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On March 15, seven business librarians from around the United States met online to talk about the for-credit business research classes we teach. We were frank in our sharing, so no names will be mentioned here! But they did give me permission to post a short summary of our main topics.

The classes range from one to three credits. Most are for undergraduates, but a couple include graduate students. The classes focus on entrepreneurship, economic development, competitive intelligence, or data visualization. Some are required; others are elective.

We intentionally didn’t record the WebEx session – it was intended to be an informal sharing session – but I tried to take some notes. Here are the core discussion topics that came up.

Lack of core textbooks

No one uses a comprehensive textbook. We aren’t aware of one. We agreed that the LIS business information textbooks aren’t useful outside of LIS classes. I mentioned I use the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Market Research by Wenzel (Praeger), which is really good for research strategies and how to make decisions based on the research. But it only covers consumer marketing for the most part.

Create an open textbook?

There was interest in working together to create a modular, flexible, free online textbook. That would certainly be a lot of work though. We’ll see.

The need to share the resources we use

Instead of relying on a textbook, we all use a mix of articles, web pages, and reports. We agreed to share examples from our classes as well as our syllabus, assignments, and other course documents via a private libguide. We’ll probably have to remind each other to add more to the guide after the spring semester wraps up.

Are you paid for your class?

A few are. Others do the work as part of their normal, expected librarian duties. I mentioned I get conference travel money through our Coleman Foundation grant. I think most of us would like to get paid extra for teaching, but as one of the librarians noted, adjunct instructors don’t usually get paid a fair wage for their time anyway.

Do you teach on your own time or as part of your normal librarian hours?

Both situations exist for us. Some teach as part of their normal duties, and others teach outside of their normal work hours. One of us hasn’t been sure what the expectations are and does grading at home.

What about the workload?

A big issue, certainly. There is some resentment about the workload demand, which some of our colleagues don’t have to deal with as much. Some of us are also very busy with research consultations and other teaching (such as one-shots). It’s not easy keeping up.

Some of us teach very large, required classes (80 or more students). Some of us (ex. me) teach little boutique classes in comparison.

What terminology for what we teach and who we are?

Some library terminology isn’t meaningful outside the librarianship bubble. “Information literacy” is an example. So we teach “business research”, “competitive intelligence”, “economic development,” etc. The ACRL frameworks seem to focus on first-year composition classes and use language appropriate for that type of teaching.

Likewise, business students, business faculty, and the business and nonprofit community recognize the value of “business research consultants” but have other notions of what “librarians” do or would teach. This is not a new observation, of course.

What we get from teaching these classes?

Increased recognition and respect from professors and others. Greater understanding of what teaching college students entails. Appreciation for having more time with our students and building long-term relationships with them. Teaching at a deeper level and witnessing students’ substantial growth (hopefully) as researchers and critical thinkers.

We hope to stay in touch. If you teach a for-credit business research class and we missed you, we are sorry. Let me know if you are interested in connecting with the group.

A group of business librarians and vendors are going to be working together to propose some programs at the Charleston Conference this fall. There will also be a vendor-funded social or two.

Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor

Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor

This is an annual conference on publishing, vendors, scholarly communication, open access, open education resources, and user behavior*. Like LOEX, Charleston is a mid-sized, high-quality conference providing three days of rich programming. Its schedule evolves a little each year, which keeps things fresh and librarian-centered. There is only one day of exhibiting, so for the rest of the conference, the publisher and vendor reps are freed to attend and even contribute to programs, which usually leads to deeper discussions of issues and opportunities.

Over the last few years, a small number of business librarians have started to get together for informal chats. Last year, there was a “lively lunch” discussion with four of us as well as vendor friends John Quealy (S&P Global) and Dan Gingert (PrivCo). Nora Wood also provided a lively lunch with a colleague on liaison issues. More business vendors have exhibited in the past few years.

For 2017, at least seven business librarians will probably be working together to submit a few programs:

  • Betsy Clementson (Tulane)
  • Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Heather Howard (Purdue)
  • Lauren Reiter (Penn State)
  • Corey Seeman (University of Michigan)
  • Nora Wood (University of South Florida)
  • And me

We might invite a few vendors to speak with us too, depending on the topics and formats we come up with. Three vendors have offered to host social gatherings in 2017. This is a wonderful historic and walkable city for food and drink.

So we encourage more business librarians, publishers, and vendors to attend, discuss, debate, and socialize. And submit programs!

Please contact any of us with questions about this conference.

 

*Yes, its official subtitle is “Issues in Book and Serial Acquisitions,” but that is a historical legacy and so you shouldn’t hold that subtitle against it. LOEX has a funny full name too!

Below is a link to my slides from the lightning round session of the Academic Libraries Supporting Entrepreneurship online symposium (March 2, 2017).

What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Teaching a Three-Credit Entrepreneurship Research Class (PDF)

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

Business librarians Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University), Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I attended and presented at USASBE 2017 last week in Philadelphia. Diane has presented at this conference before, but this was the first visit for Mary and me. I’m going to submit a detailed conference review for Ticker but will provide a short summary and a quick assessment here.

USASBE is the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship:

the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. With over 1000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector, USASBE is a diverse mix of professionals that share a common commitment to fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors. [introduction to USASBE]

But mostly entrepreneurship faculty. Around 500 attended. I heard there is higher attendance in even-numbered years, when USASBE meets in southern California (San Diego last February, L.A. next year). Preconferences met on Wednesday, with the main conference running Thursday afternoon through Sunday at noon. Yes, the same days as ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

Registration was $675 (early bird – full cost was $750), higher than any library or business educator conference I’ve been too, but includes membership in the association for a year. We met in the Loews Hotel on Market Street, between City Hall and Independence Park. Always convenient to stay in the same building for a conference — until you really need to get outside for some fresh air and walking. There really wasn’t any sun that weekend but it wasn’t very cold.

The three librarians provided a 75-minute “competitive workshop” titled “Teaching students to use authoritative industry and market datasets in order to make informed decisions in their business plans”. We discussed both free sources (Economic Census, American Community Survey, and Consumer Expenditure Survey) and subscription databases while also leading discussions on how to get students to use such data.

I also participated in a workshop by the UNCG Coleman Fellows on “Beyond the basics of cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship: reaching across the curriculum with mentoring, counseling, research support, and assessment.” I spoke about how a business librarian has the freedom to support entrepreneurship classes across campus (not just in the business school) through research workshops and consultations, and also briefly summarized my research class, ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530.

And right after the librarians’ workshop, Diane presented with a Rider professor on “Experiential learning with non-profit organizations: how to use the student team consulting model for service learning situations.” Unfortunately Mary and I missed the Rider workshop due to our return flight schedule.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

As with SBI [my recent Ticker conference review on SBI] and World Bank/GWU Entrepreneurship 2016, the faculty at this conference seemed genuinely pleased to have librarians present. The profs often complimented the roles and work or their own business librarians. (Good job, friends!) We librarians enjoyed the networking and the opportunities to provide comments to the faculty and PhD students on research sources and strategies. And some nice socials.

USASBE was very interesting for its variety of types of programs. This made the “call for submissions” document rather complicated. Interesting that educator conferences like USASBE and SBI don’t require “learning outcomes” for conference submissions unlike LOEX and ACRL, a silly submissions requirement in my opinion. On the other hand, competitive workshop submissions require proposals that could be up to 10 pages long. So it was a lot of work to submit for the librarians’ and Coleman Fellows’ workshops.

I made a point to attend most of these program types:

  • Competitive Papers (short solo presentations on research, teaching, or program design)
  • Teaching Cases (presentations of case studies used in the classroom)
  • Developmental Papers (roundtable feedback on research in progress)
  • Competitive Workshops (interactive panel discussions, mostly)
  • Rocket Workshops (short workshops)
  • Experiential Exercises (classroom exercises)
  • Student Pitches (from Philly-area schools, with several rounds of voting throughout the conference)
  • Exhibitor Sessions (mostly from entrepreneurship educational software vendors)

Sage, Emerald, Business Expert Press, and a couple of other publishers had tables. The reps on hand were editors and content recruiters, not sales staff.

Philly moth from a social event

Philly moth from a social event

USASBE provided several socials, including one Thursday night at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences, where these butterflies and moths live. Some of the attendees participated in the women’s march on Saturday. I hadn’t been to Philly since ALA Midwinter 2002, back when I served on the BRASS Education committee. That January, Independence Hall was surrounded by several concentric walls of fencing and concrete barriers after the 9/11 attacks. Mary and I visited the hall on Thursday and enjoyed its liberation from all that security. I also visited the National Museum of American Jewish History (new to me) and found it very interesting but also full of sad stories and concerns on anti-Semitism and anti-immigration that still resonate in our political climate.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

On our way back to the airport, Mary and I discussed how useful this conference was to us personally. Of course we will get presentation credits for our CVs (and not just speaking to the librarian choir), but we didn’t really learn things that we could apply to our research classes. However, wearing my Coleman Fellow and embedded librarian hats, I did benefit from the discussions of teaching strategies and program design. And I gained more insight into the teaching and research needs of professors. So I really liked USASBE and (assuming our Coleman grant gets renewed) will consider attending at L.A. in 2018. Hmm maybe L.A. librarian Nataly Blas would consider submitting a proposal with me…

For the first time, I was invited to serve on a search committee for a professor position.

Professor Williamson, creator of the Export Odyssey experiential learning and trade promotion project, is retiring after next semester. We have been co-teaching the Export Odyssey class (MKT 426, International Marketing) for many years. So he and I and three other marketing professors make up the search committee. The new hire will teach the Export Odyssey class and other classes to be determined later.

The search is still in the works, so this post will have to go easy on the illustrative details (as with my most recent post about search committee work). But I have enjoyed experiencing the differences between how librarians conduct their searches at UNCG and Duke versus how professors conduct a search. Of course, this is my only experience of the later type, so my sample size is small.

Local context: UNCG librarians are hired as tenure-track faculty so scholarship is also required for us. We require a MLS from an ALA-accredited school, while this professor search requires a PhD or DBA from a business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Recruiting candidates

In addition to posting the job announcement to general (ex. Chronicle of Higher Education) and specific (AACSB’s BizSchoolJobs) job posting services, the marketing faculty on the search committee also utilized their own professional networks to encourage individuals to apply. I got a sense of how small a world an academic specialization can be. Working as a team, the four marketing professors on the committee seemed to have contacts at most of the schools with PhD programs in marketing. Maybe this level of networking isn’t too different from how closely academic business librarians network with each other, but the connections of senior faculty to the PhD students they guide and publish with doesn’t really have a counterpart in the librarian world. Our mentoring programs tend to be informal, and we aren’t in graduate school for very specialized research training for more than two years.

For this search, there was also much effort into recruiting candidates at conferences. Sure, there is the Placement Center at ALA conferences (where a booth costs $625 plus a minimum spend of $250 on JobList— yikes!) but the marketing professors coordinated a proactive recruitment effort to targeted individuals attending the conference. So before we formally talked to our top nine candidates (see below), a few candidates had already informally talked to one or two of the search committee members at a conference.

Research expectations

UNCG librarians talk and ask about research, publishing, and speaking in our interviews. But not surprisingly, there is greater emphasis in the business professor search on research. Existing publications, current research projects, and potential to publish enough to get tenured are big concerns. So we spend as much time talking about research as we do teaching. The position posting includes a long list of top journals that professors in the Marketing department have published in. But the ad also mentions teaching export promotion using experiential learning.

Diversity

Unlike librarian candidates, the majority of the professor candidates are male. Also unlike librarian candidates, the professor candidates represent many nationalities. This reflects how ALA accreditation only covers two countries (U.S. and Canada) while AACSB accreditation covers 52 and counting. So the candidates represent a more diverse pool than I’m used to with librarian searches, in which the majority of the candidates are usually white. The professor search committee can fly in candidates from outside the U.S, although many of the non-native candidates already live and work in the U.S.

Nature & quality of applications

As expected, the average application package is longer than a librarian’s. The package includes a longer list of published research, plus sometimes commentary on a candidate’s research agenda and works in progress. Teaching evaluations – both statistical summaries of student evaluations and peer observation reports – and statements of teaching philosophies are often included.

Many cover letters are well-written, customized to the position, and incorporate research into UNCG, the business school, and marketing department.

And some cover letters focus on why this position would be great for the candidate, with no words concerning what the candidate would offer UNCG. Others read like generic cover letters written for any kind of position. Some cover letters consist mostly of bullet lists that summarize bullet points from the CV.

So the same mistakes librarian candidates sometimes make.

 “Phone” interviews

We scheduled interviews with ten top candidates via WebEx, with video. One dropped out of the search, so we conducted nine video interviews. We allocated an hour each; they lasted between 25 and 55 minutes. All nine within three days – a busy stretch. No technical problems at either end.

I remain interested in the question of video interviews versus phone interviews. As a search chair, I’ve only conducted phone interviews. I feel that not seeing the candidate helps limit bias. It’s also easier to schedule and simple to execute. But certainly it was nice to see the candidates on screen and their facial expressions and body language, and the candidates probably appreciated seeing us.

Our questions to the candidates centered on their interest in the position and UNCG, their research experience and goals, and the same for teaching. I was charged with asking about their interest in community-engaged experiential learning.

The candidate’s questions to us mainly concerned the timeline of the search, research expectations, teaching loads, and rank considerations. A few asked additional questions regarding the nature of students body as well as faculty relationships within the business school.

Vetting candidates

We are vetting our top candidates more than we usually do for librarian searches. In addition to receiving letters from all the official references, we are also calling additional faculty who have advised, taught with, or published with the candidates.

Respect for librarians?

In our WebEx interviews, I introduced myself as the UNCG business librarian, tenured member of the faculty, and co-teacher of the Export Odyssey class with Professor Williamson. None of the WebEx candidates expressed surprise that I was a member of this search committee. However, they already had a list of the committee members from the committee chair, and given the power dynamic of searches, it would have been foolish for any candidate to react to my presence with surprise. But based on our discussions, I do think that most of the candidates have respect for librarians and were glad that the Export Odyssey class has one on board.

Scheduling

The candidates will have a 1.5 day interview. I was surprised to learn that the business school doesn’t use the fancy hotel near campus that the library uses for its candidates, due to the cost.

The schedule isn’t too different from a librarian candidate schedule. Meet with the dean, department head, search committee, and other stakeholders. Tour the campus. But three differences:

  1. For their presentation, the candidates discuss one of their current research projects.
  2. We have the candidate visit with the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development regarding research resources.
  3. We will also bring the candidates to a marketing class to provide a short (15 minute) lesson or presentation relevant to the class. These may be different classes, given the days each candidate will be on campus. Guest teaching will be interesting to see, and I’m curious to see what kind of feedback we collect. (I’ve heard of libraries who make their candidates teach a real workshop to real students. I’ve never liked that idea, but this short round of teaching is different I think.)

Conclusion and Lessons Learned

Serving on the search has been a new type of embedded work for me. I now have a better understanding of the research pressure that the professors face, the nature of their professional networks, and also what it’s like to be a freshly minted PhD in the job market.

I will be chairing another librarian search starting next month and will reconsider some of my usual practices, such as using only phones for the first round of interviews.

New space for the plenary sessions

New space for the plenary sessions — I liked it

Last time, I reported on the business librarian/business vendor discussion. Here are notes from a few other programs I attended at the Charleston Conference in early November.

Liaison Librarians in the Know: Methods for Discovering Faculty Research and Teaching Needs

Nora Wood (Business Librarian) and Melanie Griffin (Special Collections Librarian) of the University of South Florida led this “Lively Lunch” discussion:

Using a case study of a liaison re-envisioning project at a large, research-intensive public university as the framework for this session, we will discuss methods for determining the curriculum and research needs of faculty across disciplinary boundaries and ways for promoting library resources and services to departments across campus. [from the program description]

Nora is a new business librarian. Melanie is also the English Liaison. Nora is teaching a one-credit class for first year students on making the transition to college. As an aside, she noted that her teaching experience is helping her better understand the needs and experience of freshmen.

The USF librarians discussed how their library is re-envisioning their liaison model in response to faculty needs. In the process, they are discovering challenges in better understanding faculty research and instructional needs. USF is a fast-growing campus with 50,000 students, 42,000 of which are based on the main campus. But they only have 13 liaisons! (I complain that our liaison count has not grown as the UNCG student body and number of UNCG librarians have grown, but maybe our staffing level here is not as disappointing as I tend to think.)

Their environmental scan indicated that project and service learning classes are on the rise, with fewer classes writing traditional research papers (that would be good news to me!) They also examined usage data, interviewed administrators, and assembled lists of faculty publications. The USF librarians decided their questions should be tailored to the audience (administrators v. faculty, etc.) and should not be library-centric.

The USF librarians then pondered how to use this data to take action, and how to better communicate liaison services to faculty and academic departments.

One discussion point from the lively lunch participants: segment the researchers: untenured, tenured, named chairs, graduate students.

The USF liaisons identified areas of emphasis on campus:

  1. Freshmen success (retention)
  2. QEP
  3. More online classes
  4. Instruction still the emphasis, not research (according to the administrators, at least).

So action items taken or planned:

  • Textbook affordability project
  • Creating a first-year experience librarian position
  • Assisting with online classes
  • Asking to join more campus committees

Going forward, the questions for the liaisons include:

  • How to share all this collected data?
  • How to incorporate all this into daily liaison work?
  • How to measure if they are meeting current research and instruction needs?

Nora and Melanie alternated summaries of the USF experience with assigning us small group discussions. We ended with a final discussion involving everyone. Key points made:

  • Should do targeted outreach, instead of trying to target everyone. You will get better returns on your time.
  • Tap into campus goals, ex. the USF goal of 100% employment after graduation. Support that goal in any way you can. (Nora is already working with the Career Services Center.)
  • Is this research into campus needs a one-time project or ongoing? (A sustainable project? When does the ROI for learning something new get too low?)

Seeing that Students Succeed: Rising Expectations and the Library’s Role in Teaching and Learning

Kate Lawrence (Vice President, User Research, EBSCO Information Services) and Roger C. Schonfeld (Director, Library and Scholarly Communication Program, Ithaka S+R) led a discussion based on Ithaka S+R’s latest US Faculty Survey and recent research from Ebsco’s User Research Group.

Ithaka’s main finding is that “In recent years, expectations have increased not only for the library to demonstrate its impact on students but for universities to increase retention, progression, graduation, and later-life outcomes”. Ebsco studied “student research practices and the challenges they face, as well as the kinds of librarian-faculty partnerships that are effective in supporting students.” [quotes from the program description]

Much of this is not new to folks following trends in liaison roles. We could compare some of these findings to the ideas expressed at Nora Wood and Melanie Griffin’s Lively Luncheon (see above).

Roger’s study asked professors by type of school (4-year, masters, doctoral) to identify the most important functions of an academic library. He presented summary graphs. Information literacy was identified as the most important library function at both 4-year schools and masters-level schools. For doctoral schools, the functions of archiving, information literacy, providing access to research (ex. subscriptions), and supporting research were ranked very close. But over time, information literacy is growing in emphasis for all types of schools.

Kate described her unit’s ongoing ethnographic study of students and faculty in the U.S., U.K., and China. U.S. students tend to research and write papers using “microbursts of activities” rather than a steady amount of work over time.

Students’ research behavior is driven by efficiency. Some compared their research strategies to finding shortcuts to finish a level in gaming. Meanwhile, faculty research strategies are often driven by tradition. Adjunct instructors often feel left out but want library support.

The most impactful role of librarians in influencing student behavior is when the librarian is in the classroom teaching research alongside the professor.

There was some audience discussion. There are many models of embedded librarianship, but sustainability of that work remains a concern. It’s necessary to prioritize which classes to target.

There is a need for more assessment strategies to link library usage to student success and retention.

Several librarians expressed frustration with students who avoid reading scholarly journal articles, or don’t read past the abstract. I suggested (based on some interesting discussions I listened to at LOEX) that there is limited value in having lower-level undergraduates using peer-reviewed research articles in first place. Those young college students don’t have a background in the specialized, intellectual concepts (and jargon) used within an academic discipline, and certainly don’t have an understanding of  scholarly research methodologies, especially statistical analyses used so often in social science and natural science research. More appropriate sources would be feature articles in intelligent magazines like the Atlantic or the Economist.

Rolling On or Getting Rolled Over? Introducing New Functional Specializations in Academic Libraries

Rachel Fleming-May (Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences; University of Tennessee) and Jill Grogg (Licensing Program Strategist, LYRASIS, previously an electronic resources librarian) discussed how “individual functional specializations develop as sub-professions of academic librarianship.” They also compared “findings from large-scale surveys of librarians in two areas of specialization: Electronic Resources Management and Assessment.” [They noted that the Library Assessment Conference was going on at the same time up in D.C.]

Much of the discussion focused on how these specialists grow their skills and gain professional development. Rachel and Jill provided a bit of history. A decade ago, many of these functional specialists did not have a MLS, but now most do.

Rachel summarized a 2009-10 survey of ER librarians. The favorite method of professional development of these librarians was consulting with counterparts. They compared that survey to a 2015-16 survey of assessment librarians. The main tasks of these librarians was writing reports. Professional development focused on collaboration, but conferences and publications were also important.

The audience asked questions about other specialist roles, like first-year instruction or student success librarians. Are those also functional specialists? The speakers thought those roles overlapped with instruction librarians. They emphasized that functional specialists are based on specialized knowledge, but could be focused on public service, such as data service librarians. Someone noted that assessment librarians also need skills in telling stories and conducting ethnographic research.

I was interested in learning how functional specialists in these emerging areas do professional development. The discussion of definitions isn’t very important IMO. All functional specialists need development support, and the public service functional specialists need to collaborate with their local subject liaisons (and vice versa) to work their magic across campus.

Catching up

Thanksgiving break has begun, but the library is open today (Wednesday) and I was actually eager to come in to work to clean up my desktop, go out for Greek food for lunch with friends, and do a bit of writing.

Between last Friday and yesterday, the search committee for the professor of international marketing conducted nine interviews of candidates via Webex. We allotted an hour to each interview. So that was a lot of time to spend while also covering last-minute research consultations. But I had my last one-shot instruction session last week Monday, and submitted two long USASBE workshop proposals before their last week Tuesday deadline, so now my stress level is pretty low. Those might be subjects for future blog posts, but first I want to write about what the business librarians and vendors were up to at the Charleston Conference in early November.

Business vendors & business librarians at the Charleston Conference

Two years ago, five business librarians gathered in the late afternoon at the Charleston Conference to share notes. We expressed an interest in having business librarianship programs each year at the conference. Last year, I think there was another informal get-together (I didn’t go to Charleston that time). But this spring four business librarians and two business vendors worked together on a “lively lunch” discussion proposal, which was accepted.

The Charleston Conference meets in Charleston S.C. in very early November. As I’ve written before, I really like this conference for allowing publishers, vendors, and librarians to participate together throughout the conference, rather than banishing the vendors to the exhibit hall the entire time. The programming is high quality and varied (plenaries, panels, lively lunch discussions, posters, lightning rounds, Shark Tank-type pitches (new this year), parties, and dine-arounds). The conference sites are close together. And even though collections are now a minor part of our liaison roles here at UNCG (as covered in my “liaison reorganization” thread), there is enough programming regarding liaison roles and scholarly communication advocacy that I stay interested. Plus business content!

The title of our program was ““Why business content subscriptions can drive us crazy, and what to do about it: A dialogue with business librarians, business vendors, and the audience on best practices and solutions”.

The librarians on the panel included:

  • Cynthia Cronin-Kardon(University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School/Lippincott Library)
  • Betsy Clementson(Tulane/Freeman School/Turchin Library)
  • Corey Seeman(University of Michigan/Ross School/Kresge Library)
  • And me (a business librarian based in a general library, unlike the others)

The vendors on the panel included:

  • John Quealy(S&P Global)
  • Dan Gingert(PrivCo)

Our program description is below if you are interested. The four librarians are writing a conference proceedings article (due December 1) that will be openly available. I’ll post a link to that article when it becomes available.

Our Lively Luncheon in the Gold Ballroom

Our Lively Luncheon in the Gold Ballroom

The Charleston Conference “lively lunches” are intended to be discussions, not presentations, in the midday time slot. Some folks do bring a lunch but most of the attendees ate before or after. We were assigned the large Gold Ball Room in the Francis Marion Hotel. While we did arrange chairs into a couple of concentric circles, this was a challenging location given the room’s size. There was no portable mic, so folks sitting in the back had to listen carefully to hear everyone. But it worked out fine.

Around 40 folks attended. About 1/3rd of those folks were vendor representatives: in addition to S&P and PrivCo, Bureau van Dijk, InfoGroup, OCLC, Oxford University Press, Ebsco, and ProQuest representatives attended – and many, as we hoped, participated in the discussion. The librarians included other business librarians, electronic resources librarians, and collection development librarians.

[One of the business librarians in the house was Nora Wood from the University of South Florida. The previous day, Nora and a colleague led a lively lunch about liaison outreach. It was an excellent and useful discussion. I’ll provide a summary of it and some other liaison-centered Charleston programs in my next post, hopefully next week.]

Below is a summary of points made in our discussion. Many vendors and librarians thought the discussion was very useful and agreed that we should try to submit business content programming every year to the Charleston Conference. Bureau van Dijk even offered to host a social next year (thank you, BvD friends!). So we will see what we can make happen next time. If you have interest in attending Charleston but have questions about its value, logistics, etc., or want to share a programming idea, please let any of us know.

Summary of points

As you probably know, it can be hard to take notes about a program you are in the middle of. So I’m sorry if this summary seems fragmentary. I promise that the conference proceedings article will be more detailed. This summary reflects comments from both librarian and vendors. It was a frank, open, friendly discussion that never turned into an “us versus them” discourse. Betsy’s role in the discussion was to summarize the exchange in the form of best practices. Most of these points are thanks to Betsy.

  • Open, clear, honest communication between business librarians and vendors is key.
  • Librarians need to understand our users’ research needs AND need to protect our subscriptions, limiting access as much as we can to authorized users AND authorized usage.
  • Vendors need to understand the access challenges of serving a business school or an entire campus. Vendors also need to understand the typical academic calendar and patterns of database usage. For example, for some subscription content, most of the usage comes in one short time period within the fall/and spring semester.
  • And of course, vendors need to understand the budget challenges many of our campuses go through every year.
  • We talked about potential abuse of our academic licenses. Student consulting projects, experiential learning, tech transfer support, and internships are blurring the lines between academic and corporate use. In general, the librarians emphasized that we need to tell our students to share their summaries of the research in our databases for such projects (well, internships may have additional issues) but not to share the downloaded content.
  • In general, business librarians should educate our students about database licensing restrictions as part of our information literacy or “information has value” discussions. Cite the university honor code.
  • Many vendors need to put more effort into providing standardized usage data (ex. Project COUNTER).
  • Both librarians AND vendors complained about vendors sending corporate licensing terms to academic libraries. One vendor says that the legal team of his company always starts with a corporate version, despite his efforts to create an academic template for the legal team to start with for those customers. (So complaints of bureaucracy are not limited to us academics!)
  • Law librarians have many of the same issues with legal vendors, so there was a suggestion for business librarians and law librarians to talk about our shared issues.

Program description

Business databases have a reputation for being expensive, having problematic licensing terms, and generally being a pain to work with. This reputation is particularly common among collection development and e-resources librarians in general libraries. In addition to affordability, issues can include licensing restrictions to specific campus populations and locations, requirements that users create personal accounts, severe download restriction s, not working with consortiums, and shutting down summer access to prevent usage by student interns. On the other hand, business vendors must design their products and licensing to work with many types of customers: corporations, government agencies, consultants, and academia. Their content is often very expensive to produce, and vendors sometimes have to license content from third-party providers that have their own pricing and licensing issues.

To help better understand why business databases can be challenging to work with, and to propose recommendations on how libraries and business vendors can best work together, a group of business librarians and business vendors will lead this lively lunch discussion. The librarians will represent both business libraries and general libraries, and will present case studies representing different types and sizes of campuses. The vendors will represent specialized business content publishers. Together we will discuss how business information is different, why business vendors behave differently, examples of challenges in working with business vendors, examples of challenges in working with libraries, and recommendations & best practices. We will invite audience participation throughout.