Tag Archives: Maine

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland, Maine (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

I’m sorry I won’t be in Portland,ME to see the unveiling of the most excellent I’m Your Neighbor, Portland, Maine project that was put together by Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and is a partnership between the Portland Public Library, Congressman Jon Hinck, Maine Humanities CouncilNAACP, Portland Branch, and Portland Adult Education.

So what’s it all about?

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is a Portland, Maine community-wide read and series of public events in  designed to promote a sense of community among the diverse people who make the port city their home.

I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is sponsored by the Portland Public Library and  funded by the Maine Humanities Council.

Over the last three decades, the city of Portland has seen a significant cultural shift through the arrival of immigrants and refugees from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Here in Maine, we’re blessed with a crop of recent titles, from picture books to young adult novels, that offer both particular cultural details about the lives of recent arrivals to our state and themes to which any reader can relate.

The goal of I’m Your Neighbor, Portland is to engage members of the Greater Portland, Maine community, both new arrivals and long-term residents, in reading books about recent immigrants to Maine and sharing in discussion of differences and commonalities, to build understanding between the two groups.

The series will open with a gala launch on May 25, 2013

 

Read more about this project here and here.

Good luck to all those involved!  I will be watching closely from Chattanooga, TN!

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

King Middle School Expedition Learning TV

click on this image to watch King TV

At the request of the students, our class embarked on a geography themed expedition this year to study the beauty and mystery of this huge country. All the students in our class are new to the US. After researching they have became experts on one of the US Census regions. In addition, they developed a practical understanding of how the world is categorized into the 5 themes of geography.  -Catherine Paul 

I wanted to share this awesome project some of the teens who use my library just did at their school.  They came into the library today and were really excited to show me.  Great job by Abdi, Ahmed, Anas, Hafs, Musa, Nasteh, Princie, and Roukia!

UPDATE: Click here for even more videos about what the teens are learning at King Middle School!

Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Please consider supporting the Young Writers & Leaders Film

The Young Writers and Leaders film is part of a Telling Room programSonya Tomlinson, David Meiklejohn, and 15 Portland, Maine area teens (all of whom use my teen library everyday!). Simply stated, the film tells the stories of the teens and their involvement in the Telling Room program and their lives in Portland, ME.

Their goal is to take their film and the fifteen teen participants on a trip to Boston and  spend the day in the city visiting a sister writing center, pairing up with Boston-area young writers, and holding a screening of the film in a  film house that holds 250 people followed by a Q&A with the Young Writers and Leaders students.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to know a lot of these teens one on one from my time with them in the library.  As I sit and write this, I see Ali sitting in a study room in front of me listening to music and working on something even though it’s spring break this week.  Just this morning, I met up with Chrispo and gave him a drum set that I had sitting around collecting dust in my storage unit.  He’s been wanting to play drums for years now and used to use garbage cans at the open mic events we held in the teen library in 2010.  I remember having many talks with Edna at the teen service desk just one year ago about her librarian-ish obsession to categorize, archive, and color code all of her homework in a specific brand of Office Depot three ring binders.  These teens have come a long way in the two years that I’ve known them and now they’re getting a chance to tell their story and take it on the road to another community.

Please consider supporting this project by visiting their Kickstarter page here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 3)

Shirky, of course, advocates that we embrace “as much chaos as we can stand.” In this scenario, staff is encouraged to try out a new thing without regard to the way “it’s always been done.” This is messy, scary, and probably unwanted in most institutions. 

Ideas above are from:
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
Embracing Chaos by Michael Stephens

It has been a little over a month since we began our grand experiment with lending devices to teens (for the first post on this, go here.  for the second, go here) and I am here to check back in and follow up about the project with 100% honesty.

The Nook is still circulating and has a hold list.   The device has been loaned out, returned, and been taken well care of.  There hasn’t been as much interest in the Nook as there has been the iPod, but I think that’s to be expected with these types of devices and teens (for more on this, see Are Teens Embracing E-Books?)

The iPods have been lost.  They were lent out to two teens at the same time and like clockwork a week  later, they were gone.  The teens came into the library and told me about their story.  Both of them were using the device and let their friends borrow it to play a game and then their friends walked off with the iPod. I listened and explained to them that I understood where they were coming from but the fines for losing the device were staying on their card ($324).  I didn’t tell them outright that I was a bit sad by the loss (for the library, for the teens that wanted to borrow them, and for the teens that lost them…that’s a hefty fine), but I think they could see it in me.  Sometimes you don’t have to say much to get a message across.  Emotions are a heavy thing.

Am I bummed that this all happened?  Of course.  There’s a small part of me that’s sad about how it all went down, but there are two sides to every story.  The overall excitement that the teens had when they found out we’d be circulating these devices showed me that I was on the right track.  Sure, we lost two iPods, but you have to remember it’s just an iPod touch and not some one of a kind, priceless thing. I’m also happy that we tried something new, something out of the ordinary for our teens and we now have more experience for when we run this program again…and don’t get me wrong, we will try again.  I would be letting down the nine other teen patrons in the hold queue for the iPods if I didn’t.  In conclusion, this minor setback will not get me down.  I’ve seen many bigger successes – such as the one last week where one of my longtime teen patrons who just became a US citizen after being in this country for a few years – to put me down for the count.  Those are the things that matter.  An iPod touch?  Not so much.

What did I learn from this?

  • You’re gonna lose items…and it’s ok.  It’s all part of the learning process.  Libraries lose a lot of materials with high value – think about when an audiobook collection goes missing or a disc needs to be replaced in a multi item set.
  • The teens have to know that they’re responsible.  Fines may not be the best way to do this, but that’s a bigger issue for another time.
  • eBooks and teens?  There’s a limited audience.
  • Teens want to have an experience.

How will this work next time?

  • One of the observations I made with the teens that had borrowed the devices was that they were more into using YouTube and the web browser than they were using the apps.  A possible solution would be to limit access to YouTube and the web browser and limit the devices to what they were intended for: curated app experience devices
  • Credit checks/signed applications from parents/etc will not work no matter how hard you try to push this on teens.  Teens can barely keep track of what they’re going to do after school, let alone understand what signing a piece of paper means.  Perhaps a better way forward is for the people working with these teen patrons in the library to make individual calls on each lender.  It may be a good idea for those working in the teen library to take some time to sit down with the teens that potentially want to borrow these devices, show them what they can do, and explain in fuller detail what it means to be “selected” for this program.


I won’t call this program a failure.  I learned that there is a BIG demand for a specific kind of device (the iPods) and less of a demand for another (eReaders).  What the teens want is an experience they cannot get anywhere else. I plan on giving it to them.   I’ll make sure to check back in once our new iPods arrive in the next few months

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 2)

(for the first post in this series, please click here)

Once I had the idea for lending out iPods with pre-selected apps to teens, I had to do some investigating and thinking about how these devices would be used.

I would describe the iPods as “locked down”.  By that, I mean that the borrower can’t do much other than use the iPods for their library defined purpose (play or create) and use the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access restrictions, visit your settings on your iPod.  Under the General tab, scroll down to find restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the restrictions section, you will see a number of things that you can turn off for the user.  I turned off everything except for Safari, YouTube, and Camera.  This section is locked by a 4 digit passcode which the borrower does not have access to.

I’ve also decided to use Find My iPhone app as a means of locating the device as a last resort (if it goes missing, stolen, etc).  Find My iPhone relies on the borrower being in an area that has wifi, but also has an option which will notify the Apple account holder (the library) of the next time the iPod has connected to a wifi network.  I know that this will sound a bit “Minority Report/1984/we’re watching you and your every move”, but I assure you that this is not the point of using this app.  In order to keep our investment safe for other members our community to borrow, I decided that using Find My iPhone was in our best interest.  Luckily, we haven’t had to resort to using it yet and I hope we never have to, but if the need arises it will be there for us to use.

And finally, I’ve been asked the question “Do the teens have to sign some kind of agreement to take out the iPods?”  My answer to this question is…sort of.

While we do not have a print version of a lending agreement in place that the teens/parent/guardian has to sign, we do have a spiel that we do give the teens before we check them out to them.  It’s not the same every time, but it goes something like this:

Just so you know, but checking out iPod out is kind of a big deal.  If it gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you’re going to have quite a hefty fine on your library card that you will have to pay before you can use the library again.  So, if you’re ok with that and you can be responsible with the iPod, then you should totally borrow it.

We usually end this conversation with a funny secret society type of handshake.  My hope is that it resonates with the teens a lot more than signing some piece of paper.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens

We can talk all day about whether or not it’s a good idea to lend out devices to patrons, but in the end action is better than any kind of talk.  After listening to both sides of the lending devices story for a few weeks, I decided to say the heck with it and buy some Nooks and iPod Touches to lend out to my teen patrons.

My approach to lending out these devices was simple: sure, anyone can go out there and buy these devices and put whatever they want on them, but what about all of the cool stuff  they may overlook?  There’s so many great apps and games out there that there’s no way you could try them all.


I approached the devices as something that the teen library would “curate”.  The librarians of the future are also our community leaders.  They not only inform their communities, but they also teach, show, and introduce their communities to new things.  I took that approach when selected the apps and ebooks that would come loaded on each of these devices.  I also came up with a “brand” for the devices….PLAY, CREATE, AND READ SOMETHING.  It is my hope with the brand that people come to see the “____ SOMETHING” idea in the library as something unique that a library does not offer traditionally.


The criteria for selecting apps and ebooks was simple.  I asked myself “what would I want to experience on these devices?” and also “what could give someone who is borrowing this device the best experience possible?”  Each iPod came loaded with $50 in iTunes store credit, and for the Nooks I purchased $100 in ebooks (you can see the complete lists of what are on the devices below).
The program rolled out yesterday, so I don’t have any feedback to give yet, but I’ll make sure to follow up on this post soon.
Here are the details of each of these programs, what I loaded onto the devices, and more, please visit:

PLAY SOMETHING
CREATE SOMETHING
READ SOMETHING

-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

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