Benson Memorial Library, Chattanooga Public Library, Chattanooga, TN, Libraries, Music, Portland, ME, The Beach Boys and Libraries, Titusville, PA

The Library Career Arc of Justin Hoenke As Told Through GIFS of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and Their Overall Career Arc

It lines up! You’ve gotta trust me!

1964 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2008-2012/2013: Cape May (NJ) County Library and Portland (ME) Public Library. Little stuff. Teen Librarian. Neat little programs. The surfing songs version of librarianship. Very basic ideas that were creative and at the same time hinted at the fact that I had some bigger ideas up my sleeve. People seem to dig it.

The Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2013-2015: Chattanooga (TN) Public Library. Let’s do some neat stuff. Month long code camps (DEV DEV), sewing machines, 3D printers, maker and learning tables, one gigabit per second super fast internet, entire floors dedicated to creativity, thinking outside the box, and trying to reinvent the library. The PET SOUNDS and SMiLE of my library career. Like Brian Wilson, I was surrounded by some of the most creative and talented people I have ever met. The best of times. The most creative library experience ever.

The View Abc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2015-Present: Benson Memorial Library (Titusville, PA). Little stuff. Very focused to this tiny community. The equivalent of the bedroom tapes, SMILEY SMILE, FRIENDS, and other tiny little Beach Boys and Brian Wilson gems between 1967-1971. The songs don’t change the world, but if you hear them you like them and they bring you happiness. Good work. Out of the spotlight.

Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A POSSIBLE FUTURE: A retreat. This stuff is wearing me down. I can’t please everyone and I do my best to make the experience a positive one for everyone, but the loud voices just keep getting louder. Do I want to use my time here on earth and my limited energy on battles? Do I have to change the world? I don’t. All that I have to do is take care of myself and my family and be myself. I can retreat. I don’t have to do this forever.

Advertisements
Books, Libraries, Life, Things

All Time Favorite Books

Screenshot

Here’s the LibraryThing collection

People still ask me what my favorite books are even though they know that I’m not that kind of librarian, so I made this list as a handy dandy reference. These are the 19 titles that have changed my life.

3D printing, Libraries, Life

Library Stuff

I should write about libraries even though…

We got a 3D printer and some other fun technology at my library recently. We also got some awesome chairs and other neat things that really make the library smile a bit more. But I can’t help but thinking that all this stuff is meaningless and that the point where libraries make the most impact is in the day to day interactions we have with our community. What I enjoy the most these days is seeing the positive interactions our staff has with the community. So much great stuff can happen at the circulation desk. It is really what decides whether the community comes back in or not. Now don’t get me wrong…having a 3D printer or something else that is shiny and new is good as well, but I don’t think it should be the focus…of both our community library and our professional library conversations. I want more focus in our profession on how to we can be better human beings to each other. The problem is that “Be Nice to Each Other” and “Have Meaningful Conversations” are not headline grabbing stories or think pieces that people want to read, nor are they things that you should be reading…they are things you should be doing.

Maybe that’s why I don’t wanna write about libraries as much anymore. Writing what happened when you are nice to other human beings isn’t the same as actually experiencing a positive interaction. I could wear a smartphone around my neck like a necklace and use Periscope all day. That would be interesting.

I think librarians shouldn’t look up to librarians. I think we all  should look somewhere else for our inspiration. When we look up to each other what happens is something I think of as incestual inspiration. “OMG, ______ Library is doing this program with their community we need to do it!” and then so on and so forth until we’re all doing it. A truly beautiful library is one that is a reflection of its surroundings, not a cookie cutter of another library.

When I wanna think about something new, I’ve been using MixCloud (specifically these tracks) to help inspire me. I think about the structure and the form of these DJ mixes. The way that the songs ebb and flow into each other really warm my heart. The transition from one song to another is an important part of these mixes and when done correctly they can increase my energy level. They inspire me to think about the structure and pacing of our programs and services at the library. I don’t have a second chance to do things in the library and I want to make the most of this moment. The music fills my soul and bends my brain and out comes something that I think is unique to my community. Bend and break and twist and smoosh. Go left inside of right. Don’t listen to me. Put on TUSK by Fleetwood Mac instead and go batshit crazy letting that guitar riff into your heart. Then come up with a program for your library that is unlike anything and that fits your community.

Libraries, Music

INSPIRATION AND INFLUENCES

What do you do to be a better librarian? What music or podcasts do you listen to? Where do you go? Just what do you do for inspiration?

A few years ago, I followed a lot of library blogs and twitterz related to libraries. I got a lot out of them and they helped me grow a lot as a librarian. They were pretty much my only source of inspiration for libraries. It was a great source for inspiration, but I just love to grow and think about things differently.  I wanted to approach libraries in a different way. I knew that only following library stuff wouldn’t take me there.

I started thinking about the things that I enjoy in life. I enjoy music quite a bit. That part was easy….focus on the music that you enjoy and you will be inspired. I also enjoy people that are passionate about what they enjoy. That’s a little bit trickier. You can’t easily find a podcast on people who are passionate about what they enjoy. You have to dig for this.

I’ll start with music….

The-Beach-Boys-–-SmileI talk a lot about the Beach Boys and specifically Brian Wilson quite a bit. The label “genius” has been tossed around a lot with Brian Wilson. Sure, he’s a genius in some ways but what I really dig about him is that he is a guy who just really follows his passions and inspiration. This is a beautiful thing.

His 1966 album SMiLE is the perfect example of this. Brian attempted to create something new and unique in the music world. He wanted to create a beautiful piece of art, a “teenage symphony to God.” That’s no easy task. Many will say that SMiLE was never fully finished by Brian (read up on the history, I recommend this book) and even if it really wasn’t fully finished, he got pretty darn close. Heck, I listen to it and all that I hear is a beautiful piece of art that sounds finished to me.

Brian-Wilson-en-el-estudioBrian composed and recording SMiLE in sections. He’d have about 1 minute of music here, 30 seconds of music there, and another little 15 second link track to connect the two. He didn’t really fully understand how the parts would fit when he was recording them. Instead, he knew that they’d fit somehow in the great grand scheme of things.  He was right. If you can get your hands on the little bits and pieces of SMiLE in an unedited form and put it on shuffle, it works.

To me, SMiLE is the big inspiration for the 2nd Floor. If the 2nd Floor could sing, it would sound exactly like SMiLE. You have pieces and parts of things, what we call “walk up programs” (3D printing, button making, Minecraft, etc) all around the space. You can make buttons first if you want. That may tickle your fancy and make you think about 3D printing next. Or maybe you’ll just wanna move along into our arcade and play Wii U for a bit and relax with some other community members. There is no clear path or program for the community to follow. You put the library on shuffle and somehow, it all links together.

20140424-billsimmons-x624-1398358752

The other big inspiration in my library career these days totally comes out of left field…Bill Simmons, editor of Grantland and a pretty big podcaster. His passion is sports and in particular, basketball. Weird, right? I, Justin Hoenke, really don’t care at all for basketball.  I don’t care that much for sports (NOTE: Pittsburgh based sports teams are something that I DO CARE VERY MUCH ABOUT GO PIRATES) but there’s just something about Bill and his passion for basketball. He loves the game. He knows the game. He knows what makes it work and how all these things come together to make a successful basketball team. In his book The Book of Basketball, he talks a lot about how chemistry is important for the success of a basketball team. To me, that’s one of those things that can be easily copied/pasted into librarianship. Chemistry is an important thing to have. Team chemistry, with the right people all playing their specific and very important parts, can lead to great success. I think a lot about the team we have here at the Chattanooga Public Library and how we all really work well together in our roles. To me, that’s why we’ve been able to do the things that we’ve done here. Chemistry is huge. Bill Simmons, I may not know what a pick-and-roll is, but damn, I really love hearing you talk about basketball.

Who are some of the people that inspire you when it comes to libraries and why?

Books, Libraries, Music

Dilly Dilly at the Hershey (PA) Public Library

Photo by Bob C.

Here’s a most excellent photo of Dilly Dilly at the Hershey (PA) Public Library on one of the stop’s of the Reunited book tour.  What got me was the comment Dilly Dilly left on her Facebook page about the picture:

” I left there with a bigger smile than I’ve had in many moons”

Libraries are in the business of making everyone leave with a smile on their face.

Travel, Uncategorized

Positive signage!

I’m always happy to see signage that is positive, but I was OVER THE MOON when I saw this sign for credit/debit card use while I was on vacation.  I see so many signs that say “$5 DOLLAR MINIMUM” or something like that and it really bums me out.  I understand that businesses have to pay a fee on these transactions but I feel that these signs just make me feel bad about choosing to use my debit card instead of carrying cash.

When I saw this sign, I smiled.  It also led to them getting more business…my family and I were back for ice cream the next night!

Libraries

Less is More

The 2011-2012 fiscal year is ending in my library and with that I like to look back at some of the things we’ve done here at the teen library.  It also serves nicely as a six month year in review that helps guide the rest of the year.

The prevailing thought this year was “less is more”. I know it’s a catchy, buzz-word like  phrase but it helped guide the work I did with teens. Don’t worry, I won’t be putting the phrase on shirts or making a #lessismore hashtag. The idea started from this post which I wrote over at Tame The Web:

The next time you want to focus your energy and budget on a Twilight themed prom style event, think about your other options? Is it worth spending your energy sitting and chatting with the teens in your library instead?

I’ve recently grown tired of planning programs, having grand ideas, and just thinking and talking and thinking some more but not acting as quickly as I could.     So that’s where all this started

When it comes to library PROGRAMMING, I realized that it’s just about bringing people together to enjoy something.  Our Teen Soccer Club is the simplest program we have.  We subscribe to Fox Soccer 2 Go and we watch matches in our teen lounge.  Sometimes we have one person watching, other times we have ten.  Sometimes people talk about the matches and get very passionate, other times the conversation is non-existent.

My overall thought is this: just have something that people may enjoy and from this community and happiness may be created.

When it comes to the things we collect in the teen library for the community to borrow, I now see myself as a mere fund manager who purchases the materials that the community wants.  Sure, I still make decisions based on what I read in VOYA and Game Informer to help build really cool collections, but if a library member asks for it…I’ll get it.  Why?  This is the PUBLIC library.  It’s not mine, it’s not their’s…it’s everyone’s.  And what a better way to make it everyone’s than to have as much of the community involved in the building of the collection.

And finally, we come to the DAY TO DAY STUFF that happens in the library where it all comes back around to what we’re talking about in the first place: people.  I do my best to say hello, give hi fives, fist bumps, hugs, or whatever to the teens using the library.  “It’s nice to see you today” is often the last thing that comes out of my mouth when talking to a teen.  I also do my best to play little jokes on them: “sorry, we don’t have books here” or “didn’t you hear? The library is closing FOREVER!” Whatever it takes to get them to smile and enjoy this place.   Sometimes I may have to ask them to leave the library for the day because of the typical teen things (raging hormones, drama) but the next day they come back and it’s business as usual.

So that’s what I’ve learned.  Less is more.  Leave people smiling.  Build community.  Connect.