The Secret Sauce

I was reading my undergraduate alumni magazine and had to click on the article titled, “What’s the Secret Sauce in a Great Internship?”.  The brief answer, look for the “triple X”:  exposure, exploration and experience.  Well check, check and check. I think I’m getting all of those things during my internship here at the Skokie Public Library.

This has been most evident in the areas of exposure and experience.  My time at SPL to date has exposed me, or at least given me a brief introduction, to most areas of the library and library operations.  On a very basic level, and one that I think I share with our intern cohort, is simply understanding the library “social norms”  and ways of communication.   I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a number of staff trainings covering the various reference resources used in the library, and have been able to put into context when and how these resources would be used to support the needs of the patron.  It’s also been great to learn more about the Harwood Institute and turning outward and community engagement. Lastly, I’m very interested in diversity, equity and inclusion in libraries (and everywhere else) and have enjoyed being included in the Word of the Month discussions and the diversity and cultural competence training.  My only frustration in this area is that I’m not here every day to participate in all of the sessions.

The experiences have also been many and I continue to add to the list.  Shadowing, and now actually participating, on the service desks has given me great experience in a  “real world” setting, but also has helped to build my confidence in my abilities.  I may still be figuring out procedurally how things are done, but I’m still able to help the patron.  Participating in book discussions has been amazing.  I’ve shadowed an adult book discussion and the Next Chapter book discussion (my favorite) and soaked in every minute.  I’m looking forward to shadowing the Talking Books discussion in a couple of weeks.  I’ve also experienced the great customer service focus here at SPL, including working the desks and call center and throughout my interactions at the library in general.  I think this philosophy and “vibe” is very evident in the building.  For example, when I explain to patrons that I’m an intern and it may take me a bit longer to find their answer, many of them have offered support and wished me luck in my career.  Thanks!

My journey into exploration has begun, and now that I have the basics down, I anticipate doing much more exploration through the rest of the school year.  I’d like to reach out and learn even more about different areas of the library, and continue to learn ways where my past experience and skills can be transformed and utilized.  I may be the only Intern who wants to learn more about the budget and budgeting process, but now’s my time so I want to take it!  I’d like to explore possible next steps for the bikemobile project. other community engagement initiatives, and training/learning opportunities.  So many areas to explore is a good thing, but it will keep me busy, all while developing my all around skills as a future librarian.


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