San José State University School of Information instructor Dr. Michael Stephens has been promoted to associate professor.
Stephens, who began teaching at the iSchool in August 2011, received word of the decision just before attending the Next Library Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, earlier this month.
“Celebrating and participating in such an engaging and interactive conference in one of the most interesting and user-centered public libraries in the world was a perfect way to mark this major milestone in my teaching career,” he said.
He credits the support and encouragement for innovation at the iSchool as a strong example of fostering an atmosphere of learning and exploration.
“I really enjoy the people and the connections we have. Even though we are 100 percent online, I feel totally connected to my faculty colleagues and students through all of the technologies we use,” Stephens said.
“I live in northern Michigan, not California, but I have always felt connected to my students and colleagues. It’s still rather amazing to me, after all these years, that I might be out walking the dogs in the woods on a crisp winter day and later on log into a class session or faculty meeting from my cozy office.”
In an Office Hours column post on Library Journal, Stephens wrote about the importance of seeking professional challenges. He mentions a plaque he keeps in his office of a quote from Michelangelo that reads, “I am still learning.”
“I tell my students that the minute I stop learning, I need to pack up my office and go sell tomatoes on the highway somewhere,” he wrote in the post.
For more than 10 years, Stephens’ research has focused on the use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs. He said he is inspired by library structures and virtual spaces that support users, participation, creating content and encouraging the heart, which is reflected in his collection of columns published in 2016 titled “The Heart of Librarianship.”
Before attending the Next Library Conference, Stephens collaborated with Jan Holmquist, assistant library director at the Guldborgsund Public Library in Denmark, and Mylee Joseph, consultant for the Public Libraries and Engagement Division, State Library of New South Wales, Australia, to teach a workshop: “The librarian as a change agent and community learning connector.”
“It was a rewarding experience to collaborate with librarians from other parts of the world on the interactive session. We planned via Skype, Twitter, Google and other tools, and then came together in Aarhus to help participants understand what it means to be a change agent in information work and what a ‘formula for success’ might look like for information professionals.”
During the workshop, Holmquist and Joseph explored the role of the "library change agent" and Stephens utilized the formula Essential Skills + Mindset² x Support = Success, which is explained thoroughly in a recent Office Hours column post.
“I think our students could benefit from thinking about the skills they are acquiring in the program as well as the mindset they bring to the work,” he said.
As for his immediate plans for the courses he teaches in the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science degree program, he says INFO 287 The Hyperlinked Library continues to evolve and will be influenced by his experiences in Denmark. He also wants to implement ideas he’s learned about evolving information services for INFO 200 Information Communities.