What’s Goin’ On

2014-01-24 18.57.29I haven’t done a great job sharing the nitty gritty details about what’s been happening on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library and I wanted to take a moment to change that.  I knew that the work here in Chattanooga would  be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the past but what I didn’t realize was just how much work there would be.  This is not a bad thing at all…in fact, it is a very good thing. The 10 months I’ve been here have been the best professional experience of my life.

So let’s play some catch up, shall we?

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We’ve been playing around with the concept of how we work on the 2nd Floor.  There’s a strong drive to get us away from the “desk” model and into something that’s more of a “always working in and with the public” model.  I’m totally on board.  Why?  We’re public librarians and the public is our bread and butter.  If we ain’t helping them, what are we doing with our time?

The goal is to create something that isn’t big and scary and instead  invites the community to work alongside us.  We want them to sit next to us.  We want them to feel that our workspace is a place where they can connect and hang out with us.  It’s collaborative.

The “always working in and with the public” model has its good parts (we’re always there for the public) and the bad parts (how do we get away from the public when we need to do something else that requires focus?).  We haven’t found the perfect answer but we’re trying new things.  We’ll find what works for us and go with it.

For more on this, read Work Spaces

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One of the things I’ve heard most from librarians is that you’ll never know how many people you’ll get at a program and there’s no really good way to predict these kinds of numbers.  I agree. I’ve had some duds and I’ve had some hits.  To answer this question, we’re trying something I like to call “neverending programming.”  Why put a lot of energy into programs that only happen at a certain time during the day?  Why not have things going on all the time?

We’ve got a mix of neverending programming and traditional programs happening at the moment.  To see all of the “neverending programming” we offer on the 2nd Floor,click here.  Traditional scheduled programs still work, but we want to have something for everyone at all times.  This is our way of finding a balance for everyone in our community.

For more on this, read Buttons, Buttons Everywhere and The 2nd Floor Photo Booth

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How in the heck does one manage one 3D printer and make it avaliable for every single person in the community? I think about the answer to that question a lot.  3D printing takes time and when you have a city of over 160,000 to serve that’s a lot of 3D printing.

I also ask myself this question all the time: how do you make the 3D printing experience worthwhile?  Going onto Thingiverse, finding something neat to print out, and doing that is great but there’s gotta be more, right?

Over the past few months, my colleague Megan Emery and I have come up with an informal program called The 3 D’s of 3D Printing.  It’s part gamification, part badge system, part learning experience, part our way of making sure we’re not turning into a 3D print factory.  Does it work?  Parts of it does.  It allows us to educate the kids, tweens, and teens about 3D printing and make the process into a learning experience.  Where it doesn’t work is how it’s a drop in program that requires staff time.  I’ve noticed that 3D printing interest happens most when we are busiest (Monday-Thursday between 4-8 and Saturdays between 1-5, FYI) and finding the time to really work with someone one on one isn’t going as smoothly as we’d like. But with everything else we do, we have the flexibility to change it to fit with what the community and the staff needs at this moment.  I’ll be sure to check back in soon when we move from version 1.0 of this program to version 1.5!





We’ve moved so much stuff around (with the help of our maintenance staff, thank you!) in our quest to make the 2nd Floor a destination for ages 0-18.  Books and shelves that were once here are now there and tables and chairs have been re purposed as creative tables and more. With the 2nd Floor, nothing ever stays the same and that’s a good thing…we are constantly trying to improve our services to best meet the needs of our users.

Thinking of the 2nd Floor as a flexible space that’s always changing has helped.  Our director Corinne Hill says that the only certain thing these days is change and she’s right.  If that’s what our staff can expect, then moving some furniture and services around won’t be so much of a big deal.

Here in Chattanooga I’ve been doing way more of what I’m calling manager type stuff.  I make the weekly schedules.  I book programs.  I do staff payroll.  I handle vacation requests.  I make sure the staff is aware of all of the changes happening.  It’s been a tough transition to this role but it is something I am really enjoying.  Management is hard but very rewarding.

My management gurus these are a triforce of awesome.  Corinne Hill (director of the Chattanooga Public Library) and Dan and Lisa Nausley of Sandler Training in Chattanooga have taught me more about management in the last 10 months than I’ve ever known.  Like I said above, it’s challenging but it’s a welcome challenge.  This is growth and growth is tough.

For more on manager type stuff, please read Staff Development and Training

A lot of folks said “are you sure you’re gonna like the south?” when I announced that I was moving to Chattanooga. I’m happy to report that I finally have an answer for you: YES.  What makes it great are the people.  The city of Chattanooga loves their community and even more so, their library.  Their input, suggestions, comments, and support help make the Chattanooga Public Library awesome.  I point to  The 2nd Floor Commercial as an example: directed by a local teen named Zachary Cross, this was filmed and edited on his own time just to share what the 2nd Floor is about.

Chattanooga is awesome.  It’ll keep being awesome.  I’ll keep on working hard to do my part.


  1. Hi Justin,
    I love hearing about the awesome things that are happening in the Chattanooga Library! This is great to hear that you are constantly learning and readjusting things based off how users enjoy their experience in the library. I’m working on user testing in an academic library, and it’s always a surprise to see what actually works and what doesn’t. I hope that more libraries take the time to re-evaluate and make improvements like Chattanooga does!
    Thanks for the encouraging post,

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