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


Suggestions for a Disgruntled Patron

Sarah Barton

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:…

Opportunites at Simmons

Maya Bery

One of the amazing things about Simmons is the people it puts you in touch with – faculty, students, and visitors.  For instance, last week, Susan Ballard happened to be on campus. If you don’t know who Susan Ballard is, she’s the president-elect of the American Association of School Librarians.  Susan was on campus because she’s also an instructor at Simmons (and an alumna!), involved in the post-graduate, online instructional technology program that launched this past January.  While she was here, she asked to meet with the SLTP and IT students, which is how I came to be in a classroom with about ten other students and faculty members discussing the future of school librarianship with the head of my national organization.  That’s pretty amazing, if you ask me.

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

Sarah Barton

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…

Building a Fancy CV

Danielle Geller

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…

So…why library school?

Maya Bery

If you are currently contemplating the decision to attend library school, chances are at some point in your search process, you have heard some helpful individual say something along the lines of “Libraries are dying/e-books are rendering books irrelevant/why do you need a degree for that/fill in your own silly reason here.” This issue irked me so much, it actually wound up being the introduction to my admissions essay for Simmons. Are e-books and the internet changing the way in which libraries operate? Of course.  But the library as an institution is far from becoming irrelevant, and in fact, I think this is a fascinating time to choose to enter our noble profession.   For a start, there’s so much potential that technology and the internet opens up for us, and a simple Google search is just the tip of the iceberg.  When your friends and family learn that you actually know how to extract useful information out of Google in a method more refined than random keyword searches, their estimation of you will rise.  If…

Julie Steenson

              Last week, in talking about career paths for librarians, I reminded everyone that Batgirl was, after all, a librarian.  The day after that post, I headed off to the University Of Rochester in New York, to join my daughter on a grad school visit.  The purpose of the visit was my daughter’s admission there this fall, but I had just read about the University of Rochester’s Undergraduate Research Project for my Evaluation class (LIS403). This qualitative study was a fascinating account of how this one academic library adapted both their physical space and information access to better meet the needs of the population they serve.  Naturally, I went off for a little library tour of my own to see the spaces I had just read about in the study. You can imagine my surprise at turning a corner in the Reference Room and seeing an amazing display of the “League of Librarians: Research Superheroes at Your Service.”

Librarians in Disguise

Sarah Barton

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,…

Librarian or Batgirl?

Julie Steenson

Library and Information Science – that is the degree program we are pursuing and the name says it all.  The Master’s degree program years ago was just Library Science, but as the world changes, so does the role of librarians.  We are not just librarians, but information and technology specialists…scientists, in fact. If you think you know what your librarian does, think again. This is a much bigger world than checking out books. We are Superheroes of the Information Age! Earlier blogs discussed our personal journeys to discover what area of Library and Information Science we wish to pursue.  I, like my peers, have changed my mind countless times in these first few months.  Why?  Because there are so many choices! Here is my short list of career paths I have considered: Tradition public librarian with a modern technology twist – database management, technology public outreach (iPads, kindles, etc.), web development, social media. Reference librarian in an academic library. Faculty librarian in an academic setting – Yes, librarians are now embedded in university departments, as…

Dungeons and Dragons or: Libraries and Librarians

Sarah Barton

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…

Want Your Own Action Figure?

Julie Steenson

All I have to do is look around a typical GSLIS classroom and any librarian stereotypes disappear.  I don’t know anyone who looks like this action figure (although I am guilty of wearing my hair up in a clip on occasion…who has time to style hair in library school?). As I regard my peers on any given day, I see a mix of men and women, young and not-so-young, tattooed and pierced, in all manner of clothing and hair styles.  Any doubters just need to peek at the Men of the Stacks 2012 calendar:  or check out the Belly-dancing Librarian: to know that these old-fashioned shushing librarian stereotypes have no place in modern librarianship. We are fun! We are tech savvy!  We love helping people! Librarians come in all shapes and sizes just like everybody else…so why do the stereotypes persist? And how will we change them?  To learn more, check out this book by Ruth Kneale:  You Don’t Look Like a Librarian: Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet…