April 26, 2017

Michael Stephens

About Michael Stephens

Michael Stephens (mstephens7@mac.com) is Assistant Professor at the School of Information, San Jose State University, CA

Libraries in Balance | Office Hours

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One of my students was telling me about her public library job: “It just breaks my heart some days…. There is such a disconnect between the technologies our management wants us to explore and implement and what our patrons need and want. Our patrons are the city’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Chaos & Caring | Office Hours

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I’ll own this: I’ve been pretty emotional since the election in November. I spent my holiday break practicing self-care, including stepping back from social media, cuddling with my dogs Cooper and Dozer, and bingeing on old sitcoms.

Adopt or Adapt? | Office Hours

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“I already feel behind. I’m not an early adopter and do not want to be. Is there a place for those not drawn to the newest and shiniest tech?” read an email from an LIS student expressing concern about finding her way through the discussions and applications of emerging technologies in the field. There is a place for you, I replied, but it requires shifting perspective a bit and looking beyond technology.

Open to Change | Office Hours

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Changes aren’t permanent but change is. That’s a line from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” a song you might remember if you hung out with the cool kids in high school during the 1980s. What felt so philosophical in 1982 now describes the rapid transformation that has touched every profession, including ours. Constant change may invoke feelings ranging from worry to out-and-out alarm.

The Right Questions | Office Hours

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How do we find that perfect hire? A recent email from Kit Stephenson, head of reference and adult services at Bozeman Public Library, MT, got me thinking: “I am trying to find the best questions to find a full-stack employee. A couple of attributes I require are compassion, team player, and thrives on change. I want someone to be a conduit, connector, and a discoverer.” That call back to Stacking the Deck raised this question: How do we find a well-rounded person amid a virtual pile of résumés and cover letters? Please consider the following as part of your potential discovery sets for future interviews.

Looking Forward | Office Hours

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This year, 2016, marks my tenth year as an LIS professor. I’ve witnessed some big transitions in our field, with more to come. What will LIS education look like in another 20 or 30 years? How will we be teaching the core values of a 200-plus-year-old profession while also providing insights into information use in the year 2046?

The Research Journey | Office Hours

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Since 2014, academic librarians from across the United States have gathered at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles to be part of an immersive learning experience—the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL).

Library Emoji | Office Hours

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We spend a lot of time talking about new and emerging literacies in our field. Conceptualizing how information is created, shared, and understood becomes especially intriguing when we add a new language to the mix, a language that many citizens globally understand. Consider this: 92 percent of all people online use emoji as a means to convey information and emotion. A recent piece in Wired by Clive Thompson, “The Emoji Is the Birth of a New Type of Language (No Joke),” exploring this phenomenon got me thinking about what it might mean for communication, sharing, and interaction with others and with libraries.

Dream. Explore. Experiment. | Office Hours

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Not bound by rules. Changing daily. Filled with life, sound, art, and inspiration. A vision of the public library woven with experience, involvement, empowerment, and a healthy dose of true innovation brought gasps of joy, a few tears, and much more to a standing room only crowd at the Public Library Association conference in Denver. The planning process and insights from the creation of Dokk1, the public library in Aarhus, Denmark, shared by Marie Østergård, project leader, Dokk1; Aarhus Public Libraries; and Pam Sandlian Smith, director, Anythink Libraries, Thornton, CO, can inform library planning of all types, shapes, and sizes and should be considered seriously by those of us teaching and developing LIS ­curricula.

Talk About Compassion | Office Hours

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A common punch line in the librarian oeuvre pertains to the number of cats a particular librarian may own. We all know that librarians are dog people, too, as evidenced by the multiple Facebook photos I see of various canine biblio-companions. I am sure librarians also keep various other mammals, reptiles, and birds, but there is a natural fit between our love of four-legged friends and our calling to the profession.