Wholehearted Librarianship: Finding Hope, Inspiration, and Balance

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Of his earlier book, Against the Grain raved, “Reading this book brings a sense of hope, inspiration, and excitement for what the future holds for the new generation of hyperlinked librarians entering our profession.” Now Stephens is back with a newly curated collection of succinct writings that will refresh your view of the profession and invigorate your work. Associate Professor at San Jose State University, Stephens encourages curiosity and creativity in his students and all library workers by connecting trends from outside the profession to its bedrock values. With a humanist lens, he reflects on such topics as

  • how libraries can empower kindness;
  • developing a coterie of kindred spirits at conferences outside libraryland;
  • inspiring creativity in library patrons;
  • the most effective professional development experiences;
  • comfort, joy, and hygge in the library;
  • the characteristics of compassionate leadership;
  • how to contend with a devil’s advocate; and
  • mentoring new librarians.

Whether you’ve just landed your first job or a longtime professional, Stephens’ perspective will reenergize your commitment to librarianship and the important work that libraries are doing every day.

Foreword, by K. G. Schneider

Chapter One: Past Is Prologue

  • Do Libraries Matter?
  • The Hyperlinked Organization
  • Are You Dreaming?
  • Finding My Tribe at EDUCAUSE
  • What’s Your Digital Legacy?
  • Crystal Visions
  • Zones with Heart
  • Five Hopes for the New Year
  • Internet Years and Dog Years
  • You Can Do Magic

Chapter Two: Librarian Superpowers

  • Formula for Success
  • Librarian Superpowers
  • Adopt or Adapt
  • The Research Journey
  • Talk about Compassion

Chapter Three: On the Ground, Online, and On Target

  • Personal, Actionable, Accessible
  • I’ll Be There for You
  • Conference Call
  • Making a Name
  • What’s Next
  • PLEs @ ALA

Chapter Four: Growing Our Libraries

  • Dream Explore Experiment
  • Hygge State of Mind
  • The Right Questions
  • Agents of Change
  • Speak of the Devil
  • Nurture or Nature

Chapter Five: Being Human

  • Libraries in Balance
  • Open to Change
  • Chaos and Caring
  • Finding Balance
  • Flash Briefing
  • Gifts of the Hour
  • Telling Stories
  • Library Emoji
  • The Livelong Day


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 http://tametheweb.com.

"Will lighten the soul and enliven the step of even the most tired, underpaid, discouraged librarian. Stephens' commentary is pithy and wise ... His experience and focus center on public librarianship; however, his piquant advice and suggestions are wholly applicable to academic librarianship as well. Highly recommended for both experienced and fledgling librarians."
— Booklist

"Library science students, as well as information professionals seeking encouragement and motivation, will benefit from Stephens's stirring work."
— Library Journal (starred review)