Category Archives: Library Innovators

Congrats to Justin Hoenke, 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker

2013-01-26_1359221378Congrats to Justin! 

Read all about Justin here:

“My goal was to come to Portland [Public Library] and make the teen library a success,” says Justin Hoenke, aka Justin the Librarian—blogger, music enthusiast, “retro video gamer,” and fearless programs creator. “Being a teen can be a crazy thing…. We want to help teens 12–19 find the best path toward adulthood.”

As the first teen librarian hired by Portland (in March 2010), Hoenke is more than meeting his goal. Innovations include Make Music at the Library, a program in which teens create their own tracks and albums (and edit them in Hoenke’s office), and a storytelling-focused “make your own video game” that’s a joint venture with the Telling Room, a local writing organization for young people. [Hoenke recently accepted a position as teen librarian at Chattanooga Public Library.]

As I’ve said on Facebook, I can’t wait to see what wonderful things he does in Chattanooga!

UPDATE: More about Justin’s amazing work here:

Here is the text of his M&S nomination form:

Reasons for nomination & Describe one event, project, or situation that illustrates your reason for this nomination:

In Justin’s work as Teen Librarian, he strives to deliver excellent, user-focused service, innovative programming, and opportunities for learning and growth for his constituents. Justin has been the driving force behind his library directly engaging with the teen community in Portland. He also shares his ideas and learning with the broader LIS community in a positive and encouraging way.

This nomination includes focus on the most important project or situation in Justin’s work: his innovative projects are all centered around services to teens and the library’s teen advisory board (TAB). Not only does he create innovative programs but he shares with the broader LIS community as part of this goal. Because he is an invited Tame the Web (TTW) contributor, Justin has shared some of his innovative projects and learnings with the TTW readership. These projects include:

Create, Play & Read – Lending Devices to Teens

This program to get devices into the hands of the young people PPL serves was conceived and implements by Justin. Throughout the three posts he shares his procedures, critical thinking and his failures. His sharing at TTW provides insights and more for those reading about his experience:

What did I learn from this?

You’re gonna lose items…and it’s ok.  It’s all part of the learning process.  Libraries lose a lot of materials with high value – think about when an audiobook collection goes missing or a disc needs to be replaced in a multi item set.

The teens have to know that they’re responsible.  Fines may not be the best way to do this, but that’s a bigger issue for another time.

eBooks and teens?  There’s a limited audience.

Teens want to have an experience.

How will this work next time?

One of the observations I made with the teens that had borrowed the devices was that they were more into using YouTube and the web browser than they were using the apps.  A possible solution would be to limit access to YouTube and the web browser and limit the devices to what they were intended for: curated app experience devices

Credit checks/signed applications from parents/etc will not work no matter how hard you try to push this on teens.  Teens can barely keep track of what they’re going to do after school, let alone understand what signing a piece of paper means.  Perhaps a better way forward is for the people working with these teen patrons in the library to make individual calls on each lender.  It may be a good idea for those working in the teen library to take some time to sit down with the teens that potentially want to borrow these devices, show them what they can do, and explain in fuller detail what it means to be “selected” for this program.

Make Music at the Library

Justin worked with a group of teens to write and record a song. This is an outstanding example of a user-focused, creation-based program

Teen Advisory Board

Nominator Peter Bromberg has maintained a document gathering Justin’s ideas and work on teen-centered projects. The document gathers snippets of Justin’s own words, shared via social tools that illustrate his deep commitment to teen library users and the LIS community.  He submitted the file for inclusion in this nomination:

Our library really didn’t have much of a teen program before I got here.  Lots of books but a lot of outdated stuff, basically no programs, and that’s about it.  I’d like to think that I’ve changed that. 

Circulation is through the roof we’ve got programs every week, and our name is out there more.  People seem to know who our library is and I‘d like to think that I had something to do with that!

I’ve been really big into getting our name out into the library world. When I got here I felt like everyone took an isolationist view on libraries…who cares what else happens in the world, we are fine here in Cape May County. 

What have you done to promote library/TAB through social software?

Created a Facebook page

Created a huge presence on Twitter. 

Basically, I rely on these two sources to reach out to teens and through my use of these sources I feel like I’ve really connected to teens. 

They think of me as a friend and that’s what it is all about!

What new programs have you done that have attracted teen participation?

Teen Advisory Board

Graphic Novel and Manga Club

Library Lock In

An extensive game night program

Open mic nights

How have you helped shift thinking/culture in the library with regard to teens?

I feel like I’ve made the other people I work with see teens as real human beings. 

Before I got here, they had this buzzer in the teen room that they buzzed when the teens were being loud.  They treated them like wild animals that needed to be punished or something like that. 

Now, they talk to the teens.  They respect them.  They know some of them on a first name basis!

What other wonderful changes have you made?

Positivity.  I feel like I bring an energy to the people I work with. 

I try to keep spirits up because when spirits are up, good things get done. 

Happiness is spread and the world is a better place!


Sharing with the Wider LIS Community

Justin also spends much of his free time sharing his ideas and insights with the broader LIS Community. He tries to share consciously – and does so effectively. When many of his peers are clamoring for recognition and fame, Justin continues to share quietly with the LIS community. His writing extensively about video games in libraries ( lead to invitations to speak and share ant national conferences and at a conference this year in Germany. The members of the Zukunftwerkstatt (Future Workshop) in Germany funded Justin’s travel to speak about the importance of games and services to young people at the 2012 Bibliothekartag.

We are pleased to submit this nomination for a dedicated, hard-working and forward thinking librarian. We are nominating him for his relentless innovation in service to teens and his generosity of spirit in sharing the process with librarians all over the world through social media.


  • Michael Stephens
  • Assistant Professor
  • San Jose State University SLIS
  • Sarah Houghton Jan
  • Director
  • San Rafael Public Library
  • Brian Kenney
  • Director
  • White Plains Public Library
  • Peter Bromberg
  • Associate Director
  • Princeton Public Library


Photo: Justin at breakfast with Michael, Seattle, January 2013 via Instagram.

Embracing the Long Game

Don’t miss this great article by Toby Greenwalt:

The Idea Box7 is a nine-by-thirteen-foot space located in the opening vestibule of OPPL’s main library building. Originally designed as a coffee shop, the space is now a constantly changing interactive environment for art and conversation. Unlike a digital media lab or a makerspace, however, the Idea Box is focused on single-serving experiences. One month might have patrons rearranging small LED lights to create constellations on the walls. Another month might have a visitor posing for a green-screen photo with an oversized library card, and choosing their favorite exotic location to have superimposed in the background. These individual contributions accumulate over the run of the installation. Much of the joy, for staff and patrons alike, comes from seeing the space change over time.

The genesis of Idea Box came during the library’s last strategic planning session, fueled by a library brainstorming initiative they called Spark8. Monica Harris, OPPL’s customer service manager, described the process: “We had people from all over the library looking at crazy things. One of our assistant directors, Jim Madigan, said, ‘We’re very focused on art here in Oak Park. We have a lot of great art in the library. We have one art gallery, but what if we open a second art space. We could call it the Idea Box.’ The Spark Team liked that idea, and they ran with it. They said, ‘OK, we’ll call it Idea Box, we’ll put things in there, we’re not entirely sure what’s happening with it yet, but I think it sounds really good.’”9


Anythink’s Approach to Connected Learning at TechFest 2013 – A TTW Guest Post by Matthew Hamilton


Anythinkers get creative as they learn how to write and record a song.

Note from Michael: I caught mention of this event on Facebook from Stacie Ledden. I’ve been watching what Anythink has been doing for some time and the R-Squared conference only made me more interested in what’s happening at this most forward-thinking, innovative library. Stacie put me in touch with Matthew, who graciously agreed to write this guest post. Give a read and take a look at the photos Matthew provided for a glimpse at what is possible when you move from being an “experience library to a participatory library.” I’ll be sharing this post with students in my Hyperlinked Library class for sure. Thanks Matthew!

Anythink’s Approach to Connected Learning at TechFest 2013

On Monday, February 18, Anythink Libraries held our fourth annual “TechFest” staff development day. In the past, we’ve had some amazing experiences—petting zoos, fantastic keynotes, guest instructors, and presentations from Anythinkers all across the district. However, this year was also the launch of our “Studio” initiative, a culmination of our efforts toward evolution from an experience library to a participatory library. These efforts began with our participation in the IMLS Digital Learning Lab grant, inspired by YOUmedia Chicago and funded by the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur foundation.
Anythink’s goals for the grant were to:
  • Transform the district approach to teen technology programming by placing a greater emphasis on creativity
  • Build the capacity of our teen and technology guides to support digital media tools
  • Open a pilot lab at Anythink Wright Farms
  • Develop a roadmap to opening similar creative spaces in all of our libraries
To this end, inspired by the spirit of the R2 conference— the TechFest team (Logan Macdonald, Samantha Meisinger, Leilani Schrichten, and myself) decided to take a risk and approach the day  in a completely new way. We decided to take what we’ve learned about Connected Learning and turn the day into a collaborative, interest-driven learning experience. We recruited 12 “mentors” for different content areas: including video, web design, animation, podcasting, 3D printing, and audio recording.Each group of ten got to “Hang Out, Mess Around, and Geek Out” with their mentor providing just in time instruction to help them develop an end product for a showcase at the end of the day. Staff had the opportunity to feel comfortable exploring their creativity, and learning together.
When we came up with this idea, we weren’t sure how it would go over. We worried that perhaps staff would expect a more traditional day, but we found that we had better attendance than we’ve had for our other TechFests. There’s already been talk of making this a model for future training days.
Walking away from TechFest, many Anythinkers find new relevance in supporting community creativity—and greater confidence with the technology that helps make it possible. By emphasizing collaboration and staff interests, rather than training on tools, we feel it overcame potential anxiety associated with learning a new technology and situated the learning in people’s lives.


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Got Creative In-World and IRL with Minecraft


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Explore the Promise (and Perils) of 3D Design with Tinkercard and the Makerbot Replicator


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Get Creative with the Green Screen
AvatarBW 069DC84B-F3B9-4DD7-A4B9-19921E359C7B[4]Matt Hamilton is part hardware geek, part software geek. He brings a punk rock “Do It Yourself” ethos to librarianship, often turning tradition on its head. Matt is the IT Director for the Anythink Library System in Colorado and wasnamed one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for 2010. He received his MLS from Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management and has since presented around the country on innovative services, staff development, and emerging technologies.

Unglue: Giving books to the world by crowd funding – A TTW Guest Post by Jan Holmquist

The most democratic book project I know is about to relaunch – Here is an article I wrote for the German library magazine BUB as member of the Zukunftentwicklers network – With a few corrections because a lot has happened with since the deadline:

What is crowd funding and what does it mean to unglue?

To unglue a book means that you buy the rights to the book and then pass them on by giving the book to the world for free to read in any e-book format and on any device – without DRM or time restrictions under a creative commons license. But you don’t do it alone. You chirp in a little and so does a lot of other people who think it is important to free the same book. This is called crowd funding. When you crowd fund (and unglue) the project you support has a deadline and the money needed must be raised before the end of this deadline or the project fails. If the money is not raised before the deadline – you don’t loose your money – because the amount you pledge is not drawn from your account unless all the money needed is raised.

The good thing about as I see it is that everyone is a winner. The author gets paid for his work and the world gets unlimited access to the book – What’s not to like about it? I think is the most democratic book project you can imagine.
The first book has already been unglued and is therefore yours too – it is “Oral Literature In Africa” by Ruth H. Finnegan – 278 world citizens participated in unglueing this book raising 7500 dollars – The e-book version is available for download from the website. You can go to to learn more and make your own pledge to give the gift of a book to the world.

Libraries, ebooks and freedom of information

In the current e-book market it is very hard for libraries to purchase and lend out ebooks to the public. This fact is making it darker times for universal access to information for the first time in decades. Lots of titles can’t be offered because the biggest publishers in the US are not working with the libraries there, and in Europe EBLIDA is doing work to get better deals here too. Booksellers say libraries are a threat to the ebook business even though research shows that libraries increase book sales – not the other way round. The current situation looks like a library nightmare. Though the focus for modern libraries shift from collections to connections it is still important that information will be more freely accessible in future – not less. There are also privacy concerns with some of the models in which libraries and we as citizens can purchase ebooks today. Booksellers can erase books from our devices (it has been done!), can spy on us to see what we read, underline and bookmark in our ebooks etc. Libraries do not own ebooks. They license them – and can’t lend them out limitlessly on most contracts.

The e-book formats are not universal and library e-book services are often hard to use limiting potential use because of technical illiteracy and difficulties.

The values behind contribute to another voice in the debate on the future of ebooks, libraries and access. If becomes a universal success the role of libraries on the e-book market will be (almost) obsolete because they will have provided all ebooks freely available for us all in every digital format without DRM and without spying on the reader etc. This is basically a very librarianish goal… – but there is still a long way to go.

Crowd funding – success and challenges

One important thing when crowd funding is that your project tells a story that is important to the possible contributors. You need to see that what you are contributing to will make a difference to someone and will be making the world a better place. This can be a tricky thing for a project like because everyone can agree that universal access to good books is an important issue – but what if the title does not appeal to me? Sometimes it is easier to raise a lot of money for a cause broadly known than for a work of art very few people know.
Crowd funding is not a new thing. It has been used to collect funds for helping out after natural disasters for many years and political parties are crowd funded by their members etc. Barack Obamas campaign for the presidential election 2008 was partly crowd funded like many other presidential campaigns have been. The new thing about Obamas campaign was that so many people contributed even if the amounts were small – a lot of people “owned” the campaign. These are all examples of projects that their supporters meant would make the world a better place.

Crowd funding projects – library related and beyond

In the library field successful crowd funding campaigns include Buy India a Library where 100 people from all over the world funded the building of a library connected to a school in Mysore, India including books, newspapers and wages for the staff for two years. The campaign raised more than 3000 Euros in less than two weeks and it was more funds than needed. Therefore it additionally funded four donkey drawn mobile libraries in Africa. The thought about opening a library in a world where a lot of libraries were closed appealed broadly.

The online library TV show This Week in Libraries current season is also partly crowd funded by people from all over the world who want to keep the show on the air. This Week in Libraries focuses on ideas and innovation in libraries and interviews library innovators from all over the world. The Help This Week in Libraries campaign showed that the show has a large world-wide supporter group.

A few examples of non-library related projects are singer Amanda Palmers newest album, art book and tour crowd funded via the very popular platformKickstarter.comHer campaign collected more than one million dollars before deadline.

The Uni is a reading room for public space that is also funded via Kickstarter and even though it is based in New York City there are now a new Uni in Kazakhstan too. It provides a flexible library like outdoor space for reading, showcasing learning and one of its aims is to improve public space.

Good luck with crowd funding your own future projects and with making the world a better place by crowd funding others projects and unglueing books to the world.

Jan Holmquist is a librarian working with library development in South East Denmark at Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne. He is also a global librarian, Zukunftsentwickler, blogger, Tweeter and crowd funder – member and co-founder of the Buy India a Library team and Help This Week in Libraries team.

Zombie Prom – A TTW Guest Post by Ellie Davis

Zombie Prom and Face-melting metal at your local library! Enjoy Prom like you’ve never experienced it before. Bring a can of food and join us in your Zombie worst or survivor best for an epic night at the Sweetwater County Library. All donations will go to our local Food Bank. The evening will begin with our annual Zombie Walk in which we will lurch down to the main street of town to Centennial Park where we will play a game of Zombies vs Humans, flag football style. We will re-group at the library for the Zombie Prom.

This year our music line-up is incredible. We gladly welcome Salt Lake City hard-core metal bands Breaux and Dethrone the Sovereignto our shin-dig, along with Green River favorites, A Human Medium and Picture It In Ruins. Opening the show will be a new addition to our local metal scene, Days May Come of Rock Springs.  Also photographers from Ohio Snap, Kyla Baumfalk and Shawn Huber will be taking free Prom pictures for everyone which can be retrieved from the Ohio Snap facebook page.

About Zombie Prom:

I got the idea for a Zombie Prom from a friend of mine, Jeremiah Castle, from Oregon five years ago. As soon as he mentioned it diabolical laughter began echoing through my brain (no pun intended). I had such a swirl of ideas flowing through my mind. I asked the library manager for permission to hold the event and she agreed. I began putting it together and reaching out to bands within a 200 mile radius and telling known zombie fans about it. The format for our event did not take long to evolve. I decided to make it a food drive so that we can give back to our community. Besides, zombies don’t need canned food anyway.

My friend Hannah Redden happens to be a zombie fanatic and she told me about a Zombie Walk. Again, that wicked laughter bubbled forth. I decided that we should definitely add that to the event, after all we might as well show off our costumes and chase willing people. It turns out that it is extremely fun to play zombie with hundreds of people.  Who knew? Of course we have a huge variety of zombie materials at the library, which we create a display for preceding this event.

This year promises to be the biggest event to date. I feel a little bit like Dr. Frankenstein because for the first time, all of the bands I invited to play the show agreed. This includes two well known bands from Salt Lake City, Utah, which is approximately 370 miles round trip from Green River.  The Salt Lake City bands are Breaux and Dethrone the Sovereign, both of whom opened the show for world renown metal band, The Human Abstract  and many others. Hailing from Green River are local favorites, A Human Medium along with Picture It In Ruins, who previously opened for the world famous band,  Protest the Hero. Opening our fifth annual Zombie Prom will be a band new to the metal scene, Days May Come.  For the first time we have professional photographers, Kyla Baumfalk and Shawn Huber of Ohio Snap Photography taking Prom pictures and filming the show.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to seeing just how much chaos we can create within our allotted space this year. It is bound to be memorable and I have a really good feeling about it this year. I swear I can already hear the call for braaiiinnnss…

Ellie Davis is Young Adult Librarian and Assistant Manager of Youth Services at Sweetwater County Library in Wyoming.


Update: Hello everyone! I just want to let you all know that our 5th annual Zombie Walk and Zombie Prom was the best one to date. We had over 200 people on the actual Zombie Walk and great fun at the park playing Zombies vs Humans. The Zombie Prom was the biggest and best metal show that we have put on thus far with a gate count of about 700. We even had people attending from as far away as Brigham City, Utah! We gathered hundreds of items of non-perishable food items for our local Food Bank. Thank you so much to everyone for their help, support and participation in the most epic Zombie Walk and Zombie Prom ever. Check out our facebook page by searching for, Sweetwater County Library System and check out the pictures. You may also view pictures on facebook if you search, Ohio Snap Photography. Thank you again!

Mal Booth Named New University Librarian at University of Technology Sydney!

UTS Library is pleased to introduce the newly appointed University Librarian, Mal Booth.

Mal joined UTS in 2009 and has led significant changes in the way the Library organises and delivers the information and services it oversees. Amongst many initiatives he has been instrumental in introducing Radio Frequency Identity (RFID) tagging to the entire print collection, ensuring the Library is in a strong position to make best use of the new Library Retrieval System (that is currently underway) and for which he has led the design process.

Before joining UTS, Mal was the Head of the Research Centre at the Australian War Memorial where he supervised a major project to make their collection (including military history and war records) accessible. Prior to this he held numerous roles in the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

Congratulations Mal!