Interview with Owen Stephens

For today’s chat, we’ve got the “Godfather of Mashed Library”, Owen Stephens

Owen at Mashed Library UK 2008

Owen, you’ve just started as the TELSTAR Project Manager at the OU. Could you tell us a little bit about the project and also about the other projects you’ve been involved with recently?

The TELSTAR project is a JISC funded project looking at how course bibliographies can be integrated into the Open University’s Virtual Learning Environment, including managing the bibliographic references effectively and linking to electronic versions of material where appropriate. We are partnering with RefWorks (for which the OU has a license) to see how their reference management software might be used in this context. We also hope to explore the capabilities of web-based services like Zotero and CiteULike.

I was also recently Project Director for a project to setup EThOS – a service run by the British Library in collaboration with HE institutions in the UK to give access to electronic copies of PhD theses – digitising them where they aren’t already available. The main problem for the service since it went live has been the huge demand for the material – which although challenging for those involved is also incredibly rewarding – knowing that the material EThOS is making available is so much in demand – and would previously been very difficult for people to access.

You’ve got a great web domain name — meanboyfriend.com — what’s the backstory to that?

My girlfriend (now wife), Damyanti, used to tease me that she would make a list of all the mean things that I did, and post them on a website – called meanboyfriend.com. I bought her the domain name as a joke – and it stuck!

Mashed Library is all your fault! Could you tell us how it all came about?

The original idea came from hearing about the Mashed Museums event via Mike Ellis’ blog (and watching the videos). At that event a number of people had got together to “share ideas” and “have fun”. Inspired by this, and other unconference style events, I mentioned the idea of doing a similar event for libraries on my blog, and got a great response from people who were interested in contributing or coming along – and it just went from there.

With “Mash Oop North” selling out in 24 hours, what’s next for Mashed Library?

I’m pleased to say that planning has already started for the next Mashed Library event – more details will be coming out soon, but it should be happening before the end of the year. After that – who knows? If you are reading this and think hosting an event in 2010 would be fun then get in touch!

Do you think libraries and librarians should adopt a cautious approach to new technologies, or should they be rolling up their sleeves and embracing it fully?

Technology is changing how we go about the business of organising and disseminating information – so I think Librarians have to be right in there getting to grips with it. Not every new technology will be a success, but we need to experiment and innovate to see what works and what doesn’t.

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

My favourite mash-up isn’t a data based one at all – but a mash-up of the classic Muppet’s song Mahna Mahna, with the Japanese Anime “Vampire Hunter D” – to give “Muppet Hunter D” (available at Yahoo! Video)

Got a favourite beverage?

Easy. A pint of Bateman’s XXXB 🙂 …unless someone else is buying, then it’s Veuve Clicquot all the way!


Owen blogs at Overdue Ideas and is @ostephens on Twitter.

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~ by Dave Pattern on 10/June/2009.

One Response to “Interview with Owen Stephens”

  1. Mine’s a pint of Harveys (of Lewes) Best, or Old in the Winter. Followed by Jura Single Malt Whisky, Theaksons Old Peculier and finally a good Gin and Tonic. I need to drink less.

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