Endings and Beginnings

Can you believe another semester is coming to a close?! I sure can’t. For me, this means not only the end of the spring semester, but also the end of my internship at Skokie Public Library. It is bittersweet. I am excited to move on, taking the skills gained from the internship experience into my final semester at Dominican and into my career. However, I am sad to leave my Skokie friends, and the community that I grew up in and had the chance to reconnect with. 

This semester was like no other. It started like usual. However, after only 9 weeks, the whole world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning in March, when this all started, I had hoped to be able to get back to the library to wrap up and say goodbye. Unfortunately, we’ve had to stay closed. We had to miss our intern career days, and I had to miss a storytime visit at Tot Learning Center where my niece Hannah attends. Although during this difficult time, I’ve found myself wanting to succumb to negative thoughts, I’ve also found it doesn’t help my wellbeing or mental health to wallow. 

Very cool screen print I got to make with Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine at Staff Day.

So, I’m not going to focus on what’s been missed, but what’s been gained. While working from home, I got to try my hand at remote programming, and creating e-book lists. I’ve gotten more comfortable with Zoom, with Slack, and with Basecamp. I’ve gotten to cut my commute time down from 30 minutes to 1 minute, and have gotten to eat lunch with my husband every day. There are silver linings.

One thing I will definitely miss about Skokie Library is the culture. Open door policies, warm and inclusive staff, and a true commitment to the public all make this library a great place to be a patron and staff member. Another testament to the outstanding culture is the excellent response to the pandemic. I will use these examples as a beacon when finding the right fit for my career.

Thank you to Skokie Library and to my mentor, Holly, for this invaluable opportunity! And, I know I will be back to say hi, and because I have a huge stack of books to return!

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2020 Vision

New year, new blog post! Holiday break meant no homework, time with my family, and, let’s be real, a chance to catch up on Netflix! This short vacation has left me feeling energized and ready for what’s ahead–exactly what a vacation should do.

One of the classes I’m taking this spring is Storytelling. I chose to enroll because of high recommendations from Dominican alums here at SPL, and because I could definitely gain more confidence in my public speaking! Our first story is meant to be told to preschoolers. Great! I’m a pro! Storytimes from first semester have left me totally prepared! Where’s my flannel board?! The only caveat is…no props in class. I think it will go well, and I know I always have my trusty animal noises to fall back on.

The other class I’m taking this semester is an online class about social media. While I’m not an active social media user personally, I know how important it is to be aware of the different platforms and comfortable using them. So far, the class has given me ideas of how to incorporate social media in youth programming for my future career. It’s also gotten me out of my comfort zone technology-wise, and encouraged me to try new things, which are helpful skills to have both personally and professionally!

This semester at SPL has already started off well, with a preschool visit, desk time, and lots of pulling resources for teachers. I look forward to what’s next!

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Thankful for…

Thanksgiving was last week, but there’s no wrong time to count our blessings and reflect on the things were grateful for, especially during this season of giving! Here’s a short list of some of the things I’m thankful for during the first half of my Skokie internship:

  • The welcoming nature of the librarians I work with in the cozy CE office! There’s always carts of books, puppets, backpacks, book bags, and other wonderful youth materials coming in and out, and no one blinks an eye. Everyone’s open for a quick question or feedback, and that has made me really feel like a part of the team.
  • The patrons that I get to meet when working at the Youth Services desk! With each question, I learn a little more about how the library is organized and how it operates–even if it’s just about whether the craft room door stays unlocked or not.
  • The inclusive and diverse youth collection! One of the things I strive for when picking materials for my preschool storytime, booklists, and book bags for teachers is to have an array of authors and characters. This is rarely even an issue at SPL. The youth collection is so thoughtfully put together that choosing diverse materials is a given. We are lucky to be immersed in this early in our careers, so it’s definitely something we can carry along with us.
  • That my classes at Dominican align with the things I’m working on at SPL! One of my classes is about YA materials, so it’s a breeze to check out everything I need while I’m already in the library. My other class is about serving children and youth, so I get to learn about topics, current issues, and program ideas in class, and get to apply them to my work here, and vice versa!
  • The excitement and joy of the preschool classes I’ve visited so far! When I worked in a daycare classroom, it was so special to have visitors. The kids loved it, and I always walked away with something new to try with the kids. I love that now I get to be that visitor! It’s been fun to travel around Skokie, and see the differences in each school building and school culture, and even more fun to share with the students. One class even made me this cute poster!
  • That my work here reaffirms that I’m making the right decision to start a library career. I feel like my path has been a little winding, but it’s led me to the right place. Working with other people who care about learning, education, creativity, inclusivity, and community is comforting and energizing at the same time.

I can’t believe this semester is almost over! It feels like just yesterday that we had our orientation. It’s also hard to believe how much I’ve learned in such a short time. It’s been a whirlwind!

Until next time,
Lydia R.

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Preschoolers and their Pets

October has been a busy month for the Skokie interns! Earlier this month, I made my first solo trip to the British Infant School for storytime. I was lucky enough to observe Miss Laura do her storytime at the same preschool, so I felt comfortable that morning. I was just as excited to present my storytime, as the kids were to hear it. The theme is “pets,” because 1. I am an overenthusiastic dog mom to my own dog, Daisy and 2. Having kids make animal sounds is so fun! I tried to keep the energy in the room up and positive. The kids were responsive to the books I brought, to the counting activity we did, and to the puppet “pets” that came along with me. However, their favorite activity was “walking the dog,” with scarves. We walked them around the rug, then did tricks like sit, jump, and roll over! With all the fun we had, I think everyone needed an afternoon nap—including myself!

Last week, Quetzalli, Lydia M., and I travelled to Tinley Park to the ILA Conference. We got to meet librarians and see what’s going on with libraries all over the state. I attended mostly Youth Services-focused sessions, which reaffirmed things I’ve already been trying to work on—like including diverse characters and authors in early childhood programming—and added some new ideas—like having adaptive and accessible resources in storytime for young patrons with special needs. My favorite session was one about getting ideas for programming from unique sources, which has sparked my creativity. I’ve been looking for ideas wherever I go now! 

In addition to collecting resources for preschool teachers, and working at the Youth Services desk, things have really been ramping up. I have been excited about the work I’ve been doing, and have been trying to soak up everything I can!

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Orientation Celebration

My name is Lydia R, and I’ll be working in Community Engagement with a youth focus for this year’s internship at Skokie Public Library in conjunction with the MLIS program at Dominican University. This is my third semester at Dominican, and I’m so excited to be working at Skokie. Not only is it my childhood library, so I feel right at home, it is also my first experience working in a library. This internship is the exact opportunity I need to get a feel for public library work, and get the chance to know what path I’ll want to take after graduation next year. I am very grateful for the opportunity, and for my mentor, Holly.

We had two full days of orientation, which let us really get to know each other as a cohort. I am looking forward to building this relationship and connection with my fellow students/interns/library ladies. The three of us also got to meet many of the SPL staff members, who are all enthusiastic, friendly, and helpful. These brief interactions help me to know this is the kind of environment I want to be working in.

Learning more about the library’s strategic plan; its stance on equality, diversity, and inclusion; its staff culture; and its dedication to good customer service truly demonstrate how SPL is committed to strengthening the community by supporting schools, businesses, and individual community members. Being a part of such a welcoming environment is refreshing and exciting, and I look forward to what’s to come.

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