ILA 2018

Last week I got the fantastic experience of attending ILA as an intern. I absolutely love library conferences and have attended Reaching Forward and ALA in the past couple of years – every time with my best friend who is also pursuing her MLIS.

Being without my conference buddy was something I was anxious about, but it ended up being a really valuable experience. Logically, when you go to a conference with someone, you’re going to spend time talking to them and not networking. Additionally, the smaller atmosphere of ILA (versus ALA) and the social events made it much easier to feel comfortable talking to people.

An added (and surprising) benefit of being at ILA was getting the chance to network with coworkers from Northbrook Public Library. I have been shelving there for almost a year, but don’t have a lot of opportunities in which I get to talk to the desk staff there. Getting the chance to talk more in depth about librarianship with these people I already know was very valuable.

Because I was an intern through ILA I worked the registration desk on Thursday morning. Getting to work with ILA staff gave me the opportunity to meet some of ILA’s organizers as well as several presenters.

I also have never been to campus for Dominican (I have done all of my coursework online), so this internship, the mixer event on Tuesday, their booth in the exhibition hall, and meeting Diane Foote (who is now the ILA Exective Director and previously worked for Dominican) actually provided me with more of an opportunity to feel connected to Dominican than I have been able to experience prior to this fall.

A couple of great organizations I’m looking forward to exploring further as I continue my career are iREADARRT, and the various ILA forums. I’m also looking forward to assisting at ILA next year, as they invited us to come back as Intern Leaders.

I’ve attached my session notes as well, in case anyone is interested. This kind of professional development opportunity is such an invigorating experience and gave me tons of ideas to use at all of the library locations I work for! For my fellow interns, I found the session about landing the job you want to be a pretty helpful refresher.

My ILA session notes!

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Gallup StrengthsFinder, or “I feel so called-out right now.”

Today I had the opportunity to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. I am a fairly introspective person, so I consider myself to be well aware of the strengths (and weaknesses) of my personality. I was looking forward to taking this assessment, as I love finding new ways of looking toward becoming an improved version of myself.

Even just answering the questions (before receiving the results) was really illuminating: analyzing which questions were harder versus easier for me to answer and having to answer questions in ways that don’t reflect positively on who I am as a person.

My breakdown of my top 5 is below:

5traitsgallupkaty

While none of these things were completely shocking, it was really interesting to see that I do have a fairly good understanding of my leadership strengths and subsequent weaknesses (“They are often impatient” couldn’t be closer to the truth).

A couple of fun/interesting things that stuck out to me where the fact that my “Futuristic” analysis included a direction to work with those who have the “Activator” trait. This idea feeds directly into the fact that I tend to enjoy working independently.

It was hard to see “Significance” in my top 5 although I’m well aware of the fact that this is incredibly accurate. To me, this is one of the worst parts of my personality – I dominate conversation or discussions and really enjoy receiving positive feedback and acknowledgement to a point that is almost embarrassing, probably because I tend to outwardly showcase my positive traits but spend a lot of time internally focused on my more negative one.

What I am most excited about is the Application section in the Action-Planning Guide. Being able to have solid suggestions for using my personality to lead to greater future successes is so appealing and I can’t wait to get started.

Even this whole post cements that feedback I got in my assessment that I ” rarely avoid telling people about [myself], [my] experiences, or even [my] shortcomings. [I] reflect on what [I] should do better, more completely, or more perfectly. [I am] comfortable admitting all sorts of things about [myself].”

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Always Assume Best Intentions

Having grown up in Skokie, I already grew up loving the library. I remember the renovation in 2001, biking over to checkout books and attend programs as a teen, checking out DVDs to fuel my obsession for Hindi cinema during my days at OCC, and picking up audiobooks as an adult. Approaching the library as a budding information professional gave me a whole new appreciation for SPL as a community.

One of the first ideas that stuck with me during our two-day training was the concept of always assuming best intentions – from coworkers, from community members as a whole, and from patrons. Far from being just lip service, this attitude was pervasive to the entire orientation experience. It is hard to imagine any library being so inclusive and welcoming toward a group of interns. The amount of empowerment I feel at immediately being given the benefit of the doubt is difficult to put into words. Someone who has always experienced the kind of work atmosphere that Skokie provides (a lucky individual indeed), may find it strange that I would be so affected by such a simple idea. However, few work environments place enough value on trusting their employees, which gives them room to think, grow, be brave, and surprise even themselves.

This also shines through in Skokie’s commitment to redefining their strategic plan every three years. Not only this, but the conversation through which this is created every three years seem to be very open to staff input and conversation. I am nearing the end of my coursework through Dominican, and one of the major points made throughout my courses is the idea of the library as a community service (listening first to what the community needs), as a ‘third space,’ and as a constantly adapting profession. SPL truly seems to embody these ideas in a way I had not yet seen in real world libraries. Our mentors seemed just as interested in learning from us and each other as they were in teaching.

This attitude of consistent self-improvement and assumption of good intentions in others lead to a level of ease between all of the interns and mentors that I have never experienced in a work setting before – despite our differences in experience, age, etc. I am overwhelmed by this incredible opportunity, which has already made me feel empowered and excited rather than nervous, and cannot wait to become a better information professional as well as a better listener, collaborator, coworker, and person.

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