Family, Libraries, Three Things, Video Games

THREE THINGS 2017.2

COMMUNITY CENTRE

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I like this a lot. I have long thought that libraries are all community centers that just happen to be called libraries because once upon a long ago our only function was to loan books and we’ve grown up a lot since then. Anywho: Te Takere Library is a library in New Zealand and while doing some research I noticed that their council calls them the Te Takere Community Centre and Library.

HOMESCHOOLING

I walked by a public school today (a really great one!) and I saw about 30 kids playing at the playground. They seemed to be in very specific groups: those playing basketball, those playing on the playground equipment, and those around the teacher. They were all nicely fenced in by a giant 12 foot tall fence (I totally understand the need for this by the way) and it hit me: I wouldn’t change our lives as homeschoolers for anything in the world. I’ll eat nothing but ramen every day for the next 10-13 years of my life and be as poor as poor can be to keep this happening. I think about the past week that we had together and what we did and it makes me happy:

  • Wrote and drew a graphic novel (Finn)
  • Created his own guitar/keytar (Aero)
  • Went to swimming lessons (Finn)
  • Visited the library twice (Finn & Aero)
  • Worked on our gardens (Finn & Aero)
  • Went on some side quests in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Finn & Aero)
  • Did some dress up and role playing (Finn & Aero)
  • Read some books (Finn & Aero)

Learning happens all the time and I love being able to live a life with Haley, Finn, and Aero where we can explore this together at our own pace. There should be more freedom in our world. There should be less schedules. There should be more curiosity.

NINTENDO SWITCH

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Even though we’ve really only been playing THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD (combined playtime for Justin+Haley+Finn=over 125 hours) we have been having a wonderful time with the system. First up, Zelda: the game is amazing, fun, and sparks great curiosity and exploration in all of us at the Hoenke house. Every time one of us plays it we have discussions about what we’re doing and who we’re encountering. We’re telling each other so many stories about what we find in the game and in turn we’re inspiring each other to try new things. Second, the Nintendo Switch system itself is glorious. At times it can feel a bit more delicate than previous Nintendo systems. The amazing thing about is the ability to take it from the TV to wherever you want without any interruption. While Finn and Aero were inside using the TV yesterday afternoon after being outside all morning I spent my time in a hammock outside playing Zelda. It was glorious.

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I wrote two articles about the Nintendo Switch for InfoToday recently and you can read those here:

Plan a Library Game Night With Nintendo’s New Console
Attention, Libraries: It’s Time to ‘Switch’ It Up

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Benson Memorial Library, Books, Chattanooga Public Library, Community Building, ebooks, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Technology

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.

Life, Things, Travel, Uncategorized

Slow Down

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Besides the people, one of the things that I miss the most about Australia and New Zealand is their speed at which life occurs. Simply stated, it is all just a little bit slower. There’s morning tea. There’s afternoon tea. There’s no clock breathing down the back of your neck. There are times where you have to be somewhere and times where things have to start/stop, but there’s not the nagging sense of I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME. Time exists, but NZ and Australia are not owned by time. It’s just something that is there. Like it should be to all of us

America has a lot of issues to resolve, but I think one of the biggest that we face is our breakneck speed at which we approach everyday life. For some reason, we need to be the best. We have to be the fastest, the first, the number one. We like to win. But it shouldn’t be that way. It’s OK to be second or third. Heck, it’s OK to sometimes not even be part of the conversation. We need to slow down. Appreciate the trees and the birds and each other. Have some tea and just sit around. Talk about shit. Think about how amazing this could be for our health, both physical and mental! We wouldn’t have to be a bundle of nerves and aching backs and knees all the time. Slow it down!

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Breakfast in NZ and Australia was something that I always looked forward to. It was always full of good food and time to just take in the beginning of the day. The workers who prepared my food and served it to me were always kind (maybe cause they were not working for tips and instead were paid a decent and honest wage??!?!) and did not rush me. This was a good start to the day. I think we all should adopt this practice.

When I got back to the States, my wife Haley started talking about a Danish concept that I was sort of familiar with called Hygge. We chatted about it, shared links about the idea (like this one: Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Have Some ‘Hygge’) and it has really been good to think about. Slow down. Practice hygge. It’s winter for most of us! It is the holiday season! Slow down and enjoy it. We only have so many in our lives. Enjoy every single one!

Family, Keynotes, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Presentations, Travel

Travels/Growth/Future Stuff

The past month of my life has been pretty awesome.

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I’m back from my travels, most un-jet lagged, and ready to take on the world again.

Long before libraries came into view my wife and I spoke about New Zealand a lot. We wanted to move there so that she could go to midwifery school. To us, it was a magical place full of wonder, beauty, and kind people. Well, I’m happy to report now that I’ve been there that everything we thought was true. The people, the views, and the atmosphere in New Zealand is top notch.

If you were to analyze this blog you’d see that the most frequently used word is community. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about New Zealand and the LIANZA 2015 conference. Even though there were well over 500 attendees at this conference it still felt like a family of like minded individuals coming together to share and learn from each other. It was a beautiful thing. No other conference that I’ve been to starts with a pōwhiri. Imagine about 500 people gathering outside of the conference venue and then being led into the space by Maori leaders. There was singing! There was storytelling! There was dancing! It was the coming together of amazing people to share an amazing story. I’d post a video but it wouldn’t do it justice. You had to be there.

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If you have the chance to visit New Zealand DO NOT TURN DOWN THE OFFER. Go there, soak it in, and grow a little bit. It’s even better if you can go to a LIANZA conference while you’re there. Yes, I did just say that. An actual library conference with true, genuine worth. LIANZA is it my friends.

I just have to put out some love before I move on from NZ: Jerome, Rachael, Ned, Ines, Jess, Sarah, Michael, and all of the other people who I spent a lot of my time with: FAMILY AND FRIENDS! That’s what we are now. Thank you for everything.

Next on the agenda was Australia, where I spent 8 days in Sydney and Brisbane. I was a guest of both the State Library of New South Wales and the State Library of Queensland. I gave a few talks (I’d post my slides here but what good are slides without the stories?), met a load of amazing people, saw some amazing libraries (the State Library of Queensland and the Edge are BEAUTIFUL!), and in general my head and my heart grew. I caught up with my good friend Warren Cheetham in Brisbane. It was so wonderful to see him and walk around the city. That man is my Australian brother and no matter where we are it will always be great to come together. In Sydney, I finally met my longtime Twitter friends Ellen Forsyth, Mylee Joseph, and Katrina McAlpine. In person, they were just as lovely and amazing as they were on Twitter. Authentic, real people. That’s what I am talking about. Isn’t that emerging as a theme in this blog post? That’s what this trip was about. Authenticity. The people of NZ and Australia are about as authentic as you get, and I think all of us can learn from them.

And libraries! Of course I visited libraries. The Katoomba Library was one of my favorites. Why you ask? Well because it showed me physical proof of something that I’ve been thinking about recently…public libraries need to breathe! It was refreshing to see a building that was not super heavy on packing physical items into the library and instead focused on providing PEOPLE with the space they need. Chairs, desks, tables, couches, and more were EVERYWHERE. The collections on the shelf had space…for more materials and for easier browsing. This is the way public libraries are going. They are a place for the people to visit, share, and connect.

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Traveling always leads to personal growth. If you’re not getting that out of your travels, you must be doing it wrong. You’ve gotta look around at all the little things: the signs, the trees, and the birds. You see just how small this world that we live in really is. We’re all connected. Some of the details may be a bit different but in the end you start to see that this is all the same. We are one.

 

I came back to Titusville, PA with nothing but love waiting for me inside of my home. As much as I enjoy traveling, there is no better place to be than in the arms of Haley, Finn, and Aero. Life is awesome. The biggest thing I learned on this trip? These three and our home is all that I need.

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ChurchHouse HouseChurch is now Fidelia Hall, which will eventually house the Titusville Creativity Center. Like any good idea these days, we’ve already got the Facebook page all set up and ready to go. Winter is here and it’s time to heat the building. That’s the first step. You’ll be hearing more about this in 2016.

The cold weather and snow also gives everyone a good time to hunker down, put on some pajamas, and prepare for 2016. I hope all of you reading this can do just that. Enjoy Thanksgiving and all of the other upcoming holidays. We all deserve to slow down a bit.

 

 

 

Family, Libraries, Life, Travel

8720-9657-9344 NZ/AUS/PA

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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.

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

Keynotes, Libraries, Travel

LIANZA 2015

LIANZA

I’m happy to announce today that I will be attending the LIANZA 2015 Conference in Wellington, New Zealand this year from November 7-11 2015 to speak about youth services, kids, tweens, teens, and everything awesome that can happen in libraries. I’m honored to be a part of this event. I’ve always enjoyed following the LIANZA conferences on Twitter (#lianza15 this year!) and cannot wait to learn and share with many librarians from New Zealand, Australia, and beyond. They’ve got a great lineup this year (Sarah Houghton, Ned Potter, David Lankes, and more!) and I am also looking forward to hanging out (and in some cases, meeting for the first time!) with some wonderful library colleagues.

November is going to be a most excellent month full of libraries and learning.I can’t wait to meet everyone. If you see me while I’m in New Zealand, please say hello and give me a hi-five! (here’s what I look like these days)