Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Titusville, PA

Blogging at the Library (yes, it’s still very important)

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The piece “Origins of the Dick Kraffert Pool at Burgess Park, Titusville” by Jess Hilburn, originally written for a library blog and then republished in a local newspaper, the Titusville Herald.

Before we start, let me clear things up: you are not reading a blog post from sometime between 2001-2007. This blog post was written on June 22, 2017. Why am I saying that to start? Well because if you’re reading this you may have been told that “blogging is dead” and that the “library blog scene” is irrelevant. My aim with this piece is to show you otherwise. The word “blog” or “blogging” is dead but that’s a good thing. Blogs and blogging was always just writing and publishing with a hip new fancy name attached to it. The “blog” switched the power from the big publishers and news agencies and gave it to the people. (for the rest of this piece, I’ll continue to use the word “blog” when I refer to the written words I am talking about but honestly its all just words and information)

Here’s a great example from my library (Benson Memorial Library) on why I believe why libraries should continue to write and share information with their communities. A few months ago, our Historian Jess Hilburn started up a blog called NWPA Stories (Northwestern Pennsylvania Stories). As our Historian, Jess digs up a lot of interesting stories about individuals and events in our community.

One of the recent discussions happening in our community was the possible closing of our swimming pool, the Dick Kraffert Pool. As with every story, there are two sides to this one. Over the last few years the pool has fell into disrepair and has been losing money. The City of Titusville operates the pool, and like the pool the city has been losing money due to declining industry in the area and lower tax returns every year. These are the things that are happening in small town American. On the other side, there is a community full of individuals who want the pool to stay open and remain an option for all local residents. It’s a tough issue and we’re not here to discuss the pros and cons, but now you’re basically all caught up on the story.

This is where the library comes in. With all of the discussion happening around the Dick Kraffert Pool, one thing was missing: what’s the history behind all of this? How did the pool start, what was the pool like back in the day, and who the heck is Dick Kraffert?  This is where Jess Hilburn comes in. As our Historian, finding out this kind of stuff and sharing it with our local community is one of big “to-do’s” on Jess’s job responsibilities list. A library historian isn’t just there to find out stuff for individuals who have research requests. A great library historian shares the research and history that they’re digging up with everyone in the community. I believe that when community members are engaged and informed about their past, they can make solid decisions about the future that contribute to a stronger today. This is that example in action.

After publishing the post and sharing it via the library Facebook page, we quickly noticed it was resonating with the community. According to Facebook stats, the piece has had a reach of 4,607, has been shared 72 times, and has 23 likes on the original post. There were plenty of positive comments on the piece….and that’s when the local newspaper the Titusville Herald messaged us (once again, on Facebook). They asked for permission to reprint Jess’s work in the next issue of the Herald, scheduled to be published tomorrow. Our only request was that they add the “Editor’s Note” that you see in the photo of the piece above).

Why’d we do this? As I said above, it is all about sharing and informing community members about the past that surrounds them. The Titusville Herald is an excellent newspaper that is read by many of our community members. Increasing exposure to our local history, especially when that exposure originates from the public library, is a great thing. It provides our community with a better understanding of their surroundings, it increases exposure to the library, and it further cements us as a local organization dedicated to providing all citizens with quality information.

Here’s the link to the original piece as it appears on NWPA Stories

The next time someone tells you that blogging is dead, try to remember this example which I just shared. The act of writing and sharing information will never die no matter what it is called. Libraries: learn, research, share, and connect. This is what you do.

 

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Family, Libraries, Life, Technology

The Next Few Years #sharegoodstuff

Don’t worry: this is not a political post. I don’t care who you voted for, and I don’t care to discuss politics with anyone.

What I’m gonna talk about is the next few years and what I believe to be one of the biggest things all of us in this country (and the world to a greater extent) need to practice and learn more about: how to be kind to each other, how to listen to each other, and how to make real and positive changes in our world.

I believe that all of this starts in our heads and in our hearts. First, we must be willing to see the positive parts of our daily lives. When we see those, we see hope and love all around us. Our world changes and instead of being a place where the day-to-day slog happens, it becomes a place of opportunity.

Once this is established, we can have better interactions with other people from day to day. They can be kinder and more focused. We can have the patience to listen to each other and try to understand each other. When we try to understand each other we contribute to a bigger picture: a kinder and more understanding world.

Every action we take creates a ripple. If we act in a more positive and understanding way, I feel like the sum of all of these actions will add up to something great. It is a big thing to think about, but I believe in it. I believe in it because I’ve seen it daily in the public libraries where I have worked. The sharing and borrowing of information creates positive ripple in the world. When you say the world library, most people smile. They see it as a safe and welcoming place. It took years and years of these positive actions to build up those smiles. These positive ripples work.

I’m just one human being, but I promise to be kinder to everyone I met. I promise to listen more closely to everyone that I interact with. I promise to take more actions to make real and positive changes in our world. I promise to #sharegoodstuff.

 

Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, Libraries, Life, Technology, Titusville, PA

Pokémon GO at the Library

Before I start, I must give credit where credit is due: amazing librarians Chantel Theunissen and Pam Jones of New Zealand for their awesomeness and inspiration to do something with Pokémon GO here in Titusville, PA. They helped me see what libraries are all about once again….people, conversations, and connections. It was perfect timing. I was getting a bit negative there. (sorry)

The idea was simple: purchase a few lures, set a time, set off those lures, and tell people to come to the library. Once they came, the thing that would connect us and start conversation would be Pokémon. We had some books out and about but the real goal wasn’t circulation…it was community building. And it sure did happen.

One helpful way of promoting this event was to target Facebook groups. In my semi-rural neck of the woods I found 4 Pokémon GO related groups. There’s probably more but that’s all I felt that I needed to find to help promote the event. Of course, we also used our own library Facebook page and got our awesome paper the Titusville Herald to also help us by running a story.

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Our Youth Services Librarian Ashlee Norwood hangs out with a new library patron and chats about Pokemon GO.

 

 

We had a blast running the program for our community. It was two hours full of conversation, sharing, and community building. Will we do this again? Of course! We will do whatever we can to start up amazing conversations with our community.

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It rained a bit so we went inside. No worries though! We still had a blast.
Social Media, Technology

Social Media, 2016

FACEBOOK

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Facebook has become one of the, if not THE, main form of communication. Sharing, messaging, and now live video are the way that we communicate with each other. It is our email, texting, and our own little website. I have ups and downs with Facebook myself. I recognize and respect how important it is, but at the same time have a strong dislike for the service. Sometimes I just don’t want everyone and everything to be in my life. Over this past year I’ve gone from around 1500 “friends” to 770. I want Facebook to be the space I share with the people that I really know, value, and need to have in my life. Gone are most if not all the librarians who I just know because we’re both librarians and gone are the fringe “I think we met once we should connect on Facebook” type of people. I need my net of close friends and family and this is where that happens.

TWITTER

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Twitter has become a news platform and I am happy to see it accepting that role. This is where anyone can go to share links, ideas, and real time events. Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter in 2015, seems to be the future of social media. There is an excitement around Twitter for me these days that I haven’t felt since I first joined the service back in 2008.

INSTAGRAM

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I’ve started and deleted about 5 Instagram accounts. I appreciate what it does and I love seeing beautiful photos that everyone posts, but I just don’t want another place to post my photos. My Facebook profile documents everything from 2005-Present and I also have about 20 years of photos in my Google Photos. Instagram just feels like another step that I should cut out. I do, however, recognize how neat it is for a business. As Haley and I start Fidelia Hall we have used Instagram to share the messages we are putting up on our sign in front of the building. It’s been really neat.

TUMBLR

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Yahoo seems to have sucked all of the fun out of Tumblr. I wasn’t very much into Tumblr in the first place, but I have really come to love how it brings together fringe and passionate groups of people. If you have an interest but you can’t fine a community around that interest…well, try Tumblr. For myself, I use it to “collect” things that make me happy.

MIITOMO

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Miitomo was the big thing for 3 days and then everyone forgot about it. I can’t blame them, as the experience of using Miitomo is kind of clunky at best. This is something that I hope Nintendo really works on (it has gotten better). I probably keep coming back to it because I love all things Nintendo, but I also really enjoy seeing some folks answers to the questions. I feel a close connection to these people and I look forward to reading what they have to say every day.

BLOG

I still believe in the power of blogs and blogging services like Medium. I love how they give everyone who decides to invest time in them a chance to develop their writing and share their ideas.

THINGS I MISS

I mostly miss Branch and Potluck, as I loved the communities that sprung up around those services. I found myself talking to different people and I think it was great for expanding my world view. I know that most of those teams are now at Facebook and I am curious to see what they can bring to the table there.

Libraries, Library Director, Management

KINDNESS

I know there are probably studies out there that help prove that just a little bit of kindness can go a long way and that kindness does in fact have a monetary value. I know that the whole “be nice to everyone and in return kindness will come to you” is a bit of a hippy dippy idea but I still believe in it. And here’s a good example of that in action

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An organization was looking into one of our meeting rooms and inquired about if they’d have to pay to use the space. In the end, it all came down to the idea that they’d have to pay the $20 meeting room fee. I was hesitant to charge them the feed because I always want to do my best to help people out and money can complicate things, but in this case the fee was something we could not avoid. We talked about it and everything moved forward with the $20 fee in place.

This morning I received payment for the meeting room use which (as you can see above) went above the $20 fee that was originally requested. It put quite a smile on my face and in my heart to see this extra donation to the library as well as the kind note that came with it. Yes, I can honestly say that this made my day.

When we have an open communication with others and be positive and kind, good things come in return. Libraries, please keep this in mind as you grow, create policy, and work with your community. We’re in this TOGETHER.

Libraries, Presentations

A SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR A LIBRARY CONFERENCE I’D LIKE TO ATTEND

7:00-9:00AM: Sleep in because you deserve it.

10:00AM: Eat Breakfast and Talk About Things

11:00AM: Stand up, talk to someone new, and ask someone to go for a walk with you.

11:30PM: FIRST SESSIONS. Choose from one of the following:

  • Let’s sit around a table and talk about books we love
  • Let’s play some video games/board games together
  • Let’s go outside and be nice/do nice things to/for random strangers

1:00PM: Lunch and Talk About Things. There will be a stand up comedian who will put on a really funny performance while we eat because laughing is great.

2:15PM: SECOND SESSIONS. Choose from one of the following:

  • Let’s sit around a circle and talk about what we can do every day to make our libraries better for people. Think about the small things!
  • If you like to make music, join us in a room where we all can play instruments and make music.
  • Meditate: We’re just going to sit in this room and meditate.

3:45 PM: Afternoon Tea/Coffee and some exercise

4:15 PM: We’ll invite a guest speaker to talk to us for a bit. 30 minutes tops. They will be awesome and funny and inspire.

5:00 PM: Everybody needs a little time away. Go get some dinner by yourself or with a group. We don’t have to babysit you the whole conference. Do what you want.

9:00 PM: We’ve organized a get together at a bar. Beer and liquor make people feel relaxed and then we all can talk more and take our crazy ideas even further.

12:00 AM: Dance Party. Let’s find a really great gay dance club and dance for awhile.

2:00 AM: The dance party may close up at this time and we are probably worn out from dancing a lot. Let’s go to a greasy spoon and get some breakfast food.

4:00 AM: Goodnight everyone. Go to bed. You deserve it.

THE NEXT DAY: No sessions, no meetings, nothing. You get to take the day off and sleep in. You deserve it.

Travel, Uncategorized

Open Up Your Eyes

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I spent as much of my travels to New Zealand and Australia looking up, down, and all around me. I was searching for trees, birds, bugs, and signs. I was looking to see how different the world could be when you are about 9000 miles (14484 km) away from home. The little details matter.

This could’ve easily become a post about how we should all look up from our phones from time to time to see what’s around us, but it’s not about that. Our phones do help us: We snap photos! They give us directions! They connect us! I think that is great. This post is about how we can all look around and see things that will inspire us in some way.

The Edge at the State Library of Queensland is amazing place to look around. They describe themselves “as a model for the library of the future” and that’s exactly what they are. This is a space for the people. They’ve got all the fancy tools and technology everyone wants to get their hands on, but what most impressed me were the little details. I enjoyed seeing how organized their space was. It had that “in use and a bit chaotic” look but in a clean and professional manner. Equipment and information was labeled, organized, and easily accessible. The signage (like their Kombucha Lab sign seen above) had neat little touches like the science-y beeker. I also really enjoyed the colors of their seats, space, and cabinets. They stood out and made me feel happy to be there.

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Board books and picture books are beautiful. Show them off!

The way we show off our physical collections is also something to think about. Books are beautiful and should be shown off to the public. As a parent of two little dudes I’m more excited to find books just by looking at the covers than to dig through a shelf of picture book after picture book. If you’re asking “well how do we find the books if someone puts them on hold?” well just don’t worry about that right now. You don’t have to do that with everything you own. Show off the good stuff. You’ll find it if someone puts that item on hold.

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Loft space at the Katoomba Library. When I was there I counted 35 people using this small section of the library.

If you are reading this while you are at work, first off let me say that I am proud of you for doing that. Continuing education about libraries is not something you have to do on your own time. You should get paid for it. Read away and grow that brain.

Getting back to things….

If you are reading this while you are at work, get up from your desk and walk around the library. Look at how people are using your space. Look at what they’re doing. Did you take all of that in? Good. That’s the value your library is providing to your community at this exact moment in space and time and this is how it will grow in the future. I just saw four people using their own technology (mobile phones and tablets), one alternating between an iPhone and a book, and one looking at our DVD collection.