August 31, 2004

Here Here

Read. This. Now.

It should be the goal of staff technology trainer to get all library workers well versed in the basics of library projects. Patrons should not be met with blank stares if they ask a shelver about a library’s screen name or new self checkout terminal. It is likely unrealistic to be able to meet with every single library employee, but it shouldn’t be unrealistic to get all employees to check a staff blog. walking paper

Posted by Michael at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

TC Librarians have RSS & More Training

Jeff up in TC reports that not only is wifi doing well at TADL, but "tomorrow's reference staff meeting, my co-worker and i are doing a 15 minute intro on, rss+aggregation, cool librarians that blog, and wikis. crazy sampler of "let us know if you'd like us to do sessions on any of this stuff..." AND they will be using wifi to do it!!! (yet another chance to educate!)

EVERY public library staff should be so lucky!

Attention Tech trainers: have you taught all of your librarians about blogs, RSS and the cool stuff going on with collabortation? If not... ponder doing it soon!

Posted by Michael at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2004

2 PEAS in a POD


Goodness! What fun and we were working too. I jumped in the Blazer early this am and hightailed it to Western Springs, Il to meet Aaron to work on our blog article and our talk for Internet Librarian 2004.

We are speaking as part of a two part session on Instant Messaging and its use in library settings. I'm tickled to be doing this!

We started at Panera in LaGrange, dined at Chipotle and finished up at Aaron's library, Thomas Ford Memorial. As we totally geeked out with our two 17" PowerBooks -- co-editing a document with Apple's Rendezvous & SubEthaEdit, building PPT Slides and bluetoothing Apple mailboxes and other files -- he said: "We are two peas in a pod with these Macs..."

Yes indeed!

(I also got to hug Mao and see his sweet wife Kate!)

Posted by Michael at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2004

TC Library goes WiFi

Rock On Jeff and all the folks at the Traverse Area District Library. I'll be up there alot to use your connection!

Posted by Michael at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2004

An Open Letter to ALA

Dear ALA:

The time has come. I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of complaining to the dear PLA employee on the trolley on I-Drive in Orlando. (while sweating profusely from the heat) This was my tipping point:

My friend CJ over at technobiblio just wrote this in his blog about not finding the PLA Program submission info very easily: "This is a perfect example of why PLA (and all other ALA's divisions - doesn't anyone want to be first?) need a blog..."

We're talking communication..spreading the word. Please take a look at how blog software can disseminate information quickly and easily at the following libraries:

The SJCPL Lifeline: My own library's blog, complete with RSS. People read it...this is how they get their library news. I've heard from them!

Thomas Ford Memorial Library: A site made of blogs!

AND Northwestern Library too!

I could never forget LISNews -- where I get my pertinent daily fix of library and info science news...not at the ALA site..not at the PLA site... but at a grassroots, homegrown blog created by a bunch of dedicated library folk.

Finally, look at all of the blog sites collected at and tell me what you think... Fad? Flash in the Cyber Pan? I don't think so.

Tell me, ALA, will you ever join the blogging masses of library folk?


Posted by Michael at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

WiFi Police State

Ugh... I'm speechless... This summer, I spent a few minuted parked outside of a place in TC that had wifi vbecause I desperately had to check UNT class stuff. I might have been accosted as well if a TC police officer had found me there...

And this:

What the heck? I hope this makes the big news media... it highlights something we need to think about in this world of access and laptops everywhere...


Posted by Michael at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

I Want My Technology Amenities

On the plane yesterday, I caught a little snippet of video about businesses -- hotels, I assume -- that offer technology amenities. I had never heard this term before and I like it.

What are your favorite Technology Amenities in your hotel room?

Free WiFi
A million cable/satellite channels (VH1 please)
Weather band on the radio
Ethernet if wifi is unavailable!
an electronic safe to hold my laptop and ipod

In Libraries?

FREE WIFI for all devices
Ethernet Ports
Digital development workstations (CDR, DVD-R, video, etc)
Weather and News on Monitors in the AV area
Unwired librarians!
A well-trained savvy staff!

Send me more and I'll post em!

Posted by Michael at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Roy Tenant's Thoughts Via Library Web Chic and the Librarian in Black

Read this now:

This too:

Great posts and I agree wholeheartedly!!!

Posted by Michael at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2004

The Cohort 2nd Semester (Fall 2004)


Photo by Mike Pullin

Posted by Michael at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

At UNT for a new semester

Hello from Texas!!

We are back! The cohort lost a member and gained a member over the summer. A picture will follow as soon as I can get one.

This weekend is devoted to a class called "Seminar in Communication and Use of Information" taught by Dr. Linda Schamber. It is incredibly interesting, will be challenging but will give us a big push toward the final outcome of this process.

More in a bit...

Posted by Michael at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

Traverse City Reads

I love stuff like this! My cyber-friend, Orkut Buddy and librarian Pal Jeff up in TC shared this with me...

Take a look. Ponder starting your own "if everyone in town read the same book" thing!

Posted by Michael at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

Copyright and Libraries

Tale a look at this... good stuff. Who is in charge of copyright issues at your library?

Interesting to read the post this am after taking a look at Kalamazoo PL's super cool Web site with a copyright link right on the front end!

Posted by Michael at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

More Chances for a UNT PhD -- A great deal!

Hey school media folks... take a look:

Posted by Michael at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)

Loads of IM info... Thanks Technobiblio!

"Frequent IM users, on the other hand, tended to use IM more as a tool for collaboration, with discussions covering a broad range of topics via many fast-paced interactions—each with many short turns in the conversation, much threading, and a predisposition towards multitasking. "

Oh yeah! Aaron and I have planned a number of things...and Steven and I have set up some collaborative stuff as well.

CJ never ceases to amaze me with the quality of his posts. Take a look at this about IM and the great articles he links to.

Posted by Michael at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2004

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

In June, I attended the first weekend Institute for the UNT IMLS distance independent PhD program. We spent the weekend getting to know each other, the faculty and generally freaking because of how new this academic experience was to all of us. After that weekend, we were responsible for completing 3 courses for a total of 9 credit hours online.

The ladies in the cohort are neat folks. I enjoyed every minute we spent together. We are diverse but I recognize the passion for library stuff in all of us.

Statistics was a rollercoaster of “I can’t do this.” To “Wow. This makes sense.” I must recommend the book to all of you: Vaughn’s Statistics for the Information Professional should be in every librarian’s personal collection if you deal with any type of number crunching.

We used a program called R to run statistical reports on the survey I wrote about here and then we were to write assignments of data analyses for 6 different types of information. Scatterplots…Chi Square…and Histograms oh my! We were set to have a series of online quizzes over the book but our professor waived them because of our great work on the assignments!

Another class was devoted to an introduction to the discipline of Information Science. We read some cool stuff and responded to each other’s thoughts via an online posting system. I really got into it and the members of the cohort blow me away with their intelligence.

The third class was to start reading and thinking about our research interests. Online communication –such as blogs – and the building of 21st century libraries fascinate me. I have made some good contacts as well out in the field…folks that have advised me and pointed me in some useful directions.

Eight weeks flew by while I did these classes… Most of it was spent up north where I found I got a ton of work done uninterrupted – except for the boys who kept me distracted and made me remember to get out and walk them.

We return to Denton a week from today to start our next semester: 7 hours. I am reading our next text for class Information Tasks by Bryce Allen. It seems pretty cool: usability, users needs, etc etc.

Posted by Michael at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2004

Technology Training Questions for Public Librarians

Goodness! I love emails like this one:

Hi--I'm the Technology Training and Website Supervisor at ______ Public Library. This is a new position for the library and for me, and I'm looking for contacts and gathering info. My questions include (but are not limited to--)

So I asked the person who wrote me if I could answer via my blog because maybe some other folks might find this stuff helpful. Here goes:

1. How many machines in your computer lab? How do you staff it? What software is available?

We have a lab of 15 computers that is only open to the public for classes. We do not open it for public hours. The public uses the 40+ Macs and PCs scattered around our building.

When classes are given, there are always two staff present to oversee the room and teach.

We also have two portable labs consisting of 8 wifi compatible Macs or ten wifi compatible PCs that can travel anywhere in our library system.

We have a standard software list on each: browsers, Microsoft suite, Filemaker, IM software, etc. The training room is filled with Macs -- so all the hot Mac OS X software is on them.

2. What classes do you offer the public, and who teaches them? Anything that's wildly popular?

Currently we offer a super-popular “Senior Seminar” over five weeks for seniors who want to learn all about computer basics and Web stuff. We have searching classes, some special topics like “Online Auctions” and “Digital Camera” that I teach and that usually bring out a lot of folks. We just started Basic Computers and Internet in Spanish and a Word processing class.

When the fall class schedule goes up it will be here.

3. Are you responsible for training the staff on new software releases, circ system, phone system, etc., or do you mainly coordinate outside trainers?

We are pretty darn lucky here at SJCPL, our administration recognized the need for in house technology training back in 1997 and my department, Networked Resources Development and Training, has been doing all of the technology training since then, including all of the things you mention. Robert Lewandowski came to us from Purdue Unversity with a Masters in Instructional Technology. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have someone with his background working at SJCPL.

We also have a part time circulation function trainer, Adam Tarwacki (his band is here), who works with NRDT 20 hours and on the circ desk for another 20 each week. Having someone training circ staff who works in circ as well is a good thing!

4. How many people are directly responsible for your website (which is outstanding, by the way)?

Thanks! Our excellent graphics/web page developer Dale Kerkman takes all the stuff we throw at him and makes into what you see at I oversee the scope and mission of the Web site and we pull content in from all over the system. Our Marketing manager writes content for the Web and edits it with me.

5. Are there any conferences related to public library technology that you'd recommend?

What a cool question! Do your best to get to Computers in Libraries or Internet Librarian each year. (If you can swing more: LITA, PLA and ALA annual.) These conferences are perfect for the library tech person. And if you go, be prepared to bring back ideas and new stuff and work hard to turn your librarians and administrators on to the stuff. Too many times, folks traipse off to a library conference and take tons of notes (hopefully into their laptops or devices) that never see the light of day when they get back to work. I would hope libraries that spend money on folks to go to stuff make sure they are getting a good ROI on those trips.

And finally, I’ll do a shameless plug for Internet Librarian 2004 – I’ll be co-hosting a community of Interest session Sunday November 14th for technology trainers with my SJCPL colleague and trainer Bob Lewandowski, Librarian, Blogger and Trainer Aaron Schmidt and Trainer/Blogger Michael Porter. We will be discussing questions just like these with whoever attends this informal gathering.

Posted by Michael at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2004

Technology Planning Article


I'm working on a second dratft of an article on technology planning... I need YOUR HELP! Have you been successful with the art of the tech plan? Have you crashed and burned and don't mind telling me about it?

E-mail me and let's talk!

mstephens7 (at)

Posted by Michael at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

The Wisdom of Crowds and the INFORMATION CASCADE

On the way back from Michigan last week I listened to the New Yorker's James Surowiecki's book The Wisdom of Crowds which Steven mentioned a few weeks ago. It was incredibly interesting and the four hour drive flew by.

Surowiecki gathers research from various disciplines concerning the idea that the wisdom of many is usually spot on -- better in fact than the wisdom of say one or two geniuses.

Take a look at this for more:

An example: folks try plank roads in the 1800s... they seem ok and EVERYONE starts praising plank roads. "Plank roads will change the way of the world!" Some are built... etc and then it turns out they are hard to take care of, fall apart, don't last, etc. That's an information cascade.

Try this on for size: library folks try (insert new tech here -- eBooks, RFID, Virtual reference) and things seem ok and EVERYONE starts praising said tech. You know the rest. Some new technologies roll out ok, others go bust...

That's an information cascade.

As you make decisions for your library... as you attend conferences are hear the speakers praise biobliographic information inbedded on micro-organic chipsets surgically implanted in the brains of our patrons, stop for a second and ask yourself: is this an informatiuon cascade? Is this the future? What might the ROI be on this new tech...

Posted by Michael at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004

Statewide Access to Databases

I got to thinking today as I go through my piles of mail about all the renewals for products I handle...which made me think how cool it is that Indiana has INSPIRE -- the statewide intiative through the state library to give all citizens access to databases. I know Michigan does it as well... Tell me this then folks that read my blog... does every state have such a cool thing? What's its address?

Email me! mstephens7(at)!

Posted by Michael at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

Back to work!

I'm back after over 10 weeks of leave! In that time I started school at UNT, visited Orlando for ALA and spent 5+ weeks in Traverse City!

Now I'm going through the piles of mail, returning messages and getting back into the groove. For the next two years I will be a part time manager, still heading up the Networked Resources Development and Training department at SJCPL. The other time will be devoted to school, speaking and writing.

I'll post again soon!

Posted by Michael at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2004

Comments No More

Ugh. TTW has been inundated with spam comments for gambling, drugs, sexual sites, blah blah blah. Aaron helped me disable comments yesterday before the lights went out at Tommy Ford. Until further notice...sorry, no comments. Please email me with thoughts and questions and I'll post em!

Posted by Michael at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2004

Marcia Bates on Information Science

We were assigned a wonderful article for SLIS 6000 by Marcia Bates called "Mining the Substrate of Information Science," in which she discusses the underlying functions of the discipline. here are my thoughts, as posted to our class board:

“Currently,” Bates writes, “the wheel is being reinvented everyday on the information superhighway” because of digital information and the leaps and bounds of IT. Bates states that IS folks have been bypassed and we have all the expertise. When you want something done right pertaining to information, get a librarian to do it! I appreciated that sentiment.

When Bates mentions we need to make ourselves know or “be washed away in the flood” I was reminded that many of the biggest innovations in the Web world were done NOT by LIS folk but by the Amazon people or the Google guys. Where have all the librarians been? Sadly, I think many have been trying to catch up. The wave/flood is a swift current!

Representing information..creating databases and catalogs. Librarians figuring out how to represent a patron’s question. These passages were wonderful!

I also agree that we do not need to be subject specialists but specialists in the information world. To a further degree I would make this claim for librarians and “techiness.” Every librarian does not have to be a total IT whiz, but a strong foundation of tech-literacy is a good thing to stand on.

Recorded information. The universe of recorded information. How people use it. If we design ANYTHING in a library setting from web pages to instructional classes on how to use the web, we are looking at how our users seek, retrieve and use information. We also try to stay aware of new methods of transfer and retrieval. IM is one that many folks are starting to discuss in LIS settings. RSS (“Rich Site summary”) is another. No matter what vehicle, bates states that “we always follow the information.”

Finally – it was refreshing to read Bates’ passage about humor in the IS world. I would not survive in a stuffy room of hunched, sneering scientists!! (I also heard that Llewellyn C. Puppybreath III gave an exciting speech at ALA in Orlando but I missed it!)

Posted by Michael at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

Attn Indiana Libraries - September Project

CJ let me know about The September Project and he asked me about Indiana Libraries participating. I believe they do not have a representative library yet from Indiana...

Check out the Weeb site for more info!

Posted by Michael at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2004

SJCPL Staffer Publishes!

Well done Franklin!!! Our SJCPL staffer from Local History has published Southern St. Joseph County (Images of America)!

Amazon Link!

Posted by Michael at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Front Line Baby!

(That's a line from an obscure Fleetwood Mac song from 1987)

Are you a blogger working in a library? Do write about the comings and goings of library users? Do you blog your interactions with other staff? If so, please take a minute or two and answer some questions for Aaron and I.

We'll thank you for it!

Click Here!

Posted by Michael at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004


My friend David just sent this as I finish up my first semester:

I think this is very fitting for you:

'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you've imagined.'
-Henry David Thoreau

Posted by Michael at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)