Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Justin Hoenke

We’re gonna be OK

On Tuesday May 17, 2011, my library had the pleasure of hosting a show featuring the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters.  The show itself was awesome: the music was great, the band was super nice, and everyone had a good time.

The highlight for me had nothing to do with the actual show.  Instead, it came from the patrons.  The first moment where I noticed that this wasn’t going to be just any old program was when I stepped out to announce to the fans that were waiting for the show to start that the band was just sound checking and would be ready shortly.  I expected maybe 20 people tops, but the line stretched all the way from our auditorium up into the library proper.  We’re talking at least 100 people here, all with smiles on their faces.

Once the show got underway, I stepped up to the mic to introduce the band to the 203 people that came to the library on a rainy, Tuesday night to see this free show.  I was greeted with shouts of “I LOVE LIBRARIES” and “WE LOVE LIBRARIANS”.  I felt like a Beatle.

But that’s not what I’m trying to get at.   What I’m really trying to say is this: the death of the library has been greatly exaggerated.  This event showed me that there are people out there that love their libraries.  They know who we are and what we do…and they love us for it.  Will 26 ebook circulations be the thing that takes away that love?  What about when Seth Godin says that libraries are out of date?  Are they gonna listen to him?  I don’t think so.  People will remember you when you give them positive experiences.

I have a feeling we’re gonna be ok.


Here’s some video I took at the event with my phone.  Sure, the quality isn’t the best, but I think it captures the excitement of the evening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTq3L-uRVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXOloG4S-xs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ic9GYGIjSM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThUh4_-B6Kw

 

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

DePaul levels up on video game collection

Via nwi.com:

I’ve actually done research on students who are learning game design and about games,” said Jose Zagal, a game development professor at DePaul. “And it is quite often the case that they’ll have a very narrow view of games.”

Jim Galbraith, associate director of collections at DePaul’s library, hopes the collection will draw the wider student body while supplementing what’s taught in game design and computer science classes.

 

You can read the rest of the article here.  Is your library doing something like this?  As a big advocate for video gaming in libraries, I’m happy to see universities starting to collect games.  I’m most excited about seeing how their retro gaming collection develops.

Also, made sure you check out their sidebar “Video Game Canon” discussion.  Do you agree with their selection of games in the Video Game Canon?  What would you add?  Take away?

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor


Library Idea Share

I’ve been working in public libraries for five years now and recently decided to go back and look at the things I’ve done.  Part of it was curiosity and the other part was to make sure that I’ve been doing my job and making interesting things happen for my community.   Also, sometimes there’s a program or idea that you’ve had in the past that you’ve totally forgot about.  Going back through my personal archives has helped me rediscover some ideas that I can now see through to completion.

The Library Idea Share is my attempt to get these ideas and tools off of my hard drive and into other librarian’s hands so that they can be used by anyone looking to put a program together.  I hope that through this series of posts you can find something that you can take and remix for your own libraries needs.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Thank you Harper Collins (for making the path forward a little clearer)

Note from Michael – I’m deep in two projects today  and tomorrow and haven’t had much time to catch up on the hubub with Harper Collins and ebooks. I can say that I agree with Justin’s take on the potential and promise of promoting content creation, access to technology and building the community memory (whatever community it might be – civic, academic, education) as a big part of our future in libraries. I appreciate Justin’s hard work and insights.

 

The news about HarperCollins placing loaning caps on ebooks in the Overdrive catalog—known as #hcod on Twitter—gobbled up my Twitter feed last Friday afternoon.  On one hand, I knew some publisher was going to pull this stunt, so I wasn’t shocked. On the other, I learned two things about libraries and the profession in general.

First, the lending-digital-goods jig is up. With DRM, publishers have found a way to cut out libraries and used booksellers. This kind of greed is absurd when you consider how much business libraries give the major book publishers. The average annual teen book budget I’ve worked with over the years at a few different libraries is $20,000—and that’s often one of the smaller pieces of the pie. Adult public library book budgets for systems serving upwards of a million people range from a cool $1 to $2 million. And let’s remember: libraries don’t ever return books. The obvious solution to the HarperCollins slight is to stop buying its wares. The lack of library cash flow will speak loudly. Also, no more booktalking HC’s backlist or generating word of mouth, the rumored force behind best sellers. You’re grooming your next Neil Gaiman, HC? Wonderful! Good luck making him or her a star without our readers advisors and community centers, where people can talk about what their discovering in the stacks.

Now, let’s all quit being shocked that the ebook loaning cap happened and take the long view of digital goods in libraries. Two of the so-called Big Six book publishers already refuse to lend ebooks to libraries, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Overdrive, the vendor involved in the HC incident, is a pile of garbage in terms of usability. Don’t believe me? Read this comic.

Tell me you haven’t run into this problem before. As a Teen Librarian, I’m working with the one-click-and-the-file-saves-to-your-computer generation. Do they use Overdrive now? No. Will they later? Doubtful, if the interface and DRM remain. Does this bode well for the future of library services and literacy? For an answer, look at what’s happened with digital music products for libraries. Like ebooks, they are locked up in crazy DRM or come with an insanely high price tag. Let’s not even get into databases.

ZT IPv6 software tool: try this calculator

The second thing I learned from this incident is that the library world is terrible at advocating for itself. DRM and greedy publishers are here to stay. No number of tweets, emails, or blog posts is going to change their minds. If HC and other publishers in their wake want to cut us out of the ebook market, let them—it gives us a chance to do what we need to do, that is, reinvent ourselves. REVOLUTION!

What do I mean by “revolution”? Let’s use this slap in the face as an opportunity to make libraries modern institutions. For a while now, we’ve loaned popular materials like DVDs in our communities. To many people, libraries are like free versions of Blockbuster. Meanwhile, our unique local collections are hidden away, either hard to browse or physically out of reach. Instead of giving patrons access to cutting-edge technology they can use to create original works and teaching them how to use it, we give them basic Internet connections so they can watch YouTube clips and Facebook themselves into oblivion. We’ve become lazy, boring; extensions of people’s living rooms, essentially. 

And now that we’re being squeezed out of lending popular materials like ebooks, what do we lend out?  The answer is simple: we turn to our community to create the content that we collect.  We “check out” distinctive experiences and educational opportunities to our patrons instead of the Twilight saga ad nauseam. We become the go-to place for people to record music, film movies, write original stories, and do anything else creative, educational, and life-improving.

We then take these works and make like libraries and catalog, store, and share them. Sure, we may only have one or two ebook copies of James Patterson’s crapfest, but look at the awesome content we’re encouraging our community to create! The best part? It’s one-of-a-kind material that we can now share easily with the world. The other rad part? We’re empowering our patrons to become creators instead of consumers.

Finally, the first person to say, “But my library doesn’t have the money to do this kind of stuff!” in the comments section loses. It’s easy. 

As for my take on DRM, cut and paste what Cory Doctorow has said and put it in my mouth because I feel the exact same way. It’s a bad, ugly thing. His post on the #hcod debacle was brilliant from start to finish, but this chunk of gooey goodness keeps on repeating in my mind:

And that’s why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It’s unsafe at any speed.  I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, “Oh, no, sorry, we didn’t mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts,” the libraries’ answers should be “Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing.” Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you’ll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive crap like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won’t notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

Cory’s got it right: stop giving them our money. Instead of buying 80 copies of Dan Brown’s bound schlock, buy some cheap netbooks, toss on some open-source software that will turn patrons into creators, and lend them out. Invest in your community instead of bleeding time and money on ebook garbage.

MUCH LOVE GOES OUT TO:
In no way am I the first person to ever say something along these lines:
Thank you DOK Library Concept Center and Eli Neiburger (watch #1 and #2)

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

“She wrote the book on saving libraries”

Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…

Gov. Tom Corbett’s no-new-tax pledge means he has to figure a way to slash billions of dollars across the board from Pennsylvania’s budget, and it’s unlikely libraries will emerge unscathed.

Into this breach steps janet jai of Highland Park. (She had her name legally changed to lower-case letters a long time ago, but that’s another story.) Ms. jai (pronounced like the letter J), 65, has rushed out 500 copies of a self-published, 165-page paperback book, “Saving Our Public Libraries: Why We Should. How We Can.”

We met Monday to discuss her fundraising suggestions. I had coffee and she had tea — or almost did. She’s so passionate about this cause she never pulled out the tea bag. She sipped hot water. “Silver tea,” she shrugged, and we kept talking.

Her book defies quick summary but she makes two key points. The first is that libraries can’t feel they’re being singled out if government is cutting more or less equally everywhere. The second is that librarians must now think like entrepreneurs even as they hold fast to Andrew Carnegie’s “free to the people” credo.

I was drawn immediately to a quirky suggestion on page 149. She knows people want to be remembered, and also knows most of us aren’t Carnegies. So she suggests small fundraisers that could end with innumerable little signs like the following:

“The lights are on today because of Amanda Smith’s contribution. … Kelly Hu paid for the electricity that makes it possible for you to use this computer. …”

What a great article.  Coming from a librarian or someone directly linked to libraries, a passionate book like this may be overlooked.  Coming from a patron, however, it becomes a whole different thing.  Empowering patrons…it’s just one of the things we’re here to help with.

Read more here: She wrote the book on saving libraries at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Teens Through Time Movie Series

As much of a fan of putting together elaborate and  unique programs at my library, at the same time I feel it’s good to balance things out with some laid back stuff as well.  This lead to my desire to seek out a movie license so that we could show some films.  It was a program that could easily happen and at the same time give our teen patrons something to do.

I tried a Random Movie Night program at first.  It was probably the least amount of work I put into a program and I had hoped for high results.  It wasn’t that big of a success.  I’m still trying to figure out why, but I feel like it had something to do with uncertainty.  If someone’s gonna make the trek out to the library to see a film, they want to make sure it’s something they’ll enjoy.

With that, my colleague Michael Whittaker and I put our thinking caps on.   How could we effectively use this movie license and still keep the program simple?  It was Michael who came up with the theme Teens Through Time, a film series showcasing teen movies through the years.  Our hope was to show that what people call “teen angst” wasn’t just something that was happening to their generation, but instead a problem that teens have faced through the years.  We quickly came up with a list of films we were enthusiastic about and put our creation out into the world.  For the full list of what my library is showing during our Teens Through Time series, click here

We got some great feedback on our program.  Our local newspaper covered the Teens Through Time series two weeks before it began, drawing some great feedback from our community.  If that wasn’t enough, the same paper ran an very positive op-ed on the program titled Our View: Portland Library film series shows teen drama is not new.

Students who watch the movies will see that fashions may change but people don’t, and the issues that they are wrestling with have been constant themes.

They also may recognize that, like some of the actors on the screen, they will likely play different roles in the course of their own lives, as they have kids, who also grow up.

The series is a great use of the renovated library facility and should give teens — and adults — plenty to talk about this winter.

So far, we’ve gone through two movies.  At the screening of Blackboard Jungle, we had a grandmother, her daughter, and granddaughter show up for the film.  The grandmother told us that she had seen the movie in the theater when it came out and that her daughter had seen it on VHS many years later at home.  It was the granddaughter’s first time seeing the movie.  Three generations of family in the public library, enjoying just one of the many services we offer.  Awesome.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Buy India a Library: UPDATE

First up, the Buy India a Library team wishes to thank everyone that has donated to the project.  Right now, our total amount raised stands at £665, which is more than half of what we need to accomplish our goal of purchasing a village library!  Awesome!

If you have any questions about how the money we raise is being spent, please read our post here: Who spends the money we’re raising, and how?

And finally, Andromeda did this really great interview at ALA Midwinter that explains the project and how it came to be.

Thanks for everything, and if you have a moment or a spare dollar/quid/krone, please help us give India a library!

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Buy India a Library

From the minds of Jan Holmquist (representing Denmark), Andromeda Yelton (representing the USA), and Ned Potter (representing the UK)…

Click here to go to the Buy India a Library blog!

…comes Buy India a Library, a project started by librarians to fund a library in India via Twitter.  Head on over to their blog for more information on the project and learn about how you can help them accomplish their awesome goal!

What an awesome project and a wonderful team.  I’ve been lucky to meet in person with Andromeda a few times and have many great discussions with Jan and Ned online.  Kudos to them for making it happen!

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Portland Public Teen Library: 2010 Year In Review

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor