Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: Seven Years Ago

About seven years ago I was told the truth about how someone close to me had made their money in the world. Before that, I was under the impression that it was through years of hard work and dedication to their craft. It made sense to me for such a long time. Since I was a child I was told that hard work and dedication would pay off. I believed this because that's what you do as a child: you tend to believe what the adults in your life tell you.

Once I learned the truth about how someone close to me earned their way ahead in life, everything changed. I had long wondered why my hard work and dedication to my job hadn't paid off yet. I was still struggling to get groceries. I couldn't afford to buy a proper home for my growing family. I was at the point where things should have been changing, but everything remained the same. My outlook on modern life changed. Gone was the hope that all of this work in libraries would "pay off". Now listen, I always knew I wasn't gonna get rich being a librarian. I never really wanted to get rich. I just wanted to be able to exist. But after this it donned on me that the ability to exist wasn't gonna happen.

In the world we've created, there's always this extra step that people gotta take to make it. You've gotta give up part of your soul, lose your innocence, align yourself with someone who has money, or dabble in things that get you ahead. I decided I wasn't gonna do any of that and here I am now.

I wouldn't change a thing about the life I surround myself with. As a family we're top notch. We've got a connection, we've got a unique life, and we've got love. None of that is worth losing just to get ahead in the world.

At the same time, I'm recognizing in a post anti depressant world that there are hurdles and bumps along the way. Tonight was a big one that can't get out of my head. After visiting a friend this evening we walked home and I had to explain to Finn (age 8) why we couldn't stop along the way to have a drink in a local restaurant. "We don't have any money right now" is something that's really hard to say to your kid. To Finn, it's not just a quick 20 minute stop at a restaurant to have a soda. For him it's an experience and a moment in his childhood. And I couldn't give that to him. I was, and still am at this moment, almost completely devastated over the fact that I couldn't have a $2 soda with my family.

After talking a bit more Finn said, "I wish we were so rich we could get a mansion and not live in this old house". I explained to him that it wasn't that simple, but I couldn't elaborate much more because I was completely spent mentally. I spent the rest of the night partially mute because anything I said came out grumpy and frustrated, further fueling my present state of sadness.

Learning how that someone close to me had made their money in the world did two things for me:

  1. It showed me the path I did not want to take because I did not want to lose all that was good and pure in the world.
  2. It showed me how fake the world that we've constructed around us really is. If you wanna be a part of this world, you've gotta lie and cheat the system.

I know I chose the right path, but goddamnit sometimes I just wish I could get that soda with my family.

Family, Libraries, Life, Travel

8720-9657-9344 NZ/AUS/PA


The answer to the question “Are you excited to be visiting New Zealand and Australia” is yes, I am excite. However, being a human being makes the situation more complex. I have thoughts and feelings about traveling so far away from my family. I am going to miss them a lot. Think about how much growth and fun my family will go through in 2 weeks. I won’t ever get to have a chance to experience that. I am dealing with that mentally right now.

I have also watched the entire series of the TV show LOST and I know that they’re flying into Sydney from the USA on that show. While I am open about possibly landing on a time traveling island, what I really want is to get home to my family.

What does one do on a flight that leaves the USA on Thursday and arrives in New Zealand on a Saturday? I have a list.

  • Play Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Possibly communicate with my family (right?)
  • Watch stuff (the list!)
  • Figure out how to sleep on a plane
  • Drink water
  • Use the restroom
  • Eat vegetarian meals
  • Select a book or two to read
  • Finish writing a piece for Information Today

I hate to get morbid and everything but if I don’t make it back to my family and my life, please take care of Haley, Finn, and Aero for me please world please please do that for me. I don’t know how but I know you can pull together and do this. Make sure they are happy and healthy and at the ChurchHouse and everything is good. This is all that I want in the world and I love all of you and I know you can make this happen.

Haley! I love you very much. You are the greatest person that I have ever met.
Finn and Aero! I love you very much. You do know that you two are gonna change the world, right?

These are the songs you can remember me by:

I know! I sound paranoid! I am!

If you are in NZ or Australia and are reading this, I do want to meet you! Let’s share ideas and have great memories and do positive things for the world.

8720 (miles from Titusville, PA to New Zealand)
9657(miles from Titusville, PA to Sydney Australia)
9344(miles from Titusville, PA to Brisbane Australia)

Family, Libraries

Transformation and Growth

Me circa 1994. First time I grew my hair out. First time I got a Weezer album. One of the original Weezer fan club members.
Me circa 1994. First time I grew my hair out. First time I got a Weezer album. One of the original Weezer fan club members.

One of my biggest roles models from around age 14-present has been Rivers Cuomo of the band Weezer. Rivers is the kind of guy that has all these mythical stories surrounding him because he lives a very interesting life: “You know, he once stayed inside for two whole years!” “You know he only eats green vegetables!” “You know he wrote 18,000 songs in one day once and keeps them all in a notebook protected by fire!” Most, if not all, of these mythical stories are untrue. Sure Rivers is an interesting guy but he’s not crazy. In fact, he’s far from crazy. I’d call Rivers a very introspective and self aware kind of person. And that part of his personality is what has inspired me to become the Justin Hoenke that I am today.

If you looked at this blog from the beginning up to the present, you may think that some crazy egomaniac of a human being has written every post. You’re entitled to your opinion and in some cases I think you’re spot on with your judgement. But what I say is this: I only really know myself and how I feel at any given time. I don’t want to fake it and put out opinions and judgements on things that I don’t really understand to the fullest. That’s boring and not who I am. I’d rather be honest and messy and put it all out there….hence this blog and an abundance of posts on self and growth and all that jazz.

Not an insane person, but instead a person who is visually representing change and growth. And kind of weird.
Not an insane person, but instead a person who is visually representing change and growth. And kind of weird.

Sometimes I wish I could just copy/paste things I’ve wrote and put it up as a new post because they all seem like the same: I’m learning this! I think it is good to be nice to people all the time! I’m messing up a bit but I’m growing!  I don’t because somewhere in my mind I’m convinced that each time I post I’m saying something new. Maybe I am. Who knows. All I know is that I’ll keep doing this.

In 2014 I learned a lot about transformation and growth. I adopted new roles in my personal and professional life that have challenged me. I’ve learned that library work is library work and life is life. Sleeping when sleep is needed is great for the soul. Not worrying about things all the time is an amazing way to approach life. Cutting the grass and tidying up around the house is very satisfying and honestly, the thing I wish I could focus on the most while I am alive here on the planet Earth. I have two paths in front of me in regards to my life as a librarian: one into more management and leadership and the other into a bit of management and a bit of the on-the-ground librarian type stuff. Both sound like good paths but in the end I can choose one. I don’t know what one that is yet. Maybe that’s what 2015 is for. There’s also this nagging feeling that I’ve come full circle with my professional interests and goals (one of which will be revealed in 2015!) and now it is time for a new challenge. I don’t know what any of this means. I just know that I have these feelings and that I have this blog and that’s where I’ll put everything for now.

My gut tells me that this is becoming a very rambling post. My gut tells me to wrap it up so that’s what I’ll do.  I have really like being alive in 2014. I hope all of you reading this have enjoyed life this year. I think all of you are great human beings and I am happy to share this crazy little thing called life with yinz all.  2014, you’ve been interesting and great and messy in so many ways. 2015, you’ll probably be the same way. Cut and paste. We all keep on growing and learning. What other way is there?

Family, Libraries

To the Teens

Much of the writing that I do on this blog centers around teen library stuff…cool things that are going on, input on how to pull off projects, and more.  It’s meant for an entirely librarian audience.  Recently, a few teens in my community recently asked me about my blog (they found it through a Google Search) and why I only write about library stuff.  My response was: “Well, that’s what I do.  I’m a librarian and I like to share the cool things we do in the library.”  He came back with this: “Why don’t you ever write anything for teens that tell us about what life is like and all that, you know, stuff about growing up? That’s what I thought you’d write about.”  So that got me thinking about a post for teens.  And this is that post…

Hey teens that have used the library in the past, present, and future:

Hello from Justin The Librarian.  First up, let me say this: thank you.  Without you coming into the library to explore, hang out, and keep me on my toes, I wouldn’t have much to do in life.  I’d be pretty boring, lazy, and not that exciting.  You challenge me to be a better person.  Yes, even those times where you give me crap and try to annoy me…those are good times.  I dig those. 

A lot of you have asked me through the years what it’s like to be an adult and how you can get through this whole growing up thing.  I don’t have a magical answer for you, but I can share what it’s been like for me in hopes that you can borrow something from that and go ahead on your own path.

So you’re stuck in a crazy moment in your life and everything feels pretty shitty.  It’s like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel or something like that.  Give it time, because you’re going to be ok.  Even when things are at their worst, there is someone out you that cares for you.  It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a friend, a librarian, or just some random person.  They care.  Time has this awesome way of moving forward and making everything better.  It’s like magic.

You’ve probably heard an adult say that getting older is a pain in the butt.  They may say things like “my body always aches, there’s never enough money, you kids cost me so money, there’s never enough time to do this or that” and more.  Well, don’t listen to that because it’s not true at all.  Getting older is actually pretty awesome.

In your teens and twenties, a lot of people will look at you and your ideas and think they’re a bit bizarre and out there.  However, when you get into your late twenties/thirties something interesting happens…now that you’re older, people start to understand that you’ve had the experiences and matured enough that what you’re doing must be legit.  It’s kind of awesome.  Remember how I helped bring video games into the library for people to play and borrow?  When I talked about how libraries should be doing that when I was younger, people thought I was crazy.  When I got older and did it people thought it was a really great move.  Being 28 years old and having gone through years of video gaming helped me get to do that “crazy thing.”  So, yes, your bones may hurt a bit more (it happens) but you get to do a lot of cool shit when you’re older.

I’ve heard “I don’t want to have kids or a family because it’s too much time, money, and you lose a part of yourself” so many times.  That’s all a bunch of crap.  Having a family is one of the best things that you can choose to do in this life.

Family makes you stronger.  They challenge you to be a better person and to rise above any laziness or selfishness that you may have inside of you.  They make you smile.  When someone in your family does something amazing, you can’t help but smile and be filled up with joy.  You don’t lose who you are when you have a family.  You become more of yourself than you’ve ever been before.

That’s not to say that family doesn’t take a lot of time.  It does.  Anything that you love takes a lot of time.  But it’s all good time.  The time and love put into your family is one of the best things you can do while you’re here on earth.

I used to have long hair.  I used to dress a bit cooler than I do now.  I used to go a lot more places and do a lot more adventurous things.  I had a part time job at a thrift store.  These days, my hair is shorter, I wear what feels comfortable to me, and I like to stay at home a lot. I also have a full time job. That’s not lame at all and I haven’t lost my cool or sold out or anything.

As you get older, you change, you slow down, and you start to enjoy every little thing a lot more.  You’re not a sell out.  In fact, everything is going to plan.  You’re growing more into the person that you’ve always wanted to be.

I think you know what I mean here.  It’s a funny thing in life, but it’s very true: people can totally tell when you’re faking it.  Don’t be one of the people that fakes it.  Life is too awesome to spend all of your time pretending that you’re something other than yourself.

Family, Music

The Beach Boys, First Concerts, Hellos and Goodbyes

Last Friday I had the chance to see my favorite band in the world live one final time.  What made the event even more special was that I got to experience it with my son Finn.  It was his first concert.  Finn’s enjoyed the Beach Boys music for quite some time now.  He runs around the house singing I Get Around, Catch a Wave, and Little Deuce Coupe.  I was happy that he got to see the band performing those songs live.  The look in his eyes when I Get Around was performed was something that I will never forget.  It was a combination of “Dad, OMG this is THE BEACH BOYS” and “now I have dance harder, faster, and better than I’ve ever danced before.”  It was one of the best moments of my life.

Which leads me to the next part =.  The new Beach Boys album and the show were my chance to say goodbye to the band and the music that’s shaped my life considerably.  With all of the members inching towards their seventies, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll get another album or tour like this ever again. Who knows.  But it was great to get together one final time and do it again.  It was great to hear some of my favorite songs live (Add Some Music To Your Day, All This Is That, Sail On Sailor) and enjoy a set that really spanned the history of the band.  It reaffirmed my love for their music which warms my soul and helps me spread positivity into the world.

To Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson: thank you for all of the music, the love, and the energy you put into making this world a nicer place.  Thank you for the chance to share such a great moment with my son.

If you have access to Spotify, here’s the link to listen to the setlist


Enriching the library experience: an idea

It has been written many times about how the library can be a boring place.  Subject headings, checkout slips, and library catalogs, all of which could be a little bit more exciting are often times overlooked and very dull.

That’s why I really like the work LibraryThing is doing with their LibraryThing for Libraries product.  Simply stated, it adds layers to the library catalog which makes using and viewing it a better experience for the library member.  Want to browse your search results as a virtual library shelf?  What about making your catalog more social and adding library member reviews?  What about adding a map into your catalog to better help library members find what they were looking for?

However, I’m not here to sell you their product.  I’m here to talk about how their product inspired me to think about how libraries and other businesses could join together to make the library experience even more awesome for the library member.

I use the media check in service Get Glue for a number of reasons.  I like to keep a visual record of the music I’m listening to.  I also like to see what other people are watching/listening to/reading and get recommendations.  It’s even better when a large group is watching something and a discussion starts.  Heck, there’s even something really neat about collecting virtual stickers and then getting them in the mail for real!

GetGlue and LibraryThing got me thinking about how we could make the library an even neater place if we could somehow integrate these services into what we do.  Imagine going into a library and heading for the catalog.  You start your search and because of LibraryThing you can read other library members thoughts on that item.  The stack map then will help you locate what you’re looking for.  Imagine if we took that a step further and GetGlue made a product called GetGlue for Libraries.  Members could opt in to the program and check in to what they’re checking out at the library.  Library stickers could be unlocked and shared.  Even better yet, the conversation and recommendation part of GetGlue could make the entire library experience even more social and community driven.  Now you’re not just borrowing stuff, but you’re talking about it with your community as well.

This is all just an idea, but I hope something like this can happen with libraries.   We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  There’s already so much good stuff out there and all it takes is some kind of partnership to get the ball rolling.

Note: I don’t work for/profit from LibraryThing or GetGlue.  I just really like the services.  I do live down the street from  LibraryThing HQ, but that’s about it.  Tim (creator of LibraryThing) and I sometimes have some beers together and talk about libraries and life in Portland, ME.  That’s all.