Dr. Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. His research focuses on use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs. He currently writes the monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education. Stephens has spoken about emerging technologies, innovation, and libraries to national and international audiences. He is fascinated by library buildings and virtual spaces that center around users, participation, creating content, and encouraging the heart. Michael’s Tame the Web blog is here: http://tametheweb.com.
Michael’s Faculty Page at SJSU SLIS: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/stephensm/stephensm.php
Download Michael’s CV (2012) here: StephensCV2012
Michael’s Philosophy of Teaching:
Libraries and librarians are faced with a technological and societal wave of change that is ever increasing as we move farther into the 21st century. Preparing new graduates to deal with constant change, use current and emerging technology tools to further the mission of their institutions, and meet the needs of communities of library users while never losing sight of our foundational values and principles is of utmost importance to me as an LIS educator.
Originally from Mishawaka, Indiana, Michael received BA and MLIS degrees from Indiana University. He spent over fifteen years working in public libraries at the Saint Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana. While engaged in staff training, long-term planning, and management initiatives at SJCPL, Michael developed a passion for the practical application of technology in libraries and the connections technology affords.
He published The Library Internet Trainer’s Toolkit in 2001 in the United States and a in the UK in 2002. In 2003 he launched his weblog, Tame the Web. Tame the Web (TTW) deals with libraries, technology and people – and the fascinating intersection between all three. TTW focuses on these questions: How do we use technology to further the library’s mission? How do we use technology to learn? What are innovative libraries and librarians doing to explore this realm?
In 2004, Michael was awarded an IMLS fellowship to begin an interdisciplinary information science doctoral program at the University of North Texas, where he conducted research on social software and blogging, including his dissertation “Modeling the Role of Blogging in Librarianship.” Named a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2005, he also served as a 2005 Scholar in Residence at Chicago Public Library and as an adjunct instructor at IUPUI and Dominican University.
Michael joined Dominican University’s full-time faculty in 2006 and completed his Ph.D. in 2007 while continuing to blog and publish. During his time at DU, he produced two ALA Library Technology Reports on Web 2.0 and also created a graduate seminar on Library 2.0 theory and practice. He left Dominican in 2011 to join the faculty at SJSU SLIS.
Michael’s professional writing has appeared in Public Libraries, Library Journal, American Libraries, Computers in Libraries, Library Media Connection, OCLC’s NextSpace, Serials Review, Internet Reference Services Quarterly, and ALA’s TechSource blog. He serves on the editorial board of both Reference and Users Services Quarterly and Internet Reference Services Quarterly.
For over two years, he wrote a monthly Library Journal column with Michael Casey: The Transparent Library, exploring how trends and technologies can enhance libraries and make them participatory and open to change: “By structuring the transparent library for constant and purposeful change we reduce the negative impact that change has on both the staff and user. Incorporating change into the organization through creative teams and open lines of communication allows the transparent library to add new tools, respond to changing community needs, and move ahead with new initiatives without shaking up the foundation.”
He co-authored a column in Digitale Bibliotheek, a Dutch professional journal for librarians and information specialists, with Jan Klerk called “Open Conversation” in 2009. Those columns are now available here at Tame the Web.
Michael has spoken about technology, innovation, and libraries to audiences in over 25 states and in four countries, including a 2008 speaking tour of Australia. In addition to facilitating workshops, panel presentations and program sessions, he has keynoted conferences such as the Illinois Library Association, the Hawaii Library Association, the Iowa Library Association, Nevada Library Association, Polaris User Group, MOBIUS Conference, Ohio Tech Connections 8, Queensland Public Library Association Conference and the Australian School Library Association annual conference.. He’s presented plenary sessions at the British Columbia Library Conference, Charleston Conference, Reaching Forward Conference, the Michigan Library Association Conference and Michigan Association for Media in Education Conference. With Jenny Levine, he’s keynoted Rural Libraries 2.0 in Michigan and endnoted Internet Librarian International 2006.
He was named the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar, examining the effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian libraries. Spending five weeks researching and working with libraries all around Australia, the research was first presented at the 2010 VALA conference and will be published in various journal articles.
In the spring of 2010, he presented “Creative Collaboration and Immersive Engagement: The Hyperlinked Campus,” at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting, in Austin, Texas in January. In March, he presented preliminary results from his Australian research project - “Measuring the Value & Effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Public Libraries” – at the Public Library Association annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. Sponsored by a grant from the US Embassy Berlin and the US Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Michael presented various topics on social media to Swiss and German librarians/staff, social media professionals and embassy employees, and gave an invited presentation - “The Hyperlinked Community Library – Trends, Tools & Transparency” – at the 4th Leipziger Kongress für Information und Bibliothek, in Leipzig, Germany. He gave the closing plenary talk – “Driving Change, Creating Experience & Moving Forward” – at the U Game U Learn Conference in Delft, Holland in April. He also delivered the Dean’s and Director’s Lecture at the School of Library & Information Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. Local presentations included talks at the North Suburban library System and Reaching Forward 2010.
In the fall of 2010, he presented closing keynote addresses at both the Michigan Association of Media Educators conference and the Michigan Library Association conference. He also presented “The Hyperlinked Library” for the New York Library Association.
In 2011, Stephens co-authored an article “The Impact and effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian academic libraries” for the New Review of Academic Librarianship. He authored the chapter “What’s Next?: Tracking Tech Trends” for Reference Reborn: Breathing New Life into Public Services Librarianship, and also co-authored the chapter “Friended, Tweeted, Posted: Social Sharing for Project and Knowledge Management,” in Managing Knowledge in Projects with UW Madison LIS doctoral student Kyle M. Jones. He traveled to Istanbul, Turkey for presentations at Library week, keynoted the Library Innovation Conference for the Western New York Library Resources Council, presented the President’s Program at the New Jersey Library Association meeting, keynoted the Association des bibliothécaires du Québec Library Association meeting inMontreal,Québec, and gave the talk “Heretical Thoughts about LIS Education” at the The Future of the Academic Library Symposium, Hamilton,Ontario.
An active participant in discussions about the evolving library and Library 2.0, Michael recently shared part of his philosophy with Degree Tutor: “I believe libraries need to encourage the heart and in the physical realm this is very important. What do your spaces say to users? What signage do you use? What rules do you impose? All of these things tell the story of your library and how the library views its customers. I agree with the folks that say create zones in the library for different user groups and make it ok to have fun at the library – gaming, DDR, etc – as well as make it comfortable and useful for others. We can learn from the “retail expectations” of our users and potential users. I was amazed to see a high end grocery store chain in Minneapolis offer a meeting room for groups. The Book Club could be meeting at the store - not
at the library in the near future! One goal for the L2 library might be to restablish the idea of the commons – that shared space that can be many things to many people and everyone feels ownership. I’m sorry, but a sign stating the rules of the building on the front door is not encouraging. Find ways to make policies and guidlelines friendly…and welcoming.”
When not traveling or teaching, Michael resides in Traverse City, Michigan.
Contact Michael at mstephens7 (at) mac.com
Interviews and Podcasts:
- Finding Education Interview: http://blog.findingeducation.com/assignment/educators-that-rock-michael-stephens/
- “Web sites can bring libraries into the future” with Sarah Ann Long
- “Future of Librarians” with DegreeTutor
- “A SirsiDynix Institute Conversation: The 2.0 Meme – Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 2.0″ with SirsiDynix
- “BiblioTech: Episode 4 - Michael Stephens of Dominican University” with the Kankakee Public Library
- “Conversation with Michael Stephens” with the Allen County Public Library
- “Michael Stephens and DOK Delft” with Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap van de Geer of DOK Delft Public Library
Photos for promotional use:
(Photo by Jenny Levine)
(Photo by Cindi Trainor)
(Photo by Cindi Trainor)
Top Photo by Cindi Trainor @
A Blogging Journey – December 2007
(I spoke on a panel at the Massachusetts Library Association meeting in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in May 2007. We were asked to discuss our blogging history and reflect on the practice and our participation. This was a useful experience to prepare for a statement I included in my dissertation.)
After learning about blogs and blogging in 2002, I was inspired to begin blogging in April 2003. TTW officially began April 1, 2003, with a post about a recent presentation I gave at Computers in Libraries 2003.I learned as I went along, creating posts, adding links, and sharing my thoughts. Once in awhile, I would get a link from another blogger, pointing traffic my way. It was a thrilling time.
In 2004, I attended the Public Library Association meeting in Seattle and was surprised at the lack of any mention of blogging in the technology sessions. I also applied to an IMLS-funded distance independent doctoral program at the University of North Texas, discussing in my application essay my blog and research interests centered on blogging. Once accepted, I created a new category to blog my experiences in the PhD program. At this time I was also presenting workshops in Indiana libraries about blogging.
I realized Tame the Web was a useful tool, first and foremost as a way to keep track of the links and bits of knowledge I encountered reading LIS blogs. Using categories to organize posts as well as the built-in archive feature made sense for me. 2005 was the year of the Michael Gorman editorial discussedin Chapter 1 of my dissertation and marked my second year in the UNT program. I taught blog workshops at Purdue University Libraries, at the Internet Librarian International conference in London, and at various other conferences that year. Tame the Web continued to generate traffic and response from other blogging librarians as well as multiple comments from readers. I started teaching as an adjunct at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and introduced my students to blogging in LIS753, Internet Fundamentals and Design.
In 2006, I applied for a full-time tenure track position at Dominican GSLIS. My presentation for the interview was an overview of library blogging and what it means for the profession. I was offered the position and started teaching full-time in August 2006. That summer I taught blogging workshops in New Jersey, in Connecticut (with Jenny Levine), and via Web conference to a library meeting in New Zealand. I also participated in the opening session of the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County’s Learning 2.0 program, keynoting a session on social tools with Michael Casey, author of the Library Crunch blog.
I continued blogging and working on this study in 2007. After my proposal defense in April, I put my own blog writing on hiatus until after my dissertation writing was complete. A series of guest authors provided content for me. It was interesting to note that the day I wrote the post I felt sadness, as though I was losing touch with something important. It amazed me how ingrained in my life the act of blogging had become.
It amazes me, now in December 2007, how far blogging has taken me – the folks I’ve met, the place I’ve been. Wow! Thanks for reading!