Benson Memorial Library, Libraries

The Summer of Bathroom Issues

bffe987f80b86b50a91d3b032f91a3d0.jpg
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

Advertisements
Benson Memorial Library, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Three Things, Video Games

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.
IMG_1373
“Don’t talk, take my hand and let me hear your heart beat” -Brian Wilson and Tony Asher

 

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

Library To-Do List: 2017

IMG_0185.JPG

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.

Benson Memorial Library.jpg

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

IMG_0218.JPG
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.

Libraries

Let’s Talk About Approach

Screenshot
Every blog post should have an image and I couldn’t think of anything for this topic other than the approach of shaking hands.

I’m not that into the idea that “first impressions last a lifetime.” For me, I believe we should always be neutral and kind when we approach someone for the first time. From there your interactions with a person can increase and after about a year of knowing someone you can really tell who they are and how they’ll act in certain situations.

One of the things I’ve learned a lot while working in libraries over the past 10 years is how important it is to approach an event/situation/interaction with a positive attitude, kindness, and an openness to hear all sides of the story. When you do that, your chance at success greatly increases and all sides will have a pleasant experience.

I’ve found this website to be most helpful when it comes to kindness: Random Acts of Kindness. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed or in need of some guidance I turn to this page, give it a quick read, and let the ideas fill up my soul.

As we work with our community in both our day to day interactions and our long term projects, it is important to remember how we approach all of our situations. Fill them with positivity and kindness even in trying situations. Be patient with the other side of the story.

 

Libraries, Social Media, Technology

The Collective Ugggh

Over the past month, I’ve been really down on social media to the point where I’ve been paranoid to log in, comment, or post anything for fear of being overwhelmed.  I believe they call it social media fatigue and I’ve read about it here and here in the past.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and if you’re reading this looking for a cure all or something like that to fix social media fatigue, I don’t have it for you.  I’ve done a number of things to help myself get over this and the downward spiral it can throw someone into (“I’m a horrible person.  I want to sleep all day. I hate people.”) and few things have stuck and few things haven’t.  But one thing that I’ve noticed is what I’m calling The Collective Uggggh.  In fact, I fell into it today.

It makes you feel like this

The Collective Ugggggh is what I’m calling when you log into a social network or read an article on a news site and you see the following filling up your feed:

  • Complaining about something work/life related
  • Reposting about something horrible that was said/did and then scrolling and scrolling to see pages upon pages of commenting that goes nowhere

It’s called the The Collective Ugggggh because it makes you feel that way inside. We’re all guilty of it.  In fact, like I said above I was guilty of it this morning (that’s when I had the A-HA! moment, decided to stop and wrote this post about it).

So what’s the solution?  I could say that you could unfriend/unfollow everyone, not comment, delete everything, and a number of other tricks like that but will that work in the long run?  I highly doubt it.  You’ll miss it.  Why?  Because social media is pretty awesome despite all of its flaws.  It’s great to share, read, and connect with people.

Instead, what I’m going to focus on going forward is positivity.  Sure, I may be having a hard day and want to let off some steam, but from now on I’m going to ask myself is it really worth posting about and then spending the next few minutes of my life reading and commenting on?  To me, it isn’t.  I’ll take that moment, deal with it in my own way, and move on.  I’ve decided that chorus of The Collective Ugggggh isn’t worth it anymore.

Books, ebooks, Libraries

Choice quotes from “All Hat, No Cattle: A Call for Libraries to Transform Before It’s Too Late” by Jamie LaRue

Click on this image to read the whole article

I really enjoyed reading Jamie Larue’s post All Hat, No Cattle: A Call for Libraries to Transform Before It’s Too Late.  It was very refreshing to hear such a positive and inspiring call for librarians to change.  I especially like Larue’s call to action for librarians, especially the following:

  • Engage. Pay attention – the e-landscape changes weekly.
  • Become a publisher. Acquire the means of e-content production and management. Build an e-publishing platform as easy to use as Amazon’s.
  • Budget for investment in technology.
  • Build new acquisition and review systems. Experiment with alternative collection development strategies.
  • Reach out to your community to grow authors. DCL has begun compiling author resources to make would-be writers better: writing clubs in the area, writing classes, lists of copyeditors and book designers.
  • Talk to more than librarians! Strike up some conversations with your local bookstore, with local media, with local civic groups.
  • Be positive. In public, at conferences, on panels, project excitement and confidence.