February 17, 2018

Michael Porter | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Trendspotters

Michael Porter, Webjunction, SeattleLibraryman

Michael Porter has an “incredible appetite for trendspotting,” says Chrystie Hill, his boss at WebJunction (webjunction.org), the nonprofit, library-professional-run online community. This future-oriented focus imbues his passion for libraries.

Porter worked in libraries even before getting his MLIS; he took his newly minted degree to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was a trainer in the innovative U.S. Library Program, which brought computers and computer know-how to librarians and users in rural communities.

Porter not only has a knack for spotting trends, but he is able to contextualize them for libraries. “When I see an up-and-coming social/content tool, I create a ‘Libraries and Librarians’ Group,” he says, so librarians can get the word out about libraries and better serve their communities. In May 2005, before Flickr became omnipresent, Porter launched its libraries and librarians group, which now contains nearly 24,000 images. Several hundred libraries have participated in the subsequent 365 Library Days project in Flickr, using it for community advocacy. His libraries and librarians Facebook group has almost 5000 members, while the newer Libraries and Librarians Guild in World of Warcraft connects players from across the globe.

Porter’s work with social tools dovetails with his work at WebJunction. He had a pivotal role in the launch of “WebJunction 2.0,” a platform combining social networking, data sharing, learning, and community. “Connect, create, and learn describe what happens on WebJunction,” says Porter, whose personal goals focus on “helping library staff use engaging and practical technology to do just that.”

Porter’s knack for using 2.0 tools is exemplified in a collaboration with David Lee King (2008 Mover & Shaker): a playful, inspirational, and widely referenced “Hi-Fi Sci-Fi Library” video (and song) on the history, challenges, and future of technology in libraries. The effort led to a LITA National Forum keynote, charging libraries and librarians to embrace the possibilities created by technology.

Since 2003, Porter has blogged at Libraryman, with the tagline “Libraries, Community, Technology and PEZ.” Why PEZ? On an email discussion list he connected with a PEZ-collecting community that’s “helpful and generous with their time…just like librarians!” The experience inspired not just learning but having fun with practical technology, and he “turn[ed it] around to benefit [his] Libraryland path”—and, ultimately, his work at WebJunction.


POSITION Interactive Strategy Manager

DEGREE MLS Indiana University, Bloomington, 1999

CO-COLUMNIST “Internet Spotlight,” Public Libraries magazine

BLOG libraryman.com/blog