Job brings library patron full circle

College student spends summer in the town, and the library, that she considers home

Series: Summer roles | Story 6

Without realizing it, Olivia Ostrowski has been preparing for her summer job at the Hinsdale Public Library since childhood.

"I spent a lot of time at the library as a little kid," Ostrowski said, taking part in the summer program that she helped to plan and run this year as youth services summer assistant.

This wasn't the first library job for Ostrowski. Before graduating from Hinsdale Central High School in 2021, she worked at the library as a page. The job involved reshelving books and helping patrons, which Ostrowski said was a natural progression from her own frequent patronage of the library.

When she was approached by youth and young adult services manager Lisa Winchell about the position of youth services summer assistant, Ostrowski said it seemed like a great way to spend her summer months while she was home from college.

An incoming sophomore at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., Ostrowski is studying international relations and environmental science and policy. Her job at Hinsdale Public Library also required some studying of a very different sort.

When Ostrowski was tasked with helping to coordinate a July event fashioned around the popular kids' program "Paw Patrol," she had to do a little research to familiarize herself. After watching a few episodes of the show, Ostrowski said she was prepared to pitch in on the preparations for the Paw Patrol Party

"A lot of kids were excited to come to that," she said. The event was targeted to pre-readers and early readers from birth to 8 years old and included games and crafts.

"It was just to engage the younger audiences that come to the library," Ostrowski said.

The summer was full of activities and events, perhaps the biggest of which was the summer reading program kickoff in June. Held on the lawn outside the library, the event included games and other activities to get kids excited about summer reading.

Between events, Ostrowski helped patrons make the most of their visits to the library.

"I answer phone calls. I cater to patron needs," she said, often finding or recommending books. She also awarded children with prizes for reaching summer reading milestones.

"It's kind of fun to be on the other side of the table here and run it," Ostrowski said. "It's been really fun seeing how excited they are to read."

With 1,524 kids and teens signed up for the summer reading club, Ostrowski has been a tremendous help, Winchell said.

"She welcomes all patrons with a smile and eagnerness to help," Winchell said. "She has been so appreciated and will be greatly missed by staff and patrons alike."

Ostrowski said working with the public has helped her to develop skills she will need as she continues through college and into a career.

"My dream job would be to work for the state department," which would require communication with many different people, she said. And while such a position likely wouldn't involve chatting with children, Ostrowski said talking to the library's youngest patrons has helped her to develop patience and listening skills that are valuable in any relationship or conversation.

She said she's also gained leadership skills and benefited from working with coworkers toward a common goal.

Despite all that she will take away from her summer job, Ostrowski said the best part of the experience was working with the children and helping to foster their love of reading in the place where she developed her own love of books.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean