Category Archives: Office Hours

Office Hours: Always Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

New column!

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/10/opinion/michael-stephens/always-doesnt-live-here-anymore-office-hours/

That said, I must comment on some threads of conversation I had at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Las Vegas. In 2006, I wrote a post at Tame the Web (TTW) entitled “Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear in Libraries Again.” It got a lot of traction back then, during the heyday of LIS blogging, and I used a slide of the phrases for many years in presentations. One of the phrases was: We’ve always done it this way.

Back then I wrote, “I think it’s time to red flag any utterance of that phrase in our libraries and make sure it’s not just an excuse to avoid change. It may, however, be the best way to do something.” I urged readers to explore alternatives and new ways of working to make sure efficiencies couldn’t be improved. I cautioned: if librarians are hiding behind that phrase because they’ve had enough new things or just want to keep things the same, it might be time to move on. Is it anxiety that puts up these barriers?

Office Hours: In the Moment

Here’s my June column:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/06/opinion/michael-stephens/in-the-moment-office-hours/

More than once, someone in the audience has expressed concern that children and young people are always looking at their mobile device, texting, gaming, or whatever. Recently the comment was this: “I want to take away the iPad and send them outside. They are not in the moment.” My reply was a reminiscence of my mother taking away my Hardy Boys books and sending me out to play one summer day. I was furious! The seminar room vibrated with comments: “It’s the same thing.” “It’s not the same thing!”

Office Hours: Flipping the LIS Classroom

Oops – forgot to post this:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/07/opinion/michael-stephens/flipping-the-lis-classroom-office-hours/

I’m most excited about the requirement for student reflection blogging in this course. Discussion forums, landlocked inside the learning management system, are giving way to a WordPress-enabled blog community that all of our core students will work with for thoughts on the course content. I am a longtime advocate of the power of blogging as a means to foster critical reflection in a safe thinking-out-loud space and promote engagement with other students and faculty via commenting. The Sloan Consortium, devoted to effective online education, recently heralded a similar model: the University of Nevada Las Vegas Journalism School’s use of WordPress and BuddyPress for multiuser blogging was cited as an educational innovation.

Office Hours: Citation Fixation

Here’s last month’s column – all about getting too hung up on citation formatting:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/09/opinion/michael-stephens/citation-fixation-office-hours/

But wait—shouldn’t we be teaching soon-to-be librarians how to cite properly so they in turn can deliver the gospel to their young charges in the university? And grading them down for every missed period or italicized article title? I’d argue that instead of citation fixation we promote reflection and consideration of the ideas presented in our courses. To synthesize is a sometimes overused verb in higher education, but it works in this instance. Students encountering new ideas and voices of any discipline are better served by someone who can nudge them toward critical examination and combining ideas into cohesive structures that help them understand the world. From that understanding should come new ideas, not a perfectly cited reference.

Office Hours: Library As Classroom

My new May column is available at LJ:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/05/opinion/michael-stephens/library-as-classroom-office-hours/

I’d argue that our libraries of all kinds also serve as creative classrooms, supporting learners by employing the building blocks mentioned above. Just explore some of the notable examples of academic, public, and K-12 library spaces shared here in LJ over the past few months. You’ll find community learning spaces that help people achieve, game-focused initiatives that make the library a laboratory for exploration, creation zones with requisite digital and 3-D hardware for building things, and potentially endless opportunities to connect virtually with people worldwide.

#hyperlibMOOC in Office Hours – Offering MOOC again in Spring 2015

My new column is up at Library Journal, all about our research concerning The Hyperlinked Library MOOC. Also, I’m very happy to announce we’ll be teaching a revised and updated version of the #hyperlibMOOC in Spring 2015.

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/04/opinion/michael-stephens/lessons-from-hyperlibmooc-office-hours/

LIBRARIAN’S ROLES

Kyle and I wrote a paper for the proceedings of the 16th Distance Library Services Conference this month in Denver based on this post-MOOC survey question: “Reflecting on your MOOC experience, what roles do you think librarians might play within MOOCs?” The identified roles include:

  • Guide Rarely in the library, working on the go, from home or third place, or amid the MOOC community served, the librarian gives learners what they want and need, with an arsenal of technological tools.
  • Access Provider Building, curating, and sharing resources to help learners wherever they may be, without the confines and barriers we’re accustomed to. This librarian works with authors, scholars, and other content providers to make resources available as openly as possible. Contracts may include “MOOC clauses” for open access.
  • Creator Librarians create large-scale, small-scale, or “just right” formalized courses for their constituents across a wide spectrum of topics and varying degrees of focus.
  • Instructor New platforms and methods of offering learning can extend how librarians instruct those they serve. These new environments will encourage librarians to capture and curate more knowledge and package it for anywhere, anytime learning.

LESSONS LEARNED

As travel and conference budgets continue to shrink, I hope there will be more opportunities for open, sweeping, global learning such as ­#hyperlibMOOC. Going forward, an LIS professional might continue to use such platforms to keep current with emerging ideas and issues in librarianship as well as specific subjects of interest. The library advocacy MOOC taught by Wendy Newman at the faculty of information, University of Toronto, currently running, also focuses on a timely and important area of librarianship. I look forward to a rich set of communities offering lifelong learning for LIS professionals. As for #hyperlibMOOC, we’ll be updating and refining the model and offering it again in spring 2015. I hope you’ll join us.

Office Hours: A Genius Idea

shamingMy new column is up at Library Journal:

Let’s unpack this sweeping suggestion for improving libraries further. What of teaching ability? I advise my students to make sure they take courses in user instruction and technology, no matter where they want to work. Delivering instruction should be a part of every professional’s skill set: in a training room, across the desk, in the stacks, on the fly. Maybe it’s time to add creating a short training session or learning module to the interview process for all librarians, not just those in colleges or schools.

Borrowed from Apple, the Genius Bar concept applied to libraries is not new, but it’s a welcome addition to many library settings. David Weinberger, in “The Library as Platform” (ow.ly/­tBDAe), notes that the Genius Bar might be one of many channels for users to interact with librarians. Libraries such as DOK Delft and others have tried various permutations of walk-in tech ­assistance.

Don’t miss the comments, including this interesting  snippet from a reader named Dan:

“after reading the shaming post, i am conflicted which is more absurd: the original note or all the “followers” and their “likes.” technology has it’s place but you will have to pry the hard-copy, three-dimensional, fixed ink on paper, book from my cold dead, fingers.”

Insert witty reply here.

:-)

Also – a big shout out to Monica Harris and her creation culture course she’s teaching this semester at SJSU SLIS as I prep an introductory module on creation in libraries for our new core LIBR 200 course Information Communities.

“LIS curricula must keep up as well. At San José State University (SJSU), CA, School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), we’re offering a new class entitled “Production of Knowledge and Content in Libraries,” taught by Monica Harris, deputy director, Schaumburg Township District Library, IL. Her syllabus, focused on participation and creativity, runs from digital creation spaces to the Maker movement to a module called the Importance of Informal Learning. Another unit highlights Robotics and Electronics: Arduino, Sensors, and LEGO.”

I am impressed with the framework Monica used to explore knowledge creation in libraries. The students in the course will have some invaluable experience for this new landscape.

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/03/opinion/michael-stephens/a-genius-idea-office-hours/

http://librarian-shaming.tumblr.com/post/68672130972/i-want-to-replace-all-librarians-with-tech-people

#officehours: “Notes from a Small Island”

topofthelake

My new column is up at Library Journal and it’s all about the incredible community of LIS folks in new Zealand:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/12/opinion/michael-stephens/notes-from-some-small-islands-office-hours/

Something struck me about this conference, in addition to my interactions with the library folk I met as we traveled down the North Island, stopping in Wellington for a talk I gave at Victoria University and on to the South Island. At a combination #hyperlibMOOC and library folk tweet up held at Pomeroy’s Pub in Christchurch, I finally asked the assembled group, “Why does the LIS community here feel so cohesive and tight-knit? Is it the isolation?” Between the pub chat and the question I threw out to Kiwis in my Twitter network, the ideas flowed:

“Tight-knit for sure, but many local authorities in NZ are becoming smaller, and there are fewer employing authorities, so librarians are working in larger organizations and tend to meet one another more often,” said Brendon Moir, system analyst for the digital library web team at Christchurch City Libraries. “The local and national partnerships between libraries have become really important, and this will only increase.”

Here’s a shot of the epic conference dinner:

IMG_7696

More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsphotos/sets/72157638183133045/

Office Hours: Mobile at the Library


cellphone

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/11/opinion/michael-stephens/mobile-at-the-library-office-hours/

Sharing images of library signs—especially those related to mobile devices and their use within library buildings—was part of my early focus on how libraries interact with their users via signage. Aaron Schmidt, writing LJ’s User Experience column, has also explored these ideas, most recently in “Signs of Good Design.” Language usually attached to an image of a mobile phone with the red circle and line through it was of this variety: “Violators will be asked to leave,” “Conversations not allowed,” and one signed ominously by “the Library Director.” Other ­signage you may have seen passed around Buzzfeed and LIS blogs warn that food or drink near library computers would bring “the wrath of the library director.” When did the position of director become so scary? When did we become so mean?

I poked a bit of fun at these signs at the expense of the library that posted them and was called out more than once. But for every bad sign that went up, I believe many more came down, as librarians took to making kindness audits of signage and spaces. “Quiet conversation, please” and “Don’t forget to set your phone to vibrate” are much more user-positive admonitions.

Office Hours: Infinite Learning

lianza

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/10/opinion/michael-stephens/infinite-learning-office-hours/

Public libraries are the best platforms for success with community-focused online learning of all sizes. It’s easy to create successful MOOCs in an academic environment. It’s something else to make them successful in a nonacademic environment. Jeff Jarvis, on This Week in Google (9/11/13), discussed the idea of unbundling education from universities, unbundling lessons from courses, and looking at new ways to view/score outcomes. Public libraries, with limited resources of staff and time, could still create unbundled MOOCs—smaller, shorter lessons that, when combined, total a full course. Busy patrons plus busy librarians still can equal quality learning opportunities.

The above may seem daunting to some or far from the library’s mission. Many of the folks in our MOOC have been confronting their own ideas of what it means to be a learner in a new and sometimes unsettling landscape. I’m here to learn, one participant told me, “and figure out how I might play a role in MOOCs on my campus.”