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.

Standard

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Piggybacking off of Katy’s recent post, I’d like to delve into my own observations about my strengths and weaknesses.

I am such an introvert, that it’s a bit debilitating at times. Which makes the fact that I’m trying to crawl out of what my sister refers to as my “writerly hermit ways,” to be public facing at a library, somewhat peculiar. Whenever I think about getting out of my comfort zone, this image comes to mind:

comfortzone

Attempting to engage teenagers in conversation, especially when they don’t know you, is like walking out of your comfort zone. I have spent the last month hanging out primarily in the Junior High Zone and had a nice conversation with Laurel about my habits when I’m there. Something that is a strength of mine is my ability to reach out to teens who are more introverted like myself. Generally, they’ll be the ones sitting alone at a table or closer to the YA librarians. I’m happy to be at a point where I know many of the teen’s names and they feel comfortable enough to chat with me about their aspirations and what they’re working on in class or at home.

The area in which I lack is reaching out to the teens in larger groups, who are more vocal and engrossed in their own bubble. I found myself wondering what the best way was for me to get to know them. After touching base with Laurel, we thought it would be good for me come up with a few questions that I can ask the group to break the ice, just so we can get to know each other. I am learning that being genuinely curious and asking questions is something teens respond to really well.

Teens have called us nosy more than a couple of times. It’s easy to misinterpret good intentions at that age. But I can see that all the librarians genuinely care about their patrons and in my opinion, that is a young adult librarian’s biggest strength.

Standard

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].”

Standard

Looking Forward to a Great Year…

My name is Laura, and I will be working as the Children’s Services Intern this year.  My background is in education and I have never worked in a library before, so I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from such a vibrant and dynamic one.  My first few days as an intern reminded me of taking my son to his first day of third grade last week.  As I walked him into the classroom, I could tell from the look on his face that he was a little overwhelmed by the new space, the new teacher, and the new faces he saw.  But it only lasted a moment–as soon as he found that his desk was near a good friend he looked at me and said, “This is going to be great!”.  Reflecting on my orientation days, I can relate to the feeling of being a little overwhelmed, but also tremendously excited about the opportunity that this experience provides.  It was great to meet and get to know the other interns and learn about their backgrounds and aspirations.  I am really looking forward to hearing about their experiences throughout the year.  Additionally, listening to staff in various departments talk about the work they do was inspiring and motivating.  Their enthusiasm for the library is truly contagious.

One of the things I most appreciated from the orientation and that I am looking forward to participating in is the culture of collaboration and learning that is fostered at the library. Through the opportunities that are presented to listen to and dialogue with patrons, other organizations in the community, and colleagues we will have the opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas and figure out ways to meet the needs that are expressed.   I love the fact that libraries are not stagnant institutions, but are continually evaluating and refining services, collections and even library spaces to best serve the community.  I am excited to be a part of it.  This is going to be a great year!

Standard

Learning Experiences and Looking Outward

I’m Mahjabeen, the Learning Experiences intern. I am still in the preliminary phase of getting myself acclimated to the mere idea of interning at Skokie Public Library. As someone with no prior experience working in a library, I am incredibly grateful to have been provided with this opportunity and appreciate the warm and welcoming environment.

To be completely candid, everything that I have learned thus far during the two days of orientation have been beneficial and I am positive that every subsequent day that I will spend here will be nothing short of that. Getting hands-on experience working in a library of this caliber that provides such a wide array of programming in addition to all their services supplemented by dedicated staff, is invaluable.

A concept that has really stayed with with me–and is something I mentioned in our reflection session earlier–is that SPL is not simply a sedentary organization. This was made evident when we went on the community tour and we stopped in a neighborhood with many apartment complexes that is known to have a high immigrant and refugee population. In addition to it being one of the stops the bookmobile makes, SPL had also identified that not many of the resident were English speakers, so the newsletters/flyers that were being sent to this particular area wouldn’t be very helpful if people didn’t understand them. Beyond going into the community to find better ways to reach their different populations, SPL also works with daycare centers to bring them storytime and even works with neighboring school districts. It’s amazing to defy the somewhat common notion of libraries as hubs for lifelong learning that people need to reach to instead, shed light on how SPL makes an active effort to reach out to its patrons as well to back up their emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

When thinking specifically about what I hope to take away as a young adult/learning experiences intern, I would love to learn about the development of teen programming and the metrics used to gauge what works and what doesn’t. How can I help SPL reach a larger populations of teens and better yet, appeal to them in a way that they want to come back and invite their friends, too? How can I become better equipped to suggest other materials they may like? What can I do to go the extra mile?

I remember my first day here, being told that if we have ideas for anything we should not shy away from them because if it doesn’t work, at least we’ll know we tried and there is always the opportunity to learn from the mistakes or the areas where we fell short. I’m not into Hockey or sports, but one of my favorite quotes is by Wayne Gretzky, and it is one I try to apply to all aspects of my life: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I look forward to welcoming the learning opportunities coming my way at SPL.

Standard

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.

Standard

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.

Standard