April 2014 Archives

What's Next?

4748804337_ff51d52736_z.jpgI am graduating in December. This is painfully evident to me as many of my friends are graduating this spring. I watch them as they introduce themselves at the job fair in their smart pant suits. I linger over their announcements on the last day of class: This IS my last class at GSLIS. I jump for joy when they reveal in triumph: I GOT A JOB!

This is what's next this week: parties, life without homework, and the jobs on the horizon.  But what about after that? What happens after the cheering is over, the reading for fun begins and the day-to-day routines of library jobs set in?  This is inevitably what is addressed, or should be addressed, in any last class rant by a professor of substance. My two professors, both crazy intelligent beings, Amy Pattee and Linda Braun, spent their last moments with us pronouncing those fateful words: THIS IS NOT THE END! They're right, it is only the beginning. I pass their words of wisdom on to you, dear readers, as this semester comes to a lovely close.

Linda Braun, who taught me about the vast potential of social media, said that in order to succeed as librarians we must continue to invest in reading about the latest trends in technology. This does not mean we should exclusively be subscribing to list-servs or rss feeds about technology in libraries, but simply what's new and exciting on the web, hardware and other various new tech trends. How are people interacting with the world through technology. As we become more informed, the more we will be able to link these new trends to potential in libraries. As I said, the woman is a genius. Did I say that? Well if I didn't: GENIUS.

Amy Pattee, who opened my eyes to a world beyond dystopian young adult literature, reminded me to keep my finger on the pulse of the publishing world. It is our job as librarians to understand what is happening in literature and that can't just mean ordering the New York Times Best sellers (that's a great place to start, but there are other sources). Find a voice of a librarian that resonates with you on twitter or on a blog and keep up with what they have to say. Find a community that fits your needs and sign up for that list-serv or join that round table at ALA and join the conversation.

Happy end of the semester to all and to all a good night!

Classes | leave a comment

Where Did the Time Go?

I've looked at my calendar more times than I can count in the last few days. Surely the date can't be right; wasn't it January just the other day? Although it says that today is the second to last day of April, I'm about 95% certain that my laptop's calendar is wrong. Shouldn't the last few days of April be warm? I'm pretty sure that the weather outside is more like something I'd find in late February, or early March at best. No, this all has to be one massive, over the top hoax; any moment now Ashton is going to pop and inform me that I've been punked.
Any moment now...still waiting....Ashton?
Alright fine, I'll face the facts, the semester is literally days from being over which means that somehow,  I've just completed my first year at Simmons. Of course I'm over the moon excited by this fact; I have just one small twenty-five paper standing in between me and summer break. And yet, it seems like just yesterday I was leaving for spring break. Seriously, I knew that time flies when you are having fun but this is outrageous. But then again, I guess that this semester, just like the one before it, was just one awesome experience after another. Yea, the homework at times somewhat decreased the fun factor, but still, for the most part, I've learned a lot and have come a long way since last September. Who knew that grad school would go by so quickly? I feel like when I was a senior in college all over again. One moment my dad and I are lugging my stuff into my senior year dorm, the next, I'm walking across the stage to accept my diploma. The situation is a bit different, but the same principle still applies. In all seriousness, I really thought that grad school would be something that would feel like eternity to get through. But I just finished the first of a two year program and I feel like I've been living in the city for all of five minutes!
So now what do I do? Well, I have about four months of relaxation up ahead to enjoy though don't think that means I won't be doing anything fun. I'll still be working at the BPL (yay!), I'll have a plethora of opportunities to get outside the city with my older sister and do some hiking (yay!), I'm thinking about doing some volunteering at a local library or historic site (yay!), the fourth of July (yay!), and a summer course (yay?). That's right; for two weeks, I'll be enrolled in the summer session of Preservation Management. It's definitely going to be one of the most intense courses I've taken thus far, but I'm excited for the challenge. Of course, I'll be writing all about it, so don't worry; I'll be sure to include as much information as I can. And of course, I'll be writing about all the other things I plan to do this summer (expect a lot of recipes) and you can follow along here!
I think the next four months are going to be very interesting.

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Boston City Archaeology Lab

bostonconsultingjob03.jpgIt's no secret that Boston has a rich history.  One of the first things I did when I moved to this area was spend a long afternoon walking the Freedom Trail, which I highly recommend to anyone new (or not so new) to the area, especially now that the weather has gotten so lovely.  Of course, the Freedom Trail only tells the recent history of Boston; the Massachusett and other Native American people were here long before the Pilgrims, and their history is harder to see.  Not impossible, though - if you're very interested in the history of the Boston area, the place you want to head is the city's Archaeology Lab, out in West Roxbury.That's the home base of Boston's City Archaeologist, Joe Bagley, who oversees all of Boston's archaeological digs and collections.  

bostonconsultingjob04.jpg(Stop for a minute and think about how cool it is that Boston has archaeological digs going on right now that are unearthing amazing finds about the history of the city.  It's pretty cool.) 

The best part is that if you are interested in getting involved, either on the digs themselves or doing the washing/cataloging, etc. duties on the collections, the lab is always welcoming volunteers.  Even if you don't have the time to volunteer, the Lab also offers tours.

I've never been much of a history person myself, but I know a lot of people who are dual-degree History and Archives Masters students, and they're the ones that really love knowing that Boston fosters programs like the City Archaeologist.  Boston is a city with a very rich history, and I think it's a great opportunity for anyone to get their hands dirty learning that history first hand. 

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Professionalization of the Archival Field

One of the things that struck me only after I'd started the archives program at Simmons was how incredibly diverse the field of archives really is.  I knew that there were small historical societies staffed with volunteers with little or no formal training, but until I actually began to take classes in archives I had never realized how much there was to study, and how important that information was for preserving the items in the archive to begin with.  My LIS438 and 440 classes were peppered with stories like the one about the (untrained) archivist who cut photographs into pieces to file each person in the photo under their name in the files: many collections of letters which were broken up in order to be filed under subjects, rather than by provenance; all the letters from all the collections mixed together forevermore; collections where diaries, of all things, were cut up so that individual "important" entries could be saved and the rest thrown away (this was thought the be an extremely efficient use of space).

One thing that has been drilled into us again and again is the idea that there isn't one right way to be an archivist, but there are a lot of wrong ways to be one.  Without a grounding in archival theory and practice, though, we wouldn't be able to make the distinction, which is what leads to the horror stories happening in archives in the first place. 

While we've never talked explicitly about the professionalization of the archives field in class, it is the unspoken truth of why we're all learning the theory in the first place: because without a grounding in "archival principles" we would be working in archives and making the same mistakes.  We would be the horror stories.  That's the most important reason given for professionalization - to enforce the uniformity of ideas and standardization of procedures across archival institutions.  This is especially necessary for archives because so many changes have been introduced to the field in the past few decades - and archival work is not a field that changes very quickly at all.  MPLP as an idea is almost a decade old, and it is still sort of percolating through the archives world, and that tiny historical societies have probably not even heard of it, much less joined the debate about it.  Beginning with a degree and continuing with the accoutrements of a professional field: conferences, scholarly journals and the like, ideas can be embraced across the different type of archives, debated fully, and contribute to the archival field as a cohesive whole, as even people from different sorts of archives - academic and corporate, government or nonprofit - can discuss the same issues with the same language and same tools at their disposal. 

Besides the obvious advantage of standardization of the field, professionalization gives the field more respect, and possibly higher wages, and a widely-accepted ethical code across the profession. 

There are, of course, drawbacks to professionalization.  Cost is an issue - some archives, especially tiny historical societies, don't have the money to pay for professional archivists, so professionalization actually would tend to put those institutions in the position of needing to make tough choices about funding.  Still, on the whole, professionalization is a good thing.  As libraries have shown, creating barriers to a field pays off, though it may be quite a while until the archival field sees the fruits of that labor.

Archives | leave a comment

Public Spaces in Macedonia and Boston

ourmarathon.pngWhen I lived in a country that had a strong socialist history, I spent a lot of time in one of the remaining relics from that equalizing time: the dom na kultura. This translates from Macedonian to the house of culture. It's a place where people come together for concerts, art exhibits, dance  recitals, poetry readings, and other such endeavors.  This is a public space that can be used by anyone. You can book the space and it, and all of it's resources are available to you. I happened to take dance classes there as well as hold a photography exhibit. It was one of my favorite places. I remember walking down the main street on a Wednesday afternoon when the director of the dom na kultura saw me, crossed the street and thrust a postcard into my hand, "COME!" he said with such enthusiasm that I could not refuse. The postcard advertised a band named "Amniotic Fluid" (no joke) that was playing that night. I went. It was the most intense jazz trio I have ever heard in my life. The clarinetist turned out to be from Macedonia but had just come back from spending 4 years at Berklee in Boston. This is why I loved the dom na kultura and THIS is why I want to be a librarian.

How do the two connect? What public space is for the people and everything they need and desire? The library. Where can you go to hear someone sing or dance or discuss books among friends? The LIBRARY. I was on my way to work the other morning when I heard a short piece on WBUR about the central branch of the Boston Public Library at Copley holding an event called "Share Your Story". Being a fan of anything and everything to do with stories I perked up. As it turns out Copley is hosting a number of events for the public to commemorate the marathon bombings.  I don't know why this surprised me. Every institution in town is holding a ceremony of sorts to commemorate the year anniversary. I suppose in my imagination though, the idea of people gathering in the library to share their stories, to commune with one another, is one of the exact reasons I came to Simmons. I want to be that person to open the doors and welcome a community of people inside. I want to build a space that welcomes people of all faiths, races, talents and ages. I am so proud to be an almost graduate from a program that enables us to watch over these community spaces. It's an amazing responsibility but one that I really look forward to having for a long time.

Boston | Events | leave a comment

Simmons Neon 5K

This past Saturday, me, my sister, and close group of friends came together to participate in Simmons Neon 5k. For most of us, this was the first time any of us had run a significant distance in a long time. Although I used to run competitively, I haven't run a race since my senior year of high school, so going into a race like this was both exciting yet nerve racking. A part of me really wanted to run the race as fast as possible but I knew that that would be a pipe dream; there was no way I was in any shape to run a 5k in about 25 minutes. So, I decided to aim for something else; finish under 30 minutes and do it without walking. Even if I did have to stop, I knew that both my friends and my sister would be there to support me.

On the day of, the six of us met on the course with mixed emotions. My sister and I were excited to get started, the others were a bit more weary. Even so, they all had signed up and were determined to finish one way or another. Afterwards, we had already decided that we would reward ourselves by going to a local pizza place and stuff our faces with delicious food. 
So how did the race go?
Well, I did manage to run it non stop and finish ahead of thirty minutes. The rest of my ragtag group did finish as well, although I think out of all of us, I was perhaps the one taking the race the most seriously. Once we had all caught our breaths, I was eager to know who would be interested in running another race with me at one point in the future. Let's just say that I don't think any of them (with the exception of my sister) will be running again in the foreseeable future. 
On the brighter side of things, at least we all got to eat some awesome pizza!

Events | leave a comment

Making Membership Worth It

I voted in my first ALA election today. So, consider this entry my big "I voted" sticker. I'm actually quite proud of myself. No joke. For once, I didn't let those thoughts in my head of "I'm not a real librarian" get to me. Because, if you've read my previous entries, you'll know that I am. We all are here at Simmons.

Anyways, since I didn't really know most of the people on the ballots, I had to skim through everyone's bios to see who I thought were the best candidates for each position. The best part, though, was when I did know someone (go Em Claire!). It kinda got me thinking about the strong likelihood that some of the people I'm in library school with now will someday be on that list. I may someday be on that list. And you never know who's going to remember you, or whom you're going to remember. I'm certainly going to take that to heart.

This extends beyond the Simmons community. I will probably meet a lot of the people who are on the ballots as I attend conferences in the coming years. They also matter. Among other things, they could be potential employers. Sometimes, when you spend so much time at Simmons, it's easy to forget that there are (a) other library schools, and (b) librarians in this world who aren't students or professors. This is certainly the case for me. In fact, I'm excited to graduate next summer so I can have even more world-shattering revelations. I recently realized that I'm qualified enough that people can pay me to do library work now. Let the job search begin!

A word of advice that they tell you at orientation: Join ALA. Listen to them and actually do it. I'm discovering that it's worth it--and not just because you get to vote. It's the smaller things, like being included in e-mails and getting copies of American Libraries Direct sent to you. Like Uncle Sam and the military, ALA wants you. Don't deny the call. It'll only help you achieve your dream.

Students | leave a comment

Dear Boston at the Boston Public Library

forboston01.jpgOn Saturday I went to see the Dear Boston exhibition at the Boston Public Library, which opened on Monday and will remain there until May 11.  The Marathon bombings that happened last year are obviously all over the news in Boston right now, but nothing in all the interviews I saw or stories I read really affected me as much as seeing the items that people left at the bombing memorial in the days and weeks after it happened, including the hundreds and hundreds of pairs of running shoes.

The exhibition is at the public library but was coordinated between the Boston City Archives, the Boston Art Commission, the New England forboston02.jpgMuseum Association, and the BPL, which shows how amazing our resources really can be when we pool them between informational institutions.  I have worked in a lot of public libraries and one thing I have been somewhat disappointed about when I've interned in local archives is the lack of outreach.  I don't just mean the button making "fun" outreach that I mentioned in my blog entry about the NEA conference, but using the information in our archives to educate the public about the community's history by creating exhibits.  It's something museums do all the time, but archives do on a very limited scale - a display case or two within the archive itself, which doesn't really do a lot for people who have never been into or even heard of their local archive.  But by teaming up with public libraries to use a space that people are familiar with, we could put on medium to large exhibitions of photos or other objects that really connect with the community we serve.  Some archives - mostly larger ones - do that already, but none of the archives I've interned with have, and I'm always on the lookout for examples, like Dear Boston, of what amazing things could be achieved if they did.

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Sightseeing, Ducky Style

My parents were in town last week, so I had the pleasure of doing lots of touristy things. Probably the biggest thing I did was go to a Red Sox game (which for a Seattle Mariners fan like me does, in fact, constitute tourism). I also did many smaller things. The best small thing: going on a Duck Tour. (1) Because I happen to really love ducks, and (2) Because our tour guide wore pajamas and pretended to be friends with Christopher Walken. I don't remember his name, but I do remember that he was awesome.

There's nothing quite like seeing the city you live in from an outsider's eyes. Sure, walking around and familiarizing yourself with somewhere new is liberating and can be deeply personal. But there's also something incredible about being a voyeur. At least in terms of tourism. On a tour, you get to listen to someone explain their love for the city--their favorite parts and favorite stories--while you simply keep quiet and watch, asking questions when queries arise.

On the Duck Tour, I learned that Mother Goose is supposedly buried at the Granary. My children's literature classes have taught me that she isn't a real person. Or, if she is, she is based on multiple people. So, though I contended that "fact," it was nice to fantasize.

I also learned that the Copley Plaza Hotel is the Tipton Hotel from Disney's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. This I had no reason to doubt, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I not only knew the show but also once considered myself a fan. (Side note: Look where Sprouse is now.)

Perhaps the most magical thing I saw--and heard about--was a pair of running shoes in a Back Bay window that had flowers planted in them. Our tour guide revealed these to be old running shoes that get put out every year in honor of the Boston Marathon. What made the shoes so magical for me was that they probably aren't world famous or anything, just a bit of local lore. And local lore is the best kind of lore because, in some ways, it feels like it's yours. Like you're let in on a secret.

Anyways, the point of this blog, I guess, is to remind you not to make Boston only a place for school, or for work. I've been especially guilty of this lately. True, there are so many wonderful professional opportunities here. But don't forget about the littler things that make this city great. And, who knows, maybe you'll create your own local lore while you're here.  

Boston | leave a comment

LISSA's role in GSLIS

Before I went to the NEA Spring meeting a few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to discover that LISSA would reimburse my expenses at the conference up to $300.  This was great news for me, because money is always tight as a grad student.  LISSA has always been one of those elusive organizations on Simmons campus for me - it crops up in conversations a lot, but I've never been involved in it or really known what it was.  One of my fellow students, Joy Rodowicz, is involved with LISSA (and helping to plan this year's Graduate Symposium) and offered to write some pointers about it for everyone, because as a GSLIS student (or potential student), LISSA is a valuable tool to be aware of.

1) How did you get involved with LISSA?

I first got involved with the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) after I finished my first semester here at Simmons. I wanted to find a way that I could be more involved with the GSLIS community and saw my opportunity when elections for several student officer positions were announced.

2) What do you think LISSA provides for GSLIS students?

LISSA is an umbrella student organization that exists to represent and support all students in the GSLIS program. Every active GSLIS student is automatically a member of LISSA. All students may attend meetings, choose to run for office and/or participate in LISSA sponsored events. The following are just some of the ways LISSA works with and for the GSLIS community:

  • Plans GSLIS events such as Beginning and End-of-Semester parties, tours, field trips, and guest speakers;
  • Conducts semester-end class evaluations maintained in binders outside the Student Services office in the Palace Road building;
  • Provides coffee, tea, chocolate and spring water to the Matarazzo Student Lounge (P-212G);
  • Voices student concerns to the faculty and administration through the President and Faculty Representatives;
  • Reimburses student professional development costs up to $300 per year, covering costs such as library-oriented workshop and conference attendance.

3) Why should people think about leadership positions?

Student leadership is an excellent place to start and get involved in professional organizations at the student level. Most of the GSLIS student organizations are related to local or regional chapters of the different professional organizations. Not only is it a good way to network with others in your chosen field, but it provides you with the opportunity to gain confidence in your own abilities as a leader and organizer.

4) What sort of opportunities are there?

The opportunities are really limitless. Every semester positions open up in each of the student organizations. I know that after this semester, there will be openings for several officer positions throughout the different groups, as well as one of the student representatives to the faculty meetings. I would recommend attending the many diverse and exciting activities held around campus and if a particular group interests you... inquire about how you can get involved. In addition, you can always contact the LISSA president, Lindsey Clarke, at lissapres@simmons.edu for information about vacant positions.

5) What was involved in planning the symposium?

This is the third year GSLIS will be holding its annual Graduate Symposium and the first time we have extended it to include the entire Simmons graduate community. A core group of 10-12 student volunteers made up this year's planning committee. The process began in October when we decided on our theme for this year: Moving Forward: Transforming the Way We Think and then putting out the call for proposals. Once the proposals started coming in we reviewed them and worked out the panel assignments along with plans for catering and technology needs. The final stage of the process was marketing and gathering additional volunteers for the actual event. This year we will also be including poster presentations from the GSLIS After Dark event being held the night before.

6) What are you hoping people (both presenters and attendees) take away from it?

The goal of the symposium is to give students the opportunity to experience peer review and the professional presentation experience in a format that might be less intimidating that a regional or national conference venue. The symposium committee hopes that events like this will continue to foster a sense of community and collaboration where students can share their recent research and demonstrate how they plan to contribute to their respective fields upon graduation.

Students | leave a comment

Five Reasons Why it Needs to be Spring

Although spring technically started about ten days ago, it sure does not feel like it. In fact, while I was out running errands today, I realized that the rain turned into hail. Now I am an total fan of winter but even I know when enough is enough. Unless this seemingly endless winter is a curse accidentally placed on us by Queen Elsa from Frozen, starting tomorrow, it better start feeling like spring. Now, I know its been a while since it has even come close to feeling like spring so I've composed a list of five reasons why its time to open up the windows and enjoy the fresh spring air.

1. Warmer weather. Think how wonderful it will be when we no longer need to go outside bundled up in winter wear? Rather than having to wear extra socks on my feet, I cannot wait to bust out my t-shirts and flip flops.

2. The rebirth of nature. One thing that I absolutely love about spring is how everything seemingly comes alive again. Flowers bloom, trees sprout leaves, and butterflies are everywhere. Yea there are those pesky bees flying around but who cares? The world is full of color and life and that is more than enough reason to put up with bees.

3. School's out. Ok, this is technically not totally true, but at least those of us taking summer school get a bit of a break. And with our newly acquired freedom, we are finally given a chance to get outside and do fun things, like urban exploring or simply chilling out in the Common.

4. BBQ!!!!! Simply put, there is nothing more fun than being outside grilling with your pals on a warm spring night. Also, BBQ'd corn is a personal favorite of mine. Yum

And the most important reason why is needs to be spring is....

5. More time for reading. Yes, that's right, with spring comes ample time to catch up on all that leisure reading I've been setting aside. Being the bibliophile that I am, I take pleasure reading very seriously. And right now, all I want to do is find a nice shady spot under a tree in the park and read to my heart's content.

Winter, you are a wonderful season but seriously, its time to go.

Relaxing | leave a comment