The Beach Boys and Libraries: PART 1

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2010, I didn’t set foot in a library.

My second son Aero Read Hoenke was born on 11/23/11 and for five weeks I spent all of my time at home with him, my wife Haley, and our almost 3 year old Finn.  We danced, we sang, we played, we slept, and enjoyed life.  I look back on it as one of the best times of my life.  It rejuvenated me and made me feel like a whole person again.

During this time, I also fell in love with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys once again.  I’ve had a long history with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys reaching back to around 1999 when I first discovered the album Pet Sounds.  After that, I dove into their catalog and became smitten with pretty much everything the band has recorded in some way or another.  I love Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys so much that I even put this on my right arm.

The first seven notes in the melody line of "God Only Knows" (in Brian Wilson's handwriting), written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher and appears on 1966's album "Pet Sounds"
It was in these months that it dawned on me why I liked the Beach Boys so much.  Their story is both tragic and successful, alternating between utterly horrible choices and some of the most amazing, soul warming music to ever be heard.  Their story was so very human.

I couldn’t help but think about libraries during this time no matter how hard I tried.  There’s something about these institutions that keeps calling me back.  They’re both tragic and successful, and at most times can be some one of the most amazing, soul warming places a person can HEY WAIT A SECOND I NOTICE SOMETHING.

It may be far fetched to you, but I saw some kind of connection in each step of the Beach Boys career with where libraries were/are now/are heading.  Why?  Because there’s a thread that runs through every story and every institution.  It’s a tale of happiness, sadness, and the journey through it all.  Each moment brings a new experience.  Each new experience is part of a specific era. The Beach Boys worked in singles, albums, and tours.  We in libraries work in programs, collections, and people.  Each of these things tell our stories.

The journey will be bizarre and not always make a lot of sense to the reader, but I feel like this is something I have to write in order to make sense of all the things swirling around in my head.  All of the pieces are there but nothing’s not solid just yet.  I’m hoping this writing journey makes some sense out of everything in my head and along the way gives something back to the reader.

So, here we go…

The mid 70's Beach Boys. Brian Wilson was sort of chubby, sort of out of it, but made some beautiful music


  1. I really like this post. Stories are amazing links, and they won’t always be happy ones, we need the diversity, although it would be nice if all library stories were ‘happily ever after’. Library workers need to keep working at quests (using both story and games images) to make this possible. My metaphors are going all over the place. Just as collections within libraries need creation, curation, care and lots of other things so do libraries. They are complex ecosystems and should be treated as such, not just as places which need to stay the same, but as places which need to grow and develop. The Beach Boys are a great analogy, thanks for sharing it.

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