School of Information Professor Visits Prescott Valley Public Library

By Casey Van Haren

It is not often that Prescott Valley Public Library is host to such amazing speakers as Dr. Michael Stephens.  On May 29, Dr. Stephens gave a talk entitled “Learning everywhere: the transformative power of hyperlinked libraries,” to an audience of librarians and library staff.

Dr. Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at San Jose State University. You might say he is a rock star in the library world. He spoke to about 34 librarians and library staff about how emerging technologies are changing the way we live and learn.

Dr. Stephens noted that most people resist change, but encouraged us to challenge archaic rules and confront those who say, “But we’ve always done it this way.”

Some take-a-ways shared by staff in attendance: learning equals evolving, growth, trust, and most of all, transparency. No secrets . . . we should be open to suggestions and have conversations related to making our libraries a living, breathing organism that serves the community in the best ways possible. Hyperlinking information, learning together by playing, experimenting and making sense of the world is the role of the library in a new and sometimes scary world.

Dr. Stephens also stated that we need to be the human face of the library. He mentioned that libraries are posting photos of staff librarians along with their particular area of reader’s advisory expertise on their websites. Take a look at the Multnomah County Library. This is a great example of the human face of the library. Dr. Stephens also encouraged us to look at signage. Is it unfriendly? Does your library signage say “Do not do this…?” Or, “No (fill in the blank) allowed?” Do away with old policies that inhibit fostering friendly community relationships. We need to be transparent with our community and express our gratitude for their support. Work to empower staff and support change. Also, take the opportunity to talk about your library, via the grocery store, Starbucks, or any other businesses you use to market what the library has to offer.

Even though this was a three-hour workshop, Dr. Stephens kept us all engaged, encouraged feedback, and shared personal and real-life stories and humor. The three hours went by too quickly, and I believe we all left with much to consider, and will hopefully be able to bring back ideas that could change our work environment and community perceptions.

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