Tag Archives: YA

Public Service is a Library Program: By TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

10 PRINT "Hello World!"
10 PRINT “Hello World!”

The last time I posted on Tame The Web was on August 6, 2014 in a post titled Catching Up. The title of that post sort of sums up the past year and a half in my life here at the Chattanooga Public Library…lots of work for the community and not enough time to sit back, reflect, and share with everyone in the world. It’s all good. In that time, I’ve had some ideas floating around in my head and over the months and days they’ve been revised, edited, and now they’re ready to go.

In my role as Manager of The 2nd Floor/Coordinator of Teen Services at the Chattanooga Public Library, I’ve been looking a lot at how libraries operate their youth services departments. From kids to tweens to teens, we all seem to have a common theme connecting us: we all have so much passion for working with ages 0-18. That passion leads us to want to constantly offer the best services, be it story times, maker programs, special events, and more. The passion to give back to our community drives us.  It is that passion that makes youth services in public libraries some of the most innovative and popular public library offerings.  Corinne Hill (Executive Director, Chattanooga Public Library) and I call Youth Services in public libraries the “bread and butter” of public library services…the keep us well loved in the community and they act as our most popular circulated materials and programs attended.  In summary, Youth Services drive public libraries.

However, passion alone cannot drive a youth services program. While amazing and powerful, passion can also lead to some misguided decisions when it comes to how we should operate at our core.  The days where youth services staff were plentiful and there was an almost unlimited time to plan and prepare for programs has gone away.  These days, the need for great public service at all times is what we need to focus on. The need for great public service at all times is the opposite of having large amounts of time to plan and prepare. You can’t do both at the same time. You can try, but you will get stressed and burnt out in the end.  As a manager, I’ve stared at the weekly schedule and tried to figure out formulas for how my staff can have the time to prepare for programs that they’re used to having and also to have that necessary public service time. After working on it for a year, my conclusion is simple: it just isn’t there anymore and if we want to grow and continue with our successes, we need to change how we work.

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Realizing that this was the new normal in our youth services lives, my colleague Megan Emery and I began having discussions about this new reality. How can we continue to maintain great levels of passion for what we offer to the community and have our public services faces on at all times? How do we achieve balance with something that seems to be so naturally out of balance…innovation and public service? How does a public library operate in times of lean staffing, increased community usage, and the need to constantly innovate?

From that conversation came a phrase that now drives what we’re trying to accomplish at the Chattanooga Public Library: PUBLIC SERVICE IS A LIBRARY PROGRAM. There is an art to working a public service desk in public libraries. You have to be “on”. What do I mean by this? You’re basically involved in a shift long performance art piece where you’re helping, teaching, and aiding the community.  The traditional library program, you know, the ones that take place only from 4-5pm on the third Tuesday of every month and only for ages 13-18? Yep, those ones.  Those types of programs can and will still happen but it can no longer be our focus.  What can be our focus? The public.  Being “on” for them at all times. Being there for the community at all times.

If public service is a program then how can we actually have programs for our community? This ties into another thing that we’ve been thinking about a lot in youth services libraries….unprogramming, never ending programming, anti-programming….whatever you want to call it. It’s an idea that takes the library space, turns it into a destination, and adds programs, activities, and chances to learn into everything that we do. The 3D printer, button maker, rainbow loom…whatever it is, it’s all there and it’s ready for the community to use.  The programs happen during our open hours and they don’t end.  The library staff working in public services becomes the programmer. Their job is simple: guide the community in the library, help them find what they need, teach them all about the learning opportunities in the library, and to simply just have fun.

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That’s where our passion for what we do in youth services can go.  We don’t have to leave it behind and become nonstop public service workers.  We can weave that aspect of our job into what makes us passionate about working in libraries.  Public services is our programming.  We can create engaging learning opportunities for our community and run those opportunities while we’re working public service. We can mix the two and it will not be the end of the world. It will be a seismic shift, but we will survive. This is the new way for us to work and be the best for our community.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Catching Up: by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

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Photo Credit: Zachary Cross

It seems like I’ve been here forever, but as of this month I’ve been at the Chattanooga Public Library for 1 year, 4 months.  In that time, we’ve accomplished a lot of great things for the Chattanooga community. At the same time, I haven’t been able to share as much because….well, things just got really busy in a good way! So this post is my Chattanooga catch up post….a way to share all of the positive things that have been happening around Chattanooga over the past few months.

MANAGEMENT
One of the big new things in my world is library management.  I manage The 2nd Floor, which is our brand name for the kid/tween/teen area.  It’s a huge space full of many different personalities, ages, and ideas.  I do the weekly scheduling, make sure payroll gets in on time, order supplies, think a lot about the big picture stuff, and make sure that the staff is happy. Looking at what I just wrote doesn’t seem like much what I’ve learned is that a lot of these little things add up. My brain is constantly running, making sure that I’ve done all the necessary management things while still keeping focus on the big picture: The 2nd Floor as a place in the community where kids, tweens, and teens can have fun and learn something along the way.

It’s a change for me and I think it would be a change for most youth services librarians. Why? We’re very creative individuals. We dream up programs in our sleep. We are the living embodiment of a makerspace.  Blending that creative brain with a management brain has been a challenge, but I’m getting there.  You don’t have to kill one to have the other. You can make it work together.

VOLUNTEERS
One of the big realities that I’m learning about it that you will never have enough staff to do everything you want to do. The other part of that is that, wow, hiring people is expensive. It’s not just the salary you need to look at, but benefits and all that other stuff.

That’s where volunteers come into the picture.  The problem is that I’ve never been good with managing volunteers. It’s just not in my skill set and I’m ok with that. Luckily, Megan Emery is good at that and we work together. So basically when Megan got to Chattanooga she took the keys to the car and ran with them.  And here’s how awesome it has been:

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July was one of our biggest months with teen volunteers and it showed. They took on projects that helped spruce up The 2nd Floor, making it more visually appealing for our community.  They became our 3D printing experts, working one on one with anyone interested in trying out the service for the first time.  Our 2nd Floor staff had more time to focus on their projects, focus on customer service, and in general just be great employees.  Volunteers matter a whole lot for the public library, and it’s even better when you give them a chance to work their own special brand of magic when they volunteer.

Megan wrote a really great piece about meaningful volunteer opportunities here and I highly suggest you check it out.

STATISTICS
Every librarian has a library guilty pleasure.  My guilty pleasure is statistics.  I love collecting them, analyzing them, and then using those stats to help me make decisions. I love it when stats are down because it tells me that I need to grow and change something. I love it when stats are up because, well, that is just something that makes you feel really good.

I won’t bore you with individual stats that went (way) up last fiscal year at the Chattanooga Public Library (if you wanna check them out), but I will say this; having an idea of what is/what isn’t working will really help you better serve your community.  It sharpens your focus and allows you to better delegate resources to the events and programs that best serve your community. Starting this month, the 2nd Floor started keeping track of how many people use the various areas of our space. The results so far have given us the numbers to back up exactly what all of our staff have been feeling: we’re very busy these days. As a manager, this allows me to look at how we’re working and how we can make improvements to better suit our staff.

CONSISTENCY IN PROGRAMMING
I’ve grown to really love strong, consistent programming in libraries.  If you do something well, you keep doing it and all throughout the process you keep on growing, refining, and making things better.  However, at the same time you have to recognize when something isn’t working and make those changes.  Consistent Programming gives your library something great to share that your community will remember.  Think of each program as a brand.  Get those brands into the minds of the community and they’ll be asking for more.

Just a few days ago we wrapped up the 2014 session of DEV DEV: summer of code at the Chattanooga Public Library. This program was created and ran by the Library, engage3D, AIGA Chattanooga, and the Benwood Foundation in 2013. Having this successful event repeat once again this year has helped us make the DEV DEV brand even stronger. When you mention DEV DEV in Chattanooga, the community knows that it is a program that teaches teens about HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Robotics.  DEV DEV has become a brand that stands out in the community. Besides working with great partners, what made this possible? Consistency in programming.

For more on DEV DEV 2014, click here! 

PEOPLE
Back in 2010 when I wrote my first TTW post I talked about leadership and working in groups.  At the core, that post was all about what really makes the public library work….PEOPLE.

It’s the people that work in the library that make things awesome for the community. No matter where you go in libraries, you always have to remember that it’s people that matter.  Treat them with respect and love.  Help them all along the way and let them know that their work counts in making your community a great place. I try to remind the folks that work on The 2nd Floor of that all the time.  Working in a public library is important work for the community and YOU are making your city a better place to live.

DEV DEV – Summer of Code at the Chattanooga Public Library by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

During the month of July 2013, my colleagues, community partners, fifty teens, and I were stationed on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library for DEV DEV: Summer of Code.  It was, to be completely honest with you, the greatest single experience I have ever had in a public library.  Let me tell you why.

PARTNERS
Since the program happened on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library it would be easy for everyone to think that this all happened at the library and it was all the library and that was that.  But that’s not the case and I’d like to take this moment to tell you about our partners.  Without the support of Engage 3D, AIGA Chattanooga, and the Benwood Foundation, DEV DEV would not have happened. Their support (educational, funding, brainpower, design, etc) and dedication to the program and the community of Chattanooga is one of the key ingredients as to why this beta test run of this program was as successful as it was.

It really takes everyone in the community getting together to make amazing things happen.

SUPPORT
Without the support of EVERYONE at the Chattanooga Public Library, DEV DEV would not have worked.  Every day, the circulation staff would wait on the teens that came into the library at 9am, making them their white hot chocolates and letting them in the doors before the rest of the public could get in.  The rest of the staff smiled and welcomed the teens every day.  They knew how big this was for the teens attending DEV DEV and they made sure they had the times of their lives.

Photo by @chattlibrary  http://instagram.com/p/chi99IiWnz/
Photo by @chattlibrary
http://instagram.com/p/chi99IiWnz/

The parents brought it all together.  Not only did they drive the teens back and forth from the library, but on the last day of the program they came out to show their love and support.  It is in moments like this where you can just see teens gaining so much love and respect for their families.  Awesome.

TEENS
DEV DEV would not have happened were it not for the amazing talent and dedication of the teens involved in the program.  For four weeks, you gave your attention and hard work to learning how to build websites, make robots dance, and program video games.  You blew all of our minds.  For me personally, as I get older, I am happy to know that the world is in such good hands.  To borrow from southern lingo….Ya’ll are gonna do some amazing things.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?
DEV DEV was not meant to be a one shot program but instead an ongoing series, a library/community brand if you would like to call it that.  As with any program of this size and scope, some time is needed to rest, reflect, and accurately plan the next steps.  We’ll be doing that over the next few weeks at the Chattanooga Public Library.  I already had a great discussion today with Engage 3D Education Director James McNutt about online learning communities.  He is a brilliant dude and I can’t wait to see his ideas in motion.

For more on DEV DEV, please visit our site: http://devdev.chattlibrary.org

For the full DEV DEV: summer of code story, please visit: https://storify.com/JustinLibrarian

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Designing Libraries That Encourage Teens to Loiter (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

Image by Michael Moran and Rice+Lipka Architects

 Instead of siphoning teens off into different rooms (and locking away noisy activities), the space is airy and completely open. The openness means, among other things, that it only takes one or two librarians to monitor the entire space.

Rice says his team renovated the floor on the cheap, using paint and low-cost materials to fill the space. “Teens appreciate the rawness,” he says. “Rich materials might be a little bit of a turn-off.”

The key, he says, is a space without much security, where kids feel free to just hang out. “It makes teens feel as if they have free reign over the space,” he says. “They don’t feel like they’re under this intense adult scrutiny.”

It’s great to see this post over at The Atlantic focus on what I think is the most important part of a teen library…the atmosphere.  When you give teens a space that they can make their own and feel comfortable in, amazing things can happen.  As I move ahead with planning the space on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, I will make sure that the teens on our Teen Advisory Board have a lot of input into how their space is laid out.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Ms. Pac Man at the Chattanooga Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

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This is what it’s all about: A tween and his Dad enjoy Ms. Pac Man at the Library

When I was a teenager, I spent most if not all of my time in video game arcades in shopping malls.  It was the time of fighting games…Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, Primal Rage, and many, many more.  Who knows how much money I spent playing those games and more importantly, who cares.  What mattered most (and what sticks with me to this day) was being in the same room with people my age who enjoyed the same things as me.  It was exciting.  It was fun.  It created friendships and community.

Video gaming in libraries isn’t a new thing.  It seems to have picked up steam in the last decade and is now something that most libraries will offer to their communities.  This is a good thing: video games can be fun, rewarding, help those playing them understand stories/character/plot, and so much more.

I’ve always wanted to recreate that vibe that I felt back when I used to frequent the arcade in the public library.  It was exciting to stand around an arcade machine and watch someone get as far as they could in a game on one quarter.  It was exciting to go one-on-one with someone in a game like Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat.  Public libraries are places where people come together and experience something.  Why not have a bit of that something be an arcade machine?

It has been a dream of mine to get an arcade machine in a library since I started in libraries back in 2007 and this past week, thanks to the Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library the support of the staff at the Chattanooga Public Library, and my wife Haley (she found it on Craigslist for only $150!), we now have an original Ms. Pac Man arcade machine on the 2nd Floor of the library…and it has been a great thing.  I love seeing the reaction people have when they realize that the library has an arcade machine.  I love seeing families (like the photo above) playing it together.  I love seeing the teens gather round and have tournaments to see who can get the highest score.

I cannot wait to see the community and friendships that this little ‘ol machine will create.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Distracted Driving PSA created by Teens at the White Plains (NY) Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

The White Plains Public Library is doing some amazing things with their teens (claymation, LEGO catapults, and more) with Teen Librarian Erik Carlson at the helm.  Recently, they finished up a minute long PSA about distracted driving.  I’ll turn it over to Erik for more:

This idea came from a film maker last year. He wanted to work with the library & the only money we had was from a grant from the Allstate Foundation. It was a large project where over a dozen teens worked on a PSA that lasted 5 minutes. We took that as a learning experience.

This year we found another local film maker named Mike LaVoie. I contacted the White Plains High School SADD chapter to see if they would like to work on the project. We had a smaller group…I think there were about 7 teens altogether. Mike put togethera no-budget script and explained it to the teens. I (Teen Librarian Erik Carlson) worked on locations, the library parking garage, a co-workers home & a local cemetery. Mike showed them some movie magic to make the car to appear to be moving, using fake smoke, lighting tricks. I came up with the eye drops for tears & one of the teens was able to talk a local medical supply store to loan us a wheelchair for the afternoon (this was a last minute thing).

 

You can check out the final cut of the PSA here: http://frontboxcreative.com/wplains

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults 2012 (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

I’m very honored to be part of this years President’s Program Planning Task Force for YALSA.  As part of this program, we’re announcing this years Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults program which you can find out about below.  If you’re a teen program who’s doing awesome things, I highly suggest you think about being part of this program.  There’s a lot of great teen programs out there right now being put on by hard working librarians and this is your chance to share them with everyone!

From ALA.org:
YALSA will select up to twenty-five innovative teen programs from all types of libraries to feature at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and to include in a sixth edition of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults. Successful applications will focus on programs that address new teen needs or interests, or that address ongoing teen needs or interests in an innovative or unique way. The top five programs will receive cash awards of $1000 each. Up to twenty “best of the rest” programs will receive cash awards of $250. Each award will be presented to the applicant’s institution for use with future teen programs and/or for the applicant’s travel to the 2013 conference to participate in the YALSA President’s Program.

Eligibility
The program described in the application must be a library-sponsored event, inside or outside the library, which appeals to a group rather than an individual. A program can be informational, recreational, educational, or all three.

  • The program described must have taken place in 2012 or be ongoing.
  • The program must be targeted at teens within the 12 – 18 age range.
  • All personal members of YALSA whose membership is current as of 12/17/12 are eligible to submit an application.
  • Only one application per YALSA member may be submitted.

Criteria
Each application will be judged on the basis of the:

  • Degree to which the program meets the needs of the teens in the community. (20 points)
  • Originality of the program (creative, innovative, unique). (30 points)
  • Degree to which the program reflects the ideals identified in YALSA’s national guidelines and competencies (at www.ala.org/yalsa/guidelines). (20 points)
  • Overall quality of the program (well planned, promoted, organized, implemented, and evaluated). (20 points)
  • Clarity of the application (10 points)

Instructions
1. The application must include a statement of support from the director of the public library, school principal, or the building-level administrator which is emailed to lsmith@ala.org.

2. Entries must be models of clarity and completeness.

3. The application must be submitted electronically via the online form at http://ow.ly/eKh40.

4. All online forms and statements of support must be received no later than midnight (eastern) Dec. 17, 2012.

5. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Announcement
The libraries selected with exemplary programs will be announced via press release the week of Feb. 4, 2013.

All of the selected programs will be invited to participate in YALSA’s President’s Program: Innovations in Teen Programming at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. Prize money may be used to support travel and conference expenses.

All of the selected exemplary programs/services will be included in YALSA’s Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 6th edition, to be published in the fall of 2013.

Libraries receiving the cash awards will be recognized via press release and on the YALSA web site. A list of winning applicants will be included in the forthcoming book.

For questions contact: Letitia Smith, YALSA Membership Marketing Specialist, at lsmith@ala.org or 1.800.545.2433 x4390

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

Fictional Band at Your Library?

The backstory:
I’ve been working with a fellow Portland Mainer named Kirsten Cappy who runs the book consulting company  Curious City to come up with a program to promote the new book Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham (out June 2012).

We had the idea to send the book out on the road, much like the characters in the story.  We asked “how can this work and how can we help out libraries?”  My response was: “make it easy and simple for teen libraries and give them a summer reading program in a box”.  Simple things for the library to host and give their community something neat and exciting.

This is what we came up with.

We’re looking for libraries between Boston, MA and Austin, TX to join in on the ride.  It’s simple: you host our traveling road show, you get free stuff and a program for teens, and that’s it.

If you’re interested, check out our official press release here:
http://curiouscitydpw.com/2012/03/28/fictional-band-at-your-library/

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor