Recently in Boston Category

Fall Festivals

connorsfarm03.jpgNew England is known for being a bit quirky in its weather, and one of the things that really gave me pause about moving to Boston from Vancouver was the cold and snowy winters.  To be fair, Boston is relatively cold and there usually are some spectacular snowstorms, but it's not quite on the level of the Prairies or American Mid-West in either of those categories.  (Which is a good thing!  I know there are people who love the cold and think skiboarding and shoesnowing are great fun, but luckily you can usually spot them coming a mile away and steer clear of them before their delusions can get you.)   

The thing that outweighed the cold and pushed me to come here anyway was the promise of amazing autumns.  We don't really get autumn on the West coast - not like here, with the vibrant foliage and pumpkin patches and fall festivals popping up everywhere.  Autumn in Vancouver means dropping temperatures, more rain and fierce wind storms, none of which are as fun or picturesque as a corn maze or pick-your-own apple orchard.  

In other words: fall in New England is awesome.  I have spent a lot of October weekends of the past few years visiting various farms within an hour of Boston and doing the whole bit: hay rides, apple picking, corn mazes, pig races, etc.  It's not all traditional farmy stuff, either: there are farms that have paintball in the corn mazes and pumpkin cannons that shoot pumpkins 100 feet to splatter on broken down cars and trucks.  So seriously something for everyone.         100_1030.jpg

I still hate winter, and by the end of November am usually grumpy with dread, but the autumn does make up for it.  At this time of year it's easy for me to say that the autumn more than makes up for it; if you ask me in January you might get a rather different answer.  I know that lots of places in the world are lovely at this time of year, and I really hope that once I finish my degree and get my professional job I'll end up in one of them.  If anyone knows a place that's lovely in fall and has no snow ever, please, please tell me what it is.  That is perfection.

Boston | leave a comment

Boston, you're my home

I've lived in Boston my whole life, and sometimes I take the city's cultural attractions and goings-on for granted.  (That could be because I have kids, and their idea of culture is the Grossology exhibit at the Science Museum.)   Meeting my classmates, many of whom have moved to Boston just for this program, reminds me to slow down to appreciate all the area has to offer, even as I wonder when I will finish my reading and class assignments!  So, last week I went to a lecture with a friend, and today I visited Drumlin Farm with my brother and one of my daughters.  Super fun, and I still had time to finish the TOR!

It's important to balance school and fun.  So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite things to do in the greater Boston area.   Whether you're visiting Simmons, have just moved here for SLIS, or, like me, have lived here for many years, you're bound to enjoy at least one of these adventures.

The Greenway:  The Big Dig, a twenty-year-long construction project to put the Central Artery highway underground, was completed in 2002.  It was, and continues to be, quite controversial here in Boston -- but it resulted in the fabulous Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, a strip of parks where the elevated road once stood.  Spend a happy afternoon walking through the parks, riding the carousel, and watching kids play in the Rings Fountain, near the Aquarium.  (Fountains are on late May through Columbus Day.)

HONK! :  Not to be missed, if you like music, social activism and festivals!  The highlight of this band-filled, celebratory weekend is the Sunday parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square.  We'll be watching from the corner of Orchard and Beech Streets in Cambridge and would love to see SLIS folk there.  (October 10-12, Davis Square, Somerville.)

Mapparium: Housed in the Mary Baker Eddy Library at the Christian Science Center in Boston , the Mapparium is a gorgeous glass globe circa 1935.  Visitors walk inside the globe for a unique perspective.  There's really nothing like it.  Just outside the Mapparium is the Hall of Ideas, which I can't even really explain -- OK, I'll try: letters and words come out of a fountain and travel to the walls to form quotes.  It's easy to spend a very long amount of time in this impressive room.

Family Trees at the Concord Museum: Each holiday season, this Concord, MA museum exhibits dozens of trees with decorations inspired by children's books.  The titles range from familiar to obscure, and characters visit on special days.  The list of books is available online, and I usually check a few out from the library so my kids recognize them when we visit.   While you're in Concord, have a snack at the Main Street Cafe -- yum. 

Boston | leave a comment

The (Not-So) Secret (Rose) Garden

Everyone! I have found The Secret Garden!

secret garden.jpg

Okay, it's not actually the one in the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but it's almost as great. Because not only is it somewhere I've never been before, (spoiler alert: there are a lot of those places) it's also a beautiful and well-maintained rose garden.

In the Back Bay Fens Park (for those of you who aren't native Bostonians--including myself-- the actual park portion of the park is called thus, the Fenway Park is the baseball field...I think.), there is a secluded beautiful rose garden called the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden.

I was told about this beautiful spot by someone I met briefly earlier in the day. I was so thankful to her. It really felt like stepping into one of my favorite childhood gardens.  Seriously look at it.

jpkr garden.jpg

(photo credit to Christine Riggle (accessed via flickr) -- I was not thoughtful enough to take anything besides SnapChats when I was there)

Admittedly since I went on Tuesday, and it's September, it wasn't quite as vibrant as this picture shows. Roses bloom on and off from midspring to fall, so there were still plenty of lovely flowers to look at. The garden is still beautiful and serene--my guess would be that it feels that way even in the dead of winter. If you have a few minutes, take a walk through it. You won't regret it.

All the Best - Hayley

Boston | leave a comment

Ahts Festival

ahts.JPGOne thing I love about Boston is the amazing diversity and frequency of the festivals and events that happen in the city throughout the year.  This is especially good if you're new to town and aren't quite sure what to do with yourself - I know I spent my first fall here learning the city by going to harvest festivals in neighborhoods all over the place, and it's how I learned the T/commuter rail routes.  Fall may be the best time, the quintessential New England time, really, but summer is a busy time for festivals, too, and it's hard to go more than a few blocks in the city without stumbling on tents and music and food trucks.  This happened to me Labor Day weekend, when I went into Boston mostly to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art but also just to poke around Haymarket and enjoy my last free weekend before classes started. ahts02.jpg

The Ahts Festival is proof that no matter what anyone tells you about not being able to hear the accent you've grown up with, Boston people are very aware of their accent, and more than willing to make fun of it when they feel like it.  If you're in Boston next year I fully recommend heading down to Ahts if you get the chance - the highlights this year were the many, many stalls of local artists and NPR's the Moth performed on the big stage.  I ended up buying some amazing crystal jewelry I couldn't really afford but that was too lovely to pass up.  I also left with blistered feet and a pretty deep late-summer sunburn - not a bad way to start the fall at all, if you ask me.  

Boston | Events | leave a comment

August Exploration

In the areas surrounding Simmons' Boston campus, there are countless neighborhoods to be explored. This past weekend, I took a step toward better exploring my own neighborhood of Somerville at the Somerville Flea.

Every Sunday, vendors and visitors gather near Davis Square to engage in an exchange of goods from vintage scarves to bunches of carrots, peaches, and plums. Awash with Etsy-worthy ephemera, a stack of enormous volumes stopped me in my tracks. Unbeknownst to me, they weren't books. They were boxes. And not the kind that butcher books to make them either -  stunning reproductions of War and Peace, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and other titles. Set on them lining my bookshelves within the hour, I made away with the two enormous false volumes clutched haphazardly in my arms. Arriving home, I soon placed my own copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace into the box boasting the same title in box format; the daunting pagination of the wartime epic finally matched by a cover of suitable size. Tucked away on my bookshelves, the remainder of the afternoon was spent with friends, fresh cider donuts from the Somerville Flea, and a healthy serving of D&D.

It's easy to go months, or even years, living in a neighborhood without reaching into it's local events attractions. Whether you're new to the Boston area or have long laid your roots here; explore, see the sights, and share your recent neighborhood discoveries.


Boston | Events | leave a comment

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.


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

Fenway Flag Ceremony

fenway02.jpgI am not a sports person, as I've mentioned, but I always seem to become friendly with massive sports fans who try to cure my sports apathy with huge infusions of exciting sports... stuff.  Well, exciting for them.  Mostly incomprehensible to me.   I spend a lot of time struggling to look like I care, if you know what I mean.  One of my friends is a huge - and I mean huge - Red Sox fan.  As a way to try to inspire a similar love for the team in my cold, dead heart, she invited me to go to Fenway to help with the giant flag that unfurls from the top of the Green Monster before the game.  (Here's an image of the flag (not from that day), for other non-Fenway go-ers.  We're the people who are actually behind it, who you can only see from the knees down.)

Basically, we got to Fenway about two hours before the game started, before the gates were open to ticket holders, and got to walk around the nearly empty ballpark, which was pretty cool, even for a baseball-hating heretic like myself.  Then, as we waited for the the flag to get ready to unfurl, we got to walk on the field while the players were warming up, which is probably a much bigger deal to Red Sox/Fenway fans. 


The flag only took a few minutes to unfurl, and we grabbed the edge and held it down so it didn't flap around.  Behind the flag the world was red and white and blue, and all you could see were the other people behind it with you.  It only hung down on the field for a few minutes, and then we and military people stationed in front of it (who the flag unfurling was really about) gathered the flag up and marched it off the field.  That was all we had to do - we got free admission to the game from that point on.  No seats, but Fenway has a bunch of standing room sections, and they offer a great view.  (I guess.  A view of baseball people doing baseball things.) 

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the flag ceremony part and being part of it all, but I'm still not a baseball fan.  With this conversion ploy was a failure, I'm a little worried about what the next attempt will be.

Boston | Relaxing | leave a comment

Derby Dames

derbydames.pngI am not a sports person.  In Canada we have our hockey, yes, but even people who don't like hockey are allowed to go about their daily lives with a minimum of head shakes and eyebrows raised.  Even hockey, it's understood, is not for everyone.  That's not possible in Boston.  Sports are a religion here.  It's hard for me, an outsider, to say which team inspires the most passion in Bostonians; if hard pressed I would have to guess the Patriots, but the Patriots-Red Sox-Bruins trifecta is everywhere.  Trying to explain that no, you haven't been to Fenway to see the Red Sox play because you're not actually a baseball fan will get you both head shake, the raised eyebrows, and an immediate invitation to come see a game, with the obvious expectation that yes, you too will soon be converted.  (Which is why I will be not only going to a game on Thursday, but participating in some sort of giant flag (?) holding ceremony (??) on the field before the game (!!).  I... don't know.)

I am not a sports person, but one thing I do love to go and see whenever I have the chance is roller derby.  A lot of people aren't really sure what rollerderby02.jpgmodern roller derby is, and let me just say that it has come a long way from the '70s scripted version.  I don't have any particular team or league that I follow; I just love how fast-paced and fun the bouts are to watch.  The great thing about the Boston area is that there are 6 different teams within an hour drive: The Boston Derby Dames league, Southeastern Massachusetts' Mass Attack league, New Hampshire's Roller Derby league, Worcester's Roller Derby league, the Seacoast (NH) roller derby league, and Providence's roller derby league.  This is all an embarrassment of riches for any roller derby fan, and means that there's something going on in this area nearly every weekend.  I spent Saturday evening at a double header at the Derby Dames' home base in Somerville, watching the Boston teams crush both the Mass Attack All-Stars and the Bronx Gridlock.  It was a great day altogether, and I seriously doubt that any day at Fenway would be as much fun.  I suppose I'll find out this week.

Boston | leave a comment

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. 

Boston | 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

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.

Boston | leave a comment

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

Going Home and Coming Back

In the weeks preceding spring break this year, I'll admit, I was starting to get a bit stir crazy. You see, for the last four years, I had the luxury of being able to journey off my undergraduate campus for weekend hikes all around Massachusetts. These weekend adventures not only provided me with a break from my academic responsibilities, but also helped fend off any possibility of developing recklessness.  As an individual who can't ever seem to stay in one place for too long, you can imagine how much I miss these weekend outings. While I absolutely love living in Boston, sometimes, a person just needs a change every now and then and I hit that wall about a month a half ago. Of course, without access to a car or enough free time to venture off on the commuter rail, I've found myself essentially stuck within the confines of the city. Now don't get me wrong, one can never go wrong with a bit of urban exploring, but sometimes, a person just needs to get out. And so, I decided to do just that and last Wednesday, I said adios to Boston, and hello to New York.

Returning to my hometown was like seeing a classmate I had not seen since graduating high school. True, the last time I was home was in January, but my town seems to have a case of restlessness all its own; it is not uncommon for local businesses to come and go within two months' time. And just like said metaphorical friend, my hometown was still essentially the same, although sporting some new features. A restaurant had closed its doors; a new dance club had opened; a fire had destroyed a number of buildings near the edge of town; and a number of local places apparently decided to spruce up their interiors. Naturally this is not the first time my town has decided to change itself while I've been away, but I always find it to be somewhat jarring when I discover these changes. It feels like slowly but surely, the town of my childhood is slowly being replaced by some new entity. Needless to say, I don't like it very much when such changes happen.

On the positive side of things, I did get to reconnect with some childhood friends that I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. And just how did we spend our time together? Why by going to the Big Apple for some hijinks of course. And it was while I was strolling around the streets of New York City, the city of my childhood that I discovered something startling: I not only missed Boston, but actually preferred Boston over NYC!!!!! Talk about a shocking epiphany. For the longest time, NYC to me was the greatest place on Earth but now that I'm older and have actual experience living in a place like Boston, I've come to realize some of the major pitfalls of NYC. For one thing, the place is just too big. Depending on what your plans are, you could spend forty-five minutes to over an hour simply traveling around. The same principal does apply to Boston, but the commute doesn't always feel that bad. Another thing I noticed, sometimes being in the city that never sleeps isn't always a good thing. While most places in Boston shut down around two in the morning, in New York, the party doesn't stop until at least four in the morning. Public transportation on the other hand, does. One of my friends wanted to stay out later but we had to head back to Long Island around one am since the next train didn't depart until four thirty. That sentiment was not shared by the rest of us. Were we in Boston, such a night out wouldn't have been such a big deal since I could have called a taxi service like Sidecar or Lyft to take my friends and I back to my apartment. Since I live in Long Island, something like that was simply not an option.  All in all, as my friends and I took the Long Island Rail Road back home to Huntington, I realized that without a doubt, I desperately wanted to get back to Boston. Any reservations I might have had about moving to Boston for graduate school had literally flown the coop.

Now that I'm back and settled into my Brighton apartment, I'm not really sure where home is anymore. While Long Island will always be my childhood home, I feel like I might have outgrown the place. For where I am in my life right now, Boston is absolutely the place where I want to be. New York is a nice place to visit, but would I live there full time? NO WAY. Going home just to get away from everything is nice, especially if I haven't been back in a while, but I think right now, I'm quite content to stay exactly where I am. Even if it means I might get a bit restless every now and then.

Boston | leave a comment

Things to do in Boston in Winter

When I moved to Boston from Vancouver, BC, I was a little afraid of the winter.  Maybe more than a little, actually.  We don't get a lot of very cold weather in Vancouver, and it rains pretty much every day from October 1 to April 1.  (This may be a slight exaggeration, but believe me when I say that it's very slight.)  We don't get a lot of snow.  We don't get a lot of ice.  I was a little terrified at the prospect of having to drive in either, having to walk around in either, and really just having to exist in either. 

I had this idea of winter in Boston as a dark, cold wasteland, with people spending most of their time gathered around heaters, dressed in five or six sweaters, hats and gloves on, shivering as they heard the wind whistling outside the ice-caked windows.  

It's not really like that.  Life goes on in Boston in the winter, without people letting the weather ruin their plans.  In fact, there are a lot of things that only happen during the winter, even within the Boston/Cambridge area.  A few examples:

1.      Winter Farmer's Market in Cambridge

Farmer's markets are usually something that are associated with summer and fall, when there's a lot of fresh produce to pick from.  That doesn't mean they just disappear in the winter, though - the Cambridge Winter Farmer's Market operates from the beginning of January until the end of April, and features a lot of live music, arts and crafts, cooked food and weekly special events.  I've gone a couple of times, and it was a lot of fun!

2.      Ice Skating on Frog Pond


Frog Pond is a small pond in the middle of Boston Common.  From mid-November until mid-March (weather permitting - and it usually is) there's public skating seven days a week.  It tends to be mobbed on the weekends, but it's amazing in a light snow when there aren't a lot of people.

3.      Winter Carnival in Harvard Square

In January and February Harvard Square celebrates winter with a Winter Carnival on the weekends, with a different theme every week - including the Chocolate Festival, Chili Tasting, Chinese New Year Celebrations, and the annual Boston Celtic Music Festival.  

Harvard Square is a madhouse on the weekends anyway, and it only gets worse during the Festival, but it's worth it to brave the crowds anyway, at least for the Chocolate Festival and the Boston Celtic Music Festival.  It's almost enough to make me wish we could delay spring.

Boston | leave a comment

Weekend at the Boston Public Library

Sitting right outside of the Copley T stop are two connected buildings that couldn't appear to be more different. The first building is old and scholarly, the type of historic landmark that is almost begging to have its picture taken. Its classic charm makes one feel as if they are about to enter some sort of sacred place, an historic institution where knowledge is both value and shared.  The second building seems to lack the romantic charm of its brother although that does not seem to hamper its popularity amongst the general public. Everyday, a wide range of people pass through this modern building's rotating door, each looking for something different amongst the building's vast collection and other offerings. Although both buildings might appear to be aesthetically different, they are actually one in the same. Together, these two buildings make up the Boston Public Library.

Over this past weekend, I had the pleasure to visit the BPL not once, but TWICE! Starting with Saturday, I took a friend who's lived in the city for the last three years; this was his first time ever stepping inside the BPL. I had to remind him that since he's friends with someone working towards a degree in Library and Information Science, he should expect more library-based adventures in the near future. A self-proclaimed 'non-reader,' I had never expected my friend to enjoy the library as much as he did. In fact, I think he got more into it than I did. Together, we strolled through the McKim Building, also known as the research part of the library. To give you an idea of what the McKim Building looks like, imagine a smaller version of the New York Public Library, complete with beautiful murals and ornate details. And the books! There were so many beautifully old books scattered about the three story building I didn't know where to look first. Of course, all of these antique beauties were kept locked up so all I unfortunately could do was stare longingly at them through old glass. But still, I wasn't going to let such a minor detail interrupt my fun. Together, my friend and I poked our heads into each and every room, most of them containing non-circulating research materials and very studious patrons. Even my non-book loving friend ended up confessing that the BPL was a pretty cool place to check out.

As for my second visit, the two of us spent the bulk of our time exploring the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, which coincidentally is the same place that I work. Currently enrolled in a Master's program at Clark University studying Geographic Information Development and Environment, she thoroughly enjoyed the map center. My eyes might glaze over in awe when I stare at gorgeously old books, but my friend, she nearly swooned at the sheer collection of maps that the Leventhal Map Center has at its disposal. Just to clarify, the map center happens to have in its collection about 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases, the bulk of which has already been digitized and can easily be accessed online. All you map fan boys and girls should plan a visit to this overlooked gem ASAP. While we did venture over to the Johnson building, which houses the BPL's circulating collection, we did spend most of our time in the map center, flipping through some of the many atlases that can be found in the research center, located right behind the gallery itself.

For those of you who haven't yet had a chance to check out the BPL, I strongly suggest you should. Besides its extensive reference collection, the library frequently offers programs for people of all ages, and often has at least two special exhibits on display.

Boston | Libraries | leave a comment

Crowdsourcing the MFA's New Exhibit

MFA Impressionists.jpg

On Friday, the Museum of Fine Arts opened its first crowdsourced exhibit after letting the public vote on what works should be included in the "Boston Loves Impressionism" show.  Over 10,000 people voted in three rounds, showing that Bostonians are pretty passionate about their art. 

Simmons is only a few blocks from the MFA, and one of the great perks of being a student is that we get free admission to a lot of the local museums with our student ID, so I usually end up visiting the MFA at least five or six times a semester. 

I've been paying particularly close attention to news about this exhibit lately, because I think this is a great use of the idea and technology of crowdsourcing.  Instead of letting curators have all the power to create the shows they think people want to come to the museum to see, why not let people tell curators exactly what they actually want to see?  

One of the big topics of discussion at Simmons, one that has come up in almost every GSLIS class, is the idea of accessibility and responding to the needs of our users.  As cultural institutions, museums, archives and libraries owe it to users to not just provide the information that we think users should have, but to actually listen to users and provide them with what they actually want.  This is important not only for maintaining and proving our own relevance as institutions (a real and increasingly pressing issue), but for actually doing the job we want to do: to help users with their information needs.

I remember a lot of my fellow employees at the Vancouver Public Library grumbling about the fact that we were ordering 10 copies of the new John Grisham book but discarding classics left and right.  (Classics that hadn't been circulated in five years.)  There will always be tension between the idea of libraries as receptacles of accumulated cultural knowledge and libraries as flexible centers of community learning.  In the end, I think they need to be a little bit of both - but what's really important is that members of the public see us as filling a need that they have, one that the internet simply can't.  In order to do that, of course, we first have to find out - from them - what their needs really are.  

Boston | leave a comment

Let's Beat the Winter Blues: Out of the House and Out of the Cold

Hello friends!  I hope you are all safe and sound after this bipolar weather we are having.  I know that the last thing anyone feels like doing at the moment is traveling out, but sometimes you need to brace yourself against the cold, bundle up for sleet/snow/rain/55 degree weather, and go outside.  Let's talk about Making the Most of Winter!

I will be sharing with you a few of my favorite spots to both mentally and physically escape the weather. 

The Museum of Fine Arts

The MFA is truly a must-see for anyone in Boston, whether you're a permanent resident or only spending a weekend in Beantown.  The MFA is a contender for the best museum in the country, and is certainly one of the top ones in the world - it houses extensive collections of American, European, Meso-American, and Byzantine art, to name a few of their collections.  Additionally, there is a featured display that is always worth seeing.  One of my past favorites was a collection of Japanese Samurai artifacts, including armor, katanas, and masks; currently an extensive exhibit of John Singer Sargent Watercolors is on display (but it ends on the 20th, so hurry!).  And it is only a few short blocks away from Simmons; students can gain free entry.  So why not?!

In the same vein as the MFA...

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is another art museum, but that's about as far as the commonalities go between the MFA and the ISG.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has an incredibly rich history in addition to the history of the amazing art and artifacts that are housed there; one of the biggest art robberies of all time unfortunately occurred at the ISG.  And, due to a stipulation in Isabella's will that nothing could be changed in the museum after her death, the frames of the pictures still hang on the wall as an eerie and heartbreaking reminder of the losses this museum suffered.  In addition to the stories that surround the museum, however, there is also an incredible art collection to see, including the famous Titian's Europa.  And - it's even closer to Simmons than the MFA; this museum is literally right next door! 

And finally,

The Museum of Science

While at first glance the Museum of Science may seem like a museum mainly for children, don't let the whimsical atmosphere fool you.  This museum is more than entertaining for people of all ages - and contains exhibits of all kinds!  On the upcoming docket for exhibits include The Experience of Food; Food, Nature Culture; the live animal care center, and more.  There is also an IMAX theater that is a totally immersive experience into the world of fish, dinosaur bones, and more; additionally, there is an amazing world-renowned planetarium that is absolutely worth a visit, especially if you have not wondered about how small the earth is compared to the rest of space lately.  While the Museum of Science may not seem as "high culture" as the ISG or the MFA, take the word from an internet stranger: if you go, you will not be disappointed! 

These three museums are my top picks to get out of my apartment, but also to get out of the cold.  Coming soon: SPRING! What do you do to escape the winter blues?

Boston | leave a comment

Academic Peace at Last: Finding that Place to Study


For those of you who might not know, I am a commuter student. While I did have the option of living on Simmons campus, I opted to rent an apartment right outside of Boston in the Brookline/Brighton area. I've included the slash since my apartment is located in a place that if I take two steps to the left I'll be in Brookline. Now don't get me wrong, I deeply love living in an apartment; it allows me to feel like I'm one step closer to entering the world of being a working professional without actually entering the professional working world. However, as much as I love living a few T-stops away from the hip and happening place that is Coolidge Corner, there are quite a few luxuries of living on a college campus that I truly miss. While I could create another list featuring the five things I miss the most about a college campus, I will save that for another time. Rather, I think I am going to talk about the one thing that I really miss, something that without, I doubt that I would be enrolled in Simmons today. And that, my friends, is the perfect study space.

Contrary to popular belief, the perfect study space does not have to be the quite floor of your academic library or the confines of your dorm/campus owned apartment. For some of my friends back in Worcester, their preferred studying space was this social and academic space located right beneath our school's library. For others, they enjoyed going down to a local café, getting a hot cup of cocoa and buckling down with books and papers for hours on end.  As for myself, I was the type of student who enjoyed finding a nook in the library that was equal parts quite and social. For the last two years of college, I could be found in my little nook for at least a minimum of six hours a day on a given weekend. Back then however, campus wasn't a thirty-minute commute. I just needed to walk five minutes and BAM! I was in study central.  While last semester I would make the occasional trip to Beatley to get some work done, I spent most of my studying time in my room; not my preferred space, but it would have to do.

However, this semester, the study gods seem to have heard my prayers because I have hit the jackpot in regards to study places. Located right within Coolidge Corner is the newly opened Knight Moves, a board game café that features the type of chill atmosphere that anyone looking for a good balance of the quite but social would love. Although just recently opened, Knight Moves is slowly making a name for itself in Coolidge Corner as a place where one can go for a relaxed atmosphere peppered with touches of steam-punk and either get into that study grove or spend time playing one of the 300 hundred plus games that owner Devon has on hand. 


As someone who has been craving such a space for the last four months, to me, this is truly a godsend. This past Sunday I camped out at a small table with a delicious mocha with my homework for over four hours. Every now and then, Devon would come over and chat with me, telling me more about the business and his goal to provide Coolidge Corner with a place where people can either come to have a cup of coffee and a pastry and hang out casually, or, for $10, come and either play a new board game, or pick up an old favorite for as long as they like. Although the place was buzzing with board game enthusiasts, I found myself in academic zen mode, reading my Reference and Information Service textbook and watching online videos for my Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488). I not only felt relaxed, but welcomed as well; two things that I'm sure everyone wants when it comes to finding that ideal study space.


If you live in the Brighton or Brookline area and want to experience a café that would fit perfectly in any college town, then you need to come down to Knight Moves this instant. And if you don't live nearby, this is still a fun place to visit during the weekends. Bring your friends, bring your homework, you can even bring your own alcohol; you won't be disappointed. 

Knight Moves is located at 1402 Beacon St. Brookline, MA.


Boston | Relaxing | leave a comment

World Series Champs!

In case you've been living under a rock for the last few days: THE RED SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!

One of the best things about living in Boston is the sports culture. People here are passionate about sports, and our teams are among the best (the best if you ask me!). Of all the Boston teams the Red Sox are my favorite, in fact, during the 2007 playoffs I camped out overnight outside of Fenway Park in order to get tickets!  Needless to say, when the Sox won on Wednesday evening I was beyond thrilled. With everything the city has gone through this year it felt really wonderful to see everyone come together to celebrate a big win.

In honor of my favorite sports event of the year here are some fun facts and historical tidbits about the Red Sox and historic Fenway Park:

  • The first World Series took place in 1903 in Boston at a long gone ballpark on Huntington Avenue, today part of (my alma mater) Northeastern University's campus.
  • Opened in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball Stadium still in use.
  • The Red Sox did not win the World Series between 1918 and 2004... 86 years!
  • Red Sox fans are very superstitious and believe the team went so long without a World Series win due to the untimely sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919. This superstition is often referred to as "The Curse of the Bambino" and dozens of articles and books have been written analyzing this phenomenon.
  • Fenway Park is small (by modern sport facilities standards) with only 37,493 seats. It is among seven major league stadiums with less than 40,000 seats.
  • Counting this current series, Fenway Park has hosted the World Series eleven times.
  • At the start of the season, odds of the Red Sox winning the World Series were 28-1 due to last year's disastrous season. They went from worst to first over the course of this season.
  • The last time the Red Sox played the Cardinals in the World Series was in 2004 and the Sox came out on top as well.

There you have it, eight fun facts about baseball, one for each of the Red Sox eight World Series Wins! Probably more than you ever wanted to know about baseball, but if you're thinking about moving to Boston prepare to be immersed in local sports culture.

Located just minutes away from Fenway Park, Simmons students have easy access to both the ball field and the restaurants and sports bars in the surrounding area. I plan to take advantage this weekend by celebrating and watching the parade with lots of Boston fans.

Boston Strong! Go Sox!

Boston | leave a comment

Tastes of Fenway

IMG_20130918_124055_1_20130930001959135.jpgSo for those of you who don't know, besides being a bibliophile, I am also a foodie. As a person obsessed with all things food, I always love a chance to try a new restaurant, type of cuisine, or entrée. However, since I commute from Brighton, I don't usually get a chance to explore the neighborhoods surrounding Simmons. This is a rather unfortunate fact since just outside of campus, is a slew of eateries that every Simmons student or faculty member should check out. The one I'm featuring here today, Neighborhood Coffee and Crepes, is a place perfect for anyone who likes a good cup of coffee (or latte), mouthwateringly delicious crepes, and chill atmosphere excellent for reading a book or doing some casual studying.

Located just seven minutes from campus, this little gem is tucked away amongst a number of other eateries. Since this was my first dining experience in the Fenway, I decided to pull out all the stops. Although Neighborhoods offers a number of yummy looking baked goods, I decided to go with the café's specialty; crepes. With a choice between savory or sweet, I had to put some careful thought into my selection, finally opting to go sweet. My final decision? The Tudor, which features thinly sliced apples (or bananas, or both if you ask), and creamy peanut butter. All of this sweet goodness is wrapped in a fresh crepe and drizzled with honey and cinnamon. As for my drink, I opted for a flavored latte, since I'm not much of a coffee person. Although I cannot recall the various flavor choices they had, I can tell you that the gingerbread latte I received tasted just like the winter holidays. For about $12, I can honestly say that this was a meal worth having.  While this place has been the only eatery I've had the pleasure to experience in the Fenway area, I cannot wait to try others. The bar has been raised and I can sense that I won't be disappointed.

So if you ever have some time to kill between classes or need a break from the joys of studying, take a stroll over to the Neighborhoods and try a crepe. Your taste buds will be glad you did.

Neighborhoods Coffee and Crepes is located on 96 Peterborough St
(between Kilmarnock St & Jersey St). You can their menu online:

Boston | leave a comment

Main Index | Archives