Bigger Fish

 

As I apply for jobs I’m reminded by a cartoon episode of the Simpsons where Lisa Simpson is given the opportunity to finally move to the next grade. She wasn’t sure of the decision and the choice was given to her in a different way “So, do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or do you want to be a little fish in a big lake?” She said “Big fish! Big Fish!” I am less intimidated by the job requirements for many public library and academic library jobs because of my experience in the Skokie Library. I have completed a year of work in different departments and working with amazing programming and efforts. 

At first it was very intimidating working alone in some of the after school spaces or answering readers advisory questions. As I wrap-up my internship, I’m finding that it’s a lot less intimidating to work on the Youth Desk or in the after school areas alone. I don’t feel anything like a big fish in a little pond but I am a lot more confident in myself while working in the library. I feel more assured in giving college preparation advice to high schoolers or answering a reader’s advisory questions to avid ten year old readers. I can offer my opinion and not be terrified of giving the “wrong answer”.  I feel that this internship gave me the opportunity to walk as a librarian and practice my coursework or even learn lessons that I missed because of class choices. A great example of this is the Readers Advisory training I attended and practice I received on the Youth Service desk and shadowing on the Reader’s Service desk. I did not have enough credits to take that course but the Skokie Internship has given me that training in the added value of working in a library setting!

Another final semester reflection is the interconnections of library programming and experience. This hit me when I helped one of the other interns, Kara, with the Marvelous Birthday Bash Celebrating Curious George’s 75th Birthday. I was tasked with the banana tree activity. So far my experience and work has been concentrating on working with teens and sometimes adults. This program helped me put together my skills working with both groups and work with families with different age children. I had exposure with that in the BoomBox during drop-in hours, but this was a lot more people. The event was attended by more 200+ people. The youth department was full of families who were there for the event specifically but also some who were just visiting the library for the day. Interacting successfully with the diverse families in different age groups gave me confidence in my skills interacting with others. I’ve had experiences interacting with specific age groups but this program gave me the inter-generational perspective I didn’t see before.

Overall, this internship has been amazing in terms of experience and simply getting exposed to an amazing public library. It is my first experience in public library work and I maybe have become a little addicted to it. Working with the variety of library users and with all the possible activities is exciting and thrilling. Whatever I library I end up working at, I know I can apply all the skills I learned in this internship. Thank you to all the amazing mentors who coordinated all the training times and activities including the reference and user service training, library security and safety training, outreach and community engagement, and administrative and management snapshots. These were only a few of the many experiences that I don’t think would have been possible in an average type of internship. I am pretty sure I’ll have Skokie withdrawals when I go back to North Carolina, but I will always remember the awesome time I had here and the amazing people I met.
Thank you.

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Fair is Not Equal

Learning through mimicking seems to be my first experience in interacting with the patrons and librarians. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my coworkers are some of the most understanding, empathetic, compassionate, and determined librarians I’ve ever met. They are an integral part of these teen’s support system and the library staff as a whole. Each library personnel brings an important contribution that helps the library function. These are my reflections based on what I have learned while working with the Learning Experience and Young Adult librarians.

fair isn't equalI first heard the phrase “fair is not equal” from a close friend of mine who works as a Special Education
high school teacher in the Chicago Public School system. This phrase makes sense to me because I work with teens and tweens at the Skokie Public Library that are in the 5th to 7th grade and are approximately 10-13 years old. Each of them experiment and tests their limits differently. Not all teens need the same type of attention because their home and school environments differ. As the third space, the library act as a supplement to existing needs and is hopefully an additional resource to their support system.

The Challenge Accept
ed segment has been an especially interesting aspect of my work because of the variety of activities we’ve been conducting. The Earth Science rotation has been loads of fun. We’ve experimented with light (solar panel cars), air (balloon rockets), water and earth (water filtration and erosion) or as I like to call it, “all Avatar bending powers.”

BOOMBox activities can be especially challenging when conducted by someone who loves to have control over all aspects of a program. For example, I am glad I had the opportunity to work in the space when we conducted workshops and drop-in activities. Additionally, I was able to preview the usual library programming in a different type of space.

The programming is run by high school mentors and librarians, depending on the activity it can be both. They are tasked with giving the patrons an inquisitive perspective so we always ask, “What are you seeing?” “Why do you think that’s happening?” “Did you expect that to happen?” and “What step should we change to get a different reaction?”. Challenge Accepted is different because its very nature is a challenge. The participants are told the challenge of the day and are given supplies and space to experiment. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to see what happens. In a programming aspect, I’ve learned that children and teens do not need a lot of direction to experiment and thrive. For example, during the drop-in activity, all I needed to say was, “we have some supplies for your to work on a personal project and experiment with new technology. Help yourself and let me know if you need help troubleshooting.” Most of the time, the teens conducted their own experiments. The Challenge Accepted brought some structure through a sense of competition. There were veteran BOOMBox users, explorers and new drop-ins. It brought its own challenges. For example, when the excitement is surrounding the digital camera itself instead of using it to document activity. However, I found that after a small tutorial, they took ownership of the larger challenge and became more engaged in the activity. Along with the “fair is not equal” concept, if I had applied the same treatment and expectations to the new explorers and drop-in group that I would a veteran group, I would have more then likely drove them out of the space and the chance to experiment and learn something new.  Once the explorer group’s interest was sparked and their curiosity was challenged, they wanted more and became more engaged in the bigger program. The skills to recognize interest and answer it then redirect it back to an existing activity is something I hope to develop and expand. Librarianship is a public service field of going above and beyond the needs of the patrons. Satisfying curiosity and giving these tweens and teens a bigger space to explore are some of the pleasures I have found working in the Experiential Learning department at the Skokie Public Library.

 

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Skokie Reflections

Skokie has been one of the most enjoyable and eye opening experiences I’ve had so far. I haven’t done much sharing on this blog but better late than never! Skokie is my first experience working in a public library. After visiting different libraries and talking to librarians working in different cities, I know it’s a very unique space. At first, I was very much out of my element. One of the way I learned to interact the new environment is by observing the new Learning Experiences librarian, Laurel. Working at the same time as

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Laurel setting up the NES Nintendo for after school Junior High activities.

Laurel gave me the opportunity to see how a new YA librarian can interact with teens and become a part of their support system. Laurel started a week after me but instantly became a part of the space. Her connection with the teens was not limited to the fact that she was present at the library more often and had more direct contact with them. One way that she gained their trust was through challenging them to the video game of the day when she knew how to play those games. Another way was engaging them in a book discussion on required books in their school curriculum, which was masterfully moved to Harry Potter and The Fifth Wave. Her confidence and charisma has been an inspiration. My supervisor has also been a great inspiration in her interaction with the teens and tweens in the library. I’ve attempted to test my limits and build my experiences through more than one venue.

 

Anime-Manga

One of the most enjoyable one so far has been working with the Anime-Manga club. Reading Manga has been a hobby of mine since high school, getting to share that love with others in a learning environment is a major plus. IMG_2495So far we’ve had established a new voting system where they can suggest Anime for the monthly meeting/screening.  The new system of selection for the anime of the month gave the teens more power in the selection process. The teens could now suggest all Animes they want to preview during the monthly meeting. As the club adviser, I would preview the Animes and choose a top three list would be chosen and the teens would vote on the next month choice. Some things that we may work on in the future is getting the group involved in the Anime and Manga collection development. Here’s more information about the club.

MakerSpace

Makerspace is such an amazing concept that I had to become involved in it. The Skokie Library Makerspace is called the BoomBox. This space is unique because it dedicates specific time to different audiences with teen mentors as well as adult mentors. I worked in this space once a week during the time dedicated to youth (grades 3-12), sometimes alone and other times with another mentor in the space. The rules of engagement are simple in the space. Participants are free to explore and experiment with mentors there for the purpose of troubleshooting and provoking thought and discussion through open-ended questions. The new semester came with a new rotation of Earth Science and the Challenge Accepted Programs. The program has been loads of fun and I’m eager to see what the changes mean to the space.

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