I was super honored to be asked by the State Library of Queensland to write a guest blog post for the new blog. I got a chance to visit their amazing library in November 2015 and I was blown away! Not only is the building amazing, but the people working inside it are some of the kindest, most forward thinking people I have ever met.
Just look at your local library and the slate of public events happening there: story time, crafts, book groups, and public art events. The specifics of these events are what bring people into the library, but it is the connection to each other that is the important thing that community members take away from these events.
These connections come in all forms: the parent who meets another parent at a story time and is able to share the joys and frustrations
Before I start, I must give credit where credit is due: amazing librarians Chantel Theunissen and Pam Jones of New Zealand for their awesomeness and inspiration to do something with Pokémon GO here in Titusville, PA. They helped me see what libraries are all about once again….people, conversations, and connections. It was perfect timing. I was getting a bit negative there. (sorry)
The idea was simple: purchase a few lures, set a time, set off those lures, and tell people to come to the library. Once they came, the thing that would connect us and start conversation would be Pokémon. We had some books out and about but the real goal wasn’t circulation…it was community building. And it sure did happen.
One helpful way of promoting this event was to target Facebook groups. In my semi-rural neck of the woods I found 4 Pokémon GO related groups. There’s probably more but that’s all I felt that I needed to find to help promote the event. Of course, we also used our own library Facebook page and got our awesome paper the Titusville Herald to also help us by running a story.
All in all, 37 people came to our #PokemonGO event at the library! Two of of lures, conversation, and connections! It was so awesome.
We had a blast running the program for our community. It was two hours full of conversation, sharing, and community building. Will we do this again? Of course! We will do whatever we can to start up amazing conversations with our community.
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.
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 Platform. Nate 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.
CONSUME I will be sharing ideas, links, photos, and more through my platforms.
This website, justinthelibrarian.com
CONNECT I would still like to connect with you and talk about things! There are a few ways to get in touch with me:
I’m not a big tech person who can spot trends, etc (I really thought Google Wave was gonna be awesome) but I’m very excited about Branch, a service that recently was unveiled. I’ll turn it over to Richard Macmanus of Read Write Web to give you some info on the service:
You can start a discussion based on something you found on the Web, or an original thought. You then add people to the discussion via email or Twitter – so the discussion remains closed and you control who’s in it. However you can choose to publish the branch publicly elsewhere, such as on WordPress.
My thoughts on Branch? This could change how we use Twitter quite a bit. I’ve used Twitter on many occasions to build booklists for my library members but I’ve always had trouble collecting the responses. Branch will solve that.
One of my favorite things in this world is Gus and Yia Yia’s, an iceball cart in Pittsburgh, PA that I’ve been going to for as long as I can remember.
Some about Gus and Yia Yia’s can be found here but I’ll quickly recap: they’ve been around since 1934 or as they say “since your Dad was a lad” and they make all their own syrups. Now I know you can’t really go wrong with an iceball, but let me tell you, these are not like any other iceball you’ve ever had. They are one of the greatest tasting things this world has to offer.
Like I said above, I’ve been visiting Gus and Yia Yia’s with my family since I can remember. My father, an optician, had always made glasses for Gus and Stella (the Gus and Yia Yia who own and operate the cart). There were always “oh, this iceball is on us since your Dad makes us great glasses” kind of talk coming from Gus and Stella and looking back I’ve realized that those moments have really had an impact on me. I realized that life had nothing to do with money/making a profit/whatever. It was about friendship, community, and connection. I still take this idea into the teen library today. If we can work together, we can do awesome things and have an awesome connection.
The next thing that I love about Gus and Yia Yia’s is their iceball syrup. It’s from a recipe perfected by Gus’ dad in the 1930’s. Amazing. Like I said above, it’s not like anything you’ve ever had before. My favorite flavor is cherry. One taste of it takes me back to my many childhood trips to the iceball cart. I instantly remember all of the wonderful times. I think about that a lot when it comes to the library. Simple little things matter. Saying hello to someone that passes by, or telling someone that you dig the Batman shirt they’re wearing goes a long way. People tend to remember these tiny but important moments.
One of my dreams is to propose this idea to Gus and Stella someday. When they want to retire, I’d love to buy their business. I wouldn’t change a thing….sort of. My brother Brandon could run the iceball cart just where it is in Pittsburgh. I’d do the same thing with my family here in Portland, ME. Iceballs, popcorn, and peanuts (these are the three items they sell and yes it’s an odd combo but you have to experience it to see how it all works together). Cheap, delicious, and for the community. I think that would be an awesome chapter in my life.
My life wouldn’t be the same without these iceballs. Thank you to Gus and Stella for making life a bit more awesome. And thanks for teaching me a thing or two.