September 22, 2017

Office Hours

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

Librarian Superpowers | Office Hours

Remember this? Essential Skills + Mind-set² x Support = Success. How does the formula for success hold up with an engaged group of international librarians working to build a model of the 21st-century library professional? At the Next Library Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, I found out, along with my workshop coleaders Jan Holmquist, assistant library director, Guldborgsund Public Library, Denmark, and Mylee Joseph, consultant, Public Libraries and Engagement Division, State Library of New South Wales, Australia.

What’s Next | Office Hours

The following cry echoed through the Dokk1 library in Aarhus, Denmark, from participants in the Next Library 2017 conference as a morning icebreaker/creativity exercise: “Yes, we made a mistake!” Mistakes were encouraged and celebrated during the three-and-a-half-day International Festival for library folk in June, intended, the conference website notes, as a “patchwork” of colearning, cocreative, participatory, engaging, pluralistic, and interactive meetings.

Formula for Success | Office Hours

How do we “build a librarian” for 21st-century information work? It’s an ongoing discussion in libraries and LIS programs that has many sides and a range of opinion. Some argue that while library school offers the foundations, theories, and service concepts of the profession, on-the-job experience seasons the information professional for doing the work. I would argue it is a mix of all of these things and more.

Gifts of This Hour | Office Hours

What do I listen to now? More than a few folks shared this sentiment online in the days following the release of “S-Town,” a podcast hosted by Brian Reed and created by the producers of “Serial” and “This American Life.” It topped ten million–plus downloads within four days of release. I binged all seven episodes over spring break and found the series to be a moving, insightful, and well-conceived piece of audio journalism.

Libraries in Balance | Office Hours

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

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

“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

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

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

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?