This is about recent and ongoing business database changes at UNCG and by extension, NC LIVE. The post will not contain database reviews, nor complaints about vendor behavior. Instead I will focus on aspects of collection planning, budget issues, and user considerations. Hope this is still interesting to some of you!

Database logosBackground

I’m a business librarian based in a general library. We use one pot of money for database subscriptions, as opposed to allocating a percentage of funds to be spent for each subject area. (We have had a few specialized budgets, like the Distance Education budget, that have also been used to fund databases). So in a sense, liaisons compete for funding for “their” databases based on content needs, perceived importance, and cost-per-use.

Also consider interdisciplinary content, database packages, consortial deals, multi-year deals to lock in prices, one-time spending on purchased e-content, and NC LIVE — and the process of database collection development can get very complicated.

Under our liaison reorganization, our collections team seems to be functioning well:  considering input from liaisons (as well as using data), recognizing the special needs of certain subject areas (ex. the need for expensive market tools that will always have a higher than average cost-per-use), requiring that all subject areas contribute to making cuts (that didn’t always happen before), and making decisions with transparency. I trust that group. Good leadership there.

Budget Cutting at UNCG and NC LIVE

Next year UNCG will have its 6th year in a row of budget cuts (or so – I may have lost count). The percentage cut will be smaller than past years, but we will need to pay routine price increases too.

The budget cuts are result of the Great Recession and reduced funding of public education (at all levels) from North Carolina legislators. You might have heard about NC politics in the national news, particularly with last month’s senate race here. Stress over budgets is high across all UNC campuses.

The library budgets for serials, databases, and books have all been cut heavily. We cancelled one “big deal” package (one that had the least favorable pricing – no, it wasn’t Elsevier). We were early adopters of PDA ebooks, and now have PDA streaming videos too. We’ve done some major house cleaning: identifying individual subscriptions, standing orders and continuations, and print “legacy” spending that few if any users will miss. Databases have been cut a lot. As I’ve written, I’ve had to prioritize business databases, identifying those that are now our only source of essential content for core business-related topics and those that might be optional.

Some vendors have been very supportive concerning inflationary price increases. Euromonitor and Mergent are two examples.

As we have cut spending, NC LIVE has become increasingly important to UNCG. We now rely on it heavily for business content. UNC business students and faculty are fortunate that one of NC LIVE’s three goals is to support economic development [see the mission statement, not the strategic goals]. Our increased dependence on NC LIVE makes us increasingly sensitive to NC LIVE database changes (“welcome aboard” say most NC public librarians and many smaller academic libraries to that statement).

NC LIVE has had a flat budget since 2003 or so. So for every three-year subscription cycle, the NC LIVE staff had to deal with inflationary price increases as well as expectations to provide a wider array of content, like streaming video. So guess what strategy NC LIVE has to use to maintain a core set of content with a flat budget?

Yes, negotiating for the best deals with competing vendors. More on that below when I get to specifics.

In preparation for each three year database cycle, NC LIVE spends a year gathering feedback from member libraries, uses BLINC as its business content advisors, and does some serious usage data crunching. [They have learned that UNCG is the number one user of SimplyMap in the state. Go us!]

Impact on database collection development

At UNCG cost is now as important as content and functionality when considering database subscriptions. I’m not willing to spend significant time considering a new product or module until I know generally what the price would be. And really, the key question would be “Is this new thing a cheaper competing product to our existing X subscription?

In other words: since we’ve cut our business databases down to the essential core, it’s not really worth the time to consider a new database if it couldn’t replace a more expensive direct competitor we already subscribe to. This is why database reviews that compare competing products are the most helpful to me.

What about a new database covering a new content area? PrivCo is an example. It doesn’t really compete with the big establishment-level directories like Hoover’s/Duns/Mergent Intellect or ReferenceUSA or any other subscription we currently have. So I really can’t consider funding PrivCo by cancelling an existing subscription. We have to wait until we get new subscription money — assuming we had enough new money to pay for inflationary price increases first.

OK, I suppose that someday a new business content area might be deemed more important than an old one. Then we could perhaps swap an apple for an orange.

Database changes for 2015:

Aggregators: Ebsco & ProQuest

After many years of providing a large Ebsco package, NC LIVE is switching to a large ProQuest package. NC LIVE received a low bid from that company. We speculate that PQ wants to regain market share in the state and perhaps make some higher-profit sales from upgrades and additional subscriptions to individual NC libraries.

So NC LIVE is switching from Business Source Complete to ABI-INFORM Complete on January 1. Some other PQ business-related databases will come available, just as we had some other Ebsco databases besides BSC.

Many libraries in the state were (are still?) very concerned about the switch from Ebsco and Proquest. Certainly there is labor involved in updating electronic holdings and link resolvers, updating tutorials, etc. And there is also the basic fear of change after using Ebsco for years.

Proquest gave NC LIVE libraries early access to the new databases. I’ve enjoyed comparing ABI to BSC and LexisNexis Academic. The “Dateline” newswire and international content in ABI compares very favorably to the international news in LNA, I decided, and so had the Export Odyssey students switch from LNA to ABI for their international competitors and customers research. The students appreciated the better interface and not having to do the extra work of changing the default search silos in LNA before entering keywords.

Not long after NC LIVE announced the upcoming switch from Ebsco to Proquest, our collections team decided to pick up an Ebsco Complete package of databases, including Business Source. We had money from other cancellations and some cost-savings from our own PQ subscriptions covered by the upcoming NC LIVE package. The decision to buy the Ebsco package ourselves was based on the amount of unique full text provided. We already had a lot of Ebsco subscriptions not covered by NC LIVE (ex. PsycInfo), so there was a vendor discount involved too.

So despite 6 years of budget cuts, UNCG’s support of business articles actually got stronger – and more duplicative, given the big overlap between BSC and ABI. It would be a shame if we end up cutting more unique business-related content due to budget cuts while enjoying more overlapping article databases through package deals.

Company Directories: Hoover’s/Mergent & ReferenceUSA

Here is another big switch and a reversal of sorts. After its 2009-2011 subscription package, NC LIVE switched from ReferenceUSA to Hoover’s for 2012-14. Like the upcoming switch to ProQuest, the reason back then was a cheap bid from Hoover’s. Again, since NC LIVE’s budget has been flat, it can’t afford to pay inflationary price increases without scaling back the variety of content it provides and therefore scaling back its goals. So it has to shop for deals.

We learned the Hoover’s corporate database was not designed to handle the needs of a state-wide collection of public and academic libraries. In early 2012, NC LIVE told BLINC that Hoover’s was contracting with Mergent to provide Hoover’s/Duns content to the academic and public library market. Mergent is based outside Charlotte and so it was pretty convenient for NC LIVE, BLINC, and Mergent to talk (in various combinations) about Hoover’s and provide feedback on the a Mergent database based on the Hoover’s/Duns company records. Those were very interesting discussions (much of which was off the record, sorry).

Long ago UNCG subscribed to Duns Million Dollar Database and Key Business Ratios Online. We eventually switched to other products as other options emerged. Given the important content Hoover’s/Duns provides, it was good to hear that Hoover’s hired Mergent – an established player in the academic and public library markets – to provide its content to those markets and improve the products.

The new database, Mergent Intellect, went live in 2013. Given ongoing technical issues with providing the Hoover’s corporate database through NC LIVE, NC LIVE switched from Hoover’s to Mergent Intellect in January 2014 while remaining on the 3-year Hoover’s contract.

For 2015-17, NC LIVE is going back to ReferenceUSA. OneSource will be included. Some public librarians in BLINC are very happy about this. But I did get a phone call two months ago from a public library in an adjacent county asking if UNCG was going to pick up Intellect on its own; that library had a patron who hated the thought of losing Intellect and would have been happy to drive over here to use it.

UNCG once subscribed to OneSource as its international company directory, but dropped it when NC LIVE picked up Hoover’s in 2011. (Once again, a budget decision – we didn’t have money for duplicate content.)

So in a two year period, we are going from Hoover’s to Mergent Intellect to ReferenceUSA/OneSource.

(Thankfully, NC LIVE was able to renew its subscriptions to SimplyMap and the Morningstar Investment Research Center. UNCG is the top user of SimplyMap in the state according to NC LIVE data. We were early subscribers, and then NC LIVE picked it up. We have the MRI data, but not the Simmons. So I was happy to see the Simmons data show up in DemographicsNow.)

Other types of databases (briefly)

Web of Science wanted a big price increase and wouldn’t negotiate, so we switched to Scopus. That saved a lot of money, but we decided to pay Thomson a lot to keep EndNote Web/Online one more year. We are trying to get all our EndNote Web users to export their citations by June. After some discussion and trials, my library has adopted Zotero as our supported citation management tool. We continue to use EndNote Desktop thanks to campus IT spending.

It had been six years since I reviewed our Checkpoint (RIA) and IntelliConnect (CCH) packages. We had been getting primarily tax content from one and accounting and auditing content from the other. AICPA and FASB were asking for a big price increase for those modules in Checkpoint, so we repacked our Checkpoint subscription with helpful guidance from the vendor rep and saved some money there. The professors were using free sources for AICPA and FASB content anyway.

Impact on users from all this change?

Certainly name recognition suffers.

This is not a new problem. We once switched from Mergent Online to BvD Osiris and back to Mergent Online a few years later due to pricing. The finance profs understood the need to be discerning consumers but also hoped for more stability if possible. (Last month one of the entrepreneurship profs told her class to use ReferenceUSA to identify local competitors. So that mistake won’t be a mistake in January!)

Including alternative database names and “see….” references in database lists and on libguides can help, but is no panacea. Emails to faculty and a “What’s New” box listed across all business libguides may help too.

Some libraries list all the business-related databases in alphabetical order. Others break up the list into more useful sub-lists like “public companies” and “market data”. If you have libguide box for just “private company databases”, for example, link placement can help. List the most important database first. In a few weeks I’ll swap Intellect for ReferenceUSA at the top of that box.

Embedded and co-teaching work can take care of some research classes – push the change in class, on the libguides, and through your e-learning platform.


The need for a variety of content and the existence of competing databases are two defining aspects of business librarianship. We don’t have a dominating, monopolistic database (with often monopolistic pricing) like many other subjects do. Yes, I’m looking at you, modern languages, psychology, and chemistry. So in many libraries serving the research needs of business faculty and students, database swapping will continue as long as budgets are weak.


Professor Welsh’s slides for her 2014 Entrepreneurial Librarians conference keynote address are now online: Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for Librarians in the 21st Century.

Catching up:

Classes ended on Monday. Yesterday the students cuddled therapy dogs, cats, and bunnies in the library’s`reading room. Today exams began. ENT 300 ended the semester with strong presentations (though too many student teams forgot to add citations to their slides even though they had some good ones – I had reviewed their reference lists). The MKT 426 “Export Odyssey” class wrapped up several weeks ago but Professor Williamson and I hope the student teams continue to work on contacting potential international customers. One of the international students in that class stopped by this afternoon to ask if she could get a letter of reference for her work in the class; she said that only “pass” or “fail” marks get reported back to her Danish campus, and so having a letter on file describing the “Export Odyssey” experience and her performance would be very useful.

And this semester I’ve enjoyed getting to know and collaborate with our newest Diversity Resident Librarian, Orolando Duffus, who like our previous resident Nataly Blas is very interested in business librarianship.

Today’s topic:

Nataly is now in her first year of serving as the business librarian at Loyola Marymount University. In January she wrote a guest post about her experience as co-teacher of an UNCG management capstone class. We chatted a few times since she moved to L.A., and I’m looking forward to seeing Nataly again next March at ACRL.

Orolando is the fourth UNCG resident librarian. Our resident program has had some internship trappings, such as forcing the librarian in his/her first year to change library departments every four months as the MLS student interns at the EPA Library in Research Triangle Park do. Only in their second year were our previous residents able to focus on an area of career interest. However, Orolando doesn’t have to rotate around his first year; instead he is splitting his time between ROI and another library department not relevant to his career goals. But that’s an overall improvement to our program in my opinion: unlike Natalie, Orolando doesn’t have to wait for his second year to pursue his interest in business librarianship.

Orolando is already making a positive impact on UNCG business students. In addition to team-teaching a few business classes, he solo-taught a research workshop for a Business Communications section (I was leading a workshop in an entrepreneurship class at the same time). Orolando received a follow-up question from one of the students and is now serving as a mentor for the student, including attending meetings led by the student (a campus leader) and helping evaluate one of his papers. Orolando has other duties and accomplishments in his first semester at UNCG, but those stand out to me in the context of business librarianship.

In April I wrote briefly about a LIS student and reference intern interested in doing a practicum on liaison work. It actually was an independent study, sorry (the student has maxed out the number of practicums she is allowed to take). She has read a lot on liaison work and trends, created a nonprofits libguide, and worked on research email questions from graduate students. Like Orolando, she has taught with me with a few times this semester, and also led a workshop for another Business Communications section on her own. She has participated in our liaison workshops and subject team meetings, and explored significant some modern collection strategies, like PDA ebooks and PDA steaming videos. She plans on doing one more independent study next semester on something like “advanced library liaisoning”.

I’ve enjoyed working with her and also appreciate the contributions she’s made to business students this semester. This student may not choose to specialize in business librarians after finishing her MLS degree (although she is very interested in entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship programs). But I think she would make a fine business librarian.

Recommendations for Mentors:

I tried to make a list of recommendations for mentoring a new or future business librarian one works with. (Mary Scanlon from WFU and I once wrote an Academic BRASS article about mentoring or peer-mentoring business librarians across different campuses). These could also be considered goals for the mentee:

  1. Help the new librarian build relationships with business school faculty, vendor representatives, and other business librarians (from your local connections, BRASS, or the “new business librarians group” that Ilana Barnes from Purdue has formed).
  2. Provide opportunities for the new librarian to attend classes: either to observe, consult with teams on class work days, or teach and co-teach research workshops.
  3. Share interesting research questions. The new librarian can suggest responses or just practice answering the question.
  4. Invite the new librarian to create or improve libguides, instructional videos, or other online learning objects. In additional to supporting business students, creating such tools helps the new librarian build his or her skills and helps show off those skills (and subject knowledge) to a future employer.
  5. Provide encouragement and boost the confidence of the new librarian entering the specialized and challenging world of business librarianship. For example, introduce him or her to students and faculty as a fellow business librarian and colleague, not as an intern or in-training business librarian.

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.


[The slides are now online]

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.


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