Tag Archives: Libraries

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


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

This is a Call

The time is now,” I keep telling myself. Let me tell you why.
It’s been almost five years since I fell into being a teen librarian. I was working toward my MLS at Clarion University when I was approached to do some summer teen programming at the Clarion Free Library in Clarion, PA. Their proposal was simple: do stuff for teens, buy some cool books, and get them into the library. I was a one-person team tasked with pretty much creating a library for these oft-forgotten patrons. I did it, and the teens were happy, but I realized at the same time that I had inadvertently reinforced the mainstream belief that all it takes is one teen librarian to make it happen.

Maybe that was true in 2007, but it’s 2011, and things have changed.

Being a teen librarian is a full-time job fit for a small army, and it is high time that we reward the position with proper staffing. No longer can the work rest on one person’s shoulders. Teen librarians deserve to be recognized as their own department within the larger structure of a public library, not a bridge between children’s and adult services.

I can only point to examples from my life to highlight how great the need for expansion of teen services is. At the end of 2010, I put together this https://sites.google.com/site/portlandplteens/2010yearinreview year in review to share with the community all of the things we’d been doing for teens. The numbers are pretty staggering, especially when you consider that we opened to the public on April 15, 2010. Yes, I did have some help with my programs, but it was small—one employee running our public desk for ten hours per week while I programmed/managed/collected/did everything I can’t when I work directly with the public.

In 2011, that system persists. I also dedicate four hours per week to help with shelving returned materials. However, when it comes to the bulk of the steering, I do it solo.

Luckily, I have Twitter to call upon other teen librarians. When I posed this question to them, I found that quite a few of my colleagues were in the same boat (here are their full responses). The ones that were not had some kind of small team around them, and the thoughts they shared were rather positive (for example, read what @johnny_pistols has to say). This leads me to think about the atmosphere we’re creating in our teen library spaces. Sure, we’re making awesome experiences for teens, but are they also picking up on just how stressed out we are?

Day in and day out, our teens are seeing us as the one person they can identify with in the library. If part of our jobs is to help them become strong adults, are we failing them? I’m 31 years old, and I’m finally realizing that very little can get done when you’re acting alone. The real magic happens with teams: family, community, and friends are what we need to make things happen. We’re giving our teen patrons a false sense of what it means to be an adult by operating our teen services this way.

That’s not to say that we should be hiding away in teen library land. In getting our own department, we’d have a great responsibility. It would be our time to rise up and communicate effectively; enrich and broaden library services. Our teen department should be well tuned into what’s going on with children’s and adult services and vice versa.

Yes, I realize that adding staff is hard to do in these times. Over the years, I’ve been hearing so much about budget cuts, scaling back, doing more with less, etc. In the midst of this doom and gloom came voices of support from patrons, the media, and most important, the community at large. This article comes to mind:

http://thoughtsofawannabelibrarian.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/the-media-love-libraries-lets-make-the-most-of-it/.

The message is clear: people love libraries, and if we add more value to their experiences, we could win more financial support that could be directed to teen services. Some concrete evidence as to why we should choose this branch of services over others: Over the course of nine months last year, my teen library alone saw 7,053 one-hour computer sessions completed. Most of the teens who logged in this screen time are new to the United States (Portland, ME, has a large Somali and Sudanese immigrant population) and spent it searching for jobs, learning how to get a driver’s license, watching soccer, talking to their family members overseas, and Facebooking.

We have also given teens the opportunity to be creators instead of consumers and explore interests that could become careers. Self-confidence, always a difficult thing to develop, is a goal. The “Make Music at the Library” program allows them to tinker and compose,  The end result is a unique piece of art that will be stored forever in our library.

Finally, what I consider the most wonderful thing about working in a library is the connection that we most often overlook because it isn’t measurable: we offer teens friendship and a nonjudgmental ear. Over the past week, I’ve had a number of teens come to the library just to talk to me about life, love, the pursuit of college, and everything in between. They didn’t leave the library with a solid answer of how to move onto the next step of their lives, but that’s not what we’re here to do. By simply listening, we’re giving teens a chance to talk things out.

I sincerely believe that despite our current economic situation, the time to expand library services is now. One of the best ways to ensure that libraries thrive well into the future is to invest in its future adult citizens: teens. So let’s talk, and better yet, let’s act.

-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

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

“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

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

—–

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