Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Life

Small Town Library Outreach

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll have noticed that we hired a Historian at the Benson Memorial Library last month. I’ve talked about the reason behind this before, but I’ll sum it up here again: our town and community have an extremely rich history due to the discovery of oil here in the 1860’s. With that came a lot of national attention and money, some of which still remains to this day. When a community has a rich history like Titusville does, it makes perfect sense for the public library to be the place where community members can learn and become engaged and informed about the past. When we’re all aware of what has come before us, we can make solid decisions about the future that contribute to a stronger today. 

Cut to a scene at a local gas station about one week ago: someone there walks up to me and says “hey, you’re that library guy right?” to which I reply with a very positive “Yes!”. The best library outreach happens in situations like this, so when I was first approached with this question I knew this was gonna be good. Our conversation went like this:

“I saw in the newspaper that you hired a historian. That’s a really great idea because we have so much history around here. In fact, I have something I’d like for you at the library to dig up.”

After that, I listened to the story and it was quite an interesting one regarding a now ghost town just a few miles up the road from us called Pithole. I got the contact information and basic details I needed, went back to the library, and handed it off to Jess, our Historian.

Over the next week, Jess got into the nitty gritty of the patron’s requests and found out some information that they were looking for. Jess sent all of this information to the patron via email. Here’s what that email looked like:

Screenshot

Pretty good, eh? That’s some nice and thorough work there. But that’s not where it ends. Jess got this kind email back from the patron:

Screenshot-1

And now every time I stop at this gas station to fill up my car with gas or get some of their delicious chocolate milk I see this person and we have a nice kind chat. Libraries are all about bringing people together, and this is just an example of how we do it here in Titusville.

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Tales From The Library Trenches

Tales From the Library Trenches, Part 3: Choose Your Own Adventure

IMG_1776
Part 3! Enjoy! 

Head on over to Information Today and check out part three of my series titled Tales From The Library Trenches. In this installment, I got a chance to chat with my former boss at the Cape May County Library (NJ) and still big time library inspiration Deb Poillon about project management, planning, and more. Deb rules. She’s one of my library inspirations, as her approach is so community and staff focused and she does it in such as way that not only gets things done but gets things done well.

I’ve created this category (click!) to keep all of the writings in this series together. Next month I will be back to share my fourth and final part. Stay tuned!

Justin The Librarian's Jamboree, Music

Justin The Librarian’s Jamboree EPISODE ZERO: Take Your White Knickers Off

Welcome to Episode Zero of Justin The Librarian’s Jamboree.

I’ve always loved listening to and making music, but I’ve never been great at sharing what I’ve been into at the moment. Justin The Librarian’s Jamboree is my attempt to change that. This will be a 30-60 minute weekly radio show that does two things: we’ll share the music that I’m currently listening to and talk about what makes it so appealing.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:
I’ve been really into the WHITE ALBUM by THE BEATLES recently. This mix presents an alternate view of the album, leaning heavily on the experimental side of the sessions before moving onto the campfire-esque singalongs that I imagined they had while they were in India.

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Tales From The Library Trenches

Tales From the Library Trenches, Part 2: A Year of Firsts

IMG_1776

I forgot to post this in June, but better late than never!

Head on over to Information Today and check out part two of my series titled Tales From The Library TrenchesIn this installment, we talk about connections, library boards, and your new role as a community leader.

If you’re up for it, try to connect all the dots and find all the Prince references in the piece. What album was I listening to when I wrote this?

I’ve created this category (click!) to keep all of the writings in this series together. Stay tuned for more!

Family, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: UPDATE ONE

Screenshot-1.png
The First Part: https://justinthelibrarian.com/2017/05/22/goodbye-muted-world/

The main impetus for getting off of antidepressants was my wife Haley. Like me, she too was on antidepressants for some time. While I was on Prozac she was on something that was even more evil and horrible called Effexor (long story short tell your doctor no if they offer this). She got off of her medication earlier this year and the change I saw in her was amazing. She was back to being Haley. Not that she wasn’t Haley when she was on Effexor….it was just a different version of Haley. I started looking inwards and I saw the same thing with myself. I am here…but I am not completely here. Prozac was muting me and I no longer wanted to be muted.

Now I know that antidepressants work differently for everyone and overall do help the individual, but these days all that I’m have been seeing for myself was that it was doing nothing but muting me. To quote the Stone Temple Pilots: I’m half the man I used to be“. I did not want to enter the 37th year of my life not being this way, so I decided to make a change. Here’s how that change has been going:

  • I’m using a tapered approach in removing Prozac from my body. After talking with my doctor, we came up with a plan that looked something like this: every other day for two weeks, every two days for one week, and so on.
  • According to Wikipedia: “fluoxetine elimination half-life changes from 1 to 3 days, after a single dose, to 4 to 6 days, after long-term use”. The worst days in this weaning were somewhere in the area of June 10-17. I was extremely irritable, I fluctuated between being wide awake or very tired, and I had an almost constant headache.
  • After the week of June 10-17, things leveled off quite a bit. I was feeling a good mix of being part Justin pre-2009 and part Justin present-2017 older and wiser. This is a good mix and was something I was going for, but it did take some getting used to. Instead of a muted feeling all the time, I was instead having full on feelings. When you haven’t had those in 8 years, it can be overwhelming at first!
  • Now I am trying to recognize the feelings I am having in the moment and am doing my best to process them. Am I sad? Am I happy? What am I? What can I do in this moment to best show and recognize these feelings?

By August 1 2017 I should be completely free from Prozac. I’ll update everyone shortly after that once I’ve adjusted to life in an unmuted world.

Journal Excerpts, Life

June 26 and June 28 (afternoon thoughts)

(originally part of the THE WORK JOURNALS OF JUSTIN WILLIAM HOENKE, copied and edited for this post)

The idea of isolation has been in my mind a lot recently. It has been coming up here and there over the years but 2017 seems to be the year where it is all making the most sense. Being away in Maine in the middle of nowhere for about 10 days was glorious and perhaps the closest I will get to isolation in the near future. Let’s remember that my version of isolation still has me attached to my close family. I’m not all about complete isolation. Perhaps if my life had been different and I did not have a family I would be all about complete isolation, but for me for the rest of my days it is about my own version of isolation.

John Lennon’s ISOLATION is a great song. Heck, the whole 1970 PLASTIC ONO BAND album is great. Our friend Jeremiah recently loaned me a DVD on the making of the album. It is one of those “Classic Albums” series DVDs and I just watched it. Listening to the isolated parts of the songs renewed my interest in the album. The song ISOLATION, of course, really fits this time well. Let’s take a look at the lyrics:

People say we got it made.
Don’t they know we’re so afraid?
We’re afraid to be alone,
everybody got to have a home.
Just a boy and a little girl,
trying to change the whole wide world.
The world is just a little town,
everybody trying to put us down.
I don’t expect you to understand,
after you’ve caused so much pain.
But then again, you’re not to blame.
You’re just a human, a victim of the insane.
We’re afraid of everyone,
Afraid of the sun.
The sun will never disappear,
but the world may not have many years.

What I’ll call the “breakdown” part (bolded above) is what stands out to me. The big reason for my desire to have isolation is other humans. But I cannot blame them…they’re a part of a system that uses and manipulates them. I am trying my best to not be a part of that system by removing myself from it as much as possible. I fucking failed at this last week and I am reminding myself to get better. There will be ups and downs. The thing I have to remember is to always be on my best as a human being. Staying away from capitalism, consuming less sugar, and focusing more on the things that I can create in this world is the path forward. Family, Library, Self, Fidelia Hall, Music. These are the things that have the most worth to me. It seems silly to focus on anything but these things. We only have a limited amount of bandwidth in our heads.

Along with isolation, the phrase the wool has been pulled over your eyes”has popped into my mind recently. Part of the reason I have taken up journaling so much this past month is that I am trying to understand what the words and phrases that float in and out of my head mean and how they apply to my current life. 

“THE WOOL HAS BEEN PULLED OVER YOUR EYES” is a simple thought: most of what you’ve been told or taught is wrong. While I believe that not everything that is around us (the government, the super wealthy, companies, organizations, etc) is evil or corrupt, I must say that everyone’s guard should be up when they deal with one of these things. Ulterior motives are a real thing, and it seems like these days that everyone has them. People and organizations whose aim is to help others should not have to resort to using ulterior motives to accomplish a goal. We need a change.

I know I could issue a blanket statement like this right now: everyone is using ulterior motives to accomplish their goals and we don’t know the true meaning behind what everyone wants to achieve. Of course we don’t know every side of the story, but we can safely say that there are a good number of people and organizations out there that at the bottom of it all really don’t care or they only care about themselves.

What I think I’ve got buzzing around my head is this: think before you act and trust someone or something. Realizing that not everyone has good in their minds and hearts is a major way to level up in this world.

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Titusville, PA

Blogging at the Library (yes, it’s still very important)

IMG_2583 (1).JPG
The piece “Origins of the Dick Kraffert Pool at Burgess Park, Titusville” by Jess Hilburn, originally written for a library blog and then republished in a local newspaper, the Titusville Herald.

Before we start, let me clear things up: you are not reading a blog post from sometime between 2001-2007. This blog post was written on June 22, 2017. Why am I saying that to start? Well because if you’re reading this you may have been told that “blogging is dead” and that the “library blog scene” is irrelevant. My aim with this piece is to show you otherwise. The word “blog” or “blogging” is dead but that’s a good thing. Blogs and blogging was always just writing and publishing with a hip new fancy name attached to it. The “blog” switched the power from the big publishers and news agencies and gave it to the people. (for the rest of this piece, I’ll continue to use the word “blog” when I refer to the written words I am talking about but honestly its all just words and information)

Here’s a great example from my library (Benson Memorial Library) on why I believe why libraries should continue to write and share information with their communities. A few months ago, our Historian Jess Hilburn started up a blog called NWPA Stories (Northwestern Pennsylvania Stories). As our Historian, Jess digs up a lot of interesting stories about individuals and events in our community.

One of the recent discussions happening in our community was the possible closing of our swimming pool, the Dick Kraffert Pool. As with every story, there are two sides to this one. Over the last few years the pool has fell into disrepair and has been losing money. The City of Titusville operates the pool, and like the pool the city has been losing money due to declining industry in the area and lower tax returns every year. These are the things that are happening in small town American. On the other side, there is a community full of individuals who want the pool to stay open and remain an option for all local residents. It’s a tough issue and we’re not here to discuss the pros and cons, but now you’re basically all caught up on the story.

This is where the library comes in. With all of the discussion happening around the Dick Kraffert Pool, one thing was missing: what’s the history behind all of this? How did the pool start, what was the pool like back in the day, and who the heck is Dick Kraffert?  This is where Jess Hilburn comes in. As our Historian, finding out this kind of stuff and sharing it with our local community is one of big “to-do’s” on Jess’s job responsibilities list. A library historian isn’t just there to find out stuff for individuals who have research requests. A great library historian shares the research and history that they’re digging up with everyone in the community. I believe that when community members are engaged and informed about their past, they can make solid decisions about the future that contribute to a stronger today. This is that example in action.

After publishing the post and sharing it via the library Facebook page, we quickly noticed it was resonating with the community. According to Facebook stats, the piece has had a reach of 4,607, has been shared 72 times, and has 23 likes on the original post. There were plenty of positive comments on the piece….and that’s when the local newspaper the Titusville Herald messaged us (once again, on Facebook). They asked for permission to reprint Jess’s work in the next issue of the Herald, scheduled to be published tomorrow. Our only request was that they add the “Editor’s Note” that you see in the photo of the piece above).

Why’d we do this? As I said above, it is all about sharing and informing community members about the past that surrounds them. The Titusville Herald is an excellent newspaper that is read by many of our community members. Increasing exposure to our local history, especially when that exposure originates from the public library, is a great thing. It provides our community with a better understanding of their surroundings, it increases exposure to the library, and it further cements us as a local organization dedicated to providing all citizens with quality information.

Here’s the link to the original piece as it appears on NWPA Stories

The next time someone tells you that blogging is dead, try to remember this example which I just shared. The act of writing and sharing information will never die no matter what it is called. Libraries: learn, research, share, and connect. This is what you do.