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

Hayley Botnen

I am a student in the online archives management program while working at a certain Massachusetts-based database company full time (I bet you all know which one). I’m especially interested in archives and special collections, digitizing collections, and libraries in their communities. I currently live in the North End, Boston, where it is very easy to lose one’s self in the historic atmosphere and the smell of garlic and olive oil while literally getting lost in the tangle of streets and brick buildings. While I was born here in Boston, my father was in the Navy and my family has lived all over the world. Now I’ve returned and I’m trying to earn back my New England street cred. I’ve already caught myself rounding out my vowels and slurring my “r”s a few times, but I still can’t drink iced coffee during the winter.



Entries by Hayley Botnen

  • Age and Maturity

    It’s my birthday on the 14th. I’m turning 25. It feels weird. It’ll be my first birthday celebration without either my family or my best friend. I have friends to celebrate with. Awesome friends who I am so glad to have in my life. We’re going to the Museum of Science and then finding food somewhere. That is my birthday plan. Growing up, I loved throwing birthday parties. Having a birthday in the summer meant that it was hit-or-miss for whether people would be in town to show up, but it also meant that I could throw my party basically any day. I would spend all summer planning my birthday party. When I was in my late teens, I worked at the Fair in my hometown. It happened to fall on my birthday every year. So every year I would work on my birthday. I started a tradition for myself to get a caramel apple on my birthday. I don’t know where to get a caramel apple in Boston. It’s weird to grow-up. I don’t…

  • Summer Laziness

    How is it already halfway through July? I thought summer was going to be less busy than the school year, but between my internship and the classes I was taking, I feel like it’s been really busy. Maybe it’s also the fact that it’s summer. Summer, to me, means lounging. It means reading. It means going to movies and hanging out in places with AC on the hot-hot days. I went to a concert last week which was fun. I want to go to a baseball game. Summer means a lot of things, but maybe being productive isn’t necessarily one of them. I’ve been trying to work on my novel this month (for Camp Nanowrimo), but it’s hard work when it’s sunny out and it’s hot in my apartment. It’s easier to read things other people have written. It’s easier to see one of the so-called blockbusters in a cool theater. The best part about being a future librarian? Even the things I use to be un-productive are weirdly productive. It’s important for me to…

  • A New View

    Summer has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve finished two classes, I’ve been doing an internship and volunteering, and my roommate just moved back across the country. She moved out here with me from Montana, and I’ve loved having her here. Before she left, we managed to sneak in a last minute trip into the city. We checked out spots along the Freedom Trail, and it was interesting to see history in a place where I have grown accustomed to living. Once I got used to being in the city and used to treading the same path (or same couple of paths) every day, I stopped looking around me. I stopped seeing what I was going by every day. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of “oh I see that every day, it’s no longer interesting”. Ever since that walk along the Freedom Trail, I’ve been trying to remember that everything is interesting. Every person has a story. Every object has a history. It’s nice to approach each day with curiosity…

  • Pen Pal Experience

    This last Friday, I had the opportunity to meet up with a pen pal of mine. Back in October or November, Promising Pals sent out an email and asked for pen pals for students at the Timilty Middle School in Roslindale. I loved pen pal activities when I was in school, so I was happy to sign up for the experience. Usually, Promising Pals asks their pals to exchange four letters. Of course, this year, the snow storms made all plans go haywire. The mail was delayed, and I, at least, received two letters within three days. It was difficult to build a rapport with my pal when the mail was so irregular. However, Friday morning and meeting my pen pal for breakfast was exciting. The pals were able to hear a little bit about the history of the program and listen to some inspirational speeches and music. Then I got to collect my student from his classroom. We ate breakfast and bonded over basketball and horror movies. I bought him a book from the…

  • Author Events and Expectations

    Before moving out to Boston, I had never been to an author event. There were a couple in my old town, but they weren’t authors I was interested in, so I never went. Since moving out here, I’ve had the opportunity to go to three different events (and The Horn Book Awards, but I don’t count that). I’ve been a little spoiled though because the first event I went to was amazing. I wrote about the experience on this blog. I went to listen to Lois Lowry speak about The Giver. It was so much fun. I only had a short wait in a line to get my book signed, and then she spoke for an hour about her life and what inspired her to write The Giver. As someone who wants to write, I love hearing what inspires other authors. The other two events I’ve since gone to were hosted by the same book store. The first was to see Kiera Cass, author of The Selection series. My roommate and I got to the…

  • Revisiting Childhood

    As someone who is pursuing a degree in Children’s Literature and Library Science, I spend a lot of time in my courses rereading books I loved as a child. I also get to read books which I missed as a child or which came out after I grew up a little. Many of the books which I reread are considered classics in the field of Children’s Literature (Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, Ramona Quimby Age 8). I always enjoy reading the books. Sometimes I will get little flashes of memory-feeling which remind me how I felt when I read the book when I was younger. I’ll remember having my mom read to me, or the first time I connected to the character. Outside of school, I’ve moved away from rereading in the last few years. There are just so many books out there! If I reread a book, I’m giving away the time which I could otherwise spend reading a brand-new adventure! However, this last month, the West Roxbury Branch of the Boston…

  • Semester is Almost Over

    As I’ve mentioned before, April is a crazy month for me. What I forgot about was the fact that registration and the end of the semester were also both approaching. Registration always brings challenges and stress along with it. This semester, I completely forgot my registration time. Twelve hours later, I remembered in a panic and hustled to our registration site. I managed to get into two classes easily, but one already had a waiting list of 8 people! I try to remind myself not to stress. I try to tell myself that even if I can’t get into the class (which I think I will because the school tries to work with people) that it’s alright. I can extend school by a semester and my life will still be alright. But I still spend a lot of time freaking out. I also have like 8 projects due in the next week and a half which I keep trying to prioritize in order of due date, but it’s stressful. I’m excited for summer and the…

  • Library as Remembrance

    Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day began Wednesday night and goes through tonight. I was struck by the timing of one of my class assignments, and it made me consider the many ways in which libraries are the place for cultural heritage and remembrance. For one of my classes, I am required to design a text set around Lois Lowry’s Newbery award winning novel, Number the Stars. The novel follows a young girl and her Jewish friend at the beginning of the Holocaust. I focused on the ideas of risking one’s life to save another person’s and the many ways in which people act courageous. I found a wonderful amount of books, but at my library, they were tucked back in the stacks. There were a small amount pulled in the teen section, but the children books were focused on spring titles. I wonder if children librarians felt that the subject matter was too dark or depressing for young kids. As someone who wants to work with kids and teens, I was surprised by this…

  • The Particularities of Writing for People

    As I mentioned last week, April seems to be the month of literally everything being due. My biggest struggle–like every semester–is trying to learn to write for particular professors. I have my own writing style. I use it when I blog. I use it when I do my NaNoWriMo months. I use it in emails and Facebooks posts. I write the same way pretty much everywhere. But when I have to write for class, I try to spruce it up. Most people realize that you speak in different “registers” depending on who you’re speaking with: friends, family, professors, clergy, strangers. This also tends to happen with writing. When I write for school, I try to focus on certain facets of writing which I pretty much ignore otherwise. These facets are generally concepts I’ve been taught in school: don’t use “I” in academic papers, don’t end sentences with prepositions, make sure you have a thesis, avoid passive voice, and other “standard English” rules. However, one thing I always seem to forget is the subjectiveness of writing…

  • The Insanity of April

    As always, the final full month of a semester is filled with the insanity of every class wanting to fit in the rest of the assignments before class is officially over. I have papers upon papers (seriously, I have 24 papers due in one class this month–short papers, but still 24 of them) and a few rogue assignments as well as discussion board posts. So what do I decide to do? Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp is the equivalent of regular National Novel Writing Month, however, it occurs twice (April and July), and people are free to set their own word count goal. Writers can also work on a variety of works, a novel isn’t the only option. I’ve also been enjoying the presence of two friends who have moved in with me. Hence, my life has become unexpectedly busy. I’ve been enjoying walking with the warm weather. I also started listening to podcasts! I had downloaded several podcasts to listen to during the 43 hour drive from Montana, but I didn’t end up listening to very…

  • Making the Most of Boston

    Before moving out here, I was too stressed out by the moving process to even think about many things to do in Boston. When I got here, I was dedicated to my classes and getting back home at a somewhat reasonable hour since I was used to an 8 minute commute and had to transition to an hour commute. However, with two friends moving out here, and my growing irritation at cool things happening without my knowledge, I’ve tried to be more adventurous over the last few weeks. I tried to go to a signing for Marie Rutkowski, author of the amazing Winner’s Trilogy, but alas her plane was cancelled. I did go to the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. For being in relatively small buildings (think a traditionally sized college campus building), they both had extensive collections. I particularly appreciated the glass flowers in the HMNH and the first level of exhibits in the Peabody. I hope that the Peabody receives funding to remodel their other…

  • Spring Break

    I can’t believe it’s spring break next week. And I’m sure I’m not alone in being surprised at how suddenly the semester has flown by. A major part of that is due to the frequent cancellation of classes at the beginning of the semester. I don’t have any Monday classes, so I never had to worry about that, but my Tuesday class didn’t meet a couple of times. And even now, six weeks into the semester, it feels weird to go to class on both Tuesday and Thursday (which is my normal schedule). It’s been even weirder for me because I still compare every day to Montana. I lived in Montana my whole life, and while it’s a big enough state that each part of Montana is very different from another, it still feels like a place where one can speak for the state as a whole. Montana gets plenty of snow (as I think I’ve said before), but they rarely get snow storm after snow storm after snow storm. And as far as I…

  • Outsides and Insides

    Because of the snow, I had a hard time getting to the library these past couple weeks. Which is only unfortunate because I’m taking a picture book class which meets once a month, and in which we need to read 120 picture books. I was planning to check out about 10 a week, but when I missed a couple weeks, I ended up checking out about 30 picture books yesterday. I was mildly embarrassed simply because I don’t have any children, and, to a certain extent, I felt like I was taking away books from possible child readers. But then I reminded myself that the bookshelves were still full even after my two bags of books were removed. In really trying to give myself over to picture books, I noticed a few things about my preferences. I know my last post was also about picture books, but this is slightly more applicable to all books. I’ve said before that I’m terrible and I totally judge books by their covers. Well, in looking at picture books,…

  • Picture Books and Graphic Novels

    Picture Books. At some point in our lives, we’re all told that we need to move on. We need to read “at our age level”, whatever that means. As a future children’s librarian, I’m required to take two different classes centered solely on the picture book. So why do we encourage young readers to move beyond such amazing and poignant book forms? Picture books can be a lot of different things. There can be no words (but still have a very meaningful story). There can be a lot of words (have you ever looked at illustrated fairytales? sometimes those have a lot of words!). But one thing we’re usually taught as we grow up is that picture books and graphic novels are totally different forms. Usually we’re taught that in high school by someone who reads graphic novels or maybe by teachers who are open to graphic novels as a form. The ALA Youth Media Awards kind of brought the question of graphic novels to the foreground. First of all, congratulations to all the winners…

  • Walking in a Winter Wonderland

    So I was wondering if winter was ever going to hit the Boston area. Coming to Massachusetts from Montana, I was told by everyone, “Watch out for their winters! It’s colder out there! Make sure you’re prepared!” I’d been a little let down by the weather so far. I’m not particularly a fan of snow. In fact, I usually say that I don’t like it. But growing up in Montana, you get use to snow starting around October and lasting through about March. Occasionally, it snows outside that time, like when I went to my Freshman undergrad orientation, and it snowed in June. That was unusual, but I just bought a pair of socks and a pair of sweatpants from the school store and called it good. Now, I can say that I’ve finally learned what a Boston winter is like, and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was a lot of snow. But what surprised me the most was how everything shut down. I never had a snow day growing up. It…

  • Productivity and the Spring

    How is it already Spring semester? I feel like the break just flew by, and to be honest, I didn’t even really do that much! I volunteered a couple of times. I had my book club meet. I read ten books or so. I watched a lot of movies. I watched an entire season of Scandal, and Cousins on Call. (I watch an honestly embarrassing amount of television shows.) But I didn’t really do that much. I have the hardest time compelling myself to do things if I’m not busy. If I have a whole bunch of things happening, I manage to get a whole lot of things done. But if I’m completely free all day–I do absolutely nothing. Well, I don’t stare at the wall. I read stuff online. I spend a lot of time on Tumblr or twitter. I watch a lot of TV.  But I feel like once the semester starts again, I’m more productive. Of course, there’s always the initial confusion of trying to get back into the swing of things,…

  • 2015 Reading Challenge

    It’s a brand new year! And while a lot of people enjoy making new year’s resolutions, I’m not really one of them. I try to always keep certain resolutions in mind (eat healthy, exercise as much as I can, love myself more), but one of the few resolutions which I love and keep up with is reading challenges. Last year, I wanted to read 100 books in a year, and I made it to 140. This year, I’m aiming for 150 books, and I stumbled across this challenge which will be a great way to make a dent. There’s 50 categories here which will end up with 52 books (one challenge is to read a trilogy). I’d love to hear if anyone is going to attempt this challenge too! I am so excited for this challenge, and I will be keeping track of this book on my goodreads account under my popsugar challenge tag. Happy 2015! -Hayley

  • Movie Time

    For today, I wanted to do something a little bit different. Now that the semester is over, I have time to pursue some of my other interests, and if you’ve looked at my profile, you know that one of the things I’ve been trying to do for the last few years is watch through Empire Magazine’s 500 Greatest Films. So here’s my own take on the handful of films I’ve watched since the semester finished. 312. Suspiria 1977             Terrible. Truly. The music that accompanied this film gave both me and my roommate a headache within the first five minutes. I think if it hadn’t been for the terrible sound-editing, it may have been an okay movie. However, even the special effect sounds were obnoxious. I literally wanted to sit in absolute silence after this movie was over so my ears could recover. 142. Almost Famous 2000             I had no idea how many well-known actors were in this! Also it starts with the Chipmunk’s Christmas song and a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird,…

  • Semester by the Numbers

    The end of the semester always makes me think about numbers. The big GPA looming over my head. How much time I spend wasting instead of working on my finals like I should be doing. This week, I decided to do a little bit of calculating and submit for your perusal the important numbers from my semester. 4: The number of classes I took (That’s 14 credits. Yes, I might be crazy. No, people usually don’t take that many classes.) 29: The number of hours I volunteered at Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School Library. 160 : The approximate number of hours I spent physically sitting in a classroom. 53: The number of books I had on hold at my local library. 101 : The number of books I read (YA, middle grade, beginning readers and picture books). 168 : The number of articles I read. 27, 251 : The number of words in all my papers. 6: The number of presentations I did. As you can see, it was a lot of work….

  • NBA All-Stars

    NBA in this case is not basketball. It’s the National Book Awards which were held last night. I have a lot of interest in the National Book Awards. More specifically, I have a lot of interest in the Young People’s Literature category of the National Book Awards. This year, I am thrilled to share the winner was Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s between South Carolina and New York. This win is particularly exciting if you follow the We Need Diverse Books movement. Basically, the We Need Diverse Books movement is a grassroots campaign to get more diverse books published and out to readers. What are diverse books? According to the WNDB mission statement, “We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” This year’s short list for the National Book Award included some aspect of diversity in every book. That’s amazing! Kathleen T. Horning wrote a stellar article about the…

  • Looking to the Future

    I’m going to be honest. I have no idea what I want to do when I graduate. And around this time when we’re registering for classes and everyone is talking about their future plans, I feel so scared. I love YA books, and I love libraries. It seemed like a pretty obvious step to do the dual program. But when people try to ask me if I’m going to be a librarian or go into publishing–well, I have no idea. I think I would love to do either. Or both. I feel like the older I get the more I should know what I want to do with my life. I should be settling down, finding a long-term job and a significant other and a house. (Maybe I just think these things because my sister has already achieved most of these, and my parents keep pushing me to do the same.) But I don’t know what I want from my future. I would love to be a teen librarian. But. I don’t love a lot…

  • Relax

    We have six weeks of school left. Not even six weeks! Because of Thanksgiving, we more or less have five weeks of school left! I’m at the point in the semester where all my group projects are looming in November, and I have three research papers to do, and I still have to figure out what the heck a pathfinder even is, but for some reason I’m not that stressed out about it. I think a huge part of the reason why I’m not stressed out is because for me reading is a de-stressing activity. So even when I have to read novels for homework, my brain can’t disassociate from the de-stressing. I love reading. So I love doing my homework. I almost forgot to write this blog post because I got too engrossed in Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen. Even though I had some issues with the text, the mere act of reading it made me calm. So in this high stress time, remember what makes you calm. Maybe it’s taking a break and just sipping…

  • Want to spend more time writing this November?

    Many people who like to read also like to write. I definitely belong in this group. In fact, every November, I am one of those crazy people who participate in NaNoWriMo. What is NaNoWriMo you might be asking? NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November, and it is when people decide to tackle their writing projects. Typically, NaNoWriMoers write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. That’s 1,667 words a day. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t say typically. That’s usually what the goal word count is, but I, for one, have only met it once in the five years I’ve done it. 1,667 words a day doesn’t seem overly hard until you get behind a couple days. I’ll let you know how I do this year. Until then, if you’re interested in trying the challenge, head on over to Nanowrimo.org and get started. Let me know in the comments if you’re participating! I always love to have friends to spur me on towards the goal. All the Best – Hayley

  • Explore

    This week has been fantastic for adventuring. October is drawing to a middle, but the weather is still lovely, and with having Monday off from school, I felt like this was a mini-break in the middle of a busy semester. So, of course, I did a little bit of exploring. This last Saturday, I went to Maine with my roommate. We wanted to see a few lighthouses, so we figured we’d take the scenic 1A highway up to Portland. According to GoogleMaps, Portland is usually just under 2 hours away by interstate. We figured it’d take us an extra half-hour to forty-five minutes. Ummmm. No. Being from Montana, we were still going by Montana highways, which while you will hit more towns by taking the highway, you do still have plenty of stretches going 65 mph. It tooks us four hours to get to Portland. It was a lovely drive, but we didn’t have much time to check out Portland while we were there. In fact, we pretty much walked up their Arts District street,…

  • Thoughts about Perception

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about perception and subjectivity. Those are both ideas that we come across a lot in the fields of Library Science and Children’s Literature. As librarians, we’re supposed to set our own feelings aside and rely on what the patron is telling us. For example, if someone is asking for a “scary book,” we should get more of a sense of what they’re looking for by asking what they’ve read recently that’s like what they want or other factors they’re looking for like a certain kind of protagonist. Reader’s Advisory is, I think, a lot about putting personal preference aside. I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King (much to my father’s disappointment), but if someone was looking for a book that was scary and set in a cemetery with an adult male protagonist, I might suggest Pet Sematary. When looking at books from the perspective of my Children’s Literature courses, I can use my own perception of the book. Reading a book is ultimately a subjective experience. No matter…

  • A Little Help Never Hurt Anybody

    It’s easy to assume–especially if you’ve already completed an undergraduate program–that you know all there is to know about writing. Or maybe I should just say that I thought I knew enough about writing to get by in a graduate program since I got my undergraduate degree in English. I could probably decorate the walls of my apartment with all the papers I wrote as an undergraduate. Not to mention the fact that I write for myself on the side. Who needs help writing a measly three page paper? Well, I do. Actually, I think we all might. For my first two papers in graduate school, both professors commented on my lack of “cohesiveness”. Maybe it’s the two years I took off, or maybe it’s the fact that I write two blogs, or maybe it’s that I feel like my brain flows just fine thank you very much, but I struggled with that comment. I put so much thought into those papers! I put so much work into those papers! I didn’t want to get…

  • Books I Can Afford

    Alright, friends, today I want to talk about the magic that is library book sales. Yes, you read that right. You can actually buy books from a place where you usually have to give the books back. Now, I feel sure that most people in the “book business” have adequate knowledge of used book stores (something that I’m still lacking in the Boston area–let me know if you have any suggestions please!!!), but for some reason, I feel like library book sales go largely under the radar. It doesn’t make much sense to me. If SLIS students are looking to work at libraries, we should be the most aware of the benefits libraries offer, but for some reason I’ve heard more people talking about Barnes & Nobles and Amazon than the glory of library book sales. Library book sales mean cheap books. Sure, they’re used. Occasionally, the condition isn’t great. But usually the Friends of the Library, the wonderful group of people who host this event, make sure books are in good condition–but good condition…

  • The (Not-So) Secret (Rose) Garden

    Everyone! I have found The Secret Garden! Okay, it’s not actually the one in the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but it’s almost as great. Because not only is it somewhere I’ve never been before, (spoiler alert: there are a lot of those places) it’s also a beautiful and well-maintained rose garden. In the Back Bay Fens Park (for those of you who aren’t native Bostonians–including myself– the actual park portion of the park is called thus, the Fenway Park is the baseball field…I think.), there is a secluded beautiful rose garden called the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden. I was told about this beautiful spot by someone I met briefly earlier in the day. I was so thankful to her. It really felt like stepping into one of my favorite childhood gardens.  Seriously look at it. (photo credit to Christine Riggle (accessed via flickr) — I was not thoughtful enough to take anything besides SnapChats when I was there) Admittedly since I went on Tuesday, and it’s September, it wasn’t quite as vibrant as…