Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Justin Hoenke

Good Twitter practice for libraries

I got these two direct messages via Twitter recently from two libraries who were acknowledging that I started following them.  They followed me back and then sent these messages.

To me, these simple DM’s really warmed my heart and reinforced the idea that customer service is one of the most important things that we can focus on in libraries today.  It also acts as a great way to open up the conversation with our patrons.

This is something I highly recommend that libraries practice when using Twitter.  It really can make our patrons feel welcome.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Library Director: A Possible Future

Thinking about the future has been very common for me in 2011.  I’ve asked myself time and time again, “what is my place in libraries?” but I haven’t come to a final answer.  I’ve had this feeling that I can’t be a teen librarian forever, but since it is the only position I’ve ever held I’ve had a hard time looking past it.  Could I be an academic librarian?  A self employed librarian?  These ideas have come and gone, but no one answer has really stuck.  Until recently…

I started thinking about a possible future as a library director after my participation in the 2010 ALA Emerging Leaders program. Maureen Sullivan, who was the ALA Emerging Leaders Facilitator at the time shared a quote by Frances Hesselbein with the class that’s forever changed me:

“The leader’s job is not to provide energy but to release it from others.”

(you can read about my ALA Emerging Leaders experience here and here)

It’s a cliche, but I’ll say it…my mind was blown.  Up until that point in my professional career, I always thought that moving up the “library ladder” allowed you to do whatever the heck you wanted to do.  You were the person in charge…the big shot…the leader.  The way that the community views the library is now in your hands and you can mold it and shape it all you want.

How silly of me to think that I was the center of attention.  How very self centered. I went back and thought of the main reason why I became a librarian in the first place…to help people…and it all clicked.  If I was to become a library director, my job wouldn’t be to dictate others, but instead help those that were around me reach their goals. I would still be helping people, but that circle was now larger. Not only I’d be helping my community, but I’d also be helping other library employees in their quest to be the best for their community.

If I was to go in this direction, I thought I better have a plan.  This is a work in progress:

EVERYTHING I DO, I DO IT FOR YOU
Library Directors need to trust their employees 100% and get their staff on board with everything that’s happening in the library.  If you were a teen librarian before you make the jump to library director, your tools used to be video games, graphic novels, craft events, and more.  Now, as the director your tools are your staff.  Believe in them, their ideas, and their abilities.  When you have a staff that’s feeling supported, the sky is the limit.  Your library will shine, and your community will embrace the services you offer them.

On the back of the life changing quote I mentioned above, I have to add this: don’t stop having ideas, and definitely don’t stop dreaming.  I’ve always been a dreamer myself, and if I ever become a library director, I’m sure that there will not be an “off” button which I can hit and change my personality to director mode.

GIVE THEM THE TOOLS THEY NEED

It’s the public library directors who need to listen. Staff members need better tools and skills, while their youth need more space, materials, and computers. As Gómez says, “We cannot view out-of-school-time programming and services as an adjunct to core library services.”

For that to be true, a lot of public library directors will need to take a hard look at their library’s resources and how they’re spent. Maybe it’s time to stop moaning about that seldom-visited reference desk (now quiet because adults are using the Internet) and hire more staff that can serve your major clients: children and teens. Maybe it’s time to take your materials and programming funds and actually align them to your usage statistics.

-Brian Kenney  http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6386666.html

If your librarian comes to you with a plan or just a random idea for something to better the library, give them the ability to go for it. While I was a librarian at the Cape May County Library (NJ), I was a teen librarian chock full of ideas. I went to my director Deb Poillon and asked her if I could start a circulating video game collection.  She thought it over, found some money, and a few months later gave me the funds to start up the collection.  Two years and 554 titles later, the collection is going strong in the county library system.

My point is simple: don’t let money or your own opinions get in the way.  Give your librarians the tools they need to embrace change and help them make something positive happen for the community.

TRANSPARENCY

The public library is an excellent model of government at its best. A locally controlled public good, it serves every individual freely, in as much or as little depth as he or she wants.

 -John Berry III http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA158885.html

Transparency is quite the buzz word these days, but it’s one of those buzz words I can get behind.  I define the public library as an institution that is available for the public to use which is generally funded by some kind of public sources.  Coming at it from this perspective, I see transparency not as a buzz word, but as something necessary to ensure the future of libraries.

I want to take this idea to the limit.

I wrote about this idea over 1 year ago.  While the tools may have changed, I do stand by the basic principles I set forth in this blog post.  Librarians, and to a greater extent, Library Directors, are interpreters for their communities.  We are here to listen to their needs and wants, and use our professional expertise to help make those requests come true.  As a library director, we need to clearly communicate our actions and decisions to our patrons. This involves fully embracing the idea of transparency.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow @ the Mannheim Library

Gaming Roadshow Panel Discussion (from http://goo.gl/gQgFB) at the Mannheim Library

Christoph Deeg has been doing an amazing job touring libraries in Europe with the Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow opening up discussion about gaming and libraries.  This past week, the Roadshow made a stop at the Mannheim Library and held their program and panel discussion on gaming.  If you’re interested, check out this write up of the event here.

The roadshow panel discussion brought up a great question:

We discussed how interactive games can be used specifically in the culture and knowledge of the role they play in society, which can help libraries, schools or other institutions to technology and how it even more into everyday life, eg for language and reading skills, can be integrated and used.

For more information on the Roadshow, please visit Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

 

Programming is great, but…

Have you ever given your all for a teen program, only to feel less than spectacular about the end result? We’ve all been there. Maybe we don’t attract the attendance numbers we hoped for or that our well thought out plan didn’t go exactly as we expected it to go. It’s got me thinking about life in the library beyond programs.

Programming is a great tool for libraries, but it can only get us so far. Real interactions, friendships, and something as simple as saying hello to our patrons is one of the best practices for a teen librarian to learn. I’m inclined to believe that librarians who spend more time interacting, building friendships, and communicating with their patrons have better results with the community that they serve.

How many teen craft programs can we host? Do teens even really like Star Wars/Harry Potter/Twilight themed events? Is gaming really one of the main solutions we have to keep turning towards?

We shouldn’t abandon programming all together. Think of programming as the first step, the gateway towards something deeper. Plan ahead with teen programs, but don’t spend a majority of your energy and focus on the programs themselves. Spend this time and energy on people. Take the time that you’d be taking to plan and implement an event like, say, teen after hours, and instead funnel that energy one day towards sitting down with your teens. Ask them about their day. Tell them about your life.  Listen to their stories. Have a laugh.

Another idea, although slightly pricey, may be to think about investing in staff. Sure, employing even a part time staff member can even have a tremendous effect on your budget, but you can’t think of it in business terms. An employee whose main priority is to interact with teen patrons and make them feel like part of the community can bring such a great positive energy to a library.

The next time you want to focus your energy and budget on a Twilight themed prom style event, think about your other options? Is it worth spending your energy sitting and chatting with the teens in your library instead?

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Participatory Culture and Teens

Teen Librarianship has a unique place within libraries.  It’s not quite a new idea for libraries to provide dedicated services to teens, yet it doesn’t still have the same kind of rich history we have with other populations.  This gives teen librarianship a unique place within libraries today; it allows the librarians that serve these groups the chance to experiment in regards to how we approach library services.  Teen librarians are not exactly bound by the same rules and programs which have held public libraries together for many years.  Librarians working with teens have the chance to fully embrace participatory culture and help build a community of patrons who participate just as much as they consume.
THE LIBRARY STAFF IS THE COLLECTION
Librarians can act as the teachers for guiding their community towards being more active in sharing.  This is one of the ways libraries in the 21st century can show their public value to their communities.  The role of the librarian is transformed when librarians help their communities create content instead of merely just consuming it.  We become teachers for our community, guides who help patrons learn and experience in new ways.  This also adds value to the library staff.  No longer are library staff just “there to help”, but they are there to help you experience.  This added value re purposes libraries; the staff has become as important as the collection.  Much like the reference book that helps you repair your car, the staff and their unique skills can help patrons navigate the 21st century.

LET’S BUILD SOMETHING
The use of technology has changed the way our community members can communicate with other.  Patrons are no longer restricted by geography, forms of communication, or channels to publish their communication.  Libraries now have a vast array of tools in our utility belt that we can call upon to engage patrons, build unique collections, and more.  For example, take Historypin, which allows users to upload photos and pin them to a Google Map.  With photos added, the true power of Historypin becomes clearer, as it creates a visual map of your community.  The best part about it?  It’s free to anyone that wants to contribute and share.  Our communities now assist in building collections, and librarians become the curators of those collections.  Better yet?  Teen are learning new ways of communication which will no doubt aid them in their own search for identity but also give back to the complex fabric of the community in which they live.

(check out this and this for examples on teens creating unique content for their local public libraries)
This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

 

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

National Gaming Day @ your Library 2011

National Gaming Day @ Your Library 2011 is just SIX weeks away!  Has your library signed up yet?

If not, you can sign up for National Gaming Day 2011 HERE!  Sign up now to be eligible for 2 of the donations from official sponsor and partner FamilyAndPartyGames.com.

Follow along for tons of gaming tips and information here:

NGD 2011 Blog
NGD 2011 Twitter 
NGD 2011 Facebook 

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

 

Historypin

I got an iPhone this past month, and I’ve been slowly digging into the vast library or apps that the phone offers.  A lot of things have grabbed my attention, but nothing perhaps so much as Historypin.  From Wikipedia:

Historypin is an online, user-generated archive of historical photos and personal recollections. Users are able to use the location and date of an image to ‘pin’ it to Google Maps Where Google Street View is available, users can overlay the historical photograph and compare it with the contemporary location. 

When I use Historypin, all that I can think about is how libraries should be jumping all over this and using it to create a unique glimpse into their community.  I’ve talked before about how I believe the path forward for public libraries is in encouraging our communities to create unique content (1, 2, and 3) and here is a tool that allows us to do this.

Here’s what I’m imagining from my point of view as a teen librarian: what if I got a handful of teens interested in photography, a few digital cameras or iPod touches, and we had a program where we headed out into the city for a half hour taking pictures.  We could then come back into the library and, using the library’s wifi and the Historypin app, upload the photos and catalog our city at that moment in time.  What’s even better is that Historypin encourages users to snap pictures of old photographs and upload them to Historypine (see the above image for an example).  Say that your library has an extensive local history collection (sort of like the one at my library).  Wouldn’t it be great to mobilize some volunteers to digitize photos and upload them to Historypin?  The library could even partner with local tourism organizations to give people with mobile phones a walking history tour of the city.

You can download Historypin for iOs and Android devices here: http://www.historypin.com/app/
Or try it online here: http://www.historypin.com/

 

(many thanks to Nate Hill for turning me onto this awesome site)

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

 


 

Double Jump looks at “Libraries and Gaming”

Double Jump is Michigan’s only local game show. Each episode host Dan Hartley explores gaming as a legitimate and mainstream form of art and entertainment. We’ll explore the various facets of the medium itself with experts and designers, as well as games’ impact on Michigan industries. Independent and local developers also have a voice here as well as any industries and educational facilities tied to them.

Libraries are one of our nation’s oldest institutions, and gaming one of our newest. What happens with these two disparate worlds meet? In the first segment of “Libraries and Gaming”, Double Jump looks at LCC’s game room and University of Michigan’s open videogame archive talking to librarians about the future of libraries and gaming’s place in it.

For more info on Double Jump:
www.lcc.edu/tv/shows/doublejump
fb.com/LCCTVDoubleJump
@LCCTVDoubleJump
lcctvdoublejump.blogspot.com

How awesome, and this is just the sneak peak.  I’ll be keeping my eye on this series as they dive into the world of Libraries and Gaming and I’ll make sure to share here at TTW.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor