Dr. Michael Stephens’ New Book is filled with Heart


iSchool Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Stephens’ new book, The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change, focuses on six thematic areas and  paints “a picture of a humanist, user-focused, hyperlinked librarian filled with heart.”

For Dr. Michael Stephens, writing about the library profession goes beyond challenges and emerging trends to a more supportive and compassionate perspective and it’s reflected in his new book, The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change.

The San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) assistant professor’s work has been featured in a lengthy list of publications, including a regular contribution in Library Journal (LJ). The Heart of Librarianship is a compilation of five years of “Office Hours,” his LJ opinion column.

Collaborating with Emily Daworski, a student in the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information (MLIS) degree program, Stephens selected six thematic areas for the new book based on his work and teaching:

  • The Hyperlinked Librarian
  • Scanning the Horizon
  • Considerations for Prospective Librarians
  • Communities of Practice
  • A Curriculum for Librarianship
  • Infinite Learning

Stephens said he draws inspiration from people he meets in practice and at conferences, fellow staff members and students, and he is “thrilled” to have the collection of essays published.

“For me, the heart of librarianship is learning. It’s a cyclical process of support, engagement, and discovery with deep roots in the concepts of service, access, and freedom to pursue interests of all kinds. No matter what type of institution, someone is gaining knowledge, finding information, or creating something new based on our facilitation. And in my opinion, the role of facilitator and guide is best delivered with humanity and heart,” Stephens wrote in the book’s preface.

Jill Hillemeyer, marketing manager for the book’s publisher, ALA Editions, said: “We’re happy to have had the opportunity to work with Michael. He is a thought-leader in the field of librarianship, and we knew ALA members would have an interest in the essays he’s written that are featured in The Heart of Librarianship.”

The educator and author hopes the book will challenge readers to think about libraries and information services in new ways. “I would also hope that some of the pieces — especially those on the attitudes and desired skill sets of information professionals — will inspire practitioners and students alike. From playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ to being a ‘Full Stack Employee,’ the concepts explored in the essays paint a picture of a humanist, user-focused, hyperlinked librarian filled with heart,” he said.

Stephens has consulted and presented for United States embassies in Germany, Switzerland, and Turkey, and presents to national and international audiences about emerging technologies, learning, innovation, and libraries. He received his PhD in information science in 2007 from the University of North Texas and joined the iSchool faculty in 2011. He also maintains a blog, Tame the Web, where readers can review an archive of his work. The blog also features guest posts from iSchool students in his INFO 287 – The Hyperlinked Library course.

To read an excerpt from and to purchase The Heart of Librarianship, visit the ALA Store.