Put Down The Phone

Image by Japanexperterna.se via a Creative Commons License at https://goo.gl/4xBkMK
Image by Japanexperterna.se via a Creative Commons License at https://goo.gl/4xBkMK

I went to bed at around 9:15PM a few nights ago. Recently I’ve been getting to bed between 11pm-12am. It was a bad habit and I really knew I had to get out of it. I plugged in my phone, made sure my alarm was set, and I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning feeling more refreshed than usual. It was neat.

Maybe it had something to do with the extra time I spent sleeping, but I think it has something more to do with the fact that I shut off my phone earlier than usual. I get it. It is addicting to look at our phones, to read, to keep up, and to watch videos. I like having a smart phone. It’s like a computer in my pocket that keeps me occupied when I want something to take my mind off of things.

But I definitely think these things drive us nuts and change our brains and our rest patterns if they’re used after a certain time. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just me. I can only perform these experiments on myself.

I think I’m gonna try to start putting down the phone much earlier at night. I will have days where I don’t and that’s OK too. It will be neat to see what happens.

Libraries, Library Director

Please Stop Calling Me

Téléphone ancien by Frédéric BISSON via https://www.flickr.com/photos/zigazou76/7670174434/ Creative Commons License
Téléphone ancien by Frédéric BISSON via https://www.flickr.com/photos/zigazou76/7670174434/ Creative Commons License

The most difficult and frustrating thing about being a library director thus far is dealing with what seems like a never-ending array of phone calls from various vendors and salespeople who want you to buy something from them. I know it from the moment I pick up the phone that this is gonna be a horrible sales pitch followed by a NO from me followed by a very desperate plea to reconsider. It doesn’t end. The shtick is the same every time. You want me to buy something. I don’t want to buy something. You try to pressure me into buying something. We both get a little bit grumpy. It never ends well.

Please stop calling me.

I do not want your product. My library does not need discounted coloring books from last year’s summer reading theme. I know that some kids may dig them but I don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on just that. I’d rather spend that money on something my community or staff can really use. You know, I’ve also got a really great building to keep up with and repair. I also do not need you to scare me into buying your product. This makes me feel horrible and I bet it makes you feel horrible to scare someone into buying something. Let’s just stop doing this.  If I want to work with you, I’ll find you on the internet and then I’ll call you. Maybe we’ll just email each other. That works really well too!

Once more, I ask you kindly….please stop calling me. I’ll call you. Maybe.

ebooks, Google, Libraries, Music, Social Media, Technology

Post Holiday Library Technology Help

Like most librarians in a public library, I am expecting a sizable number of patrons visiting the library after the holidays in search of technology help.  For the last few years, I’ve watched this phenomenon grow a spattering of random technology questions to something that libraries need to plan in advance for.  Luckily, we’re already doing that.  I point to these two awesome examples:


Over the next few days, the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ is having a number of programs focused on helping patrons with their new devices.  The program mentioned above, Help Desk for Holiday Gadgets, is just one of many offerings that the library has to help out their community.  You can click here to see the full list of programs being offered by the Princeton Public Library that focus on post holiday technology help.


The Maine State Library tweeted about their Getting Started with eBooks page and it caught my eye.  If your library can’t have programs like the Princeton Public Library, offering an online walk through will no doubt help out your community.  You can view the full Getting Started with eBooks page here.



The Darien Library in Darien, CT does a great job at throughly collecting technology help resources for you at their eBooks page.  They offer both print and video resources to help you navigate your new devices.  Double bonus points goes to them for offering this digital only catalog: http://digital.darienlibrary.org

And finally, why not give YouTube a try?  There are many public libraries out there utilizing YouTube to share video walk troughs for their community to view.  I really liked this well put together video by the Hennepin County Library.  It is well made and very clear and easy to follow.

In closing, I pose this question: Should public libraries begin to look to next year when there will most likely be even more of a need for technology help?  Should we look to establishing year round technology help departments in our library?



It is with GREAT honor that I present to you the MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 album. This album was created at the Portland Public Library in our Teen Library Study Room #119 over four weeks in July 2012 and mixed and edited in August 2012.

For this program, we used:
1 Tascam Portastudio 424 Mark III
1 Casio CTK-450 Synthesizer
1 Shure PG58 Microphone

Many thanks go out to all of the teens that participated in this project, specifically Richard, Ilhan, Chrispo, Jordan, and everyone else.  Thanks for lending your talents to the album and sharing this music with the world.

Also, thank you to Michael Whittaker, my coworker who lent his audio mixing wizardry to the project and showed some teens that really cool music can be made with a cassette tape, a microphone, and some cool ideas.





We continue to tweak/manipulate/twiddle/mix/master with the teen music made in the library this summer.  We filled up three tapes of music, so the next step for myself and my cohort Michael has been mixing down the tracks to digital files.  We’re using Audacity to edit the music on the computer.  We’ve simply hooked up our cassette four track machine to the computer in mono and we’re going from there.

(the mixing room, aka my office)

Here’s a small update of the tracks we’ve worked on with the teens.  The best is yet to come…





Michael works with a group of teens on a sound collage.

We gathered back in Teen Study Room #119 today to record some more music with our teens.  This week, however, we had Michael Whittaker helping us out.  Michael’s part of our Teen Library team and has a pretty awesome past history of dabbling in all sorts of cool music things.  He’s also really good at twisting knobs and making recordings sound pretty.  This week we started out with our drums machines roaring in the background, hitting buttons and making a sound collage.  The recordings happening this year are little pieces of music: a sound here, a voice there, and some spoken word and organ in between.

Laying down some spoken word
Adding some organ sounds to the spoken word

An idea being tossed for the recordings happening this summer is to compile everything into one long piece…a sound collage of teens…that tells the story of the teen community who visited the library in 2012

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 and hopefully some music!



One of my favorite things to do is make music.  It gets even better when you work with really cool people to create something.  To top that, it makes it the best when you work with some really talented and neat teens who just want to try something new.

Last summer, we had our first MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program.  Local artist Sontiago led the group and in the end the teens recorded two hip hop tracks which you can listen to here:

For the 2012 MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program, I was unable to get Sontiago back due to scheduling (she’s a super busy person!) and this year I thought it would be neat to try something new.  Earlier in the year I bought an old Tascam Portastudio machine that looks like this:

The machine was very similar to the four track that I started recording my own music on back in the day.  I remember it taking some time to learn how the thing worked but I look back on my time with the machine fondly and am happy I got that experience.  I also wanted to show the teens that music is totally possible with a computer.  Don’t get me wrong…I am a HUGE band of Garageband and other digital tools that can be used to make music but I wanted to show the other side of the story.  Just to try something interesting.

And yesterday we began our journey.  I camped out in one of our study rooms with the Portastudio, my guitar, one mic, and my iPhone which we’d use Garageband to make drum loops.  For our first day, it was just myself and Richard in the study room making noises into a mic.  We clapped, we hummed, we made a beat, we made blips on a synthesizer, and Richard rapped a story in Acholi.  It was so much fun making these little bits of music with Richard.  It reminded me of when I was 15 and twisting knobs and strumming on out of tune guitars and humming into mics in my bedroom.  The difference was that I was alone back then…this time Richard and I shared the experience.  It was really cool.

Here’s a brief clip of some synthesizer noodling that we did yesterday.

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012.