Family, Libraries, Life

The Goal

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Statues inspire me. I want as many of them around my property as I can get my hands on. This guy is a weird one but I love it. He sits in our strawberry patch and just looks on at whoever comes to our backdoor. He’s magical.

Life in our modern society is a pretty freaking weird thing. We have an overall system in place that works actively to help promote individual growth and also to thwart that same growth. We are creatures that strive for change through accomplishments and advances, but that change comes so slowly that in the day to day it feels like nothing ever changes. What we hear from each other, those in power and those with fame are usually positive and sugar coated in nature, but underneath those whispers of “oh yeah everything is alright” is a much larger story with complex moves like a chess game, ups and downs, and things flying all over the place.

The minute after I think I have my “aha! So that’s the answer!” moment is the minute that I’m back to the drawing board. You can go through this entire blog and see that evolving and growing day by day, year by year. The best thing to realize at this point, for me at least, was that the answer will never be there and then someday I’ll die without the answer and melt back into the nutrient ecosystem and be born again as a tree. That happened a few years ago and, boy oh boy, did things feel a lot better for me once I realized that. Cue Elton John and that Lion King song. It makes sense.

A nice holiday break to end 2017 helped end a year that was a bit confusing on a clearer note. I woke up when my body and mind were ready to wake up. I engaged in the pursuits which felt natural to me (music, video games, reading). I stayed in pretty much the same location for quite a number of days, surrounded by people that I wanted to be surrounded with. I went outside and used the snowblower to make nice little paths for people to walk along the sidewalk. There are great joys in the simple, mundane things. The seismic shifts which once fueled my days are no longer necessary. I am getting a lot better at understanding and enjoying the little stuff.

Claude Debussy’s piano music is a good musical representation of what I feel in my head and heart these days. When I listen to the piece above (a collection of six solo piano pieces composed between 1901-1907 titled Images) I feel a sense of ease, wonder, excitement, and content wash over me. It feels right to listen to this music. There is so much wonder and beauty in these compositions. My mind wanders and I think about Debussy and what he may have been thinking and feeling when he wrote these pieces. What is it that compelled him to create such a beautiful thing?

What I want is a life full of creativity. Creating something is the best things humans can do in this world. Make some art, make some music, plant some flowers, have some children. The end result does not matter; the act is what matters. It is the act of creation that is really the only thing that makes sense to me these days. In a world of falsities and sugar coating, the act of creation feels more real than ever. When I write words in a document, record some music, or capture some sounds I feel free and I feel happy. There’s really nothing better than that experience. It fills up my soul.

THE GOAL is to live a life of happiness, to spread positivity and kindness, to create beautiful things, and to do work that gives back to people. I want to find the truth and honesty in all things. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want this whole thing to be one huge adventure. I am happy where I’m at right now and I will be happy with where I go.

 

 

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Libraries

Library Ideas

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I can’t figure out how to properly embed a Storify in a blog post, so just go here and read a lot of tweets if you want to do so https://storify.com/JustinLibrarian/a-discussion-about-an-idea-called-library-plus

I think ideas and conversation are awesome. When you have conversations that stem from ideas it is even better. I constantly have ideas about libraries and one of my goals for 2016 has been to only have ideas related. I have learned this year that the only library ideas that we have that are worth anything to us are the ones that we can apply in our own situations. Every other library idea out there can be an inspiration, but given that every community is different most ideas don’t adapt easily. So….I think a lot about the Benson Memorial Library, Titusville PA, Crawford County PA, and all of Northwestern PA and say to myself “how can I do just a little bit to make this place just a touch more wonderful.” In the great grand scheme of things I am not gonna to be the leader of any great seismic shifts but instead have come to love my place in the world as a person who sometimes drops pebbles into a massive ocean.

This idea came out of thinking about the following things about Benson Memorial Library:

  1. How can we better use our downstairs space?
  2. How can we offer interesting, cutting edge, and unique services in times of flat or decreasing funding?
  3. The library card is boring and out of date….we can fix this but how do we do that? (here are two good examples of fixing that by the way #1 and #2)

Additional thoughts to the questions I posted above:

  1. We have an amazing downstairs space at the library which is so very underutilized. Part of it sits empty all the time, part of it is used 1-2 times week, and part of it is used to store a lot of stuff that we don’t need. I want to transform this space into something that people can use.
  2. It is difficult for small rural libraries to innovate and bring new and exciting things to their community in the same way that larger urban libraries do. Our funding remains flat or in some cases decreased. I don’t believe that small rural libraries should have to wait for these things to eventually come to them but instead should be included as these new things become available. Too often do small rural libraries wait around for the innovation to come to them that by the time it does it is old and out of date.
  3. I wonder about the future of the library card and how we can make it more exciting. Everyone has so many cards that they don’t want to deal with. As a youth services librarian, I saw that kids and teens often misplaced their cards all the time. We need to give the library card some additional value.

This thinking led me to an idea I will call Library PLUS. It is just an idea and here it is: what if there was an option to upgrade your library membership and support new initiatives at the same time? Everything that came with a library membership right now (unlimited books, 4 dvds/video games/10 magazines/2-3 eBooks/free computer access) would remain the same. None of that would be touched. By paying some kind of a fee (more on that later part #1), the PLUS membership would give you access to non-tax funded things, events, and stuff in the library (more on that later part #2). The funds that the library collected from PLUS memberships would then be funneled back into the program to be able to buy more technology/offer more services or events/hire someone to oversee the PLUS program/etc.

This idea answers my three questions above:

  1. Gives the downstairs space a purpose as it becomes the PLUS area where the tools/events/etc are stored.
  2. Creates a revenue stream which allows the library to purchase new technology and items which allow innovation to happen with greater ease.
  3. Adds a new value to a library card.

So of course with any kind of thought there is the Jedi side and the Sith side:

  1. This idea creates a barrier which allows only those that can afford the PLUS membership access to certain materials/technology/events.
  2. Who will be the target audience?
  3. Can the library obtain a way to offer free PLUS memberships to the community (thinking about kids and teens here)…and if so why not just take that money and invest it in something that everyone can use?

more on that later part #1
-I have no idea how much the fee would be. That would be something that would need to be worked out once the idea was further in place. However, the person implementing this idea would need to recognize that the PLUS membership would need to be as low as it could possibly be.

(more on that later part #2)
-The PLUS membership could not have any materials/technology/events in it that were funded by tax dollars. That to me would “cross the streams” of being a free and open public library to a membership based library. The PLUS membership would only include things that were funded by private donors/foundations/etc.

And that’s it. That’s an idea. That idea spurred some great conversation on Twitter and for me personally it helped me think through this idea. The idea now sits here and it may happen or it may just sit here. But no matter what happens, the ideas and the conversations were worth it. That’s the neat thing about ideas and conversations….they always have value. I hope that we all can continue to have great ideas and conversations in 2017 and beyond!

Family, Libraries, Life, Music, Things, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.11

MUSIC

 

I’ve recently been feeling a burst of inspiration when it comes to music. All throughout 2017 I have been working on writing and recording the first album for a project I am calling ABIGAIL FOSTER’S PHOTOSYNTHESIS MACHINE. I am really excited about the project and the songs on this first album. I have a lot of thoughts on how I’d like for this album to go and right now I am just trying to keep the original focus of it being an album of simple, easy to digest songs. I want to restart my musical brain and this seems like a good place to start.

And just like I do every time I have a musical project happening, I add another one. This one is the completion of the 2002 Zomo album Waiting For The Green. You see, this album was being worked on back in 2001-2002 and was going to be the debut album for the band Zomo (which went on to record and release two other albums). However, things happened and it never got finished. This has always been something that has bugged me and held me back a bit musically, so recently I made the decision to look at what we had finished and cobble together a version of the album. Is this the album that it was supposed to be? No way. It will never be that album. But that’s not the point…the idea was to finish something that deserves to be finished and put it out into the world. So over this weekend I hope to put the finishing touches on this collection of songs and release it to the world. More to come.

ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW LEAF

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I spend a lot of my time playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on my Nintendo 3DS. I find the game to be wonderfully pleasant, well made, and extremely relaxing. There’s really no goal in the game other than to exist in your faux town and go about your daily tasks but for some reason these are the things I search for in a video.

I am extremely happy that even though the game was released 4 years ago that Nintendo has decided to continue to support the game. Just this week, an update was released that adds a lot of neat new abilities and features to the game. You can read about some of those big changes here and the smaller yet equally as important changes here. Considering that I would usually give this game 2-5 hours of my life every week before the update, I expect that I’ll be visiting my town a lot more in the next few weeks.

WINDING DOWN

Once November hits I feel like the rest of my year is gonna be smooth sailing. September and October 2016 were quite hectic, full of book sales, budgets, book challenges, and much much more. Those things have been taken care of and now for the rest of the year I can collect my thoughts and plan for 2017. I think that it is extremely important to budget yourself enough time to sit back and think big. November and December are months where everyone is occupied with the holiday season so for me these months are a great time for that. Mental relaxation and health are so very important. Take care of yourself. I need to follow my own advice!

 

Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Let’s Be Patient With Each Other This Year

February is a pretty wretched month any year and 2016 is even more wretched than others. February is the time of colds, flus, and other ailments. February can’t figure out whether to have 28 or 29 days. February is the month that we all hope that winter ends and spring finally begins.

This year, February hit us with all of those things and a few more. Here in Northwestern PA we’ve been struck with El Nino Climate Change Weather Deluxe 2.0, where one day we get 6-8 inches of snow and the next day we’ve got temperatures in the 50’s and everyone is out in their shorts. This is not only confusing but it also leads to everyone eventually getting sick. We’ve also got the 2016 USA Presidential Primary and Election coming up. That seals the deal. The pundits and the political commentators come out of the woodwork and every day we’re treated to another amazing set of headlines bashing this and criticizing that and then the social media comments start to flow in and wow everything is just a hot mess. I’ve never been a fan of these election cycles and this year is everything to the extreme. I don’t like extremes. I like balance.

This is a good time to think about how we treat each other. We are all unique and interesting creatures. We all have ideas, beliefs, and thoughts. Some of those thoughts are good for the universe and some of those thoughts are bad for the universe. I understand that it is very easy to get upset when someone puts something down that you believe in so very much. It hurts me too. When I was in middle school, someone made fun of Asians in front of me. My brother is Korean. That really upset me. I punched him! It is not very nice to put down a group of people just because of how they are born, how they look, or something that they believe in. But at the same time, I understand now that it was also not very nice to punch someone! I know that somewhere in this there has to be balance. I don’t know exactly what that is and what that looks like, but I am constantly reminding myself to find that balance even in the hardest times.

Let’s be patient with each other this year. All of us are gonna get through everything that we’re going through. There are peaks and valleys. There are ups and downs. Be patient with the people you interact with in your community. Be patient with the people you interact with on the internet. We are all different, yet I believe that at the core we are all the same. We are all human beings. Think about that.

Family, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media, Things

A New Way of Connecting

I like to read. I’ve always liked to read. The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. I like to share. I’ve always wanted to share neat things, ideas, photos, and more. Social media enables us to do that.

What I don’t like is how much time I seem to spend on social media. I am one of those people that has to reply to every comment, like, or mention. I don’t like the idea of a comment not being properly recognized! And with that idea in my head, I go a little bit crazy. If my career was to be on social media to communicate and share with the world all the time, I would gladly do it. However this is not my career so I can’t do it all the time.

I think a lot about the David Weinberger piece Library As PlatformNate Hill was really the dude that introduced me to that piece. It was really his drive to turn the Chattanooga Public Library into the working example of the Library As Platform piece. But anywho…

I think about how much I’ve changed over the years and have started to see the online version of me as a very authentic platform. I am Justin Hoenke who is also Justin The Librarian who is also @justinlibrarian. These are all platforms which are used to share with the world. They’re all like my own TV station. You tune in and read and view the things that I share. TV stations don’t talk to you unless you in the moment. You have to make the motion to reach out to them. In the end, all of these things tie back to the physical form of Justin William Hoenke.

CONSUME
I will be sharing ideas, links, photos, and more through my platforms.

  • Facebook: facebook.com/justinhoenke
  • Twitter: twitter.com/justinlibrarian
  • This website, justinthelibrarian.com

 

CONNECT
I would still like to connect with you and talk about things! There are a few ways to get in touch with me:

  1. Email me at justinthelibrarian@gmail.com
  2. Facebook Message: facebook.com/justinhoenke
  3. Twitter DM: twitter.com/justinlibrarian

This is an interesting experiment and I am curious to see how it works. Try it out now! Send me a message. I really do like talking with you.

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Social Media

Social Media is Really Fucking Stupid These Days

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About a month ago I heard about a site called Who Unfollowed Me. Once you log in with Twitter, this site will show you who has unfollowed you on the service. I logged in and saw my list of recent unfollowers. It was a mix of the following:

  • Authors who thought “oh he’s a librarian I’ll try to sell him that book that I published on Amazon” and then discovered I wasn’t that kind of librarian.
  • Librarians who haven’t used Twitter in months-years.
  • Other random people who don’t fit into a neat and tidy category.

The site also had an option to tweet about how you found out who unfollowed you on Twitter. All in all, these two things got me thinking about social media, ego, and all that kind of jazz. I came up with this. WHO GIVES A FUCK.

The amount of followers a person has, their “social influence” and their reach? I think it is all a bunch of crap. It doesn’t matter all that much. And it sure isn’t a badge of honor that a person should wear around. Big on Twitter? That’s great. Huge on Instagram? Wow, you are amazing. Actually not really. None of this matters that much in the long run. It’s just a bunch of numbers that give the user and others in their community an inflated social media ego. It’s a bragging right that doesn’t need to be a bragging right.

The other thing that struck me (the option to tweet about how you found out who unfollowed you) was just how rude we can be to each other. Why would someone want to put this out into the world? “Hey, I found out that you unfollowed me. Here’s something to make you feel bad.” I don’t get this. But this is something that I see on social media these days; rage, anger, and the idea that one always had to get in the last word. It’s like we’re living in a social media time loop where something happens, followed by another thing, followed by this and then that. We usually get Saturday and Sunday off to forget about the hot topic of the moment and wait until Monday to start up on something else (see this for a perfect example of the social media time loop idea). It doesn’t seem to end these days.

I like the internet a lot. I like social media. I really like talking to friends that I don’t get to see everyday. This damn thing connects us and that is great! I love it! But recently, I think we’re stuck in a rut. We should all take a step back and think about how we’re using the internet and how we view ourselves and each other on the internet. Let’s deflate our egos a bit. Let’s calm down and not get so angry. Why so serious? Let’s dance for a bit. Wait a second. I have a fantastic song.

THIS is why I love the internet.

Life

Halfway There (?)

Pap Pap Pleczynski. I wish I had a photo with Pap Hoenke. I don't think I do.
Pap Pap Pleczynski. I wish I had a photo with Pap Hoenke. I don’t think I do.

On June 15, 2015 I will be 35 years old. Both of my grandfathers passed away at age 70 (well, one was 69 but was close to 70). If genetics and family history mean anything, this could mean that I have already spent half of my time here on Earth in this plane of existence. Heavy stuff, huh? It is, and perhaps this is why I’ve been going through some depression recently.

I’m well aware of my lifestyle choices these days and I know there are things I need to change (More exercise! Better eating! Less stress!) and I’m doing those things. In a way, I’m pretty happy that I am able to be well aware of this trend in my family history. It makes me understand who I am, where I am going, and what I need to do. These thoughts inspire things like this post (“Never Going Back Again”) and where I’m heading with libraries. I envision a different kind of life for myself in about 3 years. I have to a lot of work before I get there. I will get there.

When I say things on Twitter like what you see above, I’m in a place where I’m thinking about things like being halfway there. There’s a part of me that knows how important this blog, those tweets, and all that other jazz are to who I am. There’s also a part of me that says that tells me that all of that stuff is crap and that it’s time for me to give all of that away. I don’t know. Like everything, I aim for balance and many times I’m out of alignment.  What I do know is that I am so very happy that this twitter and blog thing have become what it is. It has allowed me to connect, share, learn, and laugh with so many people. That’s the good stuff. That’s the thing that keeps me here.

Maybe the “Justin The Librarian” thing is just a costume….a platform….that has allowed me to have a place where I can connect with people. It could be anything: Justin The UPS Delivery Guy. Justin The Farmer. Justin The Musician. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps this is the thing I needed to type and work out in my brain.

Thanks for reading and following along with everything that I’ve put here over the past 5 years. I like having you all in my life.