All posts by Justin Hoenke

Heard Off the Street: Library’s 3-D printer spits out all kinds of fun and learning (By TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

Photo by Anna Bentley/Post-Gazette
Photo by Anna Bentley/Post-Gazette

Make sure you check out Library’s 3-D printer spits out all kinds of fun and learning over at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  I’ve been talking with Saxonburg Area Library Director Erin Wincek about 3D printing over the past few months and I am in love with the things she’s doing for her community.  I also love the support that her community and her board has for her passion:

“We’re going to grab up these fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders and show them their future,” said Ms. Wincek, who thinks the printer could influence some of their career choices.

Library board president Matt Phillips said Ms. Wincek’s enthusiasm is why the library has the printer.

“It’s prompted us as a board to share in her passion,” said Mr. Phillips, who owns an insurance agency in Saxonburg. “We’re not a big library, and we have something that many large libraries and institutions do not have.”

Erin’s got the vision and community support.  When you have those, amazing things can happen in public libraries.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Hire awesome people, make rad stuff (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

Yesterday I was reading Breaking Up With Libraries by Nina McHale. I had a few thoughts. First and foremost, I was bummed that our profession was losing such an amazing and talented person. Nina has done amazing work for libraries and she will be sorely missed in this field. Secondly, this one passage of Nina’s hit me really hard:

Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff. – See more at:

I had been thinking about this same thing for the past few years when I made an attempt to look into a digital product for teens. My thoughts with that product were:

1) Wow, I don’t know any teens that would use this.
2) Wow, this is so expensive and there is no way I could ever afford this.
3) Wow, this product has such horrible design.

The outcome? I did not buy that product.

It was not until a few days ago that while under the influence of Nina’s post and seeing the amazing work that Dan Eveland (Web Developer, Chattanooga Public Library) and Mary Barnett (Social Media Manager, Library) did on the Chattanooga Public Library website that I had it hit me: we really need to start investing in employees who can make amazing things that do what we want them to do.

The calender over at Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett. It looks great and the back end (where we do our work) is easy to use and well put together.
The calender over at Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett. It looks great and the back end (where we do our work) is easy to use and well put together.

Like these calendars, databases, and whatever else that we buy from vendors, hiring awesome people to build stuff just for us is an investment. Sometimes your investment may not work out. But don’t think about that. You can always try again. But what if the investment in awesome people works out? You get awesome things that were built for what you need them for.

Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett with input and ideas from myself. I think it turned out pretty awesome.
Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett with input and ideas from myself. I think it turned out pretty awesome.

A good example is the website you see above, About one month ago, the team started talking about what we wanted to do with this site. We got some ideas and Dan put up a template and we slowly worked on it. Mary gave the project a deadline and said “let’s get this done” so all last week we put our hardhats on and did it. Dan and Mary built to reflect what I thought teens would be looking for: quick awesome tidbits of information, news of big things going on for teens at the library, a hub for the Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and a contact page. All built with Drupal on The 4th Floor in about one month by some amazingly talented people on the Chattanooga Public Library team. The best part? It’s works super well, is easy to manage, and it is exactly what I was hoping for with the teen site. Another great part? If it needs fixed or modified, I only have to head up two floors to talk to Dan and Mary and it’s done.

Hiring awesome people to help you realize your library dreams? To me, that’s the way forward. Not only do you get amazing products that you can actually use for what you want, but you get to surround yourself and the library staff with talented and kind people who contribute to the positive vibe of the community. A win in every area.

(please note: This post originally appeared over at

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Designing Libraries That Encourage Teens to Loiter (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

Image by Michael Moran and Rice+Lipka Architects

 Instead of siphoning teens off into different rooms (and locking away noisy activities), the space is airy and completely open. The openness means, among other things, that it only takes one or two librarians to monitor the entire space.

Rice says his team renovated the floor on the cheap, using paint and low-cost materials to fill the space. “Teens appreciate the rawness,” he says. “Rich materials might be a little bit of a turn-off.”

The key, he says, is a space without much security, where kids feel free to just hang out. “It makes teens feel as if they have free reign over the space,” he says. “They don’t feel like they’re under this intense adult scrutiny.”

It’s great to see this post over at The Atlantic focus on what I think is the most important part of a teen library…the atmosphere.  When you give teens a space that they can make their own and feel comfortable in, amazing things can happen.  As I move ahead with planning the space on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, I will make sure that the teens on our Teen Advisory Board have a lot of input into how their space is laid out.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Ms. Pac Man at the Chattanooga Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Photo Jun 01, 4 42 27 PM
This is what it’s all about: A tween and his Dad enjoy Ms. Pac Man at the Library

When I was a teenager, I spent most if not all of my time in video game arcades in shopping malls.  It was the time of fighting games…Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, Primal Rage, and many, many more.  Who knows how much money I spent playing those games and more importantly, who cares.  What mattered most (and what sticks with me to this day) was being in the same room with people my age who enjoyed the same things as me.  It was exciting.  It was fun.  It created friendships and community.

Video gaming in libraries isn’t a new thing.  It seems to have picked up steam in the last decade and is now something that most libraries will offer to their communities.  This is a good thing: video games can be fun, rewarding, help those playing them understand stories/character/plot, and so much more.

I’ve always wanted to recreate that vibe that I felt back when I used to frequent the arcade in the public library.  It was exciting to stand around an arcade machine and watch someone get as far as they could in a game on one quarter.  It was exciting to go one-on-one with someone in a game like Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat.  Public libraries are places where people come together and experience something.  Why not have a bit of that something be an arcade machine?

It has been a dream of mine to get an arcade machine in a library since I started in libraries back in 2007 and this past week, thanks to the Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library the support of the staff at the Chattanooga Public Library, and my wife Haley (she found it on Craigslist for only $150!), we now have an original Ms. Pac Man arcade machine on the 2nd Floor of the library…and it has been a great thing.  I love seeing the reaction people have when they realize that the library has an arcade machine.  I love seeing families (like the photo above) playing it together.  I love seeing the teens gather round and have tournaments to see who can get the highest score.

I cannot wait to see the community and friendships that this little ‘ol machine will create.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Distracted Driving PSA created by Teens at the White Plains (NY) Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

The White Plains Public Library is doing some amazing things with their teens (claymation, LEGO catapults, and more) with Teen Librarian Erik Carlson at the helm.  Recently, they finished up a minute long PSA about distracted driving.  I’ll turn it over to Erik for more:

This idea came from a film maker last year. He wanted to work with the library & the only money we had was from a grant from the Allstate Foundation. It was a large project where over a dozen teens worked on a PSA that lasted 5 minutes. We took that as a learning experience.

This year we found another local film maker named Mike LaVoie. I contacted the White Plains High School SADD chapter to see if they would like to work on the project. We had a smaller group…I think there were about 7 teens altogether. Mike put togethera no-budget script and explained it to the teens. I (Teen Librarian Erik Carlson) worked on locations, the library parking garage, a co-workers home & a local cemetery. Mike showed them some movie magic to make the car to appear to be moving, using fake smoke, lighting tricks. I came up with the eye drops for tears & one of the teens was able to talk a local medical supply store to loan us a wheelchair for the afternoon (this was a last minute thing).


You can check out the final cut of the PSA here:

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

#TTW10 : Connecting With People (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Me, at the very beginning of my time in Library school.
Me, at the very beginning of my time in Library school.

I decided to be a librarian in late 2006 at the urging of my mother in law Jill.  She had been a librarian for many years and spoke of her work very passionately.  With a simple poke and a simple “you know, you’d be good at this library thing“, I was off to attend Clarion University of Pennsylvania in January 2007.

When I was a kid visited the Northland Public Library in Pittsburgh, PA on a weekly basis.  I remembered two things about my time there: they had rabbits in the children’s area and they had the best selection of books on whales in the whole wide world.  Oh yeah, and I thought it was a super fun and magical place.  To me, that’s what libraries needed to be.

My time in library school was good but I always fell out of place.  I wanted to have fun!  I wanted the library to be this amazing place full of wonder, joy, exploration, and full of heart!  Instead, I found myself writing out cataloging records by hand or presenting papers on teen literature.  I got something out of that but…there was another side.

Enter Tame The Web in early 2008.

Instead of talking about  what goes in the 250 field in a bib record , Tame The Web was talking about things I could relate to: What Kind of Conversations can you have?  My Library is…A Rock Show!  I could relate to this.  It was full of wonder, joy, and exploration!  This was real.  This was people connecting with people.

Since those days that’s been my focus with being a teen librarian.  In order to succeed and give the community what they want, I realized that connection had to come first.  All of those other things: collection development, cataloging records, and all of the other stuff I learned in library school were very important and had their place but first and foremost….IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE.  I feel like it has worked out pretty well for me and the communities that I’ve served.

This taught me something else that was somewhat unexpected: there is so much value in connecting with your professional community.  Through library blogs, Twitter, and other social networks, I have met a number of people that not only do I now call my friends but also who have given me so much professional advice and aided in my growth as a librarian and as a person.

All because of a blog that was started ten years ago.  I don’t know if Michael thought about these kinds of things when he started Tame The Web, but they happened.  And I thank him for that.  What may have seemed like a ripple at the time has now created a very positive and helpful tidal wave.



Little Free Library coming to Monessen, PA (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Image by Jim Ference: The Valley Independent
Image by Jim Ference: The Valley Independent

(from TribLive, Pittsburgh, PA:

Monessen residents soon will be able to borrow library books – at the laundromat.

Jill Godlewski, children’s director at the Monessen Public Library, is planning to place several portable libraries scattered around town. Godlewski hopes to situate the wooden dispensaries once the weather clears.

“The idea is to get books to people instead of people having to come to the library to get books,” Godlewski said. “We want to make sure there are no barriers to getting a book.

My favorite part? A partnership with the local school!

Monessen school district Superintendent Linda Marcolini is planning for wood shop students at the high school to build sturdier, weather-proof units for outdoor locations like City Park.

“Mr. (David) Gilpin, our shop teacher and students will be making them,” Marcolini said. “They will get done before the end of the school year… our district would do anything for our community and public library.”

What an awesome take on an already awesome project.

PS: Jill Godlewski is not only a fantastic librarian, but she is also my mother in law.
-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland, Maine (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

I’m sorry I won’t be in Portland,ME to see the unveiling of the most excellent I’m Your Neighbor, Portland, Maine project that was put together by Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and is a partnership between the Portland Public Library, Congressman Jon Hinck, Maine Humanities CouncilNAACP, Portland Branch, and Portland Adult Education.

So what’s it all about?

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is a Portland, Maine community-wide read and series of public events in  designed to promote a sense of community among the diverse people who make the port city their home.

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is sponsored by the Portland Public Library and  funded by the Maine Humanities Council.

Over the last three decades, the city of Portland has seen a significant cultural shift through the arrival of immigrants and refugees from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Here in Maine, we’re blessed with a crop of recent titles, from picture books to young adult novels, that offer both particular cultural details about the lives of recent arrivals to our state and themes to which any reader can relate.

The goal of I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is to engage members of the Greater Portland, Maine community, both new arrivals and long-term residents, in reading books about recent immigrants to Maine and sharing in discussion of differences and commonalities, to build understanding between the two groups.

The series will open with a gala launch on May 25, 2013


Read more about this project here and here.

Good luck to all those involved!  I will be watching closely from Chattanooga, TN!

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Thursday nights can be slow at my library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Thursday nights can be slow at my library.  The teens have all gone home for the day, and the only ones that remain are the quiet few who are tearing through their homework or have their eyes focused on their internet browser.  Tonight at my library, the scene was the same but before me was a pretty huge question:

My little brother locked me out of my iPod.  He’s five years old and he won’t tell me how to unlock it.  How can I start again?  Do I need to buy a new iPod?

The teen was pretty bummed that he couldn’t access his music.  I’ve seen him here in my library before…he’s always got his headphones on and he’s always got a smile on his face.  You can tell that this kid loves music.  Tonight, I didn’t see that kid.  I saw someone who was really bummed out.  He presented his iPod to me.


That’s where we were to start.  With a quick Google search, I showed him how to find help on Apple’s website:  He tells me that he didn’t know that there were such helpful things on the internet.


Our next step was restoring the iPod.  I told him that everything was going to be deleted, and he understood.  He said that all of his music was on his computer (more on that to come)

photo (1)

After about ten minutes of waiting and watching the iPod slowly restore itself, the teen’s frown turned into a smile.  He was the same kid that I remember seeing every other day in the library.  When Welcome to Your New iPod flashed on the screen.  He threw his hands up in the air.  “YES!  FINALLY!  THANK YOU!”

Next up, we searched for his music.  He had never used iTunes before, so all of his music files were buried in a Real Player folder somewhere on his hard drive.  He helped me locate the folder and I showed him how to drag and drop into iTunes.  He smiled again when his music library showed up.  My final step was telling him about syncing his device.  I told him to use iTunes to manage his music and to always keep iTunes synced to his iPod.  His music library automatically refilled itself and when it was done, he disconnected his iPod from the computer, plugged in his headphones, gave me a fist bump, and walked away jamming out to his music.

Thursday nights can be slow at my library, but they can also be some of the best times I’ve ever spent in a library.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults 2012 (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

I’m very honored to be part of this years President’s Program Planning Task Force for YALSA.  As part of this program, we’re announcing this years Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults program which you can find out about below.  If you’re a teen program who’s doing awesome things, I highly suggest you think about being part of this program.  There’s a lot of great teen programs out there right now being put on by hard working librarians and this is your chance to share them with everyone!

YALSA will select up to twenty-five innovative teen programs from all types of libraries to feature at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and to include in a sixth edition of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults. Successful applications will focus on programs that address new teen needs or interests, or that address ongoing teen needs or interests in an innovative or unique way. The top five programs will receive cash awards of $1000 each. Up to twenty “best of the rest” programs will receive cash awards of $250. Each award will be presented to the applicant’s institution for use with future teen programs and/or for the applicant’s travel to the 2013 conference to participate in the YALSA President’s Program.

The program described in the application must be a library-sponsored event, inside or outside the library, which appeals to a group rather than an individual. A program can be informational, recreational, educational, or all three.

  • The program described must have taken place in 2012 or be ongoing.
  • The program must be targeted at teens within the 12 – 18 age range.
  • All personal members of YALSA whose membership is current as of 12/17/12 are eligible to submit an application.
  • Only one application per YALSA member may be submitted.

Each application will be judged on the basis of the:

  • Degree to which the program meets the needs of the teens in the community. (20 points)
  • Originality of the program (creative, innovative, unique). (30 points)
  • Degree to which the program reflects the ideals identified in YALSA’s national guidelines and competencies (at (20 points)
  • Overall quality of the program (well planned, promoted, organized, implemented, and evaluated). (20 points)
  • Clarity of the application (10 points)

1. The application must include a statement of support from the director of the public library, school principal, or the building-level administrator which is emailed to [email protected]

2. Entries must be models of clarity and completeness.

3. The application must be submitted electronically via the online form at

4. All online forms and statements of support must be received no later than midnight (eastern) Dec. 17, 2012.

5. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The libraries selected with exemplary programs will be announced via press release the week of Feb. 4, 2013.

All of the selected programs will be invited to participate in YALSA’s President’s Program: Innovations in Teen Programming at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. Prize money may be used to support travel and conference expenses.

All of the selected exemplary programs/services will be included in YALSA’s Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 6th edition, to be published in the fall of 2013.

Libraries receiving the cash awards will be recognized via press release and on the YALSA web site. A list of winning applicants will be included in the forthcoming book.

For questions contact: Letitia Smith, YALSA Membership Marketing Specialist, at [email protected] or 1.800.545.2433 x4390