Skokie Reflections: Approaching Normal

The past few weeks have flown by. After hosting another hectic and fun Challenge Accepted (rescue a rubber duck from a bucket full of water & then transport some water to a small cup beside the bucket) (and there were somehow only minor Sea World-esque slashes!), my next shift was at the Illinois Library Association Conference. The day I spent there was full of fun run-ins with old and new librarian friends, helpful sessions, and lots of vendors to explore. It was totally draining, but totally worth it.

After that, Skokie helped me make my dreams come true: I went out on a ride-along with the bookmobile crew!

The bus is new to Skokie, acquired last summer through a company that refurbishes and revamps old city and school buses. The exterior is so fun and inviting — and totally distinct.

Yes, I did have this stupidly happy grin on my face the whole entire time.

Inside, it was carefully organized with a sampling of content from all over the library, including youth and adult AV materials. Some decorations from the summer reading program still hang, and I found them to be perfectly festive for the holiday season!

Guest Starring Steve, fellow Dominican/Skokie partner in crime — I mean, librarianship.

The afternoon was truly incredible. We made two stops for 1.5 hours each: first outside a elementary school at dismissal time and second beside a park where football practice was underway. In both locations, I noticed people driving to the stop just to come to the bookmobile. You could tell people depended on the bookmobile being there, and they planned around it.

I was impressed by a lot of things that afternoon, like that you can get your library card on the bus, or that you can place holds from the main library and pick them up at the bookmobile (even for things like STEAM kits), but the most impressive part was definitely the staff.

The staff knew just about everyone by name, and they seamlessly transitioned between doing reader’s advisory, circulation, shelving, and customer service tasks. They were completely inspiring and impressively knowledgeable. Of course, there’s no one thing that makes a venture as big and as long-standing as the Skokie bookmobile a success, but I’d say that a considerable part of it is this group of talented people providing an important service with such an impressive demeanor and ability.

Since the bookmobile adventure, I’ve had some shifts at the library that were alarming in how un-alarming they were — not that they were uneventful, because goodness knows, an uneventful day in the Junior High Zone would be plenty of cause for alarm — but in how normal a certain level of busy-ness and slight chaos has become.

My time is spent at the Reader’s Services desk, the Youth Services desk, planning Challenge Accepted, and in the Junior High Zone after school. All of these activities continue to be challenging and rewarding.

For example, this week, I noticed two different kids in the Junior High Zone after school with a group of friends, but they both chose to sit aside and read a book instead of hang out. Because much of what I work on/with is based around different programs and activities, it was neat to see kids I’ve seen before here to hang or play actually engage with a book by choice.

Also today, we had some issues with volume, as we do most days, but this time, the argument turned out to be more of a heated debate, and it was about which is better, werewolves or vampires. Team Vampire was more passionate and persuasive, I’d say, but Team Werewolf had the numbers.

On one hand, it’s hard to believe it’s November already, but on the other, I can really feel the difference in the two months of experience I now have. I know a lot more names, and I have begun to develop relationships with some of the regulars. Most exciting to me is my progress with commanding respect. Just this week, when I was trying to do volume control during a board game, one kid looked at me and said, “Ooh, she’s serious, she’s got that look.” It didn’t actually change their behavior, but hey, they’re beginning to at least recognize when I have my don’t-push-it face on! I gladly welcome that small step.