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

Alison Mitchell

I’m a first-year student at SLIS, and excited to be back in school in my 40s! I live in Somerville, MA with my husband and two daughters, where I attempt to balance family, school and work. I’ve worked on political campaigns, as an attorney, in communications in state government, as a freelance writer for the Department of Public Health, and as a sub in a public library (the most fun I’ve ever had at work!). I like to read, sew and knit, and enjoy teaching my kids to do all those things. After SLIS, I hope to work in a public library.



Entries by Alison Mitchell

  • Flexibility

    One thing I like about being an older student is that I have some flexibility.  I’m not trying to finish SLIS super fast to get a job or move somewhere else — my job and family are already here.  I can take my time with the program and get what I want out of it.  Since I have two kids in elementary school, that flexibility is pretty important to me.  When I entered Simmons, I expected to take three years to finish the program — two classes each semester (instead of the traditional three) and no classes in the summer, since my kids would be out of school.  It seemed like a good plan.  Then I took a three-credit short course late last spring, which put me ahead of where I expected to be.  Suddenly, I had options — should I take another short course and graduate a semester earlier than I’d planned?  Should I take only one course some semester, and pick up additional work hours?  Which brings me to the upcoming semester.  As…

  • Talk to your advisor!

    SLIS assigns each student an academic advisor at the beginning of the program.  As part of 401, students have to meet with their advisors to talk about course plans and get certain paperwork signed.  I remember meeting my advisor last fall, having a pleasant conversation, and moving on.  At the time, I probably thought that was our first and last meeting, since I knew what classes I wanted to take and what I wanted to do after SLIS.  I probably even thought, I’m a grown-up, how much advising do I need? Plenty, it turns out.  I’m struggling a little bit, attitude-wise, this semester, and wasn’t feeling inspired by any of the classes offered in the spring.  In a last ditch effort to save my attitude, I sent an email to my advisor.  I outlined my lack of enthusiasm and quickly had an appointment with her for the following week. That appointment was yesterday, and all I can say is that I’m really glad we met. She had some ideas for courses that I hadn’t considered,…

  • Confession

    Here’s a confession.  Sometimes I forget I’m in school. This morning, a friend asked me how school was going, and I launched into a story about a conversation I had with my older daughter’s teacher.  My friend listened politely, then said “I mean your school.” Right.  I’m in school. It’s kind of hard to believe I could forget about it, since my assignments and deadlines are always on my mind.  But right now school seems a little more abstract than it has other semesters.  Part of it is that I’m not physically on campus as much as I have been in the past.  I’m taking one online course and one evening course, so I’m only there Thursday nights.  Part of it is that my kids need a little more attention this fall, both physically (I drive the two of them to more gymnastics practices than I thought humanly possible) and emotionally (one is feeling the stress of a harder grade and more classroom work this year, and the other just likes to tell me every….

  • Family Reading

    As a mom, and as a librarian, I’ve never underestimated the importance of family reading.  We read all the time!  But twice recently I experienced the importance of reading out loud to kids. This summer, my husband grabbed a bunch of chapter books from a “free” box on the street.  One was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which I remembered fondly from my own childhood.  I gave it to my 9-year-old, who is an advanced, eager reader.  For whatever reason, she couldn’t get into it, and she was super upset.  I said I’d read it with her, which turned into me reading it out loud to both kids, which was great.  What a super book, with all sorts of vocabulary and concepts to discuss.    I’m taking Children’s Collections this semester, and had to read 37 picture books for one class meeting.  Sure, I could have sat down at the library where I work and read them all in an hour, but instead I checked them out, brought them home and read them…

  • Was it the Right Move?

    I’m over 40.  I have two kids and a husband.  Our lives are busy and messy and crazy and good. And last year I made them busier and messier and crazier and better by starting my master’s at SLIS. Is it hard? Yes. Was it the right move? Definitely. Going to school and working (I work part-time in a public library) and parenting and keeping the house from falling apart is a challenge, I won’t lie.  But I love being a librarian, and love that the SLIS program is preparing me for actual library work.  It’s a practical degree — every class I’ve taken includes real life, relevant information that I can apply immediately at work.  It’s a fun degree — classes and projects are interesting.  The program is a lot of work — much more than I expected at the beginning, and every semester I have to remind myself that I’ll have a lot of reading!  A lot of assignments!  A lot of group projects!  Even more group projects!  A how-on-earth-could-I-have-another-group-project amount of group…

  • Nope, Not in a Routine Yet

    It’s technically the third week of classes at SLIS, and I am definitely not in a routine yet. My kids are only in their first full week of school and gymnastics, so I’m not completely clear about their rhythm, which means I’m also not completely clear about my rhythm.  I’m taking two classes — 481, Children’s Collections, which meets Thursday evenings (my first evening class!), and 407, Reference, which I’m taking online and has significant work due every Tuesday night.  Because of some one-time scheduling issues, I’m a bit behind this week — I’m not the type who enjoys doing work due Tuesday on Tuesday, but that’s what’s happening right now!  Hopefully I’ll get it all straightened out this week, and by next week be on a better schedule for schoolwork. And I have full confidence that the kids will get themselves straightened out.  They have excellent teachers, love their classrooms and enjoy gymnastics, so as long as I get them where they need to be when they need to be there, with snacks, we…

  • Back to School

    It’s September, which means it’s back-to-school time.  And in my family, three of the four of us return to school (my husband continues on as a lawyer, without the seasonal changes of second grade, fourth grade or library school).  Last year, my daughters and I all started on the same day, and it was kind of crazy.  This year, we start at different times, and it’s still kind of crazy.  That’s the way it is, I’ve learned, when you’re both a parent and a student. I know what to expect this year, though, and that will make things so much easier.  I know that my classes will be a lot of work, but that the work will all get done.  I know there will be times that I really need to work on something for school, but a family matter will take precedence (and that the work will still get done).  I know that I will feel older than my classmates (because I am), but that there are other SLIS students who are parents and…

  • Vacation Library

    My family is on vacation, somewhere we go every summer, and when we’re here, we (of course) frequent the fabulous local public library.  My kids love the children’s room — in addition to a great collection and lots of cozy places to read, it has a corner with a bookcase of board games, another corner with a bin of dress up clothes, and innovative programming.  I love the friendly staff and collection that’s just different enough from our library at home to be interesting. I find it pretty hilarious to see how our borrowing changes while on vacation.   The other day, my  kids wanted a movie, and I said yes (at home, I definitely would have said no to Shrek the Halls in August).  Last summer, I ended up checking out practically an entire shelf of DIY books, somehow inspired by being away from home (my talents run more to knitting and sewing — DIY never works out that well for me).   We also get many books from the “local interest” section, something we don’t…

  • Future Librarian?

    Last week, my kids came to visit me at work.  I think all kids get a huge thrill out of seeing where their parents spend time when they’re — gasp — not actually with the kids, but I really can’t imagine many better workplaces to visit a parent than the children’s department of a public library. The girls had a great time.  My almost-7-year-old formed an immediate bond with one of our high school pages, and they had a lovely time reading Officer Buckle and Gloria together.  Both girls went to Story Time, and even though it happened to be Toddler Story Time, they enjoyed the songs, books and craft project.  They were happy, I was happy.  It was a good visit. The best part of the visit, though, might be the fact that my 9-year-old organized the library’s entire Erin Hunter collection.  She arranged the books by category (Warriors, Seekers, Survivors), then subsection (Dawn of the Clans, Omen of the Stars, etc.), and then book order.   For those of you who are not familiar…

  • One School, One Book?

     I recently finished The Martian by Andy Weir for “Somerville Reads”/One City One Book, and it was fabulous.  Actually, I’ll admit that in the beginning, I thought it was just OK.  However, right about the time I thought “I don’t think I can read 300 pages of this,”  the perspective of the story changed, a whole bunch of new characters were introduced, and it really took off.  Excellent, excellent book.  Seriously — more than one night I’ve fallen asleep imagining that the characters were real people and wondering how the United States would respond if the situation in the book really happened. (Side note: I’ll get to continue my fantasy with the characters, since the movie version of the book is coming out soon — starring Matt Damon!)  Anyway, back to the point.  My family has really enjoyed One City One Book here in Somerville.   A few years ago, my husband won a Vietnam War-era trivia contest based on when we read The Things They Carried.  Last year, we read Dark Tide, and our local…

  • Outside the Box

    Between working in a public library children’s department, getting my master’s at SLIS, and hanging around with my kids and their friends, I spend a lot of time talking about, thinking about and witnessing children reading. For eager readers, there are limitless options for books to read, stories to write, and vocabulary to learn. For more reluctant readers, it might help to think outside the box.  Lately, I’ve seen hesitant readers fall in love with the following: Poetry.  Specifically, Shel Silverstein.  His poems are short enough to not be intimidating, and interesting enough to encourage kids to stick with challenging words.  Drawings help pull readers into the text.  And– bonus! — people of all ages find Shel Silverstein hilarious. Graphic Novels.  Even though there are plenty of Early Readers with the same number of words on a page and pictures to help you follow the story, something about the graphic format really captures reluctant readers.  I love anything published by Toon, and, for older readers, Raina Telgemeier’s fabulous books and El Deafo by Cece Bell….

  • The Funny and the Serious

    Happy Summer!  Two links today, one to make you laugh and one to make you think. Laugh: Librarian Problems.  My favorite might be “watching patrons try to find things in the collection after shifting,” especially the comment “watching the rest of the staff after you shifted.”  Um, yes, that was me. Think: The Library News.  A great collection of articles.  Unsurprisingly, several of these have appeared in my Facebook feed from other sources, and it’s nice to have them all in one place. Enjoy!

  • Well, that was fast.

    I just submitted the final assignment for LIS-505, Reader’s Advisory.  Hurrah! LIS-505 was a two-week class, and by that I mean a full three-credit class jammed into two weeks.  We read eight novels from different genres, about 20 articles on different aspects of reader’s advisory, book selection, leading discussion groups and genre fiction, completed three assignments and gave an in-class presentation.  I’m not going to lie — it was a lot of work in a short period of time.  But it was fun work, interesting work, and I enjoyed the professor, classmates, readings and assignments. I did not enjoy the timeframe so much.  It turns out that I really like to take my time with assignments.  I guess I knew this, but taking a two-week class really made it clear.  Usually, I write a first draft well before the assignment is due, and revise it considerably until the day before the due date, and then try to submit early, which is essentially impossible in a two-week timeframe.  However, every once in a while it’s good…

  • Exploring Options, SLIS Style

    When I enrolled at SLIS, I was sure that I would take all my classes on campus, in person.  That was the whole point of going to grad school, right?  I wanted to meet my professors, form relationships with my classmates, ask questions and have face to face conversations.  Then, for family and scheduling reasons, I ended up taking an online class this past semester.  While I still prefer on campus classes and face-to-face interactions, I now appreciate the great flexibility online classes provide, and I’m actually taking another one in the fall.  I was also pretty sure I’d take all my classes during the traditional fall and spring semesters.  A friend of mine, who also went through Simmons when her kids were in Elementary school, shared horror stories of the shortened, intense summer semester — “that’s when my kids learned to cook their own meals, since all I did was study.”  However — and I think you know where I’m going — I’m about to start a 2-week “short course.”  It meets every day…

  • Link Roundup

    Here’s a wrap-up of library- and book-related links people have sent me recently.  As I’ve said before, no one ever did this when I practiced law or worked in state government… TIME’s 100 Best Children’s Books.  I like all kinds of “best” lists, mostly because it’s fun to see what other people think is “best” and how that relates to my personal idea of “best.”  This list is pretty comprehensive, but I don’t love the format (you have to click for each book, the Time banner obscures the top of each title, and every few books you’re stopped for an ad — what’s up with that, Time?).  Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2014.  You’ve probably seen this list, originally from the ALA’s most recent State of America’s Libraries report.  The ones I haven’t read are definitely going on my summer reading list.  Boo, censorship! Library Partnership.  A friend teaches an online course for high school history teachers that focuses on using primary sources in the classroom. One of her students is involved in this…

  • LibraryThing, My New Love

    There’s a lot to love about libraries, and there is definitely a lot to love about LibraryThing. Maybe some people knew about this fabulous program before SLIS, but I didn’t.  When Candy Schwartz assigned a small LibraryThing project in 415 my first semester, my mind was basically blown.  Oh, the possibilities! This semester, I used an assignment in 488 to do what I really wanted with LibraryThing, creating a website that weaves book recommendations through my personal and professional background. As part of the project, I cataloged over 400 children’s, adult fiction and nonfiction books with basic tags that I plan to refine over time.  I’m only inputting books that I’d actually recommend to someone else — believe me, there were many that didn’t make the cut.  I went through our library history, my old journals, all our bookshelves, fifteen years of my book club booklists, and my older daughter’s near-encyclopedic knowledge of everything she’s ever read.  What a trip down memory lane. Even better than the fun of cataloging the books is the fact…

  • My Vote is Split

    I am a student at SLIS.  I have two young children.  They take a lot of time and attention.  I am their primary caregiver.  My first two semesters at SLIS, I intentionally scheduled classes and schoolwork in such a way that it barely impacted my kids.  Everything was done while they were at (their) school.  Even my library shifts are primarily during their school hours, and a grandparent typically picks them up when I work later.  Things are much easier for me when the girls’ schedule isn’t disrupted. Not so much from now on.  I’m pretty much done with required courses, which are offered at a variety of days and times each semester.  From now on, I’ll be taking classes that are only offered once a semester, or even once every other semester (or even once every two years, but I don’t even want to think about that).  This means that I have very little choice as to when I go to school, and my kids’ schedule will now depend on my schedule, instead of…

  • Books: 2015, 1st Quarter

    As I’ve written before, I keep a log of all the books I read.  I don’t really do anything with the list, though.  Occasionally I’ll have trouble remembering an author or title and it comes in handy, but it’s more just something I do for no particular reason. At the beginning of this year, I read Jessamyn West’s blog post about the way she tracks her reading, and decided to give it a try.  A cursory look back at 2014 made me think that my reading was pretty evenly distributed between male/female authors, fiction/nonfiction, and authors of color (the categories she tracks).  So, for the first three months of 2015, I tracked all that information, sure I would come out with a diverse, inclusive list. I was kind of wrong, and kind of surprised about that. Here’s what I read in January, February and March 2015: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer Not That Kind of…

  • Graduate Student Symposium

    My takeaway from the 2015 Simmons College Graduate Student Symposium: I should go to more events on campus. Logistically, it’s easiest for me to come to campus only when I have class, so that’s pretty much what I do.   Earlier this winter I submitted a paper to the Graduate Student Symposium, and was happy to be selected, even though I knew it would require a little schedule juggling on my part.  So, this past Friday (not usually a school day for me!), I arranged for my kids to go home from school with friends (thank you, Alenka and Caroline!) and made my way over to Simmons for the afternoon, hoping that the logistical challenge would be worth it. It was so completely worth it.  So. Completely. Worth. It.  The symposium was well organized and the presentations were professional, interesting and relevant.   I ran into several classmates I haven’t seen this semester due to opposite course schedules (hello, Celeste, Gretyl and Jahan!) and met SLIS students with whom I’ve never crossed paths.  I was impressed with…

  • What We’re Reading

    Last week, my husband, Andrew, our daughters Katherine (8) and Sophie (6) and I took a short trip.  Between the four of us, we took the following reading material: Seven magazine back issues: The New Yorker (Andrew and me), High-Five (Sophie), Cricket (Katherine) and American Libraries (me). The previous Sunday’s New York Times (I only read Sunday Styles, but I think Andrew read most of the rest of the paper). Honeydew by Edith Pearlman.  Edith is a good friend of my mother-in-law, and also an amazing writer.  Her books have been nominated for (and won) many prizes, and her newest collection of short stories is outstanding.  I recommend it highly. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  I’ve heard lots about this book, but never felt I needed it, since my kids have always been pretty good talkers and listeners.  However, a few recent episodes made me think I should check it out (literally, from the library), and I have to say, it’s…

  • Kids these days.

    Jessamyn West, who lives in Vermont and blogs at www.librarian.net, is really great.  Her most recent blog post details two presentations she gave to local parents, one on apps used by teens and one on internet safety.  There are so many great things about her presentations: A librarian is proactively meeting with members of her community to introduce and discuss issues around technology. She’s helping parents keep current with technology used by teens today.  I think it’s super important for parents to know what their kids are doing, but I’m sure many parents aren’t exactly sure how to go about getting that knowledge. Jessamyn herself had to learn a new technology to give this presentation (Snapchat).  She’s a pioneer in library technology (maybe that is overstating it, but she certainly knows a lot) and she still had to learn something new!  It’s all about lifelong education. Because of her presentations, local parents talked with each other, shared strategies and ideas, and generally built community.  Look what librarians can do! One of my classmates in 488 (Technology for…

  • SLIS: The School of Group Projects

    So far, every class I’ve taken at SLIS has had a major group project component.  The people, topics, work style and product in my group projects have varied widely — from the fabulous, all-on-the-same-page group I’m part of in 404, to a frustrating experience in 401 with a classmate who missed every meeting and turned in subpar work.  Working on one group project this week, I realized that my partner and I had completely different comfort levels with when to turn in our assignment (I trend early, she’s fine with right at the deadline), which made me think about the similarities (or lack thereof) between group projects and real life. Why a Group Project is Not Like Real Life There is no boss.  In real life, someone is in charge.  Group projects run the risk of floating along until someone takes charge.  Or, someone tries to take charge and the rest of the group doesn’t like it. You cannot get fired, but you’re also not getting paid.  In real life, if you mess up, your…

  • Taking Care of Business

    So, the first half of this semester was a little unusual.  I’m just thankful I didn’t take any Monday classes, because between snow days and holidays, they have only met once.  How crazy is that? By the end of last semester I figured out that things worked best for me if I had big blocks of time for each part of my life.  A day here for work, a day there for homework.  From 3:15 – bedtime, all my focus was on the kids.  Weekends were family time, unless there was a big assignment on the horizon, in which case I carved a few hours out of precious family time so I wasn’t freaking out.   It was a little hard to keep to that schedule at the beginning of this semester, as I got used to the slightly different rhythm of an online class.  Still, I was keeping a positive attitude and trying to figure out the best way to get things done. I mapped out the dates for all the group projects in…

  • Dilemma

    Like many others, I was inspired by this Humans of New York story.   It made me think about the impact teachers and principals can have, and, following that logic, public librarians in urban settings.  When I applied to library school, I wrote part of my application essay on the need for quality library services for traditionally underserved populations.  I want every child to have access to a great public library with materials and programming and technology and responsive librarians.  I want to be one of those responsive librarians. Except that I work in a suburb with a decidedly not underserved population. Don’t get me wrong.  I love my job and everything about it. But the other day, reading story after story about Mott Hall Bridges Academy and the inspiring Principal Lopez (and the even more inspiring Vidal Chastanet), I started to think that maybe I should be working in an urban library.  Then, I saw a job listing for the same type of position I have now, but in an urban setting.  I shouldn’t have…

  • Time Management

    About ten years ago, I had a very high profile job.  I carried a Blackberry (when that was a new, cool thing), was on call all the time, and regularly handled work issues at night and on the weekend while doing something else.  It was not unusual for me to be working while I was at book club, or away for the weekend with my husband, or at the beach.  I totally thrived on the stress and excitement.  Then I had kids, and realized that talking to a newspaper reporter while my children were in the bathtub was not something to be proud of, so I left that job. I stopped multitasking and honed my scheduling and time management skills.  I ditched the Blackberry, and waited several years before I got an iPhone.   I realized I  not only loved doing just one thing at a time, but I performed better when I did things one at a time.  I was present, in the moment, with my kids.  I found interesting freelance work that fit my…

  • Who Am I Scheduling For: Me or My Kids?

    Well hello, second semester!  It’s nice to see you.  And I think I’m going to enjoy your courses, even though I picked them based on what was offered at a time that still allowed me to pick my kids up at school every day, and not really based on what I actually wanted to take. Sigh.  Last fall, when we were registering for the spring semester, I had a list of things I needed in my schedule.  Not one of them was an actual class. I didn’t want to take a Monday class, because of all the Monday holidays. I didn’t want to take a Friday class, because my kids have several Fridays off for teacher professional development and Parent-Teacher conferences. I wanted morning classes, because my husband can drive the kids to school if I take a 9am class, but I’d have to find a babysitter if I took a 1pm or 6pm class.   At some point, I know, I’m going to have to take classes that are only offered at one certain…

  • My 2014 Reading in Review

    For most of my adult life, I’ve had a loose goal of reading 52 books a year (one a week, or roughly four a month).  I keep a handwritten list of all the books I read, but I don’t always count them or hold myself to 52.  This year, however, I realized I was at 50 on December 29, and powered through to get to 52 by the 31st (yay! or, maybe I’m too obsessive about an arbitrary number!).   Jessamyn West at librarian.net is always setting goals for her reading, like more women or more authors of color.  I was planning to analyze my list that way and see where my holes were, but typing it out I realized that I read a pretty diverse range of books.   Fiction, non-fiction, YA, classics, men women, international authors… I definitely read more than just tales of women battling the patriarchy, as my husband would have you believe.  (Please note that he says that very kindly, of course.)  Thoughts on my 2014 reading: Re-reading most of Harry Potter…

  • The Fabulous Book Club

    For the last fifteen years, I’ve been part of the modestly named Fabulous Book Club.   In January 2000, we were a group of mostly single 20-somethings living in Somerville and Cambridge and Jamaica Plain.  Over the years, we’ve somehow turned into a group of mostly married 40-somethings living in far-flung suburbs (although I’m holding fast to Somerville!).  We’ve had high highs and low lows.  Some women moved away, others moved in.  Today, about 6 of us meet monthly for dinner, conversation and book discussion (really! We do talk about the book!).  We have a pretty good system, and I think we’ll go for at least another 15 years. Because I’m sure there are legions of people out there wondering how we’ve stayed together for 15 years, here are my tips for keeping a book club going long term.  We also have fifteen years of really great book lists, which I’m happy to share if anyone is interested.  So.  To start and keep a book club, you need… People.  In January 2000, a friend and I…

  • Just like they said in class!

    Yesterday, at work, there was a dilemma.  It was a fairly sticky issue, and had multiple perspectives and points.  (I know, you’re rolling your eyes, thinking: what kind of crazy problem could there be in a Children’s Department?  Just take my word for it.)  As the librarians debated how to handle the situation, reviewing library policy, professional ethics, and good sense, I said “This is exactly the type of thing we discussed in my 401 class!  I can’t believe things the professors teach us actually happen in a real library!” Actually, I can believe it.  The SLIS program is a professional degree, and the focus is on teaching the skills we need for a particular job.  Our professors know what employers are looking for, and they make sure that we’re exposed to the practical, applicable parts of library science.  We learn how to handle problems, use particular skills, and take what we’ve learned and apply it to different situations.  We are getting a top notch education that can be put to work in the field…

  • The Rainbow Fairies

    I can’t believe I am about to say this, but… I don’t hate the Rainbow Fairies.  The completely formulaic chapter book series centers on two tween girls, Rachel and Kirstie, who become friends with fairies.  There are about 150 books total, broken into themed sets of seven.  In each set, Rachel and Kirstie have to help the fairies solve a problem before Evil Jack Frost and his Goblins mess things up forever (forever! It’s very dramatic!).  Aside from the theme, each book is essentially the same. Kids love these books.  LOVE. Parents hate these books.  HATE. I have been known to say that reading these books is like sticking a fork in your eye, but they actually have some redeeming qualities. Rachel and Kirstie are best friends.  They totally have each other’s back in all sorts of weird (yet repetitive) situations and circumstances.  Being friends is important to them — so important, that in one book, when they start fighting, they realize that Evil Jack Frost must be up to No Good. The girls outwit…

  • Since I started library school…

    I’ve noticed that since I started library school, people have been posting an increasing number of library-related things on my Facebook page.   People just like libraries, I guess.  When I was a lawyer, no one posted legal jokes on my Facebook page (actually, Facebook didn’t exist when I went to law school).  Still, librarians are way more popular than lawyers, even with the whole librarian “shhhh” reputation. Anyway, here’s a sampling of things friends have posted for me.  12 Children’s Books with Non-Princess Female Protagonists This type of list is big in the circles I run in, and now that I’m in library school, many of my friends think I’ve automatically read all of them.  I haven’t, and I’m always thrilled to learn of another book that fits in this category.  The Librarians TV Show  I don’t actually know much about this — a TV show about superhero librarians?  Sounds good to me!  It premiers on December 7 — I’ll set the DVR now. What Do You Do, Dear? My librarian crush.  I wrote…

  • Librarian Rock Star

    This afternoon, at work, I had the most awesome success.  As soon as my shift was over, I called my husband and told him about it.  He was only mildly impressed.  When I picked up my kids at my mother-in-law’s, I told her, and she was also somewhat neutral.  Later, I called my mother, who, after a too-long pause, said “oh, that’s great!”  What was so great, you ask? I helped a patron find exactly what she wanted, with very little information to go on.  I felt like a librarian rock star.  Apparently my nearest and dearest weren’t quite as excited about my massive success, but I am still riding high. Here’s what happened.  I was the only person working in the Children’s Department, nearing the end of my shift.  A 7-year-old girl came to the desk (I know she was seven, because she told me), and said she wanted to read the same book her friend was reading.  (Her friend wasn’t actually at the library.) That’s all I had to go on. And I…

  • Mid-Semester Status Update

    So — I’m halfway through my first semester at SLIS.  For anyone out there looking for a status update, especially anyone considering becoming an older student with kids at home and work on the side, here’s my assessment of things so far.  Better than Expected The people.  I thought I would be the old lady in all my classes, and not make any friends.  I was partially right — I am the old lady — but the rest of the students are by and large kind, interesting, smart, thoughtful people, and it’s been a treat getting to know them.  The professors.  Outstanding.  I feel so lucky that I got to take a course with Candy Schwartz before her retirement (note to future students: you still have two years!).  And I love how different professors have lectured in 401, exposing us to their styles and personalities.  The resources.  From the tech lab to career services to the writing center, Simmons offers an incredibly wide range of support to students — please take advantage of it! Harder…

  • Losing It

    Well, I lost it. I thought I was doing a pretty great job at keeping it all together.  School, kids, work, check.  House, parents, in-laws, friends with issues, got it.  Crazy scheduling? Husband travelling? Bring it on. Until I lost my notebook. My 415 notebook. My 415 notebook for the class taught by Candy Schwartz, the legendary SLIS professor. Not good. I think I lost the notebook sometime last Friday, when I met three classmates to work on a group project.  My kids didn’t have school that day, so I brought them with me — and they were really well behaved, but still, I was a little distracted, trying to focus on the group work but also make sure my children didn’t wreak havoc in the Harvard Coop or Cambridge Public Library, the two places the group met. It seemed to go so well.  But today, when I sat down to finish one of Candy’s never-ending-quite-challenging-yet-interesting assignments, I couldn’t find my notebook.  I called the library and the Coop, and it wasn’t in lost and…

  • “Bring Them Back”: How a Parody Helped Me Learn More About Disability

    I was going to write about how draining the last week was for me, but then I realized that no one wants to hear about the minutiae of my life, especially when the draining parts don’t actually have to do with library school.  The library school part of last week was, as always, lovely. (What?  You’re wondering why my week was so draining?  blah blah mammogram blah blah unrelated health issue blah blah friend’s more serious health issue blah blah husband out of town for four days leaving me with kids and work and my school but not their school, thanks teacher-professional-day-weekend-Columbus Day blah blah. I’m in my 40s, with two kids, in graduate school — it’s going to be like this a lot, so I’d better get used to it.) Anyway.  Since  I spent the past week basically keeping my head above water, I’ll use this space to introduce you to one of my favorite librarians.  I don’t actually know her in real life, but her blog is tremendous.  She’s Mary Evelyn Smith, a…

  • Real World – The Library

    When I decided to apply to SLIS, I wanted to make sure that I actually liked working in a library.  I was about to turn my family’s life upside down, leaving fairly calm and flexible freelance work that allowed me to always pick the kids up at school, for classes, assignments and, ultimately, set hours working in a library.  What if I hated it?  I applied for several positions and, since July, I’ve been working as a clerk in the Children’s Department at the Goodnow Library in Sudbury, MA.   I absolutely, completely love it, and am thrilled to be in school putting this career change into motion. After only a few weeks of classes, I’m making so many connections between what we learn in school and what I do in the library.  Pulling books for Interlibrary Loan?  It’s all based on what we’re learning in 415!  Answering questions from very different types of patrons?  We talked about that in 401!  The librarians at Goodnow are great resources, too, full of advice about course selection and…

  • Don’t Censor Me

    I’ve become a little obsessed with the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics and Freedom to Read statement.  The idea that anyone can access any kind of information at a public library is so egalitarian and so truly democratic, and really appeals to me.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and was a little taken aback the other day by an exchange at my local branch library. Some relevant information: the librarian working that day was not one of the regular librarians, all of whom know my family very well, so this was someone with no information about me or my kids. my older daughter reads and comprehends well above her grade level (3rd grade), and looks younger than her actual age (8). she selects her own books, and independently chooses to stop reading if the text or subject matter is too much for her. Back to the story. One of the books we were checking out was Wonder by R.J. Palacio (which turned out to be fabulous — I highly recommend it).  I…

  • Boston, you’re my home

    I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, and sometimes I take the city’s cultural attractions and goings-on for granted.  (That could be because I have kids, and their idea of culture is the Grossology exhibit at the Science Museum.)   Meeting my classmates, many of whom have moved to Boston just for this program, reminds me to slow down to appreciate all the area has to offer, even as I wonder when I will finish my reading and class assignments!  So, last week I went to a lecture with a friend, and today I visited Drumlin Farm with my brother and one of my daughters.  Super fun, and I still had time to finish the TOR! It’s important to balance school and fun.  So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite things to do in the greater Boston area.   Whether you’re visiting Simmons, have just moved here for SLIS, or, like me, have lived here for many years, you’re bound to enjoy at least one of these adventures. The Greenway:  The Big Dig,…

  • The Balancing Act Begins!

    Well, my first full week of school is over, and my two biggest accomplishments were getting a student discount (10% at Tags!) and making my kids do my homework. Kidding.  Kind of. Going back to school at age 41, with a husband and kids and part-time work, is, in some ways, just like going to school at any age.  I puzzle over how long it will take me to get to school from our home in Somerville (almost an hour!), where to get my ID (the campus card office), what kind of notebooks to use, whether I needed a snack during a 3-hour class (yes!). There are some major differences, too.  Before I leave for class, I make lunches for my kids and get them ready for school.  I check my phone during breaks to make sure the school hasn’t called.  I drag myself to book club one night, and we talk about our parents’ health problems (probably not what my 20-something classmates are discussing over dinner).  I balance my freelance work and shifts at…