The Saddest Story Ever Told

Okay, the title may be a little dramatic but it is still a sad story!

It’s with the deepest of regrets that I have to announce my leave of the Skokie Internship Program. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected curveballs your way and while sometimes you get lucky with a homerun, more often than not it’ll strike you out.

My time here at Skokie Public Library is one I will cherish forever. As my first library experience, I couldn’t have picked a more welcoming, professional, and inclusive group of people if I tried. I would like to thank everyone in the Community Engagement office for treating me as part of the team since day one, and everyone else at SPL for being so open to questions and curiosities.

Although I may not be able to commit the time for an internship, I would love the opportunity to stay involved and volunteer whenever I am able to! If you’re looking for an extra set of hands (or eyes, or ears, or just someone along for the ride) please do not hesitate to reach out to me at It is my sincerest hope that today is not the last day you’ll see me walking through the stacks and talking to strangers (a natural tendency passed down from my mother).

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!


Feeling Educated

“An Education is not so much about making a living as making a person”

– Tara Westover, “Educated”

My first official Senior Services interaction and I have to say…WOW. What an experience!

In today’s Talking Books session, we discussion Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated. Westover tells the story of her survivalist upbringing in rural Idaho and the strength it took to overcome her abusive upbringing to embark on a journey of education – worldly and scholarly.

With 17 patrons, and 3 staff members (Matt, Judy, and myself), the conversation was stimulating and endless. It is said that it’s rude to talk about politics and religion (you never know who you’re going to offend), but todays crowd was anything but shy on either topic! Varying opinions, judgements, and curiosities filled the air with enthusiasm and passion. Though at times that enthusiasm and passion could be derailing, setting the group back on course and my structuring the conversation was well received.

What was perhaps the most interesting and rewarding aspect of leading today’s Talking Book was listening to the different perspectives, feelings, and reactions to the memoir based on each individuals background and experiences. (It is important to note that the group was of various ages – not all “seniors.”) Patrons shared personal anecdotes, parallel readings related to the topic, and even brought their own expertise and language into the conversation.

I wish my grandfather could have been there to join in. He would have loved it.

I’m very excited and hopeful to join in on next month’s reading, Forces of Nature, by Jane Harper, to hear what the group has to say next! Hopefully we’ll see them all again at Savvy Skokie Seniors!


Get Ready Savvy Seniors!

I am so excited (and incredibly nervous) to be leading the Savvy Skokie Seniors program for the second half of my internship here at SPL!

After researching trends in Senior Services in the US and putting together report with my findings, it was very interesting to see what libraries currently offer the seniors in their communities and the general consensus of what seniors want the library to offer.

While seniors are grateful and receptive to senior programming there is one detail that typically holds them back – they don’t want to be reminded that they are old. Seniors are more inclined to join in adult programming than senior programming.

Given this information, how do libraries find the common ground between being helpful and encouraging lifelong learning without the unintentional, “you’re outdated,” context? Librarian Kathleen Mayo proposes that libraries approach senior services the same as they do children, teens, and adults: identify services based off of their interests and abilities rather than age.

Such a simple concept!

This is what I have tried to keep in mind for Savvy Skokie Seniors. Our first session in January I am most excited for – we are having a story telling session (inspired by The Moth) on the topic of Gumption:

Description: Join us for a story sharing session inspired by The Moth organization. Prepare a story about go-getting. A moment of courageousness, spirit, or spunk. Tackling large obstacles, admitting mistakes, and times of nervousness. “Tell us about your gutsiest gamble and the mettle that forged them. You’ve got moxie, kid!”

I can’t wait to share with you all the successes (and not to successful aspects) of the program! Stay tuned!


Chronicles of an Intern

Day: 3

Orientation has come and gone and now beings the work.

These first few days at Skokie Public Library have been overwhelmingly positive. Each staff member has been welcoming, the building warm and inviting, and the overall feel of the community strong within the building. Although my primary focus will be in senior services, I am glad to have the opportunity to learn about librarianship in such a concrete organization.

Having grown up with a strong grandparental presence, I have a passion for working with seniors and making sure that their needs and wants are met – great start for a senior services intern, right? Well, in the short amount of time I’ve spent at the SPL thus far, it is clear that there is more to catering to our seniors than I had anticipated.

Isolation, poverty, and accessibility are just a few topics that effect our seniors liveliness. With SPL offering services such as homebound delivery, opportunities for socializing and learning through programing, even collaborations with government workers to provide resources and aid to seniors goes above and beyond my expectations.

I look forward to learning more about senior services and to collaborations with various SPL staff to learn more about the library in general. I’m honored and very proud to be welcomed to the SPL team and gain the experience of a lifetime!

Lydia Montemayor
Senior Services Intern
Skokie Public Library