Growing Nerd Communities by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

This week my library held our annual Graphic Novel Symposium, which was a great program emphasizing diversity, creativity, and community . This event is essentially a mini con but is aimed at the curriculum. The conversations were thoughtful and engaging, and I thought that TTW readers may enjoy them. Here are the links:

Graphic Novels and Their Use as Tools of Tolerance and Diversity Eric Kallenborn, Ronell Whitaker, and Claire Overton
YouTube Link:

Generation Next: How to Keep Nerd Communities Growing
Carlye Frank, Dawn Xiana Moon, Michi Trota, and Ytasha Woman
YouTube Link:

From Pencils to Print: Small Press Comics and Publishing
David Gruba, Rene Castellano, Jacob Way, and Samantha Amborn
YouTube Link:

Building Comics: Constructing Visual Narratives
Adam Fotos
YouTube Link:


Troy Swanson

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.

Thanks Prince William County

2015-09-15_1442325765I spoke at the staff institute of Prince William County Public Library System in Virginia last Friday. Here’s a big shout out to the great group of folks. They are set to open TWO new libraries in the next few weeks – TWO!

The slides are here:

Thanks to all the staff that made the morning so great!

(We also got to visit Monticello – see image above!)

Job Postings: St. Joseph County Public Library

Some great opportunities have popped up at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana. If it wasn’t enough that Michael used to work there, these listings show great potential for some digitally minded, sense-of-humor carrying and industrious librarians. :-)

Check them out below…

Branch Manager, Western Branch (Full-time)

  • Education/Experience: ALA/MLIS degree
  • Pay Range: $1,595.20-$2,392.80, biweekly
  • Description: Under the direct supervision of the Coordinator of Branch Services, the Branch Manager will, amongst other things, manage employees and volunteers for Branch Services, hire, train, and enforce library policies, resolve difficulties, recommend changes to employment status, establish performance standards and evaluate employee performance. Branch Manager will also support the St. Joseph County Public Library mission by modeling internal and external customer service.

Assistant Branch Manager, Centre Township Branch (Full-time)

  • Education/Experience: ALA/MLIS degree
  • Pay range: $1,461.60 – $1,974.40, biweekly
  • Description: Working under the direct supervision of the Branch Manager, the Assistant to the Branch Manager will, among other duties, offer information and reference, circulation services and patron computer services. They will also recommend, maintain and weed an assigned portion of the collection, as well as plan and participate in programming, blogging, displays and tours. Assistant Branch Manager will also supervise Francis Branch employees and volunteers in the absence of the branch manager, train, schedule, and supervise shelvers and volunteers, schedule staffing, assign duties, review and check work and eliminate ordinary difficulties.

Digital Lab Assistant, Sights & Sounds/Digital Lab (Full-time)

  • Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree or specialized technology certification
  • Pay range: $1,216.00 – $1,643.20, biweekly
  • Description: Performs duties to provide computer and equipment assistance to Lab patrons per service guidelines. Lab Assistant will work under the direct supervision of the Manager of Sights & Sounds. Essential job duties include assisting patrons  and co-workers with use of the Lab’s equipment and software, as well as create and lead public Lab classes and tours. Other duties will include check-in, check-out, assessment, and inventory of circulating equipment, track and record usage statistics and provide service at Sights & Sounds service desk on an as needed basis.

For instructions on how to apply or to view a full list of job openings follow the link here.

Libraries and film: “Punk ass book jockeys,” information literacy, and beyond – A TTW Guest Post by Eamon Tewell

Librarianship has long been informed by ideas outside of the profession that are then brought into it. One of the intersections that has always interested me is libraries and film. Some areas of this overlap have been well documented, while others represent very new terrain. The portrayals of libraries and librarians in movies, and more broadly librarian stereotypes, as the recent title The Librarian Stereotype addresses, has been of continued interest to the profession–entire books and films have examined the topic. These representations have interesting things to tell us about how others conceive of librarians and what that means for our work (see, for example, Nicole Pagowsky and Erica Defrain’s excellent article on how librarian stereotypes and faculty perceptions impact our instructional roles). But apart from the questions of our professional identities as represented in popular culture, I have found a lot of ideas worth exploring on other aspects of film, TV, and media as applied to libraries.


Like a number of other librarians who provide information literacy instruction, I often incorporate media into the classes I teach. This can mean anything from to asking students to look at different news sources covering the same topic and critique the source’s biases, to using search examples that draw attention to problematic representations of women and people of color in pop culture. One of my best-received approaches to using media in the classroom was showing students three short clips from TV shows that related to libraries or information sources such as Wikipedia, and using these excerpts to start a discussion about how students use the library and other information sources. Some really interesting and enjoyable discussions were spurred by these 1-5 minute clips. I found that examples from movies or TV shows illustrating information literacy concepts can resonate much more with students than talking about these topics generally, and allow for a way for learners to express their own knowledge and understandings in relation to the library’s own sometimes confusing rules and expectations. This article has more details on my use of TV clips in library instruction.


The ways that libraries and librarians are represented on-screen provide alternately frustrating and funny insight into the ideas that others have about our profession. But when we think more deeply about these representations they express complicated positions that can bring up important questions about our collective identity. I have looked at the ways libraries are portrayed in two acclaimed comedy series, Parks and Recreation and Community, and how library anxiety is represented in them. The catch phrase from Parks and Recreation describing the fictional town’s librarians, “Punk ass book jockeys,” is part of the show’s tongue in cheek characterization of librarians, yet an undercurrent of distrust and unease with libraries is present within this satirical take. Film and libraries have a long history together, but relatively little research has been done in this area. Contemporary movies appear in the library literature more often, including an analysis of Party Girl, the classic 90s take on one young woman’s turn from the club scene to pursuing a library degree, and the information seeking habits manifested in The Big Lebowski. What many of these library/film studies combinations have in common is an interest in critically evaluating the media’s conceptions of libraries and using film analysis as a lens to examine larger issues of professional identity.


While these are just two areas of the intersection between libraries and film that I have considered, there is lots of great work being done in the realm of applying visual and popular media to aspects of librarianship. Joel Burkholder’s This Is Info Lit tumblr focuses on real world examples of information literacy, while Stephanie Alexander’s recent LOEX presentationdescribed how she used satirical news sources in her classes to teach aspects of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. These creative projects make apparent that there is no shortage of ideas to be explored within librarianship to meaningfully improve the work that we do, whether through theoretical approaches or everyday practices.


Eamon Tewell is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY. Eamon has published and presented on the topics of popular media and active learning in library instruction, televisual representations of libraries, and critical information literacy. He tweets at @eamontewell.






NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition

Note from Michael: I was honored to work on this project for a second year. The 2015 report offers a cohesive and thoughtful approach to the future. I hope you’ll check it out.

The New Media Consortium, in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zurich have recently released their New Horizons Report > 2015 Library Edition. A five-year horizon examination of key trends, significant challenges and important developments in technologies, their work examines the potential impact on academic and research libraries.

The report was written by the 2015 NMC Horizon Project Library Expert Panel. If you’d like to take a peak at the wiki that chronicled their work and produced the report follow the link here.


> Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition (pdf).


Upcoming Presentations Fall 2015

September 18, 2015, Staff Development Day, Prince William Public Library System, Virginia.

October 7 & 8, 2015: ” Learning Everywhere: The Transformative Power of Hyperlinked Libraries” & “Emerging Trends and Emerging Tech: Exploring the Hyperlinked Library,” Ohio Library Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio.

October 20, 2015: “Full Stacks, Introverts, & Zero-Sum Librarians: Notes from Office Hours,” Library 2.015 Conference, Online.

October 24, 2015: Keynote, Colorado Association of Libraries, Loveland, Colorado.

November 20, 2015: Keynote, Arizona Library Association Conference, Flagstaff, Arizona.

December 11, 2015: Staff Development Day Keynote,  Sarasota County Library System.

Teaching Students About Information: A Reading List by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

Since Heather Jagman and I co-edited our book Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Thing About Information, I have enjoyed several email exchanges with librarians around the country focusing on topics of the book. The larger theme of these conversations center on the larger concepts around information literacy beyond the mechanics of searching. It seems that our profession SwansonJagman300has long recognized that information literacy is more than using a library, and it is more than just searching Google. But, we are just now entering a time of broader discussion about the dispositions, modes of thinking, and levels of understanding that underlie information literacy.

During my conversations, several other books kept coming up as suggestions for further reading. I thought it might be fun to list out a few of these. I am sure that there are many titles out there, so feel free to add to this list in the comments below. I find these useful as starting points for many librarians (especially newer librarians) who may not have explored ideas of authority, credibility, epistemology, constructivism, and many related topics.  Most these are are written for popular audiences so they move faster and are enjoyable. (I have several as audio books.) There are scholarly treatises out there, but these books do the job.

True Enough: Learning to LIve in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracy — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer

Second-Hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority by Patrick Wilson

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now that the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room by David Weinberger

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson

The Information: A History, A Theory, a Flood by James Gleick


Troy Swanson

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.

Interview with Author José Ángel N. by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

For me, summer time is important prep time as we get ready for our fall programming. This year, our One Book, One College program is looking at the book Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant by José Ángel N. who is an alum. This book was suggested by several of our faculty .

To promote the programming for the academic year, a couple colleagues and I interviewed our One Book author. It was a fun and meaningful conversation. I thought it would be fun to share this with all of you Tame the Web readers. I love tinkering around with videos like this.

Interview with One Book Author José Ángel N.

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.

#IRDL2015 Twitter Chat Resources

I am honored to be participating in the  2015  Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) at Loyola Marymount University. My focus with the scholars explores personal learning networks and reflective practice. Tonight, I’ll be hosting a Twitter chat for the 22 scholars. This post will serve as a resource for that chat.

Our hashtag  for the institute is #IRDL2015 and our chat hashtag will be #irdl2015chat. We practiced on Tuesday with – very cool site for Twitter chats.

For tonight, the scholars are reading:

Horowitz & Martin:


The Questions:

Q1. MacMillan describes her “research experience” – what does the “whole pattern” of your experience look like?

Q2. What’s the role of theory in your research or are you drawn to applied research?

Q3. Horowitz and Martin describe important considerations for the researcher/practitioner and their relationship to LIS education and LIS professors. How might we improve/enhance these connections?

Q4. What realizations have you had about your own research practice?
Tips for the Chat:

  • Start by introducing yourself, share your location (in your room, in the library, at the cafe?)
  • Use the hashtag #irdl2015chat
  • Use @ replies to address individuals
  • Use answer numbers (A1, A2) to keep thoughts organized
  • Share images, links, video, etc


New Article: Participatory and Transformative Engagement in Libraries and Museums: Exploring and Expanding the Salzburg Curriculum

Honored to have an article in the new issue of the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (JELIS)  – special supplement on international issues in LIS education. This work is based on what we did in Salzburg in 2011, lead by R. David Lankes. :-)

Participatory and Transformative Engagement in Libraries and Museums: Exploring and Expanding the Salzburg Curriculum

R. David Lankes, Syracuse University

Michael Stephens, San Jose State University

Melissa Arjona, San Jose State University


During a program titled “Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture,” co-sponsored by the Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), one of the discussion groups developed recommendations for skills needed by librarians and museum professionals in today’s connected and participatory world. The group focused on the concepts, knowledge, and processes that both librarians and museum professionals need to understand and know, realizing that participatory culture has ramifications both for traditional functions and emerging skills. The initial framework was an overview. This paper expands on the work started in Salzburg and calls for further discussion. By opening the conversation to the library and museum worlds, it is proposed that the two systems of education and continuing education will experience positive and possibly unexpected synergistic benefits.

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens