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

Carolyn Lucas

Hello! I am in my third semester at Simmons, in the Archival track in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I am excited to work through all of the trials, tribulations, excitements and disappointments that accompany graduate school alongside my fellow students! In my spare time I can be found baking, hanging out in Cambridge with my two ferrets (Smokey and Loki) and my new dog (Nanna). I also work as the facilitator for the online program for Archives Management, and spend a lot of time in my office on the third floor of the Palace Road Building. Come by and say hello anytime!



Entries by Carolyn Lucas

  • Judy Chicago Comes to Boston!

    I can’t believe this is already my last semester in graduate school – not to mention that the semester is halfway through.  As some of you know, I am taking my 502 – my capstone internship – at the Schlesinger Library, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.  As an intern exhibit researcher, I am working to coordinate an exhibit going up on October 14th regarding the Civil War.  But as that’s months away, I want to share with you an exciting opportunity that’s coming up much sooner…Judy Chicago coming to Boston!  I am sure that most of you know Judy Chicago, but a bit of background on her: she is one of the most influential women artists this century.  Ostensibly her greatest work, The Dinner Party, is not only massive, but massively successful (and definitely on my bucket list of “to-see’s”) and lives in Brooklyn permanently; I highly recommend (re)reading the Wikipedia articles on both her and The Dinner Party, and then coming to see the new exhibit opening – featuring…

  • A Valentine for my Macbook

    Roses are redViolets are blueMy dear MacbookI 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…

  • I Need Office Supply Rehab.

    Please indulge me as I nerd out for a second about something that I don’t think many people nerd out about.  Yes, I played World of Warcraft for years.  Yes, I am really into Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and a plethora of even less well-known fantasy and science fiction-y stuff.  But one of my favorite nerd-outs is so nerdy that no one even talks about it, and I’m not sure if anyone else suffers from this affliction besides myself (and apparently the whole of South Korea).   Let’s nerd out about supplies.  Seriously, guys.  Is there anything better than the perfect pen, or a fresh notebook, or – the crème de la crème – a desk organizer? I have spent years hunting for the right school supplies.  My father, bless his heart, finally gave up and sent me his credit card number so I could order my own planner, because in his words “just pick one already and buy it for yourself and consider it a Christmas present.” Everyone is different with what…

  • Let’s Talk About Being Poor

    Let’s face it: deciding to pursue my graduate degree in Library and Information Science from a private college isn’t the most fiscally responsible decision I’ve ever made.  When I informed my husband – who was at that time starting his own PhD program and netting around 30k/year for around 90 hours of work a week – that I wanted to get my LIS degree, and that we would ultimately be in the hole more or less 50k, it was…not received with great enthusiasm.  Coming from Wisconsin, finances are viewed fairly differently there.  30k is more than enough money for a couple to live fairly comfortably; we rented a GORGEOUS lofted one-bedroom, two bathroom, apartment for $900/month.  Then, stupid Carolyn…we moved into a tiny, 500 square-foot 1-bedroom for $2100/month, plus utilities and parking.  That ranks among the all-time stupidest decisions I have ever made. Ultimately, though, we decided to move into a much more reasonably priced apartment – a 1 bedroom + den for $1650.  Affordable!  That’s a word I haven’t heard in recent memory.  Let’s…

  • Let’s Beat the Winter Blues: Out of the House and Out of the Cold

    Hello friends!  I hope you are all safe and sound after this bipolar weather we are having.  I know that the last thing anyone feels like doing at the moment is traveling out, but sometimes you need to brace yourself against the cold, bundle up for sleet/snow/rain/55 degree weather, and go outside.  Let’s talk about Making the Most of Winter! I will be sharing with you a few of my favorite spots to both mentally and physically escape the weather.  The Museum of Fine Arts http://www.mfa.org/ The MFA is truly a must-see for anyone in Boston, whether you’re a permanent resident or only spending a weekend in Beantown.  The MFA is a contender for the best museum in the country, and is certainly one of the top ones in the world – it houses extensive collections of American, European, Meso-American, and Byzantine art, to name a few of their collections.  Additionally, there is a featured display that is always worth seeing.  One of my past favorites was a collection of Japanese Samurai artifacts, including armor,…

  • Not Your Typical Reference Librarian – Or How I Found My Career

    2014 just started – and I already feel like we’re in the middle of the year!  This time of the year is always so busy, because you’re turning over a new leaf, trying to develop all of these habits – and also attempting to remember to re-vaccinate the dog, to take the car in to be inspected, and so much more.  But the biggest thing that I am excited about for 2014 is that I am now fully employed – in an amazing position that I am so excited about.  I have spoken in this blog before about the traditional library position, and how I just don’t seem to fit that mold.  In several of the classes there is talk about other types of libraries that one could make a career out of, including law libraries and medical libraries.  For me, the records management class consisted primarily of talking about small local-government records management – but all of these subsets really only scratch the surface of the types of jobs that exist.  For me, I…

  • When Can I Start Making Money? A Look at the 2013 Salary Survey

    Recently in one of my classes, we did an exercise that was probably the most memorable of all my classes’ exercises: we went through the annual salary survey for librarians. In the October 15th edition of the “Library Journal,” the salary survey highlights many different statistics from all areas of the field of libraries.  It includes important information about the “status of 2012 graduates,” where the annual salary for women in the northeast in this profession is $44,083.  It also breaks down average salaries by school – Simmons is $43,285; starting salaries, salaries by job type, and salaries by gender and race.   This information was incredibly relevant and interesting to me as an upcoming graduate (May 2014).  Despite the fact that most people have mentioned that “you didn’t get into this career to make money,” a small part of me is screaming, “but I DID!  I would love to make money!  I have student loans to pay!” and then I look around at my classmates and wonder to myself, “am I the only person who…

  • The Mid-Semester Blues

    There is something about this time of year when everyone’s creative juices seem to be flowing – except for mine.  It’s right after Halloween, recovering from making costumes (my husband and I were the 11th Doctor [Who] and the TARDIS, respectively!), but it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts (although that hasn’t stopped me…).  I’m finding it harder to get out of bed in the morning without a pumpkin spice latte to wake me up; what’s the point of doing laundry, yet ANOTHER load of dishes?   I’m even lacking the motivation to start writing the papers that are inevitably due; normally, writing papers comes fairly easily for me, but this time around it was like pulling teeth.   Actually… I might prefer getting teeth pulled.   With the mid-semester slump, it’s hard to find the energy to keep going, to take the train an hour to campus each day, but luckily family, holiday cheer, and amazing food is right around the corner.  Soft snowfalls, happy holiday music, gifts, crafts, and parties will be…

  • Online Classes : To Overthink or to Not Overthink, That is the Question

    Despite the fact that I have been the Facilitator for the Archives Management Cohort Online for almost a year and a half now, I personally have never taken a class online.  I have taken face-to-face classes for almost 20 years, but had my first online class experience happened last Monday when my Management class was held online for Columbus Day.  We had a fairly “traditional” online class, which required several hours sitting in front of the computer reading through articles, and then watching powerpoints, reading lectures, and participating in discussion activities – a fairly typical week in the life of an online class.  I cannot speak for the other students, but I for one quite enjoyed the structure of the online class.  It was laid back and didn’t require an hour’s travel to and from school (if you live around the Boston area, you’re familiar with the “reliability” of the green line…), but it was difficult to motivate myself.  While we normally have classes on Monday afternoons, I found myself starting the readings on Monday…

  • Let’s Talk About the Cloud

    The cloud: depending on who you’re talking to, it’s a magical place where dreams are born and an infinite amount of data is stored forever; an invitation for hackers to steal your identity, your money, your husband, and your cat; something mysterious that your boss keeps talking about but that you never really understood; or, those puffy white things in the sky that people started recently referring to in the singular (isn’t it cloudS?).  The cloud has somewhat recently made the foray into the “personal” market.  One of the first that got me personally hooked was Dropbox – they were giving away free space if you signed up with an email account.  (Throughout the years and various promotions we have somehow accrued about 80 Gigabytes of storage for free…Dropbox is awesome.)  On Dropbox, I can access all of the files I upload on virtually any computer in the world once I enter in my dropbox information and install the software (which is the best price – free – by the way).  After the cloud foray…

  • Making the Most of Autumn

    I am originally from the Midwest and moved out to Boston for the graduate opportunities out here.  One of the best things about Boston is that there is so much to do, and with autumn rolling around I can’t think of a better time to explore some history the Boston area has to offer!  These recommendations aren’t the “traditional” places to visit, and are often overlooked.  For us Bostonians, however, they provide a wonderful opportunity to explore without tourists! Walden Pond http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden_Pond Long known for the place where Ralph Waldo Emerson owned land that Henry David Thoreau lived on for two years while writing Walden, Walden Pond is separately a beautiful location that is only made more breathtaking by the changing of the trees.  If you’re interested in the movement of transcendentalism, or even just want a peaceful place to ponder your navel, Walden Pond is a great place for you.  The downside is that it’s difficult to get to if you don’t have a car – it’s in Concord, Mass – but if you…

  • Database Management

    It feels so odd to be back in the swing of the graduate program.  The transition from working full-time to the calendar of a graduate student…well, let’s just say there are pros and cons (pro: lots more time to refill prescriptions, go to the post office, make dinner, sleep… cons: well, a moth just flew out of my wallet.  Oh yeah…this is why I need a job).  I actually accidentally have been waking up at 5 am, which is odd because even when I was working I didn’t wake up at 5 am.  I guess it’s my brain’s way of protesting at the schedule switches.  But time presses forward, and what I really want to talk about are DATABASES.  Databases are awesome wonderful tools that almost everyone on the planet uses daily.  I was recently talking with a friend of mine, who complained that every job she has worked uses Excel spreadsheets, and why did everyone think they were so useful.  Honestly?  It’s because they’re primitive databases – data storage with lists of attributes and…

  • Exploring Your Neighborhood

    For the first time in seven years, I am so happy that this coming September 1, my husband and I will not be moving.  I will be excluded from the uHaul hassle, the security deposits, the shady landlords, and dealing with the fact that dishwashers are still a sought-after commodity despite our foray into the twenty-first century.  In the past year, knowing that we wouldn’t be moving in September, we have made our little apartment a true home (rental-style) – temporarily replacing the dim lighting fixtures, accruing beautiful (if eclectic) art and photographs, even adopting a puppy for our pet-friendly pad!  But one of the things that we have admittedly slacked on is learning our area. When my husband randomly plugged our address into Walkscore.com and a 97 popped up, his friend asked what great coffee shops, bars, parks, and restaurants were in the area to inflate our score so much – sadly, we had no idea.  It wasn’t until very recently that we actually made exploring our area a priority – and we have…

  • Learning Outside the Classroom

    This summer has been hot, rainy, and is going by fast.  And did I mention busy?  Yeah, it’s been busy.  This summer, as I’ve mentioned in a few previous blog posts, I’m doing a records management internship for Biogen Idec, a biopharmaceutical company located in Kendall Square in Cambridge.  And I can already say, just because I’m not taking official classes this summer does not mean the learning has stopped… I find myself every now and again marveling at how I ended up here.  When I initially applied to library school, I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in a place like Biogen.  It’s one of the aspects that we don’t cover too much on the archives track -archives includes records management, and records management isn’t just for city planning or traditional libraries.  Corporations (especially since the Enron debacle) have been tightening the leash on records management.  And in this case, more regulations just so happens to equal more jobs.  Two of my lovely new co-workers are actually Simmons alumni, which not…

  • I Know What You Did Last Summer

    The summer is always a great time to capitalize on opportunities that escape during the cold, hard, rainy winter season.  For me, I ended up getting a summer internship in an aspect of GSLIS that I had never before considered – records management.  While I am super excited just to have an internship – and a paying one at that – I am even more excited to try out what is the “hors d’oeuvre” of the meal of one’s career (sorry, this metaphor is kind of falling apart…).  I’m pretty excited to be trying out this new career path, and I have super high hopes (expectations) that this will end up being THE NEW CAREER FOR ME.  I have very little expectation that this career won’t work out.  But it is the last in a long line of internships that I have tried in my still juvenile career – I have worked in financial planning, in support and administration, in publishing.  I have worked at Harley Davidson Motor Company, law firms, and for various academic…

  • GSLIS is great, and everything. But let’s talk about Community.

    There have been a lot of events going on at the main Simmons Campus this week.  On April 15, Boston experienced two bombs that rocked the famous Boston Marathon.  Then, just this past Thursday and Friday, there was a city – district? – wide manhunt for the two suspects.  I personally live in the Cambridge area, very near MIT.  My husband works at the Whitehead Building, only a block away from where the valiant MIT Police Officer, Sean Collier, lost his life.  I was terrified – my husband was still at work when MIT was put on lockdown – and I felt helpless and confused.  Of course, eventually the manhunt was relocated to Watertown with a whole other set of terrors.  But you all know the story of what went down recently – I want to talk about all of Boston’s reaction to it, and more specifically how Simmons reacted.  Community is a strong word.  Community, in my mind, evokes thoughts about people holding hands and having a strong bond tied to a location or…

  • How to Have a Job after Graduation

    As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the things that bugged me the most about my undergraduate experience was the lack of support when they pushed you forth into the world.  When people inevitably ask me what I like the most about Simmons, my answer is always the same: while I love many of the classes and professors, and the students are some of the sweetest and brightest I have ever met, I feel that the support Simmons offers to its students in terms of employment is one of the best things a school can do.  Simmons is great in that you enter this program knowing that you would like to be employed at the end of it – and you get employment support from the moment you enter orientation.  In the Archives Concentration you are automatically enrolled in two internships – one 60-hour, and one 130-hour – that provide you with experience in an actual archive.  These internships often provide invaluable networking experience, and more often than not the repositories ask the…

  • The Art of the Symposium

    This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a very cool symposium put on by many of GSLIS’ student organizations including SCoSAA, LISSA, ALASC, ASIS&T, Panoption, SLA, and UXPA.  This Symposium was the second one GSLIS has ever put on, and provided a really interesting glimpse into many different areas of GSLIS.  There was a keynote speaker, GSLIS’ own Martha Mahard, and four panels of students and past students.  Each panel had a topic, and the panelists gave a presentation on their specific area of study and then answered questions.  Overall, there were a wide variety of topics, from Technology to Ethics, and it was incredibly interesting to see what my fellow students were working on (not to mention impressive… I’m feeling like a bit of a slacker for not having presented!).  An additional super-cool part of this Symposium was that it was available for both live and future streaming.  As the Facilitator for the Archives Management Cohort Online, it was awesome to be able to present this opportunity to the online students that…

  • Professional Organizations: A Brief Intro, and How They Relate to You

    SAA, SLA, MLA, ALA… in the world of the library and all its’ properties, it seems like almost every three letter combination stands for a professional organization.  And, unlike the title suggests, you don’t have to be a “professional” to join them!  Many professional organizations are organized to help budding entrants into their fields.  Because this is my first year into the library science world, I’ve been researching many of these organizations, trying to evaluate if they will be helpful to me pre-graduation, and what resources they offer.  Here’s a quick glance at some of them: ALA, the American Library Association:  the quintessential professional organization for anyone in the library field, ALA costs only $33/year and supplies its’ student members with newsletters, updates on the job market, free round tables, and even online classes!  One of the biggest perks of joining ALA is the conference that is held once a year, usually in June, which brings librarians together to talk about the latest and greatest inventions, problems, and advances in the field.  SAA, the Society…

  • Open Access, and the Story of Why Are We Paying to Access Important Information

    Open access is a topic I have been thinking about a lot lately.  And not just the stories of glamorized and easily implementable “open access” that the media picks up and drops two weeks later – open access as a way that information is communicated.  Anyone who has talked to me for more than five minutes knows that I am passionate about the way information is communicated, received, and re-communicated elsewhere – which serves as the basis of open access. The White House recently addressed the issue of open access in a memo, which stated that the findings and papers that come about as a result of publicly funded research will be made publicly available.  While this is a huge step in the field, I can’t help but think that we are years behind.  How many critical results of research have come and gone without garnering public attention, simply because the public cannot afford the astronomical prices to scientific journals?  This is information that most people are unfamiliar with – mostly because the information is…

  • Dr. Disorganization or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb that’s Apparently Gone Off in My Apartment

    This winter, Boston has gotten snow – a lot of snow.  Like, an inordinate amount of snow.  And I am from Wisconsin.  What a smart move, to the one place on earth that apparently gets more snow than my hometown. With that being said, I have spent a lot of time at home lately – because winter makes me feel cozy and antisocial; because I’ve been snowed in; because I’ve been doing all of my work at home, take your pick.  But as I walked through my apartment most recently, taking a break from Describing and Arranging a hypothetical archival collection for a class, I stopped in front of my personal bookshelf.  I found myself wondering how exactly I had managed to arrange all of my personal belongings so that I can find them.  If someone came into my house and wanted to find, say, my old wedding planner – would I be able to locate it?  Would I be able to tell someone else how to locate it?  Where had I put it, and…

  • The Technological Advance: Moving Forward with Online Programs

    Anyone who has stepped into a library, museum, or archives in the last ten years has seen the field’s foray into technology.  But what happens when not only the institutions in the library and information sciences field – but the education that provides the people to eventually staff those institutions – also takes the plunge into embracing technology? Completely online programs for awarding certificates – or even entire degrees – have rocketed to popularity, even with Simmons.  Within the past year or so, the GSLIS program alone has installed two certificate programs – one for Digital Stewardship and one for Instructional Technology – and one master’s degree in Archives Management.  Through these programs, Simmons has created an entirely online community where students interact with other students and teachers, attend office hours, submit assignments, give presentations, and have discussions. There is even a completely online orientation, which, in the case of the Archives Management Degree, included a coffee hour where Simmons sent Starbucks gift cards internationally and set up a Skype meeting space.   Then, a professor…

  • The Phantom Tollbooth: Fifty-ish Years of Things that Could Be, Rather Than Things that Are

    For Christmas this year, my parents gave me the esteemed gift of the 50th Anniversary Edition of my absolute favorite book in the world, The Phantom Tollbooth.  Norton Juster’s personification of a bored boy who travels into a world where words become literal (the “doldrums” are a place you can visit, where nothing gets done and everyone sleeps a lot) and the weird runs rampant is the key to unlocking the imagination of even the most stodgy and uptight reader – or even student, in the midst of papers and projects. Even though the actual fiftieth anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth was in 2011, now is as good a time as any to reminisce about the importance of thinking like a child – which is exactly what this book puts me in the mind frame of.  Especially the moral at the end of the story (*spoiler alert*) which is if you believe you can, the impossible is achievable. This concept of the impossible is one that rattles around in the brains of students quite often,…

  • Dreaming of a more peaceful time…

    Growing up, I used to have a routine before going to bed.  I would say goodnight to my parents, grab a beverage – sparkling water in the summer, hot tea in the winter – grab whatever book I was in the middle of, and spend the last delicious hour of consciousness lost in whatever fantastical world those pages contained. In between leaving my home for college and being halfway through a graduate program, something changed. My evenings are no longer filled with the writings of great minds; my dreams are no longer of magic, dragons, and wizards.  There are still plenty of hot beverages, though – but not tea.  Now I find myself guzzling coffee at all hours of the night, attempting to wrangle one more hour’s worth of energy into finishing whatever project I am working on.  And I still read – but instead of characters with beautiful names and tragic back stories  I read the (rather dry) biography of Melville Dewey.  Or the historical conflict between archivists and librarians… or archivists and record keepers……

  • Practical Versus Passionate

    Like many of my fellow GSLIS students, I graduated university with degrees in English and Art History.  After graduation, I was essentially pushed out the door, told to “go forth and acquire employment.”  After looking around, my worst fears were realized: what was I going to do with two degrees and relatively few marketable skills?! I worked for a while temping; I sent out resume after resume and made phone call after phone call.  It was one day, after my mom called me and recommended that I look into going to graduate school to obtain these marketable skills that are apparently so desirable in the working world, that I started to consider libraries and archives as places of employment. But once I got to library school, I felt myself being pulled into the same trap.  Fascinating courses called to me – The History of the Book?!  Storytelling?! Organizational/Informational Ethics?! These are ALL courses I want to take.  But, because my time – and more importantly, my money – is limited, I need to decide on…

  • On Starting A New Year, and A New Semester

    I cannot believe that Christmas break already came and went.  I spent my time tanning in the Floridian sun, crafting all of my Christmas presents, catching up on some quality sleep time, and enjoying hot beverages… I am especially enjoying the newfound glories of a proper cup of English Breakfast tea, and the new delights of the French Pressed coffee. As 2012 ended and 2013 begins, I always find that a few New Year’s Resolutions make their way into my habits as a student.  Read: I WILL read all the readings this semester.  I WILL go to office hours if I need help.  I WILL start papers and projects well-enough in advance.  Like many students, procrastination is a good friend of mine, who pops in more often than I’d like to take up way too much of my time with persuasions of nail-painting and dessert-baking instead of paper-writing and presentation-practicing. Typically, I despise trendy productivity techniques.  But over Christmas, I found myself reading an interesting article about the benefits of the small, self-indulgent pleasures in…