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Literary Librarians

It's August and summer classes have finally ended, which means I have another two weeks of relative freedom before fall classes start in September.  I've been spending a lot of time catching up on television (I know people told me Orphan Black was good, but it is so good, you guys) and the lengthy list of books I've wanted to read.  People who choose to study the library sciences do tend to be big readers, and the size of my To Read pile definitely means I'm no exception. 

Because I'm graduating in less than six months (!!!), most of my focus is on job hunting and my future career, and I've been spending my time reading about fictional librarians and their work for inspiration.  The problem with fictional librarians is that a lot of the time they seem to be the stereotypical shhhing librarians who hate fun - even the librarian action figure has sensible shoes and "amazing shushing action."  Luckily, there are a load of awesome literary librarians to help balance the picture of the profession.  My top three are all from SF/fantasy:

  • Issac Vainio, from Jim C. Hines' Libriomancer and Codex Born.  I just love the idea of a librarian who can pull objects from the pages of books, even if his life is ridiculously complicated. 
  • Lucien from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics.  Lucien's library contains every book that ever has, or might, exist.  Enough said.
  • The Librarian from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Besides being turned into an orangutan, the Librarian (real name unknown) can also move through L-space.

 A note to the universe: I will happily accept any superpower that comes with my degree, although I would prefer invisibility or flight. 

People | Relaxing | leave a comment


New Adventures

This is my last post for GSLIS as I'm graduating in December. I've enjoyed every minute writing for this blog and wish everyone well as they move on to new adventures. As for my journey I will begin this fall as the upper school librarian at Dana Hall school in Wellesley. To read more about my fun escapades check out my blog!
I'm on a school library exchange at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Things are amazing here. Librarians are the luckiest people on the planet. Fact.
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Libraries | People | leave a comment


Perk of Being Here: Learning in the hallways at GSLIS

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

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

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

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

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


This is What a Librarian Looks Like

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

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

http://lookslikelibraryscience.com/

People | leave a comment


GSLIS Tech Lab. AKA GSLIS Awesomeness

You may have glimpsed its capacious depths in a class evaluation. Or maybe you remember it vividly from orientation. Either way, hopefully your travels have taken you once or twice into the Tech Lab at Palace Road. Having been on the job as a Technology Reference Assistant for a few weeks now I feel bound to tell you that the Tech Lab is far more that a room filled with computers for class evaluations. It is staffed by some of the coolest, smartest and funniest people at GSLIS who work hard to make sure our students are informed about the latest trends in Technology. Guys, this is not a required class but it should be. Knowledge and hilarity oozes out of every crevice of these hard drives. Much of my time here is spent posting to the Tech Lab's Tumblr or watching Lynda tutorials. Did you know that the Tech Lab actually has Google glasses? For serious, they have a LOT of stuff. If you don't like intelligent, hilarious people then come for the amazing gadgets. Annie and Nicole are the dean's fellows and they rock my world. This is one of those extra awesome bonuses that make going to Simmons completely worth it. They, like the amazing people at the library, know many things. I now work at Beatley Library and the Tech Lab and I am learning loads. The most important of which is to surround yourself with interesting people with new ideas. It's the best way to make sure you're learning all the time.nicole_anne_techlab.jpg

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A Feast of "Air and Stories"

Because of Maggie's previous post, I decided to take a chance and go to massmouth's Storytelling Festival last Saturday at the Boston Public Library. Well, maybe "chance" is the wrong word. I have long been a fan of the "idea" of storytelling. I decided to fulfill a dream, perhaps?  

Since I was a child, I have always feasted on stories. I know that I am not alone in this--certainly not in a program like ours. When many of us think of stories, though, we often think of books. Certainly I do. Yet, the raconteurs of my childhood were my father and my grandfather, who delighted in inventing tales that thrilled and terrified. It wasn't until I grew older and learned to read on my own that my stories transformed into printed words narrated by a voice in my head (he's quite good but, unfortunately, you'll never get to hear him). Now I'm trying audiobooks. But nothing quite replaces the physical presence of a storyteller.

Results of a survey released in September of 2013 revealed that the bedtime story is on the decline. Only 13% of the survey's respondents read a story to their children every night, while 75% recalled being read to every night when they were kids. In an age where television can transfix the mind, it seems only natural that book stories might have to fight a little harder for attention. The interaction is quiet, save for a few page turns and the voice(s) in the reader's head (at least in my experience). But storytelling is different. Storytelling is interactive. Storytelling is immersive. Storytelling can transfix, too.

One of my professors, a former youth services librarian, remarked what a shame it is that library science programs don't really require storytelling courses anymore. While I can understand why (tuition costs, numerous other graduation requirements, etc.), it still makes me sad. Oral storytelling seems to have a lasting power that books don't. I still remember these magic words Norah Dooley used in her telling of an Italian folktale at the Festival: "Ari-Ari, Donkey, Donkey, Money, Money!" Admittedly, I remember her story better than many of the books I've read for classes. Even with books I love enough to share with another person, my own telling of it is the one that I remember best. I wonder why that is. I guess there's just something about spoken words that lasts even though they're basically gone once they're uttered.

Massmouth's catchphrase is "Because you have a life, you have a story. Bring it." To that I might add that, if you have a story, tell it. We all need a good story in some way or another. As the quote falsely attributed to C.S. Lewis goes, "We read to know that we are not alone." Maybe we watch to know that we are not alone, too. But we can also listen to know that we are not alone.  And maybe, if we listen, we won't really be alone after all.

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A Valentine for my Macbook

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My dear Macbook
I love you.

For a long time, I was a pen-and-paper kinda gal.  If you read my most recent post about office supply rehab, this should come as no surprise to you.  However, in the last few years of college and all of graduate school I have found myself starting to take more and more notes on the computer.  This can be attributed to the fact that I was an art history major taking a Japanese art class, and my mutilated spellings of "Hiroshige" along with descriptive phrases like "View of Mt Fuji with Plants and bridge No. 2" led me to need to insert the actual piece of art itself, and since then I realized how much more easy it is for me to take notes on a computer. 

It hasn't stopped there.  I have started buying and reading my textbooks on my iPad, which is an absolutely amazing resource when it comes to not having to lug textbooks on the train if I want to refer to them during class.  I have linked my Simmons email up to my regular gmail account and can review important emails and send responses or replies from the train.  Occasionally, I do get a flashback of little Carolyn in fourth grade with her hardcopy of "The Island of the Blue Dolphins" or "Follow the Stars," and I wonder what she would think of all of this current technology. 

I know that a lot of people still prefer to read things in hardcover.  For a lot of books, I am the same way - while I'm reading on my computer I often lose focus and check Facebook or Reddit, and sometimes I yearn for the nostalgia of my paperback "Redwall."  But one of the recurring themes of library school is that you can hold out for as long as you like, but technology is taking over - and we are really stuck in the crosshairs, aren't we.  Sometimes I wonder if it's better to be all-digital, all-analog, or find a combination of the two.  The only thing I am sure of at the moment is that regardless of advances in the field of aviation, there will never be a day when I can't read a paper book during take off...and at the very least that constant is enough to leave the metaphysical questions for another day. 

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you still take notes with a pen and paper, and buy hardcover books?  Or have you entirely made the switch over to the digital world?

People | Technology | leave a comment


Confessions of a Kid Lit Fanboy

Let's talk about fandom. Surely, there is somebody out there whom all of you are dying to meet. Yet, you're probably also terrified of meeting this person, for fear of being tongue-tied, boring, or just all around beside yourselves (my grandmother, bless her heart, would use the phrase "tickled"). Well, a strange thing happened here at Simmons this semester: by some cosmic twist of fate, I am now taking a class from one of my heroes, Roger Sutton.

See, Roger doesn't know that I idolize him. He doesn't know that one of my biggest motivations to come to Boston was to someday be his intern (fingers crossed). He doesn't know that, on the first day of orientation last semester, when I found out he'd be teaching this class, my jaw literally dropped and I had to pick it up off the floor. He doesn't know that, that same day, I all-too-energetically ran to meet one of the members of his staff at The Horn Book. At least, I hope he doesn't know these things. And I hope that, by writing them here, I'm not shooting myself in the foot.

The children's book world is small and, as far as I'm told, it is a field dominated by women. Roger Sutton--like Brian Selznick, Gregory Maguire, and my all-time hero, Maurice Sendak--is someone who, by his very existence as a gay man in the field, showed me that, maybe just maybe, there might be a place for me in this small little world. Of course, Roger doesn't know this either. I don't want him to. But what he does know is my name. And that is enough for me. For now.

There's a delicate balance you must strike as a fan. You never want to come on too strong (i.e. "Roger, I WANT TO BE YOU give me a job at your magazine please and thank you!") but you also don't want to feign too much disinterest (i.e. "Yeah, your work's okay. I guess. I read an article once."). I think that what you really have to do is treat your idols as people because, in the end, that's all they really are. That's all anyone really is.

As I left class Tuesday night, I felt as though the fact that I was able to be among the giants in my life--if only for a little while--would make everything else worth it. I may have left my home behind. My boyfriend. My family. But this singular moment, sitting in that classroom and hearing an insider's stories of the publishing world, made everything worth it. No matter what happens in my future, I will know that I will always have Simmons. I will always remember these as the times I sat among giants and, more importantly, belonged.

I can't guarantee that you'll meet your hero at Simmons, but I can guarantee that--if only for a little while--you'll be among giants. As hokey as that may sound, I honestly believe it to be true.

Classes | People | leave a comment


Year in Review

Wow, what a whirlwind 2013 has been! It feels like yesterday I was starting my first class at GSLIS and now I am 2/3 of the way done with my degree. Instead of a usual post, this week I decided to follow the trend of year end blog posts and write a list of everything I've accomplished in 2013.

This year I:

  • Moved back to Boston and started the Simmons GSLIS program
  • Started writing for the Student Snippets blog
  • Experienced the horrible events of the Marathon Bombing with friends, classmates, and fellow Bostonians
  • Travelled to Rome with GSLIS and then visited Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary with an old friend
  • Visited Chicago for the first time and attended the American Library Association's Annual Conference
  • Spent a week in Northern Michigan with one of my best friends and her family
  • Started working as a Reference Assistant at the Norman Williams Public Library
  • Watched the Red Sox win the World Series!!!
  • Commuted between Boston and Vermont for four months without going (too) crazy
  • Started another job working for a local tech startup called Green Mountain Digital
  • Completed 8 out of 12 classes towards my degree (while getting a 4.0 this semester!) and I'm on track to be done by August 2014
  • Finally... I've read 97 books and am on track to finish 100 by the end of the year!

Whew! I'm exhausted just writing this out, its been quite a year. So far, GSLIS has been wonderful and so many doors have opened since I started this program. I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring! I couldn't have done any of this without the support of my friends and family who have dealt with my nonstop library talk and constantly evolving plans. I've really enjoyed chronicling my experiences at GSLIS through this blog and will continue to do so in the new year.

Have a happy and healthy holiday! See you in 2014!

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Two Years in the Life

On February 1, 2012, I applied to become a contributor to this GSLIS Admissions Blog by writing a post about my first two weeks at GSLIS and cutely calling it "Two Weeks in the Life." I just realized the post was never published; however, given that backstory I think it's fitting that this, my very last post, is about two years in the life - my whole GSLIS experience. Ok, here goes: In short, my GSLIS experience has been a success. Thank you, and goodbye.

Alright I guess I can do better than that, but feel free to peruse my past posts if you really want all of the gory details. It would be silly for me to try to capture two years of classes, assignments, jobs, internships, volunteering, and life into one post. That post would be obscenely long and essentially defeat the purpose of two years of (mostly) weekly blog posts. You know how people say the journey is more important than the destination? Think of this final post as the destination and all the other ones as the journey. (I try to avoid clichés, but that one seems inevitable.)

Looking back, I probably would have forgotten many of my GSLIS-related experiences, thoughts, and sentiments were it not for my blog posts. Even if no one ever bothered to read a single post, this blog has aptly documented my GSLIS journey (lame, but again inevitable). Some posts were forced, some were better than others, and a few were bizarre, but they all in some way or another reflect my two years as a GSLIS student. In fact, my GSLIS experience could be loosely described as such: sometimes forced (required classes that I did not particularly enjoy, assignments I wasn't really into), some things better than others (good and not-so-good classes, good and not-as-good jobs and internships), and some things that were just bizarre (taking a class that lasted one week instead of an entire semester, realizing that I didn't want to work in a library). After all that and much more, two weeks in the life morphed into two years in the life, and yours truly is ready to move on.

In short, my GSLIS experience has been a success. Thank you, and goodbye.

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Confessions of a Book-Loving Librarian

I have a confession to make, I wanted to become a librarian because I love books. Shocking, I know. If you are new to the profession this may not seem odd, of course librarians love books. However, one of the first things I learned when entering the library world is that books are far from the main focus. In fact, librarians are actively trying to work against the misconception that working in a library means sitting around and reading all day. Alas, part of me wishes that were the case, but in the short time since I began work in a public library I have spent maybe thirty minutes of work time reading.

That said, the larger part of me is glad to have discovered that working in a library involves so much more than helping patrons find books. Although reader's advisory and chatting with patrons about their latest reads are among my favorite parts of working in a small library, I like the tricky reference questions much more. To be successful in this profession, you need an inner drive to keep searching until you find the right/best information, something that can be challenging in the age of Google.

Don't get me wrong, I like Google as much as the next person, okay, probably more than the next person, but I now know that instant search results barely scratch the surface of all the available information. Way back in January, my reference professor told our class "most people can find most of what they need most of the time, our job is to be there for the really tough questions." I love this mentality and really thrive on finding answers that require more thought and investigation than a quick Google search. Along this line, I love being the person that changes someone's stereotype about libraries and librarians. We are about so much more than books.

I used to be hesitant about adopting the latest technology and certainly did not see myself as an ambassador for new resources, but I've changed in the last year. I started at GSLIS just twelve short months ago and I cannot believe how far I have come. I'm now more excited than ever to see where this profession will take me. I'm one assignment away from a well deserved break and then it's back to the grind for one last semester as a full time student!

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Allison Driscoll

It's that time of year. The end of the semester when I feature one of my favorite classmates from the semester. As usual, I can't resist the intelligent dual degree children's lit and library science people. Allison was in my storytelling class and she blew us all away the first day with her interpretation of Don Coyote and the Burro. Please meet the lovely and talented Allison Driscoll...

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Q: What made you choose the dual degree Children's lit and LIS program?

A: I'd thought for a long time that I'd like to be a librarian, because I could see myself being satisfied doing it for a long time. Still, I held off on applying to any programs because I was hesitant to invest time and money into something if I wasn't 100% positive about it. Then I found out Simmons had a dual-degree program, and I immediately started getting my application together. I've always loved children's lit, and the idea of spending time with others who felt as strongly about it was really the last push I needed. I would say it was one of the best decisions I've made to date!

Q:  What is the biggest challenge when it comes to approaching children's literature and YA literature from two different perspectives?

A: Speaking from a pragmatic standpoint, I've struggled with the divide between children's and YA when doing Readers' Advisory. Discovering a patron's reading level and level of emotional maturity is hard enough, and finding the right book to suit both of those levels gets even trickier when you take into account children's and YA labels. The best advice I've received is to ignore the labels and try to listen above all else to what the patron is telling you he or she wants.

Q: If you could have any job after Simmons what would it be and where would it be?

A: I'm working right now in a youth room at a public library north of Boston and it's the best job I've ever had. After I graduate, I will probably be trying to find a similar position in a new city. To me, the best part of being a librarian is that no two days are the same, and that is especially true when it comes to working with kids. You can never know what to expect when talking to children, and I'm looking forward to a career being surprised by them every day.

Q: What's the best class you've taken at Simmons so far?

A: I could spend hours debating myself over this question! I don't have a real answer, because (with the exception of one or two classes which I will not name) at the end of every semester I've wished that I could take those classes again.

Q: If you had a super power what would it be? Would you use that power for good or evil?

A: Teleportation, definitely. I'd never have to sit in traffic, and I could pop over to other libraries when a patron wanted a book that had been checked out.

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Okay Google Now...

I need to talk about Google.  Most librarians have a love/hate relationship with Google as it is such a useful tool, the ultimate federated search, but also often perceived to be the biggest threat to our job security.

With my last tuition payment this month (cheers all around!), I celebrated by finally joining the smartphone world.  I opted for a Motorola Droid phone as they have good antennas and I live in the boonies, and I expected to love being able to check email and have a really nice camera with me at all times.  I did not expect to fall in love with its excellent voice recognition software and my ability to ask Google whatever I wanted to know. 

I remember when a computer with far less processing ability than my little phone would literally fill a room, so I am enthralled with the power in this little device.  My favorite feature is "Okay Google, now..." which allows me to ask it anything. 

Gasp!  A librarian who is having an affair with Google.... We librarians need to get over ourselves and applaud any efforts that make information more accessible. We don't need to feel threatened as truth is, Google is a great FIRST step in gathering information, and it is awesome for ready reference questions like "Okay Google now...how long is the Golden Gate Bridge?"  We don't need a master's degree to answer that question now, nor did we in the age of print encyclopedias. The world does, however, need all our librarian skills to conduct useful searches on more in-depth topics, whether on freely available internet sources or through subscription databases or through WorldCat, the world's online catalog (which still gives me goose bumps when I think about it.).

I recently joined a faculty member on a busy reference shift at UMass, where students sought our help when their basic Google searches didn't quite give them what they needed. That's right, they came to us.

The daringlibrarian.com recently posted:

 librarian quote.png

Point taken.  I really don't think we have to worry.

Libraries | People | leave a comment


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.

Conferences | People | leave a comment


I might sound like your mother, but...

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I am old enough to be your mother, so it's okay.

I know you are so busy that the thought of giving your time away might seem near impossible.  Like many of you, I have a job, a home, a family, and of course, school. We are all in different stages of our lives, and so some of us have a cat, others a spouse.  Many of us have kids - ranging from the tiny squirming variety to adult children, and everything in between.  We rent apartments, live with our parents and own homes.  We commute minutes and hours, and we are so tired and busy.  I know what you are thinking. "I don't have time to volunteer."

I got my first library job in recent years by volunteering at the library first, and then working my way up as positions became available. I volunteered in a prison library and found my passion to be a correctional librarian.  But I am revisiting this topic (I have mentioned it in previous blogs...) because Tuesday night, I ran into a young man who had, several months ago, asked me about library school.  He is 24, about the same age as many of you, and he had worked a little in his college library, was living at home with his parents, and struggling with what to do.  My advice to him was "Try out some libraries by volunteering in them.  It makes for good resume lines and it gives you a risk-free opportunity to see what you like.  And it might even land you a great job."

So, he did.  First, he volunteered with me at the public library.  Then he moved on to the archive of a local college.  He really liked the college, he told me, and so when a very part-time (4 hours a week!) position came open, he applied and got the job.  They knew him, liked his work, and he knew he wanted to work there.  A short time later, a sudden staff departure opened up a night circulation position for 20 hours a week, and he got that job.  Now he is getting great experience and saving for library school. Win, win.

So, even if you don't listen to your own mother, consider listening to this mother. Try a library on for size and find your passion.

Archives | Libraries | People | leave a comment


Five Things I Have Learned Joining GSLIS

Before I packed up the family car with dad to drive up to Boston for school, my mom decided to impart some advice for me to mull over during the course of my four and half hour long car ride. She said "Keep your mind open, everyday you are going to be learning something new, in and out of school." I've got to give my mom a hand; she doesn't normally offer such thought-provoking advice. However, since I was unable to go back home to Long Island for the Jewish high holidays, I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately, especially what she said to me two weeks ago. So, for my first official blog post for GSLIS, I've created a list of the top five things that I have learned since becoming a member of GSLIS.

*The following is in no particular order and can probably apply to the experiences of students outside of the GSLIS program*

Moodle is your best friend: Although this seems like an obvious one, Moodle is a resource that should not be taken for granted. Not only is this the website where we have to upload our assignments, but course readings, syllabi, power point presentations, and other resources and be found there as well.  Basically, everything you need to succeed at school can be found, to a degree, on Moodle. If you haven't done so already, take a few minutes and explore your Moodle page; who knows what academic goodies you might find.

Love the library; they are there for you. Seriously: For those of you who have had the pleasure to meet Linda Watkins, I think we all can agree that she perfectly encapsulates all the amazing things a library can do when administered by a dedicated staff. While I am sure all students who are part of GSLIS already respect and appreciate the library as an institution of knowledge, I implore you, take advantage of the Beatley Library and its devoted staff. They aren't just there to check out our books.

Bring a sweater if you have class in the Palace Road Building.  You are going to need it: While it has been very nice to sit in a cool room during these obnoxiously hot days we've been having lately, let's just be honest here, those rooms are COLD. Be smart, bring a sweater with you to class, especially if you are like me and get cold very easily. Trust me, having that sweater will really make the difference.

Your GSLIS classmates are the friendliest classmates you probably have ever had: Perhaps this is just a GSLIS thing, but every student in the program is super friendly. Be it in the classroom or on Moodle, there always seems to be an interesting conversation going on, and everyone is invited to join in. It seems that even though we have all come to GSLIS for different reasons, deep down, we all have shared connections one way or another, be it in TV shows, movies and books, hobbies, academic pursuits, or that we simply share the same commuter route. And no, I am not just saying this to promote the program; this is a legit fact and it makes this experience all the more awesome!

The professors are fantastic. Nuff said: Just like the staff members over at Beatley Library, the faculty members in GSLIS are not just here to lecture for three hours; they are here for US. Personally, having an approachable professor is one of those things that is an absolute must for me, How am I supposed to succeed if the professor won't take time to listen and answer my questions? From what I have experienced so far, I can honestly say that that won't be a problem here. Trust me, you can never go wrong when an enthusiastic professor can manage to keep your attention for three hours despite it being 9am.

So that's my list. If you think that there is something that I missed, leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear other students' (and not just the new ones) stories about their experiences with GSLIS. 

Classes | GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Teaching in the Library

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I want to talk about librarians as teachers, and I don't mean librarians in schools.  I mean librarians everywhere.

I have encountered many academic librarians who talk about teachable moments at the reference desk.  I have had many teachable moments in the public library, too, and in the prison library.  Teachable moments come in different varieties, just like patrons.  Some of my recent "students" include: 

  • An older gentleman who reminisces about the old card catalog and hasn't a clue how to search and find on the OPAC.
  • A ten year old girl who wants to know if we have more books "like this," as she holds up her latest read.
  • A teenage boy who is watching Under the Dome on TV and wants to know if we have King's novel on CD...and while he is here, what other Stephen King books do we have?
  • An inmate who wants the next book in a Science fiction series.
  • A middle-aged woman who has gone back to school and wants to learn how to use our databases.
  • A homeschooling mom who needs some guidance on choosing appropriate history curriculum materials.
  • A new colleague who needs to learn how to navigate our website from the administrator side.
  • A retired professor who needs to know if I can get an obscure title on inter-library loan.

All these requests were teachable moments, times when instruction in information literacy had the power to connect a reader with his book at that moment but also in the future.  Taking the time to give instruction, not just answers, is the greatest gift we give our patrons.  Even if you don't plan to work in a school or an academic library, you may find yourself doing instruction at the point of need or creating web tutorials or suddenly giving eReader classes.  I can't say enough about the benefits of the User Instruction class I took over the summer.  I thought I knew how to teach my patrons, but now, using what I learned, I can feel the energy as my patrons become empowered.  Excitement in the library!  Who knew?

Libraries | People | leave a comment


Last Semester Blues

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I started the GSLIS program in January 2012, and with the completion of my three courses this semester, I will have finished my degree program.  Woohoo!  Well, mostly woohoo.

I think I have the last semester blues.  I know that sounds totally ridiculous.  I will be done with homework, done with long class commutes, done with tuition, and I will have my MLIS, which will hopefully be my ticket to the job of my dreams.  What in the world am I sad about?!

I think I am more afraid than anything. Will it be too easy not to learn new things?  Will I get tired, complacent and frumpy?  Will I turn into deadwood? Will I stay committed to knowing what I need to know to be the best librarian I can be?

I know these fears are unfounded.  I will never stop learning with so many opportunities for continuing education through Simmons and ALA, and other LIS universities like Syracuse (where I am taking a WISE course this semester). I even have my eye on a second Master's degree program.  I have to believe that if I continue to surround myself with inspiring colleagues, I will not get tired in a bad way.  Tired from hard work is fine, but not too tired for new ideas, and I hope never to tire of change.  Already, I have networked with other librarians in my state and fostered professional relationships so opportunities for connections and sharing of ideas and resources outside of grad school are well underway. So, why am I still worried?

My latest concerns remind me of my list of fears when I started the program.  Would I develop the technology skills I needed? Would I be able to balance work, school, and family, etc.? Those fears were unnecessary and symptomatic of a big step outside my comfort zone.  Every chapter of our lives brings new challenges.  My comfort zone is so much wider than it was just two years ago, which is just amazing to me, and yet, finishing my degree and moving on to the real world is another big step. 

I bought a new coffee mug to help me out. It reads, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." It is okay to be afraid of that next big step, so long as we take it anyway.

Classes | GSLIS | People | leave a comment


The Library Lady

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All stereotypes come from somewhere. This, we all know to be true. How many of us, though, work with all of our might to confound the stereotype when it comes to being a librarian? I believe that many of us do. We despise the stereotype that all librarians are surly wenches with their hair wound so tight it seems as if it never gets let down. We counter that librarians are a force for positive change in this world of information overload, not the gatekeepers of dusty, musty books. Then I ask you why, why oh why does every librarian I know own a cat?! Now, before I am pegged as the cat-hater in GSLIS let me first just say that I myself just got a kitty at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Her name is Eva. She jumps on my face. She naps on my tummy and her arch nemesis is a ball of tin foil I rolled off the counter a few nights ago. I am quite the opposite of the naysayer. In fact, I'm loving this particular stereotype. But the question I posed earlier is still festering: Why are we, as a profession, drawn to cats? Why do cats go so well with books and moreover, technology? Every time I turn a page I know Eva is ready to pounce. My ipad is a source of constant fascination for her. And don't even get me started on how she began pulling books off the shelf last night (she picks out King Lear, A Raisin in the Sun, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). I'm bumfuzzled! I bring this question up mainly because it's something to ponder as we go through our time here at GSLIS. What about the stereotype of our profession is just plain wrong, and what is just plain FABULOUS! Nothing is ever black and white, and I'm sure one day I will find a librarian without a cat. But until that day arrives just think about it: How will you confound expectations? How will you deliver way more than is expected of you by a patron? How will you embrace some of that stereotype and just dance like a kitty cat!

GSLIS | People | leave a comment


Winter is Coming

I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones on June 22 as an escape from the afternoon heat in Washington, DC. Fast-forward 24 hours, and I had watched five more. The only thing stopping me from completing the entire ten-episode season by dinnertime on June 23 was my flight back to Boston. I hurried home from the airport and immediately went to my library's webpage to request Seasons One and Two on DVD. When I saw that there were 100-something holds on 90-something copies of each season (my library is part of a network of libraries in the greater Boston area, hence the large numbers), I added myself to both hold lists and vowed to start reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the Game of Thrones television show is based.

It didn't take long to become so immersed in the books that I forgot about the queue for the DVDs. The novels initially intimidated me, as there are currently five (with two more forthcoming) that are each over 800 pages long and weigh as much as three pounds. I considered getting them on my Kindle, but while reading the first book in print I was often flipping back to earlier chapters (there are several plotlines) or forward to the appendices containing detailed family trees (there are many characters), so I decided to stick with print. That way, my brain could better process everything that was happening and my arms would get a modest workout.

Last Tuesday I hit the Game of Thrones jackpot, as the fifth book and (finally) Season One DVD arrived at the library with my name on them. That very night I watched the first three episodes, and was cursing the fact that I had evening commitments for the remainder of the week and would be out of town all weekend. But after waiting over six weeks for the DVD, waiting six days between episodes seems manageable. Plus, I have the fifth book to provide my daily fix while commuting. In short, Game of Thrones has kind of taken over my summer.

I would not have characterized Game of Thrones as a mild addiction until I realized that I had read the first four books, totaling over 3,200 pages, in six weeks and felt like a lottery winner when I snagged the Season One DVD off the hold shelf. My biggest concern, however, is what to do while I await the next installments. The sixth book is rumored to be published sometime in 2014 and Season Three comes to DVD on February 18, and my goal is to be first on the library hold list for both. I have considered reading the first five books again to really etch them into memory, but I think my arms might need a bit of a break. Moreover, winter is coming, along with classes, homework, and job applications - all distractions from my addiction, but likely not enough to fully silence the sweet melody of A Song of Ice and Fire that has been playing on repeat in my head.

People | Relaxing | leave a comment


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