Tag Archives: reading

MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke


Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy http://kylegordydesign.com/
Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy http://kylegordydesign.com/

From the moment that I began working in libraries in around 2007, I was not a fan of Summer Reading programs and the themes they were generally packaged around. They were boring, cookie cutter, and out of date. The themes seemed to be 1-2 years behind what was popular at the moment.  As a teen librarian, my job was to take these themes and put some excitement around them. I found it to be a difficult task that took energy away from what I consider to be the most important part of any public library: the community that uses the library services.  Why spend energy on something that doesn’t reflect your community? I’ve been asking myself this question throughout my career. It’s taken awhile, but as time has passed the answer has become clearer and clearer: summer reading programs should not be catch all, cookie cutter programs. They need to be crafted and designed to meet the needs of the community.

My early research into summer programs at libraries turned me onto the Summer Game at the Ann Arbor District Library, a remarkable game where library patrons can earn points, badges, prizes, and more for participating. I loved this approach. However, I knew that at this moment my library and the community did not have the means to achieve something like this.  This is ok!  Instead of saying “oh well, we can’t do this, so let’s just do what we used to do” we said “NOPE! Let’s keep moving ahead!” And ahead is where we went with MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.



The idea is simple: what are the themes we can organize library programming around? What is our community interested in? Using ideas for STEAM and Every Child Ready to Read, we came up with 8 themes to focus our efforts around: Design, Drama, Tinker, Technology, Music, Writing, Science, and Art. We (myself and Children’s Services Coordinator Lee Hope) then assigned our staff to a certain theme and tasked them with coming up with 5 simple programs focused around that theme. 20 staff members contributed and came up with amazing program/lesson plans, supply lists, budgets, and more.  Everyone who created these themed programs in a box got a $150 budget.  These “theme programs in a box” will travel throughout our library branch locations this summer and serve our kids, tweens, and teens with two programs every day (one for kids, one for tweens/teens) over the course of 8 weeks.

There are two big parts I like about MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.  First up is how we had all of our staff involved in the planning. Coming from a strictly youth services background, I always try to remember how important it is to have the youth services voice at the table.  Youth Services traditionally drive library circulation, programming statistics and more. Simply speaking, kids, tweens,  teens and families love libraries. It is easy to say “yes, we will do this and that for the kids”. Those kind of initiatives will work out in the end but I find it far more rewarding and successful at the core if you involve as many of the youth service staff that you employ. Youth Services staff have a treasure trove of ideas in their head. Why not create a program and give that program the structure and support to unleash staff creativity? I’d like to think that MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN did that for our amazing Youth Services team at the Chattanooga Public Library.

The other big part I’d like to finish with is the branding. To me, a successful program has to reflect the community it serves. What do Chattanoogans enjoy from the library? They make, they play, they read, and they learn in our libraries.  With that in mind, we are trying to tie it all together into one package that the community can identify with.



The final step in our story is unwritten. Throughout May 2015, we’ll prepare for MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN at our library locations.  June and July will be the months where everything happens.  It’s super exciting and a whole lot of scary, but you know what? We’ll make it through and we’ll give some kids, tweens, and teens and amazing summer.

MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN images and logo design by Chattanooga Public Library Web Developer/Designer Kyle Gordy.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

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

Thank you Harper Collins (for making the path forward a little clearer)

Note from Michael – I’m deep in two projects today  and tomorrow and haven’t had much time to catch up on the hubub with Harper Collins and ebooks. I can say that I agree with Justin’s take on the potential and promise of promoting content creation, access to technology and building the community memory (whatever community it might be – civic, academic, education) as a big part of our future in libraries. I appreciate Justin’s hard work and insights.


The news about HarperCollins placing loaning caps on ebooks in the Overdrive catalog—known as #hcod on Twitter—gobbled up my Twitter feed last Friday afternoon.  On one hand, I knew some publisher was going to pull this stunt, so I wasn’t shocked. On the other, I learned two things about libraries and the profession in general.

First, the lending-digital-goods jig is up. With DRM, publishers have found a way to cut out libraries and used booksellers. This kind of greed is absurd when you consider how much business libraries give the major book publishers. The average annual teen book budget I’ve worked with over the years at a few different libraries is $20,000—and that’s often one of the smaller pieces of the pie. Adult public library book budgets for systems serving upwards of a million people range from a cool $1 to $2 million. And let’s remember: libraries don’t ever return books. The obvious solution to the HarperCollins slight is to stop buying its wares. The lack of library cash flow will speak loudly. Also, no more booktalking HC’s backlist or generating word of mouth, the rumored force behind best sellers. You’re grooming your next Neil Gaiman, HC? Wonderful! Good luck making him or her a star without our readers advisors and community centers, where people can talk about what their discovering in the stacks.

Now, let’s all quit being shocked that the ebook loaning cap happened and take the long view of digital goods in libraries. Two of the so-called Big Six book publishers already refuse to lend ebooks to libraries, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Overdrive, the vendor involved in the HC incident, is a pile of garbage in terms of usability. Don’t believe me? Read this comic.

Tell me you haven’t run into this problem before. As a Teen Librarian, I’m working with the one-click-and-the-file-saves-to-your-computer generation. Do they use Overdrive now? No. Will they later? Doubtful, if the interface and DRM remain. Does this bode well for the future of library services and literacy? For an answer, look at what’s happened with digital music products for libraries. Like ebooks, they are locked up in crazy DRM or come with an insanely high price tag. Let’s not even get into databases.

ZT IPv6 software tool: try this calculator

The second thing I learned from this incident is that the library world is terrible at advocating for itself. DRM and greedy publishers are here to stay. No number of tweets, emails, or blog posts is going to change their minds. If HC and other publishers in their wake want to cut us out of the ebook market, let them—it gives us a chance to do what we need to do, that is, reinvent ourselves. REVOLUTION!

What do I mean by “revolution”? Let’s use this slap in the face as an opportunity to make libraries modern institutions. For a while now, we’ve loaned popular materials like DVDs in our communities. To many people, libraries are like free versions of Blockbuster. Meanwhile, our unique local collections are hidden away, either hard to browse or physically out of reach. Instead of giving patrons access to cutting-edge technology they can use to create original works and teaching them how to use it, we give them basic Internet connections so they can watch YouTube clips and Facebook themselves into oblivion. We’ve become lazy, boring; extensions of people’s living rooms, essentially. 

And now that we’re being squeezed out of lending popular materials like ebooks, what do we lend out?  The answer is simple: we turn to our community to create the content that we collect.  We “check out” distinctive experiences and educational opportunities to our patrons instead of the Twilight saga ad nauseam. We become the go-to place for people to record music, film movies, write original stories, and do anything else creative, educational, and life-improving.

We then take these works and make like libraries and catalog, store, and share them. Sure, we may only have one or two ebook copies of James Patterson’s crapfest, but look at the awesome content we’re encouraging our community to create! The best part? It’s one-of-a-kind material that we can now share easily with the world. The other rad part? We’re empowering our patrons to become creators instead of consumers.

Finally, the first person to say, “But my library doesn’t have the money to do this kind of stuff!” in the comments section loses. It’s easy. 

As for my take on DRM, cut and paste what Cory Doctorow has said and put it in my mouth because I feel the exact same way. It’s a bad, ugly thing. His post on the #hcod debacle was brilliant from start to finish, but this chunk of gooey goodness keeps on repeating in my mind:

And that’s why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It’s unsafe at any speed.  I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, “Oh, no, sorry, we didn’t mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts,” the libraries’ answers should be “Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing.” Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you’ll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive crap like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won’t notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

Cory’s got it right: stop giving them our money. Instead of buying 80 copies of Dan Brown’s bound schlock, buy some cheap netbooks, toss on some open-source software that will turn patrons into creators, and lend them out. Invest in your community instead of bleeding time and money on ebook garbage.

In no way am I the first person to ever say something along these lines:
Thank you DOK Library Concept Center and Eli Neiburger (watch #1 and #2)

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

How to Raise Boys Who Read (Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes)

How to Raise Boys Who Read (Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes)

I think what I hate seeing in these types of articles is the general “GAMES BAD BOOKS GOOD” thing (for the full effect, imagine The Incredible Hulk saying that).  Perhaps I’m only seeing this because of my interest in gaming (I am one of the co-founders of 8BitLibrary.com).  I don’t know.  I try to read articles like that from the approach of my parents, who are middle class, everyday blue collar folks who have their high school diploma.  What would they think?  I think they’d come to the conclusion that games are bad and reading is good.  Especially with a headline like that.

That worries me a bit as someone who got a lot out of video games.  I didn’t read a lot, but I played a lot of games.  Some had great stories, some had crap stories.  The same thing applies to a lot of books out there.  I felt like what I was doing was the equivalent to reading in some way.  I was participating in stories with characters/drama/plot/etc.  The only difference is that my reading was a bit interactive.  I got a lot of enjoyment out of these stories.  The characters and their quests are still with me to this day.

I also think playing video games led me to a lot of reading which I wouldn’t have done before video games. I read a lot of gaming magazines and comics.  That led to graphic novels and some sci-fi (actual books!).  I wasn’t the best gamer in the world so sometimes I resorted to using strategy guides.  That’s reading too!

Do I think it ate into reading time?  I think it was my reading time.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor


I recently produced a screencast on a popular reader’s advisory tool we use at mpow. I want to bring the tool to the attention of those that do not normally follow book reviews such as Library Journal’s Booksmack because of the use of participatory technologies. I have seen it written that IT/Technology is reference, I think we need to extend this to RA.

BookMatch: An RA Innovation via Screencast
“In an illuminating screencast created especially for BookSmack!, popular services manager Ricki Nordmeyer and adult services librarian Mick Jacobsen explain the Skokie Public Library’s new BookMatch program. This patron pleaser takes the reader’s advisory questionnaire into the 21st century with SurveyMonkey, form logic, and a wiki. Watch and learn!”

For those of you are interested in learning more about BookMatch please see a post I wrote about it for LISNew’s Summer series in August.

TTW Contributor
Mick Jacobsen