Some updates on the last day of January, organized into two categories.
1. I’m really enjoying teaching ENT/GEO/LIS 530. It’s the favorite part of my week so far this semester. I ended up with an interesting mix of students:
- four Entrepreneurship majors or minors (seniors plus one sophomore who asked to be let in via an “add” form)
- five LIS graduate students
- two Accounting graduate students
- a Geography visiting researcher (PhD student)
- And my friend the new business librarian at the Greensboro Public Library is auditing the class.
Given how late last fall the class was added to the class registration system, I was pleasantly surprised to have that many students. I’m enjoying taking advantage of the various backgrounds and interests of the students. We are meeting in a small computer classroom in our new, swank Education School, and are finishing up our first main topic, industry data (using primarily the Census). As we get deeper into the semester and expand into other topics, I look forward to doing less “tool training” in class and more discussion and analysis of case studies and business research questions. (The Pegasus Librarian just had an interesting post about teaching with some good questions to ask students to keep them thinking critically.)
I’m reconsidering how I differentiated the graduate requirements in the class versus the undergraduate requirements. Such differentiation is required by accreditation for 500-level classes. For example, my Economic Census assignment is only required for the graduate students. But given the importance of the Economic Census (even if only used via the extrapolations of that data via databases like BizMiner and IBIS), I’ve decided to offer that assignment for the undergrads as extra credit.
2. Earlier this month, our Diversity Resident Librarian Nataly Blas blogged about her experience being embedded into our Campus Entrepreneurs class as a teaching partner. I’m happy to report that Nataly will be the next Business Librarian at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She interviewed in December and will begin working out there in March. I’ve enjoyed having Nataly as a business librarian colleague and will miss her.
She told me about networking with BRASS members at the discussion forum in Philadelphia last weekend – a good example of how BRASS continues to be a welcoming group for young and/or new librarians. (Nataly will be teaching a one-shot session for our Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community freshmen on Monday while I’m with my own ENT 530 class at the same time — yet another reason for me to miss her with she’s out west.) This is my second mentee in a row to end up on the west coast; another one moved to Stanford.
1. More budget cuts. The state continues to reduce funding of public education. Serials and databases will be cut heavily once again. Some business/economic development/entrepreneurship databases that provide unique and essential content for us will be cancelled. The faculty aren’t getting those details until March, when we ask for their feedback. Very distressing, given how much we cut two years ago, when we lost all the business databases I considered “optional”. Now any cuts are really going to hurt.
2. As I wrote earlier, ENT 300 is a Tuesday night class this semester. Well, we had inclement winter weather the last two Tuesdays and so class has been cancelled for two weeks straight. We’ve only had the first day of class three weeks ago — a tough situation for the instructor teaching 300 this semester. I did volunteer to convert my planned research instruction workshops for the class into detailed email messages, with links to my videos, in order to free up class time for the revised syllabus. But the instructor still wants me to proceed with the workshops (he values the research skills the students need to have to succeed in a class like this – very cool). I hope the class turns out ok after losing two or the first three weeks of class time. (Weather update: there’s a chance for freezing rain on Tuesday night.)
3. Finally, our liaison department (still officially Reference & Instructional Services for one last semester before a name change) is suffering from staffing shortages. Nataly is leaving soon, of course, and another excellent worker got a professional library job in South Carolina. Another staff person is very sick and in the hospital (but getting better, we learned today). And our main social science librarian, who has been here for 35 years or more, announced that she will begin phased retirement in July. So at least we will benefit from her skills and institutional knowledge on a part-time basis. But our new Social Sciences Team will have to work with her on covering the liaison work for her many academic departments. This may be a good opportunity to put into practice some goals of our liaison reorganization, such as functional work sharing. With the budget woes, if may be hard for us to refill all those positions right away. I will be concerned if we end up having to increase liaison hours at the Reference Desk. That would be a step backwards in our strategic planning. Stay tuned.
Hmm more Lows than Highs – not a good sign for this semester?