Libraries, Relevant at Any Size

Relevant at Any Size: You Just Have To Do It

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You just have to do it. 

I think that in every situation it is good if you have a mantra, and for me the mantrathat comes with working in a small rural public library has been that you just have to do it. There’s no way around the work that needs to be done in small rural libraries. You see it when it comes through the door in the people that you serve. In a small town, people have planted their roots and change comes hard to the community. When the world shifts, the big cities are often at the forefront of the excitement and energy that comes with this kind of change. The small towns, tucked away in blanket of trees shielded from highways and the hustle and bustle, see these shifts as a hassle, a threat to the easy going life they’ve crafted in their small town. The residents in these towns just got to where they needed to be and now there’s a change? It’s not an easy thing for these people to process.

So you open your doors as a small rural public library and in comes the community. They’re wandering, a bit lost in this modern world. They very much belong in this world, but they’ve yet to find their footing and steady themselves on this new ground. That’s where these small rural libraries come in. You just have to do it. It may not have been your ultimate goal in life to grow up to work in a public library, only to day in and day out help folks figure out how to successfully navigate setting up a two factor authentication on Gmail when they don’t have their own computer and their cell phone is one of those prepaid limited minutes & data kind of a deal. No one wants to waste their data getting 6 digit authentication codes from Gmail, especially when that data costs money and they’ve got very little money to start. You just have to do it. As a librarian, you take a deep breath in, pull up a chair, and navigate through the entire process with the library guest. The ability to have and trust in your patience is a must. Eventually you get through the entire process. It either works out and the library guest is happy or you just blame it on Google. They can take it.  🙂

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You get some texts at 6am saying that you’re Youth Services Librarian is gonna be out sick on the 2nd day of Summer Reading. But you know what?You just have to do it. You know it’s gonna be a very busy day but sick people always need to stay away from healthy people in a work setting, so you figure out the plan and you make it work. You just have to do it. You take some time yourself to sit back at the Summer Reading Sign up desk and help people out. Eventually a few other employees will trickle in and staffing will be OK for the rest of the day. You get through it. With a smile and a friendly voice, you welcome every child into the library, chat with their parents or grandparents, and you sign them up for summer reading. You help them get to wherever they need to be at that point in time. You just have to do it. There’s no other option. You do it, you make it work, and you put positivity out into the world through your work.

This is the mantra for the small rural library. As I read the mantra once again, it feels like it’s this mashup of mantras and American “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” ideology. I hate that ideology, but for some reason it works here. In the small rural public library, you know that your job is to make good things happen for the residents of your community. You know they’re struggling with the massive shifts happening in our world right now. You know they feel left behind and that they can’t keep up. They feel like everyone has forgotten about them. So you know the work you have ahead of you and what needs to be done. You go to your library every day and you say this to yourself: You just have to do it.

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Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Library Director

Library Stuff That I Am Proud Of

I don’t blog much about what I’ve been up to at the Benson Memorial Library because every time I sit down to do it everything ends up sounding so boring that what I was up to in libraries in the past. I mean, what can top The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library? We had a freakin’ arcade there!

When it comes to being a library director, my life is very different than it was when I was involved in Youth Services yet at the same time there is a whiff of familiarity in this job. No matter what I’m doing in libraries, I find that the common thread that connects everything is that I am advocating constantly for services for our community members. That’s really the core of it all….trying to get a safe and fun spot for teens is the same as figuring out a way to get my employees better pay and benefits. No matter what I’m doing, the end goal is always to make the community where I live a stronger place.

All of this hit me when I was putting together our yearly fund drive. You’ll see the end result of that work in the two images at the top of this post. While I was in Chattanooga I learned a lot about the value of the numbers we collect and how they help tell our story to the community. Our numbers at the Benson Memorial Library so far this year (Jan 1-Aug 31) blew me a way so I shared those with our community. It was great to finally send out these Patron Fund Drive letters last week and I look forward to seeing what the community thinks about the Benson Memorial Library once they read up on what we’ve done recently.

Here’s a few other things that we’ve done that I am most proud of. It may not be as fancy as getting a 3D printer in the library or something like that, but I think that the work we’ve done here so far is pretty awesome and I sure am proud of it.

  • June 2015-August 2016: 82058 items have been circulated
  • January-September 28 2016: 40698 visitors to the library
  • June 2015-Present: 313 free events held at the library
  • Renovated the front steps: The sandstone steps were in dire need of repair, and this summer we did just that; we not only got them fixed, but we made some repairs to them that will help them last for many more years.
  • Weeded the entire collection (yes, all of it) in order to reorganize most of the library and give the shelves space so that we can update our collection to fit the needs of the community today.
  • Got some grants to help with quite a few things: building improvement, Youth Services, programming, and more.
  • Updated most if not all of the library policies
  • Updated our Employee Personnel Policy and got 2 months maternity/paternity leave for employees.
  • Decreased our yearly health care costs by $5000-$8000 and increased benefits for the individuals on our plan (they went from a $500 deductible down to a $0 deductible)
  • Kind of sort of restarted the Friends of the Library group (it’s a long story, but we’re getting there very slowly) and ran 3 successful book sales.
  • Hired 3 new employees (two youth services folks, one all purpose staff member who I’m hoping will become our future local history guru)
  • I was asked to join two boards: Titusville Regional Literacy Council and the Titusville Senior Center. These help the library keep in touch with two key demographics and gives us a great chance to work with these organizations to make sure we are helping out everyone in our community.
Libraries, Life

Who Wants to Work With Me? (August 2016 Edition)

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Hello World! I am looking for a most excellent Youth Services Librarian to come work with us at the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, PA. If you like small towns where everyone knows everyone else, where you can walk around the whole town in just an hour or so, enjoy scenic trails, and great community members who are all willing to work together, this is a great town for you. Our library employs 7 (nine total) fantastic human beings who are dedicated to doing amazing, positive work for the community. We may be small and we may not have all of the time in the world, but we try our best. I’ll be your boss and I promise to be as nice and awesome and supportive as possible. I’m a human being so sometimes I may let you down but I promise that no matter what we will work together.

Interested? Here’s the listing!

The Benson Memorial Library is now hiring a full time Youth Services Librarian. The primary responsibility of this position is to implement and maintain services for ages 0-18 as well as to provide excellent customer service for parents & caregivers. This position involves working directly with youth, parents or caregivers, community organizations, and partners of the library. This Youth Services Librarian must have a strong knowledge of youth services in libraries, emerging technology trends, and be dedicated to the community of Titusville, PA.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and present weekly events and programs at the Benson Memorial Library for ages 0-18 including after-school programs.
  • Engage in outreach to schools, day cares, preschools, and other community organizations and agencies serving youth.
  • Select all library materials for youth ages 0-18.
  • Maintain the Youth Services collection by withdrawing used and outdated materials.
  • Develop and oversee all aspects of the yearly summer program.
  • Maintain and use technology related to Youth Services including iPads, 3D Printers, and more.
  • Maintain Youth Services areas in the library and keep it updated to give library visitors a welcoming and amazing experience.
  • Public Service and Circulation Desk assistance.
  • Assist patrons with any library related needs.

The ideal Youth Services Librarian will:

  • Be able to create great relationships with youth ages 0-18 and their parents and caregivers.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and appreciation for all areas related to youth services in libraries.
  • Be a responsive and proactive employee and value personal customer service.
  • Embrace and promote imagination, innovation and inspiration in both the work setting and in the Titusville community.
  • Work as part of an amazing team that is committed to community of Titusville, PA and work to establish the Benson Memorial Library as a leader in the community.
  • Collaborate and work with public and other staff members in a pleasant and professional manner.
  • Possess strong working knowledge of technology and current trends in library services.
  • Have the physical ability and strength to bend, reach, lift and carry (up to 25 lbs.) at times.

Education Requirements:

  • A college degree is preferred, a Master’s Degree in Library science or Education is highly desirable.
  • Experience working with youth ages 0-18 and their parents and caregivers.

This position is full time, including potential evenings and Saturday shifts. Salary will be dependent on qualifications. Health/Retirement benefits included.

PLEASE NOTE: The following is a guideline as to what is intended for this position. Additional duties may be asked of this position.

Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Executive Director Justin Hoenke via email at justin.hoenke@ccfls.org or via mail at 213 N. Franklin Street Titusville, PA 16354.