Tag Archives: Happiness


Michael works with a group of teens on a sound collage.

We gathered back in Teen Study Room #119 today to record some more music with our teens.  This week, however, we had Michael Whittaker helping us out.  Michael’s part of our Teen Library team and has a pretty awesome past history of dabbling in all sorts of cool music things.  He’s also really good at twisting knobs and making recordings sound pretty.  This week we started out with our drums machines roaring in the background, hitting buttons and making a sound collage.  The recordings happening this year are little pieces of music: a sound here, a voice there, and some spoken word and organ in between.

Laying down some spoken word

Adding some organ sounds to the spoken word

An idea being tossed for the recordings happening this summer is to compile everything into one long piece…a sound collage of teens…that tells the story of the teen community who visited the library in 2012

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 and hopefully some music!


One of my favorite things to do is make music.  It gets even better when you work with really cool people to create something.  To top that, it makes it the best when you work with some really talented and neat teens who just want to try something new.

Last summer, we had our first MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program.  Local artist Sontiago led the group and in the end the teens recorded two hip hop tracks which you can listen to here:

For the 2012 MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program, I was unable to get Sontiago back due to scheduling (she’s a super busy person!) and this year I thought it would be neat to try something new.  Earlier in the year I bought an old Tascam Portastudio machine that looks like this:

The machine was very similar to the four track that I started recording my own music on back in the day.  I remember it taking some time to learn how the thing worked but I look back on my time with the machine fondly and am happy I got that experience.  I also wanted to show the teens that music is totally possible with a computer.  Don’t get me wrong…I am a HUGE band of Garageband and other digital tools that can be used to make music but I wanted to show the other side of the story.  Just to try something interesting.

And yesterday we began our journey.  I camped out in one of our study rooms with the Portastudio, my guitar, one mic, and my iPhone which we’d use Garageband to make drum loops.  For our first day, it was just myself and Richard in the study room making noises into a mic.  We clapped, we hummed, we made a beat, we made blips on a synthesizer, and Richard rapped a story in Acholi.  It was so much fun making these little bits of music with Richard.  It reminded me of when I was 15 and twisting knobs and strumming on out of tune guitars and humming into mics in my bedroom.  The difference was that I was alone back then…this time Richard and I shared the experience.  It was really cool.

Here’s a brief clip of some synthesizer noodling that we did yesterday.

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012.

Ebooks, again

Every blog post should have a good image. I don't have a good image for ebooks, so this sloth will have to do. They're really neat animals. Carol Schaffer took this picture, and you can find the original picture here: http://goo.gl/eQX0A

Now that Penguin has pulled out of lending ebooks to libraries, that leaves 2 of the 5 big publishers left in the library lending ebook game.

I don’t know about you, but the whole situation depresses me.  It’s not because there are less and less ebooks and not many way other ways to get ebooks into libraries, but because it feels like every time something happens in regards to ebooks and libraries, the same thing happens over and over again.  People involved with libraries recommend that you:

  • Cancel your subscription to Overdrive
  • Quit buying physical books from these publishers
  • Write the publishers and voice your concern
  • Talk to your patrons about what the publishers are doing
  • BoycottTweet/Blog/+1/Facebook a lot about it

And I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong.  I’m a firm believer in people doing whatever they feel is best for them to do at that moment in time.  But it all just feels like we’ve had these discussions before and it’s led to…the same thing happening.

I don’t have a clear answer of what libraries should be doing, but what I keep coming back to is this: The ebook wars have given us an excellent opportunity to forever change the idea of what a library means.  Long before ebooks came along, we were doing so much more for our patrons (reference, the library as a space, programming) but we were still known as the “place where all of the books are”.  Now that we can’t have ebooks, we can work towards getting rid of that stereotype.  We can change our image to include everything we do: we provide space, we make stuff, we inspire people, and we lend out a lot of neat things.

To me, this is a beautiful way forward.



The end of the eReader debate (for me)

I bought a Kindle because I wanted to use a Kindle to read eBooks.

In my eyes, the Kindle provides a great reading experience.  I like the device and how it works.  I like the ability to highlight quotes, store them, and share them.  I like how it manages books and PDF’s.

It all boils down to happiness.  From now on, I will encourage patrons to buy the eReader that makes them the happiest.  DRM issues, cloud storage, who actually owns the book…all of that stuff has importance, but it should be secondary to happiness and a great reading experience.

To encourage patrons to the eReader that makes them the happiest, I highly suggest programs like this where there’s open discussion and the ability to play around with eReaders.


The Beach Boys and Libraries: PART 3

If there’s a list of the top (some number) of albums recorded in the (20th Century/History of the World), there’s a strong chance that Pet Sounds is in the top five. Scratch that, I’d say there’s a strong chance that it’s in the top two. And there’s a good reason for that. Pet Sounds, which was released in 1966, is probably the most spiritual, love filled album. I’m not talking about spirituality in regards to religion, but just that overall feeling that there is some kind of grand force out there and that if you chose to recognize it, you can have some positivity in your life.

What did I get from Pet Sounds? The main thing I learned was that no matter what I’m, doing, ALWAYS PUT MY HEART INTO IT because love and happiness always shine through.

It’s hard pointing out one moment on Pet Sounds that sums it up, but I’ll go with “God Only Knows”. Never before have I heard a piece of music that so eloquently weaves music, production, lyrics, and feeling into 2 minutes and 51 seconds. It always seem to manage to fill my soul up with warmth and love.

Pet Sounds and specifically “God Only Knows” have taught me just how important it is to put my heart into anything that I do. On the most basic level, that means saying hello to as many of the patrons that I come into contact with on a daily basis. It means being kind to other library employees and understanding their roles in the library system and respecting that, yes, they are also very busy and have things to accomplish. On a more in depth level, it means that as a teen librarian, I have a duty to be there for my teen patrons. I have to open my heart to them and listen to their stories, their problems, their excitements, and their adventures. I have to be a listener with an open mind and an open heart. It helps with the socialization that most teens are going through. It will teach them that, unlike the stereotype suggests, all adults are not mean and selfish.

It is my hope that by putting my heart into everything that I do that I can hopefully put a smile on someone’s face and maybe, just maybe, have a positive impact on their life.

What it all comes down to

I’m a fan of boiling everything down to its basic element, and today I’ve got this idea in my head that what libraries are all about is people.

Two things brought on this idea:

  • The local high school had a half day today.  What did a group of around 15 students chose to do?  They came to the library, used the computers, and hung out for over an hour.
  • A teen that I met at a program 1 year ago finally made it into my library today.  When she recognized me, she shouted “HEY, I REMEMBER YOU!” and she came over to talk to me.  There was a smile on her face the whole time.

Do I know if this is the correct answer?  I’m honestly not sure that there is even an answer.  But I know that without people we’ve got nothing.

What I think I’m getting to saying is: be nice to the people that use your library.  They’ll keep coming back.  They’ll learn to trust you.  They’ll have some faith in you.  With that, you have everything.