Recently in Conferences Category

New England Archivists Spring Meeting

This week the New England Archivists held their spring meeting in Portsmouth, NH, and I (and a good portion of my archives classmates) were in attendance.  This was actually my first professional conference, and I went to see and hear professionals in the archives community talk about their jobs, the current state of the archives field, and of course, a decent dose of networking, networking, and more networking.  (I am terrible at networking, and would generally rather rip out my own tongue than talk to a complete stranger, but I went into the conference knowing that I would have to do exactly that at least once because it was an assignment for my LIS440 class.  Let the record show that I did manage to talk to one stranger and did not die as a result, so I think I may be a better person for the experience.)  (Let the record also show that one stranger was exactly how many I talked to, so... baby steps.)

buttonmaker01.jpgThe thing about the archives field is that it is incredibly diverse in terms of both the types of archives institutions that exist and the types of archiving jobs within those institutions.  The two internships that archives concentrators take in GSLIS give us a taste of that diversity, but professional organizations and conferences like the NEA really drive the point home.  The highest points of the conference for me were presentations that helped me see sides of archiving I'd never considered before: a talk by international archivists about how archives work in their countries on Saturday and a talk about using a buttonmaker to do outreach on campus and in the community for a college archive on Friday.  (The picture is of the buttonmaker, which they pulled out after the talk to let people play with - I need to learn how to take decent photos with my phone.)  As someone who used to work with teens in a public library, I'm very familiar with the idea of outreach, but I'd never really thought about outreach and advocacy for archives - and how similar creative and fun tactics could be used, far beyond the usual flyer and poster distribution.  I'd definitely never known that Outreach Archivist was an actual job, but the more I learn about it, the more intrigued with the idea I get.

When I entered the GSLIS program I was certain I knew what sort of job I'd want when I graduated, but the longer I spend in the program the more opportunities I see that interest me.  This is how things should work, I think, but I really wish I had some sort of time machine that could let me take a peek at my life a year from now, because at this point I'm leaning in a lot of directions at once.

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The (Updated) Tale of a (More) Reformed Networker

I had my first networking revelation a little over a year ago, and my second one happened last Friday at the Special Libraries Association New England Fall conference (which conveniently took place at Simmons). I spent the day listening to presentations, pondering the meaning of special libraries, and, well, networking. For some reason there was a ridiculously long 90-minute lunch break, so I figured I would mill around for a few minutes, grab some food, then sit outside and read a magazine. Well, it turned out that instead of embracing my inner introvert, I found myself breaking bread with three complete strangers (gasp!). Ok, so they were fellow special librarians and conference attendees (calling them strangers is a bit dramatic), but still, this was a major deviation from my plan.

It seems absurd that this lunch conversation was such a big deal for me, but I am pretty proud of myself for being sociable on Friday. My first networking revelation made me realize that networking truly is important, and this one made me realize that hey, I can do this. I will not claim to be an all-star networker, but I'm working on it. GSLIS has provided the classroom and practical experience that have given me the confidence to be a better networker. When I started the program I had no library experience, so I felt not necessarily intimidated, but definitely out of place, when talking about library-related stuff. Boy have I come a long way since then.

Networking begins with shared experiences, and Friday was the first time that I felt that I had enough special library experience to banter with the other attendees. Bantering is absolutely not one of my strengths, which is why this seemingly insignificant lunch conversation was revolutionary for me. Perhaps someday I will come to fully embrace the idea of networking, but until that happens I will continue aspiring toward all-star networking status.

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The Art of the Symposium

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a very cool symposium put on by many of GSLIS' student organizations including SCoSAA, LISSA, ALASC, ASIS&T, Panoption, SLA, and UXPA.  This Symposium was the second one GSLIS has ever put on, and provided a really interesting glimpse into many different areas of GSLIS. 

There was a keynote speaker, GSLIS' own Martha Mahard, and four panels of students and past students.  Each panel had a topic, and the panelists gave a presentation on their specific area of study and then answered questions.  Overall, there were a wide variety of topics, from Technology to Ethics, and it was incredibly interesting to see what my fellow students were working on (not to mention impressive... I'm feeling like a bit of a slacker for not having presented!). 

An additional super-cool part of this Symposium was that it was available for both live and future streaming.  As the Facilitator for the Archives Management Cohort Online, it was awesome to be able to present this opportunity to the online students that I work with all over the country, and even internationally.  This also allowed for student presenters to be able to include family and friends, which made for a very integrated experience that I appreciated immensely. 

Another part of the symposium that was unique and very much appreciated was the hashtag #gslissympa13 - a Twitter tag where members attending the symposium, both streaming and live, could silently exchange thoughts, ideas, and appreciation for aspects of the symposium.  This was another way I loved the integration between the streaming viewers and the in-person viewers, and was impressed at the level of social media know-how of the student orgs.

I sincerely hope and believe that all of these new technological integrations between in-person attendees and internet-connected attendees will be the new direction for both future Simmons conferences and the field of LIS in general.  For me personally, flights down to New Orleans for the SAA Conference this summer are looking a little steep, price-wise - I will be very interested to see if they attempt to integrate some of this technology so that I can "attend," even if I can't. 

And way to go, SCoSAA and all the student orgs that put this on - your symposium was a roaring success!  And the literally cherry on top?  Ice cream at the end!   (Although it may be difficult to have a virtual ice cream social... I'm sure we'll figure out something.)

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2nd Annual GSLIS Graduate Symposium

I am still digesting everything...yesterday I participated in my first conference, Simmons 2nd Annual GSLIS Graduate Symposium.  The day went well all things considered, but it was both an exhilarating and exhausting experience.

I presented on the art panel and chose to talk about how we can use technology to integrate more use of primary source documentation as a means of context in art museums. It was not an idea I thought would create any backlash at all, and perhaps backlash is not the right word. It wasn't hostile, but some of the questions I received after my presentation surprised me.

But that is a good thing, and is the point of a symposium. It is all part of the peer review. When my very first question was pushing back at something I said instead of just a general question for further explanation I immediately felt my pulse quicken and my self-esteem plummet. But I quickly realized that the questioner was not attacking me, she was not even really attacking my work but simply bringing up points that I had not considered. Especially in all the hustle and bustle of preparing a presentation (and your first one to boot) you can perhaps overlook some part of the content that needs to be addressed. I'm sure this happens to even the most experienced researchers at times.

The Q & A was definitely the more rattling portion of the symposium. You can prepare your presentation till you have it memorized it word for word if you want to, but you can only anticipate the questions. Anticipating the questions correctly means you would have probably already answered them in your presentation...

I enjoyed listening to my fellow students (albeit, a lot more after I presented than before) and seeing what interested them. All in all it was a great experience to develop presentation skills in a non-threatening environment with great feedback.

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Finding Archiving Principles at PAX

With a computer programmer/gamer boyfriend there was no way I was going to forget that PAX East, one of the country's biggest video game conventions, was this weekend. Not being a gamer myself, I steered clear of making it a four day event complete with the Pokemon pub crawl (gotta drink them all!) like he did. I did, however, tag along Sunday out of curiosity. (And I would have you know that I beat, nay, alienated three men in Ticket to Ride) Upon seeing there was a panel on the preservation of video games, I also dragged the aforesaid three men along. I was greatly amused to listen for two hours to five panelists discuss the job of an archivist without ever saying the term.

The panel was sponsored by The American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM), a non-profit organization in NH that strives to preserve pre-1980s arcade games. Also present was a researcher trying to track down the original names of some of the early game designers, a professor of game design, and a gentleman that ran a webshow about retro games. Despite their different positions, they were all brought together on the panel to basically discuss one major impediment to preserving the actual games or studying the past of gaming...the lack of records. The researcher told stories of companies who didn't know what games they had produced in the distant past and had to rebuild the history of their company via outside sources like game reviews. One of the ACAM directors told of other companies who didn't even know what games they held the rights to because mergers with other companies had brought in undocumented inventories. And it isn't just the issue of paper records being lost, but it also effects the games themselves. Without the documentation of the coding behind the games, many are lost forever. Or, without the proper migration of data to new formats, the games may work but can no longer be played because the equipment no longer exists.

The professor must have recognized the glazed-over look in the eyes of some audience members because at one point he jumped in and remarked, "I don't think we've done a good of explaining why it is so important to save this stuff." He went on to explain that as a professor he felt it was important for his students to see the legacy the present gaming culture had come from and to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the past. Although these gentlemen were only concerned about the world of video games, their struggles and reasons regarding preservation are universal. The job of the researcher would be a lot easier if these companies had archivists or records managers. Although some larger companies do, it is still not the norm and it's interesting, yet sad, to see the consequences. It was also interesting to see how many gamers were unwittingly introduced to archival principles during a panel at PAX.

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One more step toward adulthood (AKA inflaming PPS)


I don't know why I was holding back. Maybe I thought that without an official MLS I wouldn't be allowed in. Perhaps I was I was afraid that pledging my time, money and inbox space to this organization cemented my career choice more than paying $6,500 a semester ever did. Whatever the reason I have been avoiding the ever watchful, and professional eye of the ALA, a lidless eye, wreathed in flame. Wait, no, that's the eye of Sauron. I don't equate the ALA with Mordor. Really, I just fear that being a member of a professional organization is the final step toward adulthood. To a certain extent, I am right. My inbox is overflowing with invites to email lists, print and e-publications, and various webinars about the latest happenings and developments in the field of library science. SCARY, right?! Ok, I'm overreacting. I've always had PPS, Peter Pan syndrome, and growing up on any level really inflames my condition. The boy in tights inside of me wants to cut and fly away.

Then I decided to explore another Neverland, the ALA website. I'm not going to lie to you, this is a place where dreams are born and time is very planned. In learning about the ALA Conference this summer, my heart was all a flutter. These are the people you hear about on NPR but never see in real life! Ping Fu, Khaled Husseini, Jerry Pinkney and...wait for it....BRIAN SELZNICK are all going to be speaking about BOOKS! Who's excited?! Have I done a complete 180? Perhaps I have. Perhaps I can be wooed by the discounted student rates for membership and ticket price to the various conferences offered. Also, a little fairy told me that these membership dues can be refunded by Simmons. For more information and to hear more fun facts from this fairy in disguise read this blog every Wednesday. I promise you wisdom and hilarity.

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Tweeting NEA

Blake Spitz@bgspitz

At the mothership in Boston @simmonsgslis for #NEAfall12. Excited for a full day!

The event/conference of the week was the fall meeting of New England Archivists (NEA), hosted by none other than your very own Simmons College! Since I currently work in a library and not an archives I did not have the option of excusing myself for professional development and missed the workshops and banquet on Friday night. (Though I did go to Guy Fawkes Pub Night on Friday and drank Samuel Adams with Samuel Adams’ spirit in the Old State House!) But living in the dorms means that I rolled out of bed at 8 am and walked over to the academic campus where sessions started at 9. I tweeted the conference through my twitter handle (which until last night was simmonslazylibr now it’s puschartwarrior) so here is the day in tweets!

Stacie Parillo@stacieparillo

Every room I've been in seems really young. I wonder what the average age is of NEA attendees? #neafall12

Since Simmons hosted there was A LOT of Simmons grad students present, substantially bringing down the median age of the attendees but spending a day with my friends learning about cool things was awesome! (Wait, I do that every day at Simmons!)

Jessica Bennett@pushcartwarrior

Sitting on the floor at #neafall12 archival software session. Very well attended 

It was crowded but that made it all the more exciting. This meeting’s theme was “Proactive Archivists” and many of the sessions dealt with new innovations and technologies. People weren’t complaining about the crammed rooms though, they wanted to hear the speakers instead of going to another session so we sat on the stairs, the floors and lined up against the back wall.

Continue reading Tweeting NEA

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Conferences, Conferences, Conferences!

I just hit submit on my registration for the NEA (New England Archivist) Fall Meeting that is going to take place at Simmons! Ok, call me a nerd but I love conferences. What’s even better is getting to go to them for free by volunteering. A lot of conferences are looking for student volunteers to help run things like the registration desk and in exchange you get to go to the sessions after your shift is over. And since its Boston, a lot of conferences in a lot of topic areas come here. If it’s free, I’ll sit on just about anything. The more information, the better!

This summer I volunteered on the registration desk for the AALL (American Association of Law Librarians) conference. I had a two hour shift and the best part was my friend signed up for the same time and we were late in the day so it wasn’t very busy. In exchange for telling several women (I’m not joking, this came up at least three times) where they could buy (specifically) a Diet Coke and talking to my friend for two hours, I got to attend all the opening sessions, eat a free meal, get some vendor goodies and listen to a Congressman speak. Not too shabby. Not to mention that the night before the conference I attended a social at the Harvard Club (a place I’d probably not ever get into otherwise) and networked with some pretty interesting people. (Oh and did I mention the free liquor!) :)

Needless to say it was a good experience so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for others.

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