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"We must never forget that the human heart is at the center of the technological maze..." -Stephen Barnes
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Resources: Adopt or Adapt for Sirsi Dynix Connections Summit

Wed, 2018-01-17 10:55

Thanks to all the fine folk that attended my keynote this morning at the Sirsi Dynix Connections Summit!

Download the slides here.

Selected Library Journal “Office Hours” columns cited:

Resources to Inspire:

Exploration Items:

Categories: Library News

Yes, and…. – A TTW guest post by Cheryl May

Wed, 2018-01-10 02:51
Devil’s advocates need not apply

As I was listening to the Library as a Classroom (Stephens, 2017) lecture this week, the devil’s advocate component reminded me of a phrase that is more productive.  That phrase is “yes, and…” rather than “no, but…” or “let me play devil’s advocate”.  In conjunction with this flip on devil’s advocate, asking people to bring solutions is an excellent tool and one I’ve been actively trying to train my staff on for a few years now.  When someone comes to me with a complaint or is being a naysayer, I will frequently ask them to remember I am happy to hear their concerns around issues, but don’t bring me a problem without an idea for a solution.  Partially this is because I cannot default to the manager who fixes everything for everyone or I will never get anything done, but this also provides people with the opportunity to think bigger picture and gain some skills in this area.  An area that is key as libraries rapidly innovate and we need library staff to have the skills to be flexible, forward thinking, and innovative.  Depending on the top to provide direction means we’re going to miss things that are really important to our patrons.  Many that the “top” don’t have daily interaction with.  I can’t support the library’s patrons and drive new services if I don’t have staff helping me create programs and services.  Devil’s advocates need not apply as they are not leading the library forward, but instead holding us back.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

So now we’ve thrown out the devil’s advocates.  What now?  Libraries are really trying to think of new services and programs to provide for their patrons, but there are so many amazing examples out there already and it is perfectly okay to copy!  I often feel that libraries are worried about staying relevant and in turn, don’t innovate out of fear that whatever they begin offering will not be relevant or will be replaced by a newer technology days after it’s introduction.  As Greenwalt (2013) says in Embracing the Long Game “Will all of these new ideas succeed? Of course not. It wouldn’t be library science without a little experimentation, and some of those experiments are going to fail. But occasionally, an idea is going to succeed. And when it does, it creates an opportunity to reshape the notion of what our libraries can do.”  And what libraries do well is meet our users where they need us.  As our lecture this week discusses, not offering a new technology learning opportunity because we’re still teaching people how to use basic technology is not an excuse.  We will always be teaching technology basics, and we should continue to do so right alongside newer technology skills.  This is how we evolve in the rapid changing technological world.

Now I know I’m a minority in this course in working in an academic library and many of the readings are public library focused, but I do think there are ways both can use each other’s services and programs effectively to support their user’s unique needs.  One of the 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun caught my eye for my academic library.  The Supper Club at Madison Public Library where parents are able to have dinner with a librarian and learn about kids apps and how to integrate them into learning and activities at home is completely transferable to my academic library (Lloyd Bookey, 2015).  My university’s motto is Learn by Doing, so we’re big on getting our hands dirty, peer to peer learning, and exploring.  The students I interact with are really engaged, they dive right in and provide their input, and in general are outgoing and personable.  I could see my library hosting a supper club where students share with other students the different apps they use for academics, time management, personal finances, etc.  Us librarians don’t necessarily need to be the teachers in this event, but organizing it is something we can definitely get behind. “[Users] want help doing things, rather than finding things” (Kenney, 2015, What Patrons Want section, para 1).  Organizing and holding this type of peer to peer learning opportunity in the library makes complete sense, as we’re the gathering place for students for studying, relaxation, and socializing.  All things really good apps can help improve your experience around!

Finding new methods

I want to turn now to the more traditional academic librarian focuses of pedagogy and curriculum support.  While I appreciated Lippincott’s (2015) ideas around integrating librarians into the pedagogy and curriculum within universities, the challenge many university libraries face is around sufficient librarian staffing.  My library in particular has a librarian to student ratio that so high that it is absolutely impossible for any one college librarian to reach even 1/4 of the students in their college, never mind work with more than a handful of faculty to develop the type of integration into assignments Lippincott (2015) is suggesting.

Yes, and (see what I did there, I bet you thought I was going to play devil’s advocate!) this means we cannot stick to the old model of one college librarian to all of one colleges students and faculty.  Not in person. Similar to how Kenney (2015) suggests we must change the reference model to meet our users wants, we must change our instruction and curriculum integration models to meet our student and faculty wants.  We must leverage and explore technology to spread ourselves wider across the curriculum without sacrificing our expertise and individual support. 

What does this look like?  I’m not sure. But you can be sure when someone proposes the idea to me, my response will be “yes, and…”

Cheryl May

Cheryl May is the Director of Access, Operations, and Administrative Services at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a graduate student at San Jose State University in the School of Information, where she is currently blogging about the Hyperlinked Library.  She lives in Baywood Park, CA with her husband, son, and numerous pets.  In her free time she reads anything she can get her hands on, hikes around SLO County, and gets crafty.  She is also passionate about health and wellness, and is a certified Les Mills BodyPump and BodyCombat group fitness instructor whom eats a plant-based diet.



Greenwalt, T. (2013, February 21). Embracing the long game. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/02/embracing/

Kenney, B. (2015, September 11). Where reference fits in the modern library. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/68019-for-future-reference.html

Lippincott, J. (2015, February 26). The Future for Teaching and Learning: Librarians’ Deepening Involvement in Pedagogy and Curriculum. American Libraries  46. 34-37. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/26/the-future-for-teaching-and-learning/

Lloyd Bookeye, J. (2015, June 29). 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun. Huffington Post [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-lloyd-bookey/8-awesome-ways-libraries-_b_7157462.html

Stephens, M. (2017). The Hyperlinked library: Library as a classroom. [Panopto lecture]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=cbe60886-1263-4fc3-bf56-806bfeb44607

Categories: Library News

Infinite Learning: A TTW guest post by Dr. Mary Vasudeva

Sat, 2018-01-06 16:28

Dr. Mary Vasudeva wrote this post in response to readings in her MLIS course INFO 298 The Hyperlinked Library

“Leave the library and go where the people are.” (Stephens, 2017, Built for people).

I happened to be in a situation where I couldn’t listen to the lecture for this course module (on an airplane), so I was going through the slide show. . . which made me think about learning modes in general. And then, I got to slide 5, which states “The heart of libraries is learning and supporting our users’ curiosity through every means possible” (Stephens, 2017, Library as classroom), which made me think about what it means “to learn”.

Learning obviously need not have anything to do with education (and in most people’s lives learning is separate from education, which tends to end quite early in life). Libraries may be a factor in that “learning” mode that need not remind us of or resemble “education”. This perspective from structured institutional education to learning platform is a bit of shift for me because I am so immersed in the structured education model as both a teacher and a perennial student that I forget that learning has a life all of its own. Simon (2007) notes in her Web 2.0 blog that institutional education can, in fact, create zombies—okay, she acknowledges that they aren’t literally the walking dead but that the institutional nature of the system does not promote creativity and engagement but distance, rote learning and codified knowledge. She thinks museums offer an alternative possibility, and it seems clear that libraries do as well.

Later in the course slideshow, Stephens writes, “it [fluid infrastructure of the 21st century] is a platform to share and network imaginations” (slide 29). This is also kind of a radical revisioning of learning: a library is a stable structure/institution, but a platform, well that’s something totally different. Platforms have the potential not just to link and connect and transfer but to transform. In the platform world, learning becomes not just that which we “take in” but that which we create. Platforms are interactive, participatory, multidimensional and fluid. Libraries, unlike schools, have done a much better job of opening their minds to the possibility of creation, participation and interaction.

I teach online and f2f, and the only thing that has changed between these two models is the method of delivery—the learning itself has changed very little (though I loved the idea offered in the MOOC (Maggio, Saltarelli, A., & Stranack, 2016) reading about crowdsourcing curriculum and building resource lists with students—think of all the materials we would have access to if we all pooled our knowledge?!). In the library, in contrast, the changes are not only significantly greater but always in progress. To quote Pam Smith in the Anythink Strategic Plan, “The idea of a library is morphing from a place of books to a place where the community connects with information and creates content”. I’d like to change this quote just a little, and substitute that second place with “platform” where the community connects. Libraries do not need to be a place, they just need to be a platform. A library is a possibility. . .

Later (off the plane), I was reading the article, “The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills”, and thinking again about what it means “to learn”. In this article, the author talks about “learning circles” in libraries. In these classes, adults with low-skills take free training classes in a variety of skill areas from writing to using computers. And the Fountaindale Public Library (2013) recording studio is incredible. These classes sound great, but they also sound limited. Offering basic skills is clearly important and kudos to all the libraries that are picking up the slack from schools, but how can libraries re-envision this process to move beyond place? Could these classes be brought into neighborhoods and communities?

I was doing some research just thinking about different ways of learning and how libraries could reach more people and came across this taking art to the streets article in the NYT (See the Truck Art Project). It made me think of how platforms can be anything, even semi-trucks. In San Francisco, trucks have begun to offer shower facilities to homeless people. Trucks could certainly offer all kinds of variety of services that we expect in an actual library, and they are mobile.

As I was doing this limited research, I began to notice all these interesting programs that libraries were offering to help people learn that were new to me. I decided to begin a list of these and also to be mindful of how wide ranging “learning” can be—we can learn from books and teachers but we can also learn in lots of other ways.

  1. Library walks: patrons meet at the library and the group goes on a walk (these could be combined with a resident expert on plants or bugs or buildings or anything the community was interested in. http://www.programminglibrarian.org/blog/run-it-taking-your-programs-streets-or-trails
  2. Library on a bike in SF that includes bubbles and wifi! http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Spoke-Word-bike-takes-S-F-library-to-the-6404867.php
  3. Story walks with young kids for early literacy https://continuinged.isl.in.gov/spreading-the-word-taking-early-literacy-messages-to-the-streets-1-leu/
  4. Little health libraries where librarians carry their ipad to the streets and provide health information as part of outreach https://library.med.utah.edu/blog/mcmla2013/2013/09/14/taking-it-to-the-streets/
  5. Mesa County Library’s Wild Colorado App (From Stephens, 2017, library as classroom).
  6. Supper Club: people eat dinner at the library while the librarian introduces kid friendly apps (I have to say that this website needs some work—hard to be sure if this program is still going, but even if it isn’t, it seems like a great idea to have dinner at the library and do almost anything fun!) (From Bookey, 2015). Apparently, Philadelphia free library has a big kitchen, so cooking is also possible (Michaels, 2017 Built for people).
  7. Viola’s yoga room
  8. Library as retreat space (Stephens, 2017, Built for people).
  9. Instructions for getting lost (Stephens, 2017 Built for people). Couldn’t people do this in a library just for fun (the library could offer instructions like this that change regularly—this could also be done online and it could be done as an assignment for students to do online).
  1. Social Justice for teens event at the Philadelphia Free library, http://www.slj.com/2016/09/teens-ya/free-library-of-philadelphia-hosts-first-ever-social-justice-symposium-for-teens/ (This library also installed a solitary confinement cell on the premises, http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2017/06/library-services/why-social-justice-in-the-library-outreach-inreach/#_).
  2. Civic Lab at the Skokie Library, https://skokielibrary.info/blog/78/welcome-to-the-civic-lab/
  3. This is a facebook timeline slideshow that highlights a variety of different life-changing library programs that the Aspen Institute has supported with links to a variety of programs and initiatives:  https://www.facebook.com/communicationsandsociety/photos/a.268064171287.153196.28291116287/10154735023391288/?type=3&theater. Really amazing look at all the things libraries can do from developing food desert apps in Indianapolis to increasing broadband access in NC.

One thing that became really clear to me as I’ve done these readings (and reflected back on the others across the semester) is how incredibly diverse a library’s community is. The readings we have done include how to personalize learning in MOOC (Maggio, Saltarelli & Stranack, 2016) and how to help those with “low skills” (Digital promise, 2016). Libraries really have to be the learning platform for everyone. What a complicated and perhaps impossible task. But the evident efforts are really inspiring.

Dr. Mary Vasudeva has her Ph.D. in English and is currently working on her MLIS at San Jose State University. This summer she completed an internship with Wikipedia working on Open Access. She is interested in social justice issues and technology as they relate to infoliteracy. She currently teaches composition and critical thinking at San Ramon College, and contributed the “writing and speaking sections” to a Critical Thinking textbook in its twelfth edition,Asking the Right Questions.








Bookey, J. L. (2015, Jun 29). 8 Awesome ways libraries are making learning fun. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-lloyd-bookey/8-awesome-ways-libraries-_b_7157462.html.

Digital Promise (2016, Jan 28). The library as a gateway to 21st century skills. Digital Promise. REtreived from http://digitalpromise.org/2016/01/28/chicago-public-library-the-library-as-a-gateway-to-21st-century-skills/.

Maggio, L, Saltarelli, A., & Stranack, K. (2016, March 21). Crowdsourcing the curriculum: A MOOC for personalized, connected learning. Educause. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/crowdsourcing-the-curriculum-a-mooc-for-personalized-connected-learning.


Fountaindale Public Library (2013, May 6). Studio 300 Picture Tour. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q-Leo4VtKQ&feature=em-share_video_user.

Simon, N. (2007) Warning: Museum graduate programs spawn legions of zombies! Museum 2.0 Retrieved from http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2007/04/warning-museum-graduate-programs-spawn.html.

Stephens, M. (2017). Stephens, M. (2017). Library as classroom. Lecture. San Jose State University.

Stephens, M. (2017, Oct. 21). Built for people. Lecture. San Jose State University



Categories: Library News

Fake News and Social Media Analytics by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

Tue, 2017-12-12 17:15

What do social media analytics tell us about fake news? How can these analytics help libraries and librarians? What is the Social Media Command Center? These are a few questions explored in my interview with Nathan Carpenter who is Director of Convergent Media for the School of Communication at Illinois State University.

This interview is available at: Circulating Ideas episode 123: Nathan Carpenter.

This interview is part of a series I am doing on fake news & information literacy. My previous interviews can be found here:

Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

Categories: Library News

Thanks Northland Library Cooperative!

Fri, 2017-12-01 12:52

Thanks to all who attended the  Northland Library Cooperative meeting in Traverse City yesterday. How wonderful to spend time at my home library and with Michigan library folk.

Download the slides for the keynote Library as a Classroom and afternoon session Formula for Success here.

Selected Library Journal “Office Hours” columns cited:


Image: Traverse Area District Library’s Book Tree

Categories: Library News

Where we live – a series of guest posts by Beth Harper

Thu, 2017-11-09 11:08

As a student in Dr. Michael Stephen’s Hyperlinked Libraries course at San Jose State University, Beth Harper wrote six reflection blog assignment posts over the course of the semester.  Each of those posts has been published on Tame the Web and can each be read here:

Where we live – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3Part 4Part 5 | Part 6

* * * * *

Beth Harper is a public services paralibrarian living in historic central Denver and working in the western foothills under the shadow of the Front Range, and an MLIS student at San Jose State University. As Elizabeth Biehl, she writes on SF/F literature and community, art and culture, and occasionally librarianship at www.edgeofcenter.com.


Categories: Library News

Office Hours: Telling Stories

Fri, 2017-10-20 16:00

My new column is up at Library Journal. It’s called “Telling Stories.” This piece marks the seventh year I have been writing “Office Hours.”

My summer reading pile included a preview of Annie Spence’s Dear Fahrenheit 451. Spence is a former student of mine who went on to be a public librarian. Her new work is a collection of personal “letters” to books of all kinds—i.e., Dear Color Me Beautiful or Dear The Hobbit. There is also a dash of “It’s You, Not Me” breakup style notes for soon-to-be weeded titles destined for the book sale. It is a funny, insightful, and personal approach to readers’ advisory and a clever meditation on why some books are deselected. Librarians could use the book and Spence’s approach for programming, sharing their own letters to books, and encouraging readers to pen their own.

Read the whole column here. 

Read some reviews of Dear Fahrenheit 451 here and here.

Categories: Library News

Thanks Ohio Library Council! Adopt or Adapt?

Fri, 2017-10-13 15:01

Thanks to all the great folks at the Ohio Library Council. I had a wonderful time in Dayton. My talk:

Adopt or Adapt: Approaches to Emerging Tech and Trends
Presenter: Michael Stephens, San Jose State University
There’s no doubt about it. Library Information Science has become a technology-driven field. Information technology is impacting every industry right now, and libraries are no different. Note the influx of job descriptions for emerging tech librarians, user experience specialists, and others who guide technology-focused projects and departments. But, emerging tech is just one part of the bigger picture. The best librarians will be creative, fearless, and curious about everything. Even if you’re not an early adopter of the latest technology trends, this session will explore how to be an early adaptor.

Download the slides here.

Selected Library Journal “Office Hours” columns cited:

Categories: Library News


Fri, 2017-10-13 14:36

LAWRENCEVILLE,? ?GA,? ?October? ?10,? ?2017? ?—? G?winnett County Public Library and the San José State
University School of Information will co-sponsor the Innovative Librarians Award to recognize library
science graduate students who put forward new ideas that improve libraries and library services.
Nominations will be judged by public librarians with years of frontline, managerial, and administrative

“When hiring professional librarians, we’re always looking for those who are willing to put forth their
innovative ideas and be agents of change,” says Michael Casey, GCPL Director of Customer
Experience. “What better way to discover new and innovative ideas while at the same time giving
students and recently graduated librarians an opportunity to make a name for themselves in the greater

“We are delighted to partner with Gwinnett County Public Library on this wonderful opportunity for MLIS
students and recent graduates to showcase their talents and get recognized for their ingenuity so early
in their careers,” says Dr. Sandra Hirsh, professor and director at the SJSU School of Information. “This
award celebrates new thinking and fresh perspectives that will positively impact our communities.”
The award is open to all students who are currently enrolled and pursuing a graduate degree in Library
Science, or who have graduated with an MLS or MLIS within the past two years.

Five finalists will be selected from all properly submitted applications. One entrant will be selected from
the five finalists to receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Applications will be accepted through 1/31/18. For more information, visit innovativelibrarians.com.

Categories: Library News