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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Great People, Life

GREAT PEOPLE: Abraham Schechter

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I have known Abraham Schechter since 2010 and from that moment on we have kept in touch through letters, emails, and Facebook messages. You see, Abraham is a writer, but he’s not just that. He’s a typewriter enthusiast, a local historian, a photographer, a preservationist, an expert in book repair, an essayist, and most importantly an amazing human being.

He’s a big reason why I write on this blog. When I started justinthelibrarian.com, my main focus was on writing about libraries. In our chats, Abrahama always reminded me that life was more than just our work. It was the person that did the work and those things that made that person tick. He was one of those people that I’ve needed in my life to remind me that life needs balance and the full picture.

Abraham’s work at the Portland Public Library in Portland ME (where I worked with him between 2010-2013) is simply amazing. In my opinion, he is the heart and soul of The Portland Room and everything local history related at the library. During my time there, I saw Abraham pour hours and hours of hard work and love into the Portland Press Herald Negative Still Film Collection and the Digital Commons Collection. I may not know much about local history and digitization, but I do know quality work and I can say that this is some of the best work in this field that I have ever saw.

Abraham always said that “Literacy and learning are at the heart of the librarian’s mission” and he put that into practice every day. When he repaired books at the library he didn’t do it alone…it always turned into a performance, a mini pop up program of his own. He created an audience around him and educated them on what he was doing. When I brought teens through the library, I always had them meet Abraham. We’d learn about calligraphy, book repair, typewriters, and more. Abraham made these topics fun and amazing for all ages. He still continues to wow me with programs like his Philosophy Forum. This brings new and amazing people into the library and this is what it is all about.

Thanks for being part of my life Abraham and for being an inspiration to the world.

If you’re reading this, you should connect with Abraham on LinkedIn here

Abraham has also been very involved in the Belfast Bound Book Festival, and this year he’s organizing the whole program. Read more about the Belfast Bound Book Festival at the images below or click here:

DEV DEV: Summer of Code 2013, Libraries

DEV DEV THE MOVIE

In July 2013,  fifty teens gathered on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Downtown Library to learn all about HTML, CSS, Python, and robotics.  This is their story. 

For more information, please visit DEV DEV: <summer of code/>

DEV DEV: Summer of Code 2013, Libraries

DEV DEV: at the Chattanooga Public Library DAY THREE

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Click on the image above to see what happened during the THIRD day of the DEV DEV: <summer of code/> camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.

Libraries, Social Media, Technology

Why Medium may be awesome for libraries

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Last week, I got an invite to test out Medium, a new publishing site developed by the folks behind Blogger and Twitter.  Over the past week, I’ve been dabbling in it and it hit me that Medium could be a really awesome tool for libraries to use.

So what is Medium?  I’ll let the developers tell you all about it (click here for more):
It’s great that you can be a one-person media outlet, but it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others. And in a world of increasingly overwhelming quantities of content, how do we direct our attention to what’s most valuable, not just what’s interesting and of-the-moment?

When I created my first collection (titled Public Libraries) and posted my first two pieces, this idea came to mind:

MEDIUM CAN HELP COLLECT YOUR TEENS STORIES
Teens have a lot to say.  If you don’t believe this, spend 15 minutes at a teen service desk in a public library and you’ll change your mind.  Most of these conversations happen daily and then they’re left floating in the ether, never really collected to share.  Medium can solve this!  Why not develop a teen program based around Medium.  Set up a collection in Medium called “Daily Stories from the Teen Library” and encourage teens to post their stories there.  If they’re not into posting those stories, why not collect them as the teen librarian and share those stories?

You can also use Medium as a way to collect stories created by teens in writing workshops at the library.  If Medium had existed when we ran our Game On! Envisioning Your Own Video Game program back in 2010 at my library, I know that I would’ve used it to collect the awesome stories told by the teens.

COLLECT YOUR STAFF EXPERTISE
One of the conversations the administration at my library has been having is centered around staff expertise and how to share that with the greater community.  Currently, we use our blog to do that and plan on expanding that more when our website relaunches in 2013.  With collections in Medium, you could start a collection which your staff can contribute to.  Collections have the option of being open to anyone to contribute or can be limited to those who are invited.  Think about how neat it would be to have a ANYTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY collection with posts written by your staff.  It would be a great way to share your staff knowledge.

Here’s my profile on Medium.  It shows the collections I have created and also all of the contributions I have made to other collection.

I ❤ Video Games Collection is one of my favorite collections.  Click here to read what others have contributed to this collection.