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

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Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, Presentations, Teens, Travel

Library Futures Seminar at the Louisville Public Library

Hello all!  I am in Louisville, KY today as part of a Libraries Futures Seminar at the Louisville Public Library organized by the very awesome June Garcia and Susan Kent.  I’ll be talking about Kids/Tweens/Teens and the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I am so very honored to be part of this great event!

Here are my slides. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

Work spaces

The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library.  I like to think of this as our own little fort.
The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library. I like to think of this as a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how we arrange our lives.  This may come from the fact that my family and I just bought a new home and we’re trying to see how to best organize our lives in this new home.  This may also come from the fact that we’ve got a lot of space on The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library and the freedom to explore new ways to provide services to our community.

When I first arrived at the Chattanooga Public Library, I noticed that a few employees used The 4th Floor as their “office”…I used quotes because it wasn’t an office in the traditional sense.  They were camped out with their laptops and their other work around two large tables.  Everyone worked at their own project and every once in awhile they’d be a group conversation.  What impressed me about this work space was how their work was being done in public and how all of the employees were happy to be at work.  It has been said time and time again that collaborative work space like what I saw on the 4th Floor can lead to happier and more productive employees.  What really made me think about our work spaces was that what has been traditionally defined as office work was being done out in the public.  Public kept coming up for me.  We work in a public library.  We are public employees.  We work in a public space.

It all leads to what you see above: our public work space, or as I like to call it “a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.”  I really like the idea of working in public and having a place where staff can come together and share ideas not only amongst themselves but with the community as well.  If a group of teens want to come in and hang out around this desk, that’s even better.  We can talk to them, share stories, listen to music, and interact.

In the long term, I’m trying to understand how this public work space can lead to staff not having to be tied to a desk schedule.  Think about the time we spend creating and managing desk schedules.  Think about how terribly lonely time spent at a public desk can be (especially if it is slow). It’s going to be something that will need to be tested through trial and error, but I’m sure we’ll find something that works for both us and our community in the long run.

Libraries

The 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library

4th

I’m a huge fan of the new 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library project.  Nate Hill (@natenatenate) has been sharing some great articles that have been popping up in their local paper about the project which you can read here: http://www.nooga.com/159585/on-the-4th-at-the-public-library/

My favorite part of the article comes from Library Director Corinne Hill:

“We have no preconceived notion of what this is going to be, other than what the community wants and how the community wants to use it.”

Beautiful.  To me, this is what the public library is about…whatever the community needs it to be at that time.

For more information, please visit: http://4thfloor.chattlibrary.org/