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Michael Stephens

Transforming Academic Libraries

Michael Stephens is drawing rave reviews through the library world for his thought-provoking lectures and articles in a wide range of library publications.  His Tame the Web (TTW) blog now draws 5000 subscribers.  “TTW,” he says, “deals with libraries, technology and people - and the fascinating intersection between all three. How do we use technology to further the library’s mission? How do we use technology to learn? What are innovative libraries and librarians doing to explore this realm?”

Dr. Stephens is currently Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Originally from Mishawaka, Indiana, Stephens received B.A. and M.L.I.S. degrees from Indiana University. He spent over fifteen years working in public libraries, most recently as Special Projects Librarian at Saint Joseph County Public Library. While engaged in staff training, long-term planning, and management initiatives at SJCPL, Michael says he developed a passion for the practical application of technology in libraries.

He published The Library Internet Trainer’s Toolkit in 2001. Two years later, he launched Tame the Web,  Michael’s professional writing has appeared in Public Libraries, Library Journal, American Libraries, Computers in Libraries, Library Media Connection, OCLC’s NextSpace, and ALA’s TechSource blog. He has also served on the editorial board of both Reference and Users Services Quarterly and Internet Reference Services Quarterly. He currently writes a monthly Library Journal column with Michael Casey: The Transparent Library, exploring how trends and technologies can enhance libraries and make them participatory and open to change: “By structuring the transparent library for constant and purposeful change we reduce the negative impact that change has on both the staff and user. Incorporating change into the organization through creative teams and open lines of communication allows the transparent library to add new tools, respond to changing community needs, and move ahead with new initiatives without shaking up the foundation.”

In 2004, Michael was awarded an IMLS fellowship to begin an interdisciplinary information science doctoral program at the University of North Texas, where he conducted research on social software and blogging, including his dissertation “Modeling the Role of Blogging in Librarianship.” Named a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2005, he also served as a Scholar in Residence at Chicago Public Library and an adjunct instructor at IUPUI and Dominican University.

Michael joined Dominican’s full-time faculty in 2006 and completed his Ph.D. in 2007 while continuing to blog and publish. Recently, he has produced two ALA Library Technology Reports

An active participant in discussions about the evolving library and Library 2.0, Michael recently shared part of his philosophy with Degree Tutor: “I believe libraries need to encourage the heart and in the physical realm this is very important. What do your spaces say to users? What signage do you use? What rules do you impose? All of these things tell the story of your library and how the library views its customers. I agree with the folks that say create zones in the library for different user groups and make it ok to have fun at the library - gaming, DDR, etc - as well as make it comfortable and useful for others. We can learn from the “retail expectations” of our users and potential users. I was amazed to see a high end grocery store chain in Minneapolis offer a meeting room for groups. The Book Club could be meeting at the store – not at the library in the near future! One goal for the L2 library might be to reestablish the idea of the commons - that shared space that can be many things to many people and everyone feels ownership. I’m sorry, but a sign stating the rules of the building on the front door is not encouraging. Find ways to make policies and guidelines friendly…and welcoming.”