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

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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…


Bringing Back the Music

One of the things I’ve struggled the most with since moving to Boston is the fact that, for the first time in my life, musical instruments haven’t been immediately accessible to me. Wherever I’ve lived up until now, I’ve had access to at least a piano, and I usually had my mom’s violin or my alto saxophone on hand. I took this privilege for granted (and grumbled way too much about practicing!), and its importance didn’t become clear to me until I found myself feeling stranded without a musical outlet in my apartment in Boston. I dealt with this problem temporarily at the beginning of the spring semester when I borrowed an alto sax and went to a few rehearsals with the Freedom Trail Band, Boston’s LGBT community band. This group is fantastic. The atmosphere is laid-back–there were no auditions and I could meet all of the skill-level expectations even as a self-proclaimed “hobby musician.” Unfortunately, as the semester pummeled forward and my juggling act got more difficult to manage, I decided I couldn’t commit…


The Juggle

Reflecting on Katie’s post, regarding time flying in undergrad and grad school, I attended my daughter’s college graduation this past weekend!  If you are a recent undergrad, I am indeed old enough to be your mother…but even if you are old enough to be MY mother, you are not too old for GSLIS. I have a wooden sign in my kitchen that reads, “You are never too old to change what you want to be when you grow up.”  This might sound like a trite quote from the mid-life crisis crowd, but the sign has hung in my kitchen since I was “only” 32. Becoming a part of Simmons GSLIS was a huge lifestyle change, and if you read my earlier blog entries, I certainly had my share of anxieties. If you are part of the older crowd, you know what I mean about the great balancing act, but younger students have to strike their own balance, too. They don’t have it any easier than we do. Neither of us has more to juggle, we…


Library School Changes the Brain

I recently returned from a trip to see my parents, who have just moved continents and countries from India to the Netherlands. When I arrived, they had just received their shipment of possessions from India, and were still in the process of setting up. My parents are lifelong readers, and for as long as I can remember, our house has had endless numbers of bookcases overflowing with books, sometimes several levels deep, and not counting boxes in the garage or basement. When I got to college, I enrolled in a major program very similar to the one my dad had done more than thirty years earlier, and to my delight, I was able to use some of his vintage books. Nobody else had inherited copies of the Communist Manifesto, the Marx-Engles Reader, or even The Protestant Work Ethic, but I did. Yet, there was never a set method of organizing the books in any real or meaningful fashion. This never bothered me before, but it bothered me now. My librarian brain, fresh from the experiences…


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:…


Opportunites at Simmons

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.


Dig In

You don’t have to subscribe to online newsletters, blogs, and tumblrs – but since you are reading this you are halfway there… Librarians were and are some of the most profilic bloggers around and there are reams of lists and feeds from which to choose. I am going to just suggest two; the technical/rural  Jessamyn West, and the user experience (UX) commentator Aaron Schmidt. Again, you don’t have to use twitter, leave comments on people’s blogs, or create an online presence for yourself – but I would recommend it.


All the Things that are Good for You: Broccoli, Shoveling Snow, and Group projects

You probably remember being a kid and being told, “Eat your broccoli…it’s good for you.”  As a parent, I have had said my fair share of “It’s good for you” moments in raising my daughter.  A couple of specific examples stand out:  “Stacking wood builds character,” and “I know it is hard to work in a group, but it is good for you.” While I have no problem eating broccoli and I love to stack wood, I have had to eat my words on the group project thing.  Just two days ago, on a visit home, as I was stressing about an end of term group project, my daughter gave me a sympathetic smile and reminded me that group projects are good for me. I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for group projects at GSLIS.  I know we will work in a collaborative environment and so learning how to reach our goals with our peers is important, but there have been some real challenges.


              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.”