Benson Memorial Library, Books, Chattanooga Public Library, Community Building, ebooks, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Technology

Ditching The Hype and Focusing on The Community

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This is where I live. This is the community I serve.

Like a computer our brains need to be restarted every once in awhile. Events and shifts over the last few years of my life have made me realize this. I no longer work to only serve kids, tweens, and teens. I no longer live in an urban area. I no longer live in a world which I fully understand. My life these days is very different than what it used to be, and with that I feel the need to reset myself. This post is an attempt to put this reset into practice using words to coalesce my thoughts into one coherent belief that moves me forward in my work as a librarian.

I believe that a strong part of the future of public libraries will be in focusing our efforts and services on a hyperlocal level. This differentiates from where I believe public libraries are focusing their efforts now, which is looking outwards towards everyone else in the profession to see what they are doing before acting themselves. No more is this apparent to me than the recent effort for public libraries to shift a lot of focus towards STEM/STEAM/Makerspace/Coding efforts. Please do not get me wrong: I believe in teaching and exposing citizens to things such as these, yet at the same time I do not believe in a one size fits all solution that can be applied to every public library. This is the case here, as it was with eBooks and any other “trends” in recent history.

The idea that we should be focusing our efforts and services on a hyperlocal level instead of looking outwards towards everyone else in the profession is doing became clear to me when I was completing a survey sent to me by our State Library. In that survey, participants were asked about STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and nothing else. I understand that the point of the survey was to better understand the libraries in my state, but while reading it I thought of the following scenarios as I imagined another librarian in my state reading the email:

  1. The State Library is focused on STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and we’re not doing this at all so we must be very behind.
  2.  The State Library created a survey about this, so it must be very important and I must get behind this trend even though I do not know if it is right for my community.
  3. I need to learn more about all things related to STEM/STEAM/Makerspace in public libraries and if I do not I risk losing patrons and support.

I understand that not everyone will follow one of the paths that I laid out above, but many will.  Human beings are creatures of habit and enjoy following the leader. There is probably something embedded into our DNA that makes us this way.

The problem with following the hype and trend of the moment is that it is usually fixated on something that worked well for one particular library and that it does not translate well to other libraries. When I lived in Portland, ME I felt like my library was focused on what happened everywhere else and the idea that “if they’re doing, we should be heading that way too.” In reality, Portland was its own very unique community that needed a specific set of programs and services. A huge part of why I moved to the Chattanooga Public Library in 2013 was because they were looking (and still do) at their programs and services on a hyperlocal level. Programs like DEV DEV, The 4th Floor, Makeanooga, and many more worked and continue to work because they are programs for that community, not programs that were copied/pasted from what someone else in public libraries was doing.

Why are we at where we are now? I believe that social media, large organizations, and large publications have led the charge towards public libraries focusing outwards towards everyone else in the profession instead of inspiring those in the profession to think for themselves and focus inward on their communities. A culture of “here’s how to be successful with your public library in 5 easy steps” combined with ego boosting catchphrases like “rock star librarian” have not helped us but instead presented public libraries with the path of least resistance.

How do we change the conversation? 

  • We need more public librarians out there willing to share their stories about how their focus on a hyperlocal level is benefiting their public library and their community. To start, I recommend following the work of librarians and libraries in New Zealand and Australia. You can do that by starting here with this Twitter list that I have compiled. The work done by the people and organizations is focused, inspiring, and uplifting.
  • Share through any platform that you feel comfortable with. I personally would like to see an increase in public librarians writing more and maintaining their own blogs or Medium profiles
  • Remind each other that our communities come before everything and to keep the message positive. Support and reminders from other public librarians is one way that we can spread the message that we need to focus our work locally.

Ditch the hype. Don’t copy and paste. Focus on your Community. This is what I believe to be the path forward.

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.

Life, Online Identity, Social Media, Technology

RIP Social Media 2004(ish)-2016

Sparky is my pet name for social media JK who the hell would give social media a pet name

In my almost 36 years on Earth I have learned to trust my gut, and for the past two years there’s been this feeling in there every time I sign onto Facebook or Twitter that all of this is all over and that it is time to move on. Social media has been co-opted by the mainstream media and has become yet another tool in the belt of capitalism. No longer is social media a tool for the people, a place where we can connect and share with our family and friends. Nope, those days are over. These days, social media is a tool used by others to sell us things, tell us who to be and what to watch, and to shape an entire culture. We post photos and ideas for our friends and family and in turn all of these are taken and analyzed and sold back to us. Sorry to sound like such a crazy conspiracy theory mid-30’s white male nutcase but SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE 

Will I keep using these services? Probably. Facebook is really the defacto way to get in touch with people these days. After all, who really knows each others email addresses and phone numbers anymore? Facebook has killed those. I just changed my phone number recently and guess who wanted my new phone number? My mom. That’s about it. To many, email is just a service that collects junk mail and advertisements and is used to store files as attachments. Twitter is good for sharing links and quick ideas. I wish Branch was still around to take these tweets and have a conversation around them.

The only thing that’s changed is how I will personally approach these services. If I wanna talk to you or get an idea out to you, it’ll either come directly fro me in a message or via this website. If I wanna see what you’re up to, I’ll go directly to your page and check that out. No more News Feeds, no more Timelines, no more Suggested Articles.

 

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.

Chattanooga Public Library, Kids, Libraries, Social Media, Technology, Teens

An Update on THE AWESOME BEAR

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Awesome Bear recently and have learned a lot! Who knew you could learn so much from a bear that tweets!

THE AWESOME BEAR PART ONE

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I drew this picture of the Awesome Bear because I wanted to draw a picture of what I see in my head.

I recently got to sit down with James McNutt (Employee of The 4th Floor and all around great human being) and work on a new version of THE AWESOME BEAR, Chattanooga Public Library’s tweeting bear.  It was a lot of fun to share ideas with James and then watch him make those a reality when he wrote the code that runs The Awesome Bear.

Now The Awesome Bears lives online and anyone can go to THE AWESOME BEAR and tweet a positivity, kindness, and wonderful ideas.

You can also follow THE AWESOME BEAR here.

THE AWESOME BEAR PART TWO

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I think that THE AWESOME BEAR is a pretty cool idea and I want to develop it further. I think it’s a great tool because 1) It’s so very simple AND 2) It’s a great first lesson on creating, sharing, and publishing content online AND 3) It’s fun, so I decided to submit a Knight Foundation News Challenge Proposal to help take the Awesome Bear to the next level.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this proposal and let me be honest with you on why I am having those mixed feelings:

I looked at a lot of other amazing proposals and saw that they were…..I don’t really know how to say it….really great and really heavy! Lots of big time ideas that I didn’t fully understand where proposed (and I love them!) but I got a bit scared. How would THE AWESOME BEAR be received?  Would it be laughed at and tossed aside with a simple “A tweeting bear that shares good vibes and ideas from the community? Now that’s gotta be a joke.” After seeing so many great ideas that came out of the News Challenge, I was toying with the idea of deleting my submission and moving on.  THE AWESOME BEAR came from a pretty pure place in my heart: share good ideas, share good vibrations, and have fun. I didn’t want it to be laughed at.

I thought about it a lot. It weighed on my mind for about a week. My wife Haley was extremely helpful with thinking this through. She said something along the lines of  the Awesome Bear is unique. It’s fun. It stands out. Sure it may be simple but…that’s what makes it unique. It’s easy to use and that’s something people respond to. So I kept up the proposal and now we see what happens.

THE AWESOME BEAR PART THREE

I would love the Awesome Bear to live in every city and be a unique part of what the public library can offer their community. Have you read the news today? Oh boy! There’s just so many negative stories and headlines written to make you want to click them so more advertising money comes through that it can just really put a damper on your day. The Awesome Bear can counteract that. Imagine The Awesome Bear everywhere, sharing the little things that really make a community thrive…the tiny moments of kindness, the simple ideas to make your day better, the goodness in all of us. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

 

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, MAKE!, Technology

Building a Bear that Tweets (post by Justin Hoenke and James McNutt)

One of the best things about working at the Chattanooga Public Library is the freedom we have to try new things.  Nate Hill once said that he sees The 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library as a beta space where things are tested, kinks are ironed out, and then are sent out into the rest of the library.  I’ve embraced that idea with all of the projects, programs, and things we’re trying out with ages 0-18 on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library.

Nowhere is that freedom and spirit to give everything a shot more visible than with THE AWESOME BEAR.

Awesome Bear Page

The Awesome Bear started its life as a plastic bear that I found in a closet during one of my first weeks in Chattanooga.  It had no use just sitting in a closet, so I set it out for the public.  Its job was simple: collect bits of paper which people would use to write awesome things on.  It could be a wish, something neat that they saw, or a recommendation.  The Awesome Bear would collect these things and put good vibes out into the world.

After collecting scraps of paper for a few months, it was clear that the Awesome Bear was super fun for those who visited the 2nd Floor but the idea needed to grow.  Along came Meg Backus, doer of great things at the Chattanooga Public Library with this comment:

The AWESOME BEAR    Comment

After a 15 minute chat with Meg, it was clear that only a few things were needed to make the Awesome Bear tweet: a keyboard, an internet connection, a twitter account, and a Raspberry Pi.  Megan Emery and I set up the Twitter account and trascribed the written notes inside the Awesome Bear into its first ever tweets.

James McNutt (Education Director at Engage 3D, 4th Floor Awesome Person) came into the project as we set up the twitter account.  He remarked that it would be super simple to write a few lines of code in Python to collect what people were writing.

For details on how the Awesome Bear got some technology and tweets, I’ll turn it over to James McNutt, Education Director at Engage 3D and all around amazing person.

Materials:
Raspberry Pi B
SD card (4+ GB)
Ethernet cable
Power supply
Keyboard
Monitor (HDMI or RCA video cable)

PREPARING THE SD CARD
For ease, I went with wheezy/raspian. You can get the latest images at http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

Once you have the .zip file extract it

My preferred method to write images is the dd comand

When you plug the SD card in, it will be mounted.

This is Mac specific:

In the terminal we are going to look at our mounted disks with: diskUtil list

  • Write down the path of the device we are going to write to (for example /dev/disk2)
  • Now we unmount that device with diskUtil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (where N is the number in your specific case)

Now we are going to write the image to that disk

Caution: we are running this command with root privileges and if you specify the incorrect disk you can end up writing to your primary drive instead

with:

sudo dd if=2013-09-25-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/diskN

(this will prompt you for you username and then password, when typing your password nothing will appear on the screen)

(again where N is the number in your specific case)

 This will take some time

Once it is finished you SD card is ready!

BOOTING FOR THE FIRST TIME!
Insert your SD card, connect your ethernet cable, keyboard, a monitor, and lastly your power supply. Your device should boot upon connecting the power supply

The first time you boot you’ll need to do some configuration, like setting your keyboard defaults to US rather than UK!!!

Likely your pi will reboot and you’ll login with your username and password (“pi” and “raspberry” if you didn’t change anything).

First thing we’ll do is install apache2

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apache2

After installing the apache server will start and anything in your /var/www directory will be served up.

For our purposes we only concerned with being able to see this on the LAN so we’re good

Let’s get rid of the filler index.html

sudo rm /var/www/index.html

Now since we only want a text file let’s make that

sudo nano /var/www/index.txt

Write whatever inspirational message you like to be the first thing on the record.

  • Type ^x to exit and save

Now we’ll give this file to the user pi or whatever you made your user

sudo chown pi /var/www/index.txt

Now we’ll change the privileges

chmod 644 /var/www/index.txt

WRITING A PYTHON SCRIPT
(Justin here: Here’s the Python script that James wrote to collect the tweets on the Raspberry Pi)

filename = "/var/www/index.html"
while(True):
    submission = raw_input()
    f = open(filename,'a')
    f.write(submission+'\n')
    f.close()

 


In regard to the python script it might be worth instructing to save the file as something.py and running it with python something.py

  •  Type ^x to exit and save
  • Write down your IP address
  • ifconfig
  • Find your address under the eth0
  • Now run the program
  • Type something and hit return
  • On another deviceopen up a web browser and type the IP address in the URL followed by index.txt
  • You should see messages! (please note:  this doesn’t tweet using the twitter-python api but just serves a local file.  Basically it will save everything everyone types into a text file.  It will be your job to copy/paste those into twitter)