The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change

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"While full of tales of innovation, ideas that challenge our practice, and a regular dose of critical thinking, these pages are likewise full of humanism and heart."
Brian Kenney, Director at White Plains Public Library (NY); from the Foreword

Adaptation to change that's based on thoughtful planning and grounded in the mission of libraries: it's a model that respected LIS thinker and educator Michael Stephens terms "hyperlinked librarianship." And the result, for librarians in leadership positions as well as those working on the front lines, is flexible librarianship that's able to stay closely aligned with the needs and wants of library users. In this collection of essays from his "Office Hours" columns in Library Journal, Stephens explores the issues and emerging trends that are transforming the profession.  Among the topics he discusses are:

  • the importance of accessible, welcoming, and responsive library environments that invite open and equitable participation, and which factors are preventing many libraries from ramping up community engagement and user-focused services;
  • challenges, developments, and emerging opportunities in the field, including new ways to reach users and harness curiosity;
  • considerations for prospective librarians, from knowing what you want out of the profession to learning how to aim for it;
  • why LIS curriculum and teaching styles need to evolve;
  • mentoring and collaboration; and
  • the concept of the library as classroom, a participatory space to experiment with new professional roles, new technologies, and new ways of interacting with patrons.

Bringing together ideas for practice, supporting evidence from recent research, and insights into what lies ahead, this book will inform and inspire librarians of all types.


Foreword, by Brian Kenney

1    The Hyperlinked Librarian: Skills, Mind-Sets, and Ideas for Working in the Evolving Library


Heretical Thoughts
Can We Handle the Truth?
Holding Us Back
Always Doesn't Live Here Anymore
It's About Time
Things That Go Bump
Embracing Chaos
In the Moment
Reflective Practice
Actions and Answers
What's Your Pitch?
Color Me Curious

2    Scanning the Horizon: Challenges, Developments, Emerging Opportunities



Scanning the Horizon
Reaching All Users
Mobile at the Library
Stacking the Deck

3    Considerations for Prospective Librarians



Is Librarianship for You?
Stuck in the Past
Online LIS Education—or Not
Best of Both Worlds
Professionalism Matters
Seek a Challenge
The Power of Quiet

4    Communities of Practice



Notes from Some Small Islands
The Role of Mentoring
Age of Participation
Researcher: What You Got?

5    A Curriculum for Librarianship: Goals, Evolving LIS Curriculum, Cross-Discipline Collaborations



Goals of an LIS Educator
Our Common Purpose
Lost Control? Not a Problem?
Collection Bashing and Trashing
Essential Soft Skills
Citation Fixation
Flipping the LIS Classroom
Bridging the LIS/Library Divide
Listening to Student Voices
The Transparent Library School

6    Infinite Learning: Library Learning, Collaboration, Support, Professional Development



Infinite Learning
Learning Everywhere
Library as Classroom
A Genius Idea
Room to Grow
Lessons from Learning 2.0
Lessons from #hyperlibMOOC
Learning to Learn



Michael Stephens

Dr. Michael Stephens is an associate professor in the School of Information at San José State University. His teaching focuses on information communities, evolving library service, and reflective practice for librarians. He is inspired by library structures and virtual spaces that support user curiosity, encourage participation, nurture the creation of new knowledge, and encourage the heart. He has delivered keynotes, papers, and workshops throughout the United States and internationally. In 2018 he spent a month in Australia visiting libraries, keynoting a multinational conference, and serving as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern Queensland. To review his archive of work, visit his Tame the Web website and blog at

"Well worth reading … Institutions serving this population should certainly consider this volume."

“That we librarians and LIS faculty should not only keep abreast of but should lead the transformation of lifelong learning is the concern of this collection of essays ... While often geared for LIS faculty, most of his essays have applications for public and academic librarians. A good bibliography and index make this expensive collection suitable for interested professionals.”
— Catholic Library Association

”A stellar selection for budding librarians and researchers in the field ... I strongly recommend this text to any professor teaching first-year library school students as well as to any would-be librarian thinking about entering the profession. I would also recommend this collection of essays for an institution that holds materials for professional library development. If selected, this text will be an inspiration to challenge staff, students, and oneself to better the library and its services."
— Public Libraries

"This book makes for an easy to understand, highly useful, and relevant read ... It is helpful, simply written, and applicable to professionals of all levels and areas of focus. Michael Stephens, with his wealth of knowledge and experience, cites and describes many different library-related blogs, journals, and conferences. The reader can walk away with an abundance of information and be ready to work to become a 'hyperlinked' librarian, prepared for what the library world throws at them, resourceful, receptive to change and new ideas, and ready to help patrons."
— Technical Services Quarterly