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

Sarah Barton

I am in my third semester at GSLIS. I had no formal library experience before starting at Simmons, but last semester I interned at a law library and am currently interning at a corporate research center and working part-time at a small branch of my local public library. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up when I started this program, but right now I am leaning toward corporate libraries.

Outside of classes and work, I enjoy running, reading, writing, and watching sports.



Entries by Sarah Barton

  • Two Years in the Life

    On February 1, 2012, I applied to become a contributor to this GSLIS Admissions Blog by writing a post about my first two weeks at GSLIS and cutely calling it “Two Weeks in the Life.” I just realized the post was never published; however, given that backstory I think it’s fitting that this, my very last post, is about two years in the life – my whole GSLIS experience. Ok, here goes: In short, my GSLIS experience has been a success. Thank you, and goodbye. Alright I guess I can do better than that, but feel free to peruse my past posts if you really want all of the gory details. It would be silly for me to try to capture two years of classes, assignments, jobs, internships, volunteering, and life into one post. That post would be obscenely long and essentially defeat the purpose of two years of (mostly) weekly blog posts. You know how people say the journey is more important than the destination? Think of this final post as the destination and…

  • The Desired End

    The long Thanksgiving weekend was a wonderful reprieve from classes, although Sunday was a quick snap back to reality when I had to finish a ten page research paper, create a PowerPoint overview of said paper, do an audio voiceover of said PowerPoint and post it to the course webpage, and work on a group project for my other class. Ok, so that description makes it sound a lot worse than it was, and it actually took less time than I expected to get everything done. (Then again, I am an eternal pessimist and figured it would take at least eight hours.) But all told, I am now much closer to graduating, both temporally (nine days!) and academically (two assignments), than I was at this time last week. Wahoo! I think I’ve mentioned this before, but GSLIS is meant to be a means to an end, and I feel that I have absolutely reached my desired end. Courses like Corporate Libraries and Business Information Sources and Services helped point me toward that end. Courses like…

  • It’s Not You, GSLIS, It’s Me

    I just checked the syllabus for each of my classes to confirm what I have been suspecting but had not bothered to verify. For nearly two years I’ve known this day would come, and now that it is almost upon me I’m finally aware of its exact date. On December 11, 2013, GSLIS and I will be officially over. Done. Through. Broken up. In theory, December 11 will be just another Wednesday at work followed by a night class. In reality, it will be my last day spent living with the guilt of cheating on GSLIS with my new (very sexy) job. As I wrote last week, I am ready to separate from GSLIS, but it turns out that our divorce cannot be finalized until December 11. I have no idea how I’ll feel when I walk out of class that day, or after the holidays when I find myself spending nights and weekends relaxing without GSLIS constantly pining for my attention. GSLIS is soooo needy, and I’ve had enough. Will I miss GSLIS? I…

  • Get Me Outta Here!

    The end of the semester is quickly approaching, and frankly it cannot get here soon enough. September and October seemed to fly by, but November has been dragging along. I think the combination of starting a job, looking forward to the holidays, and knowing that I am only three assignments away from never having to do schoolwork ever again has me in a bit of a rut. In short, I’m ready to graduate. When I started at GSLIS, I was a full-fledged student. I wasn’t working or interning, so I really threw myself into my studies. These days, I spend far less time doing schoolwork, yet I find myself more and more perturbed by it. Like, why won’t my research paper just write itself? Yes, I am complaining, and no, I do not expect any sympathy. Just need to vent a little. I came into this program with a full head of steam, and now I’m running on fumes. This is not particularly unique or surprising, as I imagine that most GSLIS students experience similar…

  • INALJ

    A GSLIS graduate and former GSLIS Admissions blogger, James Fox, emailed me last week asking if I had used INALJ.com in my job search. Looking at the URL, at first I thought the site would display in another language, then assumed it contained a typo, and finally decided that it was one of those shortened URLs that you sometimes see in Tweets. Having come to that conclusion, I pasted it into my browser and hoped for the best. As it turns out, INALJ is an acronym for “I Need A Library Job,” and the site is pretty cool. It compiles job postings from across the United States and Canada (and even some internationally!), success stories of folks who have found library jobs, and links to general library-related blogs and articles. It serves as a virtual community for both employed and unemployed librarians – everybody wins! It is somewhat surprising that at some (very low) point in my job search I did not, in the midst of a frustrated stream of consciousness moment, type “i need…

  • Confessions of a New Employee

    I started my new job last week, and have already encountered a handful of situations where I thought “I learned about this in one of my classes.” It has been encouraging to have that baseline knowledge, yet strange to be learning how to apply it in real life with real sources and real implications. I haven’t done anything of consequence yet – just some snooping around in a few databases and reading some internal instructional documents – but I feel like I’ve already learned a lot. GSLIS has given me a general knowledge foundation, and now my job will teach me the specifics. Starting a new job is always a challenge, whether it be adjusting to a new schedule, sitting through HR information sessions, interacting with new coworkers, learning new systems, having questions but not knowing who to ask, feeling anxious about all there is to learn, or figuring out appropriate arrival and departure times (I’m still a bit flummoxed by that one). Who knows how long it will be until I hit my stride…

  • Not a Group Work Groupie

    Given my mostly virtual schedule this semester, I figured that group projects would be out of the question. How could I possibly work with a group when nearly all of my classes meet online? I didn’t choose online classes to avoid group work, but as someone who tends to work best alone, I was looking forward to doing solo assignments and projects. Plus, haven’t I already met my GSLIS group project quota? No and no. As it turns out, only three of my twelve GSLIS classes did not involve some sort of group assignment or project. (Two of those were reference courses, which makes sense, as reference is usually not a communal endeavor.) I am struggling to think of a job that does not involve working with other people, and have come to appreciate that this focus on group work is a necessary preparation for the real world. Group work can be easier, harder, more stressful, less stressful, more effective, or less effective than working alone. I have experienced each of those sentiments in the…

  • Mastering the Master Plan

    It happened. I got a job. My master plan – starting my job search in September, taking one class online and one blended night class for maximum schedule flexibility, and continually using this forum to express my job-related anxieties in hopes that someone would sense my urgency and offer me a position – came together last Tuesday when I was offered a job offer doing prospect research at Boston University. I will not be in a traditional library setting, but this is the type of research-oriented, special library/information center position that I have been interested in since I took the Corporate Libraries course in May 2012. I start on the 28th, so I will have about six weeks of overlap until my classes end in mid-December, but the scheduling could not have turned out much better. I gave two weeks notice at my internship and part-time job, which means that this and last week involve finishing up with those while simultaneously reveling in the glory of having mastered my master plan. Thus far, my glorious…

  • Entry-level Expectancies

    I spent some time with my brother on Sunday afternoon, and we were talking about school, jobs, life, and all that fun stuff. My brother just turned 22 and will graduate college in May. He must be living the life, right? One and a half more semesters of partying, hanging out with friends, partying, sleeping in, and partying. I can assure you that he has the partying part covered, but what is creeping closer and closer to the forefront of his mind is getting a job. Ugh…total buzz kill. The good news is that my brother is way ahead of where I was at this point during my senior year of college. He acknowledged that he isn’t sure what he wants to do, and said he’s having a hard time finding “entry-level” positions. (My response: Do those even exist anymore?) Compare that to when I was 22 and about to graduate college: I was positive that I wanted to go into publishing, and getting a job would be no problem. I could not have been…

  • 31-36 of 36

    Well, here it is, folks: The last installment of my “What classes is Sarah taking this semester?” posts. I suppose it is bittersweet (for lack of a better cliché), although at this point it definitely feels more sweet than bitter. I think that I have taken about all I can from GSLIS, and am ready to start applying my newfound knowledge and skills to a full-time job. But enough about me, what about my last two classes? Online – LIS 401; Foundations of Library and Information Science This is a new core class, and all students are now required to take it in their first semester. So why am I taking it now, as one of my last classes? Well, it fits my schedule (my class is completely online, but there are also sections that meet exclusively in-person), and I thought it would be patently poetic to finish the program by taking a course that is now required to start the program. Not surprisingly, many of the lecture topics are familiar to me, but the…

  • The (Updated) Tale of a (More) Reformed Networker

    I had my first networking revelation a little over a year ago, and my second one happened last Friday at the Special Libraries Association New England Fall conference (which conveniently took place at Simmons). I spent the day listening to presentations, pondering the meaning of special libraries, and, well, networking. For some reason there was a ridiculously long 90-minute lunch break, so I figured I would mill around for a few minutes, grab some food, then sit outside and read a magazine. Well, it turned out that instead of embracing my inner introvert, I found myself breaking bread with three complete strangers (gasp!). Ok, so they were fellow special librarians and conference attendees (calling them strangers is a bit dramatic), but still, this was a major deviation from my plan. It seems absurd that this lunch conversation was such a big deal for me, but I am pretty proud of myself for being sociable on Friday. My first networking revelation made me realize that networking truly is important, and this one made me realize that…

  • Chillin’ with my Professors

    Friday afternoon I spent thirty minutes with a professor, then went to the office next door and met with another professor. This was the second of my five planned trips to campus this semester, and was a nice change from my mostly virtual class schedule. First I chewed the fat with my de facto advisor, then had a one-on-one introductory meeting with the professor for my online course. The meeting was far from introductory, however, as last fall I had a face-to-face class with that same professor. Our meeting ended up being more of a “how are things going?” rather than “hi, nice to meet you” encounter. I was with professors, who are officially my superiors, but it almost felt like hanging out with friends. Don’t worry, I have no plans to start ditching my friends to spend time with professors, but it was great to spend a bit of time with professors outside of class. It’s easy to get lost in a whirlwind of classes and homework and forget that professors are people, not…

  • You Could Technically Be A Better Librarian Than Me

    The GSLIS curriculum offers four specialized programs: Archives, Dual Degree Archives/History, Dual Degree LIS/Children’s Literature, and School Library Teacher. If none of those “tracks” suit your fancy, then you are considered a generalist and essentially create your own track. Given the sheer number of course offerings, you can cater your classes to get down and dirty with a particular topic of interest. Given my interest in corporate/special libraries, technology is one aspect of the GSLIS curriculum that I essentially neglected. I took the one required tech class during my first semester, and that was it. GSLIS offers fourteen technology courses, which is more than enough to fill the eight electives that you need to graduate. Technically you could earn a GSLIS degree having only taken three library-specific courses, which would technically make you a better librarian than me. And I’m ok with that. There are all kinds of IT, systems, information architecture, web development, and other technology-oriented jobs out there, and I’ve heard that they generally pay quite well. Some of those jobs are in…

  • Career Over Curriculum

    At the beginning of each semester I expect to briefly plunge into a state of anxiety because classes are starting. This semester, however, feels different to me for three reasons: 1) It is my last semester, 2) My current work schedule is staying exactly the same, and 3) I will be physically on campus only a few times all semester. Despite those changes, of late my requisite anxiety has been superseded by an odd state of calmness, bordering on indifference. As auspicious as that sounds, I am suspicious that this calmness is just a temporary placeholder for anxiety…but for now I can’t complain. I have two classes this semester; one fully online and one blended, which means that some class meetings are on campus and some are online. My biggest fear with such a heavy online schedule is forgetting to do the work – it seems all too easy to accidentally skip a class that I need not physically attend. I chose this more remote schedule mainly to give myself extra flexibility at work and…

  • Winter is Coming

    I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones on June 22 as an escape from the afternoon heat in Washington, DC. Fast-forward 24 hours, and I had watched five more. The only thing stopping me from completing the entire ten-episode season by dinnertime on June 23 was my flight back to Boston. I hurried home from the airport and immediately went to my library’s webpage to request Seasons One and Two on DVD. When I saw that there were 100-something holds on 90-something copies of each season (my library is part of a network of libraries in the greater Boston area, hence the large numbers), I added myself to both hold lists and vowed to start reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the Game of Thrones television show is based. It didn’t take long to become so immersed in the books that I forgot about the queue for the DVDs. The novels initially intimidated me, as there are currently five (with two more forthcoming) that…

  • Petition to Proceed into the Library World

    Most people know what it’s like to have an email inbox that is constantly full of crap. Listservs, gimmicks, promotions, mass emails that may or may not pertain to you but you should probably read anyway just in case…you know. I do my best to keep my inbox as crap-free as possible, which necessitates a fair amount of deleting things based solely on their subject line. Who knows how many emails I delete that I shouldn’t, but I do my best to diligently discard blatant crap emails while still opening anything that is, or might be, relevant. Last week, my usual subject line deletion system was jarred by an email from the GSLIS Student Services Center with the subject: PETITION TO GRADUATE form – 2013-2014. This petition clearly pertains to me as I enter my final semester; thus, the email was granted the esteemed privilege of being opened and read. I expected the petition form to be long-winded and daunting, asking me to list every GSLIS credit that I took with which professor on which…

  • The Royal Job Watch

    A few weeks ago, my friend sent me this link and suggested that I apply. Royal Librarian – the job title gives me goose bumps. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, meet Sarah Barton, librarian of Cambridge. This is definitely my best shot at becoming royalty, yet I would have absolutely no shot. By the Queen’s standards, I am hardly an “exceptional scholar and bibliophile,” and my only knowledge of British history is that Kate and William were married on April 29, 2011. Plus, my strong affinity for Kate would probably not look great on my résumé. “Other interests: Kate Middleton.” Awkward… Ok, so this job might be a bit out of my league. If nothing else, however, it goes to show that some library jobs are just plain awesome. A library degree plus a strong knowledge of and interest in a specific topic or discipline seems like a one-way ticket to a killer career. Unfortunately, there can only be one Royal Librarian, and I assume that most other “just plain awesome” library jobs are equally…

  • Library Lesson Learned IV

    As much as I am looking forward to having the perfect library job, I am not quite so naïve to think that such a thing will fall into my lap, especially on my first attempt. In fact, I would argue that no job is perfect – there is always something that renders even one’s ideal job just short of utopian. For my current part-time public library job, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes is that something. Now, before the ESL police come knocking down my door, let me clarify a few things: 1) I fully understand that ESL is a crucial program for an urban library population, 2) I have seen firsthand how much the ESL students appreciate the classes, 3) I think it is fantastic that many ESL programs (including the one at my library) are taught by volunteers, and 4) As a strong candidate for an Introvert of the Year award, talking/teaching for two consecutive hours is not really my thing. It’s not you, ESL; it’s me. I dread ESL like…

  • Drawn to Being Withdrawn

    I have recently done an unusual amount of reading about solitude while also living a more solitary life than usual – I do not have classes, work less than thirty hours per week, and my significant other is interning in Washington, DC this summer. I am an introvert by nature, so this temporary low-key lifestyle is right up my alley. Any doubts about my chronic introversion were nullified by Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I also read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale (as a counterbalance to The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Julie Norem, which confirmed that I am quite the defensive pessimist, but that is a whole different story) and this speech by William Deresciwicz, both of which touch upon the importance of solitude and reflection in developing one’s thoughts and cultivating one’s best self. Over the past two weeks I have spent a bulk of my free time reading and writing instead of watching TV and socializing, and it has…

  • Privy to Privacy

    I haven’t heard much, if any, nitty-gritty library lingo since classes ended in April. In my GSLIS experience, it seems that most of the jargon-y, theoretical stuff happens in the classroom while the more practical, practice-oriented application occurs in outside jobs, internships, or volunteer activities. Anyway, a big news story caught my attention last week not only because of its national ramifications, but also its parallels to things I have learned at GSLIS – right down to the jargon. Throughout the day last Thursday I followed an article on the New York Times website called “U.S is Secretly Collecting Records of Verizon Calls.” I will spare you the details of the article (its title alone provides a succinct synopsis), but the main thing that stood out to me about this news story was the amount of library lingo being thrown around. A senior Obama administration official was quoted as saying that the government was only collecting the metadata about, not the content of, the phone calls. It is one thing to… Wait, hold on a…

  • Summer Slowdown

    In my last post (which seems like ages ago), I posited that it would take a week or two for me to adjust to the semester being over. In retrospect, I think my estimate was off by, well, about a week or two. I adapted to my newfound classlessness in no time by picking up a few extra hours at the library and altering my internship schedule so I have Fridays off. In short, the real adjustment has been acclimating to three-day weekends, which, as you might expect, has not been all that much of a challenge. The summer of 2013 won’t be quite as liberating as that of 2012 when I wasn’t working or taking classes, but it is not in my best professional or monetary interest to completely check out of the library world for another summer. (And frankly, three-day weekends are pretty liberating.) Plus, an unforeseen perk of my summer schedule is that I have more time to put toward my local Friends of the Library group. I spent the last two…

  • Library Laryngitis

    Last week I had a case of acute laryngitis and could not speak any louder than a whisper, if at all. It wasn’t a huge deal (aside from being annoying), and actually led to some unintentionally comical and unfortunately stereotypical interactions when I was working at the library. People would come in and speak to me at a normal volume but I would respond in a whisper, thereby prompting them to start whispering. (It is a library, after all.) One woman even apologized after becoming self-conscious that she was speaking too loudly, at which point I assured her that I was the one having volume control issues. Speaking exclusively in a whisper is not particularly conducive to most occupations, but librarian is one of the few where it’s not that bad. Being a student, however, is not ideal when laryngitis strikes, as my five-minute final presentation was not particularly pleasant for my poor classmates who strained to listen to my hoarse, raspy voice. Needless to say, I am glad that’s over with. Wait a second…my…

  • Boston Strong

    I am neither eloquent nor competent enough to put into words the thoughts, fears, feelings, and emotions that I experienced last week during and in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt. It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes something this tragic and senseless to bring out the best in people, but Boston responded with the heart and spirit of a city that will not let this tragedy define one of its greatest traditions. If anything, the marathon will come back stronger next year. Boston Strong(er).

  • Marathon Monday

    Forgive me for writing about sports for a second consecutive week, but the Boston Marathon is kind of a big deal. The Boston Athletic Association claims that in terms of media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world. Yowzer. As I wrote at this time last year, I love watching the marathon, and it is another unique Boston experience. Simmons is about a mile from Mile 25 of the marathon, where Beacon Street and Commonwealth Ave will be absolutely packed with people cheering for runners as they gut out the last few miles through Brookline and Boston. Today is Patriots’ Day, which is only a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine (although for some reason in Maine they move the apostrophe and call it Patriot’s Day), so many people either have or take the day off to witness thousands of people running. Watching people run sounds fairly boring, but the emotion and camaraderie are palpable. You have to be there. This is not…

  • Being Frank About Fenway

    Today is opening day at Fenway Park. Granted, the Red Sox have already played six games on the road to start the season, but baseball doesn’t really seem official until the boys of summer suit up within the confines of friendly Fenway. I am not a huge Sox fan, and they aren’t even supposed to be very good this year, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter. Baseball has started, which means that spring is here and having a few afternoon beers is excusable in the name of watching “tha Sawcks.” (“Tha Sawcks” = “the Sox” with a Boston accent.) Boston sports teams have more or less of a cult following that can be borderline offensive to the uninitiated. For the next six months, many Bostonians will be living and dying with each and every pitch of the remaining 155 regular season games. I can guarantee you that people will come out of the woodwork to be in the Fenway area this afternoon, and I plan to be one of them. I think that “Red…

  • 25-30 of 36

    I think I’m a bit overdue for telling you about my courses this semester, so here goes. I am only taking two classes right now, as last May’s weeklong class and last semester’s independent study got me a bit ahead of the game. I’m pretty sure I have already referenced both of my current classes in some recent posts, but this post will serve as their official coming out party. Wahoo! Mondays, 9am-noon – LIS 403; Evaluation of Library Services This is currently a core class, and one that anyone who entered the program before Fall 2013 must take. That means that those of you who will be starting in the fall will not need to take this one…but you’re going to hear about it anyway. The idea behind this class is that in order to optimize library services for both patrons and the library itself, librarians must perform evaluations on different library programs and processes. These evaluations can involve surveys, a case study, or action research, among other things, and are often lengthy and…

  • Midterm Madness

    Last week I had my first ever GSLIS midterm. It was open note, so beforehand I spent a few hours going through my notes and the slides from class to create a four-page cheat sheet of sorts. Compiling everything into one document like that works wonders for reviewing how much I have actually learned, and it was refreshing to have a succinct four-page final product rather than dozens of pages of printed slides that I hadn’t looked at since the class in which they were presented. I felt pretty good going into the exam. I felt pretty good upon leaving the exam, too. My cheat sheet came through for a few nit-picky details and definitions that I would have not so eloquently remembered on my own, and the time that I spent making it was definitely well spent. All things considered, it was pretty painless. But enough about the midterm – where is the madness? The madness is not directly related to the exam; rather, it’s a reflection on how completely crazy it is that…

  • A Special Track for a Special Librarian

    Sensing a trend in my peers’ recent blog posts about different types of libraries and librarians, I will brief you on where I aspire to end up after receiving my degree in December. As Maggie’s, Julie’s, and Emily’s posts each reflect, everyone at GSLIS has his/her own sense of an ideal library job, and I will add a different perspective about what I want to be when I grow up. In past posts, I have referenced my work in my local public library. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working there, but one thing that I have gleaned from the experience is that public libraries aren’t the best fit for me. I have also made references to my internships at a law library and a corporate information center. Don’t jump to the conclusion that I am a business-minded, money-driven, public service-neglecting shell of a librarian, but those internships have pushed me toward working in the corporate library world. I came to library school expecting to graduate with a job helping people find and obtain information….

  • Ode to Spring Break

    As a graduate student, I feel a little awkward telling people that this week is Spring Break. I mean, Spring Break is soooo college, right? Last year I felt better about discussing my Spring Break plans, as I spent a week in the great outdoors of Arizona and Utah – far, far from the dreary New England winter. This year, however, my Spring Break involves a trip north (but not too far north) to my parents’ house in Portsmouth, NH for a few days. It isn’t going to be any warmer or less snowy in Portsmouth, but a different setting will certainly be welcome. This year will make for a far less exciting Spring Break story, but I am looking forward to it just the same. I am not generally a restless person, but this year’s winter weather has made me quite edgy. I have been spending an excessive amount of time wasting away in my apartment, and my weekly routine has been feeling even more routine than normal. Enter: Spring Break, exactly the elixir…

  • The Hardship of Librarianship

    An eight-year-old girl who comes to the library multiple times per week with her older sister, and sometimes their mother, posed the following to me and a colleague on Thursday night: “Do you work really hard every day? I think being a librarian would be hard.” I don’t know what prompted her to say that, as my colleague and I were both sitting at the desk doing…well, we weren’t really doing anything. In fact, the girl’s next question was “What game is that?” when she noticed that I was playing Minesweeper. The library is open until 9pm on Thursdays, and nights are generally pretty slow, so I would not say that I was working particularly hard (unless Minesweeper counts as hard work). Librarianship is not hard like rocket science or physical labor is hard. I would say it is hard like fielding customer service calls or working in retail is hard. No matter what type of library work you do – reference, cataloging, research, archives, and/or whatever else – you never know what you are…

  • My Library School Library

    I’ve written about a handful of different libraries in this blog, but I daresay I have neglected one that has been integral to my time at GSLIS: the Beatley Library at Simmons. During my first semester I was neither working nor interning, so I had a lot of downtime outside of class. To combat any and all inclinations to sit around doing nothing, I would go to a desk on the second floor of the library after my morning classes and before my afternoon class to get as much work done as possible. I find that the library is kind of like the gym – sometimes I don’t necessarily want to go, but I am fairly productive once I’m there. This and last semester, my increased extracurricular activities have reduced the amount of time I spend at Beatley. These days, I am usually only there for two-ish hours on Wednesdays, and I tend to splurge for the comfy chairs on the first floor instead of the studious desks on the second. Beatley is by no means huge,…

  • Library Lesson Learned III

    Just before the library closed on Tuesday, a boy came to the desk to ask if we had any books about dogs. He wanted non-fiction, so I brought him over to the 636.7-ish area of the children’s section and we found a few books of interest. He told me that his parents said he could get a pet, so he wanted information about dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, and horses (although he assured me he would not be getting a horse). He chose a few titles and snuck out just before closing time. I work at a small branch library, and frankly, the 636.7-ish area is nothing to write home about. The selection is limited, and much of what is available is dated. As part of the Minuteman Library Network, we can request items from any of the 42 member libraries; however, in Tuesday’s scenario the boy wanted the books right then and there, so he was limited to what we had on the shelf. In the end, he got his information, although it was not…

  • Weather You Like It Or Not

    Unless you spent the past 72 hours under a colossal snowdrift (which is quite possible), you probably noticed that snow bombarded Boston on Friday and Saturday. The weather gods vacillate between being a faithful friend and formidable foe to New Englanders, invoking elements ranging from oppressive humidity to debilitating blizzards, a nice summer breeze to bone-chilling winter winds, and beautiful spring days to crisp fall nights. I’d say that when it comes to the weather, New Englanders generally adopt one of two mindsets: 1) Bring it on! 2) Make it stop! Either way, when you sign up for GSLIS, you also sign up for the weather. The conditions are nothing new for some people, while for others they are a total shock to the system. I’ve spent my whole life in New England, yet the weather here never ceases to surprise (and sometimes even amaze) me. I dislike excessively sweating on a summer stroll to the T just as much as bundling up and trudging to the T in the winter, but I tend to…

  • Lobbying for Library Cards

    On Saturday I spent three hours lobbying for library cards. During the month of February, the Somerville Public Library is competing against the Arlington, Belmont, and Lexington Public Libraries to see which can sign up the most new library cardholders. I donned my “Libraries: Shhhh Happens.” t-shirt (which received many comments and compliments) and stood at the entrance of the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market trying to attract potential cardholders. I was surprised by how many people already had a library card, delightfully surprised by how many people are avid library supporters, and happily surprised by how many people said “I’ve been meaning to get one of those!” It was great to see such positive levels of interest and support from a random sample of locals. It felt equal parts strange and refreshing to be representing the library outside of a library setting. Branding, marketing, and publicizing are all aspects of public libraries that can never be overdone and can always use improvement, and talking to unsuspecting farmers’ market dwellers was a great environment for putting…

  • Putting Evaluation Into Action

    Last week at my internship, my boss overheard me telling a co-worker that I am taking my final core class, Evaluation of Information Services. My boss was intrigued, and suggested that we schedule a meeting sometime next month to look at the evaluations she has done in the past and perhaps start thinking about future evaluations. This is a prime example of GSLIS curriculum in action, and a perfect way to incorporate my coursework into an actual work setting. But, to be honest, my first reaction was to momentarily freak out. I didn’t have a meltdown or anything, but I felt as though she had asked me to design a prototype for a spaceship. I have only had two classes so far this semester, and I guarantee that my boss knows far more about evaluation than I do. What type of insight could I possibly bring to this meeting? Once I got over that initial freak out, I calmed down and realized that this is a great opportunity for me. My boss didn’t recommend meeting…

  • We are Not on the Same e-Page

    My mother reads more books than anyone I know. She is always reading something, and more often than not she has multiple books going. She legally possesses three library cards from three different libraries, and she actively uses each of them. For the past few years, my father had been talking about getting my mom an e-reader for Christmas, but I always told him that she doesn’t need one because she is at a library multiple times per week. This year (and it is unclear whether this was the result of a lack of other gift ideas or a concerted effort to put my mom at the forefront of book technology), he finally gave her a Nook. For all the books that my mother reads, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her purchase one. That said, getting a Nook is not going to make her any less of a library user. I will be shocked if she purchases a book on her Nook – she is a library user through and through. Anyway, I was…

  • Occupational Preoccupation

    I went to work at the library on Saturday dressed as a librarian. Hair pulled back, cardigan, sensible shoes, blah blah blah. (Fortunately, my vision is still ok, so I didn’t top it off with a pair of glasses perched on my nose.) I was a stereotypical librarian. I hate the stereotype. It drives me nuts. Librarian is one of the only occupations I can think of that has such a preoccupation with its image. I chose Saturday’s outfit because I wanted to wear my new cardigan, not because I was feeling particularly librarian-y that day. I actually felt self-conscious before I left my apartment because I thought I looked too much like a librarian. Isn’t this generation of librarians supposed to defy the stereotype? To rid this and the next generation of librarians of this burden forever? A few months ago, in an attempt to abate my distaste for the librarian stereotype, I read a book about it. Turns out, that only made it worse. There were all kinds of examples of librarians who…

  • Time to Face the Music

    The holidays are over, which means there’s only one thing left: New Year’s resolutions. It seems like a lot of people are resolute about not making resolutions, while some think of January 1st as a yearly opportunity to set new goals. I generally tend to fall among the resolute “non-resolutioners,” but right now I’d say that my 2013 resolution is to listen to more country music. Yesterday I spent forty dollars worth of iTunes gift cards (thanks, Santa!) solely on country tunes, so it seems I’m well on my way. I was pretty proud of my aspiration to unearth my inner honky-tonk until I realized what my real resolution for 2013 should (and will) be: getting a job. This is arguably more of a necessary life activity and culmination of two years at GSLIS than a new year’s resolution, but I am pretty darn resolute about gaining employment. Suddenly the “Simmons GSLIS anticipated December 2013” line on my résumé seems slightly more imminent. I mean, December is a solid eleven months from now, but it…

  • Library Lesson Learned II

    On my way home from the train a few days ago, I ran into a woman who frequents the library where I work. The library stays open until 9 pm two nights per week, and she is almost always there at least one of those nights watching videos and shows on her laptop. I say hi to her and ask how she’s doing, but we never had a conversation and I didn’t know her name. One night, for no apparent reason, she gave me a bag of tasty Szechuan peanuts. Anyway, when I saw her walking home from the train that day, we both recognized each other immediately and had a nice conversation. By virtue of seeing each other at the library, this woman and I had tacitly become friends. That very same evening at work, another frequent patron came up to me while I was shelving books to say that he hadn’t seen me in a while and asked how I was doing. I said that I only work a few nights each week, but yes,…

  • Breaking Down My Winter Break

    My classes ended today, so I am officially 66% of a librarian. I need only twelve more credits (four more courses) to hit 100%. Yowzer. Next semester will entail two classes, a new internship, and continuing with my part-time public library job. My schedule will be similar to last semester’s, except for the welcome change of having two classes instead of three. Speaking of change, last week I found myself twiddling my thumbs after submitting all of my final assignments. Over the course of the semester, I would come home from class and do a few hours of homework before heading to work. Last week, I came home and just sat there. I wasn’t lamenting my lack of homework, but it was strange to have a midweek chunk of free time. Am I going to go nuts during the twelve days before my Christmas celebrations start? (“On the seventh day of break, My boredom gave to me, Seven hours of reality tv.”) As much as I am looking forward to a reprieve from classes and…

  • 22-24 of 36

    Surprise! I bet you weren’t expecting to hear more about my GSLIS course credits this semester, but this is it, I promise. In addition to my three classes this semester, I had an Independent Study doing an internship at a law firm library. The perks of my internship have been gaining practical experience, building my résumé, bolstering my arsenal of talking points for future interviews, and spending time on the job with a library professional. I spent twelve hours per week at the law firm doing a variety of tasks including research, collection upkeep, invoice organization, and basic cataloging. I did not have any designated internship-long projects, and was, for the most part, subject to whatever tasks cropped up on a given day. It was a great introduction to the life of a solo librarian in a special library environment. The internship culminated in writing an article about the benefits of having an internship. I had almost too much material to work with! With the help of the GSLIS professor who proctored my Independent Study,…

  • Let’s Take This Outside (the Classroom)

    Two of my three courses this semester have required that I interview a library professional. Those interviews, plus my internship (more on that next week) have provided me with practical knowledge that simply cannot come from a classroom setting. The two classes for which I had to do interviews are “Principles of Management” and “Knowledge Management,” both of which are very theoretical and situation-specific. Talking to people in the field has been a great supplement of my overall understanding of the concepts that have been discussed in class. A write-up is required after both interviews, but frankly, I have found myself less concerned about the grades that I get on the papers than how I might be able to apply what I have learned in a professional setting. Talking to real life library professionals has been an interesting, thought provoking, and relevant addition to the time spent in class. I’m not suggesting that you invent a non-existent class or assignment in order to have an excuse to talk to someone who works in a library….

  • Working for the Weekend

    In high school and occasionally during college summers, I worked on Saturdays. It wasn’t ideal, and I’m sure my bustling social life suffered irreparable damage, but somehow I survived. Since then, most of my Saturdays have been unadulterated Sarah time. A typical Saturday involves waking up (not sleeping in, as I have lost the capacity for that), going for a run, sitting on the couch, and going out for dinner and drinks. In short, Saturdays are great. Now imagine my horror when I found out that the branch library where I work, which until two weeks ago was closed on weekends, would now be open on Saturdays, and that I will sometimes have to work on Saturdays. I was out of town the first weekend the library was open, but this past Saturday I had no excuse. I went to work. And it wasn’t all that bad. I must confess that I was only scheduled for two hours, so there was still ample time for running and sitting and going to dinner. And it was…

  • A Case of the Mondays

    Today is Veterans’ Day observed, and GSLIS does not have classes. How will I be spending my morning, you ask? In class. Barring Thanksgiving next week (yay!), the only holidays this semester fall on Mondays. That means there ends up being one less class meeting for Monday classes than for their Tuesday-Friday counterparts. So despite the holiday today, my professor (and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, a few other professors as well) will be holding class. The thing is, I’m not even mad. I’m not dreading going. It just feels like another Monday. Everybody enjoys a day off (and especially a long weekend), but when classes only meet once per week, not having a class is a considerable setback. My professor isn’t having class to spite us, as she is also coming in on what could have been a day off. We have a lot of material to cover, and just finally got caught up after falling behind a few weeks ago. And, frankly, the point of being at GSLIS is taking classes,…

  • Don’t Judge a Donated Book by Its Cover

    I work at a small branch library, and I was surprised to learn that we are not supposed to take book donations. One or two books here and there is ok, but an “I’m moving tomorrow and here is my entire book collection” drop off is too much. It’s not that we don’t want them, but since the main library is better equipped to handle donations people are encouraged to bring their books there. I don’t necessarily agree with the policy, but after reading this I might be more inclined to enforce it. If I were going through donated books and came across a gun, I probably would have uttered a few choice words other than “Oh my.” A gun…in a book? The write-up doesn’t make it sound malicious, but still, a gun…in a book? Knowing nothing about guns, I would say that gun actually looks kind of cool – like something a cowboy would tote in a saloon. But that’s not the point. What is the real story? Why was that cool looking gun…

  • Fathoming the Frankenstorm

    I tend to not get too hyped up about storm forecasts. I recognize that people need to be alerted about the potential severity of a storm so they can prepare accordingly, but I personally don’t get caught up in the 24-7 Weather Channel or local news coverage. (Confession: in small doses, I do enjoy watching the live reporters who can hardly stand up due to the driving wind and rain. And how do their microphones not pick up any of the wssssh sounds from the wind?) On Sunday morning I picked up some bottled water and non-perishables, tested my flashlight, and collected some candles, so I felt like I was more than prepared for Sandy the Frankenstorm. Sunday evening I was surprised to see that many Massachusetts schools announced Monday closures. Then I received an email from my Monday morning professor that she was cancelling our in-person meeting and putting the lecture notes online. Then Simmons called, texted, and emailed me to say that the campus would be closed on Monday. Are people overreacting to…

  • “Library” Cataloging Experience

    I thought that cataloging would be my jam. My calling. My future. This assumption, for better or worse, was based on one thing: my iTunes library. Ever since I can remember, I have been militant when it comes to organizing my music. I have carefully constructed playlists by genre (Country, Hip-Hop, Rock, etc.), but I also have some that are not quite so easily categorized, such as “Chill,” “Random,” “Strange,” and “Guitar Hero” (thank you, junior year of college). My basic cataloging method is as follows: For every song in each of my playlists, the “Genre” field in iTunes contains the name of the playlist that the song is in. That way, if a playlist gets accidentally deleted, or I can’t remember whether I put a song in “Strange” or “Chill,” I can easily figure out where it lives. It isn’t sophisticated or foolproof, but it forces me to make deliberate categorizing decisions and gives me peace of mind. One thing that I love about my iTunes library is that many of the choices that…

  • 1-12 of 36

    As promised, whether you like it or not, here is a retrospective account of my courses from last semester: Mondays, 9am-noon – LIS 415; Reference and Information Services A core class, one that everyone must take. The idea behind the class is that nearly every job that requires an LIS degree involves working with information, so this class teaches how and where to find it. We learned about hundreds (literally, hundreds) of information sources and their function. Homework assignments involved finding the answers to obscure questions without using Google, Wikipedia, or anything else on the free web. (Daunting, but useful.) We also learned the basics of reference and customer service etiquette. This and LIS 415 are probably the most library-ish core courses that you will take. Tuesdays, 9am-noon – LIS 488; Technology for Information Professionals A core class, one that everyone must take. The idea behind the class is that technology has permeated just about every aspect of LIS and, for that matter, the free world. As information professionals, librarians are expected to have a…

  • 13-21 of 36

    I’ve been spending so much time lately writing about the work I’ve been doing for my classes and the random things that have nothing to do with my classes that I have neglected to talk about, well, my classes. And aren’t classes the reason that I’m here? And why you’re considering coming here? So, without further ado, let me tell you about my classes! Mondays, 9am-noon – LIS 404; Principles of Management A core class, one that everyone must take. The idea behind the class is that people who obtain an LIS degree may very well end up in a management position within a library, so the course is about different management approaches and how those approaches might be applicable for different people in different library settings. Going into GSLIS, I never considered myself as a potential manager (frankly, I am much better at being told what to do rather than delegating), but this course has opened my eyes to the fact that someday I may be bossing people around. And I mean that in…

  • Preaching to the Comforter

    Is there anything more ridiculous than giving a ten-minute PowerPoint presentation to your empty bedroom? Having spent 55 minutes doing just that last night, I think I was more uncomfortable talking to an empty room than I will be when doing the actual presentation. Then I got to thinking, why was this my first time educating my down comforter? I can think of five presentations that I gave last semester, and not once did I elect to practice beforehand. How did I pull that off? On my first go-through, my ten-minute presentation took nearly twenty minutes due to stopping to iron out what I wanted to say. There was definitely swearing involved. If I hadn’t practiced, would my real presentation have gone like that? Then I discovered that it is quite easy to get sidetracked when speaking aloud to no one. I watched people out the window. Where is my neighbor going? I spun around in my desk chair. I filed my right thumbnail. I noticed some blemishes on the wall. I spun some more….

  • Extreme Makeover: Walmart Edition

    I would say that inside of nearly everyone’s mind lives an image of what a library looks like. You may picture your local library, a library that you have visited, or a completely imagined state-of-the-art facility that you designed in your brain. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume that this Texas library would fall into the completely imagined category. Turns out it’s real. I don’t foresee myself in McAllen, Texas anytime soon, but dang do I wish I could set foot in that library. It looks awesome. A library with too much space? Unheard of, until now. I’ve heard of people getting lost in the stacks, but at this place it might be possible to get lost in the children’s room. And the coolest thing is that the new library building has attracted more than two times the number of patrons that the old one did. It’s amazing how redoing a library space can have such an impact on a community. It looks so bright and palatial and welcoming, like someplace where…

  • Library Lesson Learned

    The other day at work I was shelving books when a woman asked if I work there. Eager to be helpful and put my developing library wisdom to use, I said yes. She said that her daughter, who was there with her, had just finished The Trumpet of the Swan and was looking for other books by E.B. White. I asked if she had read Stuart Little or Charlotte’s Web, and she said yes. I think my next utterance was something along the lines of “ok…hmm.” The girl then proceeded to give an effusive summary of The Trumpet of the Swan, hoping that I could come up with another book that she might like. I don’t know much about children’s literature, and suggested that she ask the children’s librarian. Needless to say, my first official readers’ advisory opportunity was a total bust. In my reference class last semester we talked about readers’ advisory resources, so I know they are out there. But in that moment, with the girl looking longingly at me as I struggled…

  • Don’t Fear the Syllabus

    One of my biggest issues at the beginning of the semester is that I get myself into a tizzy when the professor goes over the syllabus. I get all worked up about the assignments, even the ones that are due sometime in November. “How am I ever going to have that paper done before Thanksgiving?!” should not be a concern in early September. Thankfully, after the first class I never again need to look at the syllabus as a whole. Instead, it becomes a week-by-week guideline, which just seems so much more manageable. Once the semester gets going, everything more or less falls into place. Readings get read, papers get written, and assignments get done. Sometimes it’s all a blur, and sometimes I decidedly labor over things that are miniscule in the scheme of things. For example, when posting to online class discussion forums I have been known to incorporate parallel structure, consult a thesaurus, and vacillate between using a semicolon or a dash. (Note: the posts are almost never graded on content and never…

  • The Tale of a Reformed Networker

    As I mentioned in my last post, this semester brings me the joys of a part-time job and an internship. After months of what amounted to futile job searching, I eventually managed to land not one, but two library-related opportunities. Based on this recent experience, I have come to terms with the fact that networking can go a long way. For years I assumed that my unique (read: incongruous) résumé and undeniable charm (read: propensity for awkwardness) would force the job market to bow down to me in reverence. Incorrect. Rather, I have found that just about every job I have ever held was because of an acquaintance who already had a foot in the door. So finally, after months of wondering why I wasn’t hearing back from library job postings to which I had responded, I set my pride aside and resorted to some good old fashioned networking. In the midst of volunteering at the Somerville Public Library, I applied for a few part-time vacancies and was offered one which starts next week. I…

  • Shooting for Par, Pigeons, and Career Preparation

    Last week I tried two things that I had never done before: golfing and shooting a gun. In both activities, my shots were pretty poor. Frankly, some of them were downright awful. Having never done a sport that focuses exclusively on minutia, golfing and skeet shooting served as total wake up calls. A golf swing has to be one of the most finicky skills in all of sports, and I still can’t figure out why those clay targets are called pigeons – their size more closely likens them to hummingbirds. Alas, despite the particularity of golfing and shooting and the fact that I was certainly not a natural at either one, I enjoyed them both. If I have a future in either activity (golf is the front-runner at this point), I will need to put in many, many hours of practice. Boy is it frustrating to try something new and enjoy it, only to realize that obtaining any sort of skill in it would require taking it up as a part-time job. (Finally, here comes…

  • For Me, a Library Job is Better than the Mall

    The other day I set foot in a good old-fashioned mall for the first time in several years. It was almost lunchtime on yet another 90-degree day, and the mall was relatively empty save for a handful of folks meandering in and out of the stores. I basked in the air conditioning while strolling past old teenage haunts like American Eagle, Finish Line, and Abercrombie & Fitch (ugh). While standing in the Verizon store waiting for a phone repair, a sign near one of the mall entrances caught my eye: “We are committed to making our malls a greater part of each community they serve.” The first thing my librarian-in-training brain did was to replace the word “malls” with “libraries.” Which then made me think, how similar is a mall to a library? Well, both are free for people to enter and look around, both are spots for congregating or hanging out, both revolve around customer service, and both are mainstays of their communities. People frequent libraries and malls to find a specific book or…

  • A Conversation Starter…or Stopper?

    Last week I was discussing my library school escapades in two different situations with two very different results. The first interaction was with a seventy-year-old uncle who said “I don’t understand library school, can you explain it to me in one paragraph?” This query presented several challenges, especially since the guy is not a library user. The conversation lasted less than a minute and I could tell that he wasn’t super interested in what I was saying. It was frustrating not only because I did not really know what to say, but also because whatever I said didn’t quite seem to resonate with him. It’s almost like he was trying to pick a fight, but neither of us was willing to throw the first punch. The next interaction was much more engaging and pleasant. It was between myself and three teachers from a prestigious private school in Connecticut. One of the teachers is currently being encouraged by the school library director to pursue a library degree, so he had all kinds of questions. Another worked…

  • Summer of Sarah

    It is nearly July, and a few people have asked me if I have been busy so far this summer. The answer is yes, provided that vacationing qualifies as being busy. May was busy with volunteering and taking the Corporate Libraries course, and June has been busy with trips to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and a quaint little New Hampshire lake. So yes, technically I have been busy, even though my time has been increasingly spent vacationing rather than working. I have spent the last three weeks hiking in Santa Barbara, exploring San Francisco, and lounging on an inflatable raft in New Hampshire. It has been glorious, and the gallivanting is set to continue through July with a visit to the Rhode Island shore, a road trip to North and South Carolina, and more inflatable raft time in New Hampshire. While all of this has been, and hopefully will continue to be, wonderful and cultural and relaxing, I must constantly remind myself that this Summer of Sarah is not real life. Coming to terms with…

  • Corporate Librarianship: Selling Out or Buying In?

    Goodness gracious was that one-week “Corporate Libraries” course a blur. In five days I had to do two short papers and two group presentations, so there was no time for “I’ll do this later.” Maybe that was a sneaky introduction to the “I’m asking you now, but I needed it yesterday” corporate library culture. Based on what I learned from the course, that theory doesn’t seem too far-fetched. [Before I get started, so as not to confuse the “Corporate Libraries” title with the many different types of libraries we learned about, this course could very well be renamed “Special (With a Large Emphasis on Corporate) Libraries.” Just doesn’t have a very nice ring to it.] Two of the most useful things about the course were the field trips and guest speakers. (I know I sound like a middle schooler, but bear with me.) Over the course of the week, we visited three different special libraries and had a number of guest speakers. We also had in-class lectures, PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and readings, but the visits…

  • The Post-Semester Life of an Unemployed Aspiring Librarian

    The calendar tells me that the semester ended three weeks ago. Instead of harping on how that does not seem temporally possible, I will briefly detail the post-semester life of an unemployed aspiring librarian in all of its glory. The day after my final final I started volunteering at the Somerville Public Library. I had the opportunity to shadow the library director, and came away with all kinds of clichéd “what they don’t teach you in library school”-type knowledge and insights about what goes on behind the scenes in a public library. I sat in on meetings, met interesting people, and did research for a grant proposal. In less glamorous news, I spent four days going through random documents that past library directors had left in the office. I’m pretty sure that experience solidified my lack of interest in archives. I also spent some time helping at the Friends of the Somerville Public Library Book Sale. On the last day of the sale, all VHS tapes were $0.25 each or five for $1. A little…

  • Suggestions for a Disgruntled Patron

    My hometown newspaper published a letter to the editor from a woman who thinks that the public library budget could use substantial cuts. She writes that high school students should replace the six gossiping and squawking librarians with master’s degrees who are checking out books on any given shift, and that the library director and assistant director are grossly overpaid. I am in no place to comment on the library’s budget or staffing structure (although I find it hard to believe that six librarians are constantly manning the circulation desk), but I was glad to see that community members have commented on the letter itself and written their own letters extolling the library and its services. I don’t know what side of whose bed that woman woke up on before writing this letter, but I would like to think that she is an anomaly in a world full of grateful library users. Fortunately, I woke up on the right side of my own bed this morning, so I will offer her some things to consider:…

  • Debunking the Conspiracy

    This morning I saw a bumper sticker with these lovely words of wisdom: “It IS as bad as you think, and they ARE out to get you.” While I cannot attest to exactly what that Volkswagen-driving amateur conspiracy theorist has in mind, I can assure you that that phrase does not apply to Simmons GSLIS. I have nearly completed my first GSLIS semester (yay!), and not once have I felt that it is really that bad or that someone is out to get me. My undergrad experience left me with haunting memories of walking into class the week after taking a test or handing in a paper and having the professor say that half the class failed and the average grade was a 74. I didn’t necessarily feel like my professors were out to get me, but sometimes it did seem that they were going out of their way to put us measly college students in our place. Thankfully, GSLIS has not rekindled that foreboding feeling of failure.

  • The New Grad School Try

    I could have tried harder in college. In fact, I should have tried harder in college. For some reason it just didn’t seem “cool” to do so at the time. When I embarked on my thesis at the beginning of my senior year, I realized that I was going to have to change my work habits. And change them I did. I daresay I enjoyed writing my thesis, and even finished it before the deadline. I relegated myself to the library for self-imposed “Thesis Thursdays” in addition to several hours per week when my former self would have been watching some stupid dating show on MTV. (Because clearly that was the cool thing to do.) My thesis went without a hitch, and I realized that investing myself in my work could actually be…cool. After three and a half years in the real world (MTV pun intended), I entered GSLIS and promised myself that I would work hard.

  • How Running a Marathon is (sort of) Like Attending Simmons GSLIS

    I want to make the Boston Marathon relevant to GSLIS. I really do. “Library school is like a marathon.” “The last two weeks of the semester are the final sprint to complete a marathon.” “The Boston Marathon is awesome, and so is GSLIS.” As much as I enjoy figurative language, those statements just don’t quite get it done. I couldn’t watch the Boston Marathon last year, but two years ago it was one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed. Despite being a certified stoic, at one point I found myself holding back tears. The combination of beautiful weather, everyone’s positive energy, and the camaraderie among the runners and spectators created an experience that I will not soon forget. There is something overpowering about watching 27,000 people meander 26.2 miles from Framingham to Downtown Boston. A marathon is hardly about winning in the traditional sense. Everyone out there, whether on the course or alongside it, wants every single marathoner to succeed. In a marathon, to succeed is to finish and to finish is…

  • Librarians in Disguise

    On Wednesday I went to an Alternative Career Panel sponsored by the Simmons Special Libraries Association (SLA). The panel consisted of three women, all of whom graduated from Simmons GSLIS in the past ten years and none of whom are employed in a library. (Gasp!) One of the panelists researches potential litigation cases for an economic consulting firm, and the other two, whom I will call “techies” for lack of a better/more creative term, work in the user access/user experience area of technology. On the most basic level, the first panelist does research (duh), and the techies collaborate with web engineers and graphic designers to simplify and enhance user interaction with a web interface. One of the questions for the panel was “How do you define yourself professionally?” The researcher said “librarian” (although no one she works with would refer to her as such), one of the techies said “information scientist” (but sometimes “librarian” when she really wants to blow someone’s mind), and the other techie said “information architect.” Technically, they are all librarians. Technically,…

  • Dungeons and Dragons or: Libraries and Librarians

    On Friday, to conclude the Best March Ever, I went to “The Future of Reference” hosted by Simmons GSLIS. The keynote speaker, Joe Janes, Chair of the MLIS Program at the University of Washington’s Information School, ended the evening with a bang. He championed the idea that librarians are important. He was, of course, preaching to the choir, but I tend to have a hard time justifying my existence as a library student. Arguments I have heard against libraries include, but are certainly not limited to: “When was the last time that any of our friends went to a library?” and “Libraries are like dungeons.” (Does that make librarians fire-breathing dragons?) But Mr. Janes unleashed the dragon in his talk called “Information makes us human.” He said that “Our profession is central to what we are as a people. We make humanity more human.” That message had me breathing sweet hot librarian fire. Libraries may seem like dungeons in the incandescent world of Google, but over time libraries have preserved information in a way that…

  • Library Promotional Considerations

    New technologies are changing how people use libraries, and libraries must evolve their services and outreach accordingly. Last Wednesday I went to the volunteer kick-off event for the Friends of the Somerville Public Library. The Friends, like many similar organizations representing public libraries across the country, are always looking for new ways to promote their library. So, over the past few days I came up with some fun means of bribery to generate awareness of the library. [Disclaimer: some of these ideas are more feasible than others.] Readers’ Race Library 5k – A road race is not a novel idea (pun intended), but serves as an effective promotional technique. The race starts and ends at the library, and all proceeds benefit the Friends organization. Free books would be available at the finish line, and local businesses could set up booths in the post-race hangout area. Get a Free Library Card Day – Ok, so every day is Get a Free Library Card Day, but maybe emphasizing the FREE aspect might help catch people’s attention. “Random…

  • Best. March. Ever.

    During mid- to late-March you can find me parked in front of a television watching college basketball. I can unabashedly say that I have spent at least 24 of the past 96 hours either actively or passively watching college basketball, but that is about to change. Over the next few weeks, I will supplement my basketball watching with an array of library-related talks and panels. This could be the best March ever! It all starts this afternoon at Simmons with a talk called “Developing Diverse Library Leadership in the 21st Century” to be given by Molly Raphael, President of the American Libraries Association AND Simmons GSLIS alum. (If that doesn’t go to show how far a Simmons GSLIS degree can take you, I don’t know what will.) Then, as James posted a couple weeks ago, Wednesday is a kick-off meeting for the Friends of the Somerville Public Library, and I am definitely going to check that out. On Friday, I am going to MIT for a “Panel Discussion on Libraries and Best Practices in Fair…

  • The Grand Canyon of Libraries

    Last week was Spring Break, and instead of crashing crazy parties in Cancun I traveled through northern Arizona and southern Utah. Having never been anywhere in the Southwest, I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, and the red rocks of Sedona. Now that I am at GSLIS, my travels prompt me to think about the libraries that support the places I visit. This may sound silly, but I really do love when I see a library in an unfamiliar town. Or, even if I don’t see the library, it is interesting to check out its website afterward. After spending two days in Springdale, Utah (population 457; a small, touristy town right outside of Zion National Park), I was not surprised to find that its library staff consists of three people and that without a library card, internet access costs $1 for 60 minutes. After two days in Sedona, Arizona (population 10,031; an artsy, touristy, and outdoorsy city), I was not surprised to…

  • My Vow to Browse

    When I visit a library with the sole intent of choosing my next book, I tend to become borderline robotic. In fact, last week I embarked on Mission: Obtain this month’s Book Club selection. I looked up the call number online, went to the library, grabbed the book, and left. I was in the library for no more than two minutes. If a million dollars was sitting on the shelf below my book, Justin Bieber was manning the reference desk, or the periodicals were on fire, I didn’t notice. I was on a mission. Must.Get.Book. (Spoken in robot voice). That high-speed library mission got me thinking about the last time I entered a library without a specific book in mind. I decided it was probably sometime in fifth grade. These days I usually know, or at least have an idea of, what I want, and look at nothing else. Must.Get.Book. In a library full of infinite browsing possibilities, my robot-like obstinacy keeps me focused exclusively on what (I think) I want, which can be both…

  • Slaying the Lack(-of-relevant-experience) Ness Monster

    Soon after graduating college, I was fortunately offered a job at a small publishing company. Less than four months later, I was unfortunately laid off, thus prompting a five-month bout with unemployment during which I glumly spent my weeks applying to dozens of jobs while trying to rid my brain of the Avenue Q classic “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” Finally, as a last resort, I valeted cars for a month before a college friend got me a job doing administrative work at a local hospital. This is not meant to be a “woe is me” tale; rather, an indicator of how difficult it can be to get a job (especially in a tough economy) without relevant experience. Case in point: My work experience between the ages of 16 and 21 involved the following: preparing vegetables for a woman named Cricket to put in her homemade sushi and spring rolls, manning the register at a grocery store, and driving around town buying items to put on a boat for a non-profit…


  • Last summer I visited the Library of Congress, and the “Jefferson’s Library” exhibit blew me away. A pane of glass separated me from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection – the collection that spurred the advent of the Library of Congress. My inner librarian sang out (albeit quietly) with ecstasy. As presidents go, I have always been partial to Abe Lincoln. He single-handedly made the top hat iconic. But upon seeing Jefferson’s library, I could feel my allegiance shifting. I cursed myself for visiting Honest Abe earlier that morning, and doubly cursed the Tidal Basin for making the Jefferson Memorial inconveniently remote for pedestrians. To atone for my Jefferson snub, I read a book called Jefferson’s Books while intermittently stroking the face of a nickel. Among other things, I learned that Jefferson was a connoisseur of books and information to the extent that he could never, ever have enough. In an 1815 transaction that induced much disdain from Jefferson’s political opponents, the U.S. Government purchased his library of 6,700 books for $23,950.1 Cyrus King lamented that Jefferson’s…

  • Why I Am Here

    Since this is my very first post (yay!), let me tell you why I am at Simmons GSLIS. I love libraries. I love what they are, what they stand for, and what they provide for their communities. I have never worked in a library, but pursuing a library degree just felt right. So here I am. On my first day of class, the professor asked who wants to work in a library after graduation. No one’s hand went up. If the professor hadn’t called my name from the list at the beginning of class, I would have thought I was mistakenly in the wrong classroom. In reality, my mistake was thinking about a library degree superficially. Thinking that everyone in GSLIS wants to work in a traditional library setting. When I started here, I thought I wanted to do reference. I have not abandoned that idea, but it has been pushed down the list. I could do something in publishing, digital media, news librarianship, or even wine librarianship. (Yes, that does exist.) So, when thinking…