Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Benson Memorial Library, Family, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management, Titusville, PA

Where Are We Now?

About a year ago I hung up a bizarre painting in my office at work. To me it was perfect and just familiar enough that I thought it warranted a place in my life. As a person who always thought it would be neat to have an office and fill it with interesting things, the painting, when mixed with the Lego creations and drawings that Finn and Aero have created for me over the years, helped me establish this place my home away from home. When I feel comfortable at work, I usually am able to some really good and meaningful work. On the other hand I could also see how the average “I shop for my groceries at Walmart every Saturday at 1pm and have to watch the game and/or my sitcom at the same time every week” American person would be appalled by it.

One day I came into work to find that my painting was taken down. My coworkers took it down because, yes they were terrified and appalled by it. I guess right now would also be a good time to explain that due to limited space we’re all basically working on top of each other and that we’re surrounded by glass. It’s like a packed fishbowl in here. But to fully admit my feelings, I was pretty let down by their actions. It felt passive aggressive and overall it felt unkind. But in the moment I didn’t react. I just went on and say “oh, well that happened.”

You see as a Gemini I feel a duality to everything. There’s this part of me that always sees things from my point of view and then I almost immediately put that aside and see it from how others may have seen it. In this case: Justin likes the painting and hangs up the painting, Justin feels disappointed when someone takes that painting down, but then Justin instantly forgets about that and says “well I bet they didn’t like the painting so I understand that and what I thought about the painting shouldn’t matter because that’s selfish to only think about myself.” Over time, I’ve taken that approach to even more of an extreme: I guess in a way that by my coworkers actions I was able to put the painting to a much better use. It became the cover for my album Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite, and I think it fit really well for that album. Having the painting taken down by my coworkers made me take it home, where I stared at it more and through those hours of staring it gave the painting more meaning and purpose. It became a visual representation of my life at the time, and when it merged together with the music I was creating it became a complete package.

You take all of these things together, stretch everything out by a few months, sometimes years, and what happens? You start to think about the first part (yourself) less and less until it almost becomes silly to even think about it in the first place. I think that’s where I am at now…after awhile of doing this here I am, a person that may be very capable about thinking of others but at the same time a person who doesn’t think of himself as much as he should. I’m overwhelmed right now and a bell goes off in my brain to remind me that this may be part of the reason as to why I feel this way. When you neglect yourself in some way, it all adds up. I stare at a lot of spreadsheets these days, and I like to think that my soul has a spreadsheet where it has been keeping note of the times I’ve put myself aside for others. It’s finally getting to that point where the spreadsheet is just too long and unruly and it becomes a hassle to scroll down the page because there’s so much data.

I’m on the cusp of something here. It feels exciting and at the same time it fills my soul with great fear, but I know that as with everything in this life it will come, it will go, and the next thing will happen. I feel lucky to be able to share this journey here and to have others be able to maybe understand and maybe feel like they may be in the same holding pattern at the moment.

Music: David Bowie “Where Are We Now?” As long as there’s sun..As long as there’s rain..As long as there’s fire..As long as there’s me..As long as there’s you

Libraries, Life, Music

Destroy Your Idols

I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. -Micah 5:13

The bible has some amazing quotes about destruction. This is a pretty good one.

Think about everyone that you’ve admired at some point in your life, be it a relative, a musician, author, a friend, or someone else. Now think about yourself. Think about all of the times you’ve fucked up. Maybe you’ve said or done something wrong, or maybe you’ve put something out into the world that just wasn’t up to your standard level of quality. There is a chance out there that someone looks up to you. Now think about your idols. Smoosh all of this together and what do you have? You have the realization that idols are false and that we should destroy our idols.

Simply stated, we are all just hunks of flesh and DNA that are randomly smooshed together. We do some good things and we do some bad things. At no point in time should we believe ourselves to be greater than others or that there are others out there that are greater than us. Sure, Brian Wilson wrote some of the best goddamn music on the planet (IMHO) but at the same time all that I can think these days is that this dude is the same as me and the same as you. We all breathe, we all piss, we all shit, we all go to sleep, we all laugh, and we all cry. At no point in time should any of us be put on a pedestal and worshiped as something more than a typical average every day human being.

When we create idols, what we’re really doing is creating a false reality where some people are better than others and that it is the goal of those “lesser” people to become “as great as” those idols. This goal is unrealistic and totally unnecessary. We should be ourselves and go about doing our things without comparing ourselves to anyone else. You’re not better than this person or that person, nor are they better than you.

Destroy your idols. Live in the moment. As KISS says in their 1983 song “Lick It Up” It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself




The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. (a Bible quote I learned all those years ago in Catholic school that stuck with me)

I am Justin William Hoenke. I do not know who you are. I mean, I know your name and some other things, but for the most part I don’t know you. I will never know you. And this is OK. This does not mean that I do not like you or I am a horrible human being. I think it just sums up a simple fact about human beings who live on planet Earth: we really can only know ourselves in our short time here. We can acknowledge others and understand that they too do exist but we can never really know them. All we can really know is ourselves.

The concept of self is often made even more confusing when you see it through the lenses of modern society. Modern society wants you to think and feel a certain way and to also adopt an “approved” set of words, phrases, and ideas about what it means to be a human being. It gets confusing!

This is a good place to put things that are in my head, so I will make a list right now of the things that I have come to understand that are part of Justin William Hoenke. Maybe it will help you understand me a bit more, but honestly this is really so I can understand myself a little bit better.

  • I am a human being.
  • I am a husband.
  • I am a father.
  • I am a son.
  • I am a nephew.
  • I am a cousin.
  • I am a friend.
  • I work at libraries.
  • I enjoy Nintendo video games.
  • I enjoy listening to music.
  • I enjoy reading non fiction.
  • I enjoy waking up naturally without the aid of an alarm clock.
  • I enjoy pajamas.
  • I like to eat pizza, tater tots, french fries, cucumbers, bananas, rice, and zucchini.
  • I enjoy drinking Guinness as my beer of choice.
  • I like to stay inside of my house/on my property as much as possible.
  • I do not like to schmooze with others.
  • I do not believe that “getting political about things” helps us solve problems.
  • I think we may have done this whole “modern society” thing the wrong way and would like a do-over.
  • I hope more for a shift to an open minded mass consciousness.
  • I like it when people work together.
  • I do not like it when people use each other to achieve their goals.
  • I do not want to be engaged in any “pat my back and I’ll pat your back” kind of situation.
  • I like gritty, dark, and kind of evil movies and TV shows (think Martin Scorsese)
  • I think that “have fun” is a good way to approach every day.
  • I struggle with depression.
  • I go from high highs to low lows.
  • I have not been diagnosed as bi-polar but I think there may be something in there.
  • Most times I just kind of want to be left alone.
  • I could play Animal Crossing all day every day.
  • I am beginning to enjoy physical work over mental work.
  • I wanted to create video games as my profession when I was growing up.
  • I originally went to college to learn animation.
  • I was once in a band that released two albums of music that can be streamed/purchased on pretty much every single music platform out there.
  • I chose librarianship as my profession because I wanted my career to be something that gave back to my community.
  • I am afraid of the idea of starting up a business (see this) but at the same time very excited about it and aware that this is indeed the path I must take in life.
  • I enjoy eating at the Imperial China Buffet in Erie, PA.
  • If I had to pick a favorite fast food, it would be a toss up between Taco Bell and White Castle.
Family, Libraries

The Next Few Months

Over the next month of my life, I will be visiting some amazing places to talk about libraries. Next week, I’ll be in Lake Placid, NY for a few days to present at the New York Library Association Conference. After that, I’m home for a week and a half or so and then I’m off again. I’ll be speaking in Wellington, NZ at the 2015 LIANZA Conference and then after that at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney Australia and then at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane Australia. I’ll return home right before Thanksgiving, eat a great meal with my family, and that’ll be that.


I’m posting this picture because I think it is a good example of how my brain feels right now. I am here but I am not here. I am staring into space but at the same time very grounded by the things, people, and places around me. I am very happy but at the same time not happy at all. What is going on?


I think this is it for me…”it” being a librarian who travels, speaks, goes to conferences, and does all things library outside of their own library. I do like Twitter and this website, so I ain’t giving that up. I like to share ideas and have conversations. But it just feels like the library speaker/conference attendee jig is up. I’ve done it, I’ve enjoyed it, and it is time to move on. I’m at this place mentally where I feel happy about this decision. I’ve been some awesome places, made some awesome friends, and I’ve said what I can say about libraries (tldr: they are awesome, we should focus on our community, and we should continue to try new things that best suit our community).

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I want to be at home more so I don’t miss moments like these: Aero going on a 2 week “I’m going to be a hockey player like my cousin Andrew so I’ll wear hockey outfits everyday” and Finn in his “Five Nights at Freddy’s scares me but all I want to do is play it, watch videos of people playing it, and come up with my own Five Nights at Freddy’s stories while at the same time attempting to play trombone.” These are the days of our lives and I do not want to miss them.


I think libraries have done a great job at reinventing who they are. People still see us as the place to get books but we’ve also managed to expand our palette. We are community centers where people come together to share. We are lifelong learning centers, committed to helping everyone in our communities grow. We still have some work to do, but when I look back on things I see just how far libraries have come. We are doing it! We still have a ways to go on reinventing ourselves in many other areas: funding, how we organize our staff, our governing bodies, and how we just simply do our work. These are great things for libraries to focus on next. Libraries will get there. I just won’t be as a big part of the conversation.

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This website, my Twitter, and these other “outlets” that are in my name have changed over the years anyways. It’s called Justin The Librarian, but read back and you’ll see just how much the main topic has deviated from libraries. These days it is more about looking at life as a whole, understanding myself, being present in the moment, and being the best human being that I can be. If I were to do it all over again it would be Justin The Human Being or something like that.

Stay tuned. This isn’t the end because it never really ends. It just changes a lot.

Family, Life

I Am Not Part of Your World (aka Things I Have Learned Being an Adult Child in an Adult World)

I am a 35 year old adult child. I am a-ok with this. I like to go on random spur of the moment adventures with my family. I like to sit around in my pajamas all day and play video games. I also like to do my best at my job, pay the bills, and make sure that my family and I are all well fed and taken care of.  You know, adult stuff. I am an adult child.

I know there are a lot of people out there just like me. Heck, I would argue that a majority of my generation falls into this adult child category. I know I’m not alone in the world. I used to think that I was and I was wrong. I’m glad I’ve grown past that point.

I do not feel like I am part of “your world” or whatever that means. If women are from Venus and men are from Mars I am probably from Europa (one of the amazing moons of Jupiter). And I am very happy and proud to be from Europa.

I like to share what I’ve learned so here goes:

  • Nobody has it all figured out. Everyone you see around you and everyone you look up to is just making it up as they go along.
  • We’re all in this together. Yes, we all have our differences in opinion and those differences make us want to yell and scream and possibly punch each other. But in the end, we’re all in this together and if we fail to understand that we may all be screwed.
  • Follow your heart. Michael Stephens taught me this and there is not one day that I am alive where I do not think about this. Be yourself and be proud. Follow those dreams.
  • You are not your parents. I love my parents. They are thoughtful, kind, and in my opinion, the best damn parents in the world. But I am not my parents and you are not your parents. We share the same biological makeup. We also share a lot of the same habits and tendencies. But when it all comes down to it, we are our own person. We have a choice in who we are and who we want to be. We can fully become our parents if we want to and that is ok, or we can also choose to not be our parents. We can see who they are and learn from that.
  • Money is nice. But money is not as important as we make it seem. Money is not the be-all-end-all of who we are. It is nice to have money so that you can eat, purchase clothes to wear, pay your bills, and exist with little to no hassle. Everyone should have enough money to do that.
  • Education matters a lot, says the boy who did not like school and only went to college because his parents did not and he wanted to be different than them. Education impacts who we are and where we get to in our lives. We need to focus more on providing education to all ages. We need to make sure that this education is free and accessible to everyone. We need to embrace lifelong learning in our world. We may be “out of school” but we should never really be out of school.
  • Love everyone at all times even though we have our differences. An open heart and an open mind lead to a better life.
Libraries, Things


One of the best things to have when you’re managing public library work are sets of procedures for your employees to refer to when needed. Not only are they helpful for your staff, but as a manager who is writing them you get an interesting glimpse into workflow. You learn how to think step by step and try to simplify things.

Here’s a screen capture of a procedure regarding security cameras. Sure, writing procedures won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had as a librarian but I will say this: they’ll help you manage your time, your staff, and aid in creating a positive atmosphere at your library location.

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2014 was the year where I noticed my personal life/work life balance was way off. I worked pretty hard over the past year or so but I hadn’t noticed it. When I started having dreams about work that’s when I noticed that I should take a step back and balance everything out in my life. It has a been a great journey. When I’m away from work and libraries in general, I don’t think about them that much. I’ve always had a worry in the back of my mind that if I stopped thinking about libraries even for a moment that I’d become stale, old, and outdated. I was very wrong about this. Stepping back and taking your mind off of your work allows you to be even better than before. It gives you more patience. It allows you to stop and think before reacting. You grow to make better decisions. These decisions allow you to give your community the best that you have to offer. Everyone wins when balance is achieved.

One of my colleagues Michael Whittaker once said the following to me: “You and I are idea people. We have about ten ideas every minute. Once you learn to let some of those ideas go and focus on the really good ones you become a lot happier.”

It is so much fun to sit in a room and brainstorm a ton of ideas. There’s probably some study out there that talks about how some kind of very awesome brain thing happens when you sit in a room and brainstorm. I’m  not going to link to that study here because I’m being lazy and I don’t want to look it up. But you know what’s even better than sitting in a room and brainstorming? Having ideas, weeding out the ones that won’t work, and sitting back and letting things happen naturally. Now I’m not suggesting we stop brainstorming. It is good! But we’ve all fallen into the “what we brainstormed didn’t happen and now we’re stuck in a rut” trap. Brainstorming allows us to be free and dream big. But sometimes when we brainstorm we come up with things that just don’t translate well into the real world. When we get hung up on those things not working, we can get bummed out.  That’s not fun either.

I really like my work here on The 2nd Floor.I have had so many ideas about how to make this place work and how to make it both fun and enriching for the community. Some things have worked and some things haven’t worked. As I step into a bigger management role, I’ve had to put some of those ideas aside and hand over the keys to my colleagues to be the idea makers. Some of their ideas have worked and some of their ideas haven’t worked. It’s all good. We’re all trying our best.

I really like disco music. Specifically I love Italo Disco. Websites like Mixcloud and Soundcloud are amazing places to find disco and dance music. Check it out! Here’s a mix of JAMZ that I’ve collected on Soundcloud. Smile! Dance! Enjoy life!

Online Identity, Social Media

Online Identity

I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about our online identities and how much cooler the world would be if we open sourced our lives.  What do I mean by this?

define open source - Google Search

FREELY AVAILABLE is what stands out to me.  A life where nothing is hidden, everything is on the table for everyone to read, share, comment, and discuss.  I’ve talked and presented about this topic in the past (here) and I feel that it’s about time to bring it up once again.

As I said above, I believe in a life where everything is freely available.  That means putting it all out there: Embracing the icky stuff, celebrating the joyous moments, admitting confusion…..Everything.  Social media has great power at connecting people and giving everyone a voice.  For me, I never felt like I was using social media properly until I realized this.  Over the past few years, developing my voice and connecting with people has taught me two things:

  1. Professionally, it has connected me with some amazing people and given me the opportunity to do some amazing things and travel to some amazing places and talk about the things I am passionate about.  Without social media, I may not have had this opportunity.  
  2. Personally, it has allowed me to open source my life to my friends and family.  We’ve all had great moments in our lives and at the same time we’ve all been miserable.  It’s been great sharing these moments with my friends and family.  That way, they know where I’m at, where I’m heading, and how I got there.  The best part about it is the discussion it stems from these posts…people open up and share their lives with you.  You quickly find out that you’re not alone in the world.

There are different ways to approach this lifestyle and it takes some time to find exactly what works best for you.  I’m happy to show you what’s been working for me:

Here’s my approach:


Before you go laughing off Google+, let me state my case for it. I love Google+ for sharing things professionally.  There’s just something about the Google+ interface that encourages sharing and discussion.  The way you determine how you want to share something (through Circles) gives you amazing options as to how you decide you want to share something.

The conversations I’ve had over the past year on Google+ have been very stimulating and the things I’ve discovered via other folks that I’m following have really helped me think differently about how I approach my job.

Google+ isn’t a Facebook killer, replacement, or anything else like that.  Google+ is Google+, a great tool that you can use to really develop your professional image.  Give it a shot.  I gave up on it shortly after it was released and came back to it a few months later…and I’ve never left it since.


Simply stated, I don’t think I would be where I am professionally without Twitter.  It has given me the opportunity to share and discuss everything with the world and for that I am very grateful.

One of the great things about Twitter is that it’s so quick and in the moment that it really can be something to everyone.  Having a really focused moment talking about libraries?  Go for it.  Then it’s OK to switch that up and talk about music or something else.  I do it all the time.  It’s also great for finding new things to read.  The people I follow are always sharing great stuff to absorb.

What really makes the Twitter experience most useful for me is watching who I follow.  Over the years, I’ve been endlessly dabbling in this specific area.  I’ve found that when I follow too many people my Twitter feed becomes unmanageable and really turns me away from the service.  It’s almost as if there’s an information overload.  You can always turn to something like Twitter lists to manage this, but I’ve found those very ineffective.  Tweetdeck is also another tool you can use to manage your streams.

Twitter is great for developing your professional identity and at the same time mixing a bit of personal into everything.


And finally, we come to Facebook.  With over 1 billion users, there’s a chance that everyone you’ve ever known is using this service.  That can seem like a very overwhelming and scary thing.  It was for me for the longest time.  There was this thought in the back of my head that SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME and I did not like that at all.  However, I’ve found that if you take the time to really look at your privacy settings and use at least one or two lists that Facebook can be an amazing tool for achieving an open source life.

Recently, I opened up about something going on in my life on Facebook.  I was embracing the icky stuff.  I shared it privately with Friends only and used a list that I created before to limit the post even more.  My privacy setting looked like this:

FB privacy

What was the end result?  My initial post got a lot of comments.  People opened up, shared, discussed, and more.  It was a beautiful thing.  I also received 5 personal messages from people that read my initial post who wanted to talk a bit more in depth.  The end result was that I didn’t feel bad for having these feelings.  I felt like a lot of people understood me, offered worthwhile suggestions, and I was able to grow and learn from it.

My conclusion?  Have a look at your online identity and see what you’re sharing and where you’re sharing it.  Think about what you want to get out of each and every post.  Do you want an open conversation?  Do you want to live an open source life?  If so, how do you develop your social networks to best meet your needs?  With some time and effort, you’ll find what you’re looking for.