Category Archives: Libraries

IMLS Supporting Making in Museum and Library Conversation

For the next two days, I’m in Pittsburgh, PA attending the Supporting Making in Museum and Library conversation being held at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. I’m really enjoying everything that’s being shared and want to share that with you! Below you will find my Google Doc which I’ll be constantly updating throughout the event.  You can also follow along at the #makingandlearning hashtag

THREE THINGS

1. I am currently in the Atlanta airport on my way to Pittsburgh, PA for my first ever “I’m doing the business travel thing but I’m business traveling to my hometown” experience! I will be taking part in the Supporting Making in Museum and Library meeting happening in Pittsburgh, PA.  I am honored to be a part of this! Late last year, I met Peter Wardrip & Lisa Brahms from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and gave them a tour of the 2nd and 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library. It was great to share ideas with them back then and I am looking forward to sharing more with them and many others over the next few days.  The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was one of my big inspirations when I started on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. It’s neat that I get the chance to go back to that same place and learn and share more ideas.  Here are some photos I took the last time I was there.

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The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in cooperation with the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) have launched a field-wide initiative to better understand, advance, support, and connect makerspaces in museums and libraries. This project, in partnership with Maker Education Initiative, Chicago Public Library, the Exploratorium and North Carolina State University Library is holding a convening to advance our efforts in supporting learning in these space and programs.

2. I can’t wait till Megan Emery blogs more about her ideas on libraries, programming, parallel programming, volunteers, and more.  I guess this is kind of my nudge to get her to write about those things!  Ha!  Seriously though, Megan is (IMHO) doing the best work in public libraries at this moment.  From Camp EtsyNooga to linking programming between Chattanooga Public Library’s 2nd and 4th Floor to writing a book on library programming, everything Megan is doing is inspiring and community first. Go ahead and think that I’m a bit biased because I work pretty closely with Megan…you’re right, I do work pretty closely with Megan. But read about her programs and ideas and you’ll see what I mean. Go Megan go.

hyrule

3. I am currently on the sixth dungeon in The Legend of Zelda.  This time around I am playing it on my 3DS in little moments of inspiration. I almost forgot how good this game is.  I find the grinding aspect of the game to be quite rewarding. I haven’t played a game where I need to dedicate a good chunk of my time to getting rupees and preparing for my next adventure in such a long time. If you haven’t played this game in awhile and are looking for something to do, pick up a 3DS and buy it for a few bucks on the Nintendo eShop. You’ll find yourself quite happy!

FOUR THINGS

PROCEDURES
One of the best things to have when you’re managing public library work are sets of procedures for your employees to refer to when needed. Not only are they helpful for your staff, but as a manager who is writing them you get an interesting glimpse into workflow. You learn how to think step by step and try to simplify things.

Here’s a screen capture of a procedure regarding security cameras. Sure, writing procedures won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had as a librarian but I will say this: they’ll help you manage your time, your staff, and aid in creating a positive atmosphere at your library location.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 11.40.50 AMBALANCE
2014 was the year where I noticed my personal life/work life balance was way off. I worked pretty hard over the past year or so but I hadn’t noticed it. When I started having dreams about work that’s when I noticed that I should take a step back and balance everything out in my life. It has a been a great journey. When I’m away from work and libraries in general, I don’t think about them that much. I’ve always had a worry in the back of my mind that if I stopped thinking about libraries even for a moment that I’d become stale, old, and outdated. I was very wrong about this. Stepping back and taking your mind off of your work allows you to be even better than before. It gives you more patience. It allows you to stop and think before reacting. You grow to make better decisions. These decisions allow you to give your community the best that you have to offer. Everyone wins when balance is achieved.

IDEAS
One of my colleagues Michael Whittaker once said the following to me: “You and I are idea people. We have about ten ideas every minute. Once you learn to let some of those ideas go and focus on the really good ones you become a lot happier.”

It is so much fun to sit in a room and brainstorm a ton of ideas. There’s probably some study out there that talks about how some kind of very awesome brain thing happens when you sit in a room and brainstorm. I’m  not going to link to that study here because I’m being lazy and I don’t want to look it up. But you know what’s even better than sitting in a room and brainstorming? Having ideas, weeding out the ones that won’t work, and sitting back and letting things happen naturally. Now I’m not suggesting we stop brainstorming. It is good! But we’ve all fallen into the “what we brainstormed didn’t happen and now we’re stuck in a rut” trap. Brainstorming allows us to be free and dream big. But sometimes when we brainstorm we come up with things that just don’t translate well into the real world. When we get hung up on those things not working, we can get bummed out.  That’s not fun either.

I really like my work here on The 2nd Floor.I have had so many ideas about how to make this place work and how to make it both fun and enriching for the community. Some things have worked and some things haven’t worked. As I step into a bigger management role, I’ve had to put some of those ideas aside and hand over the keys to my colleagues to be the idea makers. Some of their ideas have worked and some of their ideas haven’t worked. It’s all good. We’re all trying our best.

DISCO
I really like disco music. Specifically I love Italo Disco. Websites like Mixcloud and Soundcloud are amazing places to find disco and dance music. Check it out! Here’s a mix of JAMZ that I’ve collected on Soundcloud. Smile! Dance! Enjoy life!

Reinventing Reference: How Libraries Deliver Value in the Age of Google

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Radical! Reinventing Reference: How libraries deliver value in the age of Google is finally in print!

I was honored to be a part of this book! Back in 2011 when I was just beginning my “outside the library that I am currently employed at” librarian journey Katie and Vibiana were one of the first people in the library world to give me a shot at doing something in the greater librarian community. I am eternally thankful to them for asking me to be a part of this!

It was really neat and interesting to write a book chapter. I found it to be a really great learning experience: I had to balance my enthusiastic and untrained writing style with something more….well, book-ish. Was it tough? Sure, but it was a great learning experience.

I got my own copy a few weeks ago and have been digging through it. I LOVE all of the stuff said by the collaborators and I found it very useful and informative.

If you want to check it out, you can purchase it in that old fashioned yet very handy print format here: REINVENTING REFERENCE

The 2nd Floor PLUS STEM School Chattanooga

Over the past few months, the Chattanooga Public Library has collaborated with the STEM School Chattanooga on a project with juniors for the Project and Problem Based Learning curriculum. The project that the library presented to the students dealt with 3D Printing: How can we create a 3D Printing station that allows the community to walk up to the 3D Printer, watch a video tutorial that introduces 3D printing, and in the end have the customer leave with a great 3D printing experience and an object.

Over the next few months, the students and their teacher Michael Stone worked on what a 3D Printing station looks like, what it includes, and then spent the time building the station in their school Fab Lab. The end result? Check out the image in the tweet above! It’s a beautiful station like structure that was created by the students. The words 3D PRINTER represent the various stages of 3D printing….from first layer to the honeycomb structured middle to the end product. Using the laser engraver, the students also created a plaque that proudly displays the STEM School Fab Lab logo. Finally, the students put together tutorial videos for customers to watch so that they could get acquainted with 3D printing. You can watch those videos here: Beginner Video and Advanced Video.

I’m super happy with the results and I couldn’t ask for more. The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library is all about the public library as an experience, and the 3D printing station created by the STEM School fits perfectly in with the vibe of the 2nd Floor.  I look forward to working with the STEM School and their students on more projects in the very near future!

For more of my writings on 3D Printing, click here!

For the FAQ’s and details on 3D Printing on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library, click here!

Transformation and Growth

Me circa 1994. First time I grew my hair out. First time I got a Weezer album. One of the original Weezer fan club members.

Me circa 1994. First time I grew my hair out. First time I got a Weezer album. One of the original Weezer fan club members.

One of my biggest roles models from around age 14-present has been Rivers Cuomo of the band Weezer. Rivers is the kind of guy that has all these mythical stories surrounding him because he lives a very interesting life: “You know, he once stayed inside for two whole years!” “You know he only eats green vegetables!” “You know he wrote 18,000 songs in one day once and keeps them all in a notebook protected by fire!” Most, if not all, of these mythical stories are untrue. Sure Rivers is an interesting guy but he’s not crazy. In fact, he’s far from crazy. I’d call Rivers a very introspective and self aware kind of person. And that part of his personality is what has inspired me to become the Justin Hoenke that I am today.

If you looked at this blog from the beginning up to the present, you may think that some crazy egomaniac of a human being has written every post. You’re entitled to your opinion and in some cases I think you’re spot on with your judgement. But what I say is this: I only really know myself and how I feel at any given time. I don’t want to fake it and put out opinions and judgements on things that I don’t really understand to the fullest. That’s boring and not who I am. I’d rather be honest and messy and put it all out there….hence this blog and an abundance of posts on self and growth and all that jazz.

Not an insane person, but instead a person who is visually representing change and growth. And kind of weird.

Not an insane person, but instead a person who is visually representing change and growth. And kind of weird.

Sometimes I wish I could just copy/paste things I’ve wrote and put it up as a new post because they all seem like the same: I’m learning this! I think it is good to be nice to people all the time! I’m messing up a bit but I’m growing!  I don’t because somewhere in my mind I’m convinced that each time I post I’m saying something new. Maybe I am. Who knows. All I know is that I’ll keep doing this.

In 2014 I learned a lot about transformation and growth. I adopted new roles in my personal and professional life that have challenged me. I’ve learned that library work is library work and life is life. Sleeping when sleep is needed is great for the soul. Not worrying about things all the time is an amazing way to approach life. Cutting the grass and tidying up around the house is very satisfying and honestly, the thing I wish I could focus on the most while I am alive here on the planet Earth. I have two paths in front of me in regards to my life as a librarian: one into more management and leadership and the other into a bit of management and a bit of the on-the-ground librarian type stuff. Both sound like good paths but in the end I can choose one. I don’t know what one that is yet. Maybe that’s what 2015 is for. There’s also this nagging feeling that I’ve come full circle with my professional interests and goals (one of which will be revealed in 2015!) and now it is time for a new challenge. I don’t know what any of this means. I just know that I have these feelings and that I have this blog and that’s where I’ll put everything for now.

My gut tells me that this is becoming a very rambling post. My gut tells me to wrap it up so that’s what I’ll do.  I have really like being alive in 2014. I hope all of you reading this have enjoyed life this year. I think all of you are great human beings and I am happy to share this crazy little thing called life with yinz all.  2014, you’ve been interesting and great and messy in so many ways. 2015, you’ll probably be the same way. Cut and paste. We all keep on growing and learning. What other way is there?

Management Style

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Thank to Finn Hoenke, Aero Hoenke, Haley Hoenke, Elias Spruill, Janine Veazue, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Chuck E Cheese, Marvin Gaye, The cast of Star Wars, and many others for making my office a nice place to be.

Did you die?
Did anyone else die?
Did you burn down the building?
Did anyone lose an appendage?

If you answered “no” to all of those questions, you are doing a great job of being a librarian in a public library.

-Justin Hoenke’s Management Mantra, 2014.

2014 was the year that I threw myself into management in public libraries. Was it scary and stressful? Yes. Did I survive? Well, either I’m writing this or clone Justin exists, so it’s up to you to decide.

The questions I’ve been asking myself this year go like this: What does a manager do? How does this change what I already do at the library? Do I need an office? What does one do in their office?How does one lead? I’d like to share my experiences here on this blog in order to help those in a similar situation out and to also maybe inspire other youth services librarians who are looking into management. Trust me: if I can do it you can too.

What does a manager do?
A manager takes the first step carves out the path for their staff to follow. A manager provides guidance and enthusiasm for the staff. A manager is a strong voice and supporter for their staff. I always refer back to a quote I learned in my ALA Emerging Leaders class for inspiration:

“The leader’s job is not to provide energy but to release it from others.”
Frances Hesselbein

A manager takes a step back and lets their staff shine. They listen to what the staff needs and does their best to communicate that vision to the rest of the library. Managers can make a job fun for their staff. I truly believe that when we’re having fun with our work some of our best ideas happen and in turn, those affect the community in a positive way. I tell my employees: have fun and see what happens. I think it’s working.

How does this change what I already do at the library?
I am one of those people that has an idea every minute. Let’s try this. Let’s try that. This is the vision and this is how we can do it. As I moved into management, I had to teach myself how to calm down, trust others with their ideas, and play the long game. Playing the long game gives you an insane amount of patience (FYI: having children does that too). It allows you to sit back and let things happen naturally.

Your idea of working in a public library will change considerably when you move into management. The focus is still and will always be the community, but in addition you have staff to manage. You will no longer be on the public service desk all day. It will be a shock. You won’t get as many of those hi-fives from kids, tweens, and teens. You won’t get as many of the awesome perks that come from working public service: directly helping people, making a little part of their life better, and more. But here’s the thing: your decisions as a manager and how you inspire your staff help make those moments possible. You may no longer have the direct connection to the public but you are still making a huge difference in your community.

Do I need an office? What does one do in their office?
I am a big fan of working in public. As public employees I think it is our job to show our funders how we work, what we’re doing, and be as transparent as possible. But you know what? After becoming involved in management I’ve started to understand the need to have an office or an “away from the public area” at times. When you’re thinking about big picture stuff you sometimes just need to be alone. You need to shut the door. What does one do in their office? These kinds of things. I also highly suggest filling your office with things that make you happy. Photos. Pictures. Drawings. Weird things that you collect. But don’t be a hoarder.

How does one lead?
I can’t answer that one for you. All that I can say is that you try, you fail and then you succeed and then you fail again and then you succeed and that cycle never ends. You find what works best for you, your staff, and your community. Note that I put YOU first because, yes, you have to put YOU first sometimes. Without a happy and fully functioning YOU things won’t move ahead. Treat yourself well. Once you do that, you will be on the right path.