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Head of the Charles

I love fall here in New England.  We've covered that topic pretty well, I think, but I don't think I can really stress it enough, now that the foliage is changing in earnest and color is everywhere.  I think I love it so much, and I appreciate it so much, because it's nothing that I'm used to and it seems like a minor miracle to me every single year.  So it was with actual, real shock that I heard someone on the radio talking about watching the boats on the Charles and how it was the only part of autumn in New England that she liked.

Well.  First of all I had no idea what she was even talking about, so I had to do some research.  You know every movie that has ever been set in Boston, how there is at least one scene with crews doing their crew boat thing on the Charles?  Apparently it's a huge deal - and I never even expected that, because in all the time I've lived in the Boston area, I've never seen anything other than sailboats and windsurfers on the Charles.  I guess I must have been living kind of a sheltered life.  The Head of the Charles is the biggest regatta in the world, and is the penultimate rowing event for college rowing teams and the people who line the shore on both sides of the river to watch.  There were a lot of those people on Saturday, since the weather was cool and partly sunny and not bad spectating weather for autumn at all.  It is pretty fun to watch, too, even if you're like me and don't actually care much who wins (and some people in the crowd cared very, very much, as Boston people tend to do for every sort of sporting event, which I find both baffling and endearing).

Mostly I spent the time worrying that the rowers (who were all, as far as I could see, wearing shorts) were cold, and trying to peer over people (I am 5'3''; peering over people is generally not possible.)  It was festive and fun, and I came away feeling that the woman I heard on the radio is not alone in thinking Head of the Charles is the best part of autumn in New England.  For me, it was interesting for a couple of hours, and then I wandered off to go find some coffee.  Dunkin, not Starbucks.  Apparently I'm becoming a little bit of a Boston person after all.  

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John Singer Sargent is my jam, but so are weekend SLIS events!

As an online student working full time in the Greater Boston area, it is very difficult to participate in the multitude of SLIS social gatherings. Whether it is a lecture, a coffee meet-up, or happy hour, these events always seem to take place right in the middle of the standard work day. I understand that the majority of students at Simmons are full-time but I wish that there were more events during the weekends or week nights (I'm sure there is a trivia night somewhere in Fenway!) that might accommodate us 9-to-5-ers.

Last week, as I pessimistically scanned the events "This week @ SLIS!" courtesy of LISSA, I noticed an advertisement for a free guided tour at the Art of the Americas collection of the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) on Sunday, October 5th. The event's description made me frantic: "ONLY 3 TICKETS LEFT!" I almost dropped my phone as I dove for my computer, opened up Eventbrite, and claimed my ticket. I spent the entire week in anticipation, and not only because I absolutely love a good walking tour. Finally, I'll be able to meet other SLIS students... in real life!

I ended up being about 15 minutes early because of said anticipation, but that worked out for the best. Another student was there just as early, and the secret service-esque MFA guard refused to let us in until our group leader was present. Soon enough I met several of her friends, and we ended up taking the tour together and experiencing some Thaitation afterward. Before meeting these fellow first-year-first-semester students, my online SLIS experience had primarily consisted of me sitting alone, staring at a computer screen or reading a text book, and submitting activities and writing mandatory comments on Moodle discussion forums which the other online students often do not monitor or respond to. I do not work with any librarians or information professionals, and my family and friends (while largely pro-library) are not keen to discuss metadata or the history of libraries in the United States with me. It felt so good to meet other students in the program, discuss classes and professors, and otherwise hang out with people with similar interests and outlooks. We even discussed the possibility that all MLIS professionals are "doomed to be librarians," but that story is for another blog post.

So please, let's have some events outside of the 9-to-5 block! I hope that the student groups at SLIS continue to advertise social events on weekends and week nights so that other online students in the Boston area can attend and meet their wonderful classmates!

fog warning.jpg"The Fog Warning
Don't leave us out at sea! More night and weekend events, please!

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ThatCamp Harvard 2014

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On Saturday I attended THATCamp at Harvard University.  THATCamps are popping up all over the place these days - the name stands for The Humanities and Technology Camp, and they are meant to be a collaborative day between people working in the humanities and people working in technology.  As the THATCamp website describes it, "an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot."

THATCamps are meant to be very informal and spontaneous, not at all like a regular conference.  (Much better than a regular conference for promoting productive work, which is one of the goals behind THATCamps.)  Sessions on Saturday ranged from Wikipedia and conversations about how to foster more collaboration to archival tools and discussions of using social media and ways to visualize music.  Sessions were informal groups chatting; no lectures or hierarchies.  Professors and students spoke as equals as they tried to solve problems.  Most important of all: it was fun!  It really was.  (And you know I am not a big fan of big groups or chatting with strangers.)  

Many, if not most, of the participants were professors and students from Boston-area colleges and universities, though there were a few working librarians and archivists who were able to give a lot of perspective about how technology is being used in actual professional settings.  There is no doubt that technology and work in information repositories are now fundamentally linked, and as time goes on they will only become more entwined.  It is very important that we begin conversations with people who understand how to build the technological tools we'll need to be able to do our jobs, so that we can work together to create exactly what we really want and need.  THATCamps are one way to do that.

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A Day in the Life

As a first semester MLIS student, I would be the first to tell you that I don't have much experience with archival work.  Aside from volunteering in public libraries and a brief stint as a shelver in college, my only real exposure to archives was researching the Theatre and Performing Arts special collection at my undergrad's university archives.  I had the opportunity to hold a Shakespeare First Folio and other amazing artifacts, and got a little spoiled when it came to the joys of archival discovery.

When I volunteered to work several hours at the Brookline Historical Society for the REPS Day of Service 2014 this past Saturday, I didn't know what to expect.  Google Maps brought me to a little old house with a white picket fence, but thankfully the curators found me lurking in the backyard before I convinced myself that I was trespassing on a private residence.  In a small room in the back of what I learned was the historic Edward Devotion House, I was assigned two boxes from a new collection that they received from a long-standing Brookline family.  Tucked away in the corner, I was able to rummage through Box 15 (Religion) and Box 7 (Sports).

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A photo from the day: I'm tucked away in the back corner with my first box and handy friend, Microsoft Excel. (Photo cred: @danbullman)

I felt as if I were going through my own grandparents' attic, sorting church directories and football game programs from the 1950s, my favorite of which featured a boy in an overlarge football helmet siting next to his patient basset hound.  There were also two scrapbooks of sports clippings from 1938 to 1941, lined with yellowing newspaper articles and black and white action photos.  I wasn't working with letters from King Henry VIII or Charlotte Bronte's manuscripts, but this was even better because these objects belonged to ordinary people, what they cared about, what they kept.  I could easily imagine the members of this family going to football games and keeping score with a blunt pencil, or hanging up a church calendar in their kitchen with all of their fellow parishioners' birthdays listed in neat little type, or pasting their varsity letter onto thin paper with pride.  I wonder if 75 years from now, someone will be sorting through my own papers, come across birthday cards, ticket stubs, and photo books that I've treasured and catch a glimpse of my life in the 2010s.

Thank you so much to Dan Bullman, curators Camile Arbogast and Jesus MacLean at the Brookline Historical Society, and everyone else that was involved in planning the REPS Day of Service!

I hope those of you in New England were able to participate in the REPS Day of Service in participating locations in Newton, Vermont, and Connecticut.  If you are interested in future opportunities to volunteer, I highly recommend following New England Archivists on Facebook and Twitter (@NEarchivists) or seeking out your local archivists association!

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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.  

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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.

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A Night with Google

Sometimes I am purely baffled at the things I've gotten to do since moving to Boston almost a year ago. Most recently, I found myself at Boston's very own Children's Museum at an event hosted by Google as a means of promoting their online program, Google City Experts. Like Yelp, Google is trying to find a niche for itself within the world of online reviews. Nowadays, if you search for something on Google Maps, a box appears on the left hand side that includes a variety of information such as the address, hours of business, phone number, and website. At the bottom of the box, are reviews for your inquiry. Like Yelp, these reviews were created by users, and can range from being brief to extremely thorough. Write enough of these reviews and Google will eventually consider you to become part of their City Experts program. 
So here is the big question, is it worth it? Well, the event at the museum was hands-down awesome. For the most part, me and the other attendants had free reign of the entire museum. Since this was my first time ever visiting the museum, I admittedly spent quite a bit of time in the Arthur exhibit. It was like stepping back in time to the late 1990s; there was a re-creation of Mr. Ratburn's classroom, Buster's father's airplane, and life size copies of the entire cast. Clearly, I was in nostalgia heaven. Next, my friends and I wandered over to the bubble exhibit, and had a blast trying to make as many bubbles as humanly possible. Other highlights include jumbo sized Jenga, a massive climbing arena, and cake pops in the Google colors. On top of that, I met a Google rep who was wearing the new Google Glass and got to try it on. I'll be honest, I was so terrified of breaking it that I didn't have it on for long but I felt like I had stepped into the future. 
Perhaps the only downer is that to be considered for the program, one has to write fifty reviews and then an additional five reviews a month. It seems like a lot but, the perks just might out-weigh the cons. After-all, how many times do you get to have a fantastic evening 100% on Google's dime?
If you're interested in becoming a Google City Expert, check out the link provided below:

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#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.

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THATCamp New England and the Rise of Digital Humanities

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Coffee was stirred, bagels were nibbled, and discussion had  begun filling the twittersphere. This past weekend I attended my first professional conference - THATCamp New England. Between May 30th and 31st, individuals gathered to the Boston College General Studies campus to talk about one thing: digital humanities. Digital humanities, otherwise known at DH, has been creeping across institutions and campuses in recent years and leaving untold innovations in it's wake. While there is no single static definition of DH, it can can be described as the interdisciplinary meeting ground between technology and the humanities.

Unlike other events on the conference circuit, THATCamp is structured around the idea of a "not-conference". Traditionally, conferences often follow a strictly structured format. THATCamp has diverged on a few key elements to follow a different approach through fluidity, collaboration, and engagement. In all realness, I've never considered myself to be an at-the-last-minute kind of person. Especially one who would sit down and organize an informal panel with a recent graduate from my alma mater aiming to open dialogues about stimulating interdisciplinary undergraduate activity in DH.  Between two days, I attended talks and workshops which created an approachable environment where folks met to share ideas, new technologies, and of course - twitter handles. For an overview of what events were offered, check out the information linked below.

Stepping out of the cloud of metadata and discourse which had accumulated after the two day conference, THATCamp had me hooked. A cordial, constructive, and not to mention free interdisciplinary conference opportunity with much crossover in LIS, I'm looking forward to seeing you there in 2015!

About THATCamp: http://thatcamp.org/about/

Event Schedule: http://newengland2014.thatcamp.org/schedule/

Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/hashtag/thatcampne?src=hash

DH Overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_humanities

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Here and There: Visiting the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

It's no secret; events and conventions are a big part of almost any interest group. Whether it's through the relay of colorful lore, mailing list messages, and social media coverage - conventions and events are an exciting part of life and times at Simmons GSLIS. From presenting new projects to raising questions and dialogues, attending events can be an important step to rooting yourself into your professional field. Unbeknownst to me, I came face to face with my first professional event by complete accident.

This past April, I was in Manhattan walking home from none other than my high school reunion. Passing the Park Avenue Armory, the banners adorning it were unmistakable, reading: New York Antiquarian tumblr_n3ob9xeoAT1qbwvhpo4_500.jpgBook Faire. Heart be still -  I knew I had a couple of hours before evening plans, and I fully intended to spend those hours inside that building, seeing all that was humanly possible between now and then. I picked up student admission and quickly encountered a sea of exhibitors hailing from locations from Austria to Washington state which were spread throughout the convention floor and displayed objects ranging from edgy punk zines to an original Mozart manuscript.  Quickly making my way across the convention floor to make the most of my limited time, I amassed a considerable loot of catalogs and business cards between short conversations with vendors which not only recognized Simmons GSLIS upon mention, but were themselves occasional GSLIS alumnae. As an archives student, seeing the value of priceless manuscripts expressed in monetary terms rather than expressed by their significance and impact as objects was a new and unique experience. Making my way from this whirlwind of rare books and manuscripts, I considered the many lives an object can live through the changing of hands by institutions, vendors, and private collectors - and how information professionals from GSLIS and beyond mediate this process. For current and prospective students interested in learning more about the myriad applications of an education in LIS while familiarizing yourself with influential ideas, figures, and issues in the profession, conventions and events are a compelling way to achieve this.

For more information on regional book fairs, scope out the following links:

Boston Antiquarian Book Fair

http://bostonbookfair.com/

New York Antiquarian Book Fair

http://nyantiquarianbookfair.com/

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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.

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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!

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City of Neighborhoods Exhibit

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This past Saturday, the map gallery where I work, the Leventhal Map Gallery, premiered their newest exhibit to the Boston public. The new exhibit, City of Neighborhoods, celebrates the racial and ethnic diversity of the city of Boston. While the former exhibit, Made in Boston, had featured antique maps of both Boston and the New England area from the late 1600s through the 1700s, this exhibition "Compares the neighborhoods of today's 'new' Boston with those of 100 years ago." Through the use of photographs and maps, the exhibit is colorful and enlightening. As music representing the cultures that form the social fabric of Boston plays in the background, one can see the areas where newer immigrant groups have settled and how the physical appearance of the city had changed to reflect those who live and work there.

As part of Saturday's opening, the map gallery pulled out 

neighborhoods_exhibit2.jpgall the stops. In a separate room, we had activities for families with children while a band played music from Cape Verde. For many people who attended the event, this was the first time they had ever realized just how diverse the city was. A few people approached gallery attendants like myself and inquired about the location of Cape Verde since they had never heard of it before (it's off the western coast of Africa in case you are wondering). While children created their own bookmarks using scraps of old maps and/or decorated their own map with stickers, parents and other attendants labeled two maps, one of Boston and the other of the world, with Post-Its as a means of identifying not only the area of the city in which they were from, but also where in the world they drew their ethnic and racial identity from.

This was the first new exhibit to come into the gallery since I started working there back in Febuary and I have to say, setting it up was an absolute blast! While I didn't get to handle any of the antique maps from the previous exhibit, I did get to see what it takes to set up an exhibition. Detail truly is everything!  From the placement of photographs and images to the angle that newspaper is placed, my co-workers took great care in ensuring that everything in the new exhibit was placed in a fashion that would be appealing to the public eye. Since I'm rather petite, my co-workers kept asking me to stand in front of an exhibit and offer my insight on whether something was too high or too low.

City of Neighborhoods will be at the Leventhal Map Gallery from March 22nd-August 22nd. If you happen to need something to do on a weekend, stop on by and check out the exhibit.

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Gateway to Reading

Welcome back! Here's hoping your vacations were as pleasant as mine. I was able to return to the Pacific Northwest, and I spent some time in a museum in Oregon that a friend of mine works at. It was interesting to see the ways that libraries and museums differ. I wanted to ask the librarian about her collection, but it was her birthday and she was out. I did get to see the way certain artifacts are stored though!

What I really want to talk about happened before my vacation. Just before I left, I had the opportunity to see Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur television series, at the Boston Public Library. The talk he gave was part of BPL's Lowell Lecture Series. Luckily for me and other kid lit types, this year's theme happens to be "Gateway to Reading." Marc Brown is only the second of many more lectures--many of which you might want to check out. (I'd extend my commercial beyond this, but I think you can decide for yourself what you'd be interested in.)

Things I learned from Marc Brown: Arthur is now the longest running children's television program (just renewed for two more seasons!); Arthur has taken to addressing more difficult issues, such as cancer or Asperger's syndrome; and, lastly, Arthur's nose used to be longer when he was originally drawn. I won't go into the details here because you should be able watch the talk for yourself on the series homepage.

As you can see, the structure of his talk was to answer questions that children asked him as opposed to giving a lecture about his work. It was an interesting concept--and certainly less self-aggrandizing. I appreciated the way the librarians had prepared some students from around the area ahead of time to submit questions to answer onstage, while also opening it up to live audience members. It's definitely a strategy to tuck into one's back pocket. The kids get really excited, and it's awesome to watch them in the spotlight.

Needless to say, this isn't the first of the lecture I'll be going to. Perhaps I might see you during Norton Juster's talk on April 2. Don't be afraid to say hello!

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Judy Chicago Comes to Boston!

I can't believe this is already my last semester in graduate school - not to mention that the semester is halfway through.  As some of you know, I am taking my 502 - my capstone internship - at the Schlesinger Library, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.  As an intern exhibit researcher, I am working to coordinate an exhibit going up on October 14th regarding the Civil War.  But as that's months away, I want to share with you an exciting opportunity that's coming up much sooner...Judy Chicago coming to Boston! 

I am sure that most of you know Judy Chicago, but a bit of background on her: she is one of the most influential women artists this century.  Ostensibly her greatest work, The Dinner Party, is not only massive, but massively successful (and definitely on my bucket list of "to-see's") and lives in Brooklyn permanently; I highly recommend (re)reading the Wikipedia articles on both her and The Dinner Party, and then coming to see the new exhibit opening - featuring Judy Chicago and her work - at the Schlesinger Library!  The Schlesinger holds the largest collection of Judy Chicago papers, and will be displaying artifacts, articles, and more on Chicago.  The exhibit will run from February 26th until September 30th, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. 

To celebrate the opening of this wonderful exhibit, Judy Chicago will be giving a talk on Tuesday, March 4th, at 4:15 at the Knafel Center (formerly Radcliffe Gymnasium) alongside Jane Gerhard (a historian whose newest book, The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007, provides some fascinating insight and history into Chicago's themes).  Their interaction is one that I am beyond excited to see, especially because I can have their talk fresh in my mind when I visit the exhibit afterwards. 

If you are interested in art, feminism, their intersection, exhibits, archives, or even just have some spare time on Tuesday afternoon, I highly recommend that you take the time to come to this free lecture and view the exhibit!  Below is additional information if you are interested.  

Facebook page featuring events and more information for the Schlesinger: https://www.facebook.com/SchlesingerLibrary

Events page for the Schlesinger: http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/event/2014-judy-chicago-through-the-archives-exhibit

And, of course, her personal website: http://www.judychicago.com/artist/exhibition-schedule.php

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Where were you 50 years ago?

My answer to this question would be nowhere, my mother was six and my father was thirteen so I was not even a thought fifty years ago. Despite their young ages both my parents remember exactly where they were, and so do the majority of patrons walking into the library today. The mood is really interesting as each patron sees our book display and instantly starts to reflect about where they were and how they felt when President John F. Kennedy was shot.

With all the media buildup to the anniversary of this infamous day I have become somewhat desensitized and didn't give any thought into how I would feel on the actual day. I'm so interested to hear more stories as the day goes on and to reflect on how one event changed our country's history. Working with the public every day as many pros and a few cons, today the pros most certainly outweigh any cons. Today I am so grateful to get to work in an environment where I can learn more about our history through listening to the memories of people in my community.

All Americans know this quote, and those working with the public can certainly relate, so I think it is only fitting to conclude with some of JFK's most famous words, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Have a wonderful weekend and take some time to listen to those around you with lots of interesting life experience to share.

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The Horn Book Awards at Simmons

I am always marveling at my good fortune. I live in a beautiful city, rich in history. I have a wonderful job that challenges me. I have supportive family and friends. I do not, however, appreciate enough the opportunities that Simmons provides to its student body (that includes me) every week. Between the lunchtime lectures, the LISSA conference sponsorship, and all such other offerings it is sheer neglect that I don't give a shout out now and again to Simmons and GSLIS itself.

Today, though, I'd like to offer up praise to my forsaken program, the department of Children's Literature. While I was only in the dual degree program for a day until I dropped it like a hot potato I do appreciate all the unique opportunities the Center for the Study of Children's Literature offers YA junkies like myself. Last night at The Horn Book awards I got to listen to nine of the best authors and illustrators in the world speak about what they are passionate about.

Robert Byrd, author and illustrator of Electric Ben; The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,and winner of The Horn Book award in the non-fiction category, spoke about the power of illustration in picture books. He told us that images can inspire us and endure within our collective memory for decades, preserving the power of the physical book. Open This Little Book's author, Jesse Klausmeier, winner of the one of the picture book honor awards, revealed that a love of reading can inspire much more than just passionate readers, it can create a book. The first draft of her book was in fact written at the age of five.  She dedicated her book to America's inspiration to readers of my generation: LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow. Finally, and most dramatically, the incomparable Rainbow Rowell, author of The Horn Book award for fiction, explained that Eleanor & Park was the most painful experience of her life. Writing this book forced her to confront some of the most painful parts of her past to the point where it actually made her sick. She made it through the wilderness somehow, and she swears she will never write a sequel (WINK*), but she inspired the room to address and attack the things that scare them the most. That is where our most valuable contributions to this world come from.

So thank you Cathy Mercier, The Horn Book, The Boston Globe, and the many people who worked so hard to make this event accessible to Simmons students. We are so lucky to be able to attend such events, we should be singing your praises on a much more regular basis. 

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Getting Involved

It's September and all around us we are inundated with announcements. Don't forget, tomorrow on the quad, the annual picnic to save the squirrels! Save the date for next Friday's twister mixer! And then there are the events that you really do want to attend.

 All GSLIS students automatically receive LISSA updates, and orientation is a swathe of sign-up sheets that put us on a million list-servs that remind us that there are learning opportunities for GSLIS students and librarians all the time. Weeding out the good events from the bad, rather the ones you're interested in versus the ones you could not care less about, is a chore. It takes time to slug through the many, many emails you receive in your school inbox, your work inbox, and your personal inbox. Pretty soon, you're ready to call the whole thing quits and give up on professional development altogether.

I wouldn't say that I have the whole thing figured out, but I do know that I need to participate in the dialogue that's happening outside the confines of my classroom on Palace Road. Maybe you don't want to hear from ALA every week, but find time in your week to scan the scene for events for library-oriented people such as yourself. You won't regret it once you're there.  So here are a few ways I try to put myself out there. If you are not of the children's librarianship persuasion these might not apply to you, but that certainly does not mean there aren't events happening that pertain to your interest. You just have to look, listen up in class, or ask around.

Kidlit Night:

My colleague from work started an informal gathering of librarians, who work with children and young adults, as well as local YA authors and publishing people about a year ago. They get together once every other month in Cambridge and talk about the latest books on the market, what kids are reading, and other fun stuff. To get the updates about the latest meeting times and locations follow them on twitter or facebook:

https://twitter.com/KidlitNight

https://www.facebook.com/groups/kidlitdrinknightboston/

Children's Books Boston

Some of the best events I've been to in the Greater Boston area have been author events at book stores or public libraries. Horn Book just created a comprehensive calendar of author events and the like in the children's and YA category. Great fun, if you like to hear an author read their book.

http://www.hbook.com/calendar/

InfoLink:

I also recommend InfoLink, the GSLIS newsletter. This is just to find out what's going on at Simmons and who's doing cool new things. We have so many resources right here. Why not take advantage of these fabulously intelligent professors while we can!

http://simmons.edu/gslis/for/current/news/blog/infolink/september-2013-1/

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Bookstock 2013 and My New Job

Bookstock.jpgLast weekend marked the fifth annual literary festival in Woodstock, Vermont, whimsically named Bookstock. This event brings together many community groups and businesses including the public library, both of the independent book stores in town, the National Park Service, and private vendors. I've been able to participate in this weekend long celebration of the written word through my job with the National Park Service and it is absolutely a highlight of the summer. The event appeals to tourists and locals alike and really offers something for everyone. In addition to a tent of exhibitors there is also a huge used book sale; I was able to get 6 books for $10! Quite a steal! I am so happy to see this event thriving and expanding every year because community events like Bookstock are why I want to work for a small public library. (Interested in learning more? Check out: http://www.bookstockvt.org/)

Starting in September I will have a new job that I hope will allow me access to more behind scenes details of similar community events. I have accepted a part time job as Reference Assistant at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, Vermont! I could not be more excited to start what I am sure will be an amazing learning opportunity. I will be manning the reference desk, helping with circulation, readers' advisory, interlibrary loan and hopefully expanding the library's presence on social media.

How will I manage to take classes in Boston and work in Vermont you may ask? Great question! I have a feeling the fall is going to be very interesting as I adjust to splitting my time between Boston and Vermont. In anticipation of getting a new job in the fall, I arranged my schedule to only have classes on Monday and Wednesday and luckily my library job is Thursday-Saturday. Two three hour long classes every Monday should keep me busy, so will commuting back and forth to Boston. Challenges aside, the opportunity to work in my hometown public library promises to be worth the sacrifices of a crazy schedule and I cannot wait to begin.

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ALA Conference: Chicago Summer 2013

My fantastic summer of adventures has come to a close. I am home in Vermont settling back into a routine of working full-time for the National Park Service and part-time as a waitress at the local (only) restaurant in town.  I have been home for two weeks already and my brain is still buzzing from my experiences in Chicago attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference.  So many librarians in one place! I had a fabulous time traveling with new friends from GSLIS and catching up with old friends from undergrad during spare moments away from the conference.

Highlights from my trip include:

  • Opening remarks from Freakonomics author Steven D.  Levitt
  • Attending a panel of graphic novel authors and artists who discussed the growing popularity of the graphic novel format
  • Trying my first ever Chicago style hot dog
  • Engaging in a heated discussion about the role of prison libraries at the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable
  • Listening to nominees for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction praise the role of libraries as important influencers in their lives
  • Meeting Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) and listening to her read aloud from her latest new books The World Will Follow Joy and A Cushion in the Road
  • Concluding my travels with a week in Northern Michigan on Drummond Island with one of my best friends and her family

I could continue with more highlights but suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was completely overwhelmed the entire time (except my relaxing days in Michigan).  The conference exhibit hall alone is enough to occupy and overstimulate; I went home with more free books than I would have imagined possible.  Meeting and conversing with librarians from all over the country renewed my confidence that I have found the right future profession.  The only problem I have now is the challenge of figuring out which direction to pursue... will I work in reference or with young adults? in a public library, or for a corporation or law office? I am hopeful that my courses next semester and a possible job opportunity (fingers crossed!) will help narrow my focus as my time at GSLIS continues to fly by.

For now I plan to enjoy the little free time I have in Vermont and continue to tackle my ever growing list of must read books. 

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