Category Archives: Office Hours

Office Hours: Nurture or Nature?

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/09/opinion/michael-stephens/nurture-or-nature-office-hours/

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:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/07/opinion/michael-stephens/color-me-curious-office-hours/

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:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/06/opinion/michael-stephens/stacking-the-deck-office-hours/

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:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/05/opinion/michael-stephens/researcher-what-you-got-office-hours/

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.

Office Hours: What’s Your Pitch?

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/02/opinion/michael-stephens/whats-your-pitch-office-hours/

A short while ago, I was coming back from the New York Library Association conference, flying from Albany to Chicago, and I was seated next to a friendly young man who asked me what I did for a living.

This can sometimes be an awkward conversation. It can go any number of ways. “I’m a professor” is one answer. “I teach,” another. When I say “libraries,” sometimes my seatmate’s eyes glaze over, and I get the typical, “Aren’t libraries going away?” question or a joke about the Dewey Decimal System or some other very telling response that makes it easy to see exactly how that person feels about libraries.

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: Room to Grow

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/04/opinion/michael-stephens/room-to-grow-office-hours/

A few years ago at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, CA, I had dinner with librarians from three large universities. The conversation turned to something they had in common: they were all moving print book collections at their respective institutions off-site to make room for student spaces. Back then, this was a big deal, and these administrators met with opposition and angst from their constituents.

I still hear rumblings in the academy that these changes to what might be perceived as traditional libraries are sometimes met with dissent and discord. Library spaces morphing into “collaboratories” filled with creation tools and collections existing off-site or in the cloud can be disruptive forces, likened to chaos. Yet this trend isn’t reversing any time soon; recent research supports a much different landscape in 2015: academic library spaces are learner-centered and evolving just like our skillets, tools, and ­mind-sets.

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: The Livelong Day

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/10/opinion/michael-stephens/the-livelong-day-office-hours/

Serving as a member of the advisory board of the Project Information Literacy (PIL) Lifelong Learning study has impressed on me the importance of understanding and addressing the information needs of citizens throughout their lives, especially as they move into the “real world,” ­postuniversity.

The board recently discussed the findings and these results/outcomes should be of interest to all information professionals. We are all in the business of lifelong learning. One of the study’s overarching findings is, “Today’s young graduates prefer lifelong learning resources that have three information qualities: usefulness, connectivity, and currency.”

Click the link to read the whole piece.

Office Hours: It’s About Time

And my last column of 2014 – for got to post!

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/11/opinion/michael-stephens/its-about-time-office-hours/

Have you said this in a meeting or a discussion with a colleague? Has this rolled off the tongue when confronted with an unexpected change, a new technology, or another initiative?

Many of us are stretched to our limits. I applaud the folks I meet who have absorbed more and more duties as staffing patterns have changed. Just recently, at a meeting of the Council of State Library Agencies in the Northeast in Cape May, NJ, I dined with librarians who were wearing many hats in their evolving institutions and working hard to meet the needs of the agencies they serve.

However, I bristle when I hear the “no time” response, because sometimes I think it’s an excuse. It’s a catch-all phrase to sidestep learning something new, improving processes, or making a needed but oh-so-scary change. It leads me to ask a question in response: What do you actually make time for?

Click through to read the comments – some heated discussion ensued!

Office Hours: Actions and Answers

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/01/opinion/michael-stephens/actions-and-answers-office-hours/

The attitudes or reflective action, highlighted in an article by Grant and Zeichner (2001), includes open-­mindedness, responsibility, and wholeheartedness. All are important and resonate deeply with me and my philosophy of what librarianship should be about. Approaching something with a sense of wholeheartedness means we are all in all the time, not just when it’s convenient. It means bucking the status quo to do the right thing at the right moment. It means owning our actions as ­professionals.

I am most excited about this evolution of who we are and what we do on the ground and in the trenches. The most important problems and challenges will be solved by the folks meeting them head-on everyday via reflective action. Some of the projects and innovations we’ve seen recently add to a promising vision for the future.

Click the link to read the whole piece.