All posts by Michael Stephens

Consider Funding: Rod Library Quest for the Microsoft Surface Hub

Rod Library wants to empower and inspire the University of Northern Iowa community to discover, imagine, create and innovate. For several years the library has continued to make positive strides toward enhancing the user experience. Help the library continue on this quest by purchasing a Microsoft Surface Hub. The Surface Hub is a unique tool that has the ability to collaborate, create and share all in one. This tool will give students and faculty a hands-on, real world experience in the classroom and will help create skills for their future. Please help Northern Iowa Jones and the Rod Library provide cutting-edge technology that enables campus development and growth with your generous donations.

Research Update

I am presenting a short update on my research agenda this afternoon for the Center for Information Research and Innovation at our school. I will share this URL with the participants.

Recent Peer Reviewed Articles (selected)

Stephens, M., & Jones, K. M. L. (2015). Emerging roles: Key insights from librarians in a massive open online course. Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 9(1-2), 133–147. doi: 10.1080/1533290X.2014.946353

Stephens, M. & Jones, K. M. L. (2014). “MOOCs as LIS professional development platforms: Evaluating and refining SJSU’s first not-for-credit MOOC.” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55,(4).mspytrack

Stephens, M. (2014) “23 Mobile Things: self-directed and effective professional learning”, Library Management, Vol. 35 Iss: 8/9, pp.582 – 593. doi:0.1108/LM-02-2014-0034

Stephens, M., Wedaman, D., Freeman, E., Hicks, A., Matthews-DeNatale, G., Wahl, D., & Spiro, L. (2014). “Academic 15: Evaluating library and IT staff responses to disruption and change in higher education.” First Monday, 19,(5). Retrieved from doi:

Stephens, M. (2013). MOOCs for LIS Professional Development: Exploring New Transformative Learning Environments and Roles. Internet Learning, 2,(2).

Stephens, M. (2013). “Exemplary Practice for Learning 2.0: Based on a Cumulative Analysis of the Value and Effect of ‘ 23 Things’ Programs in Libraries,” Reference and User Services Quarterly, 53,(2).

Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). Benefits and results of Learning 2.0: a case study of CityLibrariesLearning – discover*play*connect. Australian Library Journal, 61(1), 6-15.

Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). The Impact and effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Australian public libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 7(1).

Stephens, M., & Cheetham, W. (2011). The impact and effect of learning 2.0 programs in Australian academic libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 17(1), 31-63.

Office Hours Columns (selected)

A Genius Idea:

In the Moment:

Library as Classroom:

Holding Us Back:

Infinite Learning:

Learning to Learn:

Mobile at the Library:

Reflective Practice:

Heading to Colorado! See You There

I leave tomorrow trip to the Colorado Association of Libraries Annual Conference where I will be doing a keynote address. I am super excited to attend the conference as well instead of swooping in just to talk. If you are attending, please say hi. See you in Loveland!

Here’s the abstract for my talk:

Emerging technologies are changing the way we live and learn. Libraries can play a key role in this future. Information is no longer bound to a form or a place. The library and resource center that builds value and thrives will be fluid enough to anticipate and quickly respond to new technologies and user expectations. The hyperlinked library is welcoming, participatory, and incorporates user input. 

The hyperlinked library is human, and its communications, externally and internally, are in a human voice. It is a playful model emphasizing collections and spaces that evolve via user and staff participation in a transformational anytime, anywhere service dynamic. Imagine the evolving hyperlinked library as a creation space, community space, anything space. Imagine this library available everywhere via mobile devices and tablets. Imagine opportunities for user learning supported and facilitated by librarians. How will library services change with large scale, global learning and mobile classrooms in the palm of one’s hand? What skills will staff require? What does the library as creative classroom look like? What does this future look like going forward as we encourage learning everywhere as a means for transformative change for ourselves and our users. This session will explore new ideas and thinking about learning at the library.

Thanks Library 2.015 Conference – Slides and Links Here

Thanks to all who attended my talk at the Library 2.015 Conference.

Full Stacks, Introverts, & Zero-Sum Librarians: Notes from Office Hours

How do we successfully lead our information organizations when so much change happens so fast? What are the hallmarks of savvy librarians? What’s a “full stack employee?” Can introverts and extroverts find common ground on library teams? Join Michael Stephens for an examination and interactive discussion of the challenges and promise of a changing LIS workforce based on his monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal.

Download the slides here:


Office Hours Columns:

Stacking the Deck:

Power of Quiet:

Color Me Curious:


Full Stacks:


Innovation Catalyst:

Future of Libraries:

Job Description: Innovation Catalyst Librarian

The job posting has been taken down but this listing has promoted much discussion in my classes, and I’ll be mentioning it in talks. Saving it here for posterity.

Innovation Catalyst Librarian (Librarian 1)

Trenton Free Public Library, Trenton NJ

Salary: $50,765 starting
Status: Full-time and benefitted, 35 hours per week including evenings and weekends.
Application Review will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

The Trenton Free Public Library is in search of a passionate, creative, type-A professional who will be instrumental in helping lead our organization into significant and meaningful Change!!  Our Library is poised to leap into the future and we are looking for someone to assist.  We are not interested in snail paced incremental change- but rather overhauling everything from policy to staff training, from technology to programming and more immediately.

This position is a rare opportunity to shape a dream job!   We are NOT looking for someone to simply run our Facebook page and Tweet; but rather an individual who is focused on the future.  We want to create an environment where you won’t just advise us on the next ‘big thing’— with only your own vision as the limit- you can CREATE the next big thing!

The successful candidate will, with a great deal of autonomy, work directly for the Library Director. They will engage in all aspect of professional Librarianship.  They will work in all areas of the Library so as to be versed in where and what improvements and change are needed.  They will assist other Librarians in pulling together various divergent areas of the Library’s services to create cohesion and thus improve our performance.  They will take the lead on grant applications to assist in the funding of  innovative services and opportunities.

The Librarian must have strong leadership skills, passion, and a clear vision and ability to implement 21st Century Librarianship and Library Services in all aspects of Library Service. In addition, a thorough knowledge of:

  • the principles, practices and techniques of modern library operation;
  • current trends in the delivery of library services;
  • library and social media technology;
  • grant application;
  • integration of technological solutions for everyday challenges;
  • reference and research techniques;

the ability:

  • to maintain accurate records and statistics and complete reports;
  • exercise initiative and independent judgment;
  • establish and maintain effective working relationships with customers and all library staff;
  • communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.

Education and Experience
The successful candidate must have a Master’s degree in library science from an ALA accredited library school and public library experience. Demonstrated knowledge of technology and social media is expected.

Office Hours: Nurture or Nature?

My new column is up at Library Journal:

There is much to be said for encouraging staff at your library to pursue the professional library degree. These folks know the ropes, the culture, and the community. Prompting staff to go to library school is an opportunity for the library profession to address its own need for diversity. It’s a chance to identify members of underrepresented groups and urge them to think about librarianship as a career. It’s also part of our own values: the American Library Association (ALA) Code of Ethics explicitly makes mentoring future librarians part of our job description: “…we foster the aspirations of potential members of the profession.”

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: Color Me Curious

My new column is up at Library Journal:

No amount of training or professional development can move us forward if an individual is uninterested in learning or growing. I’d argue for two vital traits that will serve librarians well throughout their careers. Longtime ­librarians, midcareer folks, new hires, and students, I’m talking to you! The traits are simple yet pack a powerful punch: curiosity and creativity.

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: Stacking the Deck

My new column is up at Library Journal:

Have you read about the “Full-Stack Employee?” In a think piece published in Medium, author Chris Messina—the creator of the hashtag, no less—offers this definition: “the full-stack employee has a powerful combination of skills that make them incredibly valuable. They are adept at navigating the rapidly evolving and shifting technological landscape. They make intuitive decisions amidst information-abundance, where sparse facts mingle loosely with data-drenched opinions.” It’s a tech-heavy take, but bear with me, as Messina broadens the definition: “Full-stack employees have an insatiable appetite for new ideas, best practices, and ways to be more productive and happy. They’re curious about the world, what makes it work, and how to make their mark on it.”

Maybe you’ve interviewed these types or hired them. Maybe you’ve watched a longtime employee evolve into a full- stack powerhouse. If you haven’t encountered them, I’d argue you soon will, especially as new grads in tech-oriented library and information programs come looking for positions. As buzz-wordy as this pancake-invoking moniker seems to be, I believe the description merits some consideration as we examine our evolving workforce.

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: Researcher: What You Got?

My new column is up at Library Journal:

A recent opinion piece from Singapore’s Straits Times recently made the rounds on Facebook. “Prof, no one is reading you” by Asit K. Biswas and Julian Kirchherr explores the idea that most scholarly output disappears into our databases, CVs, and tenure dossiers, without much readership. “An average academic journal article is read in its entirety by about 10 people,” the op ed piece says, calling for professors to seek exposure of their work in mainstream media. Research, the authors argue, used to sway policy and inform practice across multiple disciplines. Now, not so much.

Click the link to read the whole piece.