Endings and Beginnings

Can you believe another semester is coming to a close?! I sure can’t. For me, this means not only the end of the spring semester, but also the end of my internship at Skokie Public Library. It is bittersweet. I am excited to move on, taking the skills gained from the internship experience into my final semester at Dominican and into my career. However, I am sad to leave my Skokie friends, and the community that I grew up in and had the chance to reconnect with. 

This semester was like no other. It started like usual. However, after only 9 weeks, the whole world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning in March, when this all started, I had hoped to be able to get back to the library to wrap up and say goodbye. Unfortunately, we’ve had to stay closed. We had to miss our intern career days, and I had to miss a storytime visit at Tot Learning Center where my niece Hannah attends. Although during this difficult time, I’ve found myself wanting to succumb to negative thoughts, I’ve also found it doesn’t help my wellbeing or mental health to wallow. 

Very cool screen print I got to make with Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine at Staff Day.

So, I’m not going to focus on what’s been missed, but what’s been gained. While working from home, I got to try my hand at remote programming, and creating e-book lists. I’ve gotten more comfortable with Zoom, with Slack, and with Basecamp. I’ve gotten to cut my commute time down from 30 minutes to 1 minute, and have gotten to eat lunch with my husband every day. There are silver linings.

One thing I will definitely miss about Skokie Library is the culture. Open door policies, warm and inclusive staff, and a true commitment to the public all make this library a great place to be a patron and staff member. Another testament to the outstanding culture is the excellent response to the pandemic. I will use these examples as a beacon when finding the right fit for my career.

Thank you to Skokie Library and to my mentor, Holly, for this invaluable opportunity! And, I know I will be back to say hi, and because I have a huge stack of books to return!

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2020 Vision

New year, new blog post! Holiday break meant no homework, time with my family, and, let’s be real, a chance to catch up on Netflix! This short vacation has left me feeling energized and ready for what’s ahead–exactly what a vacation should do.

One of the classes I’m taking this spring is Storytelling. I chose to enroll because of high recommendations from Dominican alums here at SPL, and because I could definitely gain more confidence in my public speaking! Our first story is meant to be told to preschoolers. Great! I’m a pro! Storytimes from first semester have left me totally prepared! Where’s my flannel board?! The only caveat is…no props in class. I think it will go well, and I know I always have my trusty animal noises to fall back on.

The other class I’m taking this semester is an online class about social media. While I’m not an active social media user personally, I know how important it is to be aware of the different platforms and comfortable using them. So far, the class has given me ideas of how to incorporate social media in youth programming for my future career. It’s also gotten me out of my comfort zone technology-wise, and encouraged me to try new things, which are helpful skills to have both personally and professionally!

This semester at SPL has already started off well, with a preschool visit, desk time, and lots of pulling resources for teachers. I look forward to what’s next!

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New decade

The beginning of a new decade! Looking back at the past 10 years, it is amazing how all the different choices I’ve made have lead me here to Skokie. 10 years ago I was still in middle school, with absolutely no clue about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until about 3 years ago. Two moments stand out as being life changing. One, was moving to Chicago a little over 5 years ago. The second, strangely, was watching A Grand Night In The Story of Aardman 3 years ago. Laying on the couch with my family during the holidays, I remember watching this documentary and having something click in my head. They touched on fire that happened in one of their archival libraries, which resulted in them losing loads of original footage. I wanted to learn more about libraries and all that they do. After doing a deep dive into learning about everything libraries, I came out knowing that I wanted to be a librarian. And I haven’t looked back since.

And here I am! In my last semester at Dominican, applying for jobs. Time went by so quickly it’s hard to keep up. I am excited about the ways in which the classes I am taking (collection management and digital humanities) will intersect with the work I do here. I imagine that the collection management class will have more relevance to my work here, but time will tell about whether or not the digital humanities class has any bearing on my work here. I have found my fig, and with it I will plant a new tree that will open up even more wonderful and interesting paths for me to take.

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The Saddest Story Ever Told

Okay, the title may be a little dramatic but it is still a sad story!

It’s with the deepest of regrets that I have to announce my leave of the Skokie Internship Program. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected curveballs your way and while sometimes you get lucky with a homerun, more often than not it’ll strike you out.

My time here at Skokie Public Library is one I will cherish forever. As my first library experience, I couldn’t have picked a more welcoming, professional, and inclusive group of people if I tried. I would like to thank everyone in the Community Engagement office for treating me as part of the team since day one, and everyone else at SPL for being so open to questions and curiosities.

Although I may not be able to commit the time for an internship, I would love the opportunity to stay involved and volunteer whenever I am able to! If you’re looking for an extra set of hands (or eyes, or ears, or just someone along for the ride) please do not hesitate to reach out to me at LMontemayor@my.dom.edu. It is my sincerest hope that today is not the last day you’ll see me walking through the stacks and talking to strangers (a natural tendency passed down from my mother).

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

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Feeling Educated

“An Education is not so much about making a living as making a person”

– Tara Westover, “Educated”

My first official Senior Services interaction and I have to say…WOW. What an experience!

In today’s Talking Books session, we discussion Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated. Westover tells the story of her survivalist upbringing in rural Idaho and the strength it took to overcome her abusive upbringing to embark on a journey of education – worldly and scholarly.

With 17 patrons, and 3 staff members (Matt, Judy, and myself), the conversation was stimulating and endless. It is said that it’s rude to talk about politics and religion (you never know who you’re going to offend), but todays crowd was anything but shy on either topic! Varying opinions, judgements, and curiosities filled the air with enthusiasm and passion. Though at times that enthusiasm and passion could be derailing, setting the group back on course and my structuring the conversation was well received.

What was perhaps the most interesting and rewarding aspect of leading today’s Talking Book was listening to the different perspectives, feelings, and reactions to the memoir based on each individuals background and experiences. (It is important to note that the group was of various ages – not all “seniors.”) Patrons shared personal anecdotes, parallel readings related to the topic, and even brought their own expertise and language into the conversation.

I wish my grandfather could have been there to join in. He would have loved it.

I’m very excited and hopeful to join in on next month’s reading, Forces of Nature, by Jane Harper, to hear what the group has to say next! Hopefully we’ll see them all again at Savvy Skokie Seniors!





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Love from the Rockies

For Thanksgiving I went back home to Denver, where I revisited some of my favorite libraries and bookstores. Walking into the Central Library downtown, I realized that I was seeing the library with new eyes. I stood there, under a giant chicken skeleton, in awe of my home library buzzing with questions.

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Colorado Public Radio (CPR) News, German artist Andreas Greiner’s “Monument for the 308” at the Denver Central Library

Curiosity about the inner workings of the library filled my head as I walked around the children’s area, “Do they have a closet full of puppets hidden away somewhere like Skokie? How does a library system with multiple branches differ from one with only one branch? How do they plan their programs and displays? etc…” It’s amazing how much my time here at Skokie has shaped how I look at libraries; how it has strengthened my passion for all things library. I found that my desire to help and give back to my communities ran even deeper than I had thought.

The highlight of my visit to the library was when someone mistook me for a librarian and asked for book recommendations for their daughter. From what I learned here at Skokie and at Dominican, I was actually able to help her! This happened again later at a local bookstore; it made me reflect on what it was about me that made people think that I was a librarian/bookseller. At first I chalked it up to appearance (glasses, cardigan, hair in a bun), but it felt like it had to be more than that. Perhaps all the things I have learned at Dominican and Skokie shined through me like a beacon, drawing people to me. Or maybe they heard me recommend books to my brother and assumed that I worked at the respective locations as a result. Who can say! Either way, I’m thankful for everything I have learned so far at Skokie and Dominican and I am so grateful that I can put my new skills to practice even outside the library.

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Thankful for…

Thanksgiving was last week, but there’s no wrong time to count our blessings and reflect on the things were grateful for, especially during this season of giving! Here’s a short list of some of the things I’m thankful for during the first half of my Skokie internship:

  • The welcoming nature of the librarians I work with in the cozy CE office! There’s always carts of books, puppets, backpacks, book bags, and other wonderful youth materials coming in and out, and no one blinks an eye. Everyone’s open for a quick question or feedback, and that has made me really feel like a part of the team.
  • The patrons that I get to meet when working at the Youth Services desk! With each question, I learn a little more about how the library is organized and how it operates–even if it’s just about whether the craft room door stays unlocked or not.
  • The inclusive and diverse youth collection! One of the things I strive for when picking materials for my preschool storytime, booklists, and book bags for teachers is to have an array of authors and characters. This is rarely even an issue at SPL. The youth collection is so thoughtfully put together that choosing diverse materials is a given. We are lucky to be immersed in this early in our careers, so it’s definitely something we can carry along with us.
  • That my classes at Dominican align with the things I’m working on at SPL! One of my classes is about YA materials, so it’s a breeze to check out everything I need while I’m already in the library. My other class is about serving children and youth, so I get to learn about topics, current issues, and program ideas in class, and get to apply them to my work here, and vice versa!
  • The excitement and joy of the preschool classes I’ve visited so far! When I worked in a daycare classroom, it was so special to have visitors. The kids loved it, and I always walked away with something new to try with the kids. I love that now I get to be that visitor! It’s been fun to travel around Skokie, and see the differences in each school building and school culture, and even more fun to share with the students. One class even made me this cute poster!
  • That my work here reaffirms that I’m making the right decision to start a library career. I feel like my path has been a little winding, but it’s led me to the right place. Working with other people who care about learning, education, creativity, inclusivity, and community is comforting and energizing at the same time.

I can’t believe this semester is almost over! It feels like just yesterday that we had our orientation. It’s also hard to believe how much I’ve learned in such a short time. It’s been a whirlwind!

Until next time,
Lydia R.

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