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

Mentorship in the Massachusetts Library Association

One of the biggest assets to the Simmons Library Science program is being able to make connections outside of the program, surprisingly enough. Because Simmons is so widely recognized in Boston and New England as a highly ranked library program, many organizations form partnerships with the university. One of the partnerships I’ve benefited from is with the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) and their mentorship program. I got an email about the program several months ago, and I’ve been working closely with MLA, the “Up Close and Personal” Mentorship program, and my delightful mentor. There are a few aspects of this program that I find unique and highly beneficial to my library praxis, so I’ll go through them here.

First, the program set me up with my mentor, who works at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (BB&N), an independent school in Cambridge. I hadn’t heard about this school until I met my mentor; it is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Harvard. Their motto is “honestas litterae comitas,” which means “honor scholarship kindness.” The school prioritizes these qualities in their lower school (grades K-6), middle school (7-8), and upper school (9-12). Learning from someone who is in such a unique learning environment and position has taught me so much, and has also pushed my mental boundaries of what a school library teacher does.

My mentor and I have done things from job shadowing to interview prep to having deep ethical discussions, and I’ve even been able to work on establishing a partnership between Simmons ScoSAA and the BB&N archivist. I’ve learned the most valuable lessons from being dropped into situations and asking as many questions as I can, and this out-of-class experience has shown me what a career in school libraries can look like.

Second, the mentorship program gives me the opportunity to attend MLA committee meetings and professional development workshops. I’ve been lucky enough to attend programming workshops led by an MLA leader, where participants talk about the programming run in our libraries and how we can engage our communities. So far, it’s been a great way to start my Thursday mornings feeling inspired and motivated. I’ve also attended Program Planning Section meetings for both adult and children’s librarians. Although a lot of these meetings involve going over organizational business and planning upcoming events, it is valuable for me to see how these organizations are run. Finally, I go to meetings with the other library science students that chose to be in the mentorship program. We talk about how things are going with our mentors, school, our jobs, and what we’ve been reading. It is great to feel a connection with Simmons students that I might not have engaged with otherwise.

Third, the “Up Close and Personal” program is sponsoring me to go to the MLA conference in May. I will be able to attend one day for free, and I applied for a scholarship to go to the second day for free as well. I’ve gone to quite a few conferences and events like this since I started at Simmons, but I haven’t gone to a state level conference yet. This event is in Cape Cod, one of my favorite parts of the state, and I will hopefully be able to go with some friends and/or my partner. I am very excited to learn, network, be by the ocean, and enjoy the last weekend before finals are due. As you can see, this MLA program is fantastic and I encourage any Simmons students to get involved with it. There is a focus on programming, but any librarian in a front-facing position would benefit from doing this program. Keep an eye out for next year’s application!