May 2012 Archives

Time Off

I have to admit, I haven’t been doing many productive things since class has been over.  A lot of my activities have been geared towards heading down to Washington, D.C. for my internship, which is now only a week away!  I’m really excited, but I’m also worried that I’m forgetting something. 

I opted not to sublet my apartment, though it would have been an option, so I don’t have too much more to get ready before I leave.  I’ll miss my friends and my cats, but it’s going to be a really fun summer.  I wish I had more to write, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty once I actually start at the NMAI!


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The Post-Semester Life of an Unemployed Aspiring Librarian

The calendar tells me that the semester ended three weeks ago. Instead of harping on how that does not seem temporally possible, I will briefly detail the post-semester life of an unemployed aspiring librarian in all of its glory.

The day after my final final I started volunteering at the Somerville Public Library. I had the opportunity to shadow the library director, and came away with all kinds of clichéd “what they don’t teach you in library school”-type knowledge and insights about what goes on behind the scenes in a public library. I sat in on meetings, met interesting people, and did research for a grant proposal. In less glamorous news, I spent four days going through random documents that past library directors had left in the office. I’m pretty sure that experience solidified my lack of interest in archives.

I also spent some time helping at the Friends of the Somerville Public Library Book Sale. On the last day of the sale, all VHS tapes were $0.25 each or five for $1. A little boy scored a bunch of Disney classics (the ones in those fantastically large white boxes with full color cover insert), and on his way out I heard him say to his father, “Today is a very happy day for me.” If that doesn’t make you want to volunteer at a book sale, I don’t know what does.

Finally, I met with someone in the Simmons Career Education Center to discuss my résumé. I figure that if I want to line up a job or internship or something for the fall, a good first step would be getting my résumé in tip-top shape. I went in there thinking that it looked pretty good, but I left feeling as though substantial improvements had been made. It’s crazy how some library volunteer experience and an improved résumé can make me feel better about applying for jobs. Now I just need someone to hire me…

This week I am briefly reverting back to student-mode and taking a course called Corporate Libraries. This course is offered a few times per year when regular classes are not in session, and is five consecutive full days of class. (Translation: one semester’s worth of class time crammed into five days.) I have no idea what to expect, and will be sure to report back once I emerge from my temporary cubicle.

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After I finished up my classes a few weeks ago, I found myself in somewhat of a depressing predicament: I didn’t know how to spend my time without having homework to do. I would find myself sitting at home bored after work and on the weekends. It took me longer than I would be comfortable admitting to remember, “Wait a second…I live in Boston!” Thus began the rediscovery of my touristy agenda.

I was able to get a lot of sightseeing done last September before classes really got going and even throughout the academic year—a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts makes for a fantastic study break. Before the school year ended I’d seen that, the Boston Commons, a good chunk of the Freedom Trail, the Boston Public Library Architectural Tour, Salem, the North End, and the Sam Adams Brewery. The task this month was to determine what was left and see all I could before classes started up again.

Continue reading Vacation

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School is NOT Out for the Summer

Spring 2012 flew by! Seriously, where has the time gone? I remember when I went off to college as a lowly undergraduate and my mother told me - "Soak it up. These four years will be over before you know it." I scoffed in her general direction. I guess this is another one of the times when I realize Mom is usually right. Not only did my undergrad years vanish like Speedy Gonzalez, but my first year of graduate school is already gone. Wow.

Last week, my boyfriend graduated with his Master's degree in Taxation (scary stuff!) and I couldn't have been more proud to see him walk across that stage. Now he's going to take his CPAs this summer and then he starts a full-time job in the fall. Somehow I feel like I'm falling behind since I'm still in school and only working part-time. And yet, I don't want to rush. I have the rest of my life to become a slave of society's standards and live day-in and day-out doing the same thing, so instead of pouting in my seemingly never-ending schooling, I'm living it up.

In fact, I'm already back in school. Yup, no glorious summer vacation for this kid. My summer history class (I'm a dual-degree Archives and History major) on race and media in modern U.S. History started this past Monday. I already have a book to read this weekend in addition to two articles. This doesn't bother me though because I'm hoping for some glorious weather that will allow me to lay out in my backyard with a nice cool drink and get some color on my pasty skin while I delve into the sticky questions about race and how film, television, etc. dictates our impressions of each other. I'll certainly keep you all updated about the class.

If you want a quick refresher about Reconstruction era racial relations, watch some clips of Birth of a Nation, a film from 1915.  It is basically the only example of cinema that portrayed society's fear of the freedmen and what would happen with the dawn of inter-racial relationships. It's pretty controversial stuff, but it also reminded me how little I remembered about Reconstruction (besides the fact that it failed miserably).

Next time, I'll tell you all about where to find lynching photos from the 19th and 20th centuries. I think it's a pretty interesting collection, while simultaneously disturbing.


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The Birth of My First Semester...

My first semester with nine credits (all required CORE classes) bore striking resemblance to pregnancy. Being a new student (and an “older” one), not knowing what to expect, reminded me of the excitement and anticipation of being a new mother.  I was so thrilled to be embarking on this new chapter of my life, redefining myself, but it came with some anxiety.  The question, “Would I be a good student and librarian?” felt a lot like “Would I be a good mommy?”

The first trimester (first month of school) came with a little nausea (butterflies), followed by the euphoria of the second trimester (2nd month of school) where I felt great – no more morning sickness and a whole lot of confidence and excitement for what lay ahead. Then, as any new mom will tell you, came the hard part -- the seemingly never-ending last trimester with its accompanying feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and wanting it to be over.  I would like to see my feet again…or in the case of school, I would like to recall what a personal life is.

And then the baby arrives!   Final projects are like a long labor…so exciting and scary (and perhaps painful), knowing the moment of truth is here…In both parenting and academics, I want the elusive A’s!  The baby is born, happy and healthy. The new mom starts the slow physical recovery, still a bit overwhelmed but blissfully content and so glad the grueling work of pregnancy (and the first semester) is over and committed that “I won’t be doing that again anytime soon.”

I plan to take the summer off and have signed up for only six credits in the fall…

But then another week passes.  The twelve loads of laundry have been washed…I am starting to see the garden through the weeds…That sweet beautiful baby is making me forget the pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the stress…Maybe the labor wasn’t that bad, after all!  How soon until I can do it again?

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Suggestions for a Disgruntled Patron

My hometown newspaper published a letter to the editor from a woman who thinks that the public library budget could use substantial cuts. She writes that high school students should replace the six gossiping and squawking librarians with master's degrees who are checking out books on any given shift, and that the library director and assistant director are grossly overpaid. I am in no place to comment on the library's budget or staffing structure (although I find it hard to believe that six librarians are constantly manning the circulation desk), but I was glad to see that community members have commented on the letter itself and written their own letters extolling the library and its services.

I don't know what side of whose bed that woman woke up on before writing this letter, but I would like to think that she is an anomaly in a world full of grateful library users. Fortunately, I woke up on the right side of my own bed this morning, so I will offer her some things to consider:

Move to a town that allocates a smaller portion of its budget to the library.

Channel your inner librarian and ask the librarians to stop talking.

By nature, the area near the circulation desk is not going to be very quiet. If you are looking for a quiet area, do not sit near the circulation desk.

The circulation staff are not degree-holding librarians, and are not paid as such.

A high school student making $8 an hour will not provide better service than a librarian.

If you want to hear squawking, spend five minutes in a high school cafeteria at lunchtime. A chicken coop will also do.

Barnes & Noble is not a library, as reflected by the difference in salaries.

Librarians are people, and people tend to talk on the job.

An attack on the library is an attack on the community.

Changing your attitude will create a better library atmosphere much more effectively than changing the budget.

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/Spring 2012

With only one last class and one last presentation to give, I’m facing the end of the semester, and I can’t believe it went by so quickly!  I’ve had a great experience in my Introduction to Archival Methods and Services class, and I learned so much from my internship with the Cambridge Historical Society.  The finding aid I created should be up on their website soon, and it’s given me a tremendous sense of accomplishment to process an entire collection from start to finish!

This summer I’ll be looking forward to an internship with the Repatriation Department of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center (phew, that’s a lot of words).  My internship starts on June 4th and lasts through the 10th of August, and I’ve been doing a ton of reading and research on my own before it starts!  I believe quite a few of us here intend to blog over the course of the summer, and I’ll have a lot more to say about it once it starts!

For now, I just have to get through this one last power point, and then I have an awesome summer in Washington, D.C. to look forward to.

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Opportunites at Simmons

One of the amazing things about Simmons is the people it puts you in touch with - faculty, students, and visitors.  For instance, last week, Susan Ballard happened to be on campus. If you don't know who Susan Ballard is, she's the president-elect of the American Association of School Librarians.  Susan was on campus because she's also an instructor at Simmons (and an alumna!), involved in the post-graduate, online instructional technology program that launched this past January.  While she was here, she asked to meet with the SLTP and IT students, which is how I came to be in a classroom with about ten other students and faculty members discussing the future of school librarianship with the head of my national organization.  That's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Continue reading Opportunites at Simmons

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Semester over | Now get back to work

Have to admit I am feeling a little lift of pressure after this last semester. Final projects and papers can be tense and working collaboratively (online) adds another dimension that tests your time-management, in a good way. So now that most of us have finshed it is time to do something for your community, your constituents, and yes for yourself. Join a local volunteer group (library or otherwise) and give of yourself a little.

If you are a Somerville/Medford/Cambridge type volunteers are still needed for the upcoming S'Ville Library Spring Book Sale (May 17-May 20, set-up day May 12th). Email me at for more info. We have also partnered with Somerville's PorchFest to have a few performances in the forecourt of the library that Saturday.

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you have time to assist, do email me at Thx. Or follow along at #books #bakesale

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Nine Credits Later...

My first semester is over.  Three core courses complete! I have a great sense of accomplishment, mixed with relief (phew!) and just a touch of sadness. (And dread for all the neglected house chores awaiting me…)

I can’t believe how much I have learned in just a few months. I have met the most amazing people in this first semester at Simmons GSLIS.  I have enjoyed sharing my first glimpse of library school with all of you, and look forward to sharing much more over the coming months. Many congratulations to my peers who are graduating!

I love library school and have a great course line-up for the fall semester, but right now, it’s time to party in the library!



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10 Things I Learned in Library School: Year 1


Today, I turned in my last assignment of the semester, and I can officially state that the term is over. I tend to get self-reflective in moments like this, so I thought I’d make a list of 10 things I’ve learned in my first year of library school. The list includes not only some of the things I learned in my classes, but also some personal life-type tidbits that have popped up along the way. Hope you enjoy, and to anyone else finishing up an academic semester or year right now, congratulations!

10 Things I Learned in Library School: Year 1

  1. The Dewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress Classification systems in many ways reflect the stereotypical 19th-century WASP male worldview, and therefore have had to undergo revisions over time to erase those biases and include knowledge about marginalized groups.
  2. Most people in library school aren’t fresh out of undergrad, but people don’t look at you TOO funny if they find out you are.
  3. The Massachusetts Historical Society digitized Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, and they did super cool stuff to make interacting with the papers online almost just like interacting with the physical papers themselves.
  4. Dunkin Donuts was founded in Massachusetts and is EVERYWHERE in Boston.
  5. What makes working in reference so challenging (in a fun way) is that you’re working with people who know they want to know something, but they can’t fully articulate what it is they want to know because they don’t know what it is yet.
  6. There are people working to structure and link data on the Web. It’s not something I have my head around yet, but I plan to get there by adding this to my summer reading list.
  7. Salem, MA is an awesome place to visit for Halloween, and you can get there from Boston by ferry.
  8. Legal resources have their own citation styles, and the US government has its own classification system.
  9. There are postmodernist archival theorists!
  10. This profession is the one I belong in. It upholds a commitment to intellectual freedom, strives to preserve cultural memory, and works diligently to make information accessible to everyone. Those are principles I am excited to participate in maintaining.

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