July 2014 Archives

Museum of Bad Art

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

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

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

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

Boston | leave a comment


#curatecamp and harnessing the hashtag

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

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

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

Events | leave a comment


#GSLISchat Conversation - 7/24/2014

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

#GSLISchat | leave a comment


Perk of Being Here: Learning in the hallways at GSLIS

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

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

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

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

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Job Hunting

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

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

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

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This is What a Librarian Looks Like

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

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

http://lookslikelibraryscience.com/

People | leave a comment


Real World Experience

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

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

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

Internships | leave a comment