Hurrah! The spring semester is over. This one was a bit crazier than usual, with chairing a search committee (first-year instruction librarian) and coordinating two independent studies by MLS students along with the usual mix of work. And the semester ended with a blur.

ENT 300 instructor Noah Reynolds consulting with one of our students

ENT 300 instructor Noah Reynolds consulting with one of our students

Two weeks ago my friend Lisa Louis and I finished writing our LOEX proceedings article, and then we had to finish planning our presentation. That week I also had a long meeting to co-grade final presentations in ENT 300 and offer my grades on the research sources used in the final reports. I also entertained final consultations from other assorted business school classes (you know, the frantic, last-minute kind), and submitted a proposal (still a mini-syllabus–crazy) for ACRL with an old friend from WFU and a new one from Oregon. And I hosted another RUSA Entrepreneurship Pilot Interest Group webinar, this one on social entrepreneurship featuring my buddy Lydia Towery from Charlotte/Mecklenburg Public, who did a great job by the way.

UNC System President Spellings and UNCG Provost Dana Dunn

UNC System President Spellings (left) and UNCG Provost Dana Dunn as our round table discussion began

Then last week began with another short presentation for UNC System President Spellings on Export Odyssey (this one here at UNCG at least); on Tuesday I finished grading the final reports in my ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530 class and submitted final grades on Wednesday. So by last Thursday, when I flew to Pittsburgh for LOEX, I was mentally fatigued! Did I get my head cleared up while there? Read on!

Off to LOEX

Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh

Westin Hotel (far left) in Pittsburgh

This was the second LOEX I attended. It remains one of the best organized and most thoughtfully planned conferences around. For example, there is only one plenary speech. Yes! Hallelujah. Instead, the emphasis is on break-out programs, with short breaks between. The acceptance rate for program submissions was 35% (68 out of 190), just a bit higher than ACRL’s. Poster sessions by students, one round of lightning talks, and one round of roundtable discussions provide a little variety. There is no exhibit hall and despite the lack of vendors, the registration fee wasn’t too expensive (much cheaper than my last conference, ack!) Breakfasts and lunches were included, and all but one of those meals were good.

Attendance was capped in the low 400’s. We met in the Westin in the Central Business District, next to the Convention Center, but all LOEX activities occurred on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the hotel.

Now having praised the set-up of LOEX, I need to admit to getting more out of the conference two years ago. Some of the programs last week failed to involve the audience in a significant fashion. A couple of programs cruised right through their time limits, forcing the LOEX volunteer to stop the program so that the next presenters could get set up. In one of those cases, the main advertised audience participation event never happened. I (and others attendees too, I learned) expected teaching librarians to do a better job with audience participation and time management.

The Three Sisters with the Alcoa Building and the baseball stadium beyond

The Three Sisters with the Alcoa Building and the baseball stadium beyond

But in all fairness maybe my metal fatigue had something to do with this, and also the usual mild disconnect between the most common types and situations of library instruction compared to that of business research instruction. Two years ago the business librarians at LOEX talked about this disconnect a little after our lunch.

By the end of the month, many of the LOEX slides and handouts will be posted at
http://www.loexconference.org/sessions.html. Here are my notes from sessions.

Friday morning

Rhetorical Reinventions: Rethinking Research Processes and Information Practices to Deepen our Pedagogy [SlideShare]

Donna Witek (Public Services Librarian & Associate Professor) @ University of Scranton, Mary J. Snyder Broussard (Instructional Services Librarian & Coordinator of Reference and Web Services) @ Lycoming College and Joel M. Burkholder (Reference & Instruction Librarian) @ Penn State York

(Proof I was there, and friends from NC too.) High-energy speakers, much appreciated for the first program slot of the morning. The first half of the slides deal with some opening audience participation, although we only discussed “Do you get enough sleep”. Jump to #18 to get into the background readings and 27 for practical applications. Much emphasis on research as a recursive process and plenty of jargon, example “reading the database” based on narrative theory (23) but one of the speakers also used tinker toys to help explain schema theory. Good start to the conference.

Mentoring Teaching Librarians: A Discussion of Possibilities, Pitfalls, and Best Practices in Supporting New Instruction Colleagues in Your Library

Steve Cramer (Business Librarian) @ UNC Greensboro and Lisa Louis (Head of Research & Instruction) @ Texas A&M – Corpus Christi

I’ll summarize our program in a separate blog post once our slides are online at the LOEX site. Lisa is working on adding ideas and comments from the participants to our slides. She was good about taking notes from the brainstorming and discussion activities.

Friday afternoon

How to Make Information Literacy Real: Reimagining Library Instruction to Prepare Today’s Business Students for the Workforce

Cara Cadena (Business Liaison Librarian) and Beth Martin (Head of Professional Programs/ Economics Liaison) @ Grand Valley State University

GVSU is a fast-growing school in West Michigan (my hometown area) whose librarians have become really active in the last ten years or so on the professional scene. It has a newish business campus in downtown Grand Rapids, where LOEX met two years ago. Martin began working at this campus in 2013, Cadena in 2014. The business school doesn’t have its own library, and the general library is not too close to the school. And they don’t have access to a typical computer classroom. So as you might have guessed by now, Cara and Beth talked a lot about outreach to faculty and students.

Cara Cadena and Beth Martin (at podium)

Cara Cadena and Beth Martin (at podium): Business librarians represent!

It sounded like they are doing one-shots so far. They discussed the need to frame information literacy as “workforce readiness” based on published surveys of HR managers.

Beth discussed an assignment she created in which students research think tanks and conduct a CRAP test. Cara discussed being embedded in Blackboard for two international business classes taught in the hybrid format. She created resources in the CMS and made announcements every two weeks. She led a workshop to evaluate sources used in infographics. The professor for these classes noticed improvements in the students’ work. Cara is now assessing references used by the students.

There were a few business librarians in the room, but we didn’t really have time for discussions.

Growing Your Instruction as the World Becomes Smaller: International Students and the Academic Library

Susan Avery (Instructional Services Librarian) and Kirsten Feist (Instructional Services Specialist) @ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Avery and Feist actually brought a box of clickers along for us to use. To help us empathize with the needs of international/ESL students, they presented us with an EBSCO record for a Spanish-language journal and asked us to read it. (A few folks could, but not most of us.) They discussed the need to use multiple modes of presenting information. Suggestions:

  • Use videos, infographics, and written instructions
  • Avoid jargon
  • Be careful when using metaphors and analogies
  • Use testimonials from international students on successful interactions with the library
  • Discuss academic integrity without assuming previous knowledge.

You Can Go Your Own Way: Rethinking Credit-Bearing Courses in Light of the Framework [Drive]

Amanda Foster (Instruction Librarian) and Kyle Denlinger (eLearning Librarian) @ Wake Forest University

Amanda and Kyle are friends from Z. Smith Reynolds Library (where my wife works). They discussed different attempts to incorporate the frames into ZSR’s popular 1.5 credit LIB 100 class. The library provides 14 sections a semester, with Joy Gambill (also present) and Amanda teaching most of them.

Kyle discussed how the library was the campus trailblazer for online classes, a teaching format that WFU had avoided until very recently. He described working on the online development and framework development simultaneously. To avoid “death by discussion board”, Kyle had the students use the Voice Thread tool which worked well for his small (capped) class size of 12 students; in addition to fostering online discussion, the voice comments enabled him to get to know his students quite well. He used medium.com as the writing tool. Kyle reported that building the class around the research process worked well. The class was more interesting to teach, and student thoughts on the process became deeper. A downside was the high time commitment to provide feedback to the students.

Amanda discussed incorporating the framework into a traditional classroom format. Students build a sort of family tree (see around slide 19) to illustrate scholarship as conversation. This leads to a synthesis matrix assignment followed by a literature review. Her students also have to edit Wikipedia, partly to prove that scholarly communication is not merely a concern for academics.

Amanda and Kyle practiced good time management, ending their slides with about 10 minutes left for questions and answers. A good ending to the first day of the conference.

For another take on credit info-lit courses, see right below.

That evening, Lisa and I hiked down to the Point, enjoyed dinner at Market Square, and admired many of the impressive government buildings along or near Forbes Street, including H.H. Richardson’s wonderful courthouse, whose courtyard we snuck into at dusk (an amused security guard came out to chat with us about the building).

Saturday morning

Making the Case for Credit Courses: Results from a Study on Student Perceptions of a Required Library Research Course

Lyda Ellis (Head of Instructional Services & Associate Professor) and Dr. Brian Iannacchione (Assistant Professor) @ University of Northern Colorado

Lyda teaches a 1-credit research class required for the UNC criminal justice major. She and Professor Iannacchione surveyed the students on perceptions of this class.

The SLOs for the class are pretty standard for a short info lit course, I think, but do include something like “participate in scholarly discourse within the discipline.” The emphasis is how to write research papers and cite sources in APA. The professor really liked the APA component in the class — he emphasized that several times. I actually have mixed feelings about the APA emphasis, since citation styles for most college graduates have no value to life-long learning. And shouldn’t both the standards and frames be focused on life-long learning?

In the student surveys, most of the seniors wished they had taken the class earlier. The department is working on (if I remember correctly) making sure that students take this class as sophomores or juniors. Three students said that “the online class should be cancelled.” That eventually happened, which pleased the librarians who had to teach the online sections. Lyda compared the large (and getting larger) class sizes they have to deal with to the WFU online sections (see above).

The students most valued the APA citations work, followed by how to retrieve articles.

Into the Gauntlet: Letting Students Teach One Another

Jessica Crossfield McIntosh (Reference Services Coordinator & Assistant Professor) and Amy Parsons (Metadata Librarian & Associate Professor) @ Otterbein University

Seeing the slides again would help me write this summary. Many of the slides had color contrasts too subtle for a projector to handle. The librarians identified 4 or 5 strategies to get students to teach one another in class, but we only discussed think-pair-share. For those of us who mostly work with student teams creating an experimental project – not individuals writing the lame research paper – having small groups talk to each other and sharing their findings is pretty much required to be a good teacher. (The “jigsaw classroom” and “project based learning” were other strategies listed for getting students to teach one another.)

Otterbein is north of Columbus, Ohio. It has 3000 students and an 11 to 1 student/ faculty ratio. The library offers freshmen and 2nd-year information literacy courses. The librarians discussed the origins of peer learning (Harvard science professor named Mazur) and how having students report back to the class also helps with their public speaking skills. Challenges include getting students to brainstorm, writing frames-based questions, and getting students to take their time.

A Sample Is a Tactic: Hip Hop Pedagogy in the Library Classroom [Prezi]

Craig Arthur (Instruction Librarian) and Alyssa Archer (Instruction Librarian) @ Radford University

Craig with turntables and Alyssa

Craig (with turntables) and Alyssa

Craig was an intern at UNCG, but I had no idea he was into hip hop and DJing! I’m an old fan of old school and turntablism (if you have some of the Alexander Street Press streaming music collections, see if you have access to the amazing “Return of the DJ” compilations put out by the Bomb Hip Hop label.) But Craig actually knows how to work the wheels of steel and has an up-to-date knowledge of the music, including the modern and popular stuff. Alas, we never talked about music in our time together in the UNCG library.

Anyway, Craig and Alyssa discussed how they use sampling as metaphors for research, writing, and citing. There is significant published literature on this. Craig actually had his turntables set up for this talk for live demonstrations, as he does in class. But equally importantly, he and Alyssa had planned in much discussion with the audience (“excellent audience engagement for a change”, I found in my iPad notes). Alyssa also worked the sample metaphor into the framework, ex. “Information has value” regarding composing credits and royalties.

Yes, they did address cultural appropriation and race regarding use of hip hop pedagogy.

A unique and well-designed session.


After lunch I toured the Andy Warhol museum. Then in late afternoon, Lisa and I hiked over the 16th Street Bridge, past the huge, original Heinz plant and through the Troy Hill neighborhood to visit the old Eberhardt and Ober Brewery (founded in 1848), now the Penn Brewery.

Troy Hill neighborhood and Eberhardt and Ober Brewery from my LOEX hotel room (beyond the Heinz plant)

Troy Hill neighborhood and Eberhardt and Ober Brewery from my LOEX hotel room (across the river, beyond the Heinz plant)

Here is the brewery (zoomed in)

Here is the brewery (zoomed in — sorry about the dirty window)

Later we walked back to the business district via the old Dutchtown (really Deutschtown) neighborhood. Monday morning, back at work, and my mental fatigue was gone.

I had a new outreach experience yesterday. I can’t offer much in take-aways or lessons learned except maybe:

  • Librarians are held in high-regard in academia;
  • Academic leaders are interested in hearing about librarian contributions beyond our traditional roles;
  • We need to keep getting our word out, not just speak to each other at library conferences.

My teaching partner Professor Nick Williamson and I spoke at the UNC Student Success Symposium in Raleigh. This state-wide event was sponsored by the UNC General Administration (GA), which oversees our 17 campuses. The goal of the symposium is to

bring UNC campus administrators, staff, and faculty together with key legislative decision makers for a one day convening, focusing on a better understanding and fostering of student success

The audience included members of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG), GA members, campus leaders, and state legislators.

Audience from up front before we were called up to the podium

Audience from up front before we were called up to the podium

The symposium began with a welcome from our new UNC President, Margaret Spellings, followed by a “policy makers” panel discussion. Their discussion was pretty broad in contrast to the next event, a “Speed round of five initiatives highlighting UNC institutions to enhance post-graduation opportunities”.

GA asked campuses to submit proposals for the speed round. The UNCG Provost collected ideas from our campus deans, choose four, and submitted those to GA. From the four UNCG proposals, GA choose the Export Odyssey class which Nick and I co-teach.

Program: front page

Program: front page

We had five minutes and one presentation slide to work with. All the speed round presenters were interesting, but ours was the only one that actually mentioned students by name (significant I think since this was after all a student success symposium). We were also the only business-related topic, which is probably why many members of the Board of Governments talked to us after the program. Most of those folks are now business people.

Nick was left out for some reason.

Nick was left out for some reason.

Below is the introduction of our talk. A 10-minute break followed the speed round, and Nick and I spent all of that time up front fielding questions or receiving well-wishes. We talked to members of the BOG, GA vice-presidents (such as the one for International Community & Economic Engagement), one of the state legislators, and our own UNCG Provost. There was interest in the possibility of expanding the program. But a couple of folks stopped me just to say they were happy to see a librarian on stage (I was most likely the only librarian at the event). One GA official said he hopes to see more examples of such librarian engagement in the future. I’ve heard similar comments when Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I spoke at the SBI conference recently, and when colleague Jenny Dale and I quizzed our campus deans.

Nick and I were invited to stay for lunch, but I had to teach at 2pm back in Greensboro. Nick said it’s always good to leave the audience wanting more, anyway. Nick and a former student of his who is now a member of the BOG plan to have lunch soon as a follow-up. I’ll go too if I’m free.

Opening of our 5 minute talk:

Good morning! The heart of UNCG’s Marketing 426, International Marketing (a class required of all marketing majors) is the Export Odyssey project. The goal of Export Odyssey is for the student teams to recruit a North Carolina manufacturer and then make that company’s first international sale, or make for that company a sale to a new foreign market. The students learn how to do this in only about 10 weeks. Student teams have make export sales of North Carolina manufactured products to foreign buyers.  Examples include….

  • $15,000 yarn density testing machine made by J.A. King of Greensboro, NC, sold to a trading company located in Mumbai, India.
  • Industrial rollers used to impart ink onto beverage cans, sold to a Malaysian producer of beer. The exporter was Finzer Roller of Kernersville.
  • Wine from the Noni Bacca Winery of Wilmington sold to an Australian retailer
  • Pickles sold to the U. K. on behalf of Miss Jenny’s Pickles of Kernersville. That English customer later became a large scale, repeat customer. Miss Jenny’s Pickles became the 2014 North Carolina Exporter of the Year.
  • And there are other examples.

Therefore the students in this class live out the emphasis of UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics on problem-solving, community and global engagement, and economic development, while also learning from a research-intensive, hands-on experience that has no direct counterpart in the United States, as far as we know….

[Then we talked about how Nick was inspired by a student to create the Export Odyssey project, the research we teach the students to do, and 3 student success stories.]

During lunch at my desk today, I took a look at my oft-neglected newsreader (for this time in the semester) and saw the article “ARL Library Liaison Institute: What we learned about needs and opportunities for reskilling” from the March issue of College & Research Libraries News. The article summarizes a 1.5-day workshop that brought together 50 liaisons from Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Toronto. A 34-page final report of the event is available at http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/library-liaison-institute-final-report-dec2015.pdf. The C&RLN article provides a concise recap, so I will just point out some things from the final report that I found particularly interesting.

The institute sounds like a larger and longer version of the “WFU & UNCG Liaison Benchmarking & Brainstorming” workshop we conducted together in May 2012, although our workshop had a focus on liaison organization as well as liaison roles. I wish there was more in the ARL report about how liaisons should be organized and led to achieve their goals. There are a few ideas. For example, from the “Next Steps” section near the end (p. 22):

Helping liaisons understand the big picture requires investment in training for managers and liaisons (both in core competencies and communication skills that provide the ability to look beyond the library as the center), but also an organizational structure for liaisons to collaborate (among themselves, with functional experts, beyond the confines of their departments or disciplines). Setting up a team-based model might be one way to encourage such collaboration.

Also, on page 23, regarding follow-up activity at Columbia:

Finally, the libraries addressed a recent vacancy in the Journalism Library with a new approach to filling the interim position. A team of librarians from the science, social science, and humanities libraries was created to fill the interim journalism librarian position. The libraries see this team approach as a possible model going forward for permanent positions, breaking down disciplinary silos and better integrating research methods.

Sounds interesting! I hope the Columbia folks have followed what has happened in Arizona with team liaison assignments to academic departments. The two situations are a bit different, though – in its previous model, Arizona Journalism faculty would have to decide which functional team to contact for a particular need.

Also, “Scenario Two” on page 9 involved liaison teams. However, we can’t tell what major themes came out of the Scenario Two teams compared to the other scenario teams.

The write-up of the “healthy debate” on the value of subject expertise (pages 10-11 and also 21) is interesting. While few of the liaisons here at UNCG in my time have preferred the traditional bibliographer expert model of liaison work, we have had some discussions like this. So what is the mix of subject and functional skills a liaison should have? Does the need for that mix vary by subject area (ex. business versus history)? But without strong skills in outreach, teaching, and advocacy, can you do much with your subject expertise besides ordering books? (Trying to be provocative here).

Also interesting was that some librarians were offended by the customer segmentation and value proposition exercise (11-16). Sounds like a really useful exercise that could help liaisons reconsider traditions and pre-conceived notions of what our customers err patrons need. Some of the suggestions were more interesting than others.

The summary of “what kind of support they need from library administrators” on page 18 reminds me of some of the goals of our liaison reorganization that began in 2013 – more relevant and frequent training; less time in meetings; use of teams; etc.

The report concludes with “concrete next steps that Columbia, Cornell, and Toronto are taking as a result of the Library Liaison Institute.” Lots of communication and sharing of course. But I also came away with respect for these large institutions (especially Toronto) for re-envisioning liaison work in very complex organizations. In comparison, almost all liaisons at UNCG and WFU work in the main library. So credit to those three schools for running an institute like this.

The librarians' presentation at SBI 2016

The librarians’ presentation at SBI 2016

Mary Scanlon has uploaded the librarians’ presentation from the Small Business Institute academic conference:


I wrote about this conference last month. For this presentation, Mary (Wake Forest University), Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I spoke to a roomful of business faculty, plus some Coleman Fellows from UNCG.

Our main topics included:

  1. Designing the most effective research assignments
  2. Requiring students to use the best and most authoritative research sources
  3. The limits of secondary research and when primary research is necessary
  4. Inviting your business librarian to provide active learning research workshops at the point of need, plus research consultations with students as follow-up

In part 1, Mary discussed student learning outcomes, project design, instructional activities, and assessment. Lots of good points in her slides – check them out.

I got most interested in coming up with the “selling their value to students” suggestions:

“Using these sources will save you time.”


  • They are designed for projects/research like this [research project]
  • They collect relevant analysis, trends, and statistical data into one place
  • You can usually download the information as PDFs, Word documents, or spreadsheets

Emphasize customization.


  • “You are required to define your local industry size, local market size, local competitors, etc.”
  • Mapped data can be more illustrative, interesting, and convincing than data in a paragraph or a table.

Use professional terminology.

Not “library research” but:

  • “Big data analysis tools”
  • “Competitive intelligence”
  • “Proprietary subscription tools”

And Business Librarian is also a “research consultant” [J. P. Huffman of Penn State University wrote about this – see #9 from my December Reading Roundup].

Show the high cost of individual reports from business databases (free to students) if they were corporate users.

  • One IBIS report: $1,020
  • One Mintel report: $3,995
  • One Euromonitor report: $2,650

Prices from http://www.marketresearch.com/

Show examples of database content (your librarian can help with this).

(I provided images from a SimplyMap map and IBIS graphic – see slide 24.)

Diane brought us to a conclusion with our last main topic. She presented several models of professors partnering with the business librarian, including:

  • Adapt business research sessions to course needs
  • Consult at the time of syllabus creation
  • Collaborate on assignment design
  • Assess information literacy in business research

Three business librarians — Diane Campbell (Rider University), Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University), and I — participated in the Small Business Institute (SBI) annual academic conference last week in New Orleans. We attended sessions, interacted with the business professors, and made a presentation to the profs.

Most of us arrived on Ash Wednesday, if you were curious. Clean-up from the last big Mardi Gras parade was in full swing.

at the Small Business Institute

Dr. Welsh, Debra Sea, Stoel Burrowes, and me (right) chatting before our program. I forgot to get a picture of Diane, Mary, and me presenting.

Except for the Coleman Fellow summits, this was my first visit to a business professors’ conference. (Diane is a frequent attender and presenter at SBI.) It was an interesting experience. I will be writing a short conference review for the new Ticker open access journal soon but will add a few more personal notes here, including more details about our librarians’ program than I will provide in that objective review article.

Nature of this conference

Mary and I were surprised how small the conference was – around 150 people! The smallest multi-day librarian conference I’ve been to is NCLA, which averages 1,000 people. Some of my Coleman Fellow friends were shocked to hear how large ALA Summer can get. SBI easily fit into the 2nd floor of the skinny Harrah’s hotel. We used the ball room for meals and plenary sessions, and the three conference rooms for the concurrent sessions. There was no exhibit hall. Awards for best practice ideas and best paper were given out as part of the long lunches. Breakfasts and lunches as well as several parties, including a paddleboat cruise on the final day, were included as part of the registration. Which was nice, given the registration fee was $550. (In contrast, LOEX is $290 this year.)

Perhaps because of its size, SBI seemed to have a strong focus on networking, mentoring, and sharing research and pedagogical ideas.

The nature of concurrent sessions was different from most library conferences. As the SBI program indicates, all sessions were 90 minutes long. A session could be labeled a “workshop” with only one or two topics and groups of speakers, but most of sessions included 3 or 4 presentations – so around 20-25 minutes each. Tracks included:

  • Best Practices
  • Small Business
  • Global Entrepreneurship
  • Family Business
  • Experiential Learning
  • and a few others

I got the impression that most or maybe all submissions to SBI were accepted. (That is also typical for NCLA.)

How I got there

Professor Dianne Welsh, the director of our UNCG Coleman Fellows program, is a past president of SBI and invited many of the fellows to attend, using our grant money for travel funding. We gave a program regarding embedding entrepreneurship into cross-campus classes. Diane Cambell also spoke about “How to Create High Impact Community Outreach through a Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program” with two of her professors from Rider.

What the librarians did there

Mary, Diane, and I met at the most recent Entrepreneurial Librarians conference. Professor Welsh had told me that Diane was a regular at SBI, and Mary and I have been talking about going to a business professor conference. So Mary, Diane, and I chatted about doing a librarian’s program at SBI. We decided to propose a program that suggests best practices to entrepreneurship faculty regarding the research their students should be doing, and how the faculty could be working with their local business librarians.

We titled our proposal Teaching Entrepreneurship Research Skills to Students: Best Practices from Three Entrepreneurship Librarians.” It had four sections:

  1. Designing the most effective research assignments
  2. Requiring students to use the best and most authoritative research sources
  3. The limits of secondary research and when primary research is necessary
  4. Inviting your business librarian to provide active learning research workshops at the point of need, plus research consultations with students as follow-up

We assumed we would have an hour to discuss those topics, but ended up instead as 1/3 of a 90-minute slot in the “experiential learning” track. Not ideal, in our opinions, but one of the other presentations was canceled, so we ended up as one of two programs in that 90-minute period. A nice, quick pace without being too rushed.

We had a large audience by SBI standards, around 17 folks (although a third of them were fellow UNCG fellows or Diane’s professor colleagues from Rider) who asked lots of good questions and seemed engaged throughout. Of course it helps to have friends in the audience! Mary and Diane did a great job and were fun to work with. We will post the slides online soon (I’ll write a short follow-up post with the link).


So what did I get out of attending SBI? Hmm well several things:

  • The professors there respect librarians and were happy to have us on board. They listened to our responses to their programs, and the folks attending the librarians’ session were genuinely interested in what we had to say – and didn’t seem offended by our recommendations to them. (A couple of profs complained that their librarians seem to be cruising towards retirement and weren’t interested in newer, engaged roles.)
  • As many of you librarians know, professors aren’t always too knowledgeable about using statistical data, and often benefit from the help of a savvy research librarian. (I’m not providing details because it would be easy to figure out which programs I’m alluding to.)
  • A professors’ conference can be very different in structure from a librarian conference. But networking is emphasized in both. We might go to USASBE next January and try to present there too. If so we’ll see what that one is like.
  • Diane and Mary are great to work with. (Mary and I also enjoyed taking the St. Charles streetcar to uptown for a reunion dinner with Betsy Clementson, a business librarian at Tulane; Betsy used to work at Western Carolina University and was active in BLINC.)
  • And as always it was great fun to hang with my Coleman fellow buds as we explored more of the city and its fine drinking and eating establishments.

Would I attend SBI again? Sure, if I had grant money to spend on travel. The networking is important – another type of embedded librarian work? – even if the application to my day-to-day work as a business librarian is more limited compared to what I get out of most library conferences.

Chair on the lake

Chair on the lake

No, I don’t have any juicy stories of bad behavior to tell (hey, we are professionals over here!) but I do have some behind-the-scene information and advice based on chairing many searches. Jump down to “Today’s topic” if you are in a hurry.

Catching up

Exams ended at UNCG on Wednesday, with graduation ceremonies taking place yesterday. Today [when I began writing this] is quiet but the unexpected 70 degree December temps make it harder to stay in the office and be productive.

On Wednesday, we had around 20 librarians from around the state here in Jackson Library for BLINC’s (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) winter workshop. Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University) and Anna Dulin Milholland (Salem College) talked about some innovations in teaching and assessment; Heather Greer Klein (NC LIVE) updated us on what is new with that organization under its new director; we networked, reviewed ABI-INFORM Complete’s three sub-databases, and reviewed our work at the NCLA conference last October. New BLINC officers Lydia Towery (Charlotte/Mecklenburg Public), John Raynor (High Point Public), and Lauren Poteat (Charles Aris Inc) provided strong leadership. Lots of warm fuzzies from this active group.

Mary, Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I learned this week that our program submission to the 2016 Small Business Institute conference in New Orleans in February has been accepted: “Teaching entrepreneurship research skills to students: best practices from three entrepreneurship librarians”. This is a business professors’ conference, so we are excited to make a pitch for the value of librarians to faculty from across the country. Diane has spoken at SBI many times already.

Last week my colleague Orolando Duffus and I submitted a proposal to create a RUSA interest group on entrepreneurship. The idea came out of the most recent BRASS online discussion. Ray Cruitt (Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center, New Jersey), Sal DiVincenzo (Miller Business Resource Center, Centereach, NY), and other BRASS folks helped us write that proposal. Orolando and I wrote about the increasing number of public libraries without official business librarians being asked to assist entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and local economic development. Hopefully this interest group would support such libraries.

I’m converting my entrepreneurship research class from Blackboard to Canvas for the spring semester.

And I’ve also been busy with another search committee.

Today’s topic

On this blog, I usually avoid trendy topics or well-covered topics like job hunting tips for early-career librarians. (I did write about my department’s previous search, but that was in the context of making our first liaison hire after our liaison reorganization.) For example, Joe Hardenbrook has collected lots of helpful interview information at his blog. At NCLA 2015 two months ago, early career librarians Sarah Crissinger (Davidson College) and Madison Sullivan (NCSU) presented on “Getting Your First LIS Job: Tips, Tricks, and Reflections from Recent LIS Grads” — useful, concise slides and recommendations. Look at their slide notes, too.

But I’m chairing a search again and have some ideas to share based on previous searches. And maybe a few readers aren’t familiar with how search committees tend to function in (U.S.) academic libraries.

Nature of our search committees

The position description usually gets written before the search committee is formed.

Our search committees have five members, including one paraprofessional/staff member. Several library departments are always represented by the committee membership. Folks get asked by Library Administration to serve, starting with the chair, who gives feedback on the others to be asked to serve. Usually the department head does not serve on the committee; nor does the supervisor (if different) of the open position.

Committee members spend a lot of time reviewing applications. They will also spend about an hour conducting each phone interview. Plus usually four meetings:

  • Overview of procedures and a discussion of what characteristics or accomplishments to look for when reviewing the applications;
  • Selection of phone interview candidates, based on the review of applications;
  • Selection of proposed on-campus interview candidates, based on the phone interviews;
  • Summarizing the performance of on-campus interviewees

The searches I’ve chaired used phone interviews, not Skype interviews. There’s less chance of technical problems, and reduced risk of subconscious bias being a factor. The provost requires all faculty search committee members to go through an anti-bias tutorial.

But reviewing applications is the big work. We usually get 40-60 applications, but had 81 for our 2010-12 Diversity Resident Librarian search. Some libraries get a lot more. So the workload is front-loaded for the search team. The chair has additional work.

Role of the search committee chair

The main role of the chair is communication and planning. The chair sets deadlines for the various steps of the search, based on a master timeline established by the provost’s office, UNCG HR, and Library Administration. The chair leads the meetings and updates the department head, supervisor (if a different person), and administrators on the process of the search. The chair emails candidates about phone interviews and later the on-campus interviews. The chair also works with our administrative staff to make sure that travel planning and funding (including the hotel rooms, dinner reservations, and airport pickups) are taken care of. The chair develops the on-campus interview schedule (often a pain to coordinate), and also writes up the topic of candidates’ big presentation or mock teaching scenario to which everyone in the library and other campus stakeholders are invited.

The provost’s office will fund two on-campus interviews. The University Libraries will fund a third interview if one candidate lives close enough to Greensboro to not need a flight. We still offer a local candidate a nice dinner and a night at a local fancy hotel. However, campus interviews are so time-intensive (planning and conducting) that as chair I usually just push to bring in two candidates. Last time I chaired a search, though, we had three top candidates, each with different backgrounds, some of whom lived in the state already. So we brought all three to campus.

And based on feedback from the search committee, the chair writes up summaries of the candidates’ performance and evaluations for the dean to consider.

But who makes the big decisions?

Our dean makes the decision about who to bring in to campus and who (if anyone) gets the job offer. That’s normal in academic libraries.

Seven confessions

  1. We don’t like our time wasted.

Yes, Virginia, cover letters are the most important part of the application. If a cover letter isn’t customized to the position in question, we might not even look at the resume. That lack of customization tells us enough about the candidate.

Joe Hardenbrook (see above) links to lots of good advice about writing cover letters. My quick tips:

  • Give us examples/details/stories of accomplishments and successes – content a resume usually can’t provide.
  • Never include a bulleted list on your cover – that’s for resumes.
  • Keep it serious – no jokes or creative writing.
  • A good cover letter runs a very full page to two pages long. The best are two pages long.

Two pages aren’t hard to write. We have had several strong cover letters from current LIS students that are two pages long: those students had (unlike me) made the most of their library school opportunities (jobs, internships, and volunteering in libraries and other organizations) and had many interesting and relevant experiences to write about.

Here is a suggested outline for a cover letter:

1st  paragraph: first sentence introduction with reference to the position and library, then why you are interested in this particular position as this particular library, followed by a short executive summary of your qualifications

2nd: discuss your experience regarding the primary role of the position description

3rd:  the same concerning the second role of the position

4th: the same with any additional roles

5th: write about your enthusiasm and ability to handle a tenure-track position (provide evidence you could be successful with faculty service, writing, and presenting)

Final paragraph: wrap up

  1. We think we are research-worthy.

The search committee certainly hopes you interested enough in our library and campus to research us. This applies to the cover letter, phone interview, and on-campus interview.

In addition to carefully studying the position description, examine the web site of that library department. Learn about the department head and other folks connected to the position. What are their backgrounds? Can you find any presentations, articles or blogs they have created? Do your current colleagues or LIS professors know any of those folks? And finally, can you find any strategic planning documents? For our science librarian search a few years ago, several candidates had learned about our very recent liaison reorganization and surprised us with excellent questions concerning it. That impressed us.

Then research the greater campus. If you are applying for a business librarian position, for example, what is special about the local business school? What are the biggest programs or initiatives? Any research, community engagement, or economic development projects in the news? What graduate programs exist? Working such details in a relevant manner into a cover letter or interview gets the search committee’s attention.

Try to figure out who the search committee chair is, and address your cover to the chair and the search committee. It doesn’t hurt to include the department head’s name too. Can’t figure out who the search committee chair is? Call the library and ask. If word of your phone call makes it to the chair and the committee, your stock has just gone up as a candidate.

  1. We are vain.

We love when you ask us questions, and we enjoy talking about ourselves. So come prepared with questions based on your research, concerns, and curiosity. Show us you care and are interested. Yes, it’s supposed to be a two-way interview.

  1. We like getting “thank you” notes.

After each interview stage, send a quick “thank you” via email. Then send a “thank you” card through snail mail. We keep those — they become a physical reminder of your good manners and enthusiasm.

  1. We also get frustrated with the slow process.

That’s life in big organizations.

  1. And we also get stressed.

The stakes are high for presenting the dean with good choices — especially at UNCG, where folks tend to stick around despite having to go through tenure. So the reputation of the committee (particularly the chair’s) is kind of on the line. Plus there are all those details and communications to manage. And dealing with differences of opinion in the evaluations.  Yikes.

  1. But we find it exciting.

We like meeting new people. We enjoy discussing the possibilities of our open position, and how you could contribute to the goals of the library and campus. We like offering a nice person the job. And what I learn from chairing a search improves my mentoring skills, keeps me grounded, and even inspires me to keep growing and learning as a mid-career professional librarian.

Happy holidays and New Year, everyone!

I’m catching up on my professional reading after the fall semester. Here are summaries and thoughts on some of the readings with my usual focus on liaison work and business librarianship. Good luck to everyone as your semester and year wind down.


It’s Your Business: Evaluating the Business Curriculum to Target Information Literacy in the Discipline [pdf]
by Nataly Blas (Loyola Marymount University)
Academic BRASS, Vol 10 (1), Spring 2015

Nataly provides a step-by-step plan to create a curriculum map of a business info lit program. She writes about what kind of documents to use and look for (ex. syllabi, accreditation standards, library goals, etc.) and provides the example of a business law class. At the end of the short article, she provides a link to map of the Finance curriculum, and also provides a Word template for our mapping efforts. Nataly attended ACRL Immersion this year, so hopefully she will continue to share her thoughtful work with us.


Framework-ized Information Competency Skills for Business Students
by Amanda Howell (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) after Nancy A. Cunningham (Director, Academic Services University of South Florida)
Google Drive document

Amanda updated Nancy’s information literacy guidelines for the ACRL frameworks idea. The instruction leaders in my library have begun to schedule workshops for liaisons to work on frameworks for our areas, so I’m grateful for Amanda for sharing this recently in a BRASS online discussion. As I’ve heard business librarians lament more than once, the old standards seemed overly focused on students using articles, books, and web sites to write research papers – old-fashioned outputs of student work. So it’s great to see statistical data, market research, company financials, etc. covered on a frameworks guide, and “authorship” defined as more than individuals writing a book or article.


Both Sides Now: Vendors and Librarians: Can You Give Me a “Ballpark” Price of What This Will Cost?
by Michael Gruenberg (President, Gruenberg Consulting, LLC)
Against The Grain, June 2015

ATG is the companion publication to the Charleston Conference. (A small group of business librarians rendezvoused in Charleston last month, Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from the Wharton School reported. Maybe for the 2016 conference we will submit a panel proposal or organize a business librarians & publishers dinner?) Both the publication and the conference are great for facilitating dialogues between librarians and vendors, and for better understanding each other’s practices and needs. In this article, Michael discusses the salesperson’s challenge of responding to early requests for a price, and the information professional’s need to not provide budget details too early. Michael also provides suggestions to both parties on how to handle the negotiation dance.


Two presentations from NCLA 2015

If You Build It, Will They Come? Designing a More Engaged Liaison Program
by Teresa LePors and Betty Garrison (Elon University)

I missed this one due to a class commitment, but really wanted to go. Betty is the Business Librarian and a BLINC-buddy. Teresa became the library dean in summer 2012 and worked with the librarians and staff on some strategic planning and reinvisioning. In 2014 the Elon librarians created a Library Research and Scholarly Services department, with monthly meetings of liaisons. Increased outreach and stronger relationships with faculty is one goal of the new group.

Email was chosen as a target communication tool, and so the liaisons did a study of email interactions with profs by time of day, day of the week, department, who initiated the email, etc. Most of the slides are devoted to this. There are some graphs and pie charts, plus a study of topic/word mapping with quotes for each topic, ex. instruction.

Best practices according to the Elon liaisons:

  • Be visible
  • Show interest
  • Experiment
  • Build relationships
  • Respond promptly
  • Support colleagues

There is also a useful timeline of outreach responsibilities over one year (slide 40).

North Carolina Librarian on Main Street
Nancy Tucker (Business Librarian, Mauney Memorial Library, Kings Mountain, NC), Sharon Stack (Library Director), and Jan Harris (Director, Kings Mountain Main Street Program, City of Kings Mountain). Heather Sanford is the other business librarian involved with this project.

Another program from a BLINC member I regret having to miss. Nancy discusses her library’s proactive engagement of downtown businesses – she and Heather went door-to-door (yes, literally) to offer the library’s support of small businesses:

In this presentation, participants will learn how a small library in Kings Mountain partnered with its city’s Main Street™ organization and Planning and Economic Development department to help small businesses be successful in the 21st century marketplace and in return, the program has benefited downtown revitalization efforts.  This program is a powerful example of how the library has facilitated, through partnerships, a transformation downtown and triggered small business success and economic growth.

The library’s involvement is a vital part of the city’s “Four Point Approach” to revitalize downtown:

  • Organization
  • Promotion
  • Design
  • Economic restructuring

The library offered to help the downtown businesses with business plans, market research, website development, online marketing, print marketing, logo design, branding, technology assistance, mission statement writing, and secret shopping (!) A wonderful example of effective, proactive engagement.


Making All the Right Moves for Liaison Engagement: A Strategy for Relating to Faculty
by John G. Bales
C&RL News, November 2015

A short opinion piece encouraging liaisons to create an action plan for faculty outreach, and then track progress using a spreadsheet that covers all the faculty. Other liaisons have proposed using customer relationship management (CRM) software to enable a group of librarians to track faculty connections. Creepy or really useful?


Where Have All the Books Gone? Exploring “Virtual Libraries” at Cornell University’s Engineering and Physical Science Libraries
by Jill Wilson, Jeremy Cusker, & Dianne Dietrich (Cornell University)
Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 5(2):23-31, 2015

Some of you business librarians may have heard Corey Seeman talk about what happened with the library space at the University of Michigan business school. These stories from Cornell are similar. The most interesting parts to me where the outreach efforts that had to be ramped up big time to compensate for the built-in promotional value of the physical space:

New undergraduate and graduate students may hear from peers that “there was once a library and now there is not” and believe—erroneously—that the library is no longer relevant to their development as future researchers. It is crucial then, in the virtual model, that librarians continually develop partnerships with faculty members and remain visible to students.

Interesting perspective for those of us who have always worked out of a general library.


First issue of Ticker

The first issue of Ticker: the Academic Business Librarianship Review came out last summer. The aforementioned Corey wrote a summary of the “Action Learning Conference” held at Michigan Ross. Representatives of several MBA programs discussed their active learning programs or capstones. Michigan business librarians have written about their embedded work in such classes.

In another Ticker article, Jessica Lange of McGill University described a team competition she created for MBA orientation (“MBA Versus MBA Challenge: Developing an Engaging Library Orientation for Incoming Students”). In the first challenge, teams competed to find certain database content the fastest. In the second, the students did a battledecks competition. Slides in the presentation were from Jessica’s short introduction to library services that began the library workshop. Interesting idea!

The research article in Ticker’s first issue is “Our Year of Assessment at Columbia University’s Business and Economics Library” by Kathleen Dreyer and Nisa Bakkalbasi of Columbia University. They adopted

a multi-method assessment approach combining quantitative and qualitative statistics through a survey, exit polls, and direct observations to inform improvement planning of library services and spaces.

Their assessment was partially in response to concerns from MBA students about sharing the library with undergraduates from other campus units. Services fared well in the assessment, but the Columbia librarians reported less satisfaction with technology (for which the library has limited control) and physical spaces. The library has addressed some of those concerns, but still faces the challenge of balancing the needs for group study and social space versus quiet study space.


More from the RSR special issue on entrepreneurship

As noted here recently, Reference Services Review published a special issue on entrepreneurship. Lots of interesting articles from that issue, more than I will summarize here.

Engaging with Entrepreneurs in Academic and Public Libraries
by Jared Hoppenfeld (Texas A&M) and Elizabeth Malafi (Miller Business Resource Center, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY), both leaders in BRASS.

A good introduction to the special issue. I like the focus on both types of libraries. After a long lit review, Jared and Elizabeth summarize the kinds of services they provide to entrepreneurs in their libraries

  • Networking (librarians networking with entrepreneurs, and providing space for entrepreneurs to network with each other)
  • Outreach (ex. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Texas A&M).
  • Business incubator support
  • Supporting entrepreneurs’ intellectual property research needs
  • Educating entrepreneurs at the library

Many short case studies are briefly summarized.

Jared and Elizabeth conclude with recommendations. The main points:

  • Back to the basics: perform a reference interview
  • Learn about licensed data and entrepreneurs (for the academic subscriptions) [Posie Aagaard and Natasha Z. Arguello from UT San Antonio have an article about this in the same issue]
  • Use your support network (ex. SCORE, SBA, BUSLIB-L)
  • Networking: don’t do it alone; be persistent; try new approaches sometimes
  • Become familiar with intellectual property
  • Take advantage of entrepreneurs’ experiential learning preferences (do hands-on teaching, and get involved with pitch competitions)
  • Keep aware for the next opportunity

In Entrepreneur Assistance & Economic Development in Florida Libraries, Janet Elaine Franks (Saint Leo University) and Carol Johns (Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, Tampa) provide survey results from entrepreneurs and analyze public library services provided to entrepreneurs. A good read after the Hoppenfeld and Malafi survey article.

Academic Libraries as Community Resource Partners for Entrepreneurs by Patrick Griffis (UNLV) focuses on his library’s “strategy of collaborating with community agencies in assisting community entrepreneurs,” especially the local Small Business Development Center and the UNLV law school.

The Business Model Canvas as a Platform for Business Information Literacy Instruction by Terence William O’Neill of Michigan State. Great topic for an article, given how common the one-page business model has become. I remember when even a freshman entrepreneurship class assigned a “business plan” to the student teams, which in hindsight was a foolish choice. Business models are a much better choice for lower-level or introductory courses in entrepreneurship, or for cross-campus classes (ex. Dance or Chemistry) “infused” (as the Coleman Fellows program puts it) with an entrepreneurship module lasting three weeks or so.

In this article, Terence discusses how the MSU business librarians use the business model to organize a research workshop, assigning the students databases like IBIS for the boxes on the model that require industry research. First the librarians have the students spend five minutes fleshing out their business idea. Then the students look at IBIS and reconsider what they have decided so far about the model. Terence notes that IBIS’s topics and subtopics for each industry match pretty easily to the business model topics/boxes. Terence continues:

This in-class exercise immediately encourages the students to think of their business model, and the resultant canvas, as flexible and changeable with new information. The exercise encourages them to check their assumptions while also filling in details for some aspects of the business they might not have had a strong sense of previously.

Nice. Noting that IBIS doesn’t cover all the business model topics, the librarians present an image of the business model with the logos of relevant database in the relevant boxes. For example, RMA eStatement Studies and BizMiner are in the “Revenue Streams” box – a great idea!

My second thought on first seeing that image (the first being that it was a great idea) was that more resources should be listed, ex. Census.gov, SimplyMap, and DemographicsNow for “Customer Segments”. But Terence later writes that in their experience, students are less likely to use databases if too many are listed. An interesting note of caution.


Latest from JBFL

Finally, some good stuff since the spring in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, including reviews of CCH  Accounting Research Manager, PrivCo, the now-free IMF portal, and the OECD e-library. (The ARM review by Susan Klopper of Emery includes a memorable section header: “Accounting Content: Not The Sexiest”. I always appreciate good help like this with accounting resources.)

In a short opinion piece (“What’s in a Name? Rebranding Librarianship for Professional Students”), J. P. Huffman of Penn State University reviews the old “librarian” image problem and discusses the business librarians’ efforts to rebrand themselves as “research consultants”. That language emphasizes their role as coworkers and partners instead of information gatekeepers. She also notes that “consultants” are common in the business world and therefore seeking out the help of a business consultant doesn’t carry a stigma that asking a librarian for help might include. Instead “the library as an institution takes a backseat to our skill set and interactions with students…our identity should come from our actions, not our titles.”

And Ilana Stonebraker wrote up her very interesting flipped classroom experience I first heard her talk about at LOEX last year (“Flipping the Business Information Literacy Classroom: Redesign, Implementation, and Assessment of a Case Study”).  There are a couple of other interesting info lit articles from this issue too.

I could go on, but I just thought of a good title for a post I want to write concerning a search committee I’m chairing this winter.

Happy holidays, all!


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