A Day In The Life, Idea Share, Libraries

A DAY IN THE LIFE from Information Today

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If you’re not a subscriber of Information Today magazine and you like my writing, you may want to consider subscribing today.

How’d this come about? A few years ago, Information Today asked me to be a part of things like this and this and it was really nice to be a part of something like this. This past year, they asked me to write a four part series called TALES FROM THE LIBRARY TRENCHES and that was a blast. I also dabbled in writing some quick News Breaks for them (like this one) and that too was great. At the core, I just really like to write and share things with other human beings. So when Brandi Scardilli, Editor of Information Today reached out and asked if I wanted to do a column the answer was easy: of course!

For the first two entries in my column, I’ve interviewed three great librarians: Cath Sheard and Katherine Bosworth (South Taranaki Libraries, NZ) and Warren Cheetham (CityLibraries Townsville, Australia). I’ve got a lot of really great people coming up in the queue: Porsche Schlapper, Sarah Houghton, James McNutt, Erin Wincek, Alex Lent, and more. Basically this list reads like a who’s who of people who I find interesting, inspiring, and just basically awesome, and my hope is that through this column they will inspire you too.

For now, this column is available via the print publication only, so that’s why I am suggesting that you subscribe….plus there is a whole lot more to read. I’ve always enjoyed this publication. It has a strong tech focus but what shines most about it is that it has a strong focus on people. The contributors all have their own styles and ideas and when brought together they really create a unique read for librarians.

You can read more about my new column A DAY IN THE LIFE over here at this post.

And once again, if you want to subscribe to Information Today click here!

***please note***

  • Yes, I get paid to write this column.
  • No, there is no part of my contract with Information Today that says that I have to write any blog posts on Justin The Librarian promoting anything I write for Information Today.
  • Yes, I am writing this post just because I want to share what I and others have written for Information Today.
  • No, I am not a sell out.

 

 

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

Writing About Libraries

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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.

Libraries, Life, Technology

Sensory Overload

Jonny Nintendo, I like this tweet and you know what? I can’t prove you wrong because I agree with it so very much.

I’ve never seen the show Rick and Morty but someone tells me it is about time travel. I really like time travel. But you know what? I read about what their fans did after they didn’t get some special sauce at McDonald’s and you know what? I don’t ever wanna watch this show.

I struggle with being a Weezer fan, and a big part of it has to do with the band’s fan base. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it sucks. It is a thing that now weighs on me heavily when I listen to this band.

This is the way of the world these days. Fans believe that passion should be brought to the table at every moment. Coupled with the internet, a place where people feel the need to be as loud and obnoxious as they can dream of being, and what you have is a hot mess. Things just don’t feel right these days. The world feels a bit off, and I just can’t help but to point a finger towards fandom and being loud on the internet as one of the things contributing to this feeling.

Of course I still have social media accounts. We all do and we’re not getting rid of them anytime soon. These feelings have been brewing in me a long time. Facebook has basically replaced email with Messenger as one of the defacto ways to communicate with another human being (texting being the other). The Facebook News Feed however, is a mess of rubbish, noise, and advertising. Twitter seems to be the place to figure out a way to wittily relevant things in 140 characters or less. It used to be my favorite social media channel that would inspire me endlessly. Now I just want to close the window and log out.

Things are moving so very quickly. Things are so very loud. Sensory overload has taken us all over. We need a break from the fans, from social media, from the world. We need to learn what how to be human beings again.

 

Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, ebooks, Libraries, Library Director, Technology

When The Circulation Has Gone: Helping Your Community Understand the Worth of the Public Library in the Modern Age

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What’s this that you see above? I call this the Benson Memorial Library circulation scorecard. What this circulation scorecard is doing is keeping track of our overall circulation from January 2010-Present. I could go back even further (we have the records) but I kept it at 2010 for the time being. I use it as guide to see what we’ve done, what we’re doing now, and how it relates to each other. Is our circulation up? Is our circulation down? If either one of these situations is the case, why is that? This scorecard is a nice and handy way to check up on all things related to circulation.

I don’t think that any library’s circulation number should be the number by which the library is judged, ranked, understood, etc. Every library’s circulation number by day, month, or year will first depend on the library that community serves. Is your community one that loves to visit the public library? If so, you can expect your circulation to represent that. In our service area of 14,904 (based on 2016 State Library stats), having 5,269 circulations in the month of September was a good month for us. A total circulation number of 5,269 for one month may look horrible to another library that serves a larger area or it may look shockingly amazing for a smaller area. That number looks just about right for us. This number will look different for everyone. It is up to you at your own level to interpret and understand that number.

As I said above, I don’t think that any library’s circulation number should be the number by which the library is judged or understood, but here’s the kicker. This circulation number is a big deal to a lot of people. To those people, a public library is a place which loans out materials to people in the community. When a person has this belief, the best way they can understand how their public library is doing is to see this number. With that said, yes, the circulation number is an important number for the public library.

But as the world changes and the way we read, watch, and look for information or media moves towards the internet or something digital, our circulation numbers are set to look like they’re decreasing. They are. Let’s face it: people don’t come in and borrow books on how to do things/fix things/research things anymore. They Google it or they go right to YouTube where they can get a step by step video. I’m a librarian, and this is exactly what I do. Why do I do this? Because this is the quickest, easiest, and probably the most efficient way of doing things these days.

So, as the title of this post asks: what do we do when the circulation has gone? If our circulation numbers decrease, we need a different way of sharing the value of the public library with the community. With that said, here are some ideas that I’m having these days.

CIRCULATE OTHER STUFF

This seems to be the big thing of the moment: fishing poles, museum passes, and gadgets galore, libraries are branching out and lending out things that you may not have seen in libraries before. One library in my region, the Oil City (PA) Library is doing just that. They call it the Cool Stuff Collection. Adding these unique items to your collection may draw more people into the library and help boost your circulation.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY AS AN EVENT SPACE

This is a great one. Public libraries all around the world have amazing spaces, and one of the best ways we can show off that space and bring people into the library is by offering great programs. There are so many libraries out there doing this and I could provide hundreds of examples. Here’s one of them: the Darien Library in Connecticut. Their schedule is always packed full of great programs any day of the week. When a library focuses on public events, the attendance at these programs as well as the number of events held at the space becomes a great statistic to share with your community.

THE DIGITAL STUFF

The digital stuff, most of which is probably offered through your website, is another way to show the value of the library. While they’re no longer all the rage, eBooks are still around and are used by a segment of the population. Showing off the circulation of eBooks can boost your circulation number but it can also be used to show your community the changing nature of how we read.

My favorite “digital stuff” statistic these days is the number of connections we have to our wifi network and the number of logins we’ve had on our public computers. What have I noticed? That our wifi connections are going up while our public computer logins are stagnant or going slightly down. Yes, there is still a very strong need to offer public computer access, but as the cost of devices (laptops/tablets/and the big one, phones) comes down and more people are able to access them, I think we’ll see the public library become more and more of a spot in the community that offers free (and hopefully reliable and safe) wifi for everyone.

The title of this post was inspired by this most excellent jam

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Social Media

Here’s How To Talk To Your Community On Social Media (Which By The Way, You Should Be Doing)

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First and foremost, if you’re not using social media to connect with your community then you should stop everything right now, set up social media accounts, and spend some time every day connecting with your community. I’m not the first or the last person to say this, and if you need any further inspiration, I recommend checking out David Lee King and all of the great things he has to say about all things social media + libraries.

If you are (and you probably are), I’m sharing the above screenshots as an example of what I think is a very good way to talk to your community using social media. To break down the details of how we do it here at the Benson Memorial Library, read below:

  • We tried Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our main social media feeds. Facebook by and far worked the best with the community. Instagram gets some likes and enough to update it every once in awhile. Twitter does nothing for our library.
  • We have three (of eight total) staff members who check our Facebook page. One person is in charge of scheduling most of the posts. The other two fill in posts from time to time. All of us will answer questions directed to the library or comment when the library is tagged.
  • One of my daily duties is to quickly browse the local Facebook groups: the ones that talk about local issues, the ones that advertise events, and the buy/sell/trade groups. If I spot something that can be helped by the library, I will respond with a comment, tag the library, and inform one of our staff members to respond to the inquiry. This is how we got the screenshots that you see above.
  • One of our staff members will use their account or the library Facebook account to respond to any comments. We do so in a way that introduces us, who we are, and what we can do. We always leave contact information in our comments so the community member can follow up outside of Facebook if they choose to do so.

What it all boils down to is something very simple: get your library out there where your community gathers (and yes, Social Media is a place where people gather!) and talk to your community. When you do, great things and connections will happen and your library and community will grow stronger because of it!

Libraries

Help an Interior Designer Help Libraries

Hello everyone! Today’s post comes from Danielle Lewis, an interior designer in NY and a friend of my co-worker Becky Stahl. She’s doing some research to help out libraries and I’m sharing her survey with y’all here. Please give this survey a few minutes and help someone out!


My name is Danielle Lewis – I’m the interior designer at LaBella Associates, D.P.C.​ in Rochester, NY. I’m reaching out because I’m currently working on research related to “Libraries of the Future” for a blog post and wanted to get your take on library trends.

Below I’ve included some questions that I’d love to get your response on. If you’d like to, please feel free to fill out your responses in red directly in the email below or send as an attachment.

If possible, your response is needed by next Monday, September 25th. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Name:
District or Branch:
Years of Experience:

What are the primary functions in your library? (Highlight those applicable)
– Providing books
– Providing videos
– Providing Audio/E-Books
– Internet Access
– Community meeting Space
– Public Classes
– In-School Classes
– Makerspaces
– Other ____________

Which of these functions are the most prominently used on a day-to-day basis? (Please rank Top 3)
1-
2-
3-

When you started your position, which of these functions were most prominently used on a day-to-day basis? (Please rank Top 3)
1-
2-
3-

About how much traffic do you estimate your library gets in one day? (Best guess, number of people)

Has this number increased or decreased since you started your position?

What technology is currently used by visitors at your library? (Highlight those applicable)
– Desktop Computers
– Laptop Computers
– Tablets
– Smart TVs
– Apple TV
– Chromecast
– Free Wireless Access
– Paid Wireless Access
– Virtual Reality
– Smart Furniture (i.e. tablet tables)
– Other ________________

Aside from technology, how has library usage changed during your tenure?

What trends in library usage/design do you see as being the most impactful?

Briefly, how do you define the “Library of the Future”?

If required, can we quote you directly in our blog post? (If not, your opinions will be kept anonymous)
Yes
No

PLEASE SEND YOUR RESPONSES TO:
Danielle M. Lewis, Assoc. IIDA, NCIDQ
dlewis@labellapc.com
http://www.labellapc.com

Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Misc., Three Things, Titusville, PA

THREE THINGS 2017.3

FLAT FUNDING

As I wrap my head around what the 2018 budget looks like at the Benson Memorial Library, I am faced with yet another year of bracing for flat funding. It is slightly depressing to be in a state of mind where receiving word of flat funding is the desired outcome over having your funding cut. It has been this way for many institutions, and it has especially been this way for libraries over the past 5-10 years.

I am thankful for what we receive, as it allows us to continue our service to the community. As a library director, it is my goal to ensure that the community members who use the library do not see the negative effects of flat funding. I want them to have a positive and wonderful library experience, and I will do my best to achieve that with flat funding over a large period of time. However there’s also the other side of me that realizes that I cannot do this forever. While our funding remains flat utility costs and  health care costs are on the rise. The need to give employees a fair wage that is in line with the current cost of living is also something I believe in very highly. At some point, there’s gonna be a line drawn where things need to change. For this upcoming year, we’ll adjust accordingly to the situation in front of us, but in addition to bracing for flat funding I am bracing for the moment where things need to change in order to continue.

RENOVATING FIDELIA HALL

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This summer was not kind to the Hoenke family when it comes to the house we live in on the Fidelia Hall property. Plagued with all sorts of previous “half assed” repairs and renovations and issues that were just covered up (out of sight, out of mind), this summer was the time where the house told us that it was time to move out, fix things up properly, or if need be tear it all down. And that’s where we are right now.

Renovations to the old church in Fidelia Hall have ramped up. The downstairs space is coming along nicely: the tin ceiling is now very shiny and metallic, the new furnace and duct work have been installed, and an entrance-way and bathroom and updates to the kitchen are right around the corner.

All good ideas change over time, and the idea behind Fidelia Hall has changed quite a bit. For the moment, we will be moving into the downstairs of the old church building as soon as it is ready for us to live in it. With that move, we will then be able to gut the house and see what kind of shape it is in under all of the half assed repairs and out of sight out of mind renovations. At some point, we still hope to have Fidelia Hall as an arts and community center, but right now it is the time to focus on our family and get us to a place where we can live. Things change, things grow, and above everything else I have learned that first and foremost the wonderful family which surrounds me is the thing I need to take care of the most.

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Despite how hard it has been recently with renovations, I must say that it sure is neat to be restoring something and coming across a gem like this: this staircase was original to the building and was hidden under a rotting wooden staircase. The stone and foundation are part of the original 1870’s construction of the hall.

AN OVERARCHING IMPRESSION ON WHY THINGS ARE THEY WAY THEY ARE

The overarching theme to this post is the idea that there are so many humans out there who are trying to do something positive in the world yet are faced with quite a number of daunting tasks and obstacles in front of them. At the core, I believe that every human being has a desire to bring something positive to the world. However, with time that desire can be chipped away and eroded….and that is what I believe brings us to right now. We are living in a world where the desire to bring something positive to the world has been chipped out of most people. Flat/slashed funding, crumbling support networks, lack of resources, increasing costs with utilities, health care, school, basic necessities, and to top it off the ever increasing voice we all hear telling us to “buy more you’ll be happy” and what you have is a mix that has led to the current state in which we live. The pressure is there and the pressure can only reach a certain level before it bursts. What I’m thinking is that at least in my lifetime we will see that pressure burst. When it happens, things will be uncomfortable yet it will lead us to meaningful change. This is the way of the world: you have something, that something grows and changes, and when it reaches its point it bursts…and then you being to build things again.