December 2012 Archives

Do we still need libraries?


It still blows my mind that the New York Times still thinks that this is a controversial question, worthy of their op ed section. And yet, every couple of months the topic rears its ugly head. This time, the conversation has four professionals arguing in favor of libraries from many different perspectives. One  of the voices in this pro-library dialogue is Buffy Hamilton, school librarian of Canton, Georgia. I am a huge fan of Buffy's, and her Unquiet blog. She speaks about how libraries are not just about book collection, but about connecting with a community and providing a learning space for that group. Lest you think that this is the only valid opinion posited, there are three more. All are wonderful, and use all those buzz words we hear in class: digital divide, marketspace, technology access and that echoing refrain, "...of the people, by the people and for the people." There are also plenty of comments by the people like you and me. It's a quick, interesting read that will get your engines revved for next semester. Happy New Year!

Libraries | Technology | leave a comment

Visiting Libraries Over the Holidays

I am spending my holiday down at the southern tip of Texas. Harlingen, Texas, to be exact, which is about thirty minutes north of the Mexican border. The culture down here is very agricultural/technical based and was a culture shock for a family moving down from academic based New Jersey, as my family did 5 years ago.

It was also a shock to go from a place where we had access to not only the school library, but the town library and county library which were both large in addition to multiple Barnes and Nobles, Borders and Walden Books within driving distance.

Quite the opposite exists down here. For a while we had a small Walden bookstore in the town’s mall but now that has closed down and the closest bookstore is 45 minutes away. For an avid reader that is definitely a sad thing.

The library here is small and to meet the needs of its public must fill its small shelf space with a large amount of Spanish language books as well as Large Print Books (it’s a popular winter destination for Senior Citizens). The library does a great job connecting to its public with services and computer for access but their focus on these points seem to sometimes eclipse their collection methods.

It’s a challenge for libraries sometimes to keep the balance, especially in a small town where the library does not have a lot of resources. However some can make it work. Next week I am going to talk to the Director of the Mcallen Public Library (the town that also hosts our closest book store) which run the 2012 ALA Design award for their renovation of a previously shut down Walmart.

Be sure to stop by and see how Mcallen manages to provide such a beautiful space and also balance it with great programs and a great collection.

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Do you dare?

daring librarian


While I continue my efforts to make myself a well rounded library student I have started to target blogs. I set up my google homepage through my Simmons mail so that I'm alerted to their newest posts etc. As you well know there are a ton of most excellent blogs run by libraries and librarians alike. I love the bloggish library site I work on at my job. In what other job can I spend a good half hour on a well crafted "Hey girl" post, complete with graphic and cuddle speak from the man we all know and love? Really...only in libraries. God, I love my job!

In this spirit I comb the web for blogs to inform my studies and my work. Multiple times a blog is shows up in other librarians blogs, exciting webinars cite a guest speaker most commonly known as the daring librarian. She defines her commentary on what works in school libraries as "sweet, snarky freshness". She's tech savvy and embraces the massive changes taking place in the field making her commentary incredibly relevant. I appreciate her appreciation of others contributions to the field, her humility and her dry wit. Every post is rife with helpful links and infographics to help you learn. I hope I can be just as daring as the superhero librarian with the cape and sexy glasses when I grow up. Check out one of my favorite posts from her archive. It's about smart tech practices to put in place for the new year. Enjoy it!

School Libraries | Technology | leave a comment

Library Lesson Learned II

On my way home from the train a few days ago, I ran into a woman who frequents the library where I work. The library stays open until 9 pm two nights per week, and she is almost always there at least one of those nights watching videos and shows on her laptop. I say hi to her and ask how she’s doing, but we never had a conversation and I didn’t know her name. One night, for no apparent reason, she gave me a bag of tasty Szechuan peanuts. Anyway, when I saw her walking home from the train that day, we both recognized each other immediately and had a nice conversation. By virtue of seeing each other at the library, this woman and I had tacitly become friends.

That very same evening at work, another frequent patron came up to me while I was shelving books to say that he hadn’t seen me in a while and asked how I was doing. I said that I only work a few nights each week, but yes, it had been a while since we had seen each other. He asked what I do when I’m not working at the library, and was interested when I said going to library school. Again, this was someone I had seen at the library a handful of times, but not someone with whom I thought I had any sort of relationship.

These two instances made me realize that in my four months as a public library employee, frequent patrons have come to recognize me as a familiar face. Whether I help people directly or just say hello, patrons have started to associate my face with the library. It is strange to think that I am developing informal relationships with people every time I show up to work, and that those relationships transcend the library’s walls. Community interaction is one of the most important aspects of working in a public library. Of course, not all patron interactions are positive, but the two aforementioned exchanges helped me contextualize public librarianship as being interpersonal as well as informational.

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Heroism and Librarians

In the midst of the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook, CT this Friday there are stories of heroic deeds, of a principal, counselors, and teachers who either gave or risked their lives to protect their students. Although in the confusing aftermath, I have seen several different names it seems that a quick thinking librarian and her assistant calmly escorted their students into a supply closet, gave them coloring supplies and kept their heads enough to even ask the police that pounded on the door for ID before they opened up to them.

There are many other librarians, many probably lost to history, who are heroes. Here are a few.


1. Ms. Clara Breed

A friend of mine introduced me to this librarian, whom she came across while doing research on Japanese-American internment camps in World War II. Clara Breed was a San Diego children’s librarian who personally knew many of the Japanese-American families who were brutally forced into camps. She made sure that she kept in contact with as many of her students as possible and tried to get them things that they needed.


2. William Shepherd Dix

The head of Princeton University’s Libraries for 22 years, William Dix was the chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee that opposed censorship during the McCarthy Era. He held many positions in the ALA, the ARL and other organizations but his most impressive one (imho) was that he was a member of UNESCO. He never stopped fighting for intellectual freedoms.



3. E.J. Josey

The founder of ALA’s Black Caucus and President of ALA in 1984-85, E.J. Josey was simultaneously an activist and a librarian. He spent his career as an advocate for equal rights in the library profession.


paul otlet

4. Paul Otlet

Though technically not a librarian, Otlet was pioneer in information science and created the Universal Decimal Classification. Otlet was also a peace activist who ideas were incorporated into the League of Nations and UNESCO.

5. The Unnamed Christchurch Librarian

A librarian at Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011, realized during an earthquake that a large piece of metal debris had fallen in the way of the exit and being an ex-military man (so supposedly fit I guess) he lifted up the metal piece and held it in place while the students exited the basement library.

We all already know that librarians are awesome but these people are stupendous!

Libraries | People | leave a comment

'Tis the Season to be Reading!


Indeed! Classes are over. Perhaps  you have a vacation of sorts on the horizon. Whatever shall you do?  Well, I'll tell you what I'll be doing. I will be doing some professional development. Wait! It's not as boring as it sounds. Here's my rationale: I'm going to a wonderful school that costs a lot of money. I'm not fully taking advantage of everything the school/faculty/facilities have to offer. I'm going to get on that. Here's a holiday list of books to read about the library profession, libguides to peruse, and people to bug about how to really get the most out of your Simmons Education. Also, I've included a fun list of holiday reads. What's Christmas without a giggle or two :-)

1) The Librarian's Guide to Writing for Publication by Rachel Singer Gordon

I'm loving this book that reminds every librarian, and librarian to be, that it's important to contribute to the field of library science scholarship. Gordon quells the reader's fears, by putting forth a baby step approach to writing about a field that you're already passionate. "Write what you know," is common wisdom that she deftly applies to the library field. And it makes sense. Write about something that you accomplished: a display, a book group, an outreach campaign. Start with something you're proud of and then write about it. Your colleagues want to hear from you :-)

2) How to Pay for Your Degree in Library & Information Studies by Gail Ann Schalachter

This book was recommended by my dear, smart friend Julie (see her posts on this blog for excellent advice). It's pretty comprehensive and a great place to get started when thinking about ways to fund this excellent education we're receiving. It's a great place to start. It's only for perusal in reference at Beatley BUT, it's pretty affordable online.

3) The Library and Information Science Libguide at Simmons

I know, seems obvious, but according to many studies most students don't take advantage of all they have to offer. True, a lot of the libguides could use some work in terms of presentation, but the guts, the meaty information is really helpful. The libguide provides a whole slew of databases that only GSLIS students have access to, the "Gratis LIS Vendor Databases". I particularly and starting to know a fun reader's advisory database offered on that page, NoveList. Check it out, see what you think! The libguide is also pretty regularly updated with new acquisitions in Library Science collection. I know it seems like I'm shilling for Beatley, but I think it's important to remember that our library is trying to help us succeed as much as possible and this is a great place to start when looking for tools to help you succeed in class and out of class.

4) Rex Krajewski - Head of Information Services

The man is a fountain of information. He's been working in the reference department at Beatley for a loooong time. He's seen it all and is really wise when it comes to helping GSLIS students make the most out of their education and discover what part of the field they want to focus on. Yes, I'm probably biased after just taking a class with him. He knows the collection REALLY well, also he's a GSLIS alum. Who better to have a chat with than this awesome, friendly librarian?

Holiday Jollies:

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket

Little Tree by e.e. cummings

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What’s under your tree?

With all this technology related gift-giving at holiday time, I did something really radical for my family this year…I bought them all books for Christmas. (And if you haven’t seen Katie’s blog last week with the YouTube video, “Books for Christmas,” it is a must-see!)

Yes, books….no computers, no fancy telephones, no tablets, no video games. I picked out some of my favorite picture books for the youngest crowd, graphic novels for the middle schoolers, and the latest YA fiction for the teens. I am not against technology and I love my Kindle Fire (and after successfully completing Database Management (LIS 458), I long to take a programming class). The reason for giving books is just that it is so much fun to get a book you didn’t pick out, to discover a new unexpected world. It stays with you forever. In the age of gift cards, the giving and receiving of books is a lost art.

The Bloomsbury Review posted the following picture on their Facebook page and I think it explains it best:

So, if you still have shopping to do, maybe sharing your latest good read is the perfect gift!

Events | leave a comment

Breaking Down My Winter Break

My classes ended today, so I am officially 66% of a librarian. I need only twelve more credits (four more courses) to hit 100%. Yowzer. Next semester will entail two classes, a new internship, and continuing with my part-time public library job. My schedule will be similar to last semester’s, except for the welcome change of having two classes instead of three.

Speaking of change, last week I found myself twiddling my thumbs after submitting all of my final assignments. Over the course of the semester, I would come home from class and do a few hours of homework before heading to work. Last week, I came home and just sat there. I wasn’t lamenting my lack of homework, but it was strange to have a midweek chunk of free time. Am I going to go nuts during the twelve days before my Christmas celebrations start? (“On the seventh day of break, My boredom gave to me, Seven hours of reality tv.”) As much as I am looking forward to a reprieve from classes and homework and textbooks, I am worried that I will have too much down time. [Note: The fact that I’m even considering this an issue may mean that I have a few screws loose (or maybe too tight?), but that’s another story.]

Luckily, my internship starts tomorrow, and I might also be able to pick up some extra hours working at the library. It will be nice to have things do to – interning, working, and eventually spending time with friends and family – that will not involve homework or extracurricular commitments. Becoming 66% of a librarian has taught me that I would rather be diligent than dormant, and GSLIS has given me ample opportunities to evade inactivity. I recognize that dormancy levels will inevitably rise over break, but I don’t want to completely check out and set myself up for a rude awakening come my first class on January 14. I have every intention of enjoying a low-key, relaxing, and comfortably busy break in the company of family, friends, and libraries. Dormancy can expect to find a lump of coal in its stocking.

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End of Semester Party

The semester is finished! At least for GSLIS, I still have a 25 page history paper to do but that didn’t stop me from celebrating with my fellow library students on Friday night. GSLIS put on a very cool end of the year party. It was great to be with all my friends outside of the context of a class. But we are librarians so we couldn’t pass up the chance to be educational and learn new information.

Members of the faculty offered 5 minute presentations on any topic they wished. We learned about an amazing accordion book that unfolds to show the Amazon River, about using Social Media to connect with colleagues, some of the great photos in Harvard’s collections and other great topics.

One that really made me think was Prof. Joel Blanco-Rivera’s talk on Archivists Without Borders. Archivists without Borders was started in Spain and is currently in the process of setting up a US Chapter. Archivists without Borders is dedicated to “cooperation in the sphere of archives work in countries whose documentary heritage is in danger of disappearing or of suffering irreversible damage, with particular emphasis on the protection of human rights.” They do this by helping preserve records in danger or by teaching other how to do it.

As I was listening I was thinking of my holiday trip back to South Texas where my parents live. One of the member states is Mexico, and my family lives right on the border. If there is an underrepresented class in that area it is illegal immigrants. But how would one go about documenting the lives of people who are by necessity off the record? I don’t have answers but it was a very interesting problem to mull over.

It was also one that I forgot to bring up with my friends. Because even though it’s the end of the semester, and we had free drinks (thanks Simmons!) we still were discussing “academic” topics or at least deep psychological ones. Go figure. But I’m so glad to be with “nerds” who will do such things with me!

Events | leave a comment


Yes, this is about the field of library science. For serious, it is. I promise. It just takes all those pesky listserv emails to a whole other visually pleasing and not annoying dimension. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of the idea of sharing and consulting with other professionals in the field when it comes to library questions. But does anyone get tired of the incessant emails? Because I do. Between all the clubs, the Simmons info, the tech lab, and my Moodle classroom forum posts, I'm awash in a sea of email that I must wade through to get to the nuggets of pure gold. As it is officially the holiday season and the end of the semester I am BEAT. I have no patience. All I want is pretty, shiny, sparkling lights and peppermint cocoa and "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?" I want things that make it easier to be inspired.This is how I came to pinterest.

Ok, this isn't how I came to pinterest. There was actually a fabulous presentation in my LIS 488 class about ways to use pinterest in libraries and I was hooked. But doesn't it seem like the perfect medium for the holiday season? For those of you who don't know about the magical place that, go check it out. Type in anything in the search bar on the top left of the page like, let's say, "Elf". You'll get this. If you love the movie elf, like I do, you'll be inspired by the millions of pictures of Buddy inspired projects, quotes, and photographs. This is easily converted to use in the library. I have planned at least half of my upcoming displays at the library I work at through inspiring pics that I found on pinterest. They're all saved (pinned) on a library inspiration bulletin board that I can refer to whenever.

So no, I lied, it doesn't replace the listserv email system, but it sure is a nice break from that monotony. Think of it as catnip, or eggnog,  or SYRUP for librarians just looking for a little cheer this holiday season.

Libraries | Relaxing | Technology | leave a comment

And so it is over

2.5 years at Simmons is officially over for me.  The last project has been submitted, the second practicum binder has been handed in, and I am ready to move on to the next chapter and start my professional life.

Last Friday, I went in for a job interview for a maternity leave position, a long-term substitute.  I got the job (hooray for gainful employment!), but more than that, this week has shown me just how thorough my preparation for this role has been.  When the person I am substituting for didn't come in Tuesday, I didn't hesitate to jump right in.  Were there bumps? Sure, but that's to be expected, especially when working with younger students who thrive on routine and consistency.  What counts to me is that I know now, after just three short days of observing and teaching, that my time at Simmons, my coursework in the SLT Program, and my two practica experiences have more than prepared me to step in, take charge, and hopefully take this position, or any future positions, to the next level.  I am confident.  I am ready to collaborate with teachers to improve instruction and information literacy skills. I know what it takes to develop a strong collection, how to identify weaknesses, how to use a budget, and even how to locate resources to help stretch a limited budget further.   I have been taught what it takes to make (or in this case, expand) a library program and integrate it into the heart of the school.

And for that, I owe a measure of deep gratitude to my instructors at Simmons.  To Dr. Zilonis, Chris Swerling, and Professors Saunders, Kimball, Pattee, and Schwartz, I say thank you.  Thank you for giving me the tools to take charge.  Thank you for exposing me to resources and ideas that will benefit my students.  Thank you for taking so much time to create interesting, engaging curricula and lesson plans.  I've learned a great deal from all of you, and now I get to put that into practice.

To those of you considering school librarianship at Simmons, I hope my posts have helped give you an idea of just what a great program we have here.  I hope to check in from time to time and give you updates from the field, but until then, thank you for reading, and goodbye.

GSLIS | Jobs | School Libraries | Students | 1 comment

The Opposite of Rejection…I hope.

My last post about being rejected for a job I really wanted was sort of sad. Sorry about that. But really, I was depressed about that job. It sounded so cool. But that very day I was called about another job that I had completely forgot I applied for and was asked to come in for an interview. Even though I wasn’t as excited about it, I said that yes, of course I would interview.

The job is for a library assistant position at a medical library in Hartford,CT.I have worked in the medical field for three years and people constantly ask me if I want to be a medical librarian and I always say no. I don’t really enjoy my current job all that much and I’ve been dying to get OUT of the field…until I had this interview.

When I walked into the hospital I was immediately impressed. The facility is beautiful. There are restaurants and lounge areas and everyone was so friendly! I met with someone from Human Resources who explained their amazing benefits package. I was then escorted to the brand new Educational Research Center where their small but completely remodeled library is located. I met with the Head of Educational Research, the director of the library, and the reference librarian.

To make a long story short, the interview was amazing and I am in love. I am so excited about this job that it keeps me awake at night. I have no idea if I’ll get it, though I am hopeful since my interview went so well. I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I am already encouraging my boss to anticipate my departure.

This job totally caught me off guard. I wanted to share this experience with you because it is so positive compared to my disappointment with my last attempt at a library job. It is just a perfect fit. I recently had to interview a local library director for a class assignment who told me that looking for a job is more than just matching a skill set. There needs to be chemistry, a spark, a good fit. She is absolutely right, and I didn’t understand completely until I felt it. My fingers are crossed! Send me some positive vibes for good luck!

Jobs | Libraries | People | Students | 1 comment

"And Time Goes Quicker..."

The title of this post is a line from one of my favorite Florence & the Machine songs, "What the Water Gave Me." I thought it was a fitting line for the end of this semester, as I am extremely dumbfounded that I only have 3 semesters left (Spring, Summer, Fall). Now that normally seems like a long time, but I sincerely remember moving to Boston just yesterday and freaking out about starting life in a new city. Yet, here I am similarly having a meltdown about what I still have to accomplish: landing an internship for next summer, choosing a thesis topic and possibly traveling to research for it, passing all of my other classes in between, and somehow working full-time while trying to land volunteering gigs that will look awesome on my resume and expand my archival knowledge/experiences. How is this all possible you ask?

I'm not sure, but listening to Florence & the Machine helps. I also recently bought some new records, so I plan to crack open my record player and get lost in some vinyl while writing my seminar paper tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll watch some YouTube videos to help de-stress. How's this for some hilarity:

Events | 1 comment

Librarian Olympics and Other Fun

We all know that librarians are awesome at bookish endeavors, but time and again, my professors (and my experience) tell me that the ability to unjam a stapler is an extremely important librarian skill.  This is right up there with troubleshooting the fax machine, clearing the paper jam in the printer, learning the new phone system, and my most recent nightmare….using the new projector and sound system at the library’s movie night.

The problem with all of these minor technical horrors is that one usually must deal with them on the spot, with patrons waiting.  Time is of the essence, and well, to be honest, I am spending all this money on a Master’s degree and I don’t enjoy being stumped by a fancy new remote control.  It’s embarrassing.

What we need is Librarian Olympics!  Imagine a convention hall packed with hundreds of different types of copiers, fax machines, and e-readers and teams of librarians competing to troubleshoot the uncooperative machines in the shortest time…The training sessions alone would turn us all into brilliant mechanical engineers, never again to be beaten by so-called helpful technology.

I will be one of the first to sign up… Meanwhile, we will just have to be satisfied with more traditional librarian sports, like the Book Cart Drill teams. Yes, we know how to have fun.

The Warrior Librarians are one of my favorites:


Libraries | People | Technology | leave a comment

22-24 of 36

Surprise! I bet you weren’t expecting to hear more about my GSLIS course credits this semester, but this is it, I promise. In addition to my three classes this semester, I had an Independent Study doing an internship at a law firm library.

The perks of my internship have been gaining practical experience, building my résumé, bolstering my arsenal of talking points for future interviews, and spending time on the job with a library professional. I spent twelve hours per week at the law firm doing a variety of tasks including research, collection upkeep, invoice organization, and basic cataloging. I did not have any designated internship-long projects, and was, for the most part, subject to whatever tasks cropped up on a given day. It was a great introduction to the life of a solo librarian in a special library environment.

The internship culminated in writing an article about the benefits of having an internship. I had almost too much material to work with! With the help of the GSLIS professor who proctored my Independent Study, the article might even be published. This whole experience has been invaluable to my professional development, and publication of the article would be a nice added bonus.

The only “bad” thing that I can say about an Independent Study is that you pay for it just like any other GSLIS course. I suppose that I am technically spending money to gain library experience, but frankly, I can’t think of a course that I would rather have taken. If you have the chance to obtain library experience without taking an Independent Study, more power to you! I don’t think that an Independent Study is for everyone, but in my case it provided me with an opportunity that I would not have otherwise had.

Classes | Internships | Libraries | People | leave a comment

For a Snowy Day...

Well it’s starting to look a lot like winter. A blanket of snow, though very thin, was coating Simmons Campus yesterday. It was a day to stay inside and cuddle up with a coffee. Good thing I had a 25 page history paper to write or I might not have known what to do!

But if you are ever in the same position and need some librarian things to read here are some of my favorite librarian blogs/tumblrs/twitter feeds!

1.       The Art of Google Books

Regardless of where you stand on Google Books and their scanning project (and their horrible metadata), this tumblr is fun to look at. It includes pictures of some of the interesting things the employees come across in their scanning. Odd books, odd pictures, little written notes inside old books, stuff a library-history dual degree student drools over!

2.       Better Book Titles

Ever judged a book by its cover? Or by its title? This website posts book covers with new humorous titles that better explain the book.  One of my favorite submissions is actually a collection of books that might be more aptly titled; I’m on a Boat, including Huck Finn, Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness and Life of Pi. There must be something with old men and the sea.

3.       Airport Bookstore

This tumblr posts pictures of a particular book from different countries. It’s very intriguing how dramatically the covers of the same book can differ across the globe and what each focuses on. And of course, I just like pretty book covers.

4.       This is What a Librarian Looks Like

A favorite of many, I mentioned this in my last blog post but it’s worth another mention. A collection of photos submitted from librarians all over the world of themselves. Librarians don’t just wear pencil skirts and buns anymore!

5.       Fake Library Stats

A twitter feed of fake library stats that any librarian (or library student) can relate to.

Fake Library Stats @FakeLibStats

A librarian's chances of getting hired increase 250% for applications submitted with pictures of the applicants cats.

So there you have it! If you don’t have a good book to cozy up with (shame on you, visit your library!) then here are some booky links to occupy your time!

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Stress Busters for the End of the Semester

I am a stress champion. Normally, I take a break from stress at Thanksgiving before the season of giving and stressing begins. This year, however, I took the reigns for Turkey day and fed 11 people with a 20 pound turkey. So, my stress levels are still pretty high and everything is coming to a close. I always tell my students not to stress: all will be well in the end, and if all is not well then it is not yet the end. A little bit of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that never hurt anyone. I tell them this but never heed my own advice. In an effort to do just that I am passing on study tips, stress busters, and words of love I have compiled for all those who are feeling the end of the semester crunch.


Teach what you're studying. If you can teach it, you know it. Teach your dog, your brother or your roommate, or look in the mirror and teach yourself.

Remember, no one can ask any more than for you to do your best.

Don't study on your bed!! It's too comfortable!

Some people like to do the worst first. If they accomplish what they dislike most, the rest of studying seems easier. Do the worst thing first and the rest of the task will seem easy.

World class runners never stop short of the finish line ... they continue to run as fast as they can, through the tape that marks the end. With the finish line in sight, muster your strength and run through it.

I like my director's piece of advice the most: Just think of puppies and kittens and all will be well.

Relaxing | leave a comment