Life

Routine and Order

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This weekend my mind turned to routine and order in an attempt to understand the world which I see in front of me. I believe that there is a lot we can understand from routine and order in our daily lives. We can then apply what we learned in our daily observations on a larger scale and through that have an impact on our overall lives. All of the things which we come into contact with both physically and mentally are connected. As individuals we can weave those things together into a giant tapestry which tells the story of who we are.

I am a being of energy, and that with my energy I chose to focus on positivity, creativity, and love. But the energy of an individual needs fuel and for me that fuel can come through routine and order. Below are some examples of routine and order that are in my life. These acts are simple but they give me great energy. This energy is needed in order to act as a being of positivity, creativity, and love.

WHEN I AM AT HOME

  1. Prepare and consume tea in the morning.
  2. Shower, brush my teeth.
  3. Spend time in the gardens (weather permitting).
  4. Piddle around in the gardens. Move some dirt, tidy up the area, etc.
  5. Water the plants inside and outside.
  6. Let the chickens and rabbits out to roam freely.
  7. Clean and feed the chicken and rabbit area.
  8. Make sure the bird feeder is full of seed.
  9. Perform or compose music in the gardens.
  10. Sit in the hammock and listen to the world around me.
  11. Unload and then load the dishwasher.
  12. Wash, dry, and put away laundry.

WHEN I AM AT WORK

  1. Set up my work space for a full day of work.
  2. Read and record our daily circulation and visits.
  3. Prepare coffee for the library staff.
  4. Water the plants inside.
  5. Take 1-2 minutes every hour to stretch.
  6. Open the window in the spring/summer for fresh air and to hear the sounds of the world.
  7. Actively observe the library around me when I leave my office. Try to notice something that can be improved for the community.

Routine and order use energy, but at the same time it fills our minds and souls with energy needed to move ahead. When we are aware of the acts that make up our daily lives, we become more in tune with the world. As beings of energy who are in tune with the world, we are able to focus and reach our goals whatever they may be. This is where change occurs. Be aware of the moment and that you have the ability to produce positive energy and in return you will experience significant changes in your life.

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Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Creativity

Between 2009 and 2015 I was not very active creatively. This is OK. The family that Haley and I started began to grow, and now that we were both out of school it was time to put some energy into our work. For me it was libraries and in a way my work in libraries took the place of the act of creativity. Looking back I see that my work in libraries was very creative as a result of this shift. I think I did some really neat library related things during that time period. Despite enjoying this work, I still felt a lack of creativity in my life.

My creativity comes out best in the form of songs, and even more specifically songs that are arranged in the sequence of an album. In the days of digital singles and rush releases, I understand that I am way beyond the times and I’m fine with that. One of the things that I have learned about creativity is that you need to open your mind and your heart to it and accept it in any form that it comes. Is it rushing at your faster than you can write it all down? Is the trickle as slow as a leaky faucet? What I have realized is that creativity comes in many forms and with many speeds. You have to accept that in your mind and in your heart and be ready for whatever comes. You also have to accept that your creativity may take different forms. As I said above, for me that form is a set of songs arranged as an album. My wife Haley, who just happens to be one of most creative people I know, excels at making clothes for herself as well as other fabric arts and oddities which have an amazing energy and charm to them.

And that’s what I want to talk about: the energy that your individual creativity puts out into the world. Every creative act that a human being does starts somewhere. I believe they start in a positive part of our mind and our heart. We then interpret these creative urges into a form. We do not need to talk about the form here. The form is what you want it to be. The form that feels most honest and real to you is the form for you. Embrace that form, think about your creative urge, and make that creative urge a reality. Birth your idea and let your idea out into the world.

DO NOT fall into the belief that “no one will listen to or read or look at” your creative act. Instead, think two things about your creative act:

  1. Your creative act puts out a positive energy into the world, and acts of positive energy are like ripples in a pond. The effects will be felt somewhere along the line.
  2. Your creative act will be listened to or read or looked at. Someone at some point in time will interact with it and it will have an impact on their life. There are too many people in the world for your creative act to not be seen by at least one person. And one person is more than zero.

My latest creative act is a 10 song album titled SMALL TOWN. I would like to end this post by talking about that creative act. I believe that not only should we share our creative acts but we should also talk about how they came to be and why they came to be. This helps us understand each other, and when we better understand each other we can work together to create a more positive world.

SMALL TOWN begins the album. I wanted to write a song that was just one big loop. I experimented with a 4 chord sequence in 4/4 time. Garageband helped me make the loops, program the drums and bass, and put more onto the song at the end. This is the introduction to a frame of mind I had while writing the album. This is what it can feel like in a small town.

GIVE ME THE ATOM BOMB was started in mid 2017 and went through many different versions until I came to this arrangement. I did not know if I wanted it to be a slow dirge, a synthpop extravaganza, or just a straight ahead song. Jeff Lynne and his use of the acoustic guitar as a rhythm instrument inspired this version. The message is simple: “I AM EVERYTHING, THERE’S NOBODY ELSE AROUND”. Contrasting the feeling of being woke with the feeling of being isolated.

THIS TOWN WILL DESTROY ITSELF was the lingering feeling that everything I moved my family to in 2015 was crumbling. Homes falling apart, buildings falling down, and a rot that set in years ago and continued to fester. I want to go, but I also want to stay. I can’t be fooled by my feelings.

FROZEN PIPES is the tale of Fidelia Hall, student loan debt, and the struggle of this generation in America. I’ve written about how my home is physically falling apart before…frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold, ceilings falling down, falling through the floor, and heating systems failing. Why can’t you just fix it Justin? Well, it’s tough when you have $100K of student loan debt between you and your wife and you only make $35K per year. You just can’t fix things in the moment and you have to plan. You promised that an education would lead to great things and while it has helped expand my mind, it has crippled the expanded mind with a debt that will never cease. The boomers and their complaints. Their lack of vision and understanding. This is the story of a generation. I could write about this for ages but I won’t.

LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP started in 2001 as an instrumental. I loved the simple melody. I loved the 50’s style chord sequence. The more I thought about this album the more I came to the conclusion that it should not be a 10 song tome on small towns. It had to be more. LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP starts the dream sequence and the hunt for a new place to live and a possible new job, all of which ties nicely into this blog series I wrote about my job search, A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN

LITTLE PARADISE is a song that has been complete since 2001 but I was never happy with the recording I had. It felt too…..beachy. The song was written around the time where all that I wanted to do was to leave college and travel and live in different places every three months. That was the dream. The song was a nice fit for this album because it dealt with leaving your home to explore and go on an adventure. I am very proud of the bridge.

AEOTEOROA has roots in a cassette demo tape I made in 11th grade during my music class. It was a simple midi piano and not much else with the title JUPITER. It sounded good and it needed more. AEOTEOROA was a place that I had a very big interest in and a place that I could see me and my family living in, so it became the focus…the ultimate adventure…the goal. Everyone’s so neat there. Everything’s so green there. Why don’t we plant roots and soar into the sun?

MUCH TOO LATE also has origins from years ago but it was an idea that sat aside without any development. Striking out on the idea of a move to Aeoteoroa, I wondered to myself if it was much too late to make a new step in our lives. Time is always ticking. Also I just love a good key change into a huge chorus.

ATOM BOMB, as I stated above, had so many different versions and ideas. I couldn’t let go of the idea of the song being constructed with synths and with dirgey instrumentation. This is why we have a reprise! I couldn’t let this vibe go unheard.

Ending an album is difficult. I always want to sum everything up and get the listener to think about their life. I noticed that the phrase “another day” popped up in another song and it reminded me that I had this short idea of a song from years ago. It felt like a good way to end.

 

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Positivity

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As I wandered into 2018 something inside of me felt off. I was not the Justin that I was just a few years ago and overall I was not on a path that allowed me to contribute towards a positive world. A lot of things in my life contributed to this. My family and I moved into a wonderful property that required more work than we expected. The long term effects of crippling student loan debt really hit my mind in a hard way. I questioned my role as a librarian and I questioned the profession as a whole, wondering if I was strong enough to do the work and if the profession as a whole had lost its overall focus. The country where I live entered a stage of great uncertainty, upheaval, and confusion. My immediate world and the greater world around me was off its axis. I let things be and thought it would correct itself, but it did not happen and that was when I realized that inside of myself I had the energy to make necessary changes towards a positive future.

I envision a world where all humans recognize that the energy they have inside of them can be used for good. I believe that positivity, creativity, and love are the three major things that we as humans should be focused on at all times. I believe that if there were enough of us that understood this and acted in such a way where our lives focused on positivity, creativity, and love that we would have the momentum to shift the trajectory of the world towards a brighter future.

I found out that I have the energy in myself to make necessary changes towards a positive future. To start, I had to understand this concept and then put it into practice. I put that into practice by saying these lines out loud to myself

  • I will work hard to have my heart and my head aligned.
  • I will express a message of positivity and convey this message to others through my words, both written and spoken.
  • I will encounter many different humans on my journey, and no matter what the situation is I will approach every single human being with a positive message.
  • I will understand that sometimes I may stumble along the way, but that I have the energy in myself to refocus.

 

Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music

Four Things That We Can Do To Change The World Together

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My brain has been humming quite a bit these days. As a result you will most likely get a lot of posts in the upcoming weeks based around what I’ve been thinking about. The overall theme is one of energy, positivity, creativity, and love/kindness. My head and my heart know that these four things connect in some way, and this is my attempt to figure them out and present some kind of cohesive statement.

I have been searching for something all of my life, and I believe that you are most likely searching for something too. We all want to understand the world that we live in. We all want to know if there’s a bigger picture out there. We all want to be part of something. In the past two years, I have struggled with this idea in my journey. When I boiled it all down, I came to the conclusion that I was, like Carl Sagan said many years, a bunch of starstuff that was assembled and now wander around the Earth. It felt right to believe this and while it still feels right to believe this I still had a curiosity inside of me. I am matter, one that was created and one that will eventually deteriorate and be absorbed back into the cosmos, but was that all that I could be? I don’t think so. I knew that I could be more if I wanted to be. With that, I thought about what changes the world. I tried to narrow in on the real forces that change thing. I looked at the people who have come before us that have had that kind of real and positive change. I tried to connect the thread between them all. I think I’ve got it. Everything starts with energy. Let’s jump in…

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”   -Carl Sagan 

ENERGY

We are beings who emit energy. There is a life force around each and every one of us who inhabit this Earth. I personally cannot see any manifestations of that life force, but I know it is there. I look up at this moment and see people all around me. I know some of these people, but there are others that I do not know. But each and every one of them gives off an energy. Some are positive and kind, others are off-putting and not something I want around in my life. That’s not the focus here. The focus for us is to understand that we are all beings who create an energy, and each of us have the ability to use that energy to change the world. All that it takes is a simple choice and then a declaration of intent: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

If you feel this way, read that sentence and then say it out loud to yourself and the universe. Once you do so, you create a pact that allows you to move ahead in your journey. You are a being who will use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

POSITIVITY

The energy that you as a human being have chosen to put out into the world is one that oozes with positivity. From your heart, your head, and your lips comes a message that is positive. Think about something you’ve said in the past that is negative, harmful, or that just does not sit well with you. Think about how you felt as you put that idea out into the world. Did you feel how it was just a bit off in your head, your heart, and in your gut? Chances are that you felt it but that you may not have been able to recognize it. The key to moving ahead is to recognize this and to change it.

One of the ways to move ahead is to craft a positive message and continually put that out into the world. When you craft this message and put it out, you will notice the change it has on the world. Positive messages are addictive. Negative messages are addictive too. But when you get on the positive message train, your addiction will be fed by the goodness you are putting out into the world. You will see that this positive message is having an impact, and in turn you will want to repeat your actions. Do that time and time again and what you’ve now done is contributed a great deal of positivity to the world. You have become a being who uses their energy to change the world.

CREATIVITY

I believe that one of the greatest things that a positive energy emitting human being can do while they are here in the world is to create something. The act of creativity means looking inside of yourself, capturing the energy that is unique to you, and then shaping that into something positive and unique and putting it out into the world. It can be anything: you can write a poem, create an album of songs, or make your own clothes. You can create anything because you have this amazing ability inside of you. We all have the ability to be creativity. All that it takes is for you to recognize that you have this ability inside of you and to say this to yourself and the world:  I am a being who creates a positive energy and I am full of creativity. I will put that creativity out into the world and use it towards positive change.

We should all search our heads and hearts to find what creativity we want to bring to the world. I myself love to write, both here on this website and also as a songwriter here. This is my creative act. I first do it for myself because I need to put this positive energy into the world, and then I hope that by doing so it creates a positive ripple that may somehow change the world. I may see this change in action or I may never see this change, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the act of creativity and the fact that all of us have the ability to create something positive for the world. Embrace this gift and use it so that together we can make the world a better place.

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I highly recommend Ellen J. Langer’s book On Becoming An Artist if you would like to explore creativity more.

LOVE/KINDNESS

We all want to live in a world that is positive and full of love. No one here on this Earth, not even the people who use their power and abilities for selfish and manipulative reasons, will say that they want negativity and hate in the world. Why is this? It is because at the core of every one of us is the need for a positive world. A positive world allows us to live, and every human being that has ever existed shares the desire to live. When we are alive, we are the living, breathing, and functioning embodiment of the starstuff that Sagan talked about. When our life ceases, we are still that starstuff but we are no longer living, breathing, and functioning. All of our stuff will eventually be recycled, but we do not know how long that will take. So we cling to the life we have at the moment, and a positive world full of love and kindness allows us to cling to that current life for as long as possible. We want to be alive and the best way to remain so is through love and kindness. Say this to yourself and to the world: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive and creative way with love and kindness at the front and center of everything that I do. 

The first step we all need to take in order to change the world is simple: Read this, and say these things outloud to yourself and to the world. For love, kindness, creativity, and positivity to reign supreme over everything, we must first allow ourselves to be the energy creating beings that we want to be. You are everything and inside of you is the love that the world needs. Understand that love and then put it out into the world. Positive change will occur on a mass level when we understand the love inside ourselves.

This is a great moment in time where we can all make the decision to make a better world. I believe that with these four things in our heads and our hearts we can start to make a positive difference.

-Justin Hoenke, April 22, 2018.

 

Family, Libraries, Life

The Goal

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Statues inspire me. I want as many of them around my property as I can get my hands on. This guy is a weird one but I love it. He sits in our strawberry patch and just looks on at whoever comes to our backdoor. He’s magical.

Life in our modern society is a pretty freaking weird thing. We have an overall system in place that works actively to help promote individual growth and also to thwart that same growth. We are creatures that strive for change through accomplishments and advances, but that change comes so slowly that in the day to day it feels like nothing ever changes. What we hear from each other, those in power and those with fame are usually positive and sugar coated in nature, but underneath those whispers of “oh yeah everything is alright” is a much larger story with complex moves like a chess game, ups and downs, and things flying all over the place.

The minute after I think I have my “aha! So that’s the answer!” moment is the minute that I’m back to the drawing board. You can go through this entire blog and see that evolving and growing day by day, year by year. The best thing to realize at this point, for me at least, was that the answer will never be there and then someday I’ll die without the answer and melt back into the nutrient ecosystem and be born again as a tree. That happened a few years ago and, boy oh boy, did things feel a lot better for me once I realized that. Cue Elton John and that Lion King song. It makes sense.

A nice holiday break to end 2017 helped end a year that was a bit confusing on a clearer note. I woke up when my body and mind were ready to wake up. I engaged in the pursuits which felt natural to me (music, video games, reading). I stayed in pretty much the same location for quite a number of days, surrounded by people that I wanted to be surrounded with. I went outside and used the snowblower to make nice little paths for people to walk along the sidewalk. There are great joys in the simple, mundane things. The seismic shifts which once fueled my days are no longer necessary. I am getting a lot better at understanding and enjoying the little stuff.

Claude Debussy’s piano music is a good musical representation of what I feel in my head and heart these days. When I listen to the piece above (a collection of six solo piano pieces composed between 1901-1907 titled Images) I feel a sense of ease, wonder, excitement, and content wash over me. It feels right to listen to this music. There is so much wonder and beauty in these compositions. My mind wanders and I think about Debussy and what he may have been thinking and feeling when he wrote these pieces. What is it that compelled him to create such a beautiful thing?

What I want is a life full of creativity. Creating something is the best things humans can do in this world. Make some art, make some music, plant some flowers, have some children. The end result does not matter; the act is what matters. It is the act of creation that is really the only thing that makes sense to me these days. In a world of falsities and sugar coating, the act of creation feels more real than ever. When I write words in a document, record some music, or capture some sounds I feel free and I feel happy. There’s really nothing better than that experience. It fills up my soul.

THE GOAL is to live a life of happiness, to spread positivity and kindness, to create beautiful things, and to do work that gives back to people. I want to find the truth and honesty in all things. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want this whole thing to be one huge adventure. I am happy where I’m at right now and I will be happy with where I go.

 

 

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries

The Summer of Bathroom Issues

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A random gas station bathroom image I found on the Google

Nobody really wants to talk about poop, pee, blood, and other things you don’t want to find in a library bathroom but guess what? That’s what we are gonna talk about. Why are we gonna talk about it? Because even though we’ve had an amazing summer at our library (visitors and circulation are up!), I will forever remember the summer of 2017 as THE SUMMER OF BATHROOM ISSUES.

Compared to large urban libraries, I know that our issues in the bathroom are quite small. In my time in New Jersey, we had to deal with a patron who loved to chug vodka and leave the evidence hidden in the ceiling tiles. I can’t tell you how many times we dealt with used needles when I was in Maine. And in Tennessee, I remember alcohol and prescription medication bottles being the things we found the most. Here in Titusville PA we mostly deal with poop, pee, & blood, either on the floor, the toilet seat, or the walls. But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t matter what you’re dealing with in the restroom. All of this is unacceptable. And for some reason, its been happening more frequently here at my library. What’s going on in the world? Where is this acceptable? Is there something that we’re doing wrong? I ask myself these questions a lot. I think about poop, pee, and blood more than a normal person should.

I’ve had to remind myself a lot this summer to remain positive. Maybe they just missed the toilet? Maybe they’re embarrassed about what was very clearly an accident to them? I don’t know what causes these things to happen, but I do know that in order to continue working in libraries I’ve gotta stay positive. As the director at my library, I’ve gotta also remember to keep my staff positive. Of course we’re allowed to have a moment or two where we want to give it all up after we find a wad of toilet paper that has very clearly been peed on and then stuffed behind the toilet (for three weeks or so). In the long run though, we’ve gotta do our jobs, remain positive, and always remember that we’re doing work that is good work. Nobody wants to deal with this kind of stuff, but sometimes we have to so we do it, we have our little grumble, we remind ourselves why we’re in the library biz, and we move on.

To end, I’d like to share something very positive that came out of this. Yesterday a patron found something in the restroom that needed to be cleaned up. He asked me for some paper towels and I obliged, but I asked him if I could help. Here’s what he said to me:

“There’s a mess in the restroom. You don’t wanna see it and I don’t mind cleaning it up. I work as a janitor so I am used to this. And y’all have been so nice to me that I don’t mind helping you out.”

Despite all of the poop and pee that we’ve come across this summer, this interaction sums it all up: stay positive and be kind to everyone. Do your job and do it well.

Interested in more talk about messy bathrooms and all things icky about libraries? I suggest Matt Finch’s Code Brown: Design Thinking & Beyond feat. @jeromical / Part 1

Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, Kids, Libraries, Library Director, Management

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.