Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Building Foundations

We are a few weeks into the semester, so it seems like a good time to reflect.

Making it Work

This is probably a good time to talk about my workload and plans for time management. I have chosen to take two classes each semester, and attend during each of the spring, fall, and summer terms. That should allow me to finish the required 36 credits (two 3-credit courses per semester) in two years (six semesters). I’m pacing myself this way because I also work 37.5 hours a week (9 to 5:30) at a law firm in downtown Boston, in the records management department. This semester, I am taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-8:50pm, and my boss has agreed to let me leave at 5pm on those days so that I can make it to Simmons on time.

As the semester goes on, I will learn how to balance my homework and spread it out through the week. My professors also have listed the entire semester’s readings on their syllabuses, in case I want to get ahead. My strategy once the semester picks up will be to read during at least four of the five days at work, during my lunch break (four days, with about 45 minutes, gives me three hours easily). My commute between work and home right now is unfortunately a little hectic (I jump from a bus to a train and am usually standing) so I can’t do much work there; however, two nights a week I will be taking the train from Simmons to Lechmere, which gives me another hour to study.

Working remotely is essential, and I am hoping to minimize the amount of paper I use. My main tool for reading is my Amazon Kindle Fire 6. It fits in my hand and was only $80, so I feel comfortable taking it anywhere. I’ve downloaded .pdfs of all my readings, and sorted them into “collections.” My Kindle lets me read and highlight the .pdf, and I take handwritten notes in a notebook or type them into a Word document.

amy-blog1.jpgScreenshot from my Kindle
I’m also purchasing an 11 inch MacBook Air from Apple, to replace my old white MacBook from 2010. It’s been awesome and has never given me a reason to doubt it, but it’s definitely slowing down and I am afraid to risk its dying mid-semester. It’s also pretty heavy and would be a hassle to lug around to work and class. Between these two portable devices, plus my phone’s hotspot capability, I should be able to work from almost anywhere. I have even been able to get some reading done on the beach at Spectacle Island!

amy-blog2.jpgBoston Harbor – the view from Spectacle Island 
Even with all this helpful technology, I know that none of this will be easy. It helps when the topics are interesting and enjoyable, but I know that won’t always happen; it also helps when you live with an awesome and supportive boyfriend who makes late night dinners and picks you up from school. He also built me these amazing shelves for my study nook, when I need to get things done.

Class: Foundations 

My Thursday class is one of the core requirements for all Library and Information Science Students at Simmons; it’s called LIS 401: Foundations in Library and Information Science. It’s heavy on theory but my professor, Laura Saunders, also assured us that there will be plenty of practical discussion as well.I can already tell that our discussions will be very lively, and that this is going to be my favorite class this semester.  Our readings for the first week totaled 47 pages, and some weeks we will also have assignments due. Sometimes we will have to respond in the online discussion forums, and our first paper, “Transforming LIS,” was due September 24th.

Laura Saunders also teaches another course I have mentioned, ‘Radical Librarianship.’ I am looking forward to some of those themes being incorporated into our class, and this weekend’s reading did not disappoint. The longest and most interesting article (27 pages) was definitely ‘Trippin over the color line,‘ by Todd Honma (2005) as it challenged the idea that libraries are centers of intellectual democracy and egalitarian academic engagement, and instead argues that libraries were central institutions in the process of assimilating and whitewashing American immigrants. The democratic vision historically excluded those who were considered less eligible for citizenship, i.e. persons of color. Honma also criticizes the library industry, where whiteness has been cast as normative and the underlying sources of racism are not addressed; instead, a narrative of ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ has recently taken shape, celebrating the presence of black bodies as tokens of progress but never truly facing the problem that white and western sources of knowledge are still privileged in the library space. Ultimately, Honma argues that librarians ought to take up a truly democratic mantle by fighting on the side of the oppressed rather than complying with (and acting as agents of) the oppressors.

Here is a snippet of this exciting article:

In short, LIS needs to embrace a “revolutionary multiculturalism” which McLaren (2003) defines as “a socialist-feminist multiculturalism that challenges the historically sedimented processes through which race, class, and gender identities are produced within capitalist society….[and is] dedicated to reconstituting the deep structures of political economy, culture, and power in contemporary social arrangements…[and] rebuilding the social order from the vantage point of the oppressed.’

I will definitely be re-reading this article, and will probably be thinking about it long after! Who would have thought that LIS could be so engaging?