The End and the Beginning

It’s crazy to think that I’m sitting here on my final day writing my final blog post. This experience has been so overwhelming, in all senses of the word. This semester has been a real challenge. Since my last post about time management and learning to develop work/life balance I have spent most of the time sick with respiratory illnesses (and now a bonus ear infection) and grieving and burying my grandmother who recently passed.

I have also, however, had a lot of positive movement on the job front and received a lot of positive feedback from management at both of my current jobs. Things are moving onward and upward and I know that my experience at Skokie has helped me to understand how to better navigate the terrain of planning for job placement as well as how to interview and apply appropriately. I feel I’m graduating with my career on a positive trajectory and am excited for what’s to come.

Working at Skokie has made me think a lot about what it means to work as a team and how it feels when a workplace feels like a community. I definitely have this feeling at my other jobs, but it has taken more time and breaking down silos. At Skokie, I have been made to feel from the very first day that I am part of a friendly and accepting whole. I have learned a lot about effective communication and scheduling here that I will take with me to other positions.

I have had such a wonderful experience learning from all of my mentors during this program – both official and non-official. Lynnanne has obviously been a tremendous help in so many ways – Lynnanne, I have loved getting [not so] ‘off topic’ with our in-depth conversations about library values and futures. All of the discussion opportunities with the entire group have been powerful and thought-provoking. Kathy and Allyson have been excellent leaders in helping me develop deeper readers advisory skills. Shelley and Kathy have been excellent to work with in helping me explore the beginnings of youth services Bookmatch. Working on a project like that getting the experience of trying to plan and communicate on that type of project has been an excellent learning opportunity. I can’t wait to see it find its legs later this year. And Shelley, thanks for introducing me as ‘secretly one of us’ to everyone. It made me feel so included. I hope you and I will get more chances to work together in the future of Youth Services. Miguel gave me opportunities which I found challenging and really helped me push on my adult services skills that are less developed – all with a great, futures-minded attitude toward service and teamwork. Holly, I’ll miss your fantastic attitude and sitting in a bed next to yours eating fried okra (a little ILA joke). Your passion and dedication to your work is so obvious and inspiring. Laurel, you’re brilliant, thoughtful, and patient. It is so evident that you love working with teens and I’m confident that you have a positive impact on all of them daily.

EDI work is deep, pervasive, ever-present and so very necessary. As a white librarian I have to take responsibility and ownership of my whiteness and what it means. It cannot just be lip service or something that is considered at EDI meetings, it is something I have to notice and consider in every aspect of my personal and professional life. The learning opportunities I was given in this area at Skokie were thought provoking and really valuable.

The sheer number of pilots and changes the library has decided on during my short tenure is really impressive. Even this week, seeing that Youth items will be going fine free is such an excellent, patron-oriented, equity-increasing move that it makes me really proud to be able to be associated with SPL as an organization.

Getting the opportunity to do a couple of pop-ups (shout out to Bill for his help with these!) really gave me the chance to see how engaged a community can be with their library. The attitude of the individual patron walking around the lobby at Skokie feels very different to those at other buildings I have experienced. Working pop-ups has given me a lot to consider about how I can bring this feeling to other buildings in the future.

While I have lead a number of children’s book discussions, getting the opportunity to choose a book and lead a discussion on The Girl Who Smiled Beads was fantastic. The skills certainly transfer over between adults and kids but it was really interesting to be able to go so in depth about such a difficult subject with a group of adults who were really very eager to participate. I could tell how much they personally enjoyed being there and clearly looked forward to this group.

The department and committee meetings I was able to be a part of were an excellent learning experience and Harwood Method is something I will continue to use in the future. I have loved the Innovation Spaces meetings and getting to know the people in that group better. Hannah has been such a lovely person to get to know and, as we both graduate this weekend, I know she will go on to do fantastic things within our profession.

Attending board meetings and getting to interact with Richard and Laura has been a great experience that has made me more confident in approaching and starting conversations with the administration at my other buildings. Seeing Richard ‘in action’ at the board meetings has given me a better idea of which skill sets I will need to improve to eventually find myself as a library director, a goal which has only been cemented and clarified through my experience here at Skokie. Leah is truly a gem and such a good first impression of what the library wants to project and cultivate in its new employees. It is so wonderful to see how valued she is because it is so well deserved.

My fellow interns, you have taught me more than you know. I have loved getting to know you, and only wish we had even more meetings during which I could hear about the wonderful, inspiring, and impressive things you have been doing. You ladies are all amazing and I know you will have wonderful success in your future careers – please keep in touch.

Thank you to Dominican for providing this opportunity and for all of the Dominican mentors for your insights and assistance. You’ve been lovely to work with.

There truly isn’t enough time to mention and thank everyone who has made in impact on me during this experience. Somehow this goodbye post has turned into a love letter to the building, to this experience, and to all of you and I think that says a lot about how Skokie makes one feel, as I am not one for a lot of cheesiness! Thank you for this experience, thank you for everything, SPL. There’s a million reasons why your community has so much love for you.


3 thoughts on “The End and the Beginning

  1. lynnannelibrary says:

    It was an honor to be your mentor Katy! I’m definitely did not cry while reading this love letter to your experiences here (okay I cried buckets). I’m so glad this experience was so formative for you.


  2. Thanks for taking the time to share such warm and encouraging thoughts about your experience here! We all enjoyed getting to know you. I’m sure we will be hearing from and about you as you help lead libraries into the future! Please keep in touch!


  3. skokielaura says:

    Such a beautiful post! Thank YOU for all of your hard work this year. We will miss you but I know you are going to achieve great things in libraryland!


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