Tag Archives: Community

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