Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Creativity

Between 2009 and 2015 I was not very active creatively. This is OK. The family that Haley and I started began to grow, and now that we were both out of school it was time to put some energy into our work. For me it was libraries and in a way my work in libraries took the place of the act of creativity. Looking back I see that my work in libraries was very creative as a result of this shift. I think I did some really neat library related things during that time period. Despite enjoying this work, I still felt a lack of creativity in my life.

My creativity comes out best in the form of songs, and even more specifically songs that are arranged in the sequence of an album. In the days of digital singles and rush releases, I understand that I am way beyond the times and I’m fine with that. One of the things that I have learned about creativity is that you need to open your mind and your heart to it and accept it in any form that it comes. Is it rushing at your faster than you can write it all down? Is the trickle as slow as a leaky faucet? What I have realized is that creativity comes in many forms and with many speeds. You have to accept that in your mind and in your heart and be ready for whatever comes. You also have to accept that your creativity may take different forms. As I said above, for me that form is a set of songs arranged as an album. My wife Haley, who just happens to be one of most creative people I know, excels at making clothes for herself as well as other fabric arts and oddities which have an amazing energy and charm to them.

And that’s what I want to talk about: the energy that your individual creativity puts out into the world. Every creative act that a human being does starts somewhere. I believe they start in a positive part of our mind and our heart. We then interpret these creative urges into a form. We do not need to talk about the form here. The form is what you want it to be. The form that feels most honest and real to you is the form for you. Embrace that form, think about your creative urge, and make that creative urge a reality. Birth your idea and let your idea out into the world.

DO NOT fall into the belief that “no one will listen to or read or look at” your creative act. Instead, think two things about your creative act:

  1. Your creative act puts out a positive energy into the world, and acts of positive energy are like ripples in a pond. The effects will be felt somewhere along the line.
  2. Your creative act will be listened to or read or looked at. Someone at some point in time will interact with it and it will have an impact on their life. There are too many people in the world for your creative act to not be seen by at least one person. And one person is more than zero.

My latest creative act is a 10 song album titled SMALL TOWN. I would like to end this post by talking about that creative act. I believe that not only should we share our creative acts but we should also talk about how they came to be and why they came to be. This helps us understand each other, and when we better understand each other we can work together to create a more positive world.

SMALL TOWN begins the album. I wanted to write a song that was just one big loop. I experimented with a 4 chord sequence in 4/4 time. Garageband helped me make the loops, program the drums and bass, and put more onto the song at the end. This is the introduction to a frame of mind I had while writing the album. This is what it can feel like in a small town.

GIVE ME THE ATOM BOMB was started in mid 2017 and went through many different versions until I came to this arrangement. I did not know if I wanted it to be a slow dirge, a synthpop extravaganza, or just a straight ahead song. Jeff Lynne and his use of the acoustic guitar as a rhythm instrument inspired this version. The message is simple: “I AM EVERYTHING, THERE’S NOBODY ELSE AROUND”. Contrasting the feeling of being woke with the feeling of being isolated.

THIS TOWN WILL DESTROY ITSELF was the lingering feeling that everything I moved my family to in 2015 was crumbling. Homes falling apart, buildings falling down, and a rot that set in years ago and continued to fester. I want to go, but I also want to stay. I can’t be fooled by my feelings.

FROZEN PIPES is the tale of Fidelia Hall, student loan debt, and the struggle of this generation in America. I’ve written about how my home is physically falling apart before…frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold, ceilings falling down, falling through the floor, and heating systems failing. Why can’t you just fix it Justin? Well, it’s tough when you have $100K of student loan debt between you and your wife and you only make $35K per year. You just can’t fix things in the moment and you have to plan. You promised that an education would lead to great things and while it has helped expand my mind, it has crippled the expanded mind with a debt that will never cease. The boomers and their complaints. Their lack of vision and understanding. This is the story of a generation. I could write about this for ages but I won’t.

LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP started in 2001 as an instrumental. I loved the simple melody. I loved the 50’s style chord sequence. The more I thought about this album the more I came to the conclusion that it should not be a 10 song tome on small towns. It had to be more. LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP starts the dream sequence and the hunt for a new place to live and a possible new job, all of which ties nicely into this blog series I wrote about my job search, A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN

LITTLE PARADISE is a song that has been complete since 2001 but I was never happy with the recording I had. It felt too…..beachy. The song was written around the time where all that I wanted to do was to leave college and travel and live in different places every three months. That was the dream. The song was a nice fit for this album because it dealt with leaving your home to explore and go on an adventure. I am very proud of the bridge.

AEOTEOROA has roots in a cassette demo tape I made in 11th grade during my music class. It was a simple midi piano and not much else with the title JUPITER. It sounded good and it needed more. AEOTEOROA was a place that I had a very big interest in and a place that I could see me and my family living in, so it became the focus…the ultimate adventure…the goal. Everyone’s so neat there. Everything’s so green there. Why don’t we plant roots and soar into the sun?

MUCH TOO LATE also has origins from years ago but it was an idea that sat aside without any development. Striking out on the idea of a move to Aeoteoroa, I wondered to myself if it was much too late to make a new step in our lives. Time is always ticking. Also I just love a good key change into a huge chorus.

ATOM BOMB, as I stated above, had so many different versions and ideas. I couldn’t let go of the idea of the song being constructed with synths and with dirgey instrumentation. This is why we have a reprise! I couldn’t let this vibe go unheard.

Ending an album is difficult. I always want to sum everything up and get the listener to think about their life. I noticed that the phrase “another day” popped up in another song and it reminded me that I had this short idea of a song from years ago. It felt like a good way to end.

 

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Libraries, Video Games

“Retro Gaming Gives Libraries a Boost” over at Information Today NewsBreaks

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Head on over to Information Today NewsBreaks today to read my piece on Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic and why public libraries should be scooping these up and loaning them out to their communities….that is, if you can get your hands on one! I know I’ve been in the hunt for one, both for myself and for my library, for almost a year now. Just imagine the retro video game themed programs you could run with one of these things!

HERE YOU GO OH FRIENDS: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Retro-Gaming-Gives-Libraries-a-Boost-122162.asp

Libraries, Life, Music

Why You Should Subscribe to IndiePicks

 

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You know my shtick by now: I don’t write about things on this blog that I don’t care about. I don’t write about things on this blog because someone paid me to do so. What I do on this blog is try to be represent my thoughts and feelings about things I am passionate about with words (and at least one picture per post). That’s who I am and what I do.

So I’m here with this post to tell you one thing: You should subscribe to IndiePicks Magazine. I’ll tell you why in the next couple of paragraphs.

INDEPENDENT ARTISTS ARE WHERE IT’S AT

Just so you know, I am a contributing writer to IndiePicks. My part as a contributing writer is that I get to interview awesome musicians and filmmakers who are creating their art independent from any big publishers, companies, etc. I do this because I not only like to write but I believe in independent artists. I believe in what they’re doing. I feel and understand their desire  “go indie” with their career, whether it be out of necessity or choice. You see I believe that people should create art (books, music, movies, video games, etc) because they have something to say, not just to sell a product. Of course, all artists have to sell something in order to keep doing what they’re doing, but the common thread I see with all of the independent artists I’ve encountered is that they’re creating what they create because THEY WANT to create something. I believe in honesty above everything else in the world, and trust me when I say that when I talk to these independent artists that I see and feel and hear nothing but honesty. In a world where things are becoming more and more homogeneous and pumped out by the dozen by huge companies and conglomerates, this honesty is something that we all will begin to seek in our day to day lives. We need more honest art, be it in books, movies, music, and more, in our lives. That honesty starts with independent artists.

LIBRARIES NEED MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE

While James Patterson, the latest Avengers movie, and the new Taylor Swift albums will guarantee our libraries a lot of circulations, we all have to agree that public libraries are about more than just pumping out the latest and most popular materials to their communities. Public libraries are gateways to new and exciting things for everyone that walks through our doors. When I was a kid, for me it was being introduced to graphic novels, books about whales, and vinyl LPs from bands that I heard about on the school playground but couldn’t afford to buy.

One of the neatest things that a public library does is offer each and every community a chance to dive into something new. Imagine being in a small town, isolated from a big city where you may have easy access to all kinds of independent media. What can a library be to that person? A library can be a gateway to a whole new kind of passion, hobby, or idea for that person. I think about the people I see in my library from day to day: the people that love manga, the folks that enjoy nothing but westerns, and the people that really want to watch every movie out there. Around these parts, their options are limited. There are no book stores in our town, one big chain movie rental store (yes, they exist), and a whole bunch of not that much to do. While these people do want what the Big Five are putting out, they also want variety. They want something new. They want to experience the rest of the world out there.

Libraries are the greatest recommendation and discovery machines out there. Let’s put stuff in our libraries that gives everyone in our community a chance to learn, grow, and understand the whole world together.

WE’VE ASKED FOR THIS EXACT THING

And finally, and perhaps most noteworthy is that we’ve been asking IndiePicks for quite some time. Back in the day, we just didn’t have a name for it. For as long as I have been in this library world, I’ve seen and heard conversations about how we can get more than just the Big Five and other mainstream media into our libraries. We’ve talked about how we can do it and why we should do it. We’ve debated this endlessly. Nowhere was discussion more prevalent when us libraries were all heavily debating ebooks in libraries. In these discussions, we criticized the heavy lending restrictions the big publishers put on eBooks in libraries and wondered how we were going to get more variety in our collections through independent media when the big eBook platforms were controlled by the big publishers.

It is safe to say that we’ve really, really wanted something like IndiePicks for a while. And guess what? We now have it. (Here’s the link to Issue #1). With IndiePicks, we now have a magazine which we can go to for insight into the world of independent media. We no longer have to blindly go into this area and pick a few titles here and there. We now have a place where there are top quality reviews and opinions on independent media. We now have an amazing tool in our tool belt that we can use to bring more variety to our library collections.

The best part yet? The team is made up of librarians. You know, people like you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a librarian. You know you can trust a librarian.

Follow IndiePicks on Twitter: @IndiePicksMag 

 

 

 

3D printing, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Writing About Libraries

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This happened a long time ago in what feels like another life.

For a website/blog called Justin The Librarian, I don’t feel like I talk about libraries that much anymore. There’s a reason for that and today I’ll try to sort out the thoughts in my head.

I feel out of touch with the current topics being talked about in the public library sphere. I’ve really never been one for political debates, and there are a lot of politics to be discussed with the current topics that are being talked about. To be honest with you I don’t have the mental strength and capacity to deal with those topics now. My focus is to put in a good day of work at my library and then go home and be the best father and husband I can be. Diving into the deeper layer of public library talk is just not something I want to do right now or in the foreseeable future. Libraries are for everyone and I think it is in our best interest to be everything to everyone that walks through the doors of the public library, but I’m not gonna be on Twitter talking about it or writing about that here. I need to be aware that I only have a limited amount of mental energy. I am learning to channel that energy in the best way possible.

The second reason is that I feel that sometimes what I’ve written and shared can be misunderstood. I am really proud of the work I did in Chattanooga TN but to be 100% honest with you I think a big reason why it was successful was because of that particular moment in time in Chattanooga TN and not much else. I wrote about the experience a lot because I wanted to share the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt every day when I went to work with people like Megan Emery, Meg Backus, James McNutt, Nate Hill, and more. That time in libraries for me was really exciting and the enthusiasm happening was infectious. But now I look back on a lot of what I wrote and say “well that was very Chattanooga specific, and I don’t know if that would be good for any other library.” I can’t tell you how many times library people have said to me that they’ve read about what I’ve been a part of in libraries and said “well I guess our public library should be doing things like you do” and specific things like “we should probably get a 3D printer like you” and “well let’s make more things with patrons that was successful for you.” That wasn’t the intended purpose of what I wrote/shared, but I guess I should have expected it. When people read something (and I do this too), they think about what they read and wonder how and if it could be applied to their lives. Nowadays there’s this thing that weighs on me…if someone tells me they were inspired by the work I was a part of there’s a bit of me that regrets even writing and sharing in the first place. What if these things they’re doing fail for them? What if these people have a miserable experience with their maker program/3D printer/code camp/etc? I think about all of that and I keep it in my head and in my heart. It brings me down. No library is alike because no community is alike. We are all so very different, yet we share the same name and idea behind what we do. So why do feel the need to copy/paste ideas? I don’t know.

So with all that said, I don’t know where I stand. I think I’ll be taking a breather away from writing about libraries in the future. I know part of that is in me: I’m just burnt out and I’m not inspired. Unfollow away if you’d like. The librarian part of Justin has gone for the time being.

Information Today: A Day In The Life, Libraries

Introducing “A DAY IN THE LIFE”, my new column at Information Today

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Soy un escritor! I am a writer! I really like taking on new challenges in life. Blogging, journaling, and writing articles here and there were the first part in a challenge to myself to prove that I can write. Here’s the next level: I’m now a columnist for Information Today.

My column, titled A DAY IN THE LIFE, is me talking with other librarians about inspiration, technology, management, and more. I believe that the best things in the library world come from the little moments where you’re having a chat with someone over a meal or a beer, not from some big conference or paper telling you exactly what to do. My aim with this column is to be the written equivalent of that: me talking to some great people about some great ideas. I want you to feel like you were a fly on the wall listening in, leaving with a heart full of inspiration

I’ve also really enjoyed working with the folks over at Information Today over the past year on my four part feature TALES FROM THE LIBRARY TRENCHES. When you find it easy to work with someone or a group of people, you stick with them. I’m sticking with the folks at Information Today.

My column won’t be available online free to read, so I recommend that you subscribe to Information Today. You can do that by clicking here. The folks over there do a great job, so supporting them is highly recommended.

 

 

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Tales From The Library Trenches

Tales From the Library Trenches, Part 3: Choose Your Own Adventure

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Part 3! Enjoy! 

Head on over to Information Today and check out part three of my series titled Tales From The Library Trenches. In this installment, I got a chance to chat with my former boss at the Cape May County Library (NJ) and still big time library inspiration Deb Poillon about project management, planning, and more. Deb rules. She’s one of my library inspirations, as her approach is so community and staff focused and she does it in such as way that not only gets things done but gets things done well.

I’ve created this category (click!) to keep all of the writings in this series together. Next month I will be back to share my fourth and final part. Stay tuned!

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Library Director, Management, Tales From The Library Trenches

Tales From the Library Trenches, Part 2: A Year of Firsts

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I forgot to post this in June, but better late than never!

Head on over to Information Today and check out part two of my series titled Tales From The Library TrenchesIn this installment, we talk about connections, library boards, and your new role as a community leader.

If you’re up for it, try to connect all the dots and find all the Prince references in the piece. What album was I listening to when I wrote this?

I’ve created this category (click!) to keep all of the writings in this series together. Stay tuned for more!