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

Elizabeth James

I am a recent graduate in History from Yale University, and am currently attending Simmons as an online student in the Archives Management concentration. Previously, I have worked in special collections, a rare book library, and a historic house museum, and currently I live in Wheeling, WV while attending school! In my (not-too-frequent) spare time, I enjoy going to artist’s markets, local coffee shops, binding books, and joining enough professional list-servs to spam my e-mail daily. Or, as I say to my friends, I continue working steadily towards becoming the most uninteresting interesting person on the planet.



Entries by Elizabeth James

  • Hands-On Archival Experience

    As an online student, I almost felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw that school would be cancelled in Boston on Thursday due to the imminent snow storm. But then I remembered that means I don’t have to deal with the snow. Or the ice. Especially the ice–with an armful of books, I’m a walking disaster, and it’s a rare moment that I am without an armful of books. Instead, I decided to gear up for internship season–with deadlines looming, I feel as though I am constantly sending emails to professors arranging for references when I’m not reading course material. Now that my Introduction to Archives course has begun, I have also been spending a significant amount of time at my internship location. I currently work at a non-archives job while attending school, so it has felt unbelievably amazing to get my hands on archival materials again. These materials belong to a public library whose archive contains a significant amount of local history materials. I am currently processing the personal papers of one local…

  • I Chose Simmons SLIS Online

    It’s a bit surreal to think that last year around this time, I had just submitted my applications for various library schools around the country. I was still torn between whether I wanted to attend an online or in-person program, but I knew that I wanted a high quality education to enable me to be a contributing and active member of the archival profession. I also wanted to be part of a cohort of students that was thoughtful and engaged in their approach to their education and would take a proactive approach in becoming competent and capable professionals. As you can tell, I chose Simmons. Recent events served to solidify my decision that I made the right choice. Watching Simmons students take an active role in archiving materials created by the Women’s March on Washington only served to cement my decision–this was not a group of individuals pursuing this degree in an apathetic way. These were people who wanted to make a genuine change in the profession, and who I would get to grow with…

  • Preparing For Next Semester

    It feels incredibly strange to not have any classes for the rest of the year–even though I took a year off between undergraduate and graduate school, I still feel a bit lost when I’m not doing some sort of course reading or conducting research. In preparation for next semester, I decided to take a close look at the syllabi for the courses I am taking in the spring. Because I’m in the Archives Management concentration, and I’ve decided to try and focus on the digital aspect of archives, I enrolled in Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, Digital Stewardship, and Metadata. Since the first course includes a sixty hour internship, this means I’ll have a pretty intense semester, to say the least! However, I am excited to work with some of the special collections in my area (Wheeling, WV) which are frequently under utilized and would benefit immensely from a student intern. I’m also exploring some potential projects that I can complete over the summer term–there are excellent local history resources that are rife with…

  • A Day in the Life

    9:30 AM: Drive to the public library archives to look at some materials for my LIS 415 final project. Discuss with the librarian how they organize their online archives, and whether the initial proposals my group has suggested are acceptable. Talk about my progress on my LIS 407 final project, and discuss with her the audience and whether my analysis of local history sources is of an appropriate breadth and depth based on her experience with the user population. 10:45 AM: Acquire coffee and French pastries! 11:00 AM: Go into my actual job. A chocolate croissant gets me through the first hour. The remaining eight are survived through a combination of coffee and tea to fend off the cold office air. 3:00 PM: Lunch. Go back to the library because I forgot to grab my book that has been on hold since Monday. ??:?? PM: Sporadically edit and compile the group parts of the LIS 415 final project. Start creating slides for our presentation. 8:00 PM: Leave work to walk home, relish the fact that…

  • Applying Coursework in Libraries

    Before starting my program, I made a commitment to try and use course assignments to assist local institutions in some way. I wanted my library school experience to be grounded in practice, rather than theory. Even though I am only in my first semester, I have been able to use my intro courses to create resources for my local public library, benefiting both the library and their patrons. This is in addition to creating distinct deliverables for my personal portfolio, and giving me experience in working with libraries as “clients” who expect a polished final product. So far, I have organized a group project to create a metadata standard for the small collection of digitized historical images help at my local library, created a pathfinder to assist local history researchers in researching their historic properties, and I’m already planning other potential projects with local universities that have archival institutions and connecting their resources with students through local history projects. Because I live in West Virginia, in an area that has a fairly low population of library and…

  • Advising — Should I Take An Internship Course

    One thing I was extremely surprised to note when I started my program online at Simmons was just how approachable the professors were–they responded quickly to any of my requests to speak with them, and were very open to talking on the phone with me about any questions I might have. Recently, I was required to turn in my tentative planning statement for my program of study, but I wanted to talk with adviser to make sure that the schedule I was picking was feasible given the planned courses for the next year and a half, and would be a viable match for my future career interests. She happily set up a time to talk later in the week, and I had a really productive conversation with her about required courses, and whether an internship would be beneficial to me. Because I have a lot of library experience, it never occurred to me that an internship for course credit was not something I should do while I am in school. I already volunteer at several library and…

  • Being An Online SLIS Student

    Like many people, I was initially really skeptical about getting my Master’s degree online. I wasn’t sure if the classes would be as difficult as in-person courses, and I wanted to make sure I got the best possible experience that would leave me prepared to actively contribute to the field. Little did I know, I didn’t need to worry! Even though I’m only in my first semester, I already get to collaborate with other students working in hugely diverse geographic areas and types of libraries. It sounds really impressive when you can tell your friends you’re having a group meeting with people in West Virginia, California, and Connecticut! In addition to giving me experience collaborating with others in a national setting, the online experience gives me a chance to practice networking with individuals in other institutions the same way I will in my eventual professional career. My advisers and professors are readily accessible and very responsive to questions, and have office hours that are accessible to online and in-person students. Plus, I get to avoid…