Beinecke, Zines, Alumni & More: Fall 2019 in Review

Pratt students outside Beinecke library
Pratt SI students at the Beinecke library

Before we head into 2020 and begin planning a new lineup of events for the spring semester, we’d like to reflect on what a spectacular fall semester it was — all thanks to an engaged group of returning students, and an incoming group of equally enthusiastic ones. Here’s a look at some of the events we shared with our Pratt community.

Yale’s Beinecke Library Trip

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In October, we hopped on a train to Connecticut to enjoy autumnal colors and go behind the scenes at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. Visiting in person is the best way to experience this weirdly magnificent building, with translucent marble that allows just a little light to shine through. The exhibition hall is open to the public — so you, too, can see their copies of Audubon’s Birds of America and the Gutenberg Bible (whose pages, contrary to popular legend, are not turned often for an undergraduate to read the whole thing during their time at Yale) — and the reading room is accessible to registered researchers.

But we were fortunate to meet with several librarians and archivists who showed us around beyond the public areas. The Beinecke is known for a number of collecting areas, but is particularly strong in American literature, and we saw examples of books (multiple copies of Peter Pan) and heard fascinating stories about the challenges of collecting materials from living authors (one of whom’s includes correspondence in which they wrote something along the lines of, “I would tell you, except this letter is going to end up at Yale”). These librarians and archivists (including a Pratt alum) were incredibly generous with their time and insights, about the Beinecke and about their work and about librarianship in general, and we are so thankful to them all.

And yes, we also had some delicious New Haven pizza.

Alumni Talks

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This semester, we launched a monthly series to highlight the work of Pratt School of Information graduates, while providing current students a chance to hear about professional paths and make connections with librarians in the area. We heard about opportunities to provide volunteer reference services to the incarcerated via NYPL, learned about the surprising instructional aspects of librarianship in a corporate library and archives, and found out what it takes to build engaging comics programming. Again, we can’t thank Emily, Deimosa, and Leigh enough for sharing their time and expertise with us.

Tours: Explorers Club & AMNH

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Being in New York City provides us with access to an incredible range of libraries, archives, and museums, and we were able to visit two fascinating ones this semester.

First, we explored the 114-year-old Explorers Club and its library and archives, which include books, maps, and films about travel and exploration. Retired club flags that club members brought on expeditions line one room, including flags that have been to space and on deep-sea missions. We also heard a great example of the unexpected skills you pick up outside of school: the Archivist and Curator of Research Collections has three taxidermists’ numbers on file in case of a conservation emergency.

Paintings hanging on a wall in the stairwell at the Explorers Club were sketches for the backdrops of the magnificent dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, where we enjoyed another tour. Show a group of library science students some cool visualizations made using metadata, a 1558 encyclopedia about sea creatures, and a page from Darwin’s notebook, and you’ll really be playing to your audience.

Zine Workshop

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Finally, we hosted a hands-on session led by alum Emma Karin Eriksson, who shared some of the best practices she’s learned for leading zine workshops for kids, teens, and undergrads. Scheduled during the end of the semester, we enjoyed a fair amount of therapeutic cutting and pasting, which was a welcome break from final projects.

We’ve got some equally engaging events in the works for the spring 2020 semester, but we always welcome your ideas. Feel free to email us at, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for announcements about events throughout the year.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at these events, as well as at our meetings, student group happy hours, and school-wide events. And the greatest thanks go out to all the professional librarians, archivists, curators, and more who provided time and valuable insights to help us make these events happen.

–Mary Bakija, PALA President

Library of Congress, Bookbinding & More: Spring 2019 in Review

Introducing PALA to prospective students in March.

From a trip to D.C. to hands-on workshops and behind-the-scenes tours, we had an eventful spring semester! Here’s a look at some of the events we shared with the Pratt community.

Washington, D.C. Trip

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The highlight of our semester took place in April, when we hopped on a bus with a group of students for a whirlwind visit to Washington, D.C. — there and back in one day! After a general introduction to the Library of Congress with a tour of its Thomas Jefferson Building, our generous host Muzhgan Nazarova led us to several corners of both the Jefferson and the James Madison Memorial Buildings.

In the Manuscripts Division, we learned a bit about the joys and challenges of reference, particularly when it comes to housing the papers of many Supreme Court Justices (“They always seem to pass away on a weekend,” said Manuscript Reference Librarian Patrick Kerwin, “so we’re very busy on Monday morning!”). We saw that the Performing Arts Reading Room, like much of the Library of Congress, still relies in part on card catalogs. This is the access point for the the Music Division’s collections, which famously includes five Stradivari stringed instruments (and perhaps more interestingly, it also includes around 2,000 flutes, given to LC, some say, as a move to out-donate the Stradivari donor). Finally, Nazarova provided an overview of what she and her colleagues accomplish in the Asian & Middle Eastern Division. Shelves of books in languages of the region line the walls of the office, waiting to be cataloged by librarians who seem to speak at least four languages, but often many more.

We also registered for and received Reader Identification Cards, so we look forward to opportunities to return to the Library to do some research. Having seen first-hand the dedication and enthusiasm of the librarians we met, we really can’t wait to go back.

Bookbinding Workshop

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During a fun workshop in March, we received instruction and hands-on practice in bookbinding at the Center for Book Arts. Since we’re training to work with them full-time, it makes sense to understand the mechanics of books. Plus, a little deep concentration with a needle and thread certainly helped as a form of meditation at a time when we were well into the intensity of mid-semester classwork.

Professional Events

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Being in New York City has a million perks, but for a group of library science students the best thing might be the incredible number of libraries, archives, and events relating to the field. To help students get a better sense of career opportunities and to make some professional connections, we organized tours of two libraries and gathered a group of students to attend a local discussion on reference librarianship.

Descending through the stacks of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building, Michelle Misner led us to the library’s labyrinthine underground areas located below Bryant Park during a tour in February. She shared a lot of information people probably don’t get during the public tours, like how they employ multiple classification systems, including Dewey, LC, fixed order, and the Billings system.

We learned about an interesting classification system at another beautiful Manhattan library when we visited the Grolier Club in April. Meghan Constantinou, a Pratt alum and the librarian of the 135-year-old bibliophile club, provided a tour, pulled some of her favorite items from the collection for us to see, and shared some of the Club’s history — which includes the creation of a unique classification system.

Finally, during the Reference Librarianship & Justice: Critical Interventions event at METRO in March, students heard from an impressive group of librarians who spoke on panels and gave presentations discussing issues around the critical dimensions of reference services. Everyone was incredibly inspirational, and it left us wondering: How can we better connect LIS students to underserved NYC library communities? What needs can we fill, and what sustainable projects can we create or help empower?

We hope you’ll help us come up with ideas to help answer those questions and more during the 2019-2020 school year. As always, feel free to email us at, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for announcements about events throughout the year.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at these events, as well as at our meetings, student group happy hours, and school-wide events. Thanks to the generous support of the Pratt Graduate Student Engagement Fund. And finally, extra-big-time thanks to all the people who provided time and valuable insights to help us make these events happen!

–Mary Bakija, PALA President

End-of-the-Semester Round-Up!

Hi there Pratt SI students and wider community,

As the semester is winding down, I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for your great ideas, support, participation and feedback over the past few months!
I also wanted to give you the head’s up on a few ways you can be involved with SILSSA and Pratt SI over the break, and into the Spring semester:

Join us at ALA-MW!

We are offering eight scholarships of $120 for registration to the ALA Midwinter Conference, being held from January 8-12, 2016.

The conference is being held in Boston this year, so it’s an easy and fun way to get involved in the field, see what ALA is all about, and meet other library professionals.  Check out all the great events they’re offering on the official ALA Midwinter site.

This scholarship is opened to current students (including those who will graduate in December) who are registered members of ALA. Interested? Just write to us with a brief statement explaining why you’d like to attend ALA Midwinter!

Fill out an application at: by December 5th. Winners will be announced December 8th.

Give Feedback on the School’s Mission, Vision & Goals

December 3, 2015, is the last day to provide feedback on the draft revision to the School’s Mission, Vision and Goals.  You can provide feedback at:
Alternatively, you can send feedback over email to

Come to the Holiday Party!

Students, faculty, & staff are invited to the Pratt School of Information Holiday Party!

Friday, December 11th, 6-8pm PMC 6th Floor

RSVP: or call the office 212-647-7682.

before December 9th.

Fill out the ASIS&T Student Survey

Pratt ASIS&T would like to learn about your experiences at Pratt SI this past fall.

The results of this survey will be shared with SILSSA and faculty, and is a great way to let us know how your semester went. All answers will be kept completely anonymous.

This survey will be open through to the end of January. Please encourage your fellow Pratt SI students to fill it out for us.

Review the notes and Storify from our Town Hall Meeting

SILSSA held a Town Hall Meeting with Pratt SI students, administration, faculty and alumni on November 14th, to discuss the recent name change at our school, and the role of students and alumni in strategic planning going forward.
Thank you to all those who attended,  raised their concerns, and generally provided support for this important meeting. You can review the notes and storify for the meeting here:
Storify of tweets:
Notes from the meeting:

Follow us on Social Media

SILSSA posts events, updates and relevant professional stuff on our social media pages. We would love to connect with you there.
Twitter: @silssa

Let us know what you’re thinking

As always, we are eager to hear from you, the Pratt SI community. Our job at SILSSA is to represent the student body of our school, and to make sure that we are all getting the most out of our time at Pratt.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns — or even just ideas for fun things to do in the Spring, please email us at or fill out our feedback form at
You can also reach out to me directly at, or on Twitter at @fiiidget

I know this is a lot, thank you for taking the time to look at it! And thank you all again for making this a great semester, and I know that Spring 2016 will be even more awesome!


Pratt SI Informational Town Hall – Saturday 11/14

Pratt SILSSA is pleased to announce that we are hosting an informational town hall meeting for students, alumni, faculty, and other members of the Pratt School of Information community on Saturday, November 14th, at 2:00pm, in Room 613 of the Pratt Manhattan Campus.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the recent transition our school made from SILS to the School of Information, to clarify what this change entails for our students, accreditation and the future of the program, and to allow for continued and increased involvement of the student body in the strategic plan for the School of Information going forward.

The name change came as a bit of a surprise for a lot of us, so we want to make sure everyone’s questions are answered, and voices are heard. We all want Pratt SI to be as great as it can be, and making sure that the student body, alumni community, and other interested parties are involved in and informed about the future of our school is the first step in making that happen.

We will discuss:

  • The MSLIS degree and ALA Accreditation
  • Plans by Pratt SI to offer additional degrees
  • The timeframe/method by which the name change was announced
  • Student involvement in the strategic planning process
  • Personal goals/outcomes for your time at Pratt SI
  • The future of LIS education in general

This is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard, so we hope you can join us!

If you plan to attend this event, please RSVP at If you are not a currently enrolled Pratt student, it is very important that you RSVP, so that you will be able to access the building the day of the event.
And as always, if you are unable to attend, or if there are questions, comments or other ideas you would like to voice anonymously, you can submit them via our feedback form, or email us at

We look forward to seeing you there!

NYPL Day at Pratt


NYPL Day at Pratt

Sponsored by Pratt SILSSA

Attention all (especially Alumni and those in their last semester).
NYPL will be on campus Thursday, October 22 to interview for Librarian positions ( Children Librarian, Young Adult and Adult Librarian positions to start immediately).
An Information table will be set up in the Lobby of the 6th (Pratt Manhattan) from 2:30 pm -7:00 pm and interviews will take place on the spot for those who qualify.  The interviews will take place every half hour from 2:30-6:30–please let us know the times you are interested in.
Staff from NYPL Human Resources will answer any of your questions and accept resumes for other positions at NYPL, but they will only interview for Librarian positions. 
A reservation spot is strongly recommended. Walk-ins are welcome but reservation spots will be seen first. Space will fill up fast- so please reserve your spot ASAP.
Reserve your spot in advance by emailing SILSSA at by Wednesday, October 21 8:00 pm.
Email a time you would like and a confirmation will be sent, remember walk-ins are welcome.

Happy Open Access Week!

Hey all you School of Information students!*

Monday, October 19th sees the start of Open Access Week!  From their website:

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward.

If you want to participate and learn more, join us for our Librarians@Pratt Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon on Saturday, October 24th in Room 609.  Come by any time from 1 PM-6PM.  There will be a new editor workshop from 1PM-2PM and open editing from 2PM-6PM.  We will be discussing the importance of Wikipdedia as a tool for increasing Open Access awareness and use, as well as the value of Wikipedia to libraries, librarians and other information professionals.  Snacks are on us!  You can RSVP here.

Also, if you’re interested in a library position with NYPL, don’t forget to sign up for NYPL Library Day, sponsored by Pratt SILSSA!  NYPL Human Resources will be on the Manhattan campus, 6th floor on Thursday, October 22nd to interview for librarian positions from 2 PM-7PM.  Email us at by Wednesday, October 21st at 8 PM to reserve your spot.  Walk-ins are welcome as well.

Hope to see everyone out and about for Open Access Week!

*P.S. Just a quick reminder that if you have any thoughts or questions about the recent decision to rename the School of Information and Library Science to the School of Information, SILSSA has set up a Google form you can reach out to us on.  Read more about this decision on our last post by SILSSA President, Sarah Hackney.

SILSSA and the School of Information

Hello Students, Alumni and Prospective Students,

By now, I’m sure you’re aware that Pratt SILS is now the Pratt School of Information. If you need to get caught up, you can read Dean Tula Giannini’s statement, and Provost Kirk Pillow’s announcement.

I wanted to take a moment and clarify SILSSA’s position within this change, and reach out to any of you who want to discuss what this change means for you, for the school, and for the future.

To start, SILSSA remains the student association for all students enrolled at the School of Information, as well as the official Student Chapter of the ALA for Pratt. We intend to retain the name and acronym SILSSA. This is the name that we are known by, both within Pratt and in the world at large, and because we continue to be officially associated with the ALA, we want to continue to represent libraries and library science within our name.  As the School of Information expands, there may come a day when we need to reevaluate the scope and/or name of our group, but for now, we remain SILSSA.

Secondly, I know that a lot of people have questions about what the name change means for the school, for their degree, and for ALA accreditation. As per the Dean, the School of Information will continue to offer the MSLIS degree, and that degree will continue to be accredited by the American Library Association.

Currently, the School of Information offers two Master’s degrees: the MSLIS and MS in Museums and Digital Culture, as well as the dual-degree programs. There are plans to offer other degrees in the future, and it is my understanding that this planned expansion is what predicated the change of name.

Becoming the School of Information is a change that was made behind closed doors. Many students and alumni did not know that this was being considered, and our input was not sought. It is also a change that has caught many people off guard, considering the quick turnaround time between the announcement (Thursday, October 1) and the official change itself (Monday, October 5).

I have spoken to a number of student and alumni who have concerns not only about the removal of “Library Science” from our name, but also about the manner in which this decision was made and announced to our community. SILSSA would like to give you an opportunity to discuss these changes, our position within the world of LIS education, and the future of the field.

We are in the early stages of planning a town hall-style event where students, alumni and other concerned parties can come together to discuss these issues, so keep an eye out for further announcements. If you are interested in participating or helping to plan this event, please get in touch with us.

If you have questions or comments, whether for SILSSA, the School of Information administration, faculty or the Dean, you can email us at, or me directly at Or, if you would like to remain anonymous, you can leave a comment though the google form we’ve set up for this purpose.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to continuing the dialog around this topic,

Sarah Hackney, SILSSA President

Mark Your Calendars…ALA Midwinter 2016


The American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits 2016

Early bird registration starts today and runs until November 11, 2015.

This years’ conference will be held in Boston. MA from January 8-12, 2016.

Since Boston is relatively close (a short trip by bus or train or car), attending would be easy.  It will also give you many opportunities… to meet other students and professionals, to network, to obtain resources, to find out what’s going on in the field.  If you are looking for a job, bring your resume and start interviewing.

For more information about ALA 2016 Midwinter, go to their website

Look for further info from Pratt SILSSA on ALA Midwinter and other  ALA opportunities.

Come tour the Schomburg Center with SILSSA!

SILSSA is pleased to host a tour of the Schomburg Center’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books division.  The tour is free, but only a limited number of spots are available.
The Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books division holds rare primary materials dedicated to the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world with a concentration on the Americas and the Caribbean.  This is a great opportunity to view a unique collection and see how a specialized library builds its various collections.
When: Tuesday, October 13th 2:00-3:30 PM.
Where: The Schomburg Building, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. New York, NY 10037
Please plan to meet at 1:45 PM outside the Schomburg Building to ensure a prompt start!

SILSSA Updates 9/17/15

Hi there!  My name is Alana and I’m your SILSSA VP.  I’m interested in museum libraries and organizing engaging events for you guys this year!   You can get to know your new SILSSA officers better on our “About” page.

If you want to get to know us even better, come out to our SILSSA Happy Hour on Friday, September 25th, location TBA!

Don’t forget to take our survey regarding scholarships for the ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences this year.  Last meeting, we discussed a plan to offer a few registration-fee scholarships to ALA Midwinter.  The Midwinter conference is being held in Boston, so we thought it might be helpful in making a relatively close conference better accessible to Pratt students, but we want to hear from you!

The plan proposed is:

  • Offer 8-10 merit-based scholarships to ALA Midwinter 2016 to cover the cost of event registration (approximately $125).
  • Help to coordinate travel and housing for SILS students attending ALA Midwinter to help further offset costs.
  • Reduce the number of scholarships to ALA Annual 2016 from 5 to 2 or 3.

We will discuss the results and hold a final vote at our next general meeting, to be held on Tuesday, October 6th.

We’re always interested in your input!  Feel free to contact us at with suggestions for events, speakers, and other activities you’d like to see us organize.

Hope everyone is settling in to the Fall semester well.  Can’t wait to see you guys at our upcoming meetings and events!

P.S.  Check out the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 20.  Some events of interest include the Reception for Librarians, The Internet: The Great Equalizer?, and Translating Books for Youth.  The Brooklyn Book Festival’s website has a complete list of events here.