Manistee County Library (Michigan) seeks a Library Director

Hey! Now this looks like a great job at a wonderful little library system in Michigan! Tge Manistee County Library is a really cool library system that is very community-minded
and this job would be great for a librarian looking to level-up their director/management game! I’d totally be into this opportunity if I was looking for a new job…
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The Manistee County Library Board seeks a Director, due to a retirement. The Manistee County Library (MCL) is a county-wide system, with five branches; the main library in Manistee is housed in an historic 1905 Carnegie library building. The MCL serves a county population of around 25,000 with a mix of union and non-union staff and a budget of more than $1.3 million dollars. The library enjoys strong community support.

The ideal candidate will be community-minded and willing to engage and support a wide range of patrons. The candidate will have: Outstanding leadership and human resource skills; experience working in a union staffing environment; familiarity with budgeting and planning; skill deploying and using technologies in service of the MCL’s mission, and; a deep understanding of the role public libraries play, their daily operations, and future trends.

The candidate must have a Masters degree in library science or library and information science from an ALA-accredited program and a minimum of four (4) years of increasingly responsible experience postdegree in a professional public library position. At least two (2) years must have been in a position of administration and supervision in a public library. A complete position description is available at: manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1.

Manistee County is on the west side of the state, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Beautiful beaches are within a 10-minute walk from the main branch. Salary: From the mid $50s to mid $60s, commensurate with experience; the benefit package includes health insurance and pension plan.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but those received by 5 pm (EDT) on Friday, April 7th, 2017 will receive first consideration. Electronic submissions required. Interested individuals should forward a cover letter, which specifically addresses the position requirements and a resume; candidates selected for interview will be asked to provide three references with complete contact information. Electronic submissions and requests for additional information should be directed to the Manistee County Library: directorsearch@manisteelibrary.org

For more information please see the job listing here: http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/director-search

To submit an Intent to Apply, go here:
http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/director-search-1

For the full job description, go here:
http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/job-description-310.pdf/view

THREE THINGS 2017.1 (Mini Deluxe Edition)

  • I am very uninspired with library work. I have two major projects in my mind for the Benson Memorial Library but I feel stuck. The projects are: bringing high speed fiber internet into the library and repairing and renovating our Community Room. Both of these projects are much needed and would be well received by the community. I am having a hard time finding the funds to pull these projects off which then leads to a general malaise inside of me that festers with time. Money and the lack of it really holds things back. My brain then reacts to being held back in a negative way. I want the path forward to be clear and positive, yet money is always standing in the way. I’ve researched grants, foundation money, and other paths but nothing is clicking. Maybe it will click soon enough. In the meantime, I am right here sitting at my desk feeling like the end of libraries is right around the corner.
  • I am still very excited by disco. When I use the term “disco” what I really mean is the following: Music from the NYC club THE SAINT, Sleaze/Morning Music, Italo Disco, and everything else in between.
  • I have signed a contract to provide a library related news platform with 6 articles/pieces from now until June 2017. Writing is something that I enjoy doing and the challenge to come up with a 2,000 word piece has been tough but ultimately rewarding. I’d love to write more of these. Heck, maybe someday I would like to be my full time job. I enjoy the opportunity to craft all of the thoughts inside my brain into well structured sentences. I also enjoy talking to others, getting their insight into the topic I am writing about, and sharing their story. There are so many good people out there.
  • One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to do our laundry.I have developed a system in which I tackle certain segments of the laundry one at a time. It helps me manage the flow of work to be done and provides a good feeling once each segment is done.
  • I am not happy with my weight. I am over 200 lbs for the first time in my life and my body does not feel good. While I do not have the world’s best eating/exercising regiment, I feel as if I’m doing pretty well. There is room for improvement and I will get there.
  • I am well over 50 hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch and I still cannot recommend this game enough. It is what I’d call a perfect video game: a marriage of great gameplay, visuals, sound, and experience. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are headed in the game. You will be amazed every step of the way.
  • And finally, the rehabbing of Fidelia Hall continues. At a recent auction, we acquired 8 radiators, 3 steel doors, 1 set of track lighting, and 1 hot water heater for $125. My mother and father also made one of the nicest donations to us: they got a furnace for our downstairs space. Both of these things were so very inspiring in the restoration process. The next steps look something like this: repair and paint the tin ceiling downstairs, repair and varnish the floor downstairs, install and hook up gas pipes to our new downstairs furnace, build a bathroom downstairs, repair/install new outlets and light switches downstairs, and finally rip out the upstairs radiators and install our newly acquired radiators. The work never ends, but the end product will be glorious for our family and the community so I am OK with the process.
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“Don’t talk, take my hand and let me hear your heart beat” -Brian Wilson and Tony Asher

 

Ditching The Hype and Focusing on The Community

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This is where I live. This is the community I serve.

Like a computer our brains need to be restarted every once in awhile. Events and shifts over the last few years of my life have made me realize this. I no longer work to only serve kids, tweens, and teens. I no longer live in an urban area. I no longer live in a world which I fully understand. My life these days is very different than what it used to be, and with that I feel the need to reset myself. This post is an attempt to put this reset into practice using words to coalesce my thoughts into one coherent belief that moves me forward in my work as a librarian.

I believe that a strong part of the future of public libraries will be in focusing our efforts and services on a hyperlocal level. This differentiates from where I believe public libraries are focusing their efforts now, which is looking outwards towards everyone else in the profession to see what they are doing before acting themselves. No more is this apparent to me than the recent effort for public libraries to shift a lot of focus towards STEM/STEAM/Makerspace/Coding efforts. Please do not get me wrong: I believe in teaching and exposing citizens to things such as these, yet at the same time I do not believe in a one size fits all solution that can be applied to every public library. This is the case here, as it was with eBooks and any other “trends” in recent history.

The idea that we should be focusing our efforts and services on a hyperlocal level instead of looking outwards towards everyone else in the profession is doing became clear to me when I was completing a survey sent to me by our State Library. In that survey, participants were asked about STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and nothing else. I understand that the point of the survey was to better understand the libraries in my state, but while reading it I thought of the following scenarios as I imagined another librarian in my state reading the email:

  1. The State Library is focused on STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and we’re not doing this at all so we must be very behind.
  2.  The State Library created a survey about this, so it must be very important and I must get behind this trend even though I do not know if it is right for my community.
  3. I need to learn more about all things related to STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and if I do not I risk losing patrons and support.

I understand that not everyone will follow one of the paths that I laid out above, but many will.  Human beings are creatures of habit and enjoy following the leader. There is probably something embedded into our DNA that makes us this way.

The problem with following the hype and trend of the moment is that it is usually fixated on something that worked well for one particular library and that it does not translate well to other libraries. When I lived in Portland, ME I felt like my library was focused on what happened everywhere else and the idea that “if they’re doing, we should be heading that way too.” In reality, Portland was its own very unique community that needed a specific set of programs and services. A huge part of why I moved to the Chattanooga Public Library in 2013 was because they were looking (and still do) at their programs and services on a hyperlocal level. Programs like DEV DEV, The 4th Floor, Makeanooga, and many more worked and continue to work because they are programs for that community, not programs that were copied/pasted from what someone else in public libraries was doing.

Why are we at where we are now? I believe that social media, large organizations, and large publications have led the charge towards public libraries focusing outwards towards everyone else in the profession instead of inspiring those in the profession to think for themselves and focus inward on their communities. A culture of “here’s how to be successful with your public library in 5 easy steps” combined with ego boosting catchphrases like “rock star librarian” have not helped us but instead presented public libraries with the path of least resistance.

How do we change the conversation? 

  • We need more public librarians out there willing to share their stories about how their focus on a hyperlocal level is benefiting their public library and their community. To start, I recommend following the work of librarians and libraries in New Zealand and Australia. You can do that by starting here with this Twitter list that I have compiled. The work done by the people and organizations is focused, inspiring, and uplifting.
  • Share through any platform that you feel comfortable with. I personally would like to see an increase in public librarians writing more and maintaining their own blogs or Medium profiles
  • Remind each other that our communities come before everything and to keep the message positive. Support and reminders from other public librarians is one way that we can spread the message that we need to focus our work locally.

Ditch the hype. Don’t copy and paste. Focus on your Community. This is what I believe to be the path forward.

The Power of Kindness

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The local YWCA in Titusville does a great job of spreading a positive message to all in our community.

I believe in the power of kindness. I believe that no matter what kind of evil or injustice we may face directly in front of us that the thing that’s gonna win out in the end is kindness. My statement may sound a bit naive, but after 36.5 years on this planet I haven’t found anything better than kindness. I’ve tried being angry, I’ve tried throwing punches, and I’ve tried to tapping into the dark side of things (you know, like Star Wars kind of stuff) and while those methods have produced results, those results did not last and actually cause more harm than good. With that acknowledged, I pledge allegiance to power of kindness.

With that said, I’d like to share a recent piece that I wrote for the LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) Library Life publication titled Libraries: A Global Necessity (click here for the PDF and scroll to page 21). It nicely sums up my approach to the current state of the USA and public libraries in general and how I believe that through kindness and great customer service we will provide for our citizens.

I highly suggest you take the time out of your day and read the rest of the current issue of Library Life as well. This is my favorite Library related publication out there. It does a great job of inspiring me to be both a better librarian and a human being with every issue that is published. This month’s issue has some great pieces by Cath Sheard and Fiona Kerr to name a few.

 

The Next Few Years #sharegoodstuff

Don’t worry: this is not a political post. I don’t care who you voted for, and I don’t care to discuss politics with anyone.

What I’m gonna talk about is the next few years and what I believe to be one of the biggest things all of us in this country (and the world to a greater extent) need to practice and learn more about: how to be kind to each other, how to listen to each other, and how to make real and positive changes in our world.

I believe that all of this starts in our heads and in our hearts. First, we must be willing to see the positive parts of our daily lives. When we see those, we see hope and love all around us. Our world changes and instead of being a place where the day-to-day slog happens, it becomes a place of opportunity.

Once this is established, we can have better interactions with other people from day to day. They can be kinder and more focused. We can have the patience to listen to each other and try to understand each other. When we try to understand each other we contribute to a bigger picture: a kinder and more understanding world.

Every action we take creates a ripple. If we act in a more positive and understanding way, I feel like the sum of all of these actions will add up to something great. It is a big thing to think about, but I believe in it. I believe in it because I’ve seen it daily in the public libraries where I have worked. The sharing and borrowing of information creates positive ripple in the world. When you say the world library, most people smile. They see it as a safe and welcoming place. It took years and years of these positive actions to build up those smiles. These positive ripples work.

I’m just one human being, but I promise to be kinder to everyone I met. I promise to listen more closely to everyone that I interact with. I promise to take more actions to make real and positive changes in our world. I promise to #sharegoodstuff.

 

Library Ideas

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I can’t figure out how to properly embed a Storify in a blog post, so just go here and read a lot of tweets if you want to do so https://storify.com/JustinLibrarian/a-discussion-about-an-idea-called-library-plus

I think ideas and conversation are awesome. When you have conversations that stem from ideas it is even better. I constantly have ideas about libraries and one of my goals for 2016 has been to only have ideas related. I have learned this year that the only library ideas that we have that are worth anything to us are the ones that we can apply in our own situations. Every other library idea out there can be an inspiration, but given that every community is different most ideas don’t adapt easily. So….I think a lot about the Benson Memorial Library, Titusville PA, Crawford County PA, and all of Northwestern PA and say to myself “how can I do just a little bit to make this place just a touch more wonderful.” In the great grand scheme of things I am not gonna to be the leader of any great seismic shifts but instead have come to love my place in the world as a person who sometimes drops pebbles into a massive ocean.

This idea came out of thinking about the following things about Benson Memorial Library:

  1. How can we better use our downstairs space?
  2. How can we offer interesting, cutting edge, and unique services in times of flat or decreasing funding?
  3. The library card is boring and out of date….we can fix this but how do we do that? (here are two good examples of fixing that by the way #1 and #2)

Additional thoughts to the questions I posted above:

  1. We have an amazing downstairs space at the library which is so very underutilized. Part of it sits empty all the time, part of it is used 1-2 times week, and part of it is used to store a lot of stuff that we don’t need. I want to transform this space into something that people can use.
  2. It is difficult for small rural libraries to innovate and bring new and exciting things to their community in the same way that larger urban libraries do. Our funding remains flat or in some cases decreased. I don’t believe that small rural libraries should have to wait for these things to eventually come to them but instead should be included as these new things become available. Too often do small rural libraries wait around for the innovation to come to them that by the time it does it is old and out of date.
  3. I wonder about the future of the library card and how we can make it more exciting. Everyone has so many cards that they don’t want to deal with. As a youth services librarian, I saw that kids and teens often misplaced their cards all the time. We need to give the library card some additional value.

This thinking led me to an idea I will call Library PLUS. It is just an idea and here it is: what if there was an option to upgrade your library membership and support new initiatives at the same time? Everything that came with a library membership right now (unlimited books, 4 dvds/video games/10 magazines/2-3 eBooks/free computer access) would remain the same. None of that would be touched. By paying some kind of a fee (more on that later part #1), the PLUS membership would give you access to non-tax funded things, events, and stuff in the library (more on that later part #2). The funds that the library collected from PLUS memberships would then be funneled back into the program to be able to buy more technology/offer more services or events/hire someone to oversee the PLUS program/etc.

This idea answers my three questions above:

  1. Gives the downstairs space a purpose as it becomes the PLUS area where the tools/events/etc are stored.
  2. Creates a revenue stream which allows the library to purchase new technology and items which allow innovation to happen with greater ease.
  3. Adds a new value to a library card.

So of course with any kind of thought there is the Jedi side and the Sith side:

  1. This idea creates a barrier which allows only those that can afford the PLUS membership access to certain materials/technology/events.
  2. Who will be the target audience?
  3. Can the library obtain a way to offer free PLUS memberships to the community (thinking about kids and teens here)…and if so why not just take that money and invest it in something that everyone can use?

more on that later part #1
-I have no idea how much the fee would be. That would be something that would need to be worked out once the idea was further in place. However, the person implementing this idea would need to recognize that the PLUS membership would need to be as low as it could possibly be.

(more on that later part #2)
-The PLUS membership could not have any materials/technology/events in it that were funded by tax dollars. That to me would “cross the streams” of being a free and open public library to a membership based library. The PLUS membership would only include things that were funded by private donors/foundations/etc.

And that’s it. That’s an idea. That idea spurred some great conversation on Twitter and for me personally it helped me think through this idea. The idea now sits here and it may happen or it may just sit here. But no matter what happens, the ideas and the conversations were worth it. That’s the neat thing about ideas and conversations….they always have value. I hope that we all can continue to have great ideas and conversations in 2017 and beyond!

Library To-Do List: 2017

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EXPAND OUR LOCAL HISTORY/GENEALOGY OFFERINGS
Titusville, PA has a wonderful and rich history (for a glimpse of it, just read this). As our local public library, I believe that we should be doing as much as possible to make that history accessible to our everyone in the community. To date, we’ve done a few things to increase awareness of our great history. Jess Hilburn started up a blog to share some great local stories she digs up in the Titusville Herald Archives. We’ve got the Titusville Herald archive online for in library use. But in my opinion we’ve got to do more, and slowly but surely we are getting there.

A partnership between the library, the Titusville Historical Society, Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Titusville Alumni Association came about in 2016 and resulted in the beginnings of the Titusville PA Heritage Connection, a website/digital portal that aims to bring all of our organizations together in one online space to make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. While the site isn’t anywhere near complete, the fact that we have it up and the framework is there is a step in the right direction. A big thank you to our Clarion University of PA intern Kerry Neely for her help in getting this set up!

UPGRADE OUR INTERNET CONNECTION
Living and working in Chattanooga, TN was pretty great and one of the big reasons for that was their gig fiber internet connection. Speeds were fast, reliable, and the excitement of having something so state of the art created such a positive buzz in the community which led to some great things being tried out to make Chattanooga TN a better place for all.

Since moving to Titusville, PA, I’ve been wishing we’ve had that kind of thing to spur some excitement. Our internet options here in town are lacking, and the ones we can connect to have average to terrible service. HOWEVER, I hope to change that in 2017. To my excitement, I discovered that the town does have fiber internet lines in a few places. After some conversations with people around the community and others in the state, I found out that THERE’S FIBER LINES SURROUNDING THE ENTIRE BENSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY. Here’s a beautiful image of that fiber line coming right down in front of the library and turning right down our alley. Wow.

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In 2017, I’m gonna do my best to get us connected to these fiber lines so that in the future we can offer better internet access to our patrons. I don’t know how this will look, I don’t know how much this will cost, and I don’t know if I’ll fully succeed, but I’m going to try. As far as I know, we’d be the second institution in Titusville to access this connection (the University of Pitt at Titusville is the first) and the first public space to offer high internet speeds. Like I said above, we’ll see, but for now I’m gonna dream big and try out something that’s potentially huge for our community.

PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS

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Yup, these are my kids Aero and Finn at a library program. They come to a lot of them because they have a lot of fun and they enjoy getting to hang out with other kids. That’s what it is all about!

One of the big things that libraries do best these days is to offer educational and fun programs for all ages. In 2016, we’re going to have offered 320 programs that were attended by over 8,000 community members. That’s not bad for a public library that has a service area of around 14,000 people.

2017 is gonna bring a lot more of that and hopefully in larger numbers. I can’t and won’t take my foot off of the gas pedal when it comes to programming in libraries. We have to constantly be offering something to our community members. Programs are unique to libraries and something that we do very well. Story times and after school clubs work best for our younger audience, while nighttime events and musical performances work well for our adult and senior citizen crowd. We plan on having more of those throughout the year.

DO MORE TO ESTABLISH THE LIBRARY AS A COMMUNITY SPACE
One of the best things public libraries have going for their is their space. Most, if not all of us, have amazing buildings in centrally located areas. These buildings are one of our biggest assets. They do some of the simplest things that a library can do: provide space, warmth, comfort, and adventure. I’ve been thinking and speaking about this idea for a few years, and in 2017 I hope to do more to make that idea more cohesive and understandable to everyone out there.

STAY POSITIVE
No matter what we face directly in front of us in 2017, we have to remember that there is love and support all around us. Take a look around at your online social networks, groups like EveryLibrary, and your local community organizations that support the library. Take a moment and look at the community members you serve on a daily basis at your library. All of these groups and all of these people believe in the work that you do. I’m going to do my best to keep that up front in my head and my heart in 2017. I urge you all to do the same.