January 31, 2005

Online Social Networks Conference

Aaron Schmidt and I will be presenting at the Online Social Networks Conference in February! You can still regsiter at http://socialnets.org/register.html

Join us during the 2 weeks the conference is running for The Library Blogosphere: Toward a Working Taxonomy where we will discuss what libraries and librarians are doing with blogs as we build communities online!

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January 28, 2005

The BALANCED Librarian (Updated)


scitech library question linked to my 12 Things and 6 Things and makes a point that I didn't in my writing...

When all of "it" comes at us at such a relentless, never-ending pace, we need to find downtime for processing, without feeling guilty that we will miss something, an important post on one of the 225 blogs we monitor daily. The downtime consideration is perhaps the one thing Michael might consider including in his lists. Without downtime, burnout sneaks up and bites us hard. Oh, and of course, some consideration must be given to our lives away from work. Simply put, we need time to stare at the wall, the sun, the tube, the movie screen, the musician or the actor we are watching perform, read our books, and listen to our CDs. Or go for a bike ride or a walk.

I agree wholeheartedly. I should have included "unplugging" -- which I am a champion of -- here and here.

Please library folk... don't live and breathe all the stuff I write about here. UNPLUG. Last fall I was working intensly on SLIS 6700 for UNT, blogging, working, writing and getting ready for two conferences: one in the UK and IL out in Monterey. By late November I was having an MRI because of neck pain... guess what? I had herniated a disc in my neck. NOT FUN. The cause: too much LAPTOP.

Now, I unplug. I take breaks. And I'm doing workouts 4 days a week -- plugging in only to my iPod.

I also think we need to be carerful to pick and choose our interests. I have realized I can't do everything I want to do in libraryland... Choose a handful of your favorite feeds/blogs/news sources... and RELAX!

Here's a post from the OLD tame the Web... it still holds true:

February 9, 2004

Career Development: Seeking Joy & Carpe Diem
Via the Seattle PI:

Still forming my thoughts on this one but it came out of the blue into my aggregator and I gotta tell you, it really hits home. I've been looking at the big picture for a few months now. Talking with valued colleagues and pondering the

Marilyn Gist writes:

Some describe the past two decades as years of rampant commercialism, materialism, and even greed in our country. The stock market rose in a seemingly endless climb, and we believed technology's promise of economic prosperity and improved quality of life. As consumers, we grabbed for the good life as much as we could. Today, we are seeing an important shift. Many have begun asking, "Is this all there is?" We also suspect technology is a mixed blessing. It increases our options and our efficiency, sometimes fueling economic growth. However, technology also intensifies our pace of life so much that we now lack that irreplaceable resource: time. Without time, our quality of life suffers. We feel more stress. We struggle to balance family and work demands. We feel less connected to community, and we have limited opportunity for leisure activities and personal development. Yes, we have been successful, but many of us feel unsatisfied.

Technology is a mixed blessing! I love what I do...love the gadgets and stuff i get to mess with to help people learn and do their jobs better. Librarians have long discussed "technostress" in their work lives.... "infostress" too. I guess what I'm saying is I'm all about the untethered, techno-library type...I'm one myself....but I hope that person also balances out the rest of their life: love, family, spirit, health, joy.

Gist states: Many of us think achievements at work are significant because we work very hard and stay very busy. Sometimes work achievements are significant, but work is a domain in which we can often confuse "success" and "busy-ness" with significance.

Frances Mayes wrote about being busy in Bella Tuscany .

"I'm so busy..." Mayes comments.

"Maybe living life is so important that we shouldn't be busy. At least not busy with that buzz buzz sound. Ed tells his students to figure out how many weekends they have left, given the good fortune of normal life expectancy. Even to the young it's a shock to see there are only 2800 more. That's it. Done for. Carpe Diem, Si, Si. Grab the Days."

WOW! I'm glad I found this today...

(*Spider Lake Sunrise, August 2004 - while unplugged in Michigan!)

Posted by Michael at 09:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Social Software and Conferences



It’s a bit ironic to attend a conference on deeper learning and the improvement of teaching and to find oneself sitting in a large auditorium, watching PowerPoint slides, and listening to someone deliver a traditional-style lecture. Even if the presentation is thought-provoking, even if the presenter is charged with enthusiasm, even if the slides are animated, even if the podium is shared with a panel of highly respected thought leaders in learning theory, even if . . . , one is left with the feeling that a grand opportunity has been missed, that gathering together so many creative and talented people could have resulted in an experience with a very different quality—or at least different from that of sitting in a lecture hall.

Must digest... this is good stuff.

Posted by Michael at 05:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Presence via the OS & iChat


On my Macs, I use iChat to IM. I just realized when I send IM windows to the dock (the program launcher in Mac Os X), they look like the above. That, I believe, is an example of presence: the virtual person... available and engaged.

Thanks Maire for fixing the image!

Posted by Michael at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Greg's Podcast

I chatted this am with Greg Schwartz, who asked me what i thought of his podcast. "Be honest," he said.

I listened Tuesday while working on stuff at my desk and I enjoyed it. I was tickled to hear Greg do a sort of audio lit review -- ah, that thing I know so well and will certainly be doing more of as I work on my degree -- and he hit points of the article and chimed un with his thoughts. I like that.

I also like the format: 20-30 minutes of news and information for the LIS community with a personal flare and easy-going touch. I would be very inclined to listen to each future installment, like a date with a radio show. HOWEVER: I might not tune in/download a podcast or three every single day but regular (monthly?) installments sound nice: morning tea, a podcast and some inspiring comments.

I'd also like to see the program be chapter stopped -- where I could click ahead to different sections. This would also include a linked Table of Contents I guess...

I'd also like to hear some guests from the LIS community...

My worry for Greg and future LIS Podcasters -- and if I ever have anything I want to "SAY" to you, I'll sit myself down on the G5 and record it -- is setting up unreachable goals and expectations. I would not wish a 20-30 min "show" written and produced once a week on anyone with full time commitments and other things to do.

Just sayin!

Well done Greg -- who also thrills me everytime he says "LIS" or "Library and Information Science" since the IS part is so near and dear to me these days!

Posted by Michael at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An LIS Weblog I'd like to see (Updated)

I was pondering this morning that we have a lot of blogs for library tech folk...and many of the library specialties out there... but I would love to see a blog dedicated to the whole Audio Visual area scene. What's hot in AV? What circulates? How are DVDs doing versus tired old VHS? What are some innovative AV departments doing -- like circulating games? iPods? SACD? DVD-A?

Maybe some librarian is doing just that and I haven't seen it yet...please let me know...if not..I, for one, think there's a place at the LIS Blog table for AV stuff.

UPDATE: Greg sent me this:

http://librarypop.org/ I am liking this!

Posted by Michael at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Social Learning

So true...


My brain hurts. Sometimes there are just too many interesting, intensely profound ideas floating around out there. What did I do BB? (Before blogs...) ... My zeal for the potential of Weblogs, wikis, RSS etc. is born almost entirely from my reflective self that is constantly amazed at the way these tools have transformed my learning first and my teaching second. This is pure passion for new ideas, for stimulated thought, for dreaming. It is in many ways intoxicating and exhausting. But I really feel like for the first time in my life, I'm getting the most out of my brain.

Posted by Michael at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm all about Presence

Please visit http://www.lawtechguru.com/archives/2004/03/31_online_presence_considering_blogs_instead_of_web_sites.html and read Jeff beard's thoughts about how using blogs can increase someone's presence and then translate the implications to libraries. Good stuff!

Concerning the value of blogs for "guerilla marketing," Beard states:

1) Search Engines Love Blogs

2) Instant "Expertability"

3) Super Easy Updating

4) RSS News Feeds = Extended Reach = Larger Audience = More Hits

5) Built-in Search and Content Management Features

Hmmm.. how easy can it be? So -- to the librarians out there that cringe when they remeber their libraries' out-dated and not up-dated Web site...ponder a blog instead! There are great benefits to be had.

Posted by Michael at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

The Up-to-Date Techie Librarian: Six Resources Every Techie Librarian Should Use (Updated)

Last week I wrote about 12 Techie Things for library folk to be aware of -- to be in the know about in planning meetings and staff meeetings. Nothing pains me more but a bunch of blank looks in a meeting room when someone says they learned about some new technology at a recent conference.

Here's an addendum:

Six Resources Every Techie Librarian Should Use:

1. LIS and technology blogs. Oh yeah! Use these directories of LIS Weblogs to locate useful library and librarian’s weblogs that speak to you or focus on interests.

Library Weblogs - Peter Scott’s directory of LIS Weblogs

blogwithoutalibrary.net -LIS Weblog author Amanda Etches-Johnson’s list of LIS Weblogs

The Internet Courses: Weblogs - Dr. Laurel Clyde’s directory related to her work with LIS Weblogs

2. Use an RSS Reader to gather the above and MORE! I get loads of feeds from libraries, higher education sites, Wired amgazine, all the big newsfeeds, some info literacy resources and some fun stuff from Apple, etc. Choose the ones you like and monitor. Check in once or twice a day.

3. Download and read the Pew Reports! The Search Engine report was just released -- it'll be HOT for the next few days. But take a look at all of the reports. I'd even suggest printing a copy and sending it around the circuit at your library or ask each of your librarians to choose one and report on it at staff meeting. Pew is tapping into OUR USERS folks.

Search Engines
The State of Blogging
Instant Messaging
The Internet in Daily Life
The Future of the Internet

Wouldn't you want your staff to be up on these topics?

4. Participate in Community

This might be online -- WebJunction -- or physical, such as various consortia and organizations that might offer learning opportunities for librarians.

5.Professional publications and Databases

At IL 2004, Darlene Fichter and Frank Cervone chatted with me over dinner about "evidence-based decision making" for librarians. That's basing plans, initiatives and new procedures on data -- not "everyone does it this way" or "all of our patyrons expect this..." I like this concept and I think reading the big names in library magazines -- you know what they are -- and searching for cool articles in the literature via online databases is a positive thing to do when planning or making decisions.

Hmmm... searching for articles..it's not just for students anymore!

6. Your Brain: Never stop learning. :-)

Posted by Michael at 10:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Karen at the Webcred Conference

Please visit the Free Range Librarian and read Karen's reports from the Webcred Conference. This little passage just sent me:

But Friday and Saturday were also vacation days for me in the truest sense of the word, because at Webcred I went somewhere new and came back changed. Like many travel writers, I was on a quest, but did not quite know what I was looking for. I observed journalists and bloggers in their native habitat; I enjoyed their colorful costumes and quaint manner of speech; I heard both L'eminence grise and fresh-faced upstarts in both communities share their thoughts, boasts, and concerns about credibility, authenticity, and trust in the online world.

I have felt the same way coming back from some of the incredibble conferences I've attended and been a part of. I LOVE the fact that Karen crossed over and returns to tell us all about it. I'm reading..waiting for more..

Posted by Michael at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Call for Speakers: Implementing Top Tech Trends for Public Libraries

I am organizing a track for Internet Librarian 2005, October 24-26, dedicated to implementing some of the top technology trends in public libraries. My emphasis: practical applications and useful ideas that attendees can take home and USE in their small or medium-sized public libraries (or boost what some of the BIG libraries are doing).

Are you a public librarian and implementing RFID? WiFi? A PL Blog with RSS? A Tech Training program that ROCKS? Let me know -- Comment here!

Shoot me an e-mail (mstephens7 (at) mac.com) or comment here and we'll talk. The Submissions page is here.

FEEL FREE as well to use the comments on the post to weigh in on what you'd like to see during a fun filled day at Internet Librarian devoted to public library folk!

Stuff to be included for sure for your perusal and thoughts: technology training in PLs (staff and public), wrangling new tech such as RFID, Blogs, RSS, dealing with IT staff, Web site improvements and collaboartion amongst public librarians. There are more to ponder: help make this session what you want it to be!

Posted by Michael at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Evaluating LIS Weblogs

I updated a handout from last year this morning after chatting with Karen about this important facet of Weblog training. I'll use it in February for a class I just scheduled at the Purdue library. It's one thing to say to classes "Look at all the stuff you can get to via RSS!" but we must also remember to give folks tools to choose the LIS weblogs right for them.

I incoprated some of the excellent work by Laurel Clyde and updated the banner. Take a look -- and use it if you'd like!


Posted by Michael at 09:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Computers in Libraries 2005: Optimizing Technology in Libraries

Optimizing Technology in Libraries
Thursday March 17th 3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Michael Stephens, Special Projects Librarian, St. Joseph County Public Library
Jeff Steely, Assistant Director for Client Services, Baylor University Libraries

Join our speakers for a stimulating discussion of where technology for libraries is headed, which new developments they see as best bets for successful projects, and their tips on strategies, deployment, and technical problems.

Posted by Michael at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Computers in Libraries 2005: Collaboration & IM: Breaking Down Boundaries

Thursday March 16th 12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Collaboration & IM: Breaking Down Boundaries
1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Michael Stephens, Special Projects Librarian, St. Joseph County Public Library
Aaron Schmidt, Reference Librarian, Thomas Ford Memorial Library

A recent survey indicated that nearly 70 percent of the U.S. university Internet population used IM. This session covers research, applications, case studies, usage, workflow impact, and ethics of IM. Schmidt and Stephens look at the many uses of IM, from in-house staff communication to the delivery of content and discussions with customers, as well as utilizing IM to confer and plan with colleagues no matter where they are.

Posted by Michael at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Daily Zeitgeist

This should be my photos but it's everyone's...

hurumph! It works for Hidden Peanuts!

Posted by Michael at 08:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Is Virtual Reference User Centered?

Aaron, who also made this Winter's NetConnect with a most cool TOP TEN, posts a most thoughtful bit about his thoughts on the state of VR in libraries.


Virtual Reference is not user-centric, he writes. Expecting people to enter into and operate in a little world that vendors have created is a bit naive. VR systems clearly were built with librarian in mind. The benefits awarded librarians vs. patrons illustrates this.

Yes. I agree. Who were we planning for when so many libraries jumped on to the RMS Virtual Reference as it sailed toward greatness only to encounter a few icebergs -- software glitches, low statistics and not a lot of interest from staff or patrons.

Read Aaron. And hey -- Aaron and I will be leading a half day Technology Planning Workshop at the 20th Annual Computers in Libraries 2005 Conference in good ole Washington DC in March. Come join us!

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

January 20, 2005

Seeking Input: Circulating Digital Content

Could some public library folk who are circulating MP3 players or working with companies like Recorded Books send me an e-mail... I have a couple of questions...

mstephens7 (at) mac.com

Posted by Michael at 02:38 PM

KCResearch & Projects Librarians

David blogs about a project at KCPL. Take a look:


Read the article and check out the talk at CIL 2005... this intrigues me that public libraries are collecting this type of data.

AND: I note that David's library has a couple of project librarians... hey! that's what I am too!

Posted by Michael at 10:33 AM

January 19, 2005

A Year in Cell Snaps

Here's an archive... it seems like the snippets of a dream...


Back to our regular program...

Posted by Michael at 06:18 PM

Innovative... the Gauntlet has been THROWN DOWN...


Posted by Michael at 11:09 AM

Shifting Worlds

The call for speakers is up!


How are libraries and librarians chanmging to meet the needs of users in 2005? Got something to say? Want a great place and a wonderful crowd to say it to? Ponder a submission for Internet Librarian 2005!

I'm still fired up from last November!

Posted by Michael at 07:45 AM

Circulating Digital Content

This weekend the South Bend Tribune reported that my hometown library has jumped into the digital content arena by aligning with Recorded Books in a $10,000 contract.

The service, the paper reports, gives patrons access to 500 titles. "Patrons will be able to download the books to their home computers and then load them into any of the small media players that are Windows-based. Patrons also will be able to go to the library and download books onto their MP3's or similar players."

Here's their site:


There are choices now for this type of content: Audible, Recorded, OverDrive.

My questions, then, for any library tech planning folk considering this type of service are these:

How does this new service impact other collections?

What type of training will staff need? Will the public need?

Will every reference/help point in the library have to be knowledgable in the ways of the service -- whatever it may be -- to field questions and complaints?

If it's a download service, do enough folks in the community have broadband? (Don't forget we are user-centered technology planners people!)

What hardware/software/troubleshooting expertise will library staff have to have? (Patron: "Excuse me, I can't seem to get The DaVinci Code to play on my WizzyWig MP3 player..can you help? Staff person: Huh? What? What's MP3?)

What unintended consequences might appear? (Maybe a staff brainstorming session would make these clear if there are any...)

AND what hardware is needed to assist patrons?

(On a personal note: I'm sad to see my hometown's library's service will not support my iPods. What's the marketshare right now of the iPod? Is it a DRM issue..I think so...Someone is going to have to give in this battle: Apple? The vendor? I have purchased books from Audible and it was a joy to use them on my iPod!)

Finally, as with any new service, have a plan, a well-trained, comfortable staff, some promotion and a policy to stand on.

Posted by Michael at 07:08 AM

January 18, 2005

Techie Circulation Job at SJCPL

I've been at SJCPL almost 14 years and I've seen a lot of changes. We just posted the Head of Circulation job and it really strikes me how much this particular job has "shifted."

The Job description is here.

Lok at these excerpted techie duties:

4. Develop and maintain circulation training materials for system-wide use and oversee training procedures of all new Circulation staff.

5. Manage Innovative/Millennium circulation products systemwide, including recommending new products, working to implement software and hardware changes, helping to develop training and communicating changes to library staff.

9. Evaluate trends in circulation services and recommend policy changes as needed.

10. Evaluate technology and electronic resources in the department, making recommendations as needed such as RFID technology to the SJCPL system.

In 1994, stuff like training staff on circulation modules wasn't really included in descriptions -- I'm sure it was done but training was more catch as catch can and "Hey, Trudy, can you spend 20 minutes training the new person before lunch on the catalog?"

Now we write jobs to reflect training duties, "keeping current" duties and define positions as playing a key role in technology planning. How many job descriptions have you all written that seem so DIFFERENT than just a few years ago!

Posted by Michael at 03:26 PM

Metatagging for the Masses

Are we ready folks?

Check out Jessamyn's cool post:


Look at this at flickr:


I tagged it and then Nate added 'waterfall' because I had just added falls. I need to think more meta!

Posted by Michael at 11:33 AM

January 17, 2005

Tagging my Musings (Images)

Chad at Hidden Peanuts just posted this:


..where he ponders the tagging of images. Guess what? I've been doing the same thing at Flickr. I didn't realive the text string I was using "Posted via Michael's Treo 600.." was becoming tags. So I have been going through and tagging some photos.

It's kind of fun -- sort of like "Metadata for Dummies" -- which is me as I dip my toe in the python pool...

My flickr stuff:


AND I have to say I really get sucked in to flickr and all the different folks posting there...

Posted by Michael at 12:43 PM

Top Tech Trends from Karen Schneider (via the PLA Blog)

I was waiting for the reports of this session! LITA's Top Technology Trends always fires me up and gives me food for thought.

Read her post here:


"...convergence, ubiquitous computing, nomadicity, and what one poster to my blog called "the intermingling of the various pieces of your online life.")..."

Posted by Michael at 12:16 PM

January 15, 2005

How to Manage Smart People


Posted by Michael at 01:42 PM

January 14, 2005

Open Source Bibliography

One of our assignments this semester is a weekly post about some type of OSS news or thread. Here's my first one:

Please visit:


The page description includes: This bibliography has been compiled by Brenda Chawner, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, as part of her Ph.D. studies. It includes announcements, journal articles, and web documents that are about open source software development in libraries.

What a wonderful clearinghouse off all things OSS and libraries. I have just started to go through some of them. There are definetly some articles I would like to track down.

Posted by Michael at 08:52 AM

Comment from Information Wants to Be Free - Tech Planning


There are libraries that are completely adverse to change and to technology, and there are libraries that are so tech-forward that they pass their patrons by. Neither of these approaches is a good idea. Ask your patrons what they want; what they’d like to see at the library. Base your decisions about what technologies to implement on where your patrons are (and where your staff is) – not on what looks cool. Not every library should be implementing the same sort of technologies. It all should be based on your population’s needs.

What a concise, eloquent statement. That's what inspired my article about technolust for LJ -- Success stories from libraries who planned tech around patron use, and some "it didn't work the way we planned" stories from librarians who dove into technology without the appropriate planning.

Posted by Michael at 07:53 AM

January 13, 2005

David King Comments

David King weighs in and rocks my tech world. Thanks! Read these:



I could not agree more!

Posted by Michael at 02:43 PM

January 12, 2005

Twelve Techie Things for Librarians 2005 (Updated)

In lieu of looking back at 2004, I thought I'd look ahead at some things librarians need to be aware of as we move into the middle of the decade. These are the things I would want a knowledgeable, tech savvy staff to be aware of and consider for their libraries. In strategic planning, long range plan meetings and the like I would hope an "in the know" librarian at the table could speak about these things.

These are culled from various blogs, presentations, discussions and pondering. For your consideration:

User-Centered Technology Planning

"Technology is a tool..it is only a tool." (Thanks Sandra Nelson!) Do not let your technolust guide planning for technology in your library. Don't let the staff do it either. Focus on user needs.

I talked to some great folks and wrote about it here.

Proceed carefully. Make good decisions. Ponder these and the bigger implications AND unintended consequences: RFID, WiFi for the Public, MP3 players, Web redesign, public use document stations. Optimise tech in your library for users and staff.

Toolbars for Library Users

So what if every library or library consortium could supply a customizable toolbar for their users to download and install? Like this: http://wesley.stanford.edu/library/toolbar/ (Via Rob)

It should include all the cool things Jackson does: links to library information, "talk with a librarian" access and a search box. Wow! Maybe a library could distribute it via the web and on a welcome CD/DVD when someone gets a card (PL) or enrolls (academic). I would also hope it would come from the Open Source movement (see below) and libraries could share it and improve it as it grows.

RSS Feeds from the Catalog and Library Web Sites

I nearly fell of my chair when I read that Seattle Public Library has integrated RSS through their catalog -- after falling out of my chair back in November when David King told me Kansas City Public was using RSS on their pages.

Attention ILS Vendors: follow Dynix's lead and integrate now (especially you there, Innovative, who vends SJCPL's Catalog). I would love to subscribe to feeds based on some favorite authors or genres or newly added DVDs.

Attention Web Development Librarians: Be aware -- RSS is the new big thing. It's going to change the way folks get their content. Yeah yeah, you say, not everyone is using it. Guess what? The fact that CNN went live with feeds this week (Thanks Steven) speaks volumes. When folks realize how easy it is to monitor content and have that content shoot into their reader, libraries had better be ready! I would love to see a library offer feeds for all of their news and marketing!

Converging Devices and Storage

(Inspired by Jenny Levine and Roy Tennant, two people who inspire me everytime I encounter them.)

Jenny always makes me think when we chat or I read her stuff. She's been saying "convergence" for some time now - and boy do i get it -- especially after upgrading to a Treo 600. Devices are serving multiple purposes -- look at the Treo (IM, E-mail, phone, SMS, etc) or even the iPod Photo (music, calendar, contact lists, photos and heck yeah - presentations!).

Roy Tennant speaks and writes about digital storage. An iPod has 60GB of space. Are we ready for those devices to be attached to our public PCs for transferring data? I heard this many times in 2004. Are we guilty of dumbing down our public machines so much that they are useless? Can users do everything they may need to do or want to try? Can they burn a CD? DVD? Plug in a USB storage device? Download free tunes somewhere?

Case in point: A young person heads out to a library and wants to search the catalog en route via his converged device...and then maybe download 30-40 BIG PDFs for a research report onto their iPod... can they do it at your library?

Presence (Social Software and Tools) & Collaboration Part I:

CJ inspired me and David King wrote about this and it struck a chord. I would like to see more librarians present in the social realm of the web: via IM, via social networks, via online communities, via their own blogs or collaborative blogspaces: weighing in on issues and showing off what cool folks are doing in this game. Share your photos -- I want to see pictures of your wedding or travels or whatever as well as your libraries. That's community and I love that aspect of the plugged in life.

IM is not just for saying “How R U” anymore. Folks are using it – holding meetings, asking questions and collaborating. Libraries are using it as a virtual reference tool. Look at what Aaron has done and Sarah....

IM me. SMS me. E-mail me Comment at flickr on my silly images. Stop me in the hallway at the Washington Hilton at CIL and let's talk! I love it!

Presence (Libraries as Space...& a word from our sponsor) part II:

The other type of presence, in my mind, is that of a library's presence in its locale -- virtually and physically. we need to build great web sites but also great buildings that draw people in. We need to ask them what they want in the library and put those things there.

We need to brand and logo our services and advertise!! Make the library the place to be -- whether it's coming in the front door or typing in a URL. I also think that a consistent message across all channels of communication within a library makes the message so much more clear.

Electronic Resources & Federated Access (and a rant about Promotion)

Public libraries are in a unique position. How do we spend our budgets to best serve such diverse user populations? At the University of North Texas the online resources are HUGE and deep because it is a research institution. In fact, I'm irked when I can't get full text access to a journal. What do public library users expect? General databases like MasterFile? Full text of some of the big names? For sure if use supports it.

What do your patrons want? Have we even asked them? The reference librarians get a general idea of what people are using..they should be involved in the process but also understand the constraints of budgets and the "big picture" of offerings.

Evaluation is very important. User interface is key. If a database is hard to use -- who will use it? With federated searching, however, that interface takes second place to the metasearch interface. That one had better be mighty fine as well!

Budgets are tight. A product had better be GOOD, needed and easily incorporate into data structures already in place at any given library. Web-based is good -- a product that works in all browsers with ease is better. The best justification and use of leased databases is seeking every opportunity to incorporate access into the library's presence: via federated searching for the web, via promotional materials and via a well-trained staff that can instruct the public as well. These things build on each other. Databases that costs thousands of dollars are useless unless the public know about them.

No technology-based initiative can succeed without 5 key steps that Richard Dougherty put in his article in LJ a few years ago about virtual ref that I always quote: staff, technology, training, promotion and policy. If one of these fails, the project is likely to derail or not reach full potential. If we build the best Web site and hide our resources , who will find them?

Transitioned Technologies

Jessamyn and I had a wonderful conversation a few weeks ago after she blogged about my techplan/lust article. We got to bantering about Dead Tech and tech that is just transitioning. We pondered how some technologies have changed...

E-Mail: It's not dead. It isn't going to die for a long long time. Jessamyn said "People in my town don’t even have e-mail yet." So, I’m all about the new stuff, but don’t forget the power of turning folks on to a Yahoo! Account in your library so they can e-mail friends and relatives.

HTML (Coded by Hand, Baby!) : "Ewww…why HTML?" my students ask in L401 at IUSB. Well, guess what, some of those commands come in very handy when editing raw blog pages with Bold or italics or inserting IMG SRC for posts. I use em all the time, even though MT will upload files as well.

Virtual Communities for Librarians

There are wonderful Web-based Communities of practice out there... waiting for librarians! Visit webJunction and look at all the cool stuff they offer. I have also spent a little bit of time (and need to spend more) at http://blendedlibrarian.org -- a project from Steven Bell (who turned me on to it) and John Shank. According to bell and Shank, a Blended Librarian is:

An academic librarian who combines the traditional skill set of librarianship with the information technologist’s hardware/software skills, and the instructional or educational designer’s ability to apply technology appropriately in the teaching-learning process.

Well... I think many public and special librarians are assuming that role as well. For two years I had an incredible fellow on staff at SJCPL with me who had a Masters in Instructional design. Ka-Ching! He brought such a high level of training and development to the staff that would rival the offerings of larger institutions! Big libraries might consider a position such as this to insure the development and delivery of training! Pair that with an MLS and watch out!

The site offers a lot of discussion and insight into this new role with an academic slant

In a nutshell: do not miss the chance to join and participate in a virtual community. There are resources there. Helpful people. Stuff you can download and use. We are not in this alone folks!

Open Source Software

My Institute class this semester is all about OSS. It fascinates me that the Evergreen project out of Georgia is working toward an OS ILS. Yes. Please. What would the big companies do if their was an open source option for library catalogs and libraries didn't have to wait for the features they want?

Watch this one. Closely.

Digital Content & DRM

Companies are sniffing around libraries -- offering e-content -- audio, etc. Look at all the details. Look at the money involved. Look at how the future may play out for the formats. And for Goodness sake look at the implications of digital rights.

New Devices...New Uses...

I am aching to see a library do something with the iPod. I think that would be incredibly cool and innovative. A library with a digital art collection could circulate the entire collection on an iPod photo with the cables to display the art on a television!

BONUS: Put the most value in your number one asset: A well-trained, tech-savvy, friendy staff who do not bristle at change and who embrace each new curve on the tech rollercoaster.

I'm just saying: the best librarians balance the traditional skills with an eye toward the wired world. I'm tickled with librarians here at SJCPL who have seen the Internet roll in (pre 1995) and have adapted, learned and embraced each change.

How can we insure an effective techie staff:

Make tech/info literacy a priority
Offer opportunities to learn and attend learning programs
Give folks a chance to play with new stuff
Include them in decision-making


make sure library adminstartors are on board as weel. A staff working under someone afraid of their PC will not thrive in the tech-savvy 2005 and beyond.

Let me know what you think....

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

January 11, 2005

The LIS Blogosphere Defined, Examined and For your Consideration

I have only read a bit, but I LOVE this!


Take a look!

Posted by Michael at 09:49 PM

The Tide Turns.... PLA Blog

THANKS to Steven and all at PLA for making this a reality. I'm rejoicing today (and rejoicing for the cool new Apple products as well!)


I am interested to see how the PLA Blog plays out. I'll be reading fellow bloggers!

Posted by Michael at 06:09 PM

January 08, 2005

This will help!


Posted by Michael at 05:02 PM

Flickr Friends (updated)

Just recently a couple of friends have shared their flickr pages with me...adding me as a "contact." I like this type of exchange... the sharing of images...and the fact that I get a glimpse into the lives of friends and colleagues!

Here's mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsphotos/

Friends (Updated)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/planetneutral/ Mr. Greg Schwartz, fellow Hoosier

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamorico/ (Mike from work)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidking/ (David King from KCPL)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/45728937@N00/ (Rob Coers in the Netherlands!)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamthebestartist/ (Jessamyn!)

Posted by Michael at 04:29 PM

Blogs & RSS for Librarians

Friday February 18, 2005
Purdue University Libraries
Staff Session

Posted by Michael at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Discussing the Dissertation Process

Chapter one is the introduction
Chapter two is the literature review
Chapter three is the methodology
Chapter Four is data collected and data analysis
Chapter five is the conclusion and recommendations for further research.


Posted by Michael at 12:46 PM

Coding in Texas

I made it to Texas about three hours late for the start of class but all is well.

This semester's BIG class is SLIS 6910 with Dr. Sam Hastings and Shannon Peevey.

The topic: Open Source Digital Library Tools!


We started with some lecture, software installation and basic command line practice. I am using my Mac for this class -- running OS 10.3.7 -- and guess what : I have all the tools built in to my system. I open the terminal mode and it is there! I was tickled.

This semester we will code in Python, discuss issues in Open Source software and write a paper about an open source topic.

It's good to be back with the group! More later.

Posted by Michael at 11:40 AM

January 06, 2005

I just SKYPED with Steven Cohen

It was like we were talking across my desk! How cool.

Folks...I'm home watching it snow..if anyone wants to test Skype, I'll be logged in!


Posted by Michael at 11:34 AM

Nice Blog article at FORTUNE

Via Skagirlie, who works across from me and never ceases to find cool stuff about the wonderful web, social stuff and libraries....


Posted by Michael at 09:21 AM


My Skype name is mstephens7.

I have yet to experiment but I signed up.

Posted by Michael at 09:13 AM

Winter Storm... Texas Travels



Officials at Chicago O'Hare have already canceled 300 flights for Thursday, which comes on top of the more than 900 canceled there Wednesday. As one of the nation's busiest connecting hubs, that spelled problems for travelers Thursday.

Yes... that includes me. I just rescheduled to a flight at 6am tomorrow because United had nothing to DFW today or tonight. I am SUPPOSED to be all bright and shiny in the classroom at 9am. Instead, I should be landing in Dallas at 9am and hightailing it to Denton ASAP.

I haven't heard from anyone else in the cohort that was flying to know where they are and if they are delayed as well.

Posted by Michael at 09:11 AM

January 05, 2005

New Semester Begins

We are under seige by a storm here in Indiana... but tomorrow I am to fly out at 6am for Dallas a the start of a new semester. More from Texas!

Posted by Michael at 03:18 PM

Having Fun (VIA Weblogg-ed)

This resonates with me this morning while I pack to go to Texas and await a snowstorm:


Will Richardson writes:

Sometimes I really marvel at how fun this all is. It's fun to:
be almost constantly learning, not only by pushing my limited envelope with the tools but reading and thinking about intruiging ideas from really smart people.
watch the tools evolve in ways that teachers and students can put them to good use without spending hours and hours to master them.
be a part of a really amazing community of educators who are constantly challenging me.
have an audience.
see the ways in which other teachers and students are kicking their own tires with these concepts.
fail, try again, fail, try again, and finally get it right. (Add more failures as necessary.)
watch society and the world change from technology in important ways.
have big ideas.
have relevant information come to me.
know some things a whole bunch of people don't know, at least for now.
think about what the future might hold.

Every now and then I feel the need to bow down and thank whatever is out there for my good fortune, especially when world events rightly remind me just how lucky I am.

Change the "teachers" and "educators" to librarians and this little post fits me to a "T". I am so lucky to work in a progressive public library, to study with a neat group of folks at UNT and to get to present and write about libraries. WOW.

Posted by Michael at 10:36 AM

Technology Needs Pyramid at walkingpaper

Aaron posted this yesterday:


What a wonderful concept. I've been thinking about it for a bit now:

I believe three other facets are present here:

1. The pyramid will be different for every library. Some tech stuff is base (catalog, public access) but some stuff may be different. A library might not have classes in the building but offer online instruction.

2. Project management comes into play as well. How many "technology-based irons" can one library have in the fire at a time and have an effective pyramid. Aaron writes: "In your tech planning, make sure your base needs are met, whatever they may specifically be... " Indeed! I'm reminded of Richard Dougherty's 5 components of implementing virtual ref -- that I often look at for ANY tech initiative. (Here's a post about it...)

Creating policy
Acquiring the Technology
Training staff

Building the "pyramid takes bricks and mortar" and these five things are fit the bill nicely.

3. I also think the pyramid can't be buillt with input from a library's user population. Think user-centered. Think focus group. Think survey. Don't build your tech pyramid without checking in with the reason we do what we do in the first place.

Aaron -- well done!

Posted by Michael at 07:51 AM

January 03, 2005

Year of the Blog (Via Jenny)

Oh yeah!


Posted by Michael at 02:18 PM

The Year of the iPod!

Neat read at MacWorld.


Posted by Michael at 02:16 PM

January 02, 2005

January 01, 2005

New Semester...

I'll be lab instructing L401 Computer-based Information Tools this semester. We meet Monday evenings in Wiekamp 1265.

Posted by Michael at 12:39 PM