May 2013 Archives

Does Your Job Feed Your Soul?


It is often the topic of many GSLIS classes whether we know it or not, this question of feeding the soul. However, it is frequently discussed because vacancies do not often arise in libraries. Why is that? Why don't librarians retire? They must have dreams of seeing those places from the books on their shelves. They must long for the hot sticky air outside the airconditioned hum of the library...well, maybe not. STILL, it's brought up time and again.

Any professor worth their salt will discuss life outside of grad school and the job market. They will discuss this, and as a result, come to the conclusion that librarians are generally happy in their jobs, hence the lack of job opportunities. A healthy library will not yield a great many vacancies. And when I say a healthy library, I mean a library that is well-managed and where people feel that their work is valued. 

I only bring this up because quite a few job listings have popped up on the GSLIS_info list-serv. And if you're not subscribed to that, you should be. It's important to see what's going on in the job market, even if you're not interested at the moment. If you are though, the question you should be asking yourself is: Am I happy? Might this job feed my soul? Now, of course you can't know that from a website description. But this is the overarching question which I believe should be in the back of your mind during any sort of interview and tour of the library in question. Will this community and environment help me grow professionally? Will it feed my soul?

Context? Fair enough, you have read this far and deserve an explanation. I was looking at a job description sent to me via GSLIS_info. I looked at it and realized I could definitely do this job. I had experience and training for every part of the job. I felt good. They were offering money, benefits, and a lot of other perks. Imagine me! I realized to my utmost astonishment that I had marketable skills that I could offer another library. GO ME! I pondered this job. I discussed the merits of applying for this job with friends and family. Many encouraged me to apply. GO YOU! You're awesome. I admit, I felt really good about myself .

But, and of course there has to be a "but" or there would be no tie-in to the title of this post,  I'm happy at my job now. In fact, I love my job! I have fantastic colleagues who encourage me to innovate the way the library functions. I teach information literacy to an amazing group of freshmen who tell me all the time how much my reference interviews helped them with their research. I play in the faculty jug band, the Juggernauts, and we ROCK! In the end, I've realized that for now, my job is fulfilling everything and more I could ask from it. I'm excited to come to work. It's feeding my soul.

This, to be clear, is not to brag about how amazing my life is. No, it's to remind you that your job should inspire and propel you to change. It should, dare I say it again, FEED your soul, help you learn, and above all make you happy. Make sure it does. It makes every different in the world.

Jobs | leave a comment

I Know What You Did Last Summer

The summer is always a great time to capitalize on opportunities that escape during the cold, hard, rainy winter season.  For me, I ended up getting a summer internship in an aspect of GSLIS that I had never before considered - records management.  While I am super excited just to have an internship - and a paying one at that - I am even more excited to try out what is the "hors d'oeuvre" of the meal of one's career (sorry, this metaphor is kind of falling apart...).  I'm pretty excited to be trying out this new career path, and I have super high hopes (expectations) that this will end up being THE NEW CAREER FOR ME. 

I have very little expectation that this career won't work out.  But it is the last in a long line of internships that I have tried in my still juvenile career - I have worked in financial planning, in support and administration, in publishing.  I have worked at Harley Davidson Motor Company, law firms, and for various academic institutions.  And while they may not have been my total cup of tea, they definitely gave me the insight as to what I liked and didn't like - and I could tailor my next internship experience with that knowledge. 

I also love the length of internships - twelve weeks, to me, is about the perfect time to work.  It's not long enough where you start to run out of work and are scrambling for something to do (once, when I was bored at a job, I organized the entire supply closet for my floor), but it's long enough where you can tackle two or three huge projects, or a plethora of short ones, and finish it with bows on before the internship ends. 

And of course, there are always those lucky few who find internships whose work cannot be completed in twelve weeks, and who are asked to stay on for part-time work into the semester. 

I am super excited for the summer.  It has all of the things I love - sun, sundresses, long days, Toscanini's Ice Cream, and internships.  Guys: I am ready.  Let's get this show on the road. 

Internships | Relaxing | leave a comment

Summer Slowdown

In my last post (which seems like ages ago), I posited that it would take a week or two for me to adjust to the semester being over. In retrospect, I think my estimate was off by, well, about a week or two. I adapted to my newfound classlessness in no time by picking up a few extra hours at the library and altering my internship schedule so I have Fridays off. In short, the real adjustment has been acclimating to three-day weekends, which, as you might expect, has not been all that much of a challenge.

The summer of 2013 won't be quite as liberating as that of 2012 when I wasn't working or taking classes, but it is not in my best professional or monetary interest to completely check out of the library world for another summer. (And frankly, three-day weekends are pretty liberating.) Plus, an unforeseen perk of my summer schedule is that I have more time to put toward my local Friends of the Library group. I spent the last two Friday afternoons helping with Friends-sponsored events, neither of which I could have done a few weeks ago because of my class schedule. It feels much better to be volunteering instead of sitting in class or doing homework.

When fall classes start in September, I'll be ready. In the meantime, I'll be spending this summer gently padding my résumé (and my wallet) while still having ample time for summer fun. 

Jobs | Relaxing | leave a comment

Cambridge History Room Internship

This week marked the beginning of my internship. I am working at the Cambridge History Room which is placed inside the Cambridge Public Library.

The plan as it now stands is for me to process the papers of John Langstaff, singer, author and creator of the Cambridge Revels while selecting pieces from the collection that are usuable for an exhibit as well as creating the finding aid.

The boxes I have glanced over so far (there are about 15 in total I think; I need to double check that number though) contain an assortment of sheet music (both printed and hand-written), production notes, correspondence, mock-ups of his children's books and promotional materials. I believe the majority of the "good stuff" was removed and are in the boxes of material the biography author was using, which I have not gone through yet.

I hope to find some photography, etc. that would be useful for an exhibit. I do think there should be something in the collection that would interest the public if not about the Revels, perhaps about his children's books or his BBC children's show.

As I mentioned, there was a biography written by a friend of Langstaff and I was able to get a copy and read it before I opened any of the boxes. This was very helpful. I know it wouldn't be possible in all cases but I'm glad that it was because it allowed me to bring context to the things I was seeing. For instance, I found a map of Canada with a small mark on it which seemed meaningless until I recalled that Langstaff had bought an island in Canada that the family used for vacations.

After just one day, I can say that I am quite enjoying the smaller atmosphere than the Gottleib archive where I did my previous internship. The Gottleib is so big that I was upstairs processing and never even set foot in the reference room. Wednesday night, I was able to watch the archivist interact with a couple from Dallas who had come to the area to do research for the husband's upcoming book. It was great to see how the reference interview was handled and how the archivist provided information not only about the Cambridge History Room's materials that might be helpful, but also other nearby institutions.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this internship!

Internships | Students | leave a comment

Let the Adventure Begin: Summer 2013

This week has finally arrived! I leave for Rome on Thursday and I could not be more excited to get this adventure started! I look forward to sharing all my stories when I'm back from my European travels.

I've spent the last few weeks recovering from my first semester at GSLIS, preparing for my trip to Rome, and getting a kickstart on my summer reading list. Other than the short course I am taking in Rome (LIS 493 Intellectual Freedom and Censorship), I will have a school-work free summer and I plan to spend the extra time reading everything I can get my hands on.

I recently stumbled upon a great blog called "Beerbrarian" by a librarian in the DC area named Jacob Berg. "The Four-and-a-Half Types of People I met in Job Interviews in May" is a recent post that caught my eye about his experience interviewing candidates for a position at his library (check it out here The post raises a lot of really interesting points about the interview process in general and job hunting as it relates to the library profession. Berg emphasizes the importance of customer service experience above relevant courses or knowledge of a specific computer system. I found this incredibly reassuring as a current library student with a resume heavy with customer service positions but very little experience in an actual library. Berg explained that he can teach an employee how to use a given computer system or specifics of a given library but he cannot teach how to interact with the public. 

Oftentimes, in our efforts to create the most impressive resume, we cut out jobs such as waitressing or working in retail. This blog reminded me how vital those experiences are and that potential employers want to see a background with customer service. I am hoping to add some volunteer work at my local library to my resume this summer while continuing my work for the National Park Service and as a waitress.

But for now, I am off to Rome, ciao!

People | Relaxing | leave a comment

The Interview


If you have followed my journey from mom to batgirl, you already know that I have committed myself to an unusual career path - correctional librarianship.  A year ago, I did not see this coming.  After my first semester, the possibilities for my library degree seemed endless and in fact, I was a bit worried that I would never narrow down my interests.  Other than motherhood (which was my first calling), I did not expect to experience a vocation, a calling, an overwhelming need to pursue a very specific career.  Then I set foot in a prison library, and my life changed.

The problem with a desire to be a prison librarian is that there aren't that many prisons or opportunities for pre-job experience. The good news about wanting to be a prison librarian is that the skills I acquire in a public library setting are very applicable. On top of that, I am a champion of the benefits all around to volunteering, and my desire to learn everything I could about prison libraries turned into a great interning opportunity in a state prison library. I can now pursue this path with eyes wide open.

This week, I went on my very first interview for a position as a prison librarian.  It doesn't matter how old you get, interviews can be intimidating. A room full of candidates with unknown qualifications and the overriding fear that you didn't anticipate the right questions can make for sweaty palms.

I think/hope that my interview went well, but no matter what the results, here is what I learned:

Do your homework! Learn as much as you can about the place where you are interviewing and the job you are seeking.  I would not have had a good experience if I had not already studied the facility online.  If this had been a public library, a pre-interview visit would have been in order, but being a secure institution, I did not have that luxury.

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!  I know I have said this many times before, usually in the context of my being fortunate to fall into my public library position after volunteering there, but my prison library involvement as a volunteer intern made all the difference in this interview experience.  One, I really knew what the job was about, and two, I could discuss relevant issues and ask pertinent questions. I had experience.  My questions were sincere, and their answers mattered to me because I could look at this job opportunity and see how it compared to the good and bad of my internship. 

You might wonder what the interview and job at the end of the rainbow have to do with choosing Simmons GSLIS over some other program.  How is this relevant to you before you apply?  Aren't all MLIS programs the same? I will tell you that my being at Simmons GSLIS was met with respect.  The librarian on the panel also happened to be a Simmons alum so she knew the values of our program.  Beyond that, though, I credit the GSLIS faculty.  On day 1, at Orientation Day, we were all advised to get involved, join professional organizations, volunteer... I took that advice seriously and it has repeatedly proven itself.  I have also been fortunate to have many professors who have encouraged me to pursue my interests, push myself outside of my comfort zone and go forward with vision.  Yes, we learn all the necessary skills to be librarians - the theory and the practice - but it is the GSLIS environment of excellence that drives us to be better, to pursue that dream job, to reach higher than we ever imagined and to do so with confidence.

Jobs | Libraries | leave a comment

We'll be back!

Hello readers, 

I gave our bloggers a few weeks off to recover from the spring semester before classes start up again.  They'll be back to regular posts the week of May 20th, which is when our first summer session begins. Check back to find out how GSLIS students spend their summer. As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!

GSLIS | Relaxing | leave a comment

School's out for the summer... or is it?

School's out.jpg

I remember telling a friend, way back in September, that I couldn't possibly think about taking a class in the summer. I wanted to prevent burnout and make sure I had time to recharge my batteries for the coming year. However, the further I went in the program the more I realized EVERYONE's here in the summer! Ok, that's an exaggeration, but I would say at least 75% of my friends at GSLIS are taking at least one summer course. I, myself, am VERY excited about my summer course with Vivienne Piroli: User Instruction. I'll keep you up to date on the many pearls of wisdom that will undoubtedly come my way. I'm also excited about my new summer job at Beatley library. HUZZAH! That's right ladies and gentlemen; I am staffing the reference desk this summer at the Beatley Library. I am delving into the realm of academic libraries. I'll also be reporting on the awesomeness of recording every reference transaction I have, the new subscription databases I learn about as well as Beatley's libguides and the most excellent librarians who create them. So, while school may be out, after a few weeks I'm definitely back in, and for the entirety of the summer!!

School Libraries | leave a comment

Time to refuel...

fuel.jpgClasses ended on Monday.  Tuesday should have been a day to relax, but then there was that Call for Submissions that I had been thinking about for months, due on between all the academic pursuits, my public library job, and my volunteer time at the men's prison library, I am only now coming up for air.

This semester was my most rigorous.  I only took two classes, but I balanced more than usual, as my cluttered house and cobwebs will attest.  My day job expanded, I added volunteering, started a regular exercise routine, and had some pet and family health issues.  I would be lying if I didn't admit to being exhausted.  I am sure my family and friends are tired of my response to most invitations, "In May...can't do anything before May."

I am not trying to scare you away.  Some great results came out of this:

I discovered minimalist running shoes, and my knees don't hurt anymore.

After 18 years of marriage, my husband learned to do laundry.

I found my calling in correctional librarianship.

I learned SO much...had truly THE best class of my GSLIS career.

And I have big plans for May:

Visit my adult daughter! She is in grad school, too, so we have only seen each other via Skype these last few months.

CLEAN and paint my study, if I can find it under the piles of journal articles, books, and just too much paper...

Let my husband continue with that laundry since he has gotten so good at it.

Get my gardens weeded and the veggies planted.

Do all that neglected socializing with family and friends.

And get ready for June, when summer classes begin!

GSLIS | People | Relaxing | leave a comment