November 16, 2017

Steven M. Cohen | Movers & Shakers 2004

Stuff, but Not Nonsense

2004_Steven_M_Cohen

He may be fated to look boyish when he’s collecting social security, but Steven M. Cohen, proprietor of the blog Library Stuff, is as grownup and dedicated a librarian as you’ll ever meet. Fellow blogger Blake Carver, of LISNews.com, says, ‘his prolific output in both print and on the web is not easily matched.’

Cohen is one of the many library pages turned librarians. ‘From the moment I shelved my first book, I was hooked. I took out ten books that first day,’ he says. His first library job was as a reference librarian and Internet trainer in a public library. He loved its ‘overall feeling of democracy in action’ but seized the opportunity for the entirely different demands of working in a law firm where virtually all information needs include, ‘Can you get this to me by noon?’

The real story of Cohen, though, is how he came to be the guru of keeping current with the professional literature. To help others keep abreast, he started the blog Library Stuff in August 2000. Cohen believes that librarians have an obligation to be ahead of the curve, to know more than their patrons do about new technologies, and to understand how their use could improve library services.

The blog brought him an audience of 2200 visitors per day and unexpected opportunities, including the ‘Internet Spotlight’ column in Public Libraries
and speaking engagements across the country.

The only problem was that keeping up took as many as three hours a day, and Cohen also wanted to spend time with his wife and new baby. That’s when he discovered, and became a passionate advocate for, RSS, a system that allows him to subscribe to his favorite sources and be notified whenever new material appears. Now it all takes no more than 45 minutes each day.

Though Cohen has every intention of staying in a corporate environment, he remains an advocate of public libraries. ‘There is nothing in this country, including the right to vote, that transcends the right to walk into any public library, sit down, and read any piece of material in the building.’

 


Vitals

 

Current Position: Assistant Librarian, Rivkin Radler, LLP, Uniondale, NY
Degree: MLS Queens College, 2002; M.A. Mental Health Counseling, Long Island University, 2000
Blog: Library Stuff, www.librarystuff.net
Author: Keeping Current: Advanced Internet Strategies To Meet Librarian and Patron Needs
(ALA, 2003); ‘Internet Spotlight’ column, Public Libraries

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