My Year in Review
My internship at Skokie Public Library has been an incredibly rewarding and beneficial experience for me. Looking back at the year as a whole, it’s challenging to sum it all up without being too cliche or sentimental. I’m sorry, but I had an amazing year, okay?
Here were some of my best experiences / biggest takeaways from the internship:
Learning about Public Libraries
Prior to my internship, I had never worked in a public library before. Working here allowed me to learn how Skokie Public Library functions day-to-day, as well as how it plans for the future and develops as an institution. Our orientation at the beginning of the year gave us a great overview of the departments, the building, and the services the library provides. Later in the year, our “operations snapshot” day gave us a chance to learn more about the behind-the-scenes jobs, such as Human Resources, IT, marketing, and budgeting. I will take my experiences at SPL into my future career, where it will be interesting to see how other public libraries are similar and different.
Attending ILA in Peoria
In October, SPL allowed us to attend the annual Illinois Library Association conference in Peoria, IL. I attended a number of presentations and events which were all very informative and inspiring. Over the course of the weekend, the other interns and I got to know each other better, which was an added bonus.
Working at Public Service Desks
Over the course of the year, I worked weekly shifts at the AV and Readers’ Services desks, as well as in the library’s call center. Having the opportunity to practice reference and readers’ advisory skills in a number of different settings has given me confidence in my ability to serve library patrons and has strengthened my research and information skills. Everyone I worked with throughout the year was very helpful and encouraging, and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from such talented and dedicated professionals.
Teaching Technology Classes
In addition to working at public service desks, I also taught weekly 1-on-1 tech classes. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, teaching basic computer skills is more challenging than I had imagined, but I think I grew a lot in my abilities as an instructor over the course of the year. I also had the chance to teach a group class on web browsers, which was a great learning experience for me as well. Reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses has helped me to improve as an educator, but the self-improvement process is definitely ongoing.
Completing Practicum and Independent Study Research
As part of the partnership between Skokie Public Library and Dominican University, I completed two 10-page research papers on topics related to my internship. In the fall, I learned more about best practices for writing collection management plans, and in the spring, I researched patron-driven acquisition. It was a very valuable experience to consult academic research about projects that were unfolding at SPL. I am excited to see where SPL goes with patron-driven acquisition in the upcoming months.
What comes next?
Luckily for me, I don’t have to say goodbye to SPL right away. I will be starting my new job as a school librarian in Montana at the end of August, but until I move, I’ll be staying here as a volunteer. I’m planning to continue some digitization projects that I started last fall, as well as to follow the progress of the patron-driven acquisition project. I’ll keep working at the desks and teaching 1-on-1 classes, in order to gain more experience and keep improving my skills as a librarian.
I am very grateful to both Skokie Public Library and Dominican University for providing me with this experience. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most impressive, inspiring librarians in the country (not an exaggeration) and I have never felt more confident in my decision to become a librarian myself. I am particularly grateful for the encouragement, advice, and support that the staff of SPL gave me in my job search this past spring. And finally, I want to thank Laura, who was a dedicated and helpful mentor, and will continue to be one of my professional role models throughout my career.