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University librarian increases online accessibility and wins award

By MacKenzie Garner
On March 26, 2013

Miami University user experience librarian, Jason Michel, was recently named a 2013 Mover and Shaker Tech Leader by the Library Journal. The 12th annual award Michel won two weeks ago identifies 50 emerging leaders making a difference in the library world.

According to Michel, he graduated from Simmons College Graduate School located in Boston, Mass. six years ago after attending Ohio State University for his undergraduate degree. He has been working at Miami University since 2007.

Before Michel arrived on campus, students had to post on a bulletin board inside King Library to reserve study rooms. Michel created the online system in which students can reserve their study room for any on-campus library.

On one of his first projects, Michel worked with Miami University Digital Initiatives Librarian Elias Tzoc.

Michel said the project was aimed at providing easy access to local photographic collections on external sites. He said automatically uploading the photographs to Flickr made it easy for people to find the photos on Google or other search engines.

"It was my first big project," Michel said. "We need to get our service and our materials into the new technological environment."

According to Tzoc, the Flickr project remains as one of the most successful social media outlets that Miami University Libraries has implemented.

Assistant dean for Miami University Libraries, Lisa Santucci, praised Michel's work.

"He is always thinking about the way students think," she said. "If people are using Twitter he reaches out to them and asks them if they need help."

Santucci said Michel has created computer software that alerts the librarians whenever a tweet comes from someone located near Miami's Oxford campus with keywords in it such as "study," "exam" or "final." Once alerted, the librarians can reach out to the students.

Santucci added that Michel is an employee who is always willing to pursue new ideas.

"As an employee he is engaged," Santucci said. "He has a plethora of ideas at all times. You almost have to keep him focused. He is creative, flexible and very knowledgeable."

Michel's colleagues have emphasized his abilities to be innovative, think like a student and come up with plausible solutions.

Sophomore Eric Seeger, said he has had several frustrating episodes trying to find an open computer in King Library.

"As a student, I have experienced several frustrating moments where I have walked into King Library and spent the majority of 30 minutes searching for an open computer to sit at," Seeger said. "The past couple times I've gone into King I have gone straight to the screen to see which computers are available. It has saved me plenty of time and stress."

Seeger explained that Michel established a touch screen system in King library to show which computers are accessible. It is even color coordinated; Red represents computers already in use while green signifies available ones.

Outside of his work for Miami, Michel has also managed to recently complete his first book titled Web Service APIs and Libraries. This book shows readers how to integrate software tools into library websites.

Michel said his work is a collaborative effort from the Miami library staff.

"Everything that has been done was done with my colleagues," Michel said. "Everyone is forward thinking, trying to come up with advancements in technology."


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