Tag Archives: Community

Catching Up: by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

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Photo Credit: Zachary Cross

It seems like I’ve been here forever, but as of this month I’ve been at the Chattanooga Public Library for 1 year, 4 months.  In that time, we’ve accomplished a lot of great things for the Chattanooga community. At the same time, I haven’t been able to share as much because….well, things just got really busy in a good way! So this post is my Chattanooga catch up post….a way to share all of the positive things that have been happening around Chattanooga over the past few months.

MANAGEMENT
One of the big new things in my world is library management.  I manage The 2nd Floor, which is our brand name for the kid/tween/teen area.  It’s a huge space full of many different personalities, ages, and ideas.  I do the weekly scheduling, make sure payroll gets in on time, order supplies, think a lot about the big picture stuff, and make sure that the staff is happy. Looking at what I just wrote doesn’t seem like much what I’ve learned is that a lot of these little things add up. My brain is constantly running, making sure that I’ve done all the necessary management things while still keeping focus on the big picture: The 2nd Floor as a place in the community where kids, tweens, and teens can have fun and learn something along the way.

It’s a change for me and I think it would be a change for most youth services librarians. Why? We’re very creative individuals. We dream up programs in our sleep. We are the living embodiment of a makerspace.  Blending that creative brain with a management brain has been a challenge, but I’m getting there.  You don’t have to kill one to have the other. You can make it work together.

VOLUNTEERS
One of the big realities that I’m learning about it that you will never have enough staff to do everything you want to do. The other part of that is that, wow, hiring people is expensive. It’s not just the salary you need to look at, but benefits and all that other stuff.

That’s where volunteers come into the picture.  The problem is that I’ve never been good with managing volunteers. It’s just not in my skill set and I’m ok with that. Luckily, Megan Emery is good at that and we work together. So basically when Megan got to Chattanooga she took the keys to the car and ran with them.  And here’s how awesome it has been:

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 10.21.16 AM

July was one of our biggest months with teen volunteers and it showed. They took on projects that helped spruce up The 2nd Floor, making it more visually appealing for our community.  They became our 3D printing experts, working one on one with anyone interested in trying out the service for the first time.  Our 2nd Floor staff had more time to focus on their projects, focus on customer service, and in general just be great employees.  Volunteers matter a whole lot for the public library, and it’s even better when you give them a chance to work their own special brand of magic when they volunteer.

Megan wrote a really great piece about meaningful volunteer opportunities here and I highly suggest you check it out.

STATISTICS
Every librarian has a library guilty pleasure.  My guilty pleasure is statistics.  I love collecting them, analyzing them, and then using those stats to help me make decisions. I love it when stats are down because it tells me that I need to grow and change something. I love it when stats are up because, well, that is just something that makes you feel really good.

I won’t bore you with individual stats that went (way) up last fiscal year at the Chattanooga Public Library (if you wanna check them out), but I will say this; having an idea of what is/what isn’t working will really help you better serve your community.  It sharpens your focus and allows you to better delegate resources to the events and programs that best serve your community. Starting this month, the 2nd Floor started keeping track of how many people use the various areas of our space. The results so far have given us the numbers to back up exactly what all of our staff have been feeling: we’re very busy these days. As a manager, this allows me to look at how we’re working and how we can make improvements to better suit our staff.

CONSISTENCY IN PROGRAMMING
I’ve grown to really love strong, consistent programming in libraries.  If you do something well, you keep doing it and all throughout the process you keep on growing, refining, and making things better.  However, at the same time you have to recognize when something isn’t working and make those changes.  Consistent Programming gives your library something great to share that your community will remember.  Think of each program as a brand.  Get those brands into the minds of the community and they’ll be asking for more.

Just a few days ago we wrapped up the 2014 session of DEV DEV: summer of code at the Chattanooga Public Library. This program was created and ran by the Library, engage3D, AIGA Chattanooga, and the Benwood Foundation in 2013. Having this successful event repeat once again this year has helped us make the DEV DEV brand even stronger. When you mention DEV DEV in Chattanooga, the community knows that it is a program that teaches teens about HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Robotics.  DEV DEV has become a brand that stands out in the community. Besides working with great partners, what made this possible? Consistency in programming.

For more on DEV DEV 2014, click here! 

PEOPLE
Back in 2010 when I wrote my first TTW post I talked about leadership and working in groups.  At the core, that post was all about what really makes the public library work….PEOPLE.

It’s the people that work in the library that make things awesome for the community. No matter where you go in libraries, you always have to remember that it’s people that matter.  Treat them with respect and love.  Help them all along the way and let them know that their work counts in making your community a great place. I try to remind the folks that work on The 2nd Floor of that all the time.  Working in a public library is important work for the community and YOU are making your city a better place to live.

A Night Out at the Library for Everyone by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

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http://chattlibrary.org/events/night-out-kids-tweens-and-teens-2nd-floor

I’m very excited to share our new NIGHT OUT program that we’ll be running next month at the Chattanooga Public Library.  It’s a simple idea, but it is one of the best library programs I’ve put together. Why?  Let me tell you.

Basically it goes like this: while parents and guardians enjoy an evening at our June 5th event featuring New York Times Bestselling Author Jeff Shaara on The 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, their kids, tweens, and teens can hang out on the 2nd Floor (without their parents/guardians) and enjoy all that the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library has to offer.

Parents and guardians get to have a night out. Kids, Tweens, and Teens get to have a night out.  Everyone is hanging out in the library, and everyone leaves the library happy.

Why am I so excited about this? Because I feel that it represents a shift in how we are approaching programs.  To make something like this work, all parts of the library (including our great Friends of the Library group who are sponsoring this event) need to work together.  The adult program has to be all set up and ready to go.  The kid/tween/teen program has to be planned and executed properly.  We need to make sure we’re sufficiently staffed.  We need our security team to do their best to help us monitor all things on the 2nd Floor.  A program like this is truly a library wide effort.

Plus, it all brings it back to our community.  It is important for the public library to recognize what all of their community needs out of programming.  For parents and guardians, simply not having to worry about childcare for an hour or two can be a big deal in deciding whether or not they’ll visit the library.  Hopefully with this idea, we will see adults who may not have considered it a possibility to attend a library event all of a sudden enjoying our programs on a regular basis.  Do what your community needs you to do.

This message is brought to you by Justin Hoenke after 5 years of parenting and realizing just how important it is for adults to get out and enjoy library events and not have to worry about what to do with your kid/tween/teen.

 

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

 

Expanding The Conversation (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Have you ever found yourself inside the library echo chamber? I think we all have.  You’ve got something great to share or say about libraries and you put it out there…and it’s only talked about by librarians and libraries.  Some great presentations and pieces have been written about the echo chamber (some of my  faves are from Ned Potter, Sally Pewhairangi, and Steven V. Kaszynski).    These have got me thinking…how can we avoid the echo chamber?  My thought is this…expand the conversation and try, try, try your best to include those outside of the library world.  But how can we do this?  Here’s one way that I’ve found to be quite effective over the past few weeks.

I’ve fallen in love with a new service called Branch.  What is Branch?  It’s a new site that allows you to take ideas, tweets, and more and expand on them with anyone.  Wanna talk beyond the 140 characters of Twitter or not get involved in a messy comment thread?  Take it to Branch and have a conversation.

That’s exactly what I did when I started reading a series of posts on Read Write Web by Richard Macmanus titled Social Books.  I saw that the posts had an audience.  The article that caught my eye was this piece on GoodReads.  Specifically, I noticed that 183 people have shared/liked it on Facebook and a whopping 583 shares on Twitter. I also noticed a lack of librarians in on the conversation.  I wanted to see if I could expand the conversation and  get some library perspective into the mix.  So I took it to Branch:

As of the time of the writing of this post, the Branch conversation has led to some cool things that have expanded the conversation. Richard Macmanus, the author of the Social Book series Read Write Web joined the discussion on Branch and shortly thereafter wrote a post entitled The Social Library: How Public Libraries are Using Social Media which explores such topics as libraries using social media to connect with community, social catalog enhancements from LibraryThing, Candide 2.0.  I know that numbers are not everything, but there’s been a lot of sharing of the piece going on.  Look at the sharing stats below:

 What strikes me most are the number Facebook and Twitter shares.  To me, that’s a lot of people who have checked out the article…and then shared it.  Who knows how many people have actually read the article, but it’s likely that there’s even more.

And this is where I get most excited about this piece: think about how there are people out there today who are not involved in libraries reading about libraries, what libraries do, and how libraries improve community.  That’s the cool part about expanding the conversation.


Exchanging business cards for library cards at the Portland Business Expo

The Portland Regional Chamber held its annual business expo on Wednesday, and booths included the usual: credit unions, hotels, sign shops, telecom companies, the Portland Public Library.

Attendance was light in the early afternoon, but began to pick up as …. — “Wait!” I know you’re all saying, astonished: “The Portland Public Library???!!

Sonya Durney, who is the Business and Government Librarian at my library just recently did something super awesome.  She took her show on the road the Portland Business Expo and talked to local small businesses about the benefits of using their local library.

Durney explained: “If we can help local businesses, it’s helping the community. It’s a very symbiotic relationship – the community thrives, the library thrives. Everybody’s happy.”

Click here for the full article and for the WONDERFUL photos our Business and Government Team took at the expo, click here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

 

 

 

Enriching the library experience: an idea

GetGlue and LibraryThing got me thinking about how we could make the library an even neater place if we could somehow integrate these services into what we do.  Imagine going into a library and heading for the catalog.  You start your search and because of LibraryThing you can read other library members thoughts on that item.  The stack map then will help you locate what you’re looking for.  Imagine if we took that a step further and GetGlue made a product called GetGlue for Libraries.  Members could opt in to the program and check in to what they’re checking out at the library.  Library stickers could be unlocked and shared.  Even better yet, the conversation and recommendation part of GetGlue could make the entire library experience even more social and community driven.  

Now you’re not just borrowing stuff, but you’re talking about it with your community as well.

To read the full post, please visit http://justinthelibrarian.com/2012/02/29/enriching-the-library-experience-an-idea/

-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

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

 


 

Make Music at the Library

THE BACKSTORY
I wanted the teens using my library to do something creative this summer.  I’ve recently grown weary of having programs for the sake of programs, so with this mindset I reached out to the amazing Sonya Tomlinson aka Sontiago to help unlock the amazing creativity of the teens here in Portland.   Sonya’s an amazing hip hop artist based here in Portland who has already done some amazing work with teens in our community (click that link, please), so it was a no-brainer to have her be the person running this event.

We met over lunch at Kamasouptra and we came up with a simple idea: get beats, teach teens about music, hip hop, and writing, and let them make music.

THE PLAN IN ACTION
Sonya put out the word to those in the hip hop community that we were looking for beats for the program.  She got a number of beats back from some great producers.  Our teens then listened to those beats and selected the two which they wanted to work on over the next few weeks.

Beat #3 is by Josh Thelin, who goes by Thelin.  He works at Gateway Mastering here in Portland. He is the producer in the duo, Trails.

Beat #4 is by Nate Shupe, who goes by Shupe.   He hosts hip-hop open-mic night every Wednesday night at The Big Easy on Market Street. He is also aproducer/rapper in the group, Sandbag.

THE NEXT THREE WEEKS
Over the next 3 weeks, the teens hunkered down with Sontiago in the library and worked on adding to the music.  The teens (with Sontiago’s guidance) mapped out where the verse, chorus, and bridges would be in the song.  They took the instrumental tracks and transformed them into their own pieces of art.  By the end of the third week, all of the teens parts had been written and recorded.  The final step was mixing the tracks and blending the teens vocals together to create something truly moving.  Between the work done by the producers, the teens, and Sontiago, this was a true collaborative project that took place in the public library.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
I wrote about the Make Music at the Library over at my personal blog while the program was going on.  You can read those posts here.

Here’s a video playlist taken from the four weeks the teens spent working on the tracks:

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

The Transparent Library Director

I’m not a library director.  Heck, who knows if I’ll ever be a library director.  But spend some time working in a public library and you’ll see a common theme: most employees and the public have no clue what a library director does.  There’s this belief that the library director is some person way high up in the sky making all these decisions and pulling all these strings to make the library work. With such little information known about the day to day happenings of a library director, employees and patrons end up getting confused about the direction of the library.  In turn, that can sometimes lean towards anger, poor morale, and communication breakdown.  The victims here?  It’s always the patrons.  When the library staff doesn’t know what the hell is going on, the patron’s suffer.  They lose out on valuable materials, services, and more.

Social media allows us to be more transparent than ever.  We can check in at every place we visit, we can tweet quotes from conversations we’re having, we can share pictures at the tap of our screen.  Blogging/Video blogging makes it super easy and quick just to share your thoughts/actions for the day.  To some folks, this transparency is scary.  Most everything you say or do can be found on the web.  Here’s where I burst your fun bubble.  THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU.  I’m just as guilty of this as you are, so I’m not pointing fingers.  We have to remember that when we’re working in a public library that we are public employees.  Our salaries and benefits are graciously paid for by public taxes paid by the people we serve.  Living in the era of the Tea Party and slashed library budgets, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our country is pretty darn upset about taxes and will do anything to get rid of what they consider unnecessary spending.

USTREAM
Have a UStream feed running in your office all day as well as during meetings.  What have you got to hide in these day to day meetings?  If you’re talking about people behind their back, you probably shouldn’t be doing that anyway.

Opening up your office and your meetings to the public will give your community the primary resource they will need to understand your direction and vision.  Instead of hearing half true rumours from other employees and around your town you’ll be giving the information to the public as it was meant to be heard.

*Yes, I understand that some meetings are meant to be private.  These meetings should totally stay that way.

FOURSQUARE/FACEBOOK PLACES/GOWALLA/ETC
Check into every place you’re visiting in the community.  Give us a little info about why you’re there.

I don’t have a solid example for this recommendation, so instead I’ll point you to my Foursquare account (http://foursquare.com/justinlibrarian).  Just imagine that all those restaurants I checked into are different meetings and locations I’m out scouting for possible collaborations.

TWITTER
In my own opinion, this is the perfect tool for the director who is on the go to use.  Tweet quotes from meetings you’re attending.  Give your followers a brief 140 character synopsis about what’s going on.

Don’t think you have enough time to tweet?  That’s a lame and outdated excuse that everyone uses.  Look at Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker’s Twitter stream for inspiration.  He’s running a whole city and he can still tweet! http://twitter.com/corybooker

VIDEOBLOGGING
Fire up your webcam (chances are that your laptop already has one.  If not, get this one) and start talking.  If you’re a director, you should be well spoken and ready for the cameras.  A quick 1-3 minute videoblog about your day that can then be uploaded to your library YouTube account will give your staff and patrons always valuable face time.

I couldn’t find any specific library directors already doing this (although I clearly remember seeing one out there a few years ago) so instead I turn your attention to teen author John Green and his brother Hank.  They run the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube where they just talk about…stuff!  It keeps them connected to their rabid fan fan base and provides quick and easy updates to keep them relevant and interesting.

LIFESTREAM
Jenny Levin’s blog is a beautiful example of how a lifestream can be used to keep people up to date with what you’re tweeting/blogging/sharing.  It’s easy to set up and use once you get the ball rolling and it will provide your community with more than enough information about what you’re doing while you work.

http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2009/08/17/experimenting-with-my-stream.html

There shouldn’t be this communication breakdown in libraries anymore.  Starting at the top and leading by example, directors who embrace social media can show their staff and the public they serve just what they’re doing to keep their libraries relevant.

For further reading, I highly suggest you check out these awesome articles by Michael Casey & Michael Stephens:

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

The Graveyard

At my library, we recently started up a circulating video game collection.  Since we didn’t have a huge budget and we knew the collection was going to be rather small, we opted to go stark naked with security.  There’s also an amazing vibe here in Portland, Maine.  People really have a lot of trust in each other and everyone has a lot of faith in each other.  We put the games out on the shelf in the cases, did our best to monitor things, and went about our business at the library.

Recently, we’ve had some stuff stolen.  Instead of going all hush hush about it, my teen library co-conspirator Michael W. and I put together a little graveyard to remember the games that have been swiped.  Our goal wasn’t to shame the thieves into returning the games.  Instead, we wanted to show our community that this is a real problem and that while, yes, we’re a bit upset, it’s not us who’s hurt the most.  It’s the community that’s hurt the most.

It sounds like a passive aggressive thing, but I assure you that’s not where we’re coming from.  Often times, when something bad happens in libraries we’re trying our best to keep it quiet.  Instead, we’re talking about it and attempting to create a discussion.  Has it worked?  Lots of folks are coming around to the teen library and when they leave we’re having to pick their jaws up off the floor.  They’re amazed that people could steal from a library and at the same time they want to know what they can do to help.  Sure, maybe we lost a few games, but in the end I think we’re creating a stronger, more aware community, one that respects and loves its library.

——

The aftermath?  We’re going to start storing the games behind our desk.  It protects our investment but even better yet it ensures that these games will be part of the library for a long time for the rest of the community to enjoy.

By TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke