February 17, 2018

Stephen Abram | Movers & Shakers 2002

The “Must-See” Conference Speaker

Tracking future trends that will impact publishers and librarians for Macromedia

Canadian-born Stephen Abram grew up wanting to be a librarian–a less-than-obvious career choice for a hyperkinetic man without an off button. After serving as librarian at accounting and law firms, he created databases such as Canadian Law Online for Thomson and helped the company make the transition to electronic publishing. Now, as VP of corporate development at Micromedia (a database publisher and distributor recently acquired by ProQuest), where he tracks future trends that will impact publishers and librarians, Abram has found the ideal outlet for his enormous energy: he speaks at library conferences, telling us to prepare for a future in which the “dominance of educated persons who decode and internalize text well is ending.”


Current position: Vice President, Corporate Development, Micromedia

Degree: MLS, University of Toronto, 1980

Active in: Special Libraries Association, Ontario Library Association (OLA), Incoming President, OLA

Gulp. That’s us, of course. Abram warns that if we don’t accommodate the learning styles of the 80 percent of the world who do not learn well from text, profitmaking companies will be happy to fill that vacuum and make us irrelevant. Nonetheless, the world still needs librarians, he says, to teach people that the best information for their purposes is not necessarily free or available on the web. If we don’t teach that, he says, we may allow “a massively transformational technology to actually decrease intelligence in society.” Abrams offers ideas like these at conferences and in library magazines and advances them through his work in professional organizations, like the Special Libraries Association and the Ontario Library Association, of which he is incoming president.

But you need to see Abram in action. Most of us, if we’re lucky, have maybe one good idea in a week. Abram spits them out like machine gun bullets, leaving his audience slightly dazed and terrified, giggling (he could easily do stand-up comedy for a living), and with a lot of food for thought.