moth performed on the big stage.  I ended up buying some amazing crystal jewelry I couldn't really afford but that was too lovely to pass up.  I also left with blistered feet and a pretty deep late-summer sunburn - not a bad way to start the fall at all, if you ask me.  

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From the Harrowing Heights of Pizzacliffe: Naming Your Living Space

Something that we've learned from literary classics is that all great living spaces hold even greater names. Moving onto a graduate program, there is no doubt that you'll be spending a fair deal of time in your new living space between completing all those assignments, scheduling classes, and entertaining the occasional guest. When moving into a new city and onto a new campus, going the extra mile to make that dorm feel closer to home and exude you-ness can make all the difference. One thing is clear - your dorm needs a name.

But what goes into a dorm name? Well, that depends on what flavor you anticipate your dorm having as you move through SLIS.

Depending upon your anticipated trajectory, your dorm name could follow any of the following examples, such as:

Pizzacliffe

Citationview

Napcrest

Endnotewalk

Moving into a new dorm or apartment with the start of a new semester, it's likely that you already have a lot of thinking and preparation to take care of. But with a brand-new living space you've purposefully titled something special, for at least the time that you're there, you're likely feeling more settled already, right? You bet. Ready to coast through your new class schedule, returning countless assignments to your den for triumphant completion and eventual victory? You bet. Ready to absorb all of those readings like some kind of literary PDF wizard from beyond a magical rift? You bet.

For new and returning students to SLIS, go forth, unpack your boxes, and make this semester yours.

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Images:

Source, Wikipedia

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Five Inspirational Librarians from Film and TV

Since the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams, I've come to realize how many of his films in the 1990s defined my childhood. Films like Aladdin, Ms. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Ferngully, Hook, and countless others have and will always hold a special place in my heart. However, in my efforts to both remember Robin Williams for the comedic genius that he was as well as to take a trip down nostalgia way, I got lost somewhere along the way, and what started as a Robin Williams movie marathon turned into an all out nostalgia binge. I'm not exactly sure when I came up with this week's blog post (the last one of the summer if you can believe it?) but its timing could not be any better. What started off as a quest to remember my first real comedic role model slowly morphed into a re-discovery of other characters that inspired me while growing up. And since I'm currently enrolled in a graduate program for library and information science, I thought it would be cool to compile a list of five librarian characters from film and TV that not only sparked my interest in the profession, but also showcased just how awesome being a librarian can be.

1. Marian Paroo from The Music Man: River City's very own 'Marian the Librarian' was really the first time I had ever seen a librarian character in both a film and a musical. Smart, confident, and perhaps the most well-read woman in River City, Marian is clearly very passionate about her love of books and of the library in which she works. Sure, her relationship with conman turned hero, Harold Hill, is a bit unrealistically fast paced, but since it is a musical, I simply overlook that part. At the end of the day, Marian still seemed to be one of the few people in River City who knew how to appreciate good books, even if others considered them to be strange (I'm looking at you Pickalittle Ladies).

2. Wan Shi Tong, aka The Knowledge Spirit from Avatar the Last Airbender: While it is true that I watched the bulk of this series while in high school, that doesn't excuse the fact that a giant, knowledge-seeking owl with a massive library is just simply awesome. Although not technically a librarian, he is a lover of knowledge; his name literally translates to "He who knows ten thousand things". Within his vast library, Wan Shi Tong, who once let humans come and use his library, watches over his collection protectively, fearful of humans who seek to abuse his gathered knowledge and use it towards violence. Although it is a shame that he deems his collection to be too great for the mortal world, it signifies just how highly he values knowledge and his understanding that even those with the best intentions can utilize knowledge for dark purposes. Also, his knowledge seekers/pages are foxes. How cool is that?

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3. Mr. Dewey/the Pagemaster from The Pagemaster: To start things off, Mr. Dewey is played by Christopher Lloyd. That fact alone already ups the awesomeness of this librarian. But that's not all. After Macaulay Culkin's Richard Tyler hits his head on the floor and enters what has to be the coolest animated library ever, he meets the great Pagemaster, who happens to be voiced by Mr. Lloyd as well. The Pagemaster considers himself to be the Keeper of the Books and the Guardian of the Written World. Oddly enough, that rather grand title somewhat roughly fits the job description of a librarian. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection between the two???  Even if these two are supposed to be two wholly separate characters, their purpose is still one in the same: to showcase the many adventures and worlds one can find between the pages of a book. These two characters not only showed me as a child the wonders to be had in reading, they also taught me the value of a library card.

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4. Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan from The Mummy: Although I think her actual profession is more along the lines of an archivist, Evie will proudly tell anyone who will listen that she is a librarian. Whether she is an archivist, a librarian, or hybrid of both, Evie not only gets out of the stacks of Cairo's Museum of Antiquities, she also lets her curiosity get the better of her and resurrects the big bad of the series, the mummy himself. Even so, her passion for history has taken her far in life, to both Egypt and later, China. Despite constantly being cast in the position of being a damsel in distress, she gradually becomes more brave over the course of the film series and eventually, can hold her own in battle. Although the first film is really the only one to highlight her profession as a librarian, she is still proves that you can be a librarian but kick butt as well.

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5. Rupert "Ripper" Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hands down, this is by far the coolest school librarian ever featured in either TV or film. He has saved the world on multiple occasions, vanquished a variety of demons and monsters, rocked an awesome set of tweed suits, and sings, yet still manages to keep his library at Sunnydale High School organized. All joking aside, it's Giles and his eagerness to shift into research librarian mode that helped ensure some of the Buffy gang's earliest victories. While Buffy might be the story of a chosen girl and her constant quest to save the world while going through the drama of life, the show also taught its viewers that sometimes, your greatest asset might just be a musty old book. Even though most characters at one point in the series poked fun at Giles and his library (ok, maybe not Willow), they were still shown appreciating him, his library, and the seemingly endless books he had at his disposal. In a rather strange way, Buffy the Vampire Slayer served as an excellent platform to showcase just how useful a school library and its librarian could really be. Also his reluctance to embrace computer technology in the earliest seasons was both poetic and true.

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And that's it! Can you believe that the summer is just about over? I sure can't. Even so, I'm looking forward to my second year at Simmons and all the amazing things that I am going to learn. I have a feeling that this upcoming semester is going to be a great one!

Libraries | leave a comment


Literary Librarians

It's August and summer classes have finally ended, which means I have another two weeks of relative freedom before fall classes start in September.  I've been spending a lot of time catching up on television (I know people told me Orphan Black was good, but it is so good, you guys) and the lengthy list of books I've wanted to read.  People who choose to study the library sciences do tend to be big readers, and the size of my To Read pile definitely means I'm no exception. 

Because I'm graduating in less than six months (!!!), most of my focus is on job hunting and my future career, and I've been spending my time reading about fictional librarians and their work for inspiration.  The problem with fictional librarians is that a lot of the time they seem to be the stereotypical shhhing librarians who hate fun - even the librarian action figure has sensible shoes and "amazing shushing action."  Luckily, there are a load of awesome literary librarians to help balance the picture of the profession.  My top three are all from SF/fantasy:

  • Issac Vainio, from Jim C. Hines' Libriomancer and Codex Born.  I just love the idea of a librarian who can pull objects from the pages of books, even if his life is ridiculously complicated. 
  • Lucien from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics.  Lucien's library contains every book that ever has, or might, exist.  Enough said.
  • The Librarian from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Besides being turned into an orangutan, the Librarian (real name unknown) can also move through L-space.

 A note to the universe: I will happily accept any superpower that comes with my degree, although I would prefer invisibility or flight. 

People | Relaxing | leave a comment


New Adventures

This is my last post for GSLIS as I'm graduating in December. I've enjoyed every minute writing for this blog and wish everyone well as they move on to new adventures. As for my journey I will begin this fall as the upper school librarian at Dana Hall school in Wellesley. To read more about my fun escapades check out my blog!
I'm on a school library exchange at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Things are amazing here. Librarians are the luckiest people on the planet. Fact.
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Libraries | People | leave a comment


August Exploration

In the areas surrounding Simmons' Boston campus, there are countless neighborhoods to be explored. This past weekend, I took a step toward better exploring my own neighborhood of Somerville at the Somerville Flea.

Every Sunday, vendors and visitors gather near Davis Square to engage in an exchange of goods from vintage scarves to bunches of carrots, peaches, and plums. Awash with Etsy-worthy ephemera, a stack of enormous volumes stopped me in my tracks. Unbeknownst to me, they weren't books. They were boxes. And not the kind that butcher books to make them either -  stunning reproductions of War and Peace, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and other titles. Set on them lining my bookshelves within the hour, I made away with the two enormous false volumes clutched haphazardly in my arms. Arriving home, I soon placed my own copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace into the box boasting the same title in box format; the daunting pagination of the wartime epic finally matched by a cover of suitable size. Tucked away on my bookshelves, the remainder of the afternoon was spent with friends, fresh cider donuts from the Somerville Flea, and a healthy serving of D&D.

It's easy to go months, or even years, living in a neighborhood without reaching into it's local events attractions. Whether you're new to the Boston area or have long laid your roots here; explore, see the sights, and share your recent neighborhood discoveries.

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Boston | Events | leave a comment


A Night with Google

Sometimes I am purely baffled at the things I've gotten to do since moving to Boston almost a year ago. Most recently, I found myself at Boston's very own Children's Museum at an event hosted by Google as a means of promoting their online program, Google City Experts. Like Yelp, Google is trying to find a niche for itself within the world of online reviews. Nowadays, if you search for something on Google Maps, a box appears on the left hand side that includes a variety of information such as the address, hours of business, phone number, and website. At the bottom of the box, are reviews for your inquiry. Like Yelp, these reviews were created by users, and can range from being brief to extremely thorough. Write enough of these reviews and Google will eventually consider you to become part of their City Experts program. 
So here is the big question, is it worth it? Well, the event at the museum was hands-down awesome. For the most part, me and the other attendants had free reign of the entire museum. Since this was my first time ever visiting the museum, I admittedly spent quite a bit of time in the Arthur exhibit. It was like stepping back in time to the late 1990s; there was a re-creation of Mr. Ratburn's classroom, Buster's father's airplane, and life size copies of the entire cast. Clearly, I was in nostalgia heaven. Next, my friends and I wandered over to the bubble exhibit, and had a blast trying to make as many bubbles as humanly possible. Other highlights include jumbo sized Jenga, a massive climbing arena, and cake pops in the Google colors. On top of that, I met a Google rep who was wearing the new Google Glass and got to try it on. I'll be honest, I was so terrified of breaking it that I didn't have it on for long but I felt like I had stepped into the future. 
Perhaps the only downer is that to be considered for the program, one has to write fifty reviews and then an additional five reviews a month. It seems like a lot but, the perks just might out-weigh the cons. After-all, how many times do you get to have a fantastic evening 100% on Google's dime?
If you're interested in becoming a Google City Expert, check out the link provided below:

Events | leave a comment


Museum of Bad Art

Boston, it has been pointed out by myself and others, has a lot of really excellent art museums.  One of my favorites that doesn't get mentioned a whole lot in the usual lists is the Museum of Bad Art, which specializes in pretty much what you'd expect.

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The Museum displays most of its collection online, but also, fittingly enough, exhibits in the basements of two theaters (right outside the bathrooms).  One of the theaters is the Dedham Community Theater, but the other is the Somerville Theater in Davis Square.  The only problem is that you have to buy a movie ticket to get inside, but the Somerville Theater is usually playing something decent, and matinee tickets are only $6.moba_02.jpg

The museum only takes works that were done with the intention of being good; it's not for deliberately terrible works, which is what makes it all the more interesting.  It also doesn't collect anything that is done on black velvet or anything paint-by-numbers, which I think is kind of a shame because that would really be excellent.  Donations are accepted, if you have something you think might meet the standards of awfulness.moba_01.jpg

The exhibitions work around themes; the current theme in the Somerville Theater is religious works.  The Museum does also put up temporary shows of works at various institutions across New England, so there's always a chance that you'll run into one somewhere else.

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#curatecamp and harnessing the hashtag

Sometimes when you can't make it to a conference, browsing through updates as posted on Twitter might be the next best thing. As a grad student, conferences can be far away, expensive, and dare to tempt us away from professional and academic obligations - even if existing as professional and academic obligations in themselves. When the forces align to make your attendance to a conference or convention happen, those select days of talks, panels, and cordial coffee intermissions can be great - but when the time just isn't right to hop on the conference bandwagon, catching wind in the sail of their hashtags can suffice.

CURATECamp quickly approached in a flurry of hyperlinks. After weeks of registration forms sitting in browser tabs forgotten amid wishy-washy indecisiveness about travel reservations, I regrettably made the decision not to attend. But that didn't stop my desire to be tuned into the talks, project sharing, and collaboration stimulated by conference events like Curate Camp. As threads began erupting under the hashtag #curatecamp, I was suddenly enabled to click and contribute through topics ranging from practical tools for digital curation to the preservation of internet memes. Most notable were the attendees who tested the waters with prospective ideas open to conversation and those who shared projects further down the line of development. For instance, oneterabyteofkilobyteage photo op, a Tumblr supported project which generates screenshots of websites originally hosted on Geocities as salvaged in 2009 to create a compelling collection of content. While significant in themselves, projects such as these stimulated further discussion and spurred the consideration of further projects - if in a format of 140 characters or less.

As conference commotion raged on states away, the ability to engage with pieces of the larger discussion and add my own contributions made me take a good hard look at how Twitter is taking steps toward changing how conference dialogues are created and contributed to, as well as engaging interested parties unable to make it to the event in person. Boosting connectivity and collaboration across perspectives, physical locations, and browsers - Twitter is a tool you should be taking advantage of on and off the conference circuit.

Events | leave a comment


#GSLISchat Conversation - 7/24/2014

Did you miss our lastest #GSLISchat? Check out the feed below to read what you missed and ask additional questions. Thanks to all who participated!

#GSLISchat | leave a comment


Perk of Being Here: Learning in the hallways at GSLIS

scrabble.jpgI spent much of the spring interviewing candidates for the library assistant position at the school library where I work. I met a great many qualified candidates. I was impressed by extensive resumes, many filled with a plethora of technical prowess as well as life experience. The ideal candidate is meant to be entering the library profession but not have an MLS. I assumed that most of our qualified candidates would be attending Simmons or starting in the fall. I was mistaken. Most of our savvy candidates were keeping their options open by attending online degree programs through other universities. Their sound reasoning was that these programs were cheaper than many of their campus counterparts and left them free to pursue library jobs wherever they pleased.

This is a completely valid argument. Anyone who goes to Simmons knows the cost all too well. Anyone who has ever looked at the trends in online education knows that it's what's next for GSLIS and most LIS programs. I tried to mine the library literature at Beatley to read some articles about distance learning and was shocked to see how little there was published. Instead, I turned to trusty Mashable.com for insight into online education trends and found some interesting pieces on the future of higher education on the internet. Learning online is a flexible, feasible way to provide education to a great many people who don't live in urban areas. This is all very true.

However, there is something to be said about being here. I say this mainly because I have been working at the Simmons main campus almost every day since the end of June. I thought it would be a ghost town. I thought there would be nothing to do. But between working the reference desk at Beatley and manning the Tech Lab information desk on Palace Road I have learned a great deal. I have not been picking up too many salient lessons in the classroom, sad to say. My curiosity has been piqued by the great many professors and students I have the pleasure of running into on a regular basis. Striking up a conversation about Melvil Dewey with an incoming student in Foundations (LIS 401) or watching someone write out code for a website for Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488) compels me to synthesize what I have learned in the field and the classroom like nothing else ever has.

Having a discussion with professors about their latest assignment or their upcoming study on pop culture's portrayal of librarians is something that doesn't just happen in an online forum. Twitter, moodle forums, and collaboratory google docs can take students on a structured path to discussion but perhaps what I love most about going to school here is the open nature of scholarship. Everywhere you turn there is an opportunity to sit down and talk about something you're passionate about. Last night, I joined a professor, two alums and a fellow student at a story slam in Cambridge.  Relationships are built here when the amazing Jim Matarazzo passes me a jolly rancher, or when Linda Watkins and I talk blogs and how to make them or when Monica Colon-Aguirre tells me about the fabulous frozen yogurt experience she just had. These interactions may sound inconsequential, but they make my experience on this campus completely worth it.

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Job Hunting

I have about six months left until I get my degree, and that is both incredibly exciting and incredibly terrifying.  The point of library school is, of course, to be able to get a job at the end of it, and these days the competition for that job is stiffer than ever - especially in the Boston area.  I'm a little more fortunate than a lot of my peers because I have more than a decade of professional experience under my belt, but that's no guarantee of anything. 

Luckily, the same class that gives me a dose of real world internship experience (LIS502) also gives students a crash course in resume, cover letter and interviewing dos and don'ts, then lets students discuss their own experiences. The discussions are really the meat of it, because we give each other encouragement and tips, everything from interesting job boards to tricks for combatting nervousness and professional dress (I have to admit that I am in my 30s and still can't walk in heels particularly well. It's an issue!).  We're all anxious about finding a job, and sometimes just knowing that you're not alone can be the most comforting thing. 

I'm also a little more fortunate than some of my classmates in that I don't have any strong ties to the Boston area, and am eager to look for jobs in other parts of the US and Canada, and even further afield than that.  I'm not even particularly picky about what kind of job I get.  The thing about library school is that you're exposed to a wealth of information that isn't going to all be relevant in the professional world at the same time.  I love coding and XML, and would be keen on doing something in digitization, but I also love working with teenagers and working in a municipal setting. These things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but... they kind of are.  I'm actually thrilled that I have a whole career in front of me to figure out which I like best.  

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This is What a Librarian Looks Like

It's not news that popular aesthetics of librarianship are steeped in stereotype. Between visions of bibliographic babes with starched collars, pulled back hair, and horn rimmed glasses - librarians break these archetypes on a daily basis every time they get of bed in the morning to reveal looks as diverse as our professional responsibilities.

The blog This is What a Librarian Looks Like has accepted the mission of displaying the real face of librarianship across the globe. On their about page, blog creators Bobbi Newman and Erin Downey Howerton write "Think you know what a librarian looks like?  Go beyond the bun and challenge old, outdated librarian stereotypes. In the spirit of This is What a Scientist Looks Like, we bring you the ultimate complement to Library Day in the Life: This is What a Librarian Looks Like." Through photographs and personal blurbs submitted by librarians from Norway to Oregon, this blog reveals a face of librarianship that spans across different ages, genders, and national boundaries. In development for over two years, This is What a Librarian Looks Like shows no signs of slowing down. If you're interested in seeing your own look represented in this project, visit the link below:

http://lookslikelibraryscience.com/

People | leave a comment


Real World Experience

When I was looking at grad schools and deciding where to apply, the things I was really looking at were the program's requirements: GPA, recommendations, essays, etc.  I didn't delve too far into what the different programs actually offered in the way of classes, since before I started library school and understood a lot of the skills and terminology, the course descriptions and requirements meant next to nothing to me.  Still, one of the things that really stuck out for me about the Simmons GSLIS program was the emphasis on internships.  Most of the programs that I looked at didn't require any sort of internship or real world experience, but Simmons requires two - two! - internships to graduate.  To be perfectly honest, that seemed like a nightmare.  All I wanted to do was go to class, do the work, eventually graduate and then start worrying about getting professional work in actual archives. I didn't want to have to attempt to work in archives before I even had my degree.

Once I got in to the Simmons program and started taking classes, things changed.  A little.  My first semester at Simmons I took LIS438, the introductory archives class.  It requires a 60-hour internship, and I spent the weeks leading up to class worrying about that.  Would I have to find it myself?  Would the internship site expect me to know a lot about archives and archival work that I didn't?  What, exactly, would I be expected to do?  The thing is, once I actually started the class, I found out I wasn't the only one with those questions - and they were all anticipated by the instructor, who spent about an hour of that first class going over the internship requirement.  No, we wouldn't need to find it ourselves.  No, they didn't expect us to know much - and our knowledge base would grow as the semester went on, so the theories we learned in class would (or should) dovetail nicely with the practical applications we were using at the internship site.  I suspect, though it was never said, that the initial internship in archives is to give students a real look at what archival work is all about before they get too far along in their studies.  If they decide it's actually not for them, then it's caught early enough for them to switch to another track.  It's important because most archival work - unlike library work - is done out of sight, so it's hard to know what the work is really like until you're doing it.  

If the first internship is a test drive, the final archives track internship, LIS502, is the final exam, to test whether or not you know what you think you know and to learn more than a few advanced practical applications.  Of course, by the time the second internship rolled around I was actually looking forward to doing it, excited when it came time to choose my internship site.  You might think I would've learned from this not to fear things I don't really understand, but unfortunately that has not been the case.  Yet.

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Cracking the Lock on Open Access Collections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archives | Libraries | leave a comment


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