Last week I posted on the business librarians discussion at the Charleston Conference. Here are my notes and lessons from the conference sessions.

Charleston, King Street

Charleston, SC, King Street (by Henry de Saussure Copeland, Creative Commons): https://www.flickr.com/photos/hdescopeland/2928874180

Building Capacity in Your Library for Research Data Management Support (Or What We Learned from Offering to Review DMPs)

William Cross and Hilary Davis discussed how the NCSU Libraries created a “data management plan review service.” There is no data specialist on staff, so the subject liaisons are implementing the service with leadership from Hilary. The annual goals for the liaisons now include learning opportunities for data management plans (DMPs). (Yes, yet another role for already over-extended liaisons to learn and carry out.) One liaison workshop featured practice with a pretend DMP – neat idea. Hilary said there is a learning curve, but that it didn’t take too much training for the curve to plateau. The liaisons recruited partners and expertise across campus, like from IT, research office staff, and statisticians. They also found fruitful collaboration with the librarians at NC A&T. NSCU found graduate students to be the most effective target audience; those students tend to drive the development of the data plans.

Deploying Mendeley to Support Research Collaboration

Since UNCG will be losing access to EndNote Online/Web next summer (part of a story for an upcoming post), a small group of liaisons last summer reviewed if we should subscribe to another citation management system. We decided to officially support Zotero, but in the process got to know some of the other products better. One of my favorite instructors at UNCG recently began a PhD program at NCSU and told me that many in her cohort are using Mendeley. So I decided to get more familiar with Mendeley and played with the online and desktop versions earlier this semester.

At this panel, an Elsevier representative introduced Helen Josephine, Head of the Terman Engineering Library, Stanford University and Indira Yerramareddy, Information and Knowledge Management Specialist of the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington, D.C.). There was a mild sales-pitch vibe in this program, which savvy Charleston Conference attendees would have expected, but the program also provided useful case studies of the use of the product at Stanford and the NGO. Most of the attendees at this event were not Mendeley users.

Helen Josephine is the self-proclaimed “Stanford University Library ‘champion’ for the campus-wide adoption of Mendeley Institutional Edition (MIE).” In 2011, before the library subscribed to the Institutional Edition, Helen reported that there were 1,800 free accounts used on campus and just 23 premium accounts. (Premium account users get more online storage space as well as access to “team plans” for group storage and communication). The library provided Institutional Edition access in 2012; that edition includes the premium services plus analytics tools. Now there are 1,250 students utilizing the Institutional Edition and 2,250 students still using the basic, free account (even though the Institutional Edition is free to them through the library). Most of the Mendeley users at Stanford are engineering and science students. Helen discussed the workshops and promotional materials provided for Mendeley users, although word of mouth marketing is probably the most effective method of promotion.

Indira Yerramareddy discussed how her researchers use Mendeley to connect internationally around publication groups. The groups help disseminate the organization’s publications.

Networking Interlude

Up next in my conference notepad are notes from when Jill Morris, soon to be the interim-director of NC LIVE, and I went out to Market Street for a glass of wine. We brainstormed a NC LIVE ambassadors program that will hopefully be trialed using business librarians from BLINC. Probably more about that in a future post.

[At this point in the conference I stopped taking paper notes and focused on live-tweeting programs (#chs14). So to write the reminder of this blog post, I’m cutting and pasting my tweets into Word and then turning the tweets into paragraphs. We’ll see how readable this becomes.]

Hyde Park Debate & What Faculty Want Librarians to Know

One of the cool things about the Charleston Conference (besides the location) is that the programming formats are creative and vary through the day. Also, the conference directors periodically revise the conference schedule. I wish more conferences were open to shaking up their traditions.

One example of interesting programming is the Hyde Park Debate held early Friday morning. The goal of the debaters is not to win a majority of votes, but to change the most minds. This year the debate topic was “Resolved: Wherever possible, library collections should be shaped by patrons, instead of by librarians” and the debaters were Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources and Collections, University of Utah, and David Magier, Associate University Librarian for Collection Development, Princeton University. There were lots of tweets about the debate and the Q/A time that followed, but what really made the debate most interesting for me – in retrospect — was the next event: short lectures from three professors regarding “What Faculty Want Librarians to Know”. (Previously this program slot concerned “what provosts want librarians to know,” another example of the conference directors keeping the programming fresh). The profs represented three disciplines:

  • Theoretical physics
  • Classical Studies
  • Securities Studies (South Asian studies/social sciences)

While the two debaters had to generalize the behavior and needs of researchers, here were three researchers discussing in great detail their very active pursuits of data, journal articles, and primary sources. The professor of securities studies has even created her own print library due to the limitations of collections in her very specialized field. While I don’t want to make superficial conclusions about the complex issues at play in this year’s Hyde Park debate, the comments of the three professors made it clear that they do not (and can not?) passively wait for the library to collect or link to content they need. I tweeted that how those three profs identify research tools and sources seems to support Rick Anderson’s side of the debate. We also got reminders (it took me a while in my career to accept this) that professors are pretty frequently fallible humans who don’t always understand the nature and economics of their own scholarly communication, and sometimes make false assumptions about research sources and strategies. An important lesson for liaisons.

How Users’ Perceptions of E-Books Have Changed – or Not: Comparing Parallel Survey Responses

In 2009, librarians from the University of Florida conducted a survey of user perceptions of ebooks, covering 28 institutions with 550 polls completed. They re-conducted the survey this year on a similar scale. The results are interesting if confusing. For example, the percentage of students who reported using ebooks decreased, even though usage of ebooks increased dramatically. Several times in this discussion-filled program (thanks to the UF librarians for letting us ask questions throughout the talk), we discussed how users often don’t know if the online content they are viewing is an ebook,  article, or something else. (And really, does that lack of knowledge matter as long as the users are finding information they need?) Look for another journal article about this re-survey soon.

Successful Library Curriculum Integration

“With the additional demands of imminent new ACRL information literacy standards, we would like to take the opportunity to discuss deeper opportunities for collaboration among librarians, faculty, instructional designers, and students.” [from the panel description]

Gale/Cengage facilitated this panel, but the focus was squarely on public service. Georgetown University English librarian Elizabeth Van Vuuren discussed being both visible and responsive to faculty and students’ requests. She later noted the importance of managing ones time carefully (as embedded librarians learn). Elizabeth recommended targeting gateway courses, new graduate students, capstone courses, and research-intensive classes.

Sean Wernert is a faculty member of First Year of Studies, one of the colleges at Notre Dame. He is a freshmen adviser and teacher of an introduction to research class. He discussed his collaboration with librarian Leslie Morgan, a First Year Librarian who was able to design her own position. Leslie discussed getting students past their library anxiety despite being an introverted librarian herself. She talked about how liaisons should create a “brand identity” for themselves via outreach and proactive engagement. We ended with an interesting discussion of how to get libraries to focus on teaching and outreach despite sometimes old-fashioned organizational cultures.

The Punishment for Dreamers: Big Data, Retention, and Academic Libraries

Adam Murray, Dean & Associate Professor of the Murray State University Libraries, described their “big data” assessment of specific library users (students) and retention. They tracked individual students logging in to library computers, accessing e-resources via the proxy server, and participating in library and research instruction (through sign-in sheets or class roles – I’m not sure which), and then worked in those students’ retention status. Adam has provided a link to his slides from the program page.

He describes this big and complex study as direct measures of retention, as opposed to lamer indirect measures like looking at student learning outcomes. General conclusion: “library users are twice as likely to be retained as non-users” (slide 20). The most impactful activities involve library instruction (slide 24). Adam said it took two years to get this data, yikes, but hopefully other libraries will run their own studies to see if similar results are found.

Are E-Book Big Deals Still Valuable?

Jennifer Bazeley, Interim Head of Technical Services and Aaron Shrimplin, Associate Dean, at the Miami University Libraries analyzed usage of several big deal packages of ebooks (Wiley, Oxford, and Springer) purchased through OhioLINK. They provided data on the Wiley ebooks, which have no DRM restrictions.

19% of their Wiley titles had at least once use, similar to usage from other packages. 25% of the used Wiley titles accounting for 80% of downloads. 17% of all downloads came from 3 titles, all textbooks. (Can you tell where this analysis is going?) It was hard to do much subject-level analysis given the different number of ebooks by subject and the different number of students per major.

Miami’s conclusion? The cost of the package wasn’t worthwhile. Given some budget issues at the university, the library will be considering alternative strategies for buying ebooks. There was an interesting discussion about the role of indexing and discovery tools in driving ebook use.

That’s it for this year in Charleston.

I’m continuing my pattern of attending the Charleston Conference in even-numbered years. I provided a short description of the conference two years ago. My wife Carol, a collection development head at another library, goes every year but we especially enjoy the years when we attend together. (Next spring we will enjoy attending ACRL in Portland together. We are both presenting* on the same day…at the same time…in adjacent convention center rooms – a real Kramer v. Kramer.)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/savannah_sam/12252310605, courtesey of Savannah Sam Photography, Creative Commons attribution

Five business librarians at the Charleston Conference rendezvoused for an informal discussion. One of the librarians had a scheduling conflict but wanted to stop by to say hello, so four of us found an empty conference room and chatted for an hour. I forgot to ask permission to identify the librarians, sorry. We represented two business school libraries and two general academic libraries with business school liaisons.

We discussed if Charleston Conference could support a business information-related program each year. One idea for a program: the sometimes quirky licensing terms used by the business vendors that sell to corporations as well as academia. We know that acquisitions librarians sometimes struggle to deal with those licenses. A panel that includes one of the business vendors who frequent Charleston (ex. S&P or Mergent), a business librarian, and an acquisition librarian might have significant appeal.

We also chatted about:

  • Organizational culture challenges as our libraries deal with major change initiatives.
  • Our job titles: using an official or organizational-structure based title v. a more user-centered title like “business librarian”. I mentioned a BRASS tweet (from Chad Boeninger paraphrasing a Penn State Librarian?) that switching to the title “Business Research Consultant” seemed to result in many more consultations than using “Business Librarian”. Another librarian suggested keeping your title(s) flexible and consider using different titles for different audiences.
  • We discussed the continued importance of physical spaces and print collections for business students. (This came from the two librarians based in business school libraries.) One librarian asked if the rest of us still bought textbooks. Her library did, at the cost of big bucks each year. Yet having that collection is popular.
  • One librarian asked if anyone was working on financial literacy programming for college students. Another thought that equally needed was “protecting your privacy” programming.
  • We discussed our experiences with requests to do data mining (ex. with Wall Street Journal articles via Factiva or ProQuest). We wished that vendors would be more flexible regarding this option, but also discussed the need for vendors to protect their intellectual property from mass downloads. One librarian described how a vendor blocked access to his entire university because of one user abusing access to the database and hoped that vendor would work with the library on a more nuanced response the next time that happens.
  • We joked about and lamented student requests for market or industry research on super-niche products or markets, such as umbrella handles or rugby cleats. We also sympathized with each other for students who expect data to always be current, like the student who assumed that complicated financial data for all countries through 2013 would be available by early 2014.
  • Similarly, we discussed students requesting expensive market research reports they discovered through Google searches, or IBIS reports that don’t exist but are listed as potential future new reports on the IBIS public web site. Least you think we were complaining too much, we also discussed how helpful vendors can be, like providing a free report that isn’t part of our official academic subscription just because we asked about it. Strong relations with vendor reps can be very useful for both sides.

That last bullet points captures the over-all tone of our hour discussion pretty well. We enjoyed sharing a few frustrations specific to business librarianship with an understanding and sympathetic audience, but never abandoned a positive attitude about working with students and faculty, other librarians, and vendors. We’ll see if we can work together to make business librarianship a more regular topic at the Charleston Conference.


*(My ACRL program will be on liaison reorganization and will include my colleague Amy Harris and liaison leaders from Johns Hopkins and Villanova. Carol will be speaking on weeding along with librarians from Minnesota.)


Wake Forest University hosted Take Risks, Embrace Change: The 2014 Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians yesterday. This conference alternates locations between WFU and UNCG.  Mary Scanlon, one of the WFU business librarians (and chair of BLINC), served as a co-director of the conference along with Kathy Crowe from my library. Slides from the keynote and the break-out programs should be online at the conference web site very soon.


I introduced my friend and colleague Professor Dianne Welsh as the keynote speaker. She opened the conference with a discussion of “Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for Librarians in the 21st Century“. Prof. Welsh has a book coming out in December on how to create cross-campus interdisciplinary entrepreneurship programs. She has created three such programs, most recently the large and award-winning program here at UNCG. Prof. Welsh linked emerging trends in academia to the nature of entrepreneurship programs, but also tied in libraries (both public and academic — there were a handful of public librarians in the house) to many of the trends.

In part two of her keynote, Prof. Welsh stressed the essential role of libraries and librarians in supporting entrepreneurship on campus. She discussed the need for libraries to provide databases to support the writing of business models, feasibility analyses, and business plans. Such work (as many of you know) requires researching industries, markets, competitors, and financial benchmarks among other topics.

And Prof. Welsh discussed the need for libraries to hire and support the work of proactively engaged business librarians who teach, consult, create research guides, and evaluate business databases. Prof. Welsh provided case studies of three business librarians who proactively support their campus entrepreneurship programs.

One such librarian was my friend Mary Scanlon. Mary teaches two credit classes:

  • LIB235/ESE305: Research for Entrepreneurs
  • LIB230 Research Strategies

Mary supports ESE101 classes by providing research sessions, pre-approving student concepts (very cool), and consulting with student teams on their research. She does similar work for other business school classes.

Another librarian profiled by Prof. Welsh was Diane Campbell of Rider University. I knew of Diane, and once blogged about one of her business information literacy articles, but didn’t know all the impressive things she does to support Rider’s entrepreneurship program. She provides teaching support for a number of ENT classes, but also is the research partner since 2009 of Dr. Ron Cook, the Director of Rider’s Entrepreneurial Studies Center and the Small Business Institute. Together they have written:

  • one textbook
  • four peer-reviewed journal articles
  • one national grant
  • and nine presentations for the Small Business Institute Annual Conference (where Prof. Welsh has gotten to know Diane).

Very impressive! I enjoyed getting to know Diane better.

(The third librarian case study was me for work I’ve blogged about before.)

Break-out sessions

Several business librarians provided programming at the conference.

Diane Campbell spoke on “When a Veteran is a Novice: A New Constituency and A New Opportunity.” She provides two 3-hour research workshops for a small group of military veterans about to begin a business plan class. These are adult students but not official Rider University students. Around half already own a business. All the students have to begin the class with a business concept already identified. The veterans also get a year’s worth of mentoring through the entrepreneurship program. Diane created a detailed libguide for the workshops, but also emphasizes the services provided by the veterans’ home public library (she looks up the home library for each student and adds those library links to her libguide). So Diane does a lot of customized prep-work for the veterans.

Among Diane’s lessons learned and students’ suggestions for the workshop:

  • Provide more time for the workshops (any of you who have been asked to cover “business plan research” in a short workshop will sympathize with that!)
  • Create tutorial videos to support the workshop topics
  • Hold the research workshop during the semester, not right before it begins (then the framework for writing business plans would already have been firmly established by the teacher, Dr. Cook)
  • Embed more into the class once it begins (schedules and time permitting)

Diane concluded by encouraging us to get involved with entrepreneurship programs one professor at a time, as she did with Dr. Cook, now her teaching, publishing, and presenting partner.

I always love hearing case studies on interesting business research teaching scenarios and certainly enjoyed Diane’s talk and the discussion that followed.

Corey Seeman, Director of Kresge Library Services, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, discussed “Creating The Ethereal Library: Thinking Creatively When You Have No Space To Think“. His summary:

How do you go from a full service library to one with only space for staff? Learn how the Kresge Business Library at The University of Michigan made the transformation to an ethereal library.

Yikes, what a story Corey had to tell. My freshman and sophomore dorm at the UM, East Quad, is next to the business school, and I remember walking past the business library building on the way to class. (I wasn’t a business major and so don’t think I ever went inside that library.) At the end of the spring semester, when Corey had just begun to serve as library director, he learned that the business school was taking over the library building. All of it. Everything had to go: all the books and other print material, all 700 student study spaces, and the librarian offices and work spaces. Even though the library had always received the highest student satisfaction ratings of all student services provided by the business school.

Corey noted that print materials constituted 2% of the library’s usage, but 50% of the perception of the library by its patrons. The library could no longer be a student destination, a status it long enjoyed. The library had to become a virtual library, or ethereal library as Corey puts it.

While acknowledging that the loss of the physical library forced all the staff into a grieving process, Corey emphasized the positive. He was able to keep all his staff. He discussed how 98% of the library’s content — ethereal content — didn’t go away, and that ethereal realm is where the library can still connect with the students. Corey also discussed how the library is now free of all tradition and can try most anything. Their emphasis now is (and must be) on proactive services — so the library is now officially called Kresge Library Services. (Even though the library was kicked out of the Kresge Building, the Kresge brand remains known and valuable to the students.) The librarians are expanding the existing embedded librarian program to more classes. Embracing experiments and change is essential for the library to adapt to its new situation.

The library will get a very small space in a new building, but there still won’t be any room for books, and the student spaces will be tiny compared to the original.

Corey provided many other interesting details (including plans to spend $400,000 to move a large, old oak tree — more than storing the now-lost book collection of the Kresge library would cost). Check the CEL web site for his slides for more.

I didn’t catch these two presentations by other business librarians, but here are the official descriptions:

Mark Bieraugel, Business Librarian at California Polytechnic State University, presented on “Lean Entrepreneurship in Your Library”.

Launching something new in your library is perilous. By applying lean entrepreneurship principles you reduce time to launch and the money spent on the project.

Finally, Lauren Reiter, Business Liaison Librarian at the Schreyer Business Library, Penn State University, described the “Student Financial Education Center: A Library/Student Startup For Financial Literacy“.

This presentation covers how Penn State University Libraries teamed up with students to develop and implement a peer-to-peer solution to the campus financial literacy problem.


There isn’t that much at this conference focusing on the traditional definition of the E-word; instead, entrepreneurship was usually defined as “innovation” or “intrapreneurship”. So this isn’t really a business librarianship event. Yet there was much value in hearing about innovating developments happening in libraries around the country.

Global Entrepreneurship,  2nd edition

Global Entrepreneurship, 2nd editi

A book chapter I co-wrote with Professor Nick Williamson last fall is now available in the new textbook Global Entrepreneurship (2nd edition). The publisher’s site has the full table of contents. One of the book editors, Professor Dianne Welsh, is the entrepreneurship program director for UNCG and recruited Nick and me to write about Export Odyssey.

The writing process was interesting for this one. Professor Williamson and I met a few times to plan our outline, the major issues, and most-telling anecdotes. Then he wrote a complete draft and asked me to review it and suggest any changes. Which I did. And that was about it, to be honest. I later told him I felt guilty for my limited amount of writing, but he responded that my long role as co-teacher of the Export Odyssey class and research consultant for the students teams warrants not having to work hard on the book chapter. So if your library gets this book and you notice the writing style of the export chapter is very different from the writing style of this blog, well, that’s why.

Professor Williamson likes to call me the “Electronic Business Reference Librarian” (EBRL) and extols the vital role business librarians can play in supporting experiential learning in exports. He lists the EBRL as well as “Personnel with the United States Department of Commerce – International Division” and “Personnel with a freight forwarding company” as key players for any exporter. We keep good company, apparently. Specifically the chapter states that the business librarian can support:

  • Identification of best export market to target
  • Identification of the best downstream customer type (e.g., export channel)
  • Identification of specific companies in the U. S. and abroad who are “head on” competitors
  • Identification of potential customer companies in the targeted country
  • Identification of electronic databases that offer insight into
    • Character of competition in targeted foreign market
    • Nature of needs of potential customers in targeted foreign market

Our Export Odyssey mantra:

The more Internet intensive, the more electronically intensive, the more database intensive, the more key word and code number search intensive the export marketing activities are, the faster, the less expensive, and  the better that the export marketing activities are for the exporter.

Since this book is a textbook, we also had to contribute ten questions for the end of the chapter. For example:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program that can be used to support buildings, construction and land relevant to exporting is the

  1. Export Working Capital Program
  2. International Trade Loan Program
  3. Export Express Program
  4. None of the preceding is correct.

And we had to create a PowerPoint version of the chapter.

For my next post I promise not to discuss books or book chapters.

The latest addition to the ALA Fundamentals book series is “Fundamentals for the Academic Liaison” (2014), written by Richard Moniz, Jo Henry, and Joe Eshleman:

We wrote this book because we believe that library liaisons are at the forefront with regard to the future of library services in this technological age. (preface, page vii)

(Admission: Richard, Jo, and Joe are friends of mine, and we have presented together a few times.)

Sometimes you hear laments that liaison work is generally not covered in library schools. Yet consider the list of liaison roles and responsibilities covered in this book:

1          Faculty/Staff Orientation Meetings
2          Subject Expertise
3          Communication with Faculty
4          Online Tutorials
5          Faculty Assistance
6          Collection Development
7          Teaching Information Literacy
8          Embedded Librarianship
9          Library Guides
10        Accreditation and New Courses
11        Evaluation

All that would be really difficult to cover in one 3-credit class! It would take a suite of classes. But for any attempt to cover liaison work in a class, this book would serve as a valuable and practical introductory textbook.

It was perhaps a daunting task to summarize topics like “teaching information literacy” in a 20 page chapter. The authors do often suggest core books and other sources for details. Each chapter includes checklists and concludes with a list of references.

I like how the chapter on embedded librarianship segments out different distinctive examples of such work: online, the physical classroom, and the academic department.

The chapter on evaluation was particularly interesting. Evaluating all aspects of a library’s liaison program remains a new frontier in many libraries. My library has had a detailed collections survey for academic departments for years, and a while ago added a question or two about liaison service; we also collect usage statistics on teaching, consultations, LibGuide and web page access, and e-resource click- through. I collect all the thank-you notes received each year.

But then what? Is there a holistic application of that data and feedback? What about a gap analysis (identifying absent data or feedback from a certain department)? What do I as the X liaison need to try differently next year? Ending the book on this subject really emphasizes how important evaluation should be. What to do with the evaluation would be another useful chapter.

This is a very useful book for liaison newbies but is also useful for experienced liaisons to step back and review the all the possibilities of serving as an academic liaison.

My book chapter from Embedded Librarianship: What Every Academic Librarian Should Know (ABC-CLIO, 2013) is now freely available from the UNCG institutional repository:

Relationships and Ethics of Co-Teaching Research Intensive Classes

Several of the authors asked about IR access before signing the authors’ agreement, and ABC-CLIO agreed to a one-year embargo. The book came out last September. For background on writing this chapter, please see a post from a year ago.

Chapter abstract:

This chapter explores aspects of librarians co-teaching research-intensive undergraduate classes. An opening review of the rather limited literature on embedded librarians in research-intensive classes will lead into a description of such work with two University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) classes, Marketing 426 and Entrepreneurship 300. The professors’ expectations of the embedded librarian are then discussed. The chapter concludes with a discussion of two intriguing aspects of such embedded work: the complex communication pattern that forms between the librarian, professor, and the students, as well as ethical considerations involving grading, privacy, and time commitment.

Professor Williamson and I have been featured on the UNCG homepage for over a week for a story on Export Odyssey and its impact on students. My Coleman Fellow gig (and my new role this year of Assistant Director of the UNCG Coleman Fellow program) came out of the ENT 300 co-teaching experience with Professor Welsh, which was fairly new when I wrote that chapter around two years ago. There are some relationship and ethical aspects of the Coleman Fellow work that might be interesting to write about sometime…

Anyway, I hope you find the chapter interesting.

This school year I am serving as the assistant director of the UNCG Coleman Fellows program. Professor Dianne Welsh continues as our hard-working program director. She will be teaching in Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar next spring semester, and so I will probably help with the writing of our final report and serve as local support for the three newest UNCG fellows. I’m also now a “veteran fellow” and will teach my ENT/GEO/LIS 530 class a second time in the spring.

On Friday, August 15, I joined Professor Welsh and the three new UNCG fellows (representing the Public Health Education, Kinesiology, and Hospitality & Tourism departments) in flying to Chicago for the 2014 Coleman Summit. I blogged about the 2013 version, which I attended as a new fellow.  The format of the 2014 summit was very different. It ran from noon on Friday until 5pm on Saturday, with a networking dinner Friday night at the Morton Arboretum. The location was a hotel on the western edge of Chicagoland near the arboretum, not downtown at McCormick.

Whereas the 2013 day-long summit focused on a Drucker training program, the 2014 1.5 day version was centered on discussion, networking, and training provided by the program directors, veteran fellows, and Coleman Foundation officers.

I’ll reflect on two events at the summit: attending the program directors’ discussion, and co-teaching feasibility analysis to fellows from across the country.

Friday highlight

The directors’ discussion was facilitated by the president of the Coleman Foundation.  Each Coleman Fellows campus has an official director, who usually is the entrepreneurship program chair or coordinator on his or her campus. Assistant directors also attended the discussion. It was very interesting to hear what these folks had to say to each other behind closed doors.

The directors discussed success stories and frustrations on running cross-campus campus entrepreneurship programs. Funding (not surprising) was a concern at most campuses. The directors shared stories of influencing the provosts and chancellors and trying to work with the campus development offices. I can’t provide specific examples, but was reminded how mellow the politics and conflict in my library are compared to what goes on at some campuses or business schools.

The directors emphasized the value of telling stories, not just collecting statistics. One director emphasized the need to provide value-added content through social networks, not just PR stories; she asserted that the content posted from the entrepreneurship program or business school should be 60 to 70% value added, at least. As the only librarian in the room (and the only one at the summit once again), I joined in the discussion of the alt-metrics of social networking, a discussion that came out of the stories discussion. But mostly I just listened.

During this session and later in the summit, I grew to appreciate how open and helpful the directors were to any fellow who approached them.

Saturday training

On Saturday morning, Professor Welsh and I provided two sessions of a two-hour workshop we titled “Teaching Business Models & Feasibility Analysis: Precursors to the Business Plan”. From the summit program:

Through examples, discussion, and hands-on exercises, Dianne Welsh and Steve Cramer of UNC Greensboro will introduce the business model and feasibility analysis as preliminaries to creating a full business plan. A business model establishes a blueprint for a business idea, while a feasibility analysis determines if the idea is viable. They will also review core strategies and sources for the market, industry, competitive, and financial research that should go into feasibility studies. Fellows will have a chance to sketch business model and feasibility ideas relevant for the students in their academic backgrounds.

Our slides are available from libguide I created for the event. The guide also includes documentation and notes from my ENT research class.

Prof. Welsh began the workshops with explanations of the business model, feasibility analysis, and business plan, and described how those three activities can fit into different types of entrepreneurship classes. There was some discussion about the workload and merits of each. We had several law professors in the first round who got into somewhat spirited but civil disagreements with each other regarding intellectual property.

I concluded each session with discussions and examples of research topics and strategies. (We didn’t have time for the capstone idea.)

This was new to me: training professors from other campuses. Some of the profs were new fellows (getting ready to add entrepreneurship to an existing course or creating a new one); others were veteran fellows; the remainder were program directors (the only folks there from business departments). I had my laptop, wireless access, and projector. Being in a hotel conference room, there were no white boards; I used a blank Word document as a canvas for our brainstorming and list making.

Most of the participants didn’t have a machine and were instead taking notes. There were around 25 folks in each session. To summarize:

  • Most of the profs were not from a business department (instead backgrounds in arts, sciences, engineering, and law were common);
  • Most were new to business research;
  • I couldn’t make any assumptions about databases available on their campuses.

As an introduction to NAICS codes and industry research, I asked the fellows to list all the industries associated with “shoes”. In the process we defined supply chains and contrasted some of the big sectors like manufacturing, retailing, and professional services.

We began the consumer marketing discussion by making a list of ways to segment consumers. They had no problems coming up with a bunch of demographic variables, and also brought up lifestyles and behaviors. We took quick looks at 2010 Census and American Community Service data and at the BLS for consumer spending. I showed some quick examples from DemographicsNow and SimplyMap to introduce the value of private market research and analysis. We discussed where the psychographic data comes from (ex. surveys and scanner data).

One of the directors knew BizMiner. He mentioned that database when a fellow asked about researching emerging or niche industries that don’t conveniently fall under any 5- or 6-digit NAICS code.

As we wrapped up, I reminded the participants that our libguide covered additional feasibility research topics and encouraged them to contact me with any follow-up questions or idea. In both sessions, the fellows seemed very interested, readily participated in the discussions, and asked good questions.

The second workshop session ended at 1pm for lunch.

Feedback and wrap-up

The Coleman officers heard some feedback that my research workshop was very useful but really needed a lot more time. The foundation provided an assessment survey of the summit that included a section on the workshops, but I haven’t seen the results yet.

Later in the day, when I met new people, I heard “Oh, you are the librarian!” several times. Fame or notoriety?

I met one professor of music and computer science who was in a moderately well-known indie band I enjoyed seeing in Chapel Hill during my library school years.

The five folks from UNCG landed in Greensboro Saturday night at 10:30pm. (Professor Welsh and I enjoyed bonding with the three new UNCG fellows.) We were all very tired, and had classes beginning on campus the following Monday. But the summit was a good experience.


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