The last time I posted on Tame The Web was on August 6, 2014 in a post titled Catching Up. The title of that post sort of sums up the past year and a half in my life here at the Chattanooga Public Library…lots of work for the community and not enough time to sit back, reflect, and share with everyone in the world. It’s all good. In that time, I’ve had some ideas floating around in my head and over the months and days they’ve been revised, edited, and now they’re ready to go.
In my role as Manager of The 2nd Floor/Coordinator of Teen Services at the Chattanooga Public Library, I’ve been looking a lot at how libraries operate their youth services departments. From kids to tweens to teens, we all seem to have a common theme connecting us: we all have so much passion for working with ages 0-18. That passion leads us to want to constantly offer the best services, be it story times, maker programs, special events, and more. The passion to give back to our community drives us. It is that passion that makes youth services in public libraries some of the most innovative and popular public library offerings. Corinne Hill (Executive Director, Chattanooga Public Library) and I call Youth Services in public libraries the “bread and butter” of public library services…the keep us well loved in the community and they act as our most popular circulated materials and programs attended. In summary, Youth Services drive public libraries.
However, passion alone cannot drive a youth services program. While amazing and powerful, passion can also lead to some misguided decisions when it comes to how we should operate at our core. The days where youth services staff were plentiful and there was an almost unlimited time to plan and prepare for programs has gone away. These days, the need for great public service at all times is what we need to focus on. The need for great public service at all times is the opposite of having large amounts of time to plan and prepare. You can’t do both at the same time. You can try, but you will get stressed and burnt out in the end. As a manager, I’ve stared at the weekly schedule and tried to figure out formulas for how my staff can have the time to prepare for programs that they’re used to having and also to have that necessary public service time. After working on it for a year, my conclusion is simple: it just isn’t there anymore and if we want to grow and continue with our successes, we need to change how we work.
Realizing that this was the new normal in our youth services lives, my colleague Megan Emery and I began having discussions about this new reality. How can we continue to maintain great levels of passion for what we offer to the community and have our public services faces on at all times? How do we achieve balance with something that seems to be so naturally out of balance…innovation and public service? How does a public library operate in times of lean staffing, increased community usage, and the need to constantly innovate?
From that conversation came a phrase that now drives what we’re trying to accomplish at the Chattanooga Public Library: PUBLIC SERVICE IS A LIBRARY PROGRAM. There is an art to working a public service desk in public libraries. You have to be “on”. What do I mean by this? You’re basically involved in a shift long performance art piece where you’re helping, teaching, and aiding the community. The traditional library program, you know, the ones that take place only from 4-5pm on the third Tuesday of every month and only for ages 13-18? Yep, those ones. Those types of programs can and will still happen but it can no longer be our focus. What can be our focus? The public. Being “on” for them at all times. Being there for the community at all times.
If public service is a program then how can we actually have programs for our community? This ties into another thing that we’ve been thinking about a lot in youth services libraries….unprogramming, never ending programming, anti-programming….whatever you want to call it. It’s an idea that takes the library space, turns it into a destination, and adds programs, activities, and chances to learn into everything that we do. The 3D printer, button maker, rainbow loom…whatever it is, it’s all there and it’s ready for the community to use. The programs happen during our open hours and they don’t end. The library staff working in public services becomes the programmer. Their job is simple: guide the community in the library, help them find what they need, teach them all about the learning opportunities in the library, and to simply just have fun.
That’s where our passion for what we do in youth services can go. We don’t have to leave it behind and become nonstop public service workers. We can weave that aspect of our job into what makes us passionate about working in libraries. Public services is our programming. We can create engaging learning opportunities for our community and run those opportunities while we’re working public service. We can mix the two and it will not be the end of the world. It will be a seismic shift, but we will survive. This is the new way for us to work and be the best for our community.
It seems like I’ve been here forever, but as of this month I’ve been at the Chattanooga Public Library for 1 year, 4 months. In that time, we’ve accomplished a lot of great things for the Chattanooga community. At the same time, I haven’t been able to share as much because….well, things just got really busy in a good way! So this post is my Chattanooga catch up post….a way to share all of the positive things that have been happening around Chattanooga over the past few months.
One of the big new things in my world is library management. I manage The 2nd Floor, which is our brand name for the kid/tween/teen area. It’s a huge space full of many different personalities, ages, and ideas. I do the weekly scheduling, make sure payroll gets in on time, order supplies, think a lot about the big picture stuff, and make sure that the staff is happy. Looking at what I just wrote doesn’t seem like much what I’ve learned is that a lot of these little things add up. My brain is constantly running, making sure that I’ve done all the necessary management things while still keeping focus on the big picture: The 2nd Floor as a place in the community where kids, tweens, and teens can have fun and learn something along the way.
It’s a change for me and I think it would be a change for most youth services librarians. Why? We’re very creative individuals. We dream up programs in our sleep. We are the living embodiment of a makerspace. Blending that creative brain with a management brain has been a challenge, but I’m getting there. You don’t have to kill one to have the other. You can make it work together.
VOLUNTEERS One of the big realities that I’m learning about it that you will never have enough staff to do everything you want to do. The other part of that is that, wow, hiring people is expensive. It’s not just the salary you need to look at, but benefits and all that other stuff.
That’s where volunteers come into the picture. The problem is that I’ve never been good with managing volunteers. It’s just not in my skill set and I’m ok with that. Luckily, Megan Emery is good at that and we work together. So basically when Megan got to Chattanooga she took the keys to the car and ran with them. And here’s how awesome it has been:
July was one of our biggest months with teen volunteers and it showed. They took on projects that helped spruce up The 2nd Floor, making it more visually appealing for our community. They became our 3D printing experts, working one on one with anyone interested in trying out the service for the first time. Our 2nd Floor staff had more time to focus on their projects, focus on customer service, and in general just be great employees. Volunteers matter a whole lot for the public library, and it’s even better when you give them a chance to work their own special brand of magic when they volunteer.
STATISTICS Every librarian has a library guilty pleasure. My guilty pleasure is statistics. I love collecting them, analyzing them, and then using those stats to help me make decisions. I love it when stats are down because it tells me that I need to grow and change something. I love it when stats are up because, well, that is just something that makes you feel really good.
I won’t bore you with individual stats that went (way) up last fiscal year at the Chattanooga Public Library (if you wanna check them out), but I will say this; having an idea of what is/what isn’t working will really help you better serve your community. It sharpens your focus and allows you to better delegate resources to the events and programs that best serve your community. Starting this month, the 2nd Floor started keeping track of how many people use the various areas of our space. The results so far have given us the numbers to back up exactly what all of our staff have been feeling: we’re very busy these days. As a manager, this allows me to look at how we’re working and how we can make improvements to better suit our staff.
CONSISTENCY IN PROGRAMMING I’ve grown to really love strong, consistent programming in libraries. If you do something well, you keep doing it and all throughout the process you keep on growing, refining, and making things better. However, at the same time you have to recognize when something isn’t working and make those changes. Consistent Programming gives your library something great to share that your community will remember. Think of each program as a brand. Get those brands into the minds of the community and they’ll be asking for more.
PEOPLE Back in 2010 when I wrote my first TTW post I talked about leadership and working in groups. At the core, that post was all about what really makes the public library work….PEOPLE.
It’s the people that work in the library that make things awesome for the community. No matter where you go in libraries, you always have to remember that it’s people that matter. Treat them with respect and love. Help them all along the way and let them know that their work counts in making your community a great place. I try to remind the folks that work on The 2nd Floor of that all the time. Working in a public library is important work for the community and YOU are making your city a better place to live.
I’m very excited to share our new NIGHT OUT program that we’ll be running next month at the Chattanooga Public Library. It’s a simple idea, but it is one of the best library programs I’ve put together. Why? Let me tell you.
Parents and guardians get to have a night out. Kids, Tweens, and Teens get to have a night out. Everyone is hanging out in the library, and everyone leaves the library happy.
Why am I so excited about this? Because I feel that it represents a shift in how we are approaching programs. To make something like this work, all parts of the library (including our great Friends of the Library group who are sponsoring this event) need to work together. The adult program has to be all set up and ready to go. The kid/tween/teen program has to be planned and executed properly. We need to make sure we’re sufficiently staffed. We need our security team to do their best to help us monitor all things on the 2nd Floor. A program like this is truly a library wide effort.
Plus, it all brings it back to our community. It is important for the public library to recognize what all of their community needs out of programming. For parents and guardians, simply not having to worry about childcare for an hour or two can be a big deal in deciding whether or not they’ll visit the library. Hopefully with this idea, we will see adults who may not have considered it a possibility to attend a library event all of a sudden enjoying our programs on a regular basis. Do what your community needs you to do.
This message is brought to you by Justin Hoenke after 5 years of parenting and realizing just how important it is for adults to get out and enjoy library events and not have to worry about what to do with your kid/tween/teen.
Why are we doing this? We’ve got a lot of wall space on The 2nd Floor and more importantly it starts conversations among our library guests and our staff. When our staff shares an example of a library service that we offer of something that interests us personally we open up the library to some great conversations. In those conversations, we make connections with our community. These connections make our place in the community stronger.
Jan Holmquist’s nominators describe him as a “global librarian,” and it’s easy to see why. In addition to his current work as head of development for Denmark’s Guldborgsund libraries, Holmquist’s side projects tend to involve collaboration with librarians all over the world. He is engaged with ongoing international projects in Germany and the Read Watch Play Twitter reading group based in Australia. And in 2011 and 2012, he worked with librarians in the United States and the UK on the “Buy India a Library Project” and then built awareness of the program’s efforts with a presentation on crowdfunding for libraries at the Bibliothekartag conference in Hamburg, Germany.
Congrats to Jan Holmquist, who was just named a 2014 Mover and Shaker by Library Journal!
TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke: Congrats to Jan! I’ve had the great pleasure of being connected with Jan via Twitter since 2010. Jan’s tweets and writings inspired me from the start to be the best librarian I can be. Jan is one of the most honest and sincere people I have ever met. He is truly the “global librarian” whose thoughts and teachings are held to no international boundary. Jan writes and shares from the heart. I am proud to not only call him a colleague but a friend as well.
Jan and Justin in Hamburg, Germany at the 2012 Bibliothekartag Library Confrernce
As Justin mentions above, I truly believe Jan is a perfect example of a humanistic, global librarian, one who embodies what Lawrence Clark Powell wrote about when he described “A good librarian is a librarian, a person with good health and warm heart, trained by study, and seasoned by experience to catalyze books and people.” For Jan, I’d venture to say he’s helping to catalyze librarians, learners and everyone with the power of technology.
Oops! I broke the 3D printer! And you know what? It’s OK.
Bits of a 3D printer, post hacksaw
One night on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library I attempted to make 3 Stretchlet bracelets on our 3D printer at one time. We’re taking our 3D printer to the local children’s museum later this month and wanted to built up our arsenal of 3D printed giveaways. My idea was to attempt to speed up that process and boy oh boy did it not work.
I came back to see the mess you see below. Something went wrong and our whole extruder was covered in plastic. I attempted to chip bits of the plastic but I had no luck. I called on James and Geoff from The 4th Floor to assess the damage. They took our 3D printer away, let us borrow one of theirs (thank you oh so much), and came back down 15 minutes later with the diagnosis: the electronics were a-ok, but they had to cut out some bits with a hacksaw. They contacted MakerBot support and the final verdict was in…
Thanks for contacting MakerBot Support! The part that are you are inquiring about can definately be purchased by contacting MakerBot Support at 347.334.6800 Option 2, MOnday through Friday 9am-6pm (EST).
The name of the part is called Extruder Carriage and the cost of the part is $12.
Phew. The 3D printer will be good to go in a week or so, and the damage wasn’t too bad. What did I learn besides the obvious “don’t make too many stretchlet bracelets at one time”? Well, it helped me see that even if I make a mistake with this 3D printer thing that it’s all going to be ok. It’s just a machine that can be fixed. It’s not the end of the world.
Now I have this awesome pile of plastic and bits of a 3D printer lying around that everyone on the 2nd Floor can show to tweens and teens and say “see, we messed up and that’s OK because we learned something.”
J: Yah, just a test. We put it online because that’s the whole point of the on air hangout…to record a conversation and share it online. Plus, it was kind of neat to watch how we worked through any trouble we had.
J: Yes. What we’re doing on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library (our space dedicated to ages 0-18) lines up really well with what the 4th Floor is going for. We want to try neat things and see if they stick. We’re happy to show our successes, failures, and the road we took to get there.
W: Can you share any other ways you’re putting your tests and trials out there?
W: But isn’t that embarrassing putting all the errors and mistakes out there for the public to see?
J: Not at all. Part of the fun is trying out new things and seeing how the community reacts. If they don’t respond to something we do on the 2nd Floor, all that says to me is “keep on thinking, keep on trying.” It’s actually pretty exciting.
W: That’s very cool. I think it’s good for us to remember that while we might be good at librarianship, and a few others things, there are people in our community who use our libraries who are much better at certain things, and their input and observations on our library processes and trials can help build better services.
So I see you’re doing a summer coding camp at Chattanooga – what is that teaching the teens about keeping your mistakes open and public? Software development is a wonderful example of how something (like computer code) can get better and better the more it’s distributed and developed by many people.
J: When I was a teen, I used to think that adults never made mistakes. They were the ones in power and they never messed anything up. Boy, I was wrong. That way of thinking had a big impact on me as I grew into adulthood. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be that “perfect adult” but what I was doing was something that I could not keep up with. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and you know what? We grow from those mistakes.
I think making these mistakes and keeping them public is a great thing. It shows that we’re all human and that we’re all learning and growing.
W: We’re messing around with a 3D printer here, and one of my first pieces was dodgy so we finished the print before it was complete. I was going to throw it out but Neal my co-worker stopped me and pointed out that the print actually showed the insides and structure of a 3D print. Turns out, it’s a piece that other staff look at and are intrigued by the most!
J: That’s so rad to hear! When we create something, of course we want it to be perfect. But our colleagues and friends will see things a different way. Your idea of something that is junk may be someone else’s idea of gold.
A few weeks ago when you visited Chattanooga, you talked about how Australia is planning and implementing a country wide fiber optic system. With a project that big, there’s gotta be some mistakes that are made along the way. How has your country been managing this project and any mistakes that are made? I can imagine that if there are any bumps along the way there may be a huge public reaction.
W: Such a big, expensive project comes with a lot of scrutiny, and every mistake or misjudgment can easily get blown out of proportion by the project’s critics. One thing that this and other technology related projects has taught me is the economic concept of ‘opportunity cost’. Some of the criticisms leveled at Australia’s National Broadband Network include the idea that we should wait until the relevant technology gets cheaper, more reliable, etc. The opportunity cost is that while we’re waiting for that time, we miss out on the benefits that implementing that technology now could bring.
I think this thinking helps to round out the idea of ‘making mistakes’ in our daily work. By not making mistakes, by not taking responsible risks, by waiting until someone else makes it perfect before can adopt it, we miss an opportunity to benefit from any success of the project now.
Warren Cheetham is the Coordinator of Information and Digital Services at CityLibraries Townsville. He has worked in public libraries for twenty-one years, and his professional interests include the application of technology to public libraries, and how to best deliver information services, reader engagement, corporate research services and training to library staff and customers in an online environment.
PARTNERS Since the program happened on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library it would be easy for everyone to think that this all happened at the library and it was all the library and that was that. But that’s not the case and I’d like to take this moment to tell you about our partners. Without the support of Engage 3D, AIGA Chattanooga, and the Benwood Foundation, DEV DEV would not have happened. Their support (educational, funding, brainpower, design, etc) and dedication to the program and the community of Chattanooga is one of the key ingredients as to why this beta test run of this program was as successful as it was.
It really takes everyone in the community getting together to make amazing things happen.
SUPPORT Without the support of EVERYONE at the Chattanooga Public Library, DEV DEV would not have worked. Every day, the circulation staff would wait on the teens that came into the library at 9am, making them their white hot chocolates and letting them in the doors before the rest of the public could get in. The rest of the staff smiled and welcomed the teens every day. They knew how big this was for the teens attending DEV DEV and they made sure they had the times of their lives.
Photo by @chattlibrary http://instagram.com/p/chi99IiWnz/
The parents brought it all together. Not only did they drive the teens back and forth from the library, but on the last day of the program they came out to show their love and support. It is in moments like this where you can just see teens gaining so much love and respect for their families. Awesome.
TEENS DEV DEV would not have happened were it not for the amazing talent and dedication of the teens involved in the program. For four weeks, you gave your attention and hard work to learning how to build websites, make robots dance, and program video games. You blew all of our minds. For me personally, as I get older, I am happy to know that the world is in such good hands. To borrow from southern lingo….Ya’ll are gonna do some amazing things.
SO WHAT’S NEXT? DEV DEV was not meant to be a one shot program but instead an ongoing series, a library/community brand if you would like to call it that. As with any program of this size and scope, some time is needed to rest, reflect, and accurately plan the next steps. We’ll be doing that over the next few weeks at the Chattanooga Public Library. I already had a great discussion today with Engage 3D Education Director James McNutt about online learning communities. He is a brilliant dude and I can’t wait to see his ideas in motion.
“We’re going to grab up these fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders and show them their future,” said Ms. Wincek, who thinks the printer could influence some of their career choices.
Library board president Matt Phillips said Ms. Wincek’s enthusiasm is why the library has the printer.
“It’s prompted us as a board to share in her passion,” said Mr. Phillips, who owns an insurance agency in Saxonburg. “We’re not a big library, and we have something that many large libraries and institutions do not have.”
Erin’s got the vision and community support. When you have those, amazing things can happen in public libraries.
Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff. – See more at: http://ninermac.net/breaking-up-with-libraries#sthash.F7Wn43FP.dpu
I had been thinking about this same thing for the past few years when I made an attempt to look into a digital product for teens. My thoughts with that product were:
1) Wow, I don’t know any teens that would use this.
2) Wow, this is so expensive and there is no way I could ever afford this.
3) Wow, this product has such horrible design.
The outcome? I did not buy that product.
It was not until a few days ago that while under the influence of Nina’s post and seeing the amazing work that Dan Eveland (Web Developer, Chattanooga Public Library) and Mary Barnett (Social Media Manager, Library) did on the Chattanooga Public Library website that I had it hit me: we really need to start investing in employees who can make amazing things that do what we want them to do.
The calender over at chattlibrary.org. Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett. It looks great and the back end (where we do our work) is easy to use and well put together.
Like these calendars, databases, and whatever else that we buy from vendors, hiring awesome people to build stuff just for us is an investment. Sometimes your investment may not work out. But don’t think about that. You can always try again. But what if the investment in awesome people works out? You get awesome things that were built for what you need them for.
Made by Dan Eveland and Mary Barnett with input and ideas from myself. I think it turned out pretty awesome.
A good example is the website you see above, teens.chattlibrary.org. About one month ago, the team started talking about what we wanted to do with this site. We got some ideas and Dan put up a template and we slowly worked on it. Mary gave the project a deadline and said “let’s get this done” so all last week we put our hardhats on and did it. Dan and Mary built teens.chattlibrary.org to reflect what I thought teens would be looking for: quick awesome tidbits of information, news of big things going on for teens at the library, a hub for the Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and a contact page. All built with Drupal on The 4th Floor in about one month by some amazingly talented people on the Chattanooga Public Library team. The best part? It’s works super well, is easy to manage, and it is exactly what I was hoping for with the teen site. Another great part? If it needs fixed or modified, I only have to head up two floors to talk to Dan and Mary and it’s done.
Hiring awesome people to help you realize your library dreams? To me, that’s the way forward. Not only do you get amazing products that you can actually use for what you want, but you get to surround yourself and the library staff with talented and kind people who contribute to the positive vibe of the community. A win in every area.
(please note: This post originally appeared over at justinthelibrarian.com)
Instead of siphoning teens off into different rooms (and locking away noisy activities), the space is airy and completely open. The openness means, among other things, that it only takes one or two librarians to monitor the entire space.
Rice says his team renovated the floor on the cheap, using paint and low-cost materials to fill the space. “Teens appreciate the rawness,” he says. “Rich materials might be a little bit of a turn-off.”
The key, he says, is a space without much security, where kids feel free to just hang out. “It makes teens feel as if they have free reign over the space,” he says. “They don’t feel like they’re under this intense adult scrutiny.”
This is what it’s all about: A tween and his Dad enjoy Ms. Pac Man at the Library
When I was a teenager, I spent most if not all of my time in video game arcades in shopping malls. It was the time of fighting games…Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, Primal Rage, and many, many more. Who knows how much money I spent playing those games and more importantly, who cares. What mattered most (and what sticks with me to this day) was being in the same room with people my age who enjoyed the same things as me. It was exciting. It was fun. It created friendships and community.
Video gaming in libraries isn’t a new thing. It seems to have picked up steam in the last decade and is now something that most libraries will offer to their communities. This is a good thing: video games can be fun, rewarding, help those playing them understand stories/character/plot, and so much more.
I’ve always wanted to recreate that vibe that I felt back when I used to frequent the arcade in the public library. It was exciting to stand around an arcade machine and watch someone get as far as they could in a game on one quarter. It was exciting to go one-on-one with someone in a game like Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. Public libraries are places where people come together and experience something. Why not have a bit of that something be an arcade machine?
It has been a dream of mine to get an arcade machine in a library since I started in libraries back in 2007 and this past week, thanks to the Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library the support of the staff at the Chattanooga Public Library, and my wife Haley (she found it on Craigslist for only $150!), we now have an original Ms. Pac Man arcade machine on the 2nd Floor of the library…and it has been a great thing. I love seeing the reaction people have when they realize that the library has an arcade machine. I love seeing families (like the photo above) playing it together. I love seeing the teens gather round and have tournaments to see who can get the highest score.
I cannot wait to see the community and friendships that this little ‘ol machine will create.
This idea came from a film maker last year. He wanted to work with the library & the only money we had was from a grant from the Allstate Foundation. It was a large project where over a dozen teens worked on a PSA that lasted 5 minutes. We took that as a learning experience.
This year we found another local film maker named Mike LaVoie. I contacted the White Plains High School SADD chapter to see if they would like to work on the project. We had a smaller group…I think there were about 7 teens altogether. Mike put togethera no-budget script and explained it to the teens. I (Teen Librarian Erik Carlson) worked on locations, the library parking garage, a co-workers home & a local cemetery. Mike showed them some movie magic to make the car to appear to be moving, using fake smoke, lighting tricks. I came up with the eye drops for tears & one of the teens was able to talk a local medical supply store to loan us a wheelchair for the afternoon (this was a last minute thing).
Me, at the very beginning of my time in Library school.
I decided to be a librarian in late 2006 at the urging of my mother in law Jill. She had been a librarian for many years and spoke of her work very passionately. With a simple poke and a simple “you know, you’d be good at this library thing“, I was off to attend Clarion University of Pennsylvania in January 2007.
When I was a kid visited the Northland Public Library in Pittsburgh, PA on a weekly basis. I remembered two things about my time there: they had rabbits in the children’s area and they had the best selection of books on whales in the whole wide world. Oh yeah, and I thought it was a super fun and magical place. To me, that’s what libraries needed to be.
My time in library school was good but I always fell out of place. I wanted to have fun! I wanted the library to be this amazing place full of wonder, joy, exploration, and full of heart! Instead, I found myself writing out cataloging records by hand or presenting papers on teen literature. I got something out of that but…there was another side.
Since those days that’s been my focus with being a teen librarian. In order to succeed and give the community what they want, I realized that connection had to come first. All of those other things: collection development, cataloging records, and all of the other stuff I learned in library school were very important and had their place but first and foremost….IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE. I feel like it has worked out pretty well for me and the communities that I’ve served.
This taught me something else that was somewhat unexpected: there is so much value in connecting with your professional community. Through library blogs, Twitter, and other social networks, I have met a number of people that not only doInowcallmyfriendsbutalso who have given me so much professional advice and aided in my growth as a librarian and as a person.
All because of a blog that was started ten years ago. I don’t know if Michael thought about these kinds of things when he started Tame The Web, but they happened. And I thank him for that. What may have seemed like a ripple at the time has now created a very positive and helpful tidal wave.
Monessen residents soon will be able to borrow library books – at the laundromat.
Jill Godlewski, children’s director at the Monessen Public Library, is planning to place several portable libraries scattered around town. Godlewski hopes to situate the wooden dispensaries once the weather clears.
“The idea is to get books to people instead of people having to come to the library to get books,” Godlewski said. “We want to make sure there are no barriers to getting a book.
My favorite part? A partnership with the local school!
Monessen school district Superintendent Linda Marcolini is planning for wood shop students at the high school to build sturdier, weather-proof units for outdoor locations like City Park.
“Mr. (David) Gilpin, our shop teacher and students will be making them,” Marcolini said. “They will get done before the end of the school year… our district would do anything for our community and public library.”
What an awesome take on an already awesome project.
PS: Jill Godlewski is not only a fantastic librarian, but she is also my mother in law. -Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor
My son Finn has recently had a brief obsession with the film Follow That Bird. It all started with a mixtape. Driving around in our 1997 Subaru Outback, Easy Going has quickly become one of our most “please rewind that!” songs. I don’t mind…it’s a great song with a catch melody and a great arrangement. Plus, it got me thinking…
Two things I hear from adults say when they’re around my kids are: “Gosh! I wish I had that kind of energy!” and “Oh! To be young again! So free and fun!” This makes me ask the question: why don’t adults have this kind of energy and always wish to be young, free, and have fun? Why does it seem like we lose this when we get to adulthood? Why does it have to be this way?
In the Summer of 2014 I had this moment where I realized that life could easily be whatever I wanted to be if I just said it and believed in it. We (my family and I) wanted an orange house, so we painted our house orange. We wanted to have a fence around our property, so we put up a fence around our property. We wanted to focus on day to day experiences for our son’s learning and schooling, so we made our day to day lives their classroom. I decided to no longer care so much about libraries, so I changed my outlook (TL;DR, I still care lot, but I care about my health and my family way more). The conclusion to our experiment? If you want something to be a certain way, make it so and stick to it until you realize that you want to make changes.
When I hear those two things I mentioned above from adults I want to respond with “if you want something to be a certain way, make it so and stick to it until you realize that you want to make changes.”. But I also want to have friends so I usually just keep to myself and pretend this is my little secret answer to life. My conclusion? Write about it on this blog because I want to talk about it and see what happens. So here it is, my grand master plan for life and happiness.
Thank to Finn Hoenke, Aero Hoenke, Haley Hoenke, Elias Spruill, Janine Veazue, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Chuck E Cheese, Marvin Gaye, The cast of Star Wars, and many others for making my office a nice place to be.
Did you die?
Did anyone else die?
Did you burn down the building?
Did anyone lose an appendage?
If you answered “no” to all of those questions, you are doing a great job of being a librarian in a public library.
-Justin Hoenke’s Management Mantra, 2014.
2014 was the year that I threw myself into management in public libraries. Was it scary and stressful? Yes. Did I survive? Well, either I’m writing this or clone Justin exists, so it’s up to you to decide.
The questions I’ve been asking myself this year go like this: What does a manager do? How does this change what I already do at the library? Do I need an office? What does one do in their office?How does one lead? I’d like to share my experiences here on this blog in order to help those in a similar situation out and to also maybe inspire other youth services librarians who are looking into management. Trust me: if I can do it you can too.
“The leader’s job is not to provide energy but to release it from others.”
A manager takes a step back and lets their staff shine. They listen to what the staff needs and does their best to communicate that vision to the rest of the library. Managers can make a job fun for their staff. I truly believe that when we’re having fun with our work some of our best ideas happen and in turn, those affect the community in a positive way. I tell my employees: have fun and see what happens. I think it’s working.
How does this change what I already do at the library? I am one of those people that has an idea every minute. Let’s try this. Let’s try that. This is the vision and this is how we can do it. As I moved into management, I had to teach myself how to calm down, trust others with their ideas, and play the long game. Playing the long game gives you an insane amount of patience (FYI: having children does that too). It allows you to sit back and let things happen naturally.
Your idea of working in a public library will change considerably when you move into management. The focus is still and will always be the community, but in addition you have staff to manage. You will no longer be on the public service desk all day. It will be a shock. You won’t get as many of those hi-fives from kids, tweens, and teens. You won’t get as many of the awesome perks that come from working public service: directly helping people, making a little part of their life better, and more. But here’s the thing: your decisions as a manager and how you inspire your staff help make those moments possible. You may no longer have the direct connection to the public but you are still making a huge difference in your community.
Do I need an office? What does one do in their office? I am a big fan of working in public. As public employees I think it is our job to show our funders how we work, what we’re doing, and be as transparent as possible. But you know what? After becoming involved in management I’ve started to understand the need to have an office or an “away from the public area” at times. When you’re thinking about big picture stuff you sometimes just need to be alone. You need to shut the door. What does one do in their office? These kinds of things. I also highly suggest filling your office with things that make you happy. Photos. Pictures. Drawings. Weird things that you collect. But don’t be a hoarder.
How does one lead? I can’t answer that one for you. All that I can say is that you try, you fail and then you succeed and then you fail again and then you succeed and that cycle never ends. You find what works best for you, your staff, and your community. Note that I put YOU first because, yes, you have to put YOU first sometimes. Without a happy and fully functioning YOU things won’t move ahead. Treat yourself well. Once you do that, you will be on the right path.
I did not know that you can reblog things on WordPress!
Anywho, here’s why I am reblogging this. From Megan:
A lot of us are one woman or one man shows and I choose not to believe that it limits what we can do. Truth? I get it done because I’m crazy competitive and I have to.
This will give me a solid footing to move forward in my career by starting from a place of empathy. Working together is the only way my new opus will be as fabulous (better?) then my last one. Will it be a ton more work? Yes. But you know something? I totally love my job. Even the bad parts are better than when I was a blueberry raker, better than when I worked retail and way better than when I was a plumber’s assistant. This job is freaking GREAT. If you’re feeling burnt out I highly suggest you take a step back, do something to remind yourself of why you got involved in the first place, solidify your footing and continue moving forward.
I love Megan’s approach to library work in the 21st Century: it is busy, never ending, always growing, confusing, challenging, and most of all, fun and awesome. There is a balance that a library employee must achieve: the public side, the creative side, and the management side must all work in harmony to achieve something great. I talked about that a bit over at Tame The Web recently (http://tametheweb.com/2014/11/13/public-service-is-a-library-program-by-ttw-contributor-justin-hoenke) and I really do believe this is a model for public libraries moving forward.
Busy doesn’t even begin to cover what my life has been like lately.
Justin and I talk a lot about how the librarians who are out there doing the work and really kicking ass don’t have time to constantly get the great photos and update their twitter accounts. I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing my work and entering a sort of zen state of uber-organization to get all my work done. I design the programs, perform the critical thinking and facilitate the programs sometimes while simultaneously running the desk single handedly. A lot of us are one woman or one man shows and I choose not to believe that it limits what we can do. Truth? I get it done because I’m crazy competitive and I have to.
A great example is Camp EtsyNooga. I got 3 days off desk in August to tie together over a year’s worth of…
The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library has been in its current state, a place for ages 0-18 and their caregivers, for 564 days, or 1 year, 6 months, and 16 days as of today. If you’re visiting The 2nd Floor for the first time today or have visited us over the past 564 days, you’ve probably wondered what it’s all about up on the 2nd Floor. This post is my attempt to explain all of that and more to you.
The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library is all about people. It is a place where the community, library employees, out of town guests, and more can connect, share an experience, and learn something. It is a place where lifelong learning and fun meet in the middle, get all messy, and create something awesome.
The 2nd Floor is a constant work in progress. Repeat visitors to the 2nd Floor always remark how “things have changed quite a bit” and that there’s “a lot more” than there was the last time they visited. Their observations are spot on. We may not have the newest furniture, shelves, tools, and more around (it’ll come), but we change everything around enough to keep it fresh and exciting for the community. We use what we have to make this place a great experience for the community. If something works, we keep it around and refine it. If it doesn’t work, we let it go and try something new. To be the best library for our community, we have to move forward and meet their needs.
When you visit the 2nd Floor, you won’t see endless rows of books in the space. Instead, you’ll find a well groomed collection that represents what the community wants. You may see two rows of The Hunger Games on the shelves, but they are there because the community asked for them. You will find our books arranged and presented in a way that best reflects the needs of the community. The picture books are as low to the ground as we can get them at the moment to allow for little hands to find what they want. The graphic novels have their own unique areas. Our non-fiction shelves for middle aged readers are overflowing because that’s what the community wants.
As I said above, the 2nd Floor is all about people. But we have to remember that a library is also made up of the people that work in it as well. The 2nd Floor is home to some of the most amazing colleagues I have ever had the chance to work with. Some have been here 15 years and some have been here 6 months. No matter how long they’ve been there, one thing connects us all: a passion for what we do and a great care for our community. All of our 2nd Floor employees bring different attributes to the table: creativity, reliability, organization, energy, and more. All of these attributes meet in the middle and create something amazing. Simply stated: the 2nd Floor staff are awesome.
3D Printers, iMacs, button makers, video games, and more are just things that live on the 2nd Floor. Yes, they are nice tools to have in the library and it is great that we can give our community access to them. I am fully aware that not every library can have the same tools that we have in our library. But here’s the thing: they are just tools. The 3D printer will stop being the cool and popular thing over the next few years. The computers will need to be replaced. Items will break. These are all ok scenarios. They are all just items. They are all just things. Without the community coming into the library to use the 2nd Floor, they are just empty, unused things. It is what the community does with these tools that makes their place on the 2nd Floor so special.
The tools that your library offers to the community should reflect what the community needs. Does your community not want a 3D printer? That’s ok. You don’t have to get a 3D printer. It can start simple: pens, pencils, and paper. That’s an art and writing station. It can grow to include some hand-me-down or donated items, like a sewing machine. If it needs to, it can grow from there. In the picture above, one of our frequent library users is using an older sewing machine brought in by one of our library employees. They used it together to make a robe just like Hermione wears in Harry Potter. It was a great experience using tools and items that we had all around us.
The 2nd Floor is flexible. It has rules because it needs rules in order to survive and function properly. But the 2nd Floor is open to interpretation. The community will make it what they want it to be at that moment. In the photo above, the 3D printer has become the test subject for a teen’s interest in learning how to do time lapse photography. Flexibility and the desire to take a chance on something new allows your community to thrive and grow.
The 2nd Floor is unique in that it doesn’t push kids, tweens, teens, and their caregivers into age specific corners. It’s about following your interests and sharing a positive interaction with someone…a family member, a friend, or someone you just met. When you open up your library to interests and interactions like these, some great moments can occur. Instead of checking the IDs of everyone that enters the the library, the library employees are free to then interact with the community and develop relationships. They are able to chat and connect. This is where something magical happens and what I consider to be the best part of the modern public library experience: The library as the place where the community connects.
Sure, we have all this great stuff you can borrow. We have loads of programs and experiences for you if you visit our physical locations. We have loads of downloadables that you can enjoy on your device. All of that is great. But what makes the library magical is when people connect: all ages, all genders, all races. They come together to learn and have fun. They put everything aside and enjoy a moment together. From those moments, bonds and connections are made. Some last minutes. Some last a lifetime. Those connections are what helps our communities grow. Healthy communities lead to happiness. Happiness is something global. Happiness is something that spreads everywhere. It all starts with one interaction and it grows.
I have been going through a lot of changes when it comes to my library life. I have been meditating on everything that involves libraries and my place in them for the past six months. The new Weezer album Everything Will Be Alright In The End (EWBAITE) was released during this time. Here’s my review: it’s awesome, pretty much perfect, and exactly what I have wanted in a Weezer album since Pinkerton was released in 1996. In the words of my son Aero….good stuff!
In the same way that The Blue Album and Pinkerton sang to me as a teenager, EWBAITE speaks to me as an adult and as a librarian who has recently been thinking a lot about the big picture and going through some changes. My 17 year old self says, “Hey Justin, make one of those lists that lays out what the album means to you at this moment. It’ll help you think through what’s going through your brain.” Before, I would put these thoughts into a notebook and only look at them when I was moving and packing things into boxes. Now I’ve got this blog and it has become a place where I can be myself, talk about the things that are in my life, and work through everything and anything. Here we go.
Ain’t Got Nobody: I feel alone in the library world. What is it that I am doing here? Are my efforts to bring a unique library experience to my community amounting to anything? It’s difficult to bring forth change. There are a lot of bumps and a lot of complaints along the way. How does one stay on the positive path? Sometimes I feel like I ain’t got nobody to talk to.
Goodbye heroes.You had a good run.Fifteen years of. Ruling the planet. But now your light’s fading. Adios rock band that we loved the most.This is a toast to what you did.And all that you were fighting for.Who could do more when.Time marches on. Words come and go.We will sing the melodies that you did long ago.
Ok, I am beginning to understand something. We all have a shelf life. Musicians and bands have one. They have their big albums and then the albums where everyone complains about how they don’t sound like the old ones. This is a very easy to spot cycle within a profession. The bloggers rise, the tweeters come up next, then then tumblrs, and who knows what else. Words come and go. Adios librarians that we loved the most. This is a toast to what you did. Keep on working but that “first two albums” part of your career is over.
Don’t wanna find myself homogenized.Don’t wanna become the very thing that I despise.Don’t want my ideas polluted by mediocrity.Don’t want my sentiments diluted.This is important to me.
I’ve had it up to here. This library thing is important to me…so important that I don’t want to pollute it with half baked ideas and some kind of mediocrity. This community doesn’t deserve that. They deserve the best. I tried to give my best to you but (sometimes) you plugged up your ears. Where does one go when they have had it up to here? How does one grow?
I like to think that I know quite a lot. But with you it feels like I forgot.I wish that I can explain who you are.But when I try to I never get far.
I used to have some kind of insight into library work that I loved sharing with the world. I thought about it all of the time. I constantly aimed to grow, change, and lead. But anymore I don’t know you. It feels like I forgot. You’ve become someone that I used to be very close to but anymore all I have are these memories. I don’t want to have just the memories.
We grow old, our hearts are dim.But our minds are free, to fly where they will.Your beauty is faded, you’re a broken shell.It’s only the weak that fall for your spell.You can’t control me no more Cleopatra.It’s time to move, to the next life.You’ll be reborn as a beautiful child.
This change has happened with age. I have become a caricature of what I used to be in terms of ideas and change. There is constantly something on my shoulder reminding me that everything has changed and it is never going back. But I won’t let it control me anymore. There has to be a better way to go through the day to day of life. There has got to be a place for me in libraries. I’m not waiting for retirement and just counting the days. I still have something in me. The next life. Change. I’ll be reborn.
EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT IN THE END
You find out where you are at this moment, you find out where you want to go, and you start moving your life on that path. You follow that path and find what you are looking for. You are what you are and you can’t change that. I am Justin William Hoenke, a husband, a father, a friend, a human being, and a librarian.
2014 is coming to an end and every blogger and writer out there is going to be writing a year end recap of what’s going on and what to look forward to in 2015. I love these kinds of posts and I usually think about writing my own at the very last minute. But not this year! I’m gonna get a jump on this thing!
In around August I decided to make some changes to achieve more of a balance. I visited family and friends twice in Pittsburgh, PA in August and September. It was nice to go back there with Haley, Finn, and Aero and be with our extended families and take part in a few weddings. Seeing the day to day things that happen in life makes you want to chill out and appreciate those things more. That’s exactly the approach I’ve been taking and it has been wonderful.
Haley and I piddle around in our yard a lot. We take care of our home, our little slice of urban farm/homestead here in Chattanooga. Finn, Aero, and I play with Legos and we kick around a soccer ball a lot. We only go out to eat at a Chinese Buffet because it’s awesome and every other restaurant is average and costs way too much. We eat a lot of vegetables at home. We play a lot of Nintendo Wii U and have family movie nights. We have a really cool dog named Sonic The Border Terrier. I really enjoy watering and taking care of my plants, especially our banana plants.
These are the things I look forward to the most these days. 2013 Justin was a bit different….there was something library related in that end of the year toppermost of the poppermost list. This year, there isn’t. That’s not to say that I’m not into libraries anymore….I am, and I still believe that the public library holds the key to unlocking an amazing future for our communities. It’s just that now, well, I have realized that I don’t need to think about them all of the time. And I’ve also realized that the less that I think about them, the more focused I am on helping them better serve their community.
So that’s 2014, life, and libraries in a blog post. I look forward to everything in 2015: life, family, friends, libraries, travel, music, video games, food, and sleep. Things are cool. Things are on the level. Life. I’m just gonna live it.
Once upon a long ago I was part of 8BitLibrary.com with JP Porcaro. We started the website up to talk about video gaming in libraries. It was awesome for a bit, then we got a chance to write a book, it never happened, we had a mild falling out, and then balance was restored to the force and we’re all just doing our things these days. It was really neat to talk about video games in libraries. You can read some of the old 8BitLibrary here: http://blog.8bitlibrary.com
Anywho we were going to write a book and it didn’t happen. I remember that we had these great chats about what we wanted the book to be: honest, funny, and informative. We didn’t want to write another book on library services that would just be outdated by the time it was printed. So when we wrote, we dug deep and tried to make the book as enjoyable as possible.
I’ve been thinking about this book recently so I went back and read my contributions. It was nice to read them even in their very unfinished state. I think we were onto something…the melding of professional ideas, honesty, passion about video gaming in libraries, and just a fun, casual atmosphere in a book form. I think it would’ve been a fun read.
I’m going to share one chapter below. It’s totally unfinished but it’s the best example of raw Justin honesty, passion about video games in libraries, and a semi young person trying to do his best to change his little sliver of the world. Enjoy.
CHAPTER 1.7 BOBBY BONILLA
I was a huge fan of baseball growing up. I closely followed my hometown team (the Pittsburgh Pirates) and on my own time kept a detailed log of players statistics and other information.When it came to playing baseball, that was another thing. Honestly, I was horrible at the game and was the kind of kid that you’d just stick out in left field and hope that no one would have the power to hit a ball out there. I had more fun sitting on the bench watching the game and helping the coach keep track of the stats. What I’m trying to get to here is that I had a passion for the game and wanted so desperately to be part of it in any way I could. Passion has a strong power over people. It makes you do things you otherwise didn’t feel like you could do.
I feel like libraries have the same kind of passion I had with baseball when it comes to adding video games to their collection. We all want to do it for our patrons.
However like baseball, life throws you curve balls and sometimes these can get you off track. I had my curve ball thrown to me in 1989 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. Somehow, I ended up at Three Rivers Stadium that day as one of about 50 Pittsburgh area kids chosen to learn how to play baseball from the players on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dressed in my finest ball playing garb with my Pirates hat and my ever trusty baseball glove, I marched out onto the field ready to suck up anything that these pros would teach me.
Midway through, we were led to center field where Bobby Bonilla, the Pirates third baseman/outfielder, was teaching kids how to correctly catch a pop up. He gave a brief overview to us and I hung onto every word. After all, this was Bobby Bonilla! He played for the Pirates! I have his baseball card! We formed a line and Bobby went through tossing pop ups to each kid. Eventually, it was my turn. I stood in front of Bobby and nodded just after he asked “Ready?”. This was my time to shine.
The ball missed my glove, but I caught it…with my nose.
Long story short: Bobby Bonilla broke my nose that day, and I cried my eyes out and bleed all over the outfield of Three Rivers Stadium. I left shortly after Bobby had apologized and autographed his weapon of choice for me. I never looked at baseball the same way after that day. Baseball was damaged goods and there was no looking back. I moved on with my life and got into other things. Baseball, the sport that was once central to my upbringing, now was just something I dabbled in.
You’re going to have your broken nose moment with your video game collection. It’s gonna come in the form of someone in your community questioning why the library is offering such a service. It’s gonna hurt like a broken nose too. All the work, research, and passion you put into the collection will be questioned and doubted by the people using your library. “Isn’t the library about reading and teaching?” “What do video games have to do with this?” Time to wipe off the blood and get back to business. One of our hopes with this book is to provide you with enough arsenal to provide a rational and educated comeback to these types of comments (keep on reading!). Right now, we’re here to tell you that situations like this are not the end of the world.
Remember when I talked about how I hung onto every word that Bobby said as he taught us how to catch pop ups? Looking back on it, I realize that that’s where things went wrong. I listened too carefully Bobby talk about how to catch a pop up instead of taking in the information, quickly digesting it, and applying it to the real life situation. This happens a lot in the library world when it comes to conferences. We spend a lot of time taking in what the presenters are saying in the form of scribbled notes which we set aside until we get time to go through them a few days/weeks later. At that time, the initial passion has faded and many of the notes are now nothing but random words that mean nothing to you. You have to listen, but don’t listen too much. Instead, act on the initial passion that you have. If you’re listening to one of us speak at a conference or webinar, we urge you to take a few notes and then go back to your library THAT DAY and make something happen. Put together a list of ten video games that you’re going to buy that week for your collection. Write a press release announcing that the addition of video games to the library collection. Get the project started using that initial momentum you feel inside of you.
I won’t recap his excellent presentation here but I did live tweet some of his key quotes (if you want to look through my twitter feed, here you go) but I will say this: if you have a chance to hear David speak about the library as a platform, do not miss it. His ideas make perfect sense in the world today. The library as a platform allows the public library to become an integral part of the community fabric. It allows the public library to live and breathe along with its community.
I also got a brief chance to share what we’re doing on The 2nd Floor with David, and he had super kind things to say about our work today in his blog post (read the full post here):
Go down to the second floor and you’ll see the youth area under the direction/inspiration of Justin Hoenke. It’s got lots of things that kids like to do, including reading books, of course. But also playing video games, building things with Legos, trying out some cool homebrew tech (e.g., this augmented reality sandbox by 17-year-old Library innovator, Jake Brown (github)), and soon recording in audio studios. But what makes this space a platform is its visible openness to new ideas that invites the community to participate in the perpetual construction of the Library’s future.
This is physically manifested in the presence of unfinished structures, including some built by a team of high school students. What will they be used for? No one is sure yet. The presence of lumber assembled by users for purposes to be devised by users and librarians together makes clear that this is a library that one way or another is always under construction, and that that construction is a collaborative, inventive, and playful process put in place by the Library, but not entirely owned by the Library. Via Joho the Blog by David Weinberger
It was a great day to be a librarian yesterday. It was a great day to be living in Chattanooga yesterday. I’ll carry those good vibes on today and make a positive impact on the world.
Anyone who wishes to use a 3D printer must have a Chattanooga Public Library card in good standing, meaning that they must not have greater than $5.00 in fines and their registration must not have expired.
Anyone who uses the 3D printer will be charged $0.06 cents per gram of PLA plastic used. The amount of plastic used will be determined when the library employee who is working with the patron previews the 3D print.
The 2nd Floor 3D Printer is for ages 0-18 only.
Users will get a maximum 30-45 minutes per day to 3D print an object, as the 2nd Floor 3D printer is designed to be used as a basic introduction to 3D printing.
So why the changes? Well, to be honest with you there were really no problems with the first version of the program to begin! It worked well. Kids, Tweens, and Teens got their assignment and they completed them when they visited the library. Megan Emery and I made every intent to add more challenges to the program but….simply stated we just didn’t have enough staff time to make those other challenges happen.
Our summer at the Chattanooga Public Library is what really made us rethink this program. We were slammed with visitors to the library this summer (a VERY good thing) and we couldn’t really focus on getting each kid, tween, and teen updated on the program. Instead, we took an introductory “here’s the 3D printer, here’s Tinkercad and Thingiverse, you have this amount of time, have fun and we’re totally here to help” approach. It allowed us to give the 3D printing experience to more of our community which is something we wanted to do.
Why the charges you ask? It makes sense for the library to find a way to keep income coming into the library so that we can purchase the proper amount of PLA plastic needed. 6 cents per gram is not a lot in the long run. Will it deter some of the community from using the 3D printer? Of course, as money always will deter people from doing anything. But we are taking the approach of “it’s a small cost that helps us keep this service here for you” with the community. It’s a positive and honest message that needs to be told.
So hopefully it won’t take me another year to follow up on this, but I hope this is informative for everyone who reads it. And if you have any questions, you can always email me about it at justinthelibrarian at gmail dot com.
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
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.
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.