The Power of Kindness

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The local YWCA in Titusville does a great job of spreading a positive message to all in our community.

I believe in the power of kindness. I believe that no matter what kind of evil or injustice we may face directly in front of us that the thing that’s gonna win out in the end is kindness. My statement may sound a bit naive, but after 36.5 years on this planet I haven’t found anything better than kindness. I’ve tried being angry, I’ve tried throwing punches, and I’ve tried to tapping into the dark side of things (you know, like Star Wars kind of stuff) and while those methods have produced results, those results did not last and actually cause more harm than good. With that acknowledged, I pledge allegiance to power of kindness.

With that said, I’d like to share a recent piece that I wrote for the LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) Library Life publication titled Libraries: A Global Necessity (click here for the PDF and scroll to page 21). It nicely sums up my approach to the current state of the USA and public libraries in general and how I believe that through kindness and great customer service we will provide for our citizens.

I highly suggest you take the time out of your day and read the rest of the current issue of Library Life as well. This is my favorite Library related publication out there. It does a great job of inspiring me to be both a better librarian and a human being with every issue that is published. This month’s issue has some great pieces by Cath Sheard and Fiona Kerr to name a few.

 

An Idea for Coca Cola On How To Support Public Libraries

I had a dream last night that there was a 1 cent tax passed on all sodapop sales and that all money from that tax went to public libraries. When I woke up this idea stuck with me but since then I’ve refined and focused it. Why I chose Coca Cola I have no idea.

The answer? Well here is what the internet told me: (at http://www.statisticbrain.com/coca-cola-company-statistics)

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And how many public libraries are there in the USA? The internet told me this: (at http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet01)

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EDIT: I math’d wrong and now I update. Thank you for pointing this out Eli N.

Now I will apply my basic math skills:

If Coca Cola gave  .01 cent of every sales per day (1.8 billion bottles sold per day, 657 billion bottles sold per year), we’d have $6,570,000,000 in the fund.

If Coca Cola then took that$6,570,000,000 dollars in the fund and spread it out over the 119,487 public libraries in the USA, each library would get: (thank you Google)

$54,985.06

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What could a library do with $54,985.06?

That’s a question that every community and their library would have to answer themselves. I know at the Benson Memorial Library I’d love to have that $54,985.06 to start repairs on our building. It was built in 1903 and is a glorious building but…having been built in 1903 there are things that need updated and fixed. They made awesome buildings back then but at the same time they didn’t always do work that would allow these buildings to thrive 113 years later. I’d focus the first few years of the Coca Cola Public Library Fund towards repairing and improving our building. I would fix our groundwater issues and move all groundwater away from our building. Once that was fixed, I would then focus on fixing and revamping our downstairs Community Room. First, our walls would be repaired so that the previous damage from groundwater would no longer be there. Once that was done, the room would get a nice makeover and update to bring it up to date to the standards that our community needs in the 21st Century.

 

 

I will call this idea the Coca Cola Public Library Fund, or we can refer to it by its longer name: An Idea That Has Probably Has Already Been  Presented Somewhere Else And No One Did Anything About It And The Same Thing Will Happen Again But Guess What I Am Gonna Put That Idea Right Here On This Blog.

 

 

Help my Library win $1000

My library, the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, PA, was chosen earlier this year to be part of the Greater Titusville Development Foundation Grant Facade Project. We were very honored to be part of this program. It allowed us to repair our historic sandstone steps and ensure that they’re around for many future generations.

The final part of this grant is pretty awesome….a social media contest to get the most LIKES on our project. The photo posted above shares the BEFORE/AFTER of our steps, and if that photo can get the most LIKES this week (contest ends at 12pm on Sunday August 14 2016) we can win $1000!

If you have a moment, would you please consider LIKING the above photo? Click on the image above to be taken to Facebook where you can LIKE the photo.

$1000 can go a long way for a public library….that amount is half of our yearly budget for programs for youth in our community. It could pay our electricity bills for 3 months. It could help fund another building improvement project in the near future. Your support means a lot!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! -Justin

Food Stamps, the Feeling of Failure, Student Loans, and Life as a Library

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Last week, Haley and I applied for food stamps. Our family, which has been going on strong for 11 years and now includes 2 awesome kids, Haley’s mom, our dog Sonic, 3 chickens, and 2 rabbits, have hit a period in our journey where we couldn’t do it without help anymore.

I know that there’s a reason I pay taxes. They are there to help….my family and I, others in need, and more. This is one of those situations where we needed help. I understand this very well. I am all for taxes that help out others in my community. We are all in this together and together we can do amazing things. At the same time there’s a stigma that comes from applying for and using food stamps: that somehow you’ve failed, you’re lazy, or you’re just downright an average human being. I try to have a healthy mind and outlook on everything, but I’ve gotta admit that I’ve fallen into this pit recently. I’m a 36 year old human being, I’ve got a wonderful job which I’m pretty good at, an amazing and happy family, and I’ve done some other things that I’m also really proud of. But here I am at this point where I feel like a failure just because I need some help. It shouldn’t be this way.

We’ve used the support of food stamps before. When Haley and I first got married, we were finishing up college. We both had part time jobs in addition to our full time school workload. The food stamps helped out a lot. Back then, the feeling of being a complete failure because you’re on food stamps wasn’t as big as it is now. Having a family and needing food stamps feels like you’ve hit the bottom. I think about this feeling that I’m having and then I think about all of the others out there who are on food stamps, especially those with families just like mine. What happens when you have all of those people out there in the same situation? You have millions of people out there feeling that they’ve lost all hope, that they’re somehow pathetic, and that they’ve failed. You have millions of people who feel like shit just for wanting to make sure their family doesn’t go hungry. When you have that many people feeling bad in the country, those bad vibes add up. It can’t be proved, but I really think the general malaise surrounding things in our country is somehow related to feelings like this.

On our end, I know that student loan debt is crippling. We’re both on programs that give us flexibility with our payments (income based repayment). While these do help, it’s still tough to have around $100K of debt total hanging over your head just because you went to college, got an education, and pursued a career in something you felt could make a difference in the world. I also understand the argument “well, you went into college knowing full well what would happen.” I’ve heard this many times before. I can see it from two sides: of course I knew (something) about how I’d be in debt once I left college. When I went, they told us about it. Did they tell us the specifics? Sort of kind of maybe not. I started college in 1998 and at that time it was just “oh yeah, you’ll have some debt but it’ll be OK because you’ll be a college graduate.” Most of us became the first great generation of student loan debt holders. And we’re still here! * Can America Afford This Approach to Solving Student Loan Debt? (it’s behind a paywall, but it is a great read) by Haley Sweetland Edwards is a great read that sums up the collective “wow, so much student loan debt”weight of a generation.

The amount of money we spend on student loan debt per month could help us in a lot of ways (FYI: it is around $337/month). First up: it could help with the grocery bills, thus giving us enough money to not go down the food stamp route. Second: it could help with the startup of Fidelia Hall. Have you ever tried starting up a business or a non-profit? Maybe I’m really stupid, but it’s really difficult and confusing…and it costs a lot. Just this week, our Fictitious Name Registration cost us $70 to file an application, $41 to advertise the application in our local newspaper, and $75 to advertise the application in a legal journey. That’s $186, and we’d still have $151 to spend this month on something else (groceries! Fidelia Hall repairs and infrastructure!) What am I trying to get towards? The debt we’re saddling people with for school, health care, and more are crippling us. They’re crippling us mentally. They make us not want to get out of bed. They make us want to sit around and do nothing when what we really want to do is something, because I believe that all human beings (no matter which political side they are on) just want to get things done for their communities. They’re also crippling our ability to move forward and do better things for our communities. You can’t start up a business/non-profit when you don’t have time or money.**

I better wrap this up. We just hit 1,000 words.

I’m not asking for a raise. I’m not asking for donations. I’m not even asking for an “oh man I feel you.” I just wanted to get this out there so that if you’re in a situation similar to this that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re here. We’re successful. We’re pretty happy. We’re in debt and we’re also on food stamps.

*On a side note, I remember credit card companies and banks lining up at the dining halls doing everything they can (“here! have a free beach ball for taking our credit card!”) to get students signed up for their first horrible credit card. They succeeded with me and so many other of my friends.

**Go ahead and leave a comment telling me to suck it up and “pull myself up by the bootstraps just like an American would. I’ve been trying to do this for years. This is just what my Dad said and continues to say. But there’s more to it than “sucking it up” or “taking it like a man” or “pulling up your bootstraps”. There has to be some give and take.

 

This is Happening

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Community members entering Fidelia Hall at the ORCA event “Musicians in the Raw”. Photo Credit: ORCA

The past few weeks have found Fidelia Hall buzzing with excitement and energy. This is exactly what Haley and I are want at the space, so it has been a great time to be alive!

First up, we hosted a Rummage Sale over two weeks in June that brought in enough money to allow us to repair the roof and downspout over our handicap accessible ramp. Thank you to all who attended and volunteered their time helping us out. We really appreciate your kindness.

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The roof/downspout we will fix with the funds raised at our rummage sale. Woo!

Second, we were happy to be the host for the ORCA (Oil Region Coalition of Artists) event titled Musicians in the RawThis event, which showcased the great photography of Kari Nickole Taylor, brought in around 50 community members to the space. It was great to see Fidelia Hall full of artwork, music, and community members.

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ORCA (Oil Region Coalition of Artists) Members with artist Kari Nickole Taylor. Thank you for your time and dedication. This was a great event!

 

It is amazing to me that this is happening, and that it is all happening so fast. I love the energy and excitement that this space is (and will continue to) bring into the community. When you boil everything down to the simplest form, it is really all about people,  specifically bringing people together to share kindness and support each other. This is something that I’ve learned to love about libraries and now I hope to bring that into Fidelia Hall as well.

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Libraries Who Don’t Charge Overdue Fines: A Storify Tweet Collection

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CLICK HERE to read the full Storify Tweet collection.

Be inspired and make a change in your community for the good of the world. It all starts somewhere.

Managing the Future: Supporting Your Youth Services Innovators ALA 2015

First and foremost: I’m sorry to everyone who came to this awesome event and to my fellow colleagues Abby, Cory, and Kendra for missing the presentation! I was convinced that the presentation was on Sunday June 28, 2015 at 8am PST. Turns out I was very wrong and it was Saturday June 27, 2015 at 8am PST.  I will blame it on two things: my brain is so full of moving these days and also general Justin Hoenke forgetfulness. I am sorry about my no-show and I hope the following makes it up to you….

My presentation! I believe I was actually recording my presentation at the same time that the actual in person real time presentation was happening. Anywho, here you go and once again I am sorry that I could not be there in person and/or in real time via the Skype/Facetime/Hangouts train.