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Posts by Michael Stephens

Exploring the Virtual Commons: Using Ning to Build a Community at Lafayette Public Library

Submitted by Michael Stephens on March 5, 2009 - 2:44pm

The series I did last year on The Commons in Libraries has become part of my research interests these days and part of my presentations exploring "The Hyperlinked Library." Of course, the commons does not have to be just a physical space but can also be virtual. I thought it might be useful to explore what some libraries are doing to build the virtual meeting place.

Lafayette Public Library  in Lafayette, Colorado recently introduced Lafayette Readers, a virtual community built in Ning. I sought out Pam Sahr, Horizon System Administrator, at the library to tell me more about the project.

MS: Pam, how did the Ning project come about? Read More »

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They're Just Tools: Enhancing our work with Technology

Submitted by Michael Stephens on February 4, 2009 - 9:03am

I really enjoyed ALA Midwinter. Touching down in 70 degree weather on Wednesday was a treat and participating in various activities with colleagues and folks who I admire is a great way to spend a few days in the Mile High City.

Last summer, I wrote about the use of Twitter at Annual. This time around everything seemed even more connected and accessible. I'm very impressed with what the LITA folks did with Top Tech trends. I made connections, followed meetings and got to chime in on various issues via my Mac and my iPhone.Other folks participated from afar. Read More »

Stories, Open Doors & the Heart: 5 Hopes for the New Year

Submitted by Michael Stephens on January 1, 2009 - 2:27pm

I’m sitting at Panera bread in Mishawaka, Indiana this morning, playing catch up and getting some writing done before another day of holiday festivities. Sipping my tea in my most favorite “third place,” I can’t help but reflect on 2008 and ponder what 2009 will bring for us in the library world. I get very excited at the power and promise of what we’re doing: innovative services, new buildings, the harnessing of new technologies to extend our services in surprising ways, and much, much more. With that in mind, I offer  a few simple hopes for this shiny new year. Many libraries are doing these things already while others are testing the waters. Wherever your institution is going, these are things I hope for.
Read More »

Planning & Pitfalls: Using Pageflakes for a Public Library Portal

Submitted by Michael Stephens on December 1, 2008 - 10:00am

In one of my major talks - "The Hyperlinked Library" - I use many different examples, and often change them to keep them as current as possible. One example I've used for over a year is the Dublin City Library's creation of a public portal with Pageflakes. While in London for Internet Librarian International, I got to meet up with Edward Byrne, Senior Web Services Librarian , and chat with him about the project.

I use the development of a library portal via a free tool as an example of how libraries can create something useful without 6 months of meetings, decision-making or using a  "home grown" IT solution that only one or two people can configure. Eddie agreed to fill me in on all of the details of Dublin's portal. It makes for a fascinating case study and in terms of timing and coincides with some recent developments that show the importance of caution when using Web 2.0 tools without planning for backups and changes in the tool. Our conversation started in London, wound its way through Facebook, and concluded via email. Read More »

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A "Commons" Experience: Five Benefits of the Information Commons

Submitted by Michael Stephens on November 17, 2008 - 7:33pm

As I reflected on my 2008 Information Commons field trips, I realized how important these spaces are to information literacy, to the relevance of the library and to the mission of the institution itself.

In "The Comedy of the Commons," Dr. Carol M. Rose describes the commons as a place where each person adds more value. In our LIS701 course here at Dominican, we use Rose to illustrate the potential and usefullness of common spaces in relation to different types of libraries and what they might mean to their users. According to Rose,  "The more who join and use the commons, the greater the enjoyment of each participant."

This was entirely evident in the series of field trips I made this year to visit library spaces that had integrated the idea of the commons. Read More »

In the Hub - The Information Commons at University of Kentucky

Submitted by Michael Stephens on September 29, 2008 - 12:03pm

During the past few months, I've explored various in carnations of the student-centered learning and technology commons. I'm pleased to see this trend in academic libraries gaining more and more ground. We visited the IU South Bend Commons last time, an example of a smaller university library thinking big and applying the same concepts and strategies for student space and making it work. On a wind swept, rainy day last April, I toured the inviting Information Commons at Loyola University, where community, collaboration and connectivity guided the student- centered space. And this summer while in Georgia, we visited the Georgia Tech Library Learning Commons that features spaces and technologies to enable all types of student, faculty and staff interaction.

There's one more stop - and sadly, I haven't visited this outstanding example of student  space in person but via the photos shared on Flickr. So I emailed Stacey Greenwell, Head of the Information Commons (The Hub) at the University of Kentucky to find out more about the incredible spaces and help desk I'd seen on Flickr. She obliged with this detailed interview: Read More »

The Space had to say "Wow!" - The Hammes Information Commons at IUSB

Submitted by Michael Stephens on September 3, 2008 - 9:52am

On the new commons, Michelle Russo, Dean of Library Services at the Franklin D. Schurz Library at Indiana University South Bend, states:

To send the message that this was a welcoming place, the wall separating the room from the lobby was removed. The stacks were turned 90? which allowed natural light to flow from the windows between the aisles to the center of the room.

The new service desk was also designed to send a welcoming message. It allows space for librarians, IT consultants, and multimedia specialists to work at one of two levels. The counter-height level allows service to people as they walk into the Commons, while the lower desk-height permits one to work at eye level with students in a wheelchair or with those who want to be seated as they receive more in-depth assistance. Read More »

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Keeping the Library Relevant: A Tour of the Georgia Tech Library Learning Commons

Submitted by Michael Stephens on August 4, 2008 - 11:12am

These results lead to the creation of spaces in the Learning Commons East and West that were inspiring, useful and flexible. We talked about creating an experience for students, making the library a memorable place. Bob said one goal would always be to "engage students from the beginning." I was reminded of the Welcome event Brian write about: poker, DDR, speed dating and more welcomed freshman to the library!

One thing Bob kept emphasizing:

"We don't build walls here." Read More »

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The ALA Annual Tweet-Report

Submitted by Michael Stephens on July 15, 2008 - 10:28am

First up, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Folks at ALA 2008 in Anaheim, California were all “A-Twitter!” Of course there was also much Flickring, texting, blogging, IMing and any other 2.0-ish, social-networkey “ing” you can name going on as well.

  Read More »

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On the Information Experience: An ALA TechSource Conversation with John Blyberg

Submitted by Michael Stephens on June 18, 2008 - 12:24pm

Darien Library's John Blyberg weighs in on the construct of information experience as libraries move forward in a very different world:

The difference now, as opposed to even five years ago, is that we also operate within a global context that empowers us to quickly recall data and assemble it into our own personal nebulae. In other words, information use has become an expression of self--that’s not something libraries ever accounted for.  When I talk about this, I refer to it as the “information experience” because, for the growing number of us who participate in the hive, we build our own network of information and interaction that accompanies us through our lives.  We literally construct highly-personalized information frameworks and place a huge amount of personal reliance upon them.  Ten years ago, this wasn’t the case. Read More »

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