3D printing, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Writing About Libraries

This happened a long time ago in what feels like another life.

For a website/blog called Justin The Librarian, I don’t feel like I talk about libraries that much anymore. There’s a reason for that and today I’ll try to sort out the thoughts in my head.

I feel out of touch with the current topics being talked about in the public library sphere. I’ve really never been one for political debates, and there are a lot of politics to be discussed with the current topics that are being talked about. To be honest with you I don’t have the mental strength and capacity to deal with those topics now. My focus is to put in a good day of work at my library and then go home and be the best father and husband I can be. Diving into the deeper layer of public library talk is just not something I want to do right now or in the foreseeable future. Libraries are for everyone and I think it is in our best interest to be everything to everyone that walks through the doors of the public library, but I’m not gonna be on Twitter talking about it or writing about that here. I need to be aware that I only have a limited amount of mental energy. I am learning to channel that energy in the best way possible.

The second reason is that I feel that sometimes what I’ve written and shared can be misunderstood. I am really proud of the work I did in Chattanooga TN but to be 100% honest with you I think a big reason why it was successful was because of that particular moment in time in Chattanooga TN and not much else. I wrote about the experience a lot because I wanted to share the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt every day when I went to work with people like Megan Emery, Meg Backus, James McNutt, Nate Hill, and more. That time in libraries for me was really exciting and the enthusiasm happening was infectious. But now I look back on a lot of what I wrote and say “well that was very Chattanooga specific, and I don’t know if that would be good for any other library.” I can’t tell you how many times library people have said to me that they’ve read about what I’ve been a part of in libraries and said “well I guess our public library should be doing things like you do” and specific things like “we should probably get a 3D printer like you” and “well let’s make more things with patrons that was successful for you.” That wasn’t the intended purpose of what I wrote/shared, but I guess I should have expected it. When people read something (and I do this too), they think about what they read and wonder how and if it could be applied to their lives. Nowadays there’s this thing that weighs on me…if someone tells me they were inspired by the work I was a part of there’s a bit of me that regrets even writing and sharing in the first place. What if these things they’re doing fail for them? What if these people have a miserable experience with their maker program/3D printer/code camp/etc? I think about all of that and I keep it in my head and in my heart. It brings me down. No library is alike because no community is alike. We are all so very different, yet we share the same name and idea behind what we do. So why do feel the need to copy/paste ideas? I don’t know.

So with all that said, I don’t know where I stand. I think I’ll be taking a breather away from writing about libraries in the future. I know part of that is in me: I’m just burnt out and I’m not inspired. Unfollow away if you’d like. The librarian part of Justin has gone for the time being.

Life, Online Identity, Social Media, Technology

RIP Social Media 2004(ish)-2016

In my almost 36 years on Earth I have learned to trust my gut, and for the past two years there’s been this feeling in there every time I sign onto Facebook or Twitter that all of this is all over and that it is time to move on. Social media has been co-opted by the mainstream media and has become yet another tool in the belt of capitalism. No longer is social media a tool for the people, a place where we can connect and share with our family and friends. Nope, those days are over. These days, social media is a tool used by others to sell us things, tell us who to be and what to watch, and to shape an entire culture. We post photos and ideas for our friends and family and in turn all of these are taken and analyzed and sold back to us. Sorry to sound like such a crazy conspiracy theory mid-30’s white male nutcase but SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE 

Will I keep using these services? Probably. Facebook is really the defacto way to get in touch with people these days. After all, who really knows each others email addresses and phone numbers anymore? Facebook has killed those. I just changed my phone number recently and guess who wanted my new phone number? My mom. That’s about it. To many, email is just a service that collects junk mail and advertisements and is used to store files as attachments. Twitter is good for sharing links and quick ideas. I wish Branch was still around to take these tweets and have a conversation around them.

The only thing that’s changed is how I will personally approach these services. If I wanna talk to you or get an idea out to you, it’ll either come directly fro me in a message or via this website. If I wanna see what you’re up to, I’ll go directly to your page and check that out. No more News Feeds, no more Timelines, no more Suggested Articles.


Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Let’s Be Patient With Each Other This Year

February is a pretty wretched month any year and 2016 is even more wretched than others. February is the time of colds, flus, and other ailments. February can’t figure out whether to have 28 or 29 days. February is the month that we all hope that winter ends and spring finally begins.

This year, February hit us with all of those things and a few more. Here in Northwestern PA we’ve been struck with El Nino Climate Change Weather Deluxe 2.0, where one day we get 6-8 inches of snow and the next day we’ve got temperatures in the 50’s and everyone is out in their shorts. This is not only confusing but it also leads to everyone eventually getting sick. We’ve also got the 2016 USA Presidential Primary and Election coming up. That seals the deal. The pundits and the political commentators come out of the woodwork and every day we’re treated to another amazing set of headlines bashing this and criticizing that and then the social media comments start to flow in and wow everything is just a hot mess. I’ve never been a fan of these election cycles and this year is everything to the extreme. I don’t like extremes. I like balance.

This is a good time to think about how we treat each other. We are all unique and interesting creatures. We all have ideas, beliefs, and thoughts. Some of those thoughts are good for the universe and some of those thoughts are bad for the universe. I understand that it is very easy to get upset when someone puts something down that you believe in so very much. It hurts me too. When I was in middle school, someone made fun of Asians in front of me. My brother is Korean. That really upset me. I punched him! It is not very nice to put down a group of people just because of how they are born, how they look, or something that they believe in. But at the same time, I understand now that it was also not very nice to punch someone! I know that somewhere in this there has to be balance. I don’t know exactly what that is and what that looks like, but I am constantly reminding myself to find that balance even in the hardest times.

Let’s be patient with each other this year. All of us are gonna get through everything that we’re going through. There are peaks and valleys. There are ups and downs. Be patient with the people you interact with in your community. Be patient with the people you interact with on the internet. We are all different, yet I believe that at the core we are all the same. We are all human beings. Think about that.

Family, Life, Online Identity, Social Media, Technology, Three Things



I never met the dude in real life but his passing has really had an effect on me. I think it comes from one simple thing: the man created honest and pure art that genuinely brought happiness and excitement into the world. Bowie’s final album ★ is a brilliant piece of art that should be enjoyed/examined by everyone. I hope that when I am 68-69 years old I am still capable of creating such amazing things.



I am a Gemini and I have talked about that before. The older that I get the more I see that I am really two ideas living inside of one body. I am becoming very ok with this! I think the best thing that I have attempted to do is split myself into those two ideas and have outlets for both of them. You can’t suppress who you are! You just gotta be.


Social media is a big thing for me and wrestling with identity in social media is something I think about a lot. I aim to be as authentic and available as possible in this life. I think there are some struggles with that! I found this post by TotalBiscuits (who I was not familiar with until I saw this post) to be very inspiring and spot on when it comes to what social media is/can do to someone. While I am not in the same situation as TotalBiscuits (he has cancer, I do not), I do find what he is saying to be very honest when it comes to social media:

Look, let’s be real here about the reality of what could happen over the next few years. In a few years, I could very well be dead—two to three [years to live] average is what I’m given for this particular form of this disease. I intend to outlive that by a significant margin, but if it ends up being the last few years of my life, I want to spend them not being fucking miserable. And if that involves disconnecting from everybody, so be it.

My family is gonna come first, my fucking mental health is gonna come first. The expectation that everyone who ever made it on the Internet’s gotta be constantly connected to their fans all the time 24 hours a day 24/7 is insane. It’s unreasonable. Nobody can fucking handle it. Nobody. [sighs] God. You have no idea how many of my friends are in therapy just because of this job.

Read the full post here and think about things.

Family, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media, Things

A New Way of Connecting

I like to read. I’ve always liked to read. The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. I like to share. I’ve always wanted to share neat things, ideas, photos, and more. Social media enables us to do that.

What I don’t like is how much time I seem to spend on social media. I am one of those people that has to reply to every comment, like, or mention. I don’t like the idea of a comment not being properly recognized! And with that idea in my head, I go a little bit crazy. If my career was to be on social media to communicate and share with the world all the time, I would gladly do it. However this is not my career so I can’t do it all the time.

I think a lot about the David Weinberger piece Library As PlatformNate Hill was really the dude that introduced me to that piece. It was really his drive to turn the Chattanooga Public Library into the working example of the Library As Platform piece. But anywho…

I think about how much I’ve changed over the years and have started to see the online version of me as a very authentic platform. I am Justin Hoenke who is also Justin The Librarian who is also @justinlibrarian. These are all platforms which are used to share with the world. They’re all like my own TV station. You tune in and read and view the things that I share. TV stations don’t talk to you unless you in the moment. You have to make the motion to reach out to them. In the end, all of these things tie back to the physical form of Justin William Hoenke.

I will be sharing ideas, links, photos, and more through my platforms.

  • Facebook: facebook.com/justinhoenke
  • Twitter: twitter.com/justinlibrarian
  • This website, justinthelibrarian.com


I would still like to connect with you and talk about things! There are a few ways to get in touch with me:

  1. Email me at justinthelibrarian@gmail.com
  2. Facebook Message: facebook.com/justinhoenke
  3. Twitter DM: twitter.com/justinlibrarian

This is an interesting experiment and I am curious to see how it works. Try it out now! Send me a message. I really do like talking with you.


Libraries, Online Identity

What Does a Librarian Look Like/Do?

I submit this for any past, present, and future THIS IS WHAT A LIBRARIAN LOOKS LIKE/THIS IS WHAT A LIBRARIAN DOES AT WORK blogs/tumblrs/contests/get togethers that happen.

We hang out.  We talk. We have fun.

Libraries, Online Identity, Social Media, Teens, Things

Things that happen in a Teen Library

Recently, I’ve been asking myself the question why am I here? in regards to blogging, social media, and sharing.  I’ve felt a bit off with blog writing recently, both at this blog and at Tame The Web, so I’ve took some time to think about why I originally started writing about libraries.  The answer came pretty quickly to me: one of the reasons that I originally started writing about libraries was because I wanted to share my experiences working in a teen library so other could learn about what it really takes to provide excellent service to teens.  With that in mind, I started this blog post.  It’s an ongoing series of observations that I made while working in the teen library over three days in December 2012.  I wrote these observations as they happened (hence any grammar or formatting errors):

  • Got a stack of surveys given to the library by an outside organization to see what teens who are seeking mentors are really looking for.  A lot of our teens are very interested in having a mentor to guide them through the later years of high school.  I had a bit of a hard time getting the teens to fill out the survey.  They wanted the mentor RIGHT NOW and didn’t really understand why they needed to fill out a survey.  I explained it this way: before this outside group helps out the library and sends mentors to be in our space, they want to know about the teens they would be helping out. I said that it was a case of Help me help you!
  • On Wednesday the high school closed one hour earlier than expected due to a water main break that shut off water access to the entire city.  We tend to always be busy on Wednesdays, but this week it was a big rush one hour earlier than expected.  I worked alone in the teen library until 3pm that day and I spent a lot of time talking with teens about their day.
  • At 12:28pm on the Wednesday mentioned above, we had 49 teens in the teen library area.  25 of those teens were on some form of technology (13 on netbooks, 3 on phones, 1 on a portable video game device, 8 on desktop computers).  7 of those teens are wearing headphones (which they own themselves; the library no longer provides headphones).  Out of those 25 teens, 23 of them are connected to Facebook (meaning that they have a browser window open with Facebook running)
  • Every day this week, I gave out a lot of high fives and fist bumps to the teens as they walked by our service desk.  It’s very interesting to see which method of saying hello teens prefer.  Most teens really like the handshake for some reason…I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why.  Is it because I’m a librarian sitting behind a desk?
  • Our study rooms have been quite active this week.  There are two different types of study room user.  The first is a single teen who is accompanied by an outside mentor/tutor.  The other group are teens who are mainly in the library to hang out and use the space.  They always use the rooms in groups of 4 or 6 and often go in and out of the rooms to let other friends in once they have reached the maximum attendance.
  • Backpacks of highschoolers are still huge.  It looks like they are carrying rocks in them.
  • Consistency works: like clockwork, the first question the teens ask me every Wednesday is “game night is tonight, right?”  The answer is always yes.  The teens always know this event happens on Wednesday.  However, I am seeing a trend that while the teens know the event is on Wednesdays, they generally do not have any idea of the time that the program starts or ends.  Is this because there are not many visible clocks in the library?  Do teens pay attention to clocks?
  • Being a teen librarian requires balance.  You need to be the right kind of laid back with the teens while at the same time maintaining control over your area.  Teens in large numbers can be overwhelming.  They know that when they travel in groups they can get away with more (one teen distracts the librarian, the others do what they do!).  You have to understand that teens will be teens and that sometimes you just have to overlook some of the things they do.  Also, you have to realize that sometimes you need to stick to your guns and hold them to the rules.
  • I had a great conversation with two teenage girls about identity.  One identified as a Muslim, the other Asian.  They talked a little bit about their traditions, how they approach life in America, and what their culture means to them.  It was a really insightful discussion and I learned a lot about the teens and how they approach life (I see both of them every day and I didn’t know any of this stuff before).
  • Today we participated in the Snowflake Project for Sandy Hook project.  It was really great to see teens and library staff come together for this awesome project.  You can read about the project here.
  • Monday was a slower day for the teen library.  We saw 70 teens between 10am-7pm (with most of them coming in after school between 2:10pm-4:30pm).  More time was spent actually talking to the teens about their lives that day.  I really appreciate those kind of moments.  I like to know why the teens are here in the library and what they really think about everything.