Idea Share, Libraries, Library Director

An Easy Way For Libraries To Better Understand How Their Library Is Being Used


Our janitor was out sick today and over the past few days we’ve had almost a foot of snow in our area. With snow comes wet boots and shoes and salt being tracked in through the doors. All of this mixed together results in our library being a little messier than usual these days. It’s all good…everyone deserves sick days to rest and heal and even though the snow can get yucky it is a pretty beautiful sight to see at least a foot of snow all around this time of year.

All of this led to me coming in to work a bit early today so that I could vacuum the library and tidy things up a little bit so everything didn’t add up. As I vacuumed mind mind began to wander. I thought about what Corinne Hill once told me back in the Chattanooga days…”make the maintenance team happy and everything will go smoothly”. I thought about how employees who work in maintenance and janitorial services really do make the library continue to operate and thrive and how we don’t usually think about the great work they do. I also veered off into the world of what janitors may see in libraries. I started to think about the details and what kind of information and ideas can be gleamed from those details. And then this idea hit me as my vacuum hummed and the salt it was picking up made small plinking noises as it made its way up the nozzle and into the dirt chamber…could we better understand how our community is using the library by the snow and salt their shoes are bringing into the library in winter? Why yes, Justin, I think we can!

Here’s what I noticed at the Benson Memorial Library:

  • The most affected areas by the snow and salt were the front entrance. This is of course something that can easily be understood.
  • From the front door, most of the snow and salt seemed to make a straight line past the circulation desk, past our DVD collection, and into our Children’s area.
  • To the left of the front door there was a bit more snow and salt than any other area. This is due to our newspapers and reading tables being in that area. These are heavily used by folks reading the newspaper or using their laptop in the library.
  • In our Reading Room, the most heavily used area was in front of our new books and NYT Bestsellers display. The couches and chairs in that room had some snow and salt, but not as much as in our newspapers area.
  • The back of our building, which is home to our nonfiction and fiction stacks, did not have much, if any, salt and snow. What can I learn from this? Maybe people are not browsing as much?
  • To the left of our circulation desk is the walkway to our restrooms. Of course, there was a lot of snow and salt in this area but we also do have a side exit so it could have been as a result of people using that as their exit.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that there are many different ways for us to learn about our libraries. This is just one way, and in my opinion, one of the better ways to learn. I think there’s a lot for us to process and understand if we just look around. Look up, look down. Sit somewhere different during the day. Try something out that you don’t usually do during your day at work. What you may see or hear can be pretty amazing and overall it could change how you work as a librarian. All in all, these changes are for the best! We need to keep on growing.


Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Week of Music (2017)

WEEK OF MUSIC: “The Sun And The Moon”

In the spring of 2004, I began recording and writing music again. Earlier that year, the band I was in (Zomo) sputtered and fizzled out after about 4 years of work. I moved across the country and decided to try something new in my life. I wanted to desperately be in a band but I didn’t know how to start one up and I was itching to do things. I had a cassette four track recorder, some ideas, and a bunch of time.

I made The Sun And The Moon that year and put it out under the name “Belsapadore”, which was a completely made up word I had come up with many years before. I used the name because I always hated band names that were boring and plain. I wanted something that was unique and had meaning to me…..and we’ll get to the part later on as to why I no longer use that name.

The Sun And The Moon is an album about the five trips I took across the USA in 2004 and the emptiness in between the towns and cities that I observed. Up to that point in my life I had always wanted to be in a very loud rock band. Now I wanted to explore those quiet and empty moments. That desire came out on this album.

I spent a lot of time in a room which I had painted black making this album during the wee hours of the night/morning. I wanted to get into the head space I felt when I was driving across the country: a feeling of being completely alone and isolated with only my thoughts to get me through the day.

You have a few options with how you can listen to and download these albums:

  1. You can purchase the albums at the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine website. The albums are $7 each and any money made from the purchase of these albums goes into one of two things: Arbacarba Records, which will invest the money in making these albums available on streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, etc) or Fidelia Hall, which will help with the repairs and restoration of this 144 year old community center. Once purchased, you can download the albums in a variety of formats (MP3, FLAC, and more) or stream them via the free Bandcamp app (iTunes, Android)
  2. You can stream the albums for free at the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine website.
  3. If you are a library (public, academic, special) and you wish to add any of the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine albums to your digital collection,you may do so by contacting me at justinthelibrarian at gmail dot com and I will gladly share these albums with you as MP3 or WAV formats. Once you have these files, your library will be able to provide your library card patrons with these albums for free by adding them to your library digital music collection at no cost to you.

I hope you enjoy this album!

Chattanooga, TN, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Technology, Titusville, PA

How the Internet Should Work in America

Today I received a check from EPB Chattanooga, which provided my family and I with high quality fiber internet while we lived in Chattanooga TN between April 2013-June 2015. The check was for $29.94 and was a refund for overpaying them during the time we used their services.

Here’s a photo of that check: IMG_0281

Let me also take this moment to say that when we were living in Chattanooga TN that our monthly bill for 100 Mbps/sec internet service was only $57.99 and that there was no data cap. Here’s a copy of that bill: Screenshot-2

I moved to Titusville PA knowing that the internet situation wouldn’t be the same and I was ok with it. I knew Chattanooga TN and EPB was special. But here’s what I’m running into month after month with our internet service provider here in Pennsylvania:


What’s different? First and foremost, the price of the actual internet: $89.95 for a service that gives us 30-50 Mbps. FUN FACT: we just got an email saying that the price is going up to $99.95/month for this same service. What else do we see here? ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. Yes, we have a data cap. How much data do we get? 400 GB/month. I know that sounds like a lot, but when you have 2 tech savvy homeschooling kids, a wife that does virtual assistant work from home, and your awesome mother in law lives with you and everyone streams YouTube and Netflix the data usage goes through the roof. We usually go over by 50-100 GB, but as you can see in January/February we went over by 350 GB, costing us an additional $70. That’s $70 taken away from either our monthly grocery bill or the money we’re spending to repair Fidelia Hall. It’s tough, especially when I believe that everyone out there should have equal, cheap (I also like free but hey I get it), and accessible ways to get the internet.

I’m not writing this to specifically call out Armstrong Internet because hey you’ve actually been really kind to us and have provided a great service. You may want to think about your ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees and how you should reconsider what those may be financially doing to a family living in the modern age where internet is needed to function from day to day.

I’m writing this to give a real world example of what equal and cheap internet access SHOULD look like in our country. America is pretty awesome and a lot of us have a really good life here. Access to the internet should be available to everyone and should be available at affordable rates. There should be no ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. No one should worry about using too much internet. No one should have to pay more for using too much internet. HECK, no one should have to decide whether to pay a student loan or put food on the table or use the internet at home. These things should just happen.

I ask you to think about this. Armstrong, I ask you to reconsider your ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. We’re not using your service for evil. We’re using it to learn and to enjoy a movie together as a family.

Thank you.



Chattanooga, TN, Family

Finn and The Dentist

He's pretty awesome
He’s pretty awesome

I used to write about my family, music, and other things on this blog a lot more in the past, but in the last few years I’ve focused solely on library stuff. I’ve been wanting to get back to opening it up to other topics for a few months now and this moment just seems like the perfect time to do that.

My son Finn has had a pretty rough history with the dentist. When he was 1.5 years old, he had to go into the out patient clinic to have four teeth capped. The poor dude has some iffy genetics when it comes to teeth, so it was not something he could’ve avoided. Oh well. That’s life. He’s had to go back and forth to the dentist for cleanings/checkups since then and it’s never been that much fun for him. When something like that happens to you when you’re a little dude, it stays with you.

When we moved to Chattanooga this past April we quickly got him set up with a new dentist. Knowing that he most likely had some cavities in his molars (yikes!) we wanted to take care of it. We had an appointment to get him used to the dentist about a month ago but it just didn’t work out….he didn’t want to have any of it and the trip instead became an opportunity to show him how cool the dentist could be (and trust me, the dentist here is pretty cool. They have movies, toys, video games, and ICE CREAM). He was pretty cool with the idea of going back. Note: the dentist also gave us a prescription for Demerol to help take the edge off. Hey, don’t we all need that sometimes?

This week, Finn and I made the trek back to the dentist. I went back with him, reminded him about the video games and then quietly made my way back to the lobby and let him do his thing with the dentist and his assistants. I gave him the option to do what he wanted back there and I was pretty impressed with the results:

Not only did Finn get his teeth cleaned, but he also got X-Rays and gave the dentist a chance to see exactly what we need to do with his teeth (summary? lots of work and braces to come).

He also gave the dentist’s office a taste of his personality (this is what really impressed me). He told the whole office how digestion works (I use my teeth to chew the food, it then goes down my esophagus and into my belly and then I poop it out), recited the entire opening to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and negotiated with the dental hygienists to get to sit in the chair how he wanted to (I didn’t want to lie down, I wanted to sit up like a big kid).

To sum it up: I’m proud of him for overcoming his fears, getting what needed to be done finished, and doing it his way.



I’ve been writing and recording music for most of my life .  However over the past six years I’ve set it aside to focus on other things.  Now that my youngest son Aero can crawl and my oldest son Finn is more than capable of running around himself (he’s 3.5 years old), I’ve begun again to pick up the guitar and write bits and pieces of music.  And I’ve missed it quite a bit.

It’s been one of those moments in my life where I’ve realized that I’m clearly entering a new phase in my life.  To “clean house” and get ready for this new phase,  I’ve been working on collecting, organizing, and putting all of the music I’ve written and recorded between 2001-2011 online for free.  Most of this stuff has been available for many years now, but some is brand new to the public.  Anywho, I’m happy to share it all with you now and I hope you enjoy it.

Please visit to download any of the eight collections of music I have compiled.

Please visit to read writings and thoughts on the music I have created between 2001-2011.

Thank you for your time!








Libraries, Technology

SYNC YA Lit Into Your Earphones!

This is pretty awesome.
Free stuff for your patrons to get them into audiobooks!

2 Free Audiobook Downloads Each Week
June 14 – August 22, 2012

Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature will have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and Required Reading Classics this summer. Each week from June 14 – August 22, 2012, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads.

The audiobook pairings will include a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title’s theme and is likely to show up on a student’s summer reading lists. For example, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a new series about a girl who opens a door to two otherworldly cities at war, will be paired with Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities.

To find out when you can download titles to listen to on the run this summer, visit or text syncya to 25827.

(full disclosure: This is part of a program created by Curious City and AudioFile Magazine.  I’ve worked with Curious City on this project in the past and am currently on their Board of Advisors)