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

Jobs

Family Questions

This weekend I am attending a fancy family gathering to celebrate my grandfather’s 75th birthday. So in addition to worrying about what I am going to wear, I am also trying to prepare myself to be inundated with questions about what I am doing with my life. And like any other LIS student, I need to find the perfect answer which can be very difficult. First of all, most people don’t know what “Library and Information Science” means, so I sort of water it down to “Library School.” Here come the looks of concern and confusion, followed by the commentary: “You need a master’s degree to be a librarian?” “But libraries are being replaced by the internet!” “How will you find a job?” I have my head in my hands just anticipating it. I don’t know what’s worse, these questions, or being asked why I am not married, when I plan to get married, and when I’m going to have children. What I try to do is assure my family that no, I am not…


Filling the Big Shoes

Last week, I did some marketing of my town library at the local elementary school Back-to-School night. I was lunching with coworkers a few days later, chatting about the event, and someone remarked, “No one likes the new principal.” Someone else replied, “No one ever likes anyone new, and he has very big shoes to fill.  Mr. Brown was so popular and was here for twenty years!” This struck home when another staff member turned to the guest of honor of our luncheon, our departing daytime librarian who was going off to bigger and better things, and said, “Now, remember, if you don’t like it there, you can always come back!”  This was met with enthusiasm by our little crowd. Ouch. Since I was the one filling the soon-to-be vacant position and moving from nights to this better day job, with more responsibilities, I felt a little bit like my entire library team had just announced my second-best status and expendability.  Thanks, guys, that makes me feel great. Lest you all think I am a…


Another Semester Begins…

It’s hard to believe the semester’s start is already upon us.  Just yesterday, it seems, I was luxuriating in the post-semester haze of sleep and excitement for a full summer that stretched in front of me, gloriously empty.  Well, it didn’t quite work out that way (for the better), but I’m back and ready to take on my second round of practicum teaching (HS level), and my VERY LAST GSLIS CLASS EVER! Ahem.  It’s the last of the required “core” classes, Evaluation of Information Services, which should hopefully prove interesting as well as giving me my annual exposure to people outside the SLT program. Yet, even though the semester hasn’t officially begun yet, things are already in motion.  The fabulous new officers of the MSLA-SIG group are hard at work, preparing for the back-to-school introductory meeting, I will be on campus in two short hours to share my practicum experience, tips and tricks learned to the newest crop of first-time practicum students, and my own practicum meetings with my cooperating librarian and practicum supervisor are…


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…


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…


Why Forbes is Wrong

So, if you haven’t heard about the article Forbes.com released at the beginning of June, you’re about to read all about it. The article is titled “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs” – and guess what is the No. 1 worst Master’s degree according to their “experts?” Library and Information Science. This comes as a shock to me – I’m pretty happy with my education. And after reading the article, I think there are some important things to point out.  Obviously, I have a counterargument, but I’m not the only one. ALA President and Simmons GSLIS graduate, Maureen Sullivan, responded to Forbes.com’s claim on July 10th. I’ll pull out a quote from her press release, as it is a great starting point for my personal response – “The profit-centered, corporation-based measures valued by Forbes suggest that pay rates and growth are the only valid reasons for selecting a career or seeking an advanced degree.  While it is true that for some individuals these factors are the principal focus, for librarians the primary motivation is job…


One of those librarians…

I had the recent misfortune to encounter one of “those” librarians in a public library.  You know who they are. You have seen them and they are everything we don’t want to be. We are (or want to be) the kind of librarians who are friendly,  want to help people, and are happy when the library is busy with swarms of people, and children are making joyful noise.  I, for one, am delighted when the book drop is full, the carts need shelving, and a patron with three small children wants to check out a stack of 23 picture books.  It means we are alive!  We are thriving. But not “those” librarians.  They complain when people use the outside book drop during open hours; Apparently they never had small children in the car asleep while doing errands after work.  They complain when the library is busy because they really hoped to sneak personal computer time.  They delight in informing patrons that they have overdue fines, while they delete fines for themselves.  They ignore all opportunities…


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…


Building a Fancy CV

This semester, I’ve been trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities—beyond Simmons—that living in Boston has to offer.  Three weeks ago I attended the NEA Spring Meeting, and this week I attended a conference that on the service might not seem strictly relevant to our field:  the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PC/ACA) conference in Boston.  True, there were a lot of panels on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft, and other popular fandoms, but the conference itself was huge!  The program was over 450 pages long, and I managed to find a few sessions that were on the intersection of popular culture, research, and archives, special libraries, and museums.  So of course I attended! I’ve found that some panels on an archive’s holdings can turn into a form of show and tell—look at these awesome things I have in my collections!—that never evolve into a discussion on methodology, theory, or issues of access publicity, etc., which can be frustrating.  One of the most interesting presentations, in fact, was on…


In Flux

A lot of the friends, acquaintances, and colleagues I’ve made since my time began at Simmons have been or have started to question the direction they’re going in library science/archives school.  I can’t say I’ve been exempt!  Through the classes I’ve taken, internships I’ve had, and even internships I’ve applied for, I’ve been molding and trying to figure out the course and shape of my future career. Do I want to work in a corporate or academic environment?  Out of all the areas and time periods of history that interest me, which do I want to continue to pursue?  What will be the topic of my dissertation?  Yes, I’ve definitely been weighing that one in my head, even if it’s still two years down the road.  Do I even want to continue pursuing history? One thing I’ve learned, which seems quite obvious but isn’t necessarily always black and white, is that I’ll never be happy in a job that doesn’t interest me.  Friends of mine that aren’t enjoying their internships find the material boring, and it’s hard…