Tag Archives: Librarian

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

TEDxPrincetonlibrary: Andromeda Yelton “How to Build 5 Libraries in One Month”

Here’s Andromeda Yelton‘s TEDx talk from this past June at Princeton Public Library in New Jersey.  In 6 minutes and 31 seconds, Andromeda talks about how her and a gang of librarians (see below) earned enough money to build a library in India and then raise enough for 100 extra books, a newspaper subscription, and then, to top it all off, 4 bo0kmobiles in Africa.  All of this, might I add, was done through Twitter/Blogging/Social Media.

I was lucky enough to be part of the gang of librarians I mentioned above.  Much love to the work of Andromeda, Ned Potter, and Jan Holmquist on the awesome Buy India A Library Project.

You can read about the BUY INDIA A LIBRARY project here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

On ALA Emerging Leaders (the conclusion)

Team JBot (Justin Hoenke, Rafia Mirza, Jeannie Chen, Anne Krakow, Susan Jennings)

Phew…time flies.  It’s been six months since my first post on being an Emerging Leader and now that I’ve “emerged”, what have I learned?  Here goes.

THE PROJECT AND THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION

To view the full report from our project, click here.

As a project, our group was tasked with surveying librarians about “how web 2.0 should ALA go with ALA.org”.  Before we jumped in, our first goal was setting up communication.  Be it ALA Connect, Google Talk, or even a simple email, as an Emerging Leader you learn to embrace any form of communication.  And you also learn how to communicate…

Working virtually is no easy task.  Things can get confusing pretty quickly.  The approach of the JBots was to create a never-ending open dialog.  For this to work, we all brought open minds to the table.  Five equal partners who share the same goal.  Sounds great, but did it work?  Yes.

Having had a long discussion on communication at the beginning saved us a lot of hassle as we dug deeper into our project.  When our project got derailed for a moment, we didn’t panic.  We talked and made it through.

DESTROYING THE STEREOTYPE

Over the past six months, I’ve heard just about every stereotype that one could dream up of about the Emerging Leaders project. It is an elite group.  It is nothing but busy work for ALA.  It’s all about the connections you make. Say what you want, but having gone through the project I will say this: it is all about the experience.

The Emerging Leaders program gives us a chance to grow both as a person and as a librarian.  Life has its ups and downs, and so did our project.  However, I’m not going to dwell on those or bore you with the details.  Everything I said in my original post on this topic still rings true.  I feel much more confident about moving forward as the teen librarian in my community as well as a professional within the greater scope of ALA.

Those stereotypes we talked about above?  They’re nothing but chains holding us back.  Let’s destroy them and grow.

WE ARE FAMILY

Cue that Sister Sledge song while you read this section.

Randomly tossed together at the beginning of the project, our little group (which we dubbed “JBots”) grew into a little family.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Families are FULL of weird stuff.  But as I said above, let’s destroy that stereotype and look forward.  Families are units with a common goal who share a common love for each other.  I think that’s the way my group evolved.

All of our group interactions, decisions, and final output were the product of working together as a family.  Emerging Leaders groups grow from nothing into something that you will keep for the rest of your life.  You gain friends who will be with you every step of the way.  These friends will not forget about the little things.  They’ll be there with a simple “great job” or “thank you” just when you need it.  They’ll be there to share ideas and challenge you to be a leader EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Good stuff.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

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Info on the 2011 ALA Emerging Leaders program can be found here

Click here to read “On ALA Emerging Leaders“, which talks about my experience as I began the ALA Emerging Leaders program.

(as a companion  piece to this post, might I recommend this wonderful post by @charbooth)


A day in the life of a teen library

Three weeks have passed since the Portland Public Library reopened after a lengthy renovation (which I wrote about here).  The addition of a teen area is a completely new idea for the community of Portland, Maine.  At first, teens didn’t really understand that this was THEIR space.  However, over the last week or so they’ve started to trickle in and discover the space.

So what are they doing?  They’re connecting with their friends on Facebook in our computer lab.  They’re relaxing and tweeting on their IPads in our teen lounge.  They’re using their netbooks anywhere they can find a spot.  And don’t worry…they’re reading (on every sort of device be it book, phone, computer, ereader).

My words of advice?  Let them explore.  Say hello.  Let them know you are their friend.  Make sure they know that the teen library is THEIR space.

More Teen stuff at the Portland Public Library can be found here and here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Change

Let me say this: change is extremely difficult.  It’s also not a quick fix, but a process that may go on for many years.  Change also has many hills and valleys and sometimes you can’t see the destination.

In the end, however, change is totally worth all the ups and downs that come with it.

Over the past few months, I’ve experienced a lot of change in my career as a librarian.  I started off the year as the Teen Librarian at the Cape May County Library in Southern, NJ.  In February, I accepted a position as the new Teen Librarian at the Portland Public Library in Portland, ME.  The task was quite daunting: in April 2010, the library would complete a $7.3 million dollar renovation which was funded by a bond approved by voters and donations from individuals and organizations.  One of the main features of the renovated library was a dedicated teen space, something that the library never had before.

Basically, it sort of went something like this: “There’s not a strong teen presence in the library and this is all a blank slate.  Here’s a brand new space, some money, and a bunch of great tools.  Work your magic.”  Yes, it sounds like a dream, yet at the same time it sounds like a scary task.  I accepted and never looked back.  Moving your entire family 482 miles is no fun.  Leaving behind a teen program and a wonderful group of teens that you worked so hard to build for 2 years is also really hard.  But what the Portland Public Library wanted was change.  They wanted to make the teens in the community know that the library is their building and that they are welcome.  They wanted change, and I was going to help them get there.

We reopened to the public on April 15, 2010 and welcomed our community with open arms.  Patrons are now back in the building, wandering around at their new library.  The response?  Overwhelming love and support.  I am inspired to reach out to the teens of Portland, Maine.  I cannot wait to show them what the library has to offer them.

So what am I trying to accomplish with this story?  Librarians and Libraries right now are in a state of change.  Where do we go?  Are books our future?  Do we focus on being the community center as the way forward?  What will the digital revolution do to us?  All of these questions are valid and very tough to face.  But here’s what I’ve learned in the middle of all my personal change…we’re going to be all right.

Libraries and Librarians are climbing up a really steep hill right now and it’s pretty tiring, but once we get over it, there is quite a beautiful view.  We can do this.  The library will survive.

Here’s the PSA that the Portland Public Library created to announce the reopening of the library.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor