Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Titusville, PA

Older Colder Full of Balance and Awareness

Yo. I’m 35.5 years old and if all goes according to genetics I may be half done with my life.

Both of my grandfathers lived to 70 years old. They didn’t really take care of themselves (I know they enjoyed alcohol, nicotine, and non-stop never ending work) and I am very much a different person (one beer per month, never have smoked, and I enjoy relaxation very much). I know life expectancy and all that is a crap shoot (I could be sitting on nuclear waste for all I know right now) but it just really makes you think about things and it helps you prioritize how you wanna go about your day-to-day life. You realize that you don’t have all the time in the world and that in order to actually say “yup I’ve done something” you’ve gotta do something.

In the last year or so I feel like I’ve toughened up a bit in my approach to life. Something switched on in my mind and started telling me to not to be too lazy, not to get involved in drama, and instead to just do stuff. I’m a walking chunk of slowly dying flesh and molecules and I’m here to do stuff. I don’t have time nor the energy to listen to or take part in the he said she said passion play that we as human beings love to stage. Longest running show on earth! A Broadway smash!

With this change comes a weird feeling…I can only describe it as “cold.” I am aware of this change and will not let it consume me. I can see how people become bitter and more and more conservative as they get older now. It is a change and it can become everything that you are if you don’t watch out. Balance, as always, is key. The first line of the song below sums it all up.

I am gonna stick it out here on Earth and do exactly what my new motto says:DO GOOD SHIT ALL DAY EVERYDAY NO DRAMA NO BULLSHIT JUST DO IT DO IT SHUT UP AND DO IT. Whether it be in a library, at my home, in my community, at Fidelia Hall, or even just in my mind I’m gonna do it do it do it and not look back. I don’t have time for the games! All I got time for is this moment in which I WILL DO SOMETHING.


Family, Life, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Haley


Haley Read Hoenke, the love of my life. You are thirty today and I wish you a happy birthday.

I am really enjoying growing old with you. You keep getting smarter and wow are you so beautiful. Now that the kids are a bit older we can go on dates and do adult things again. This is the best. I missed those moments A LOT back when we first had kids.

Let’s do something awesome today. You deserve it.

Family, Fidelia Hall

The ChurchHouse HouseChurch Project

Google Photos applied a filter to this photo which makes it snazzy and artistic and totally share-worthy on a blog and/or other social media websites on the WORLD WIDE WEB.

People have asked me why I left Chattanooga TN and the Chattanooga Public Library. WHY JUSTIN? Were you so very unhappy there? Was it not what it seemed? Why would you leave such a rad place to live in the middle of nowhere Western Pennsylvania? I hate to burst your bubble and dampen all the gossip but here are the four reasons why we left Chattanooga TN and the Chattanooga Public Library.

  1. I got a great job offer at a very cool library in Titusville PA and they wanted me to give this whole being Executive Director thing a shot and I was totally ready to give it a shot after learning from some of the best library leaders in my career. (run on sentence yes)
  2. I was born and raised in Western PA and had the chance to live relatively close to all of my family members for the first time since 2005.
  3. Grandparents/Aunts/Uncles/Cousins are great people to have around, especially when you have two awesome kids yourself. Family is one of the most important things in the world.
  4. Haley and I had the chance to buy an awesome house THAT CAME WITH AN OLD CHURCH.

For the sake of this blog post, we are gonna focus on REASON #4…THE CHURCHHOUSE HOUSECHURCH PROJECT.

I’m not gonna bore you with the history of the building and the property, but you can knock yourself out by clicking any of these images below for bigger versions:


Simply stated, there was a church and a parsonage for sale because it was no longer being used for a church and a parsonage and Haley and I, looking for a place to live in our new community said, “HEY! We should probably just go for it and buy this thing.” So we did, and thus began THE CHURCHHOUSE HOUSECHURCH PROJECT.

Let’s knock out some FAQ’S first:

Yes. When presented with the opportunity to go all out and try something radical, the Hoenke Family goes for it.

Nope. We are two adults between the ages of 29-35 with two kids and massive student loan debt. I am a librarian and Haley is a stay at home homeschooling mom teacher artist wife superlady. Plus, the whole property was only $60,000.

ONLY $60,000?!?!?!
We may not have all the fancy things like a big city like NYC may have, but we have a great cost of living that makes it totally possible to raise a family, enjoy life, and try something neat-o like buying a house and church. I am happy to trade the fancy things for the easier cost of living.

Time to resume the blog post.

We live in the parsonage. It’s a great house that needs some work but you know what? Everything need some work? The house needs some work, so we do that work and we live with it. In the meantime, we have a roof over our heads, running water, heat, and all is well in the world.

The old church came to us in pretty good condition. There was a bit of a soggy basement, some spotty electricity, and a heating system that may or may not work at 100% Slowly but surely things are getting fixed. The electricity is back (thanks to Penelec with the speedy customer service), we know what’s up with the heater (turn it on, let the heat rise, and wish for the best), and the water is mostly gone thanks to some leftover gutters and duct tape.

The plan? It isn’t easy to describe in one or two words, but think of the space as a community center where weddings, birthday parties, meetings, lectures, music, movies, and more can happen. Imagine a yoga instructor or massage therapist looking for some space to rent for a bit while they get their clientele built up. We have that space and if you are a cool human being who is all about making the world a better place, well we would like to chat with you.

I think that’s what it really boils down to: good people coming together with a positive energy to do great things for their community and surrounding areas. It sounds like a library, doesn’t it? There’s a reason for that. Blame it on my career as a librarian and my wife Haley’s mom being a librarian. Having libraries all around you in your life kind of rubs off on you. But it’s a good thing. Libraries are all about helping people with their needs. Want a book? Sure we have that. Need a computer? We have that too? Just want to chat with someone? We are awesome at that.

At the same time, there are some things that nag me about public libraries. We can’t do this. We can’t do that. We’re still not the best at communicating who we are and what we do. The ChurchHouse HouseChurch Project is an attempt to, in my own little world, work around those things that nag me so that I can accomplish (along with my wife) some amazing things for the community. Public Library World, don’t fret…I ain’t going anywhere. These two things (Public Library plus ChurchHouse HouseChurch) go hand in hand. They are both things in a community that are all about giving back and being as awesome as possible in general.

That’s everything. Will this work? I have no idea. In our eyes, the worst thing that can happen is that nothing works out and in the end we move into the church building, live there, and rent out the house. That’s not a bad scenario either. It will look kind of like this.

In the end, I’m pretty sure we all get to live one life. Why not have fun, take some risk, and try something new? ChurchHouse HouseChurch is our attempt at that in a physical form. Here we go.

3D printing, Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

The 2nd Floor PLUS STEM School Chattanooga

Over the past few months, the Chattanooga Public Library has collaborated with the STEM School Chattanooga on a project with juniors for the Project and Problem Based Learning curriculum. The project that the library presented to the students dealt with 3D Printing: How can we create a 3D Printing station that allows the community to walk up to the 3D Printer, watch a video tutorial that introduces 3D printing, and in the end have the customer leave with a great 3D printing experience and an object.

Over the next few months, the students and their teacher Michael Stone worked on what a 3D Printing station looks like, what it includes, and then spent the time building the station in their school Fab Lab. The end result? Check out the image in the tweet above! It’s a beautiful station like structure that was created by the students. The words 3D PRINTER represent the various stages of 3D printing….from first layer to the honeycomb structured middle to the end product. Using the laser engraver, the students also created a plaque that proudly displays the STEM School Fab Lab logo. Finally, the students put together tutorial videos for customers to watch so that they could get acquainted with 3D printing. You can watch those videos here: Beginner Video and Advanced Video.

I’m super happy with the results and I couldn’t ask for more. The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library is all about the public library as an experience, and the 3D printing station created by the STEM School fits perfectly in with the vibe of the 2nd Floor.  I look forward to working with the STEM School and their students on more projects in the very near future!

For more of my writings on 3D Printing, click here!

For the FAQ’s and details on 3D Printing on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library, click here!

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

564 Days (or, the story of THE 2ND FLOOR thus far…)

2013-12-14 12.16.00

The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library has been in its current state, a place for ages 0-18 and their caregivers, for 564 days, or 1 year, 6 months, and 16 days as of today. If you’re visiting The 2nd Floor for the first time today or have visited us over the past 564 days, you’ve probably wondered what it’s all about up on the 2nd Floor.  This post is my attempt to explain all of that and more to you.

2014-03-21 19.45.02

The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library is all about people.  It is a place where the community, library employees, out of town guests, and more can connect, share an experience, and learn something. It is a place where lifelong learning and fun meet in the middle, get all messy, and create something awesome.

2014-01-09 17.14.29

The 2nd Floor is a constant work in progress. Repeat visitors to the 2nd Floor always remark how “things have changed quite a bit” and that there’s “a lot more” than there was the last time they visited. Their observations are spot on. We may not have the newest furniture, shelves, tools, and more around (it’ll come), but we change everything around enough to keep it fresh and exciting for the community. We use what we have to make this place a great experience for the community.  If something works, we keep it around and refine it. If it doesn’t work, we let it go and try something new. To be the best library for our community, we have to move forward and meet their needs.


When you visit the 2nd Floor, you won’t see endless rows of books in the space. Instead, you’ll find a well groomed collection that represents what the community wants. You may see two rows of The Hunger Games on the shelves, but they are there because the community asked for them. You will find our books arranged and presented in a way that best reflects the needs of the community. The picture books are as low to the ground as we can get them at the moment to allow for little hands to find what they want. The graphic novels have their own unique areas.  Our non-fiction shelves for middle aged readers are overflowing because that’s what the community wants.

2014-04-16 10.18.59 2014-04-14 17.31.02

As I said above, the 2nd Floor is all about people. But we have to remember that a library is also made up of the people that work in it as well. The 2nd Floor is home to some of the most amazing colleagues I have ever had the chance to work with. Some have been here 15 years and some have been here 6 months. No matter how long they’ve been there, one thing connects us all: a passion for what we do and a great care for our community.  All of our 2nd Floor employees bring different attributes to the table: creativity, reliability, organization, energy, and more.  All of these attributes meet in the middle and create something amazing. Simply stated: the 2nd Floor staff are awesome.

2013-11-04 17.11.38

3D Printers, iMacs, button makers, video games, and more are just things that live on the 2nd Floor.  Yes, they are nice tools to have in the library and it is great that we can give our community access to them.  I am fully aware that not every library can have the same tools that we have in our library. But here’s the thing: they are just tools. The 3D printer will stop being the cool and popular thing over the next few years. The computers will need to be replaced. Items will break.  These are all ok scenarios. They are all just items. They are all just things. Without the community coming into the library to use the 2nd Floor, they are just empty, unused things. It is what the community does with these tools that makes their place on the 2nd Floor so special.

2013-11-26 18.35.11

The tools that your library offers to the community should reflect what the community needs. Does your community not want a 3D printer? That’s ok. You don’t have to get a 3D printer. It can start simple: pens, pencils, and paper. That’s an art and writing station. It can grow to include some hand-me-down or donated items, like a sewing machine. If it needs to, it can grow from there. In the picture above, one of our frequent library users is using an older sewing machine brought in by one of our library employees. They used it together to make a robe just like Hermione wears in Harry Potter.  It was a great experience using tools and items that we had all around us.

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The 2nd Floor is flexible. It has rules because it needs rules in order to survive and function properly. But the 2nd Floor is open to interpretation. The community will make it what they want it to be at that moment. In the photo above, the 3D printer has become the test subject for a teen’s interest in learning how to do time lapse photography. Flexibility and the desire to take a chance on something new allows your community to thrive and grow.

Photo Jun 01, 4 42 27 PM (1)

The 2nd Floor is unique in that it doesn’t push kids, tweens, teens, and their caregivers into age specific corners. It’s about following your interests and sharing a positive interaction with someone…a family member, a friend, or someone you just met.  When you open up your library to interests and interactions like these, some great moments can occur. Instead of checking the IDs of everyone that enters the the library, the library employees are free to then interact with the community and develop relationships. They are able to chat and connect. This is where something magical happens and what I consider to be the best part of the modern public library experience: The library as the place where the community connects.

2014-05-03 12.54.56Sure, we have all this great stuff you can borrow. We have loads of programs and experiences for you if you visit our physical locations. We have loads of downloadables that you can enjoy on your device. All of that is great. But what makes the library magical is when people connect: all ages, all genders, all races. They come together to learn and have fun. They put everything aside and enjoy a moment together. From those moments, bonds and connections are made. Some last minutes. Some last a lifetime. Those connections are what helps our communities grow.  Healthy communities lead to happiness.  Happiness is something global. Happiness is something that spreads everywhere. It all starts with one interaction and it grows.


Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond

I just had a chance to read the New York Times piece Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond and it really warmed my heart, specifically this brief quote from Katherine Taylor:

Breaking Out of the Library Mold  in Boston and Beyond

I’ve been hearing this from different news stories, librarian testimonials, and from the communities we serve: library usage is off the charts and our profession as a whole is doing a pretty dang good job at showing the value of libraries to our communities.

To this I say to everyone in the library profession: AWESOME work.

I think we are starting to see the fruits of our labor paying off.  I’ve been involved in libraries since 2007 and have seen some rocky times.  While our battle isn’t over (will it ever be? Nope) there are some sunny days ahead.  Great job librarians of the world.

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, MAKE!, Technology

Building a Bear that Tweets (post by Justin Hoenke and James McNutt)

One of the best things about working at the Chattanooga Public Library is the freedom we have to try new things.  Nate Hill once said that he sees The 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library as a beta space where things are tested, kinks are ironed out, and then are sent out into the rest of the library.  I’ve embraced that idea with all of the projects, programs, and things we’re trying out with ages 0-18 on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library.

Nowhere is that freedom and spirit to give everything a shot more visible than with THE AWESOME BEAR.

Awesome Bear Page

The Awesome Bear started its life as a plastic bear that I found in a closet during one of my first weeks in Chattanooga.  It had no use just sitting in a closet, so I set it out for the public.  Its job was simple: collect bits of paper which people would use to write awesome things on.  It could be a wish, something neat that they saw, or a recommendation.  The Awesome Bear would collect these things and put good vibes out into the world.

After collecting scraps of paper for a few months, it was clear that the Awesome Bear was super fun for those who visited the 2nd Floor but the idea needed to grow.  Along came Meg Backus, doer of great things at the Chattanooga Public Library with this comment:

The AWESOME BEAR    Comment

After a 15 minute chat with Meg, it was clear that only a few things were needed to make the Awesome Bear tweet: a keyboard, an internet connection, a twitter account, and a Raspberry Pi.  Megan Emery and I set up the Twitter account and trascribed the written notes inside the Awesome Bear into its first ever tweets.

James McNutt (Education Director at Engage 3D, 4th Floor Awesome Person) came into the project as we set up the twitter account.  He remarked that it would be super simple to write a few lines of code in Python to collect what people were writing.

For details on how the Awesome Bear got some technology and tweets, I’ll turn it over to James McNutt, Education Director at Engage 3D and all around amazing person.

Raspberry Pi B
SD card (4+ GB)
Ethernet cable
Power supply
Monitor (HDMI or RCA video cable)

For ease, I went with wheezy/raspian. You can get the latest images at

Once you have the .zip file extract it

My preferred method to write images is the dd comand

When you plug the SD card in, it will be mounted.

This is Mac specific:

In the terminal we are going to look at our mounted disks with: diskUtil list

  • Write down the path of the device we are going to write to (for example /dev/disk2)
  • Now we unmount that device with diskUtil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (where N is the number in your specific case)

Now we are going to write the image to that disk

Caution: we are running this command with root privileges and if you specify the incorrect disk you can end up writing to your primary drive instead


sudo dd if=2013-09-25-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/diskN

(this will prompt you for you username and then password, when typing your password nothing will appear on the screen)

(again where N is the number in your specific case)

 This will take some time

Once it is finished you SD card is ready!

Insert your SD card, connect your ethernet cable, keyboard, a monitor, and lastly your power supply. Your device should boot upon connecting the power supply

The first time you boot you’ll need to do some configuration, like setting your keyboard defaults to US rather than UK!!!

Likely your pi will reboot and you’ll login with your username and password (“pi” and “raspberry” if you didn’t change anything).

First thing we’ll do is install apache2

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apache2

After installing the apache server will start and anything in your /var/www directory will be served up.

For our purposes we only concerned with being able to see this on the LAN so we’re good

Let’s get rid of the filler index.html

sudo rm /var/www/index.html

Now since we only want a text file let’s make that

sudo nano /var/www/index.txt

Write whatever inspirational message you like to be the first thing on the record.

  • Type ^x to exit and save

Now we’ll give this file to the user pi or whatever you made your user

sudo chown pi /var/www/index.txt

Now we’ll change the privileges

chmod 644 /var/www/index.txt

(Justin here: Here’s the Python script that James wrote to collect the tweets on the Raspberry Pi)

filename = "/var/www/index.html"
    submission = raw_input()
    f = open(filename,'a')


In regard to the python script it might be worth instructing to save the file as and running it with python

  •  Type ^x to exit and save
  • Write down your IP address
  • ifconfig
  • Find your address under the eth0
  • Now run the program
  • Type something and hit return
  • On another deviceopen up a web browser and type the IP address in the URL followed by index.txt
  • You should see messages! (please note:  this doesn’t tweet using the twitter-python api but just serves a local file.  Basically it will save everything everyone types into a text file.  It will be your job to copy/paste those into twitter)