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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Get Ready Savvy Seniors!

I am so excited (and incredibly nervous) to be leading the Savvy Skokie Seniors program for the second half of my internship here at SPL!

After researching trends in Senior Services in the US and putting together report with my findings, it was very interesting to see what libraries currently offer the seniors in their communities and the general consensus of what seniors want the library to offer.

While seniors are grateful and receptive to senior programming there is one detail that typically holds them back – they don’t want to be reminded that they are old. Seniors are more inclined to join in adult programming than senior programming.

Given this information, how do libraries find the common ground between being helpful and encouraging lifelong learning without the unintentional, “you’re outdated,” context? Librarian Kathleen Mayo proposes that libraries approach senior services the same as they do children, teens, and adults: identify services based off of their interests and abilities rather than age.

Such a simple concept!

This is what I have tried to keep in mind for Savvy Skokie Seniors. Our first session in January I am most excited for – we are having a story telling session (inspired by The Moth) on the topic of Gumption:

Description: Join us for a story sharing session inspired by The Moth organization. Prepare a story about go-getting. A moment of courageousness, spirit, or spunk. Tackling large obstacles, admitting mistakes, and times of nervousness. “Tell us about your gutsiest gamble and the mettle that forged them. You’ve got moxie, kid!”

I can’t wait to share with you all the successes (and not to successful aspects) of the program! Stay tuned!

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Preschoolers and their Pets

October has been a busy month for the Skokie interns! Earlier this month, I made my first solo trip to the British Infant School for storytime. I was lucky enough to observe Miss Laura do her storytime at the same preschool, so I felt comfortable that morning. I was just as excited to present my storytime, as the kids were to hear it. The theme is “pets,” because 1. I am an overenthusiastic dog mom to my own dog, Daisy and 2. Having kids make animal sounds is so fun! I tried to keep the energy in the room up and positive. The kids were responsive to the books I brought, to the counting activity we did, and to the puppet “pets” that came along with me. However, their favorite activity was “walking the dog,” with scarves. We walked them around the rug, then did tricks like sit, jump, and roll over! With all the fun we had, I think everyone needed an afternoon nap—including myself!

Last week, Quetzalli, Lydia M., and I travelled to Tinley Park to the ILA Conference. We got to meet librarians and see what’s going on with libraries all over the state. I attended mostly Youth Services-focused sessions, which reaffirmed things I’ve already been trying to work on—like including diverse characters and authors in early childhood programming—and added some new ideas—like having adaptive and accessible resources in storytime for young patrons with special needs. My favorite session was one about getting ideas for programming from unique sources, which has sparked my creativity. I’ve been looking for ideas wherever I go now! 

In addition to collecting resources for preschool teachers, and working at the Youth Services desk, things have really been ramping up. I have been excited about the work I’ve been doing, and have been trying to soak up everything I can!

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First Preschool Visit

How exhilarating to read, sing, and dance with such an engaged audience! Any nervousness that I felt before going to the British Infants school melted away once I actually began my storytime. Having seem some of the staff here at Skokie do their storytimes–all of whom did it so naturally and passionately–I knew I had a lot to live up to when I did my own storytime. Each person’s personality shines through their storytimes. I hope that with more practice that storytime will come as naturally to me as our Skokie staff; and then I can shine too. The children a the school were all excited to tell me about their day, about all the bird facts that they knew (since birds was the topic of our storytime), and anything else that popped into their heads. Admittedly, I was not the best at getting them to calm down and listen to the story. I was just as excited as them and wanted to listen to everything they had to say to me. After storytime, some of the children cam up to me and shyly asked if they could hug me and my puppets. That moment reaffirmed my desire to become a Youth Services librarian.

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Blogging Guidelines

The following are guidelines to (hopefully!) help make this blog a useful reflective, learning, and dialogical process for each of you:

  • Create a blog post at least monthly of at least 200 words by the end of each month, September 2019 through May 2020.

 

  • Menu of possible blog prompts (feel free to mix-and-match or come up with your own question!):
    • What are you learning?
    • How does what you are learning connect with what you are learning in your classes? Does it contrast with it in any way?
    • What has surprised you about your work and internship? What have you learned from that?
    • What have you realized that you don’t know enough about yet? What plans have you made to learn more about that area/topic?
    • Who have you met recently who has impacted you and why?
    • What experiences have you had that may inform the decisions you make about your library career, in terms of your area of focus, what kind of library you want to work in, etc.?
    • How have you seen the relevance of equity, diversity, and inclusion issues during your internship work recently?
    • What have you not (yet) been able to experience or learn that you would like to and why?

 

  • Read both other interns’ blog posts.

 

  • Respond to both other interns’ posts with about 50 words or so by the end of the first week of the new month. Offer some content; in other words, don’t just say that you agree or disagree but say why you agree or disagree, offer some insight, what you resonated with, connect their comments with something you are learning, or ask a follow-up question, etc.

Please let your mentor know if ever you have questions about this process, and happy blogging!

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Orientation Celebration

My name is Lydia R, and I’ll be working in Community Engagement with a youth focus for this year’s internship at Skokie Public Library in conjunction with the MLIS program at Dominican University. This is my third semester at Dominican, and I’m so excited to be working at Skokie. Not only is it my childhood library, so I feel right at home, it is also my first experience working in a library. This internship is the exact opportunity I need to get a feel for public library work, and get the chance to know what path I’ll want to take after graduation next year. I am very grateful for the opportunity, and for my mentor, Holly.

We had two full days of orientation, which let us really get to know each other as a cohort. I am looking forward to building this relationship and connection with my fellow students/interns/library ladies. The three of us also got to meet many of the SPL staff members, who are all enthusiastic, friendly, and helpful. These brief interactions help me to know this is the kind of environment I want to be working in.

Learning more about the library’s strategic plan; its stance on equality, diversity, and inclusion; its staff culture; and its dedication to good customer service truly demonstrate how SPL is committed to strengthening the community by supporting schools, businesses, and individual community members. Being a part of such a welcoming environment is refreshing and exciting, and I look forward to what’s to come.

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