Money Talks

Money Talks by Lauren Barack

Hooray for Library Journal publishing an article about financial literacy! Was happy to contribute my two cents about our participation in Money Smart Week.

All public libraries need to get on board with treating financial proficiency like any other form of literacy. Currently, only 18% of the public gets finance and financial management information from libraries. Let’s do better in 2016, yes?


Be respectful when using the 1st Amendment, i.e. don’t be a jerk

2014-07-01 09Our library recently installed a 4’x4′ veggie and herb garden. While small, it notates the nutritional benefits of the plants in the garden and gives those without means the opportunity to see and taste fresh produce. We also plan to use the garden as a jumping-off point for healthy eating programming. Obesity is an epidemic and our library is happy to support nutritional education.

One patron apparently disagrees. Following our eNewsletter that included a photo of the new garden, we received a nasty email in response: “Wow… a 16 square foot vegetable and herb garden!   That’s absolutely idiotic.”

I responded by thanking him for the feedback, reasserting the purpose of the garden, and welcoming him to continue giving us feedback so we can effectively serve *every* member of our community. Just because you don’t practice healthy eating or care about the kids in our community, doesn’t mean that you should vehemently insult us.

Being a reference librarian, I naturally looked up who this guy was. Turns out that there are a thousand stereotypes that I could probably say about this patron, but it is not up to me to judge his interests. As librarians, we support all forms of information and education. It’s just a shame that he thinks the library should only align with his beliefs.

The patron has also not responded to my reply. Funny how often people are eager to attack online with sarcasm, but rarely step up to have a legitimate discussion. If it’s a bad idea, tell us why. We’ll listen and adjust if necessary. But we certainly won’t adjust simply because you’re an ass.

[P.S. I’m amazed at how many folks are even more upset than I am about this email. Anywhere from “I can’t believe someone would do that” to “he should be put in the ground.” Cheers to free speech.]

Homebrew 101 a success!

Homebrew 101 flyer

Homebrew 101 flyer

Having wanted to do a homebrew class at a library for years, I finally got it done. I think it’s important to include programs that introduce lifelong learning at any age and on any topic (that is legal and ethical of course). Compared to typical educational programs for adults, a homebrewing program has a better shot at re-introducing the library into the lives of those 20-40-somethings who don’t have a relationship with us.

Thanks to NJ Beer Co’s Dennis Maciupa (their Brewer’s Apprentice) and Paul Silverman, and a colleague who came in on a day off in support of beer, the program had patrons engaged and entertained. It didn’t take too much work and the greatest expense was the $150 social affair permit.

We had 27 people attend. I made it registration required so that we could keep it more intimate; but registration is new for adult programs at the library and this isn’t the first time that more people just showed up. I had to turn them away as well as field phone calls all morning explaining that we were full.

Cheers to having another program this fall/winter!

Groups @ your library

It has long been a goal of mine to develop groups within the library. I don’t just mean book clubs or intellectual groups either. With being one way for folks with common interests to meet each other, who says that has to be the only platform?

I see these groups serving two purposes: 1. to bring people into the library by providing space and assistance for programming related to their interest; and 2. to send out a visible representation of the library into town. It would be a way for the library to directly integrate itself into the community by fostering education on topics–such as theater, photography, food or Fantasy sports–as well as encouraging the groups to get out of the building and do something as a library entity.

I’ve been lucky to come into a library with a thriving Write Group. This group has various weekly meetings and all types of monthly events. They also don’t restrict themselves to the library building, but go out into our community to be a “support group” for other writers. They’ve been successful for years and I speak with their leadership often. It’s a perfect example of what I’ve been looking to do.

The main obstacle to starting a group like this is time (isn’t it always?). Having the capacity to oversee a mini-organization isn’t organic. However, once a pattern of group creation and recruitment is developed, I see the potential for each group to be self-run things; provided they still report back to the library, there is no reason not to allow the groups to elect their own leaders and have the freedom to evolve as they want and need. Thankfully, the Write Group has a lot to teach me and will be a great resource as I develop plans and explore the interests of the town.


Free software for all you Makerspacers

pixar-renderman-19-free-590x330Check out this article. It appears that Pixar has a version of its software that can be downloaded for free. It’s an industrial grade app, but if your computers are capable of running it, register and get it for your Makerspace.

It’s a great way to introduce teens to animation creation. Fun fun. I wonder if I can figure out a way to use it for adult programming?