Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Nancy Lovas is the entrepreneurship librarian at UNC Chapel Hill, where she does all things business research. Instruction features heavily in her professional interests, as well as learning the ins-and-outs of business information and databases. Nancy’s best days include a walk outside, a strong cup of tea, and anything related to teaching. She holds a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Summer Krstevska is the business, economics & data access librarian at Wake Forest University, where she supports biz u-grads as well as entrepreneurship minors, and the economics programs. She is currently exploring her curiosities surrounding data visualization and developing her first for-credit business research course for entrepreneurs. She holds a M.L.I.S in Library and Information Science from Simmons University.

Athens GA street scene

Athens GA street scene. From Alan Sandercock, http://tinyurl.com/y2d4hqc7

Spring had come to Athens, Georgia when around 30 intrepid business librarians convened for the first-ever Southern Academic Business Librarians Conference (SOUCABL, pronounced “sociable”) on the last weekend in March. We braved pollen, a hilly UGA campus, and some friendly March Madness rivalry for a day of great conversations, connections, and development of business reference skills.

SOUCABL is the brainchild of Sheila Devaney at the University of Georgia, Rahn Huber of Vanderbilt, and Trip Wyckoff at Florida State. Intended to be “an affordable opportunity for librarians to discuss business librarianship and to network with other librarians in the region,” it is the opinion of this author (Nancy) that the conference accomplished its purpose.

Pre-Conference

We both attended the great pre-conference workshop on Friday afternoon with Celia Ross, author of the book Making Sense of Business Reference (new edition coming out this year!). It was a condensed version of her popular RUSA course. I (Nancy) enjoyed how Celia asked us to rate ourselves: “how ‘spicy’ can you handle bizref? (Mild, Medium, Hot, or On Fire)” Given the naturally humble natures of librarians, most of us labeled ourselves a variation on medium. However, after several hours together working through some tough ‘bizref stumpers’, I suspect we underrated ourselves. Also of interest was the opportunity to play around in a lot of databases.

The Conference

After the pre-conference, the conference officially opened with a reception sponsored by RKMA Publishers. Downtown Athens is hopping on a Friday night, and the librarians were no exception. Afterwards, a few of us found a place to watch the UNC vs. Auburn game.

It was a jam-packed Saturday.

The conference had a great start with the keynote presentation by Susan Klopper, the Executive Director of Goizueta Business Library at Emory University. She went over the qualities and competencies she looks for when hiring business librarians. Though we both have somewhat recently just made it out of the hunger games of the librarian job search, this keynote’s content was still useful.

Klopper cut straight to the point about what makes business librarians unique and how one can continue to grow these competencies, whether new in your position or more seasoned (sticking with Celia’s spicy metaphor here). Her suggestion to consider yourself as a business was key to her main point of ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ of a true business librarian. In this sense, Klopper stated that a business librarian should:

  • consider their competitors and customers,
  • differentiate their services,
  • negotiate their time strategically,
  • and build clients for life.

Klopper highlighted the importance of knowing your value proposition, as well as figuring out what you love and then putting yourself out there. Kopper challenged us: “what kind of librarian do you want to be?” Her talk emphasized that we all can develop, define, and refine who we are today and grow into who we want to be tomorrow.

With Klopper’s motivation, it was easy for the group to transition into a competency brainstorming session after the keynote. During this session, we partnered up and discussed what competencies we were already strong with and of those competencies, which one would we want to develop. We then considered how we would develop that competency.

This realistic approach to improving our strengths was practical and felt achievable. I (Summer) felt like I could go back to my office immediately and get to work! The encouragement from Trip Wyckoff to actually pursue our development plan by keeping our partner accountable with the end goal of presenting together next year at SOUCABL was priceless. His suggestion helped collaborators move past just temporarily collaboration and instead paved the way to building lasting partnerships with each other.

After a delicious lunch from Statista, it was time for poster sessions. The poster sessions touched on topics of flipping the entrepreneurial classroom, building partnerships with career services, what students think of discipline specific information literacy, and OER usage of accounting faculty. All of these posters were relevant, intriguing and (in my/Summer’s opinion) would make amazing full presentation sessions in their own right. I hope to hear more from the presenters next year.

When it came time for the full presentations, the presentations covered topics such as the challenges of engaging business students early on in First-Year Seminar & First-Year Experience courses, entrepreneurship-related events hosted by the library, and the growing popularity of fintech and its impact on biz ref, just to name a few. I (Nancy) liked the structure of presentation time. Presenters were allotted twenty minutes, which allowed for more depth than a lightning talk yet was a good length for our dwindling attention spans.

We took a few minutes at the end of the day to share our “roses, thorns, and crowns” (what we liked, didn’t like, what should stay the same). Everyone agreed the conference should happen again!

The day ended with lively chat and laughter on a sunny rooftop bar in downtown Athens courtesy of PrivCo.

Conclusion

Summer

Overall the conference was a great experience for me. The content really hit the spot and networking-wise it could not have been a better, more enjoyable group of people to get on with. Aside from BLINC workshops, I’ve never attended a full conference where every session felt so directly related to my work. I left SOUCABL feeling inspired and satisfied. This conference was more than worth its price tag and was only a short distance from North Carolina. I look forward to going back and hopefully presenting with librarians I made connections with this past year.

Nancy

I am so glad I went to SOUCABL. I echo Summer’s comment about meeting great people and benefiting from the excellent content. I also appreciated how many vendors were in attendance. As an early-career business librarian, the whole collections-thing can be rather daunting. Susan Klopper specifically mentioned the vendor community in her keynote and working with vendors is often brought up at BLINC workshops. This conference was a low-key opportunity to meet vendors for many of the databases and products I currently manage and start building relationships with those vendors.

Thank you, Sheila, Rahn, and Trip, for your hard work in organizing, and to the vendors who generously sponsored the conference.

Advertisements
Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) met for its spring workshop last week Friday. You can’t tell from this lunch-time picture, but the flowering trees are now blooming over here in the NC Piedmont, and the daffodils are up and looking pretty. Well, the lack of coats on these business librarians enjoying lunch and networking outdoors is a sign of spring!

We met at the Frontier, a shared-work space, in Research Triangle Park, just south of Durham. It had been a while since we met in RTP. It’s pretty famous for being one of the most successful research parks in the country. It reflects the early, 1950’s, suburban model of research parks; only recently has the park become concerned with mixed-used development and more sustainable transportation options. In contrast, the newish Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter, where BLINC has met before, is largely built from downtown former RJ Reynolds tobacco factories. The Quarter is high-density and has lots of housing a short walk away. (However, we are still waiting for our downtown, full-sized grocery store.)

Around 20 business librarians, public and academic, attended the workshop. We had more public librarians than academic librarians this time, a nice change of pace. Four folks were first-timers at a BLINC workshop. We gave our new friends a special welcome.

Workshop description: “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream, but libraries have been helping people trying to solve problems in their communities for a long time. At this workshop, we will share and discuss library services and resources to support social entrepreneurs in both public and academic libraries.”

My notes are somewhat rough since I was also serving as the workshop coordinator, along with fellow-officer Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College. My apologies to the presenters and you readers.

Agenda:

9:30-10:00: Socializing over morning snacks and coffee
10:00-10:30: Introductions; what’s new with your work or at your library
10:30-11:30: Social entrepreneurship, part 1:
Steve Cramer (UNC Greensboro): Introduction to social entrepreneurship and how today’s topics fit together
Dan Maynard (Campbell University):  Lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs  as a Sullivan Fellow
Betty Garrison (Elon University): IRS 990 forms for nonprofit research and financial benchmarking
11:30-12:30: Lunch at the Food Truck Rodeo
12:30-2:00: Social entrepreneurship, part 2
Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill): The UNC Makeathon — students developing prototypes that promote positive social impact
Deanna Day (Small Business and Technology Development Center): Support organizations for social entrepreneurs
Steve Cramer: Simply Analytics (NC LIVE) v. PolicyMap v. Social Explorer for community indicators data
Final discussions facilitated by Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College)
2:00-3:00: BLINC planning discussions: NCLA 2019 additional program proposals and final decisions on our socials; topics for summer workshop at App State

Introducing the topic

I used the definition from UNCG’s Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship class:

“Social entrepreneurship is a growing field that depends on market-driven practices to create social change. Social entrepreneurs leverage available economic resources and innovations, to support their passion to have a positive impact on the global and local community.”

After describing a few examples from recent magazines and newspapers, we discussed core aspects of social entrepreneurship. Many of these aspects impact our consulting work with social entrepreneurs.

  • Includes for-profit and nonproft organizations (including triple bottom line companies: people, planet, profits)
  • The need to define and measure the problem being addressed, and the people involved
  • The need to have direct experience with target populations
  • And working in partnership with members of a target community, not swooping in to fix problems for them – that’s almost never helpful or effective or indeed wanted
  • Industry analysis, competitive intelligence, financial benchmarking, and market analysis are required – the same research required by general entrepreneurship — even if you want to start a nonprofit and your heart is in the right place
  • Social entrepreneurs can’t expect grant money to come in from local governments or foundations just because it’s a significant social problem and you are passionate about your proposed solution
  • Social entrepreneurs must think seriously about possible revenue streams, and will have to create an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow – whether nonprofit or for-profit

Lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

Dan Maynard (Campbell University) discussed “lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs as a Sullivan Fellow”. Dan remains the only librarian serving as a Sullivan Fellow. From that page:

Dan Maynard

Dan Maynard on lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

“The Sullivan Foundation is focused on supporting faculty who are interested in incorporating social innovation and entrepreneurship into new or existing classes and/or proposed projects that serves to deepen knowledge of students interested in the field and faculty impact in the community.”

Dan has a lot of interesting stories to tell and recommendations to share. He presented social entrepreneurship in terms of the 3 M’s:

  1. Mission (useful work)
  2. Margin (it’s profitable)
  3. Meaning (“good work”)

The Sullivan Foundation focuses on rural and micropolitan places in the U.S. south — the kinds of places that often get ignored in discussions of trendy entrepreneurship.

Lessons learned:

  • Turn outward: everyone has aspirations: find out what they are
  • Discover your niche: deal with causes, rural issues, or urban issues. Don’t try to solve all the problems at once
  • Social entrepreneurship is not social innovation, social justice, service learning, or community engagement per se. It often involves those things, though. But watch out for folks with their own agenda but less interest in sustainable solutions
  • Be prepared for push-back from some faculty for using the “e” word. For some, entrepreneurship is a dirty word, a capitalistic idea
  • Be prepared to push back against administrators, bosses, sponsors, and funding agencies with their top-down pronouncements and top-down agenda (Dan gave a few examples)

Measuring outcomes: assessment or story telling?

  • Foundations seek storytelling and branding – human aspects, humanity on display. Not a spreadsheet of numeric assessments
  • Provide storytelling that earns name recognition
  • Assessment data is a fading emphasis in the foundation community

An example Campbell U story from Sullivan (Dan shared this link with us after our workshop – the story was posted the same day.)

Success stories sell, Dan asserts. He is getting more instruction and consultation requests on his campus as a result of Sullivan Foundation storytelling,

Dan is helping social entrepreneurs grow their networks and seek funding. Slow money, micro grants, and peer lending is happening in Dan’s rural county. It’s not just Detroit Soup anymore.

From the Q&A with Dan on academic implications:

  • A business schools are not the most fertile ground for social entrepreneurship — the arts and humanities are.
  • There is much less emphasis on traditional business plan writing [more on that after lunch].

We moved the IRS 990 discussion for after lunch.

Food truck lunch

The Frontier has “Food Truck Rodeos” on Friday, so we went outside and had lunch. That was fun. Easy to network and socialize on foot, and then we munched on benches.

Nonprofit financial research and benchmarking

Betty Garrison (Elon University) caught a bug and couldn’t make it, so I jumped in to cover this topic. Most of the BLINC friends had experience with the IRS 990 financial forms required for many nonprofits.

  • 501(a) organizations.
  • Due 5 ½ months after fiscal year ends
  • If under $200K in receipts, an organization can submit a shorter version, 900-EZ
  • Private foundations of any size submit a 990-PF that usually includes a list of organizations given funds with the dollars amount

Using some examples I pulled up from http://foundationcenter.org/find-funding/990-finder, we discussed using these forms for financial benchmarking and strategic insights.

Librarian support of the UNC-Chapel Hill Makerthon

Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) described the nature of this event and her role in it as the recently-hired entrepreneurship librarian. This is a new but already big event at her campus. https://www.makeathon.unc.edu/ . It lasts a week. Ideas must have a social impact focus. Many non-business students compete.

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Student teams present either an idea for a physical product or an app (apps are really popular). The teams use the business model canvas for their submissions and 12-minute presentations. Nancy provided research consultations for six of the teams.

Nancy has a research guide, https://guides.lib.unc.edu/lean-canvas, organized around the topic boxes of the business model canvas.

She also works with the campus’ social entrepreneurship hub, located within the Campus Y.

Nancy led a discussion on the business model canvas versus the business model versus the traditional business plan. Many of the public librarians hadn’t been exposed to these alternatives to the business plan.

Small Business and Technology Development Center & social entrepreneurship

Deanna Day (research consultant (and librarian), Small Business and Technology Development Center) discussed how the SBTDC supports social entrepreneurs. SBTDC is the “business and technology extension service of The University of North Carolina” [from that site]. So it covers the whole state through our 16 campuses.

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna provided some examples of SBTDC’s social entrepreneurship clients. SBTDC councilors also support students working on pitch competitions (I didn’t know that).

The councilors’ biggest concern when working with new social entrepreneurship clients: that the clients won’t be able to sustain their business/organization, and that their financial planning is undeveloped.

Deanna expanded on the financial challenges of creating nonprofits. From one of her slides:

  • Everyone wants to be a nonprofit
  • Because funding is difficult to obtain from traditional sources?
  • Most VCs and angels are not interested in social impact funding
  • Only 11% of big bets go to people to color
  • But other business structures can also be effective
  • SBTDC’s biggest challenge is clients who are not interested in developing a financially sound, sustainable enterprise

SBTDC now uses Liveplan, available to their clients. It works well, she reported. Banks and the SBA accept Liveplan reports when they consider making a loan.

Social data

 I talked briefly about Simply Analytics (which we all have access to via NC LIVE), PolicyMap, and Social Explorer as tools for social entrepreneurship.

Even though many of us usually turn to Simply Analytics for its deep collection of psychographic data, it has plenty of Census data too, which can easily be ranked by location as well as mapped.

PolicyMap has lots of free data and therefore is still useful without having a subscription. It has a robust collection of health indicators, not just Census data: CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Service, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Also HUD data on affordable housing. The PolicyMap blog is open access and had been very helpful to me: https://www.policymap.com/blog/

Social Explorer is very useful for time series data, since it has data back to the original, 1790 Census. Of course, the data back then was pretty limited in scope. For more recent years, it has data from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

Happy spring break! Well it’s that magic week at UNCG at least.

Catching up

Sorry I haven’t written here since before the spring semester began. We liaisons are busy people, right? I’ve had more night classes than usual this semester, for both one shot instruction (often graduate classes) plus two of my core embedded classes (for which I had to reduce my roles). I’ve also had some morning classes on the same day as the night classes, so a number of 12-hour days this semester. Tiring.

But perhaps also because of this trend:

UNCG business school enrollment trend

UNCG business school enrollment trend

The UNCG School of Human & Health Sciences has also grown a lot, while the Nursing, Arts & Sciences, and Education schools have been declining in enrollment. Interesting trends that will maybe someday have liaison staffing implications here if our subject assignments become partly informed by data? But I have to bear in mind business librarian friends like Ash Faulkner from Ohio State and Min Tong from U. of Central Florida who have over twice as many students in their liaison roles as me. Props to those hard-working professionals working their lean liaison programs.

Over 125 folks have filled out the survey my friend Betty Garrison from Elon University and I created on experiences with business librarian organizations. The results including the comments are very interesting and we look forward to writing them up. With Betty’s permission, I might share a few findings and comments from survey here this summer while writing about ACRL 2019 and BLINC programming. BLINC’s spring workshop in mid-March focuses on social entrepreneurship — outreach, services, instruction, and resources.

I also hope to write more about our explorations of librarian (and liaison) workload and evaluation guidelines. That task force has identified some interesting guideline examples from other libraries. Eventually our revised guidelines (if approved by our librarians) will help us better define and manage workloads plus expectations for scholarship and professional service. But on to…

Today’s topic

In outreach and teaching opportunities, I’ve been thinking about this more.

We are teachers, research consultants, and economic development partners who frequently make first contact with students, professors, deans, entrepreneurs, and/or eco dev leaders. So we need to establish strong, favorable first impressions through delivering a concise, effective sales pitch — we are selling ourselves as liaisons.

In the 2018 edition of USASBE’s Annals of Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy (sorry, no open access), the lead-off article is “What I’ve Learned about Teaching Entrepreneurship: Perspectives of Five Master Educators”. One of those five “master educators,” Luke Pittaway (Ohio University), wrote of his very mindful work in his classroom before the students show up for the first class session. Some of this mindfulness applies to introducing ourselves as liaisons.

Professor Pittaway enters the classroom quite early, turns up the heat (wow I’ve never been in a classroom in which you can control the heat! What a luxury), writes his contact info and class learning objectives on the board, powers up the projector while opening Pandora for some Latin Jazz, and reviews his printouts of the student names and pictures. Finally the students begin to trickle in.

Professor Pittaway shakes each student’s hand as they enter the room and chats with many of them about their backgrounds. He asks them to set out their name tags out on the desks (table tents — a stable of MBA education). Finally he begins class not by going through the syllabus but by asking the students about entrepreneurship and getting them to talk and share.

Of course, professors and librarians don’t always have that much time before a class begins. Yet this is a good example of trying hard to make a good first impression.

[This article is also interesting for illustrating the biggest debate in ENT education — should educators focus purely on teaching students to become entrepreneurs, or should they also help students launch ventures while still a student? Strong views on this issue with ethical and educational arguments. There’s also the too-rarely discussed issue of privilege; students who are largely paying their own way through college (as do many UNCG business students) can’t spend 20-30 hours a week outside of class working on a venture.]

Building your liaison pitch

There is much in that story we could apply to research instruction, but let’s try to apply those ideas to our first contact situations as subject and functional liaisons. We need to communicate that:

  1. We care (we want the students, professors, entrepreneurs, the center etc. to succeed)
  2. We are engaged (often illustrated in part just by showing up. Assuming we aren’t stuck at the reference desk for many hours a week, which some business librarian friends report is still the case)
  3. We provide needed expertise and resources (your functional and/or subject knowledge, and perhaps also your library’s databases and physical spaces)

Point #3 becomes our value proposition as liaisons. Instead of pitching our business model in the elevator, we need to pitch the value we bring to the table as a library liaison. Or, if you prefer, we need to have a prepared yet authentic-sounding answer to this question our patrons might be thinking: “How can you help me with my research needs, or with my class, department, or center?”

Preparing our pitch to answer that question helps us use patron-centered language, as opposed to the language used in our library goals, the ACRL framework, etc. Those documents are written for a different purpose.

Our liaison pitches can be used in:

  • A class (whether in a one shot or the first day with an embedded class)
  • A welcome video
  • Meeting a new prof, department head, student, etc.
  • Random encounters in the business school hallways, a special event you are attending (crashing or invited), or indeed in an elevator

Our pitches need to vary by target audience. In my case, the Geography grad students have very different needs compared to the evening/executive MBA students. Or the PhD students in our Consumer Apparel and Retailing Studies program, the new head of Economics, or the head of our campus entrepreneurship center. Or the Action Greensboro officers working to keep more young professionals in the city.

Some examples

For a research workshop:

“I am your business librarian, which means I am your personal business research consultant. I will help you save time, reduce stress, and probably help you get a better grade on this project.”

I use this one a lot. Yes, it’s not intellectual. But this message resonates with students. They hear I am on their side. Usually when I say this, I get both eye contact and some head nods from the students. The professor (even if sitting in the back of the room focused on grading) sometimes pipes up with a verbal “Yes!” as confirmation.

In my for-credit research class, I have told the students I want them to become “more effective and efficient researchers” and “more comfortable searching for numeric data from datasets.” But those students have already signed up for a 3-credit class on ENT and eco dev research, so they are already pretty crazy umm I mean committed.

Sometimes I talk about how employees increasingly want to hire recent graduates with skills in “big data” and “data analytics.” The professors also add a “yes” to this. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to use such language regarding skills using ReferenceUSA, SimplyAnalytics, or American FactFinder. But I do anyway.

An addition for a team-based experiential learning class:

“I have a list of your teams and their topics and have already done some pre-research on your industries and markets in order to learn where your research challenges will be. So if I don’t get to your topic today in our workshop, get in touch with me next week for some customized research support.”

I try to avoid telling students to see me when they need “help.” Some students perceive “needing help” as a sign of failure on their part. Instead, say something like “need some research suggestions” or “want to explore this research option [ex. mapping data] with me.”

Plugging library subscription databases:

“Through this research guide I made for your class, you can access expensive research tools that are free to you as students. They give you information and data you can’t find via Google. These are some of the same research tools that major corporations buy for their own needs.”

[Then show a pre-looked up example of industry growth projections, or mapped consumer spending data — some research need straight out of their project description, a need I remind them of.]

Sometimes after they have used some of the databases, I ask the students to guess the commercial cost of an individual IBIS or Mintel report. Usually the students underestimate the prices at first. I respond “higher, guess again!” until they get close. Then I show the actual cost using marketresearch.com (pulled up before class began). “Information has value!” sez the framework.

For PhD students:

Emphasize your skills in identifying possible datasets they could use, teaching citation management software, and conducting citation analysis to identify seminal works and the core authors.

To students in general (via a script for a short welcome video when I became the Geography liaison recently):

“[camera mode] Hello! My name is Steve Cramer and I am the Geography librarian. My focus as a librarian is on teaching research strategies and sources and providing research consultations. Each year I provide dozens of hands-on research workshops for my academic departments and provide hundreds of consultations. Each spring semester, I also teach GEO 530, (which by the way has no prerequisites.) [switch to screencast showing the GEO subject guide] I try to make myself as approachable as possible and answer questions as quickly as I can. My contact information on the right side of this guide [zoom in] …so please let me know what I can do to help you save time and improve your research. [back to video] Thank you and have a good semester!”

Hmm that pitch could have been more student-centered, which something like “When you need data or articles for your research projects, please let me know and I’ll…”

To new, untenured professors:

Here is an email template I use each summer. I haven’t looked at this since last summer. It would be more interesting if I worked in something specific about the prof, like their teaching or research focus.

“Subject: Welcome from the UNCG Business Librarian
Hello, Professor X. [Your dept head] told me you were joining the faculty this fall. As the librarian for [Dept X], I would like to welcome you to campus. If there is anything I can do to help with your research and library needs, or if you would like an orientation to the library’s digital and print resources and services, please let me know anytime. I also provide research instruction, consultations, web guides, and screencast tutorials to a number of classes each semester and would be happy to help your students, too. The library XX portal is http://uncg.libguides.com/xxx. I look forward to meeting you, and hope you have a good fall semester.”

The in-person pitch to a new prof can be more challenging since it’s more conversational. You have to remember your core points and try to work them in without sounding like you are giving a speech. Lots of new professors have never talked to or worked with an academic librarian before. Some profs come from countries in which librarians have limited roles. So try to work in that:

  • You serve as a teacher and research consultant, as well as a librarian who oversees collections (mostly electronic) in the new prof’s subject area
  • You have worked with other professors (perhaps including the department head) in that department on research and teaching
  • You might be going through (or have gone through) the tenure process yourself
  • You can provide guidance on navigating the library’s ejournals, citation management software, and other research needs
  • While budgets may be tight, you can certainly pursue acquiring datasets and other resources the new prof might need for their own research agenda.

Wrapping up

Some of these liaison pitches could certainly be improved. I hope you found the examples interesting and are thinking about your own pitches. A vendor recently told me that I would be good in sales (she may have been buttering me up). I replied that sales is part of being a liaison — we just call it outreach.

Happy New Year, everyone. Good luck with your winter months and spring semester.

I like to occasionally post on instructional design and teaching tips. Every year there seems to be more demand from business librarians for business instruction tips and strategies, but the opportunities to share on and discuss this topic remain pretty limited. Here is hopefully a worthy if tiny contribution.

Student team planning some research

Student team planning some research

Last fall, I was going to write about planning research workshops for the two sections each semester of CRS 363: Global Sourcing. This is a class in our Consumer and Retailing Studies program. The students research aspects of sourcing clothing from other countries (health of the local manufacturing industries, key companies, country macro-issues like political and business climates, labor policies, trade barriers, etc.) for a pretend corporate client. Pretty challenging research, especially for developing countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Lately in the research workshops, I assign each student team a core source (ex. a database like Euromonitor or a web site like doingbusiness.org) and give the team questions to research. Then the student teams take turns presenting their findings to all the other teams. My assigned questions include “discuss how using this source helps you make better sourcing decisions for your client”, so the students are not just providing basic database orientation. This semester I’m going to have the teams fill out a Google sheet linked from the libguide as a strategy to share team findings beyond the verbal summaries.

But then in October, the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship published “Taking care of business (before class): Information literacy in a flipped classroom” by Natalia Tingle (William M. White Business Library, University of Colorado at Boulder). The classroom activity discussed by Natalia is similar to what I summarized above for CRS 363, but her detailed and thoughtful article is much more useful than what I would have accomplished in a blog post. So go take a look if you have access to JBFL.

Instead I’ll write about instruction for X-Culture

My hardest one-shot teaching situation lately has been the X-Culture sections. X-Culture is an international business experiential learning project in which students work in global teams. A UNCG student might be in a team with students from Finland, China, and India.

UNCG Management Professor Vas Taras created X-Culture around ten years ago or so. He wasn’t happy with his syllabus for the undergraduate Introduction to International Business class (MGT 301). Through the Academy of International Business, he asked if other management profs were interested in the idea of global student teams trying to solve international business problems. Many profs said yes.

X-Culture now has over 5,000 students each year from over 40 countries. There are some summary videos about the project at the above link (they are out of date regarding the number of students involved). Professor Taras recruits projects from U.S. and international companies and nonprofits. Student teams select one of the projects and create a report suggesting solutions for their client’s need. Teams with the same client compete with each other. Each semester, the best teams around the world are identified. Some clients have provided incentives (including intern or job offers) for the best teams.

Once or twice a year, many of the X-Culture professors and students gather for an international X-Culture global symposium. I made some short research videos (center column, under my intro video) by request for last summer’s symposium in Italy. (I would love to attend this symposium sometime, but you know, funding limitations.)

The large scope of X-Culture allows the professors to collect data, conduct research, and publish on international virtual teams, experiential learning, and crowdsourcing.

Example of client projects

The project descriptions live behind a password since they contain some strategic details about each client. So I’ll just summarize here.

  • A U.S.-based cross-cultural management consultancy hosts a summit that only attracts a local crowd. The company wants to attract attendees from around the world.
  • A tea manufacturer in Colombia wants to expand into new export markets.
  • A plagiarism detection company in the Ukraine wants to develop a business model based on personal subscriptions.
  • The chamber of commerce in a large city wants to attract more foreign direct investment to its area. What are good countries and industries to target, and what is an effective sales pitch given the nature of this city and its business conditions?
  • An Indian designer of 5D gaming machines wants to expand to new markets.
  • A Spanish company makes software for NGOs and wants to expand into new markets.
  • A U.S. supplier of organic alpaca poop wants to expand into additional B2B markets such as large commercial nurseries.

There were 13 clients total in Fall 2018.

Why is X-Culture challenging for research instruction?

Well, let’s make a list!

  1. As you hopefully noticed, the client projects are diverse: companies and nonprofits/NGOs in various countries, with B2B or B2C markets (sometimes both), with needs involving industry trends, market and customer identification, competitive intelligence, financial benchmarking, best practices in logistics or operations management, trade barrier analysis, etc. So a wide variety of research strategies and resources are needed each semester.
  2. I only have contact with 1/4 of the student team, namely, the single UNCG team member.
  3. Given licensing terms for subscription databases, UNCG students are not allowed to share database content with their teammates and their clients. Another topic to address in class.
  4. Many of the MGT 301 students haven’t had any significant business research projects yet in their curriculum.
  5. Each semester, there are several hundred of these UNCG students between the on-campus and online sections.

My responses to these challenges

One-shot instruction here requires sort of a triage model. First, distill the client project topics down to the commonalities for all teams. Typically:

  • The client’s industry identification
  • State of that industry (U.S. industry and/or global)
  • Competitors (U.S. and/or global)

Second, ask the students to identify if their client is focusing on B2B or B2C. I ask the B2C teams to research a foreign consumer market and the B2B teams research the business dynamics of a target country. Euromonitor works well for both of these topics, so at least the students are in the same resource.

Below as an appendix are the research questions from my worksheet. The questions could be given to the students on paper or via Google Drive linked from the libguide.

(At the request of the UNCG X-Culture instructors, Prof. Taras and Karen Lynden, I designed the libguide to have value for non-UNCG students as well as UNCG students. Hence the inclusion of “free authoritative sources”. Vas and Karen share that libguide with the other X-Culture instructors around the world. Good for my usage stats.)

Third, in terms of classroom management: I can’t have the students sit together in their teams of course (as I do for almost all of my other instruction sessions). Instead, I ask the students to sit based on their clients (even though the students are competing with each other). That way they can discuss their research findings and learn from each other. And I can visit each client-group by the end of the session. As always, contacting me or seeing me outside of class is emphasized by me and the instructor.

Finally, I do emphasize appropriate use of licensed subscription content in a global project like this. I also try to work in a few words about plagiarism. By request, I made a short presentation for the online sections on this topic. One of the videos made for the annual summit covers this too, since plagiarism might be more of a problem in some other cultures. (Judging from the number of views, the global X-Culture faculty are not showing this video to their students. Of course, it’s only provided in English.)

It also was by Karen’s request that I created a visual guide to “How to cite figures, tables, graphs, and maps in APA”, which I now provide on all my libguides through my master APA page (see upper left).

Assessment is challenging for a global teams research project in which the research needs vary widely. When I check in with each ad hoc client team during my visit, I can get a quick sense of whether the students understand the nature of the research required for their client, and if they understand how to apply the database content to solving some of the problems involved.

I have not used the final reports as a type of authentic assessment, due to the global team aspect and frankly a lack of time on my part. My embedded classes (and my own class, when I am teaching it) are already time-consuming during final presentation and final report season, plus there is the final surge of consultations from other classes. If my library had two business librarians, we could do better with this. (See my recent post on the lean liaison model.)

That’s it. Hope that was useful!

–sc

Appendix: my worksheet questions

1. B2B or B2C?

Is your client primarily B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)?

2. State of the U.S. industry

Use the IBIS database to identify your client’s industry:

Summarize its industry outlook:

Summarize the key success factors (look in the “Competitive Landscape” chapter):

Summarize industry globalization (same chapter):

3a. for B2C clients: a foreign consumer market

Search the Euromonitor Passport database for your consumer product or service category in any country (ex. “France tea” or “Brazil baby”). Name the report you found:

Summarize the market forecast:

List the top three brands or companies:

Note the related reports.

3b. for B2B clients: business dynamics

Search Euromonitor Passport database for its “business dynamics” report for a foreign country (ex. “Egypt business dynamics”). Name the country:

Summarize its regulatory market:

Summarize its operating risk:

Use the “More Related Items” list near the top left to find one more Euromonitor report that would be useful for your client:

4a. U.S. competitors

Search ReferenceUSA for your U.S.-based competitors, ranked by sales descending.

Note you can download the list, generate a heat map, etc.

You can also use this to identify B2B customers in the U.S.

4b. Global competitors

Use the Company Dossier search in NexisUni to identify, rank, and download international competitors and potential B2B customers.

Snow day today! We got about 18 inches on Sunday. Campus will probably be closed on Tuesday too, although the snow is melting pretty fast.

Full group at the BLINC workshop

Almost the full group at the BLINC workshop

At its August workshop, BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) focused on ReferenceUSA and Proquest business content. Both products are available state-wide through NC LIVE. InfoUSA’s David Turner, an old friend of BLINC, came over from Omaha. New friend Jo-Anne Hogan, ProQuest business content manager, came down from London, Ontario. David and Jo-Anne talked to us about their new content, their third-party data acquisition process, and interface issues and options. The librarians asked many questions and made a number of suggestions. That was basically it for the workshop agenda.

For our December workshop last week Wednesday, BLINC returned to its roots: sharing, networking, and learning from each other.

We met in Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte, courtesy of UNCC Business Librarian Nicole Spoor. BLINC planned this workshop with Carolinas SLA. There were five special librarians present along with 15 public and academic librarians. Having those special librarians aboard enriched our discussion. We welcomed several first-time attendees at a BLINC workshop, including one MLS student.

The morning focus was “selling ourselves as information professionals.” Today I’m mainly writing about that discussion. But here was the full agenda:

9:30-10 Socializing and morning snacks
10-10:30 Introductions; what’s going on with your position or at your library
10:30-11:45 Selling ourselves as librarians and information professionals
11:45-1:15 Lunch on campus
1:15-2: New techniques for business info teaching & training (BLINC/CABAL Richmond workshop highlights)
2-2:30: Short report on the ReferenceUSA User Conference in Omaha; NC LIVE request for feedback on searching ProQuest market research reports;
2:30-3: Brainstorming BLINC programming at the NCLA 2019 Conference

Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College) and Betty Garrison (Elon U.) summarized the instruction sessions at the BLINC/CABAL workshop from last summer. Both Sara and Betty were speakers at that event. Beth Scarborough (UNC Charlotte) described her experience at the ReferenceUSA User Conference, and what she learned about how InfoUSA collects and verifies its data.

We also asked Susie Corbett, Vice President, Library and Information Technology, of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, to tell us more about her interesting institution (a “public-funded private non-profit”) and the drug pipeline and venture capital databases she and her team use in their information center. Both the public and academic librarians thought this was very interesting.

Today’s topic

To help facilitate a good discussion and sharing of experiences and skills, we sent out these discussion questions ahead of time:

  1. To whom are we selling ourselves?
  2. What does each group of people care about? (What are their motivations or needs?)
  3. How can we align our messages with our organizational priorities?
  4. Formats of outreach: in person, email, social media, print, meetings, events? Pros and cons of each?
  5. Stories of successful outreach you can share? Not so successful stories, or still in progress?
  6. How do we measure success or outcomes in selling ourselves?
  7. How can leverage the special powers of introverts toward effective outreach?

We began our discussion with the first question, using a big white board to segment our markets. So the first step: identify your different targets or types of customers for outreach. Most of those groups have different needs. So your outreach message and strategy need to be customized for each group.

White board work

White board work

Here is what we came up with for “whom are we selling ourselves to”:

Public libraries:

  • Small business owners
  • Nonprofit leaders
  • Entrepreneurs and “wantapreneurs ”
  • Chambers of commerce/other eco-system groups/small business centers
  • Local government officers
  • K-12 students using the library, and their teachers
  • Library department heads and administrators
  • Job seekers

Academic libraries:

  • Schools, colleges, other academic units on campus
  • Academic deans and other administrators
  • Faculty
    • Untenured
    • Associate & full profs
    • Named professorships
    • Department heads
    • Adjuncts
    • Whoever is teaching online classes
  • Campus partners (writing center, career services, etc.)
  • Students
    • First year
    • Upper-level
    • Graduate
      • Professional program (MBA, MS-Accounting, etc.)
      • Academic (PhD programs)
    • Online students
    • Adult students
  • Early or pre-college students on campus
  • Incubators, entrepreneurship centers
  • Library department heads and administrators
  • Job seekers

Special libraries:

  • Small business owners
  • Nonprofit leaders
  • Incubators
  • Pre-ventures
  • Consultants
  • Other librarians
  • Local professors
  • Colleagues and other departments in the organization
Public librarians small group disussion

Public librarians small group discussion

Some overlap in groups, as we expected. We get pretty nuanced. For example, MBA and PhD students have some pretty different needs. For any campus that has diverse graduate programs, generalizing about the needs of graduate students (“our grad students need this…grad students want that…”) isn’t a very thoughtful or effective way to support them.

After developing those lists as a big group, we broke into small groups by type of library: special, public, academic. We had about 25 minutes for the break-outs. Each team wanted to talk longer, but I was a meanie and asked them to come back into the big group for our summary of small group thoughts before lunch time.

Special librarians round table

Special librarians round table

I joined the academic group. They focused on outreach to adjuncts and teachers of online courses. Often those faculty have full-time jobs in addition to their teaching gigs, adding another barrier to our outreach efforts. Ideas and programs mentioned:

  • UNC Charlotte has a “library faculty engagement award.” (Nicole mentioned that a business prof recently won this award, but donated the prize money back to the library to help fund a new business database subscription that the business school really wanted!)
  • Creating local “READ” posters (using local faculty and students as the featured readers)
  • Offering adjuncts library spaces for their office hours (could be a small study room or just a table in a public room)
  • Getting on the agenda for required online educator orientations
  • Creating modules for classroom management systems

I didn’t take notes when we reassembled as a big group to share key points from the break outs, I’m sorry. I was standing down in front of the classroom moderating the discussion.

Academic librarians small group

Academic librarians small group

Attendees thought our outreach discussion that morning was very useful but could have used more time. Lesson learned. We could have budgeted an hour after lunch to continue discussing outreach, but there were other topics we wanted to talk about too (and a couple of time-sensitive requests from NC LIVE and NCLA). Hopefully in our 2019 workshops, we will build on what we started at UNC Charlotte.

Catching up

Yesterday BLINC met at UNC Charlotte for our winter workshop. The morning focus was “selling ourselves as information professionals,” in collaboration with Carolinas SLA. We had five special librarians present along with 15 public and academic librarians. Having those special librarians aboard enriched our discussion. More on this workshop next week.

Exams at UNCG end today. There are still students studying in the library this morning, but I bet it will be pretty empty but the time I go home this afternoon. Looks like we get some snow this weekend, so hello, winter!

Charleston Conference 2018

Charleston featured a record number of programs provided by business librarians and vendors. Alas, many of those programs overlapped. We knew that would eventually start to happen as we continue to grow our presence there.

I already wrote a suggestion to vendors who haven’t been embracing the unique opportunity they have at this conference. Below are a few notes on interesting programs.

Stacy Gilbert and Alyson Vaaler

Stacy Gilbert and Alyson Vaaler

Alyson Vaaler (Texas A&M) and Stacy Gilbert (U. of Colorado at Boulder) gave an interesting talk on “Bringing the Workplace into Collection Development: Analyzing Advertising Position Descriptions to Inform Database Collections”. Based on their research of the job postings, they discussed using workplace research needs to plan and provide collections and instruction. Alyson and Stacy compared industry databases (primarily sold to corporate users) to library databases (courtesy of campus-friendly licensing terms). Could this methodology be applied to other fields, like accounting? I asked if they would consider doing this time-intensive study for that field, and they laughed at me. Humph.

No, actually they were very nice.

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. of Pennsylvania) organized a well-attended panel on “Who’s Counting? Measuring Usage of Untraditional Databases Subscriptions”. The pictures on my two most recent posts are from this panel and identify the other speakers. Lots of good points about the challenge of trying to apply COUNTER usage methods designed for articles and ebook databases toward databases for data, mapping, and company records. COUNTER Project Director Lorraine Estelle was present and told everyone that COUNTER version 5 will work with such databases much better. This program had a lot of questions and could have gone on longer. Maybe Cynthia will lead a sequel and update next year?

Orolando Duffus and Rosalind Tedford

Orolando Duffus and Rosalind Tedford

Orolando Duffus (U. of Houston), Rosalind Tedford (Wake Forest U.), and I led a lively lunch discussion on liaison trends: “Thriving (or Just Surviving) as a Liaison Librarian: a Lively Discussion of our Evolving Roles, Opportunities, and Challenges.” Roz summarized the trends and needs identified by the 40 attendees, who then discussed some of those items in small groups with share-backs to everyone. We could have used more time too.

Here is Roz’s summary of the liaison trends and needs identified. I bolded the ones mentioned the most:

  • Not being able to get users the resources they need: 2 mentions of
  • Keeping up with the literature and resources available: 1
  • Prioritizing how to spend time: 3
  • Time spent in learning to be a liaison takes away from being a liaison: 1
  • Supporting new areas (or not your area of expertise) when they are assigned to you: 7
  • Extra duties assigned (checking the formatting on theses, etc.): 2
  • Making one-shots as effective as possible: 2
  • How to reach all the faculty and researchers at your institution: 1
  • Convincing faculty that we can bring value to their courses; Faculty buy-in when we know students want and need help; engaging faculty: 3
  • Scope creep when liaison role is a small part of your job: 2
  • Help the librarians that report to you – new skills require time to learn; they need more functional expertise; what is the best structure: 5
  • How to integrate the materials into the classroom – what could vendors provide?:  2
  • Getting started as a liaison – esp. When there isn’t a structure: 2
  • Learning the products we have: 1
  • Organizing liaison work within the structure of the liaison program and/or library: 4
  • Keeping departments informed: 1
  • Digital scholarship duties and interests: 1
  • Productive relationships between functional liaisons and subject liaisons: 1
  • Empowering liaisons in purchasing decisions: 1
One of the small groups at our lively lunch discussion

One of the small groups at our Thursday lively lunch discussion (Cynthia is there too)

That lively lunch discussion was on Thursday. On Wednesday, I missed a lively lunch on entrepreneurship librarianship organized by Alyson and other friends in order to attend the first lively lunch on liaison trends. I wanted to hear if any interesting ideas or new hot topics would be mentioned there for us to consider in preparation for our discussion the next day. Oddly, however, that Wednesday lively lunch discussion (70-minute sessions in which “use of slides is strongly discouraged”, according to the conference submission form) featured lots of slides and absolutely no discussion. We just listened to the speaker and filled out a series of online polls. Quite a surprise. Conference speakers, please follow your submission guidelines.

Both business librarian happy hours (sponsored by PrivCo and InfoUSA respectively) were fun, as was the dinner provided by Gale Cengage. We dined at a little Italian place on a side street near the College of Charleston. Thank you, vendor friends.

Speaking at the Charleston Conference 2018

Conference speaking (Dan Gingert and John Quealy in the Gold Ballroom, Charleston Conference, earlier this month)

On October 23, I asked the fine folks on BUSLIB-L if they would share with me the details of their libraries’ support of professional travel. About thirty librarians responded with dollar amounts and policy descriptions, filling six pages once compiled. I expected a wide range of per-librarian budgeting but didn’t know there were so many systems for calculating support. It was very interesting.

After removing campus and library names from the compilation, I shared the combined details with the thirty business librarians. Below is a summary. Skip this next section if you are in a hurry.

Why the question?

Since the 1970’s, UNCG librarians have enjoyed faculty status, but we didn’t have rank. A UNCG librarian was simply untenured or tenured and that was it, even though we followed all the other UNCG tenure guidelines and served on the faculty senate and the many faculty committees.

But sometimes being neither “assistant”, “associate”, or “full” proved limiting or awkward. For example, this was a headache when applying to join the UNCG graduate faculty, serve on a dissertation committee, or teach a for-credit class. Beyond campus, our lack of rank often complicated or limited our role as external reviewers of tenure candidates on other campuses. It also provided no additional motivation for long-tenured librarians to push themselves in scholarship and service. Finally, lack of rank removed one opportunity for a pay raise that all other tenured faculty enjoy – an equity issue (especially since most of the librarians are female).

Three years ago, the library faculty started to seriously explore this oddity in our faculty status. We had a series of nested task forces. One finding: no one knew why ranks are missing from our librarian guidelines. Another finding: of all the campuses in the U.S. with library faculty, only one other campus had librarians without rank.

The final result of our work was a draft rewrite of our guidelines that included ranks. The Provost and the leaders of the Faculty Senate gave us their full support. (“Why don’t you have rank?” and “How could you function without ranks for all these years?” were their common questions.) We speculated the Provost’s office was also happy to suddenly have a bunch of new assistant and associate professors on campus at no cost to the existing HR budget.

Our library administrators were also very supportive, but this process was driven by the rank and file (including untenured librarians). The process had extra-appeal for not being driven from the top down.

Last spring, the librarians had one more vote in our three-year project, this time to approve the revised guidelines. The vote passed easily. On July 1, 2018 untenured librarians became assistant professors and tenured librarians (a few of whom had been tenured for decades) became associate profs. Our library dean became a full professor. We will have more full profs eventually.

Inspired by that successful project, we are now looking at improving our evaluation guidelines, which establish what levels of librarianship, scholarship, and service are necessary for each stage of the tenure and rank process. Our guidelines are very flexible in what types of work, writing, speaking, and service can count toward getting promoted or tenured, but don’t provide any guidance on quantity or quality of accomplishments.

There is now consensus here that the lack of guidance has contributed to “accomplishment inflation” – every year, untenured librarians seem under pressure to write and speak more than past tenure candidates did. The lack of guidance has also resulted in occasionally contradictory messages in our annual peer review process. Not a good situation.

We have a new task force (again staffed by untenured and tenured librarians) looking at best practices in evaluation guidelines. How do other libraries define or describe quantity and quality in scholarship and service?

One aspect of requiring service and scholarship (which for us includes conference panels and presentations as well as publishing) is travel funding. If for example, national-level service is an expectation, does the library provide enough travel money to attend both ALA Annual and Midwinter? Or if speaking at two national conferences in one year is an expectation, is there funding to attend two? Many of us feel that librarians shouldn’t be expected to pay for required travel out of their own not-very-deep pockets. (Yes, service in state and local organizations (like BLINC!) is highly valued here, and we are encouraged to participate in online conferences too.)

So I believe our revised evaluation guidelines need to reflect the reality of our travel funding. I’m chairing our Promotion and Tenure Committee this school year. Before our committee drafts revised evaluation guidelines based on the work of the new task force, I wanted to learn more about how other libraries handle travel support. I also asked the BUSLIBbers if their library requires scholarship and service.

Summary of travel support policies

Please remember that I only have info from 30 libraries. This was not meant to be a thorough survey. It is enough data, I believe, to enable a serious discussion. That was my goal in asking.

Types of policies are numbered to facilitate skimming. Some policies didn’t fall cleanly into one policy category.

1. Specific dollar amount per librarian per year

The most common system. The amount varies widely — the range from my small survey was $800 to $4,000.

  • Mean: $2,413
  • Median: $2,000
  • Mode: a tie between $3,000 and $2,000 (5X each)

n = 23 (Some of the more complex funding policies can’t be condensed to a single dollar amount. For libraries providing more travel funding for untenured librarians, I used that dollar amount).

1b. Variations in who gets how much:

Usually untenured librarians get more than tenured librarians.

Several librarians added that candidates for promotion to full professor also get additional travel support.

Many libraries provide more travel funding to librarians giving presentations or performing a major professional association role (like chairing a committee meeting), than to librarians “merely” attending a conference for professional development and networking.

At one library, deans get more travel money.

1c. Interesting related policies:

At one library, conference registration fees are not counted against the annual travel budget for each librarian. The library pays the fee separately.

One library allows unspent money to be rolled over for use next year by the librarian.

One library with a July-June fiscal year will in February redistribute unspent travel money (from librarians who chose not to travel that year). So travelling librarians can get additional funding for spring and early summer conferences.

2. Specific dollar amount per librarian set each quarter

A variation on the certainty of #1. “Ours is done on an allotment basis via a professional development committee. (We vote once a quarter.) Untenured faculty get highest priority, followed by tenured faculty up for a promotion.”

3. Competition and rubrics for allocation from a central travel budget

The rubric is debated and discussed with everyone. Tenure track librarians, librarians making presentations, and candidates for full professors get more consideration.

Another library bases travel money allocations on librarians’ ranking against the other librarians that year based on annual evaluations. However, untenured librarians always get the maximum funding regardless of their annual rankings.

4. Funding for one conference a year (no exact budget)

No dollar amount is specified, as long as the trip is reasonable.

This was also the policy when I worked at Davenport College (now University), Holland, MI campus, my first professional job. For example, I was able to attend Online (Information Today) in Chicago’s historic Palmer House in 1995 (I took the train, that was cool), my first conference, where I learned of the existence of BUSLIB. The next year I flew to ALA Summer in San Francisco where I watched the gay pride parade and took a day trip to Yosemite (which I paid for myself, of course). Gosh I’m getting sentimental, time to move on…

5. Maximum spending per conference

Up to $1,400 is funded per conference at which the librarian is speaking or has a committee role. Librarians can get at least some funding for up to four conferences in one year.

6. Variable percentage contributions for each conference

In this system, librarians get X% of costs covered for their first conference of the year, then a smaller percentage for additional conferences.

One library once provided 100% support of the first, then 75% for additional conferences if the librarian was speaking. This policy eventually got too expensive for the library, which now provides a set dollar amount per librarian.

Another provides 75% for the first conference if the librarian is speaking or has a committee meeting. 50% is provided just for attending a conference (limited to two a year). However, for any conference, the librarian needs to share the hotel room, or the reimbursement is halved.

7. Additional funding approved by a research committee or administrators

Two of the libraries have research support committees that use a rubric to evaluate funding requests for a research project or research-based presentation. This pot of money is separate from the standard per-librarian allocation.

At another library, “junior faculty are eligible for supplemental funds.”

One library has a travel fund for international conferences that librarians can apply for.

Another: “Special circumstances and more money can be arranged for international travel or if you have an unusually high number of presentations in a year.”

One librarian in a business school library can potentially access three funding sources: the business school, the main campus library, and (through a competitive application process) campus professional development funds.

8. Administrative travel

Most libraries provide “administrative travel” for official library business. Some libraries call this “directed travel” or “sent travel.” The size of this budget is not generally made public.

9. Miscellany

One librarian added that their travel funds cannot be used for webinars and continuing education, but the librarians there are working on changing that.

Two librarians wrote their travel money can be used to pay for professional memberships.

One library dean has made providing stable and significant travel money a priority, according to that library’s business librarian. The dean is using donor and foundation money to support travel, since the state budget has been very tight for many years.