ILA 2018

Last week I got the fantastic experience of attending ILA as an intern. I absolutely love library conferences and have attended Reaching Forward and ALA in the past couple of years – every time with my best friend who is also pursuing her MLIS.

Being without my conference buddy was something I was anxious about, but it ended up being a really valuable experience. Logically, when you go to a conference with someone, you’re going to spend time talking to them and not networking. Additionally, the smaller atmosphere of ILA (versus ALA) and the social events made it much easier to feel comfortable talking to people.

An added (and surprising) benefit of being at ILA was getting the chance to network with coworkers from Northbrook Public Library. I have been shelving there for almost a year, but don’t have a lot of opportunities in which I get to talk to the desk staff there. Getting the chance to talk more in depth about librarianship with these people I already know was very valuable.

Because I was an intern through ILA I worked the registration desk on Thursday morning. Getting to work with ILA staff gave me the opportunity to meet some of ILA’s organizers as well as several presenters.

I also have never been to campus for Dominican (I have done all of my coursework online), so this internship, the mixer event on Tuesday, their booth in the exhibition hall, and meeting Diane Foote (who is now the ILA Exective Director and previously worked for Dominican) actually provided me with more of an opportunity to feel connected to Dominican than I have been able to experience prior to this fall.

A couple of great organizations I’m looking forward to exploring further as I continue my career are iREADARRT, and the various ILA forums. I’m also looking forward to assisting at ILA next year, as they invited us to come back as Intern Leaders.

I’ve attached my session notes as well, in case anyone is interested. This kind of professional development opportunity is such an invigorating experience and gave me tons of ideas to use at all of the library locations I work for! For my fellow interns, I found the session about landing the job you want to be a pretty helpful refresher.

My ILA session notes!

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Reflection on the First Month

The first month of the internship has really flown by!  I have had a chance to meet with several departments and I feel like I have gained a much better understanding of the operations of the library as a whole–how the different departments interact with and impact each other to make library services more effective for the community.  It has been great to run into the other interns as well–to check in and hear how our experiences are similar and different.

So far this experience has provided me the opportunity to discover (or rediscover) some of the things that I am passionate about and ways that I can make a difference for people.  In the course of one of my projects, I revisited best practices on using media with young children.  This area really fascinates me because media in recent years has had such a huge impact on not only being a kid, but raising kids as well.  Providing thoughtful guidelines and educating caregivers about appropriate and effective media use is so important and a key element of promoting early literacy.

I also feel like I am starting to see how many of the things I learned about in various classes can be applied in a real library setting.  For example, after reading blogs and articles about libraries that have retooled picture book organization to make the collection easier to browse and more user friendly, I now have a chance to join in the conversation about how to undertake a big project like that.  Where would you start? What challenges and concerns need to be addressed, and how do you make changes that will be beneficial to the community without having a huge impact on the level of service that’s provided.  I feel like this has already been a great opportunity to participate in real library work–not just busy work, and it’s exciting to be able to apply what I’ve learned about in a real-world setting.

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Let’s Talk About Rejection

I’ve already obtained so much experience in the short time that I have been here. My first real project was to call home childcare centers and preschools which was a very ‘hold on slow down’ moment for me. I was extremely nervous because I do not like talking to people on the phone; especially strangers that had no idea that I was calling or why. Internally I know it is sense of not wanting to bother people and having them reject me in turn because they in fact did not want to be bothered.

During the calls I got a lot voicemails, I got some people who did not want to talk to me, but I also had some great conversations. After having a great conversation with someone who was happy to talk to me made it much easier for me to pick up the phone and make another phone call. However, ever time I got a voicemail or someone who wasn’t interested in what I had said, it took a lot of courage to pick up the phone again. Overall I gained a lot of information from the providers that did want to talk to me and it was exciting to hear people’s reactions to the sources the library offers them, or how most of them had forgotten what a valuable resource the library is.

Being able to work up the courage to call someone is something I know I will have to get used to in Community Engagement and really just anywhere in the world I plan on working. It’s a natural part of job or a personal environment. Maybe instead of taking it as rejection I need to mirror it into something else.  As much as I would much rather being hiding in the stacks doing theme bags or making my flannel boards for storytimes, I know that being thrown into a situation will tech more about myself. The experiences of the phone calls and being rejected were uprooting me from what I am use to. In the Community Engagement department I will obviously have work closer with the community and communicate with people who I don’t know, on subjects that I may not be so knowledgeable about. This just means I have to work on what makes me a better more rounded person, instead of hiding myself where I feel comfortable and stable. This has been a learning curve but I am finding comfort in my role and within the library. I’m excited to keep learning new skills and having new experiences to share.

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Leaving the Comfort Zone

Piggybacking off of Katy’s recent post, I’d like to delve into my own observations about my strengths and weaknesses.

I am such an introvert, that it’s a bit debilitating at times. Which makes the fact that I’m trying to crawl out of what my sister refers to as my “writerly hermit ways,” to be public facing at a library, somewhat peculiar. Whenever I think about getting out of my comfort zone, this image comes to mind:

comfortzone

Attempting to engage teenagers in conversation, especially when they don’t know you, is like walking out of your comfort zone. I have spent the last month hanging out primarily in the Junior High Zone and had a nice conversation with Laurel about my habits when I’m there. Something that is a strength of mine is my ability to reach out to teens who are more introverted like myself. Generally, they’ll be the ones sitting alone at a table or closer to the YA librarians. I’m happy to be at a point where I know many of the teen’s names and they feel comfortable enough to chat with me about their aspirations and what they’re working on in class or at home.

The area in which I lack is reaching out to the teens in larger groups, who are more vocal and engrossed in their own bubble. I found myself wondering what the best way was for me to get to know them. After touching base with Laurel, we thought it would be good for me come up with a few questions that I can ask the group to break the ice, just so we can get to know each other. I am learning that being genuinely curious and asking questions is something teens respond to really well.

Teens have called us nosy more than a couple of times. It’s easy to misinterpret good intentions at that age. But I can see that all the librarians genuinely care about their patrons and in my opinion, that is a young adult librarian’s biggest strength.

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Gallup StrengthsFinder, or “I feel so called-out right now.”

Today I had the opportunity to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. I am a fairly introspective person, so I consider myself to be well aware of the strengths (and weaknesses) of my personality. I was looking forward to taking this assessment, as I love finding new ways of looking toward becoming an improved version of myself.

Even just answering the questions (before receiving the results) was really illuminating: analyzing which questions were harder versus easier for me to answer and having to answer questions in ways that don’t reflect positively on who I am as a person.

My breakdown of my top 5 is below:

5traitsgallupkaty

While none of these things were completely shocking, it was really interesting to see that I do have a fairly good understanding of my leadership strengths and subsequent weaknesses (“They are often impatient” couldn’t be closer to the truth).

A couple of fun/interesting things that stuck out to me where the fact that my “Futuristic” analysis included a direction to work with those who have the “Activator” trait. This idea feeds directly into the fact that I tend to enjoy working independently.

It was hard to see “Significance” in my top 5 although I’m well aware of the fact that this is incredibly accurate. To me, this is one of the worst parts of my personality – I dominate conversation or discussions and really enjoy receiving positive feedback and acknowledgement to a point that is almost embarrassing, probably because I tend to outwardly showcase my positive traits but spend a lot of time internally focused on my more negative one.

What I am most excited about is the Application section in the Action-Planning Guide. Being able to have solid suggestions for using my personality to lead to greater future successes is so appealing and I can’t wait to get started.

Even this whole post cements that feedback I got in my assessment that I ” rarely avoid telling people about [myself], [my] experiences, or even [my] shortcomings. [I] reflect on what [I] should do better, more completely, or more perfectly. [I am] comfortable admitting all sorts of things about [myself].”

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Looking Forward to a Great Year…

My name is Laura, and I will be working as the Children’s Services Intern this year.  My background is in education and I have never worked in a library before, so I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from such a vibrant and dynamic one.  My first few days as an intern reminded me of taking my son to his first day of third grade last week.  As I walked him into the classroom, I could tell from the look on his face that he was a little overwhelmed by the new space, the new teacher, and the new faces he saw.  But it only lasted a moment–as soon as he found that his desk was near a good friend he looked at me and said, “This is going to be great!”.  Reflecting on my orientation days, I can relate to the feeling of being a little overwhelmed, but also tremendously excited about the opportunity that this experience provides.  It was great to meet and get to know the other interns and learn about their backgrounds and aspirations.  I am really looking forward to hearing about their experiences throughout the year.  Additionally, listening to staff in various departments talk about the work they do was inspiring and motivating.  Their enthusiasm for the library is truly contagious.

One of the things I most appreciated from the orientation and that I am looking forward to participating in is the culture of collaboration and learning that is fostered at the library. Through the opportunities that are presented to listen to and dialogue with patrons, other organizations in the community, and colleagues we will have the opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas and figure out ways to meet the needs that are expressed.   I love the fact that libraries are not stagnant institutions, but are continually evaluating and refining services, collections and even library spaces to best serve the community.  I am excited to be a part of it.  This is going to be a great year!

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Learning Experiences and Looking Outward

I’m Mahjabeen, the Learning Experiences intern. I am still in the preliminary phase of getting myself acclimated to the mere idea of interning at Skokie Public Library. As someone with no prior experience working in a library, I am incredibly grateful to have been provided with this opportunity and appreciate the warm and welcoming environment.

To be completely candid, everything that I have learned thus far during the two days of orientation have been beneficial and I am positive that every subsequent day that I will spend here will be nothing short of that. Getting hands-on experience working in a library of this caliber that provides such a wide array of programming in addition to all their services supplemented by dedicated staff, is invaluable.

A concept that has really stayed with with me–and is something I mentioned in our reflection session earlier–is that SPL is not simply a sedentary organization. This was made evident when we went on the community tour and we stopped in a neighborhood with many apartment complexes that is known to have a high immigrant and refugee population. In addition to it being one of the stops the bookmobile makes, SPL had also identified that not many of the resident were English speakers, so the newsletters/flyers that were being sent to this particular area wouldn’t be very helpful if people didn’t understand them. Beyond going into the community to find better ways to reach their different populations, SPL also works with daycare centers to bring them storytime and even works with neighboring school districts. It’s amazing to defy the somewhat common notion of libraries as hubs for lifelong learning that people need to reach to instead, shed light on how SPL makes an active effort to reach out to its patrons as well to back up their emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

When thinking specifically about what I hope to take away as a young adult/learning experiences intern, I would love to learn about the development of teen programming and the metrics used to gauge what works and what doesn’t. How can I help SPL reach a larger populations of teens and better yet, appeal to them in a way that they want to come back and invite their friends, too? How can I become better equipped to suggest other materials they may like? What can I do to go the extra mile?

I remember my first day here, being told that if we have ideas for anything we should not shy away from them because if it doesn’t work, at least we’ll know we tried and there is always the opportunity to learn from the mistakes or the areas where we fell short. I’m not into Hockey or sports, but one of my favorite quotes is by Wayne Gretzky, and it is one I try to apply to all aspects of my life: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I look forward to welcoming the learning opportunities coming my way at SPL.

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