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.

One project this summer was to add captions to all my screencast tutorials. Instead of using Camtasia’s tool for captioning, I used YouTube’s instead. I first explored editing the automatically-created captions but decided that typing them from scratch was more efficient.

For one of my very short introduction videos, YouTube provided these lines:

YouTube automated attempt to caption my introduction video

YouTube automated attempt to caption my introduction video

So apparently I was Keen Kramer but now called Larry, will help students smoke in their groups, market premierships and busters, and encourage students to give up their research projects. Such a helpful business librarian!

(* Or, the laziest business librarianship blog post ever.)

A bunch of business librarians tweeted BRASS events in Las Vegas last weekend, using the #bizref tag. On behalf of us #leftbehinds, thank you to the following for keeping us connected with the good work of BRASS:

  • Genifer Snipes (WVU)  @GeniferAnne
  • Jared Hoppenfeld (Texas A&M) @JMHBizLibrarian
  • Chad F. Boeninger (Ohio U) @cfboeninger
  • Ilana Stonebraker (Purdue) @librarianilana
  • JPH @halfpennybiblio
  • Libookperson @libookperson
  • Elizabeth @ElizLibrarian
  • DKC @dkcLIBRN

Here are my favorite tweets, with minimal commentary.


From the BRASS discussion forum. I’m not sure what librarian reported these results. Of course, many other factors could have been at play too. But still, interesting. Yes, there are surveys that indicated many patrons don’t associate librarians with people you would need to sit down and talk to.


This isn’t an issue limited to BRASS. BLINC needs more public librarians to run for officer positions.


How to teach primary market research — I could use a workshop like that.


Don’t wanna ask Jared for details about this one…




Working with imperfect information or just non-existent data is a cornerstone of teaching entrepreneurship research. Getting students to understand the use of proxy or surrogate data can be tough but is worth the effort if you have time in the class.


That’s http://libguides.csuchico.edu/BRASS_Advertising_Sources

indy public

ilanas talk

Hard-working Ilana also talked about her very interesting flipped, required one-credit course at LOEX in May (the end of the Friday recap).


Ilana provided really detailed coverage of the advertising workshop.


The Hartman Center is very cool and has been used for academic research (not just advertising) in varied ways. (I once served on a search committee for their reference position and enjoyed learning more about the Center.)


That’s http://crln.acrl.org/content/75/2/76.full



Ouch, I just now have started to work on creating good captions/transcripts for my YouTube videos, Chad. (I realize this post would fail a screen reader test miserably. For some reason Tweeter doesn’t support linking directly to each tweet when scrolling through the #bizref  list v. looking up each librarian’s profile separately and finding the tweets I’ve captured here).



Given its “visual literacy” theme, there were several programs at LOEX this year on infographics. As I wrote regarding one of the Saturday morning programs, the issue of statistical literacy came up several times in the context of designing inforgraphics.

Sometimes the emphasis for these things seems to be more on the aesthetics of the image rather than the statistics – ostensibly (hopefully?) the reason the infographic exists. The cliché of lipstick on the pig comes to mind. Or the line “Terrance, this is silly stuff”. [Oops, it’s really “stupid stuff”. Sorry, A.E. Read that in high school.]

My library, for example, houses a service that helps students with the aesthetics of all sorts of visual projects, including infographics. But the students wouldn’t get help there in presenting the statistics is a meaningful and accurate way. (The Reference Desk could help, though, depending on who is around at the time.)

I wish I had read this nifty, 3-page article before attending LOEX this spring:

Statistics & the Single Girl: Incorporating Statistical Literacy into Information Literacy Instruction by Katharin Peter and Lynda Kellam, from a 2013 issue of LOEX Quarterly.

The authors (Kellam is a UNCG colleague) define statistical literacy and provide a sample classroom activity on evaluating public opinion statistics using a pop-ish source (a USA Today front page infographic) and a statistical database. In between they suggest showing the students a Colbert Report clip. The conclusion of the article advocates for incorporating statistical literacy into the student learning outcomes of a class, and provides examples. Good, practical stuff.

p.s. There’s also a cute Colbert infographic clip regarding the “last infographic” from USA Today.


As some of you know, I’ve been posting here about our liaison reorganization for a while – since March 2012, I saw just now. All those posts are tagged but for a quicker recap of the main developments, skim some of these:

The Retreat

Last Wednesday, the members of our liaison subject and functional teams met at UNCG’s Piney Lake facility out in the country for a day-long retreat. These teams consist of all of the Reference & Instructional Services Department as well as folks from other departments too – around 22 librarians total.

The main goal of the retreat was reviewing our year-long transition to the new liaison organizational model, and planning major goals for the next academic year. We also hoped to decide on a new name for the Reference department, one that better reflects the kind of work we now do.

Mary Krautter, our department head, briefly reviewed how we all worked together to create our new organizational scheme. She reminded us that teams can be messy even as they enable more productive and nimble work. Our liaison teams operate in an otherwise traditional and hierarchical library structure.

Next Kathy Crowe, our Associate Dean for Public Service, asked the teams to review what they accomplished in their first year of existence, and what goals haven’t happened yet. Accomplishments included:

  • Integrating Special Collections & University Archives into the liaison teams
  • Curriculum mapping for increased liaison teaching and consulting opportunities
  • Helping a new liaison get up to speed and meet faculty and students from her target subjects
  • Brainstorming on active learning techniques for specific class projects
  • Managing our latest collections budget crisis in an efficient and effective manner
  • Staffing reference services even as liaison time with the reference desk gets reduced
  • And more and better liaison training on research tools and strategies

The “room for improvement” discussion seemed to center on taking greater advantage of the collaborative possibilities of our teams: better communication and more sharing of ideas; working together more in outreach and instruction to specific academic departments. Also: making team goals more measureable.

After a mid-morning break, I broke up everyone into three random groups and had each group do a SWOT analysis of our current situation, with emphasis on the forward-looking aspects of “opportunity”. The goal was “big picture” thinking about next year, which sort-of happened. The three groups reported back some repeating needs:

  • More “safe” brainstorming
  • Improved cross-team communication
  • Defining expectations of liaison teams v. those of individual liaisons
  • Responding to classes getting larger (due to UNC budget cuts)
  • Clarifying authority over the teams and lines of responsibility (for example, when liaisons discuss swapping academic departments, who all needs to be in on the discussion? Who gives the final ok?)
  • More-creative set-ups for meetings, like flipped or walking meetings, or meeting scrums

After lunch and midday strolls around the lake, the subject teams and functional teams met in two 30-minute slots to discuss specific and practical responses to our “big picture” discussion. Then we had an hour of teams reporting back to the full group for sharing and discussion. Amy Harris moderated the discussion. This part of my retreat notes spans two pages, so I’ll be concise here.

Every team seems to be enjoying the collaboration and teamwork on projects of mutual interest — projects the team themselves have identified as needed or useful.

We discussed our communication channels quite a bit. (Communication issues have been an issue in my library for a long time). We pledged to use our existing communication tools, like our various internal blogs and Google Documents, more extensively rather than create even more blogs and shared documents. While we liked our emphasis on high-quality and focused training over the last year, we pledged to follow each training event with a write-up to our professional development blog. The post would preserve the training for the future and help us share with the other parts of the library what the liaison teams are up to. We also pledged to publish the notes for meeting of the team leaders. Early this fall, we will sponsor a “liaison teams” open house for the rest of the library as an orientation to our teams.

We need to write up the roles and expectations of the team leaders.

Should leadership of a team change each year? What might be the effect of a team having the same leader year after year? Would that team devolve into a committee? Also, should functional coordinators (ex. our Coordinator of Instruction and Head of Collections) always be the leaders of the corresponding functional teams? These are topics for future discussions.

We decided to try monthly, hour-long coffee chats for all liaison team members to attend. The object would be discussion and brainstorming on a chosen topic. Each chat would have an official note taker, who would share the notes via the professional development blog. These chats will help us stay in touch outside of our assigned liaison teams.

We discussed additional topics and issues, but that gives you a flavor of the afternoon discussion before we got to our final agenda items.

 Conclusion: the new name

So, finally: a new name for the Reference & Instructional Services department. Mary had invited us to submit possible names via a Google Form. Colleague Jenny Dale created a word cloud from our submissions:

Word cloud based on the submitted ideas for our new liaison department name

Word cloud created from submissions for our new liaison department name

Jenny handed out a copy of the word cloud to each of us and asked us to circle the words we thought were most important. “Research” and “Outreach” had the most votes, but colleague Amy argued convincingly that even if “research” suggests teaching among other kinds of research support, we do so much teaching that it would be a shame to lose that emphasis. And what would it suggest to outsiders to in effect drop “instruction” from our name? So with wide consent we ended up with:

Research, Outreach, & Instruction

 A bit long, perhaps, but having ROI as the acronym is pretty cool (right, business librarians?) and will help us remember to do lots of assessment (well, maybe). Colleague Mark Schumacher, our Romance Studies Librarian, reminded us what Roi means in French, heh.

(There are of course plenty of longer department names out there. A few years before I was hired at Duke, the Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections departments there decided to merge. Those folks spend some time working on a new name. They finally chose “Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections Library.”)

I think the main value of a department name like ours is mainly internal and motivational. It serves as a reminder of what our focus should be.

However, our liaison teams will continue to transcend the library’s organizational chart. So the Reference Department changing its name doesn’t really affect our teammates based outside of Reference. But for the folks who were in Reference, this name change serves as a reminder that our transition into our new liaison structure is over. Now we shall really see what we can accomplish.


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