Storytime, Storytime, Storytime

The amount of storytimes I have been able to perform just in this semester alone have taught me so much. They have taught me how to work a room, how to redirect children, how to adapt to any situation that might arise, and they have taught me a lot about myself. The way I handle situations, the way my mind works when I am in a state on uncertainty, how I navigate finding the right door at a school (I go to the wrong door a lot). Just being able to roll with it has been an important part of this position.

My mantra as a youth librarian is, “children will be children.” You can plan and you may have an idea of what is going to happen but children are unpredictable. They are curious and learning and they know how to keep you on your toes; which I think is what makes them so fun. My storytimes have been a lot of unpredictable moments and my reactions to situations have given myself a lot to reflect on. It has been hard to think of responses on the spot sometimes, trying to make them comprehensive for children while also trying to make them positive.

Some of my stortyime moments:

During my first preschool storytime and my last story, a child scooted all the way up from the back of rug and right up to the front of my feet. While in the middle of the story I feel my laces start to pull apart, without trying to lose much focus I slightly look down. The child that had scooted up towards my feet was untying my shoe laces and playing with them. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit at the situation but I knew the best thing to do was to stay focused and continue like nothing was happening. I kept on reading the story and he played with shoes up until the end, it was his way of listening and is now my favorite story to tell.

That child wasn’t the only who loved my shoes. I had another one do the same thing a week or so after that, so I have stopped wearing shoes with laces to storytines. However, not even a week after that choice, a child came up to my shoes during a story and just sat there and poked them the entire time. This was never something I had excepted, but they are moments of curiosity and is something I try not to disrupt if I can help it.

Children will also tell it like it is. One of the songs during my stortime is the “Baby Shark Song,” that all the kids know. To save time I cut out a few of the verses and very quickly learned that was NOT a good idea. For my first three storytimes I got called out for leaving out “grandpa shark” and “that’s the end.” I have learned, we do the full song now.

Every child is different, every class is different, every storytime is different. I have had children run up and take all my felt fish off the felt board while doing a rhyme. I have had children try to take away the shark puppet from me. I have children tell me they want no more songs. Children who have refused to stand up for songs, children who just want to talk, and children who want to do nothing at all. It has been amusing to navigate on all these situations and reflect on them later. Thinking of what I did in the moment and what I would do differently if the situation arose again.  Taking the time to come up with a script or action for all the different seniors.

I am also not in my own space which changes my reactions. I am going to different classrooms where the space is the teacher’s and I am just a guest. I would handle situations differently if I was in my own storytime room, or even if I was doing a storytime with parents involved. Each setting displays its own challenges, situations, and solutions. The space, classroom size, and teacher’s involvement all have an element into how situations are handled. In my storytime last week I asked the class if they were ready and the teacher jumped right in and said, “No we are not. We are waiting for (said child) to sit.” I followed the teachers instructions and did not start until she told me to. In other cases I have had teachers not get involved at all, leaving me to configure my role as an authority figure that the children will listen to as well.

The biggest challenge is not knowing how a situation is going to be until you are in it and teaching yourself to adjust and adapt to every moment as it comes. My storytime script as changed a lot. With every storytime I leave I have learned something new to add, change, or take away. I have obtained so much knowledge and valuable experience during the small amount of time I’ve been here and I can’t wait for more opportunities that will come in the upcoming semester. Being able to place myself right in the middle of the Skokie community has been overwhelmingly rewarding and has given me a whole knew outlook on early literacy.

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Let’s Talk About Rejection

I’ve already obtained so much experience in the short time that I have been here. My first real project was to call home childcare centers and preschools which was a very ‘hold on slow down’ moment for me. I was extremely nervous because I do not like talking to people on the phone; especially strangers that had no idea that I was calling or why. Internally I know it is sense of not wanting to bother people and having them reject me in turn because they in fact did not want to be bothered.

During the calls I got a lot voicemails, I got some people who did not want to talk to me, but I also had some great conversations. After having a great conversation with someone who was happy to talk to me made it much easier for me to pick up the phone and make another phone call. However, ever time I got a voicemail or someone who wasn’t interested in what I had said, it took a lot of courage to pick up the phone again. Overall I gained a lot of information from the providers that did want to talk to me and it was exciting to hear people’s reactions to the sources the library offers them, or how most of them had forgotten what a valuable resource the library is.

Being able to work up the courage to call someone is something I know I will have to get used to in Community Engagement and really just anywhere in the world I plan on working. It’s a natural part of job or a personal environment. Maybe instead of taking it as rejection I need to mirror it into something else.  As much as I would much rather being hiding in the stacks doing theme bags or making my flannel boards for storytimes, I know that being thrown into a situation will tech more about myself. The experiences of the phone calls and being rejected were uprooting me from what I am use to. In the Community Engagement department I will obviously have work closer with the community and communicate with people who I don’t know, on subjects that I may not be so knowledgeable about. This just means I have to work on what makes me a better more rounded person, instead of hiding myself where I feel comfortable and stable. This has been a learning curve but I am finding comfort in my role and within the library. I’m excited to keep learning new skills and having new experiences to share.

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The Beginning of Community Engagement

So far during this internship I have learned a lot about the Skokie community and how passionate everyone in the library is about it, which is such a great thing. Skokie Library is a very diverse and welcoming part of the Skokie community, and seeing how much the library does to learn and grow to help the community is inspiring. As the Community Engagement Intern I am thrilled to be able to work closely with the Skokie community and see from the libraries standpoint what it takes to be a successful part of it. I am already amazed at all the work and time that goes into learning about the community and its changes. Through the community tour and a meeting that I went to last week it is clear Skokie Library does its research and works hard to improve things for their community. There isn’t an end in sight for them as they focus on the community that supports them and how they can do better to support them. They do this by traveling to local school, and there is a lot of them, to going to different neighborhoods and seeing how their services can be utilized/made more accessible to patrons.

I always knew how important libraries were to communities and vice versa but it is eye opening to see it for myself. I am excited to work in Community Engagement where I know wherever I end up in the library world that this information and experience will help me grow; and hopefully help me improve the community aspect of where ever I end up. Communities and libraries go hand in hand and it is never going to be something that changes. This experience will only help advance me and my career as I move forward and learn more about in the inner and outer workings of library and the inner and outer workings of a community.

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