December 3, 2016

Office Hours

Column from Michael Stephens (mstephens7@mac.com), Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CA

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.

The Hygge State of Mind | Office Hours

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Scandinavian countries have introduced libraries to some wonderful things in the past few years. Nordic Noir fiction, some beautiful new buildings to gather inspiration from, and perhaps the most interesting of all: the concept of hygge. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” it loosely translates from the Danish as “coziness,” but bloggers, news reporters, and folks sharing #hygge-tagged images are quick to say it is so much more. Some might argue that it’s a feeling, a vibe, a state of mind. Others say it’s about connections, conversations, and comfort.

Speak of the Devil | Office Hours

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Has this ever happened to you? A meeting is going along swimmingly. Decisions are being made. Paths forward seem clearly defined. Action items are doled out to key players around the ­table. And then, a voice pipes up: “I’ll play devil’s advocate and….”

Cue the sound of wheels screeching to a halt, or perhaps the collective, weary exhale of the group.

Conference Call | Office Hours

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An early morning drive south from Loveland to the Denver airport gave me time to reflect on the evolving nature of library conferences. I delivered one of the keynotes for the Colorado Association of Libraries annual conference (CALCON) this year and was thrilled to be invited to attend the entire event. What I discovered in the meeting rooms and hallways and at the receptions and dinners with Colorado librarians was a spirit of innovation and inspiration, a renaissance of the state-level meeting. The sessions were interesting, useful, and engaging. The atmosphere was welcoming, inclusive, and vibrant.