Who Wants to Work With Me? (August 2016 Edition)

Benson-Memorial-Library

Hello World! I am looking for a most excellent Youth Services Librarian to come work with us at the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, PA. If you like small towns where everyone knows everyone else, where you can walk around the whole town in just an hour or so, enjoy scenic trails, and great community members who are all willing to work together, this is a great town for you. Our library employs 7 (nine total) fantastic human beings who are dedicated to doing amazing, positive work for the community. We may be small and we may not have all of the time in the world, but we try our best. I’ll be your boss and I promise to be as nice and awesome and supportive as possible. I’m a human being so sometimes I may let you down but I promise that no matter what we will work together.

Interested? Here’s the listing!

The Benson Memorial Library is now hiring a full time Youth Services Librarian. The primary responsibility of this position is to implement and maintain services for ages 0-18 as well as to provide excellent customer service for parents & caregivers. This position involves working directly with youth, parents or caregivers, community organizations, and partners of the library. This Youth Services Librarian must have a strong knowledge of youth services in libraries, emerging technology trends, and be dedicated to the community of Titusville, PA.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and present weekly events and programs at the Benson Memorial Library for ages 0-18 including after-school programs.
  • Engage in outreach to schools, day cares, preschools, and other community organizations and agencies serving youth.
  • Select all library materials for youth ages 0-18.
  • Maintain the Youth Services collection by withdrawing used and outdated materials.
  • Develop and oversee all aspects of the yearly summer program.
  • Maintain and use technology related to Youth Services including iPads, 3D Printers, and more.
  • Maintain Youth Services areas in the library and keep it updated to give library visitors a welcoming and amazing experience.
  • Public Service and Circulation Desk assistance.
  • Assist patrons with any library related needs.

The ideal Youth Services Librarian will:

  • Be able to create great relationships with youth ages 0-18 and their parents and caregivers.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and appreciation for all areas related to youth services in libraries.
  • Be a responsive and proactive employee and value personal customer service.
  • Embrace and promote imagination, innovation and inspiration in both the work setting and in the Titusville community.
  • Work as part of an amazing team that is committed to community of Titusville, PA and work to establish the Benson Memorial Library as a leader in the community.
  • Collaborate and work with public and other staff members in a pleasant and professional manner.
  • Possess strong working knowledge of technology and current trends in library services.
  • Have the physical ability and strength to bend, reach, lift and carry (up to 25 lbs.) at times.

Education Requirements:

  • A college degree is preferred, a Master’s Degree in Library science or Education is highly desirable.
  • Experience working with youth ages 0-18 and their parents and caregivers.

This position is full time, including potential evenings and Saturday shifts. Salary will be dependent on qualifications. Health/Retirement benefits included.

PLEASE NOTE: The following is a guideline as to what is intended for this position. Additional duties may be asked of this position.

Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Executive Director Justin Hoenke via email at justin.hoenke@ccfls.org or via mail at 213 N. Franklin Street Titusville, PA 16354.

Outreach/Community

IMG_1785

Here at the Benson Memorial Library I’m kind of thrust into the  outreach portion of the library. I don’t mind at all….it is a portion of my job that I’ve enjoyed at every library I have worked at and I believe it is one of the most important things a public library can do in this day in age. Getting out there and talking to your community can lead to amazing things.

This past weekend, my town held its yearly Oil Fest event. The library wasn’t really involved in my first year here as we were just moving in and getting settled. This year, we went all out. On Friday, the library kicked off the festival with our LOL: Lunch on the Lawn Local Music Series. All through the week we hosted the Oil Region Alliance Exhibit “Walking The Line“. We had a booth at the festival where we raised money through our Friends of the Library group by raffling off a basket of books donated by DK Publishing (thanks!)

IMG_1759.JPG

The big event was our participation in the parade (pictured above). My awesome partner Haley, our sons Finn and Aero, and our most awesome janitor/all around radical human being Emi Foxberg and her kids Tilley and Abe led our “float”. I use quotes because it was just a book cart full of 200 books that were handed out to kids. Many thanks to Haley for pushing that rickity old cart for a mile in the 95% humidity that day.

You make outreach happen however you can. Sometimes you have staff helping out. Sometimes you have volunteers and library related groups like the board of directors or the Friends of the Library helping out. Other times, you call on family and friends. Outreach is a lot of work: there’s the planning and the execution. Always thank those who help out every step of the way. In the end, always remember just how important outreach is to the community. This gets your library’s name in all the conversations happening around the community. It is a positive thing. THIS is one of the ways we can keep libraries relevant and funded in the 21st century.

 

Help my Library win $1000

My library, the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, PA, was chosen earlier this year to be part of the Greater Titusville Development Foundation Grant Facade Project. We were very honored to be part of this program. It allowed us to repair our historic sandstone steps and ensure that they’re around for many future generations.

The final part of this grant is pretty awesome….a social media contest to get the most LIKES on our project. The photo posted above shares the BEFORE/AFTER of our steps, and if that photo can get the most LIKES this week (contest ends at 12pm on Sunday August 14 2016) we can win $1000!

If you have a moment, would you please consider LIKING the above photo? Click on the image above to be taken to Facebook where you can LIKE the photo.

$1000 can go a long way for a public library….that amount is half of our yearly budget for programs for youth in our community. It could pay our electricity bills for 3 months. It could help fund another building improvement project in the near future. Your support means a lot!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! -Justin

Food Stamps, the Feeling of Failure, Student Loans, and Life as a Library

13995520_10100648821139690_2241082090634938108_o

Last week, Haley and I applied for food stamps. Our family, which has been going on strong for 11 years and now includes 2 awesome kids, Haley’s mom, our dog Sonic, 3 chickens, and 2 rabbits, have hit a period in our journey where we couldn’t do it without help anymore.

I know that there’s a reason I pay taxes. They are there to help….my family and I, others in need, and more. This is one of those situations where we needed help. I understand this very well. I am all for taxes that help out others in my community. We are all in this together and together we can do amazing things. At the same time there’s a stigma that comes from applying for and using food stamps: that somehow you’ve failed, you’re lazy, or you’re just downright an average human being. I try to have a healthy mind and outlook on everything, but I’ve gotta admit that I’ve fallen into this pit recently. I’m a 36 year old human being, I’ve got a wonderful job which I’m pretty good at, an amazing and happy family, and I’ve done some other things that I’m also really proud of. But here I am at this point where I feel like a failure just because I need some help. It shouldn’t be this way.

We’ve used the support of food stamps before. When Haley and I first got married, we were finishing up college. We both had part time jobs in addition to our full time school workload. The food stamps helped out a lot. Back then, the feeling of being a complete failure because you’re on food stamps wasn’t as big as it is now. Having a family and needing food stamps feels like you’ve hit the bottom. I think about this feeling that I’m having and then I think about all of the others out there who are on food stamps, especially those with families just like mine. What happens when you have all of those people out there in the same situation? You have millions of people out there feeling that they’ve lost all hope, that they’re somehow pathetic, and that they’ve failed. You have millions of people who feel like shit just for wanting to make sure their family doesn’t go hungry. When you have that many people feeling bad in the country, those bad vibes add up. It can’t be proved, but I really think the general malaise surrounding things in our country is somehow related to feelings like this.

On our end, I know that student loan debt is crippling. We’re both on programs that give us flexibility with our payments (income based repayment). While these do help, it’s still tough to have around $100K of debt total hanging over your head just because you went to college, got an education, and pursued a career in something you felt could make a difference in the world. I also understand the argument “well, you went into college knowing full well what would happen.” I’ve heard this many times before. I can see it from two sides: of course I knew (something) about how I’d be in debt once I left college. When I went, they told us about it. Did they tell us the specifics? Sort of kind of maybe not. I started college in 1998 and at that time it was just “oh yeah, you’ll have some debt but it’ll be OK because you’ll be a college graduate.” Most of us became the first great generation of student loan debt holders. And we’re still here! * Can America Afford This Approach to Solving Student Loan Debt? (it’s behind a paywall, but it is a great read) by Haley Sweetland Edwards is a great read that sums up the collective “wow, so much student loan debt”weight of a generation.

The amount of money we spend on student loan debt per month could help us in a lot of ways (FYI: it is around $337/month). First up: it could help with the grocery bills, thus giving us enough money to not go down the food stamp route. Second: it could help with the startup of Fidelia Hall. Have you ever tried starting up a business or a non-profit? Maybe I’m really stupid, but it’s really difficult and confusing…and it costs a lot. Just this week, our Fictitious Name Registration cost us $70 to file an application, $41 to advertise the application in our local newspaper, and $75 to advertise the application in a legal journey. That’s $186, and we’d still have $151 to spend this month on something else (groceries! Fidelia Hall repairs and infrastructure!) What am I trying to get towards? The debt we’re saddling people with for school, health care, and more are crippling us. They’re crippling us mentally. They make us not want to get out of bed. They make us want to sit around and do nothing when what we really want to do is something, because I believe that all human beings (no matter which political side they are on) just want to get things done for their communities. They’re also crippling our ability to move forward and do better things for our communities. You can’t start up a business/non-profit when you don’t have time or money.**

I better wrap this up. We just hit 1,000 words.

I’m not asking for a raise. I’m not asking for donations. I’m not even asking for an “oh man I feel you.” I just wanted to get this out there so that if you’re in a situation similar to this that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re here. We’re successful. We’re pretty happy. We’re in debt and we’re also on food stamps.

*On a side note, I remember credit card companies and banks lining up at the dining halls doing everything they can (“here! have a free beach ball for taking our credit card!”) to get students signed up for their first horrible credit card. They succeeded with me and so many other of my friends.

**Go ahead and leave a comment telling me to suck it up and “pull myself up by the bootstraps just like an American would. I’ve been trying to do this for years. This is just what my Dad said and continues to say. But there’s more to it than “sucking it up” or “taking it like a man” or “pulling up your bootstraps”. There has to be some give and take.

 

Pokémon GO at the Library

Before I start, I must give credit where credit is due: amazing librarians Chantel Theunissen and Pam Jones of New Zealand for their awesomeness and inspiration to do something with Pokémon GO here in Titusville, PA. They helped me see what libraries are all about once again….people, conversations, and connections. It was perfect timing. I was getting a bit negative there. (sorry)

The idea was simple: purchase a few lures, set a time, set off those lures, and tell people to come to the library. Once they came, the thing that would connect us and start conversation would be Pokémon. We had some books out and about but the real goal wasn’t circulation…it was community building. And it sure did happen.

One helpful way of promoting this event was to target Facebook groups. In my semi-rural neck of the woods I found 4 Pokémon GO related groups. There’s probably more but that’s all I felt that I needed to find to help promote the event. Of course, we also used our own library Facebook page and got our awesome paper the Titusville Herald to also help us by running a story.

IMG_1587

Our Youth Services Librarian Ashlee Norwood hangs out with a new library patron and chats about Pokemon GO.

 

 

We had a blast running the program for our community. It was two hours full of conversation, sharing, and community building. Will we do this again? Of course! We will do whatever we can to start up amazing conversations with our community.

IMG_1588

It rained a bit so we went inside. No worries though! We still had a blast.

Justin Hoenke’s Weezer Song Rankings (2016 Edition)

weezer2014splash

To read the 2016 Edition of my Weezer Song Rankings, please click here!

As any completely obsessed Weezer fan may do, I’ve spent a good part of this year rating and ranking all (I think I’ve got them all) of Weezer/Rivers Cuomo’s catalog of songs that I have heard. Having been a devoted fan since 1994, a lot of my personality and history is tied into this band. Weezer fans tend to react very quickly

THE METHOD

First and foremost, I organized the songs by proper album releases. If the song was not on an album, I did my best to fit it into a category that made sense to me. Most of these songs ended up as B-Sides or Unreleased, but some went into the specific category of Album 5 Demos. Perhaps when I do my second pass at these rankings I will get into further detail but for now, the songs rest where they are. I decided on a simplified “1-10′ rankings style instead of getting into decimals and very specific song rankings. Perhaps those very detailed rankings are for another list, but for now I’d rather spend that extra time with my family. Songs only went into one album category. While I understand this may throw off the rankings a bit, I did this out of ease. One example of this is Longtime Sunshine. I placed this song on the album Songs From the Black Hole instead of listing it on Alone I-III or Pinkerton. Tracks on deluxe editions were mostly placed into the B-Sides category.

THE ALBUM RANKINGS

  1. Pinkerton
  2. The Blue Album
  3. Songs From the Black Hole
  4. The Green Album
  5. Everything Will Be Alright In The End
  6. Make Believe
  7. The Red Album
  8. B-Sides and The White Album
  9. Maladroit
  10. Unreleased
  11. Death to False Metal
  12. Raditude
  13. Album 5 Demos
  14. Alone I-II-III
  15. Hurley

The top and bottom of this list came as no surprise. Albums 1-3 have consistently ranked this way for me. Albums 11-15 came out pretty much as expected, other than Alone I-II-II ranking at #14. Alone is listed as one collection, and being a demos collection suffers from some less than exceptional songs or sketches of songs. I believe this is the main reason that the set of 3 albums ranks so low.

Albums 4-11 surprised me considerably. I had long thought that I did not hold The Green Album in high regards, but these rankings changed my mind. I expected The Red Album to be ranked higher, but in review of my ratings I see that what I really like from that album are two songs specifically: The Angel and The One and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived. Albums 4-11 also suggest to me that I am more of a fan of albums that contain more straight-forward pop songs (Green, Make Believe) than albums that branch out a bit (Maladroit, The Red Album). Individually, I may like some songs on the albums that branch out more but as a whole I enjoy the straightforward pop albums more.

THE SONG RANKINGS

Songs from Pinkerton and The Blue Album ranked the highest as expected. The rest of the songs that were ranked between 7-10 were quite a mix of songs from all different eras of Weezer. This confirms something to me that I’ve thought long about Weezer: a good song is a good song no matter the era it came from. Weezer’s music from 1994 to present has varied greatly in style and composition, but at the core the good songs stand out. The songs at the bottom of the rankings stand out to me as well because a lot of them are fragments or demos. This suggests that I prefer more complete recordings over demos.

MY TAKEAWAYS

  • Despite the fact that The Green Album is very much a straightforward collection of pop music with songs containing very similar structures, it turns out that I like it quite a bit! I will listen again to this album over the next few months and report back.
  • At the time of its release, Make Believe was widely panned by critics and fans alike as being a “sell out” album. It is easy to see this with the success of Beverly Hills and Perfect Situation as singles. However as a whole the album stands up as a great collection of songs. Most of the songs on the album have ratings of 7 or 8.
  • The song rankings on Maladroit are very interesting, with all of the songs either ranking at 6  or 7 (Two songs get a five and Possibilities gets a 2).
  • No song from Hurley ranks higher than a 6.

 

Curious about my past writings on Weezer? You can read them by clicking here

Let’s Talk About Approach

Screenshot

Every blog post should have an image and I couldn’t think of anything for this topic other than the approach of shaking hands.

I’m not that into the idea that “first impressions last a lifetime.” For me, I believe we should always be neutral and kind when we approach someone for the first time. From there your interactions with a person can increase and after about a year of knowing someone you can really tell who they are and how they’ll act in certain situations.

One of the things I’ve learned a lot while working in libraries over the past 10 years is how important it is to approach an event/situation/interaction with a positive attitude, kindness, and an openness to hear all sides of the story. When you do that, your chance at success greatly increases and all sides will have a pleasant experience.

I’ve found this website to be most helpful when it comes to kindness: Random Acts of Kindness. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed or in need of some guidance I turn to this page, give it a quick read, and let the ideas fill up my soul.

As we work with our community in both our day to day interactions and our long term projects, it is important to remember how we approach all of our situations. Fill them with positivity and kindness even in trying situations. Be patient with the other side of the story.