Candy Schwartz in Hard Hat

Prof. Candy Schwartz: Love What You Do and Have Fun

Professor Candy Schwartz is retiring from Simmons SLIS at the end of the fall semester. She has taught since 1980 in the areas of information organization, metadata, digital libraries and subject analysis. She was co-principal director for the first of two IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) "Librarians for the 21st Century" grants, which instituted a doctoral concentration in managerial leadership. Professor Schwartz is the recipient of two ASIS&T awards, the Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award and the Watson Davis Award, given to an ASIS&T member for outstanding and dedicated service to the society. Since 2005, her digital libraries course has digitized scrapbooks from the Simmons College Archives, covering all aspects of the production process. An exemplary professor often lauded for her devotion to teaching and her students, Schwartz was the first recipient of the Provost Award for Student Centeredness in Graduate Teaching in 2016.


You joined SLIS (then GSLIS, the Graduate School of Library and Information Science) in 1980. How did that happen?

I have an undergraduate degree in linguistics, but didn't want to be a translator or do an advanced degree in the field. After selling souvenirs at pop-up stores in malls for a few years, I realized that I needed to find an actual career. I looked through the entire McGill catalogue and thought that librarianship sounded like fun. I was, after all, a voracious reader. In 1972 I entered the two-year master’s program. I loved cataloguing, became a teaching assistant for the course, and discovered that I loved teaching as well. My mentors advised me to work in the field and then pursue my doctorate. I was a cataloguer at Concordia University from 1974-1977, during the time when we converted from 3x5 cards to MARC records. In 1977, I went to Syracuse University to get my PhD. 

In the spring of 1979, I was finishing my doctoral coursework and thinking about what my next step would be. My husband Simon had been holding down the fort in Montreal very patiently for two years, but we knew that the next move would be for my first faculty position. One of the Syracuse faculty members had been at GSLIS and recommended it to me. I had never heard of Simmons, as it had little presence at what was then called ASIS (now ASIS&T, the Association for Information Science and Technology) which was my principal professional networking community. However, we had visited Boston and liked it; we had friends there, it was close to Montreal, it had a vibrant folk and bluegrass scene, it was home to the Red Sox, and we enjoyed the good flight connections to Europe. I arranged a visit to the campus and was interviewed by the faculty. A few weeks later I was offered a position and initiated the green card application process for us both. 

I arrived in Boston in January 1980 with no green card or social security number, no place to live and little money. I resided temporarily at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union on Newbury Street. Bill Holmes, the president of Simmons, gave me pocket cash to tide me over while I prepped classes. A week or so later our green cards had been approved, so I went back to Montreal. Then Simon and I came through the border, got our green cards together and started a new life in Allston.

Have you always taught in the same subject area?

Most of the courses I teach have to do with organizing and describing information resources. I've taught information organization (LIS 415) since I arrived and I introduced the indexing course (LIS 419) in 1980. Early on, I developed and taught courses in database management, thesaurus construction and information retrieval. The database management course required logging into a mainframe at Babson College using dial-up modems and what were called “dumb” terminals. I created the first GSLIS website before Simmons had one, and introduced a course in information architecture and web design based on what I had learned. The digital libraries course followed about five years after that. At various times I've filled in for other areas including records management, online searching, literature of science and technology, and evaluation.

What will you remember most fondly about your time at SLIS? What will you miss?

The best memories will be of people. I've made many good and lasting friendships among the faculty, staff and students over the years, and I will continue to be in touch with them. 

There are lots of “remember when” events as well: 

  • Playing baseball in the park in the '80s - SLIS actually fielded two teams and I broke my finger making a catch in center field.
  • Touring the construction site of One Palace Road often enough that I got my own hard hat.
  • All the post-blizzard days when it was just me and nurses trudging through the snow along Longwood.
  • The day the city went into lockdown after the Marathon bombing and I was caught at school. The campus was deserted. I used the faculty listserv to find out whether anyone had any food in an unlocked space. 

I'll miss the rewards of teaching – working closely with students, seeing the light dawn when they “get” some thorny point, the buzz of a particularly good day in the classroom, and the parties at the end of the semester. I'll also miss my office – I have no room at home for all of the art and crafts that decorate my room. 

What will you do when you retire?

I intend to do a lot of “reading without guilt” – which is reading without worrying about all the other things you should be doing. Of course this will start with the entire Tolkien canon, more or less in Middle-earth chronological order. I'll probably binge watch some TV shows that I missed (or loved the first time around), and work on craft projects (needlepoint, quilting, beading and many others). I need to reorganize (by genre and main entry) about 21 linear feet of LPs that were shelved hastily after our last move, and we have about 60 volumes of scrapbooks that I'd love to digitize, if only to free up the space. I want to finally finish learning Quenya and Sindarin, and I'd like to tackle some other languages as well. 

Simon and I plan to travel, without having to be bound by semester breaks. We've been going to Glasgow, Scotland, every January since 1995 for the Celtic Connections music festival. Usually I can only go for a week or so, and then I have to get back to Boston for classes. Now I can stay for the whole thing. There are some folk music festivals in the spring and summer that we've never been able to attend, so we might try some of those. As for where we'll live, for now we will be staying in Brookline, but at some point we might move back to Canada – we’ll see.

Any final words of advice for students?

Make sure that you love what you do, and don't let the naysayers get you down. And have fun.

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Photos courtesy of Candy Schwartz. Photo, above: Schwartz in a hard hat during the 2007 construction of the underground parking facility and Business School building. Below, from left: Schwartz and Dean Emeritus Jim Matarazzo in 2015; Schwartz in her Palace Road office in 2014; Schwartz and Dean Emerita Michele Cloonan at the ALA conference in 2016; Schwartz and Em Claire Knowles in 2017; Schwartz and Dean Eileen Abels in 2014; Schwartz and then-Faculty Senate President Professor Liz Scott after Schwartz received the first Provost's Award for Student Centeredness in Graduate Teaching in 2016.

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