The Technology Innovation Profile Series spotlights academic librarians who promote technological innovation in their community

IGI Global Profiles Jennifer DeJonghe, Michelle Desilets and Michelle Filkins of Metropolitan State University, USA

By IGI Global on May 31, 2016
Encouraging collaboration on emerging technology, development, experience, and success, IGI Global has implemented the Technology Innovation Profile Series as part of our Library Technology Innovation Program. This series brings attention to today's leaders and specialists who use innovation and technology in their research. This week, we are spotlighting innovators Jennifer DeJonghe, Michelle Desilets and Michelle Filkins of Metropolitan State University, Minnesota, USA.
Metropolitan State University Librarian ProfilesPreparing to live stream from the Reference Desk with PeriscopeNames: Jennifer DeJonghe, Michelle Desilets, Michelle Filkins
Position: Reference and Instruction Librarians
Library: Metropolitan State University

How do you consider yourselves technological innovators?

We tend to be early adopters of technology as we constantly strive to identify the best tools and approaches to meet student needs. For example, we experiment with new applications like Periscope and seek to identify ways that technology can create more engaging learning experiences for students and researchers.

We have adopted an approach to our work with web and technology where we are very collaborative and trusting of each other and our end-users, and that collaboration helps make things fun. We have a philosophy that emphasizes user experience, flexibility, and the principle of iterative change.

We’re risk takers. We were early adopters of chat reference many years ago, so that at this point we have a well-developed sense of service and a high comfort level with virtual reference. We believe there are real advantages to plunging in early and not waiting for the “right moment”, and that there is a “payout” by being able to move beyond the tool and start to really engage thoughtfully with the technology.

What programs are you currently involved in?

One of the things that we’ve been experimenting with recently is live streaming with apps such as Periscope. We especially like that Periscope emphasizes the ephemeral and encourages unscripted and “real-time” broadcasting, and allows us to connect with patrons in an authentic way. We’ve used Periscope to reach online students, in-person students, and as a way to conduct virtual library tours. We also have been incorporating video games and gaming into our library services, with popular events and activities that draw both students and community patrons. We’ve been working with professors who teach in Media Studies and Game Studies and are planning to add additional programming and events around gaming and game design.

What areas of technological innovation do you consider the most exciting?

We are excited by opportunities to bring social media and technology into educational settings, especially how technology allows us to add authenticity and spontaneity into instruction and reference desk interactions. Within our credit-bearing information literacy courses we work to incorporate meaningful applications of emerging technology and social media. We feel that by using familiar, real world technology, students feel more connected, and this fosters the metaliteracy skills that will best position students for their lives after graduation.

What technology-related projects do you see librarians implementing in the future?

We feel that librarians will continue to move from being gatekeepers to curators - guiding users toward content and applications that facilitate access. Librarians will help users build skills that are tool-agnostic, and provide a foundation for exploration. Librarians will support students and other patrons as they become creators rather than just consumers of content, and we will help them create digital content and other products via innovative maker spaces.

What advice would you share with a librarian looking to become a leader in supporting technology advancements?

Take risks, try new things, break down barriers, and don’t be afraid to fail. Pay attention to how information is being disseminated in contexts outside of the library and figure out ways to bridge the library into those spaces and provide quality content. Be flexible and attuned to technological developments. Do not become enamored with technology for technology's sake, or lose sight of the the broader information landscape. At the same time, do not assume that technology that begins in the social media realm is not adaptable or appropriate for academic settings, or take a condescending view of non-library sources of information. Lastly, strive to create an open, collaborative environment in your library that can become a fertile ground for innovation of all types.
Michelle Filkins is a Professor and Reference and Instruction Librarian at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN. Michelle R. Desilets is an Assistant Professor and Librarian at Metropolitan State University. Jennifer DeJonghe is a Professor and Librarian at Metropolitan State University.

Calling all innovators! Click here to participate in IGI Global's Library Technology Innovation Survey and share how your library strives to meet technology demands.

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