Professional Blogs

Professional Blogs

I have been following two blogs over the past several weeks, both run by professional librarians.  One blog has a technology bent, while the other is more geared towards over-arching concepts and news in the library field.  It bears mentioning that Jessamyn West’s blog has been recommended to me by colleagues over the past years, but this class presented me with my first real motivation to check it out:  the results have been rewarding.

Tame the Web: Dr. Michael Stephens

Dr. Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in SLIS at San Jose University. He writes a monthly column for Library Journal, and frequently speaks at conventions – the most recent being PLA in Indianapolis last month (Stephens, 2014).

This blog really focuses on how we should be restructuring and rethinking library use and staff roles in light of changing technology and user needs. I was interested in his theoretical model of The Hyperlinked Library, which discusses barriers to free and open library use. How do you integrate real technology into existing structures and mindsets?  A new vision of what a library is may be the answer. However, theory isn’t always my thing and I found relatively few references to how his ideas are put into practice.  I imagine most of these presentations are part of his speeches at various conferences; and while I think that spreading new ideas and creating discourse is needed, I might be getting a little weary of reading about changes and not seeing action – this really just echoes an issue I am having in my own workplace.

Dr. Stephens does include anecdotes submitted by other libraries, and this does help flesh out the theories and ground them in reality (I just want to see more of this, basically.)  Since embracing technology is one of his major themes, a library submitted a story about making a video – seems simple, but their point was that even something “small” like producing a short video actually takes a “culture of change” in staff mindsets (Cheetham, 2014).  I empathized with this:  at work I am trying to integrate more training videos for staff, but finding time and support is very hard. So again, a library might have all the tech it needs, but normalizing and embracing its use is another issue entirely.

I plan on following this blog not only because I think we need to shift our views of how awe use the library and how staff think of themselves and their roles, but also because this author is from Traverse City and I think I’ll probably have some chances to see his presentations at area conferences in the near future – I need to keep an eye on his schedule!  Jessamyn West

This blog came highly recommended, but I never found the time to keep up with it.  Luckily I remembered it when it came time to choose a blog to follow for class!

I really enjoy West’s writing, and actually her remarks on the passing of the library leader Celeste West made it into a class assignment and couple months back.  It’s probably telling that she admires the same leader I came to admire, and for similar reasons.

Like Stephens, West gives talks at various conferences around the world.  These talks are posted on the blog for all to share which is in line with her key themes:  she concentrates on openness in libraries, fair use, copyright, using open source tech, and more.  She also has a book out called Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide (West, 2014).  On reading her blog and Stephens, I keep wondering if they’ve met and collaborated in the past!

What I like most about her blog is her meticulous nature.  She keeps book lists and tracks patterns in what she reads.  She tracks libraries she’s visited and gives brief reviews/descriptions.   These are things I would like to do if given the time (and the time to actually read and take trips!)

Wouldn’t it be great to plan a project like visiting all of your state’s libraries?  That’s exactly what West is doing in Vermont.  What is cool about her blog is that she talks about the data-gathering steps you need to  plan just such a long term project; like making a map, for example.  Sounds easy?  It’s more complicated than you think!  Data organizing always takes more work than you think – and West is the consummate librarian in that she documents her steps and shares her knowledge with all.

Although she doesn’t update this blog as often as I’d like, her links to her other projects and personal blog make up for this.  I know I’ll be following West for a long time (she’s been around since 1999, so I imagine she’s here for the long haul!)


Cheetham, W. (2014, February 19). Embracing Creativity and Play at CityLibraries Townsville. Retrieved February 22, 2014, from Tame the Web:

Stephens, M. (2014). Tame the Web. Retrieved January 12, 2014, from Tame the Web:

West, J. (2014). Retrieved 03 26, 2014, from

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