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Alec Sonsteby

  • Professor, Department Chair


  • Master of Business Administration, Business Administration
    Metropolitan State University
  • Master of Library Science, Library and Information Science
    University of Illinois
  • Bachelor of Arts, Religion
    Gustavus Adolphus College

Recent and upcoming courses

Spring 2022


Alec Sonsteby is a professor (library faculty) at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minn., and has served as department chair in Library and Information Services since 2017. He provides research assistance to students at the Library’s Reference Desk and online and teaches undergraduate Information Studies (INFS) courses. Among his responsibilities as chair, Sonsteby co-coordinates the "Write @ the Desk" drop-in research and writing help service with the Center for Academic Excellence, a service that won the university's "Silo-Buster" Student Success award. As a library liaison, he collaborates with the faculty in the College of Management, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, and the departments of Computer Science & Cybersecurity and Mathematics & Statistics to provide information literacy instruction and develop library collections. Sonsteby has served on several search committees at the university, including those for the positions of provost/executive vice president for academic & student affairs and library dean.

Sonsteby earned his MS from the nation’s top-ranked library and information science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, Minn., with a BA in Religion. Most recently he earned an MBA at Metropolitan State University, where he was a finalist for the Outstanding Student Award.

Over his professional career Sonsteby has published in the international peer-reviewed Journal of Web Librarianship, the national professional trade magazines Library Journal and College & Research Libraries News, and most recently the information literacy journal LOEX Quarterly. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Web Librarianship since 2016. Sonsteby has presented at the national Library Technology Conference, the annual conferences of the Minnesota Library Association and the American Music Therapy Association, and various other local and regional conferences. His recent presentations have focused on library and writing center collaborations, user experience (UX), ebooks, Web-scale discovery technology, and board gaming in libraries.

Sonsteby is an active member of the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), the union representing the faculty of the seven university campuses of the Minnesota State system. He served two consecutive terms as IFO Treasurer, where he oversaw the development of the statewide organization's annual budget, as well as its investment portfolio. In addition, he served on the IFO Board as one of two directors representing the faculty of Metropolitan State University, having been appointed three times by the Metropolitan State University Faculty Association. Locally Sonsteby served on the faculty association's Executive Committee and as a member of its Meet and Confer Team for six years. Deeply interested in matters of governance, he led the faculty association's rewriting of its constitution and the codification of its first ever set of operating procedures.

Outside of the higher education community, Sonsteby serves on the City of Woodbury, Minn., Audit and Investment Commission and on the Board of Directors of Twin Cities Bronze, a professional handbell ensemble.


"Book Review: Teaching Strategies for the College Classroom: A Collection of Faculty Articles." LOEX Quarterly 46.3 (2020): 2-3.

"LOEX 2019 Conference Report: Minneapolis, MN," with Lisa Abrazo. LOEX Quarterly 45.4 (2019): 2-3, 16.

"A Mobile-First Library Site Redesign: How Designing for Mobile Provides a Better User Experience for All," with Nathan Carlson and Jennifer DeJonghe. In Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries: Innovative Services for Research and Teaching, by Robin Canuel and and Chad Crichton. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017.

"ACRL in Chicago: ACRL Programs at the ALA Annual Conference: Busting Out of the Cubicle." College & Research Libraries News 74.8 (Sept. 2013): 440-441.

"Usability Testing, User-Centered Design, and LibGuides Subject Guides: A Case Study," with Jennifer DeJonghe. Journal of Web Librarianship 7.1 (2013): 83-94.

"Films on Demand." Library Journal (1 Apr. 2012). Review of the Films on Demand database.

"Philosophy & Religion E-Reference Ratings." In The Library Journal Guide to E-Reference Resources, edited by Mirela Roncevic. ALA Neal-Schuman, 2009. 65-70.

“Artist as Archivist,” with Travis Nygard (University of Pittsburgh). Afterimage 37.1 (July/August 2009): 48. Review of the book The Big Archive: From Art to Bureaucracy, by Sven Spieker.

"Library Field Report: Concordia College’s Road to Instant Messaging." In Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library, by M. Kathleen Kern. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2009. 29.

"E-Reference Ratings." Library Journal (15 Nov. 2008). A contribution of 15 electronic reference product reviews in the disciplines of religion and philosophy.

“No Sacred Cows: One College Library’s Take on Selecting E-Resources.” Library Journal 133.13 (15 Aug. 2008): 118.


"What Works Online: Effective Collaboration for Research and Writing Support," with Luke Morgan, Tracy van der Leeuw, and Dawn Wing.

  • Minnesota Writing and English (MnWE) 2021: Reinvest, Reinvent, Reinvigorate: Teaching after 2020. March 25, 2021.

  • South Central Writing Centers Association (SCWCA) 2021 Virtual Conference: Confidence, and Compromise: The Interrelational Work of Writing Centers. March 6, 2021.

"Pandemic Innovations: Reimagining a Successful Face-to-Face Library Service in the Time of COVID." Academic and Research Libraries Division Meeting and Lightning Talks, Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference. October 2, 2020.

"Be the Game Changer: Embracing Gaming of All Types in Libraries," with Jennifer DeJonghe and Amanda Lewis. Lake Superior Libraries Symposium. University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN, June 8, 2018.

"Summon, Serendipity, and Scholarly Success: Improving the User Experience with Discovery," with Jennifer DeJonghe. ELUNA 2017 Annual Meeting (Ex Libris Users of North America). Schaumburg Convention Center, Schaumburg, IL. May 9-12, 2017.

"Cold War in the Catalog: Comparing the User Experience of E-book Platforms," with Nathan Carlson. Library Technology Conference. Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. March 15-16, 2017.

"PRIMO: What It is and What It Can Do For You," with Ben Oberdick. Webcast for Blended Librarians Online Learning Community. December 5, 2013.

"Crowdsourcing a Library Logo: One Library’s Experience." Library Technology Conference. Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. March 20-21, 2013.

"Seeking Serendipity with Summon: How Web Scale Discovery Changed How We Think about Teaching and Reference," with Jennifer DeJonghe and Michelle Filkins. Library Technology Conference. Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. March 20-21, 2013.

"Organizational Creativity: Managing Change, Remaining Competitive." Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference. Saint Paul, MN. October 3-5, 2012.

"Game On! Board Gaming, Libraries, and Literacy," with Jennifer DeJonghe. Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference. Saint Paul, MN. October 3-5, 2012.

"Usability Testing in the Academic Library: A LibGuides Case Study," with Jennifer DeJonghe, Michelle Desilets, and Michelle Filkins. Library Technology Conference. Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. March 14-15, 2012.

"More than Books: Applying the Richness of Library Collections to MT Practice," with Margaret M. Grube. American Music Therapy Association Annual Conference. Cleveland, OH. November 18-21, 2010.

"The Portable Reference Library: Accessing Reference Resources and Services on Mobile Devices."

  • (revised) Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference. Rochester, MN. October 6, 2010.

  • (revised) Minitex webinars. June 17 and 24, July 1, and August 5, 2010.

  • General Session. Consortium of MnPALS Libraries Reference Workday. Edina, MN. April 19, 2010.

"VuFind: The MnPALS Experience." Library Technology Conference. Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. March 18-19, 2009.

"Comparing the Status of Teaching Faculty and Librarians at Institutions That Identify with a Religious Tradition," with Brent Swearingen (John Brown University). American Theological Library Association Annual Conference. Ottawa, ON. June 25-28, 2008.

"Retiring Legacy Print Collections," with Mark England (North Dakota State University) and Larry Schwartz (Minnesota State University, Moorhead). Tri-College Conference on the Future of Academic Libraries and Librarianship. North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. April 3, 2008.

"Disordering Knowledge: Reflections on Libraries, Technology, and the Decline of Imposed Linearity," with Kathleen Kern (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). International Conference on Material Cultures and the Creation of Knowledge. The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. July 22-24, 2005.

Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Student Award (Finalist). Selected by the faculty of the College of Management at Metropolitan State University. Spring 2015.
  • Bryce Allen Award for Reference Services. Presented annually by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to a student demonstrating excellence and interest in the area of reference services. Spring 2005.
  • Beta Phi Mu, Alpha Chapter. International honor society for library and information science. Inducted 2005.
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Eta of Minnesota. Inducted 2002.
  • Theta Alpha Kappa. National honor society for religious studies and theology. Inducted 2002.

Professional Development

Creative Commons Certificate for Academic Librarians. Creative Commons. Spring 2021.

Minnesota Union Leadership Program (MULP). A yearlong program offered through the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. 2018-2019.

CopyrightX. A twelve-week online course offered under the auspices of Harvard Law School, the HarvardX distance-learning initiative, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Spring 2016.

Immersion. Institute for Information Literacy, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association.

  • Assessment Track. November 4-7, 2015.
  • Intentional Teacher Track. November 10-14, 2010.