Below is a link to my slides from the lightning round session of the Academic Libraries Supporting Entrepreneurship online symposium (March 2, 2017).
Business librarians Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University), Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I attended and presented at USASBE 2017 last week in Philadelphia. Diane has presented at this conference before, but this was the first visit for Mary and me. I’m going to submit a detailed conference review for Ticker but will provide a short summary and a quick assessment here.
USASBE is the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship:
the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. With over 1000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector, USASBE is a diverse mix of professionals that share a common commitment to fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors. [introduction to USASBE]
But mostly entrepreneurship faculty. Around 500 attended. I heard there is higher attendance in even-numbered years, when USASBE meets in southern California (San Diego last February, L.A. next year). Preconferences met on Wednesday, with the main conference running Thursday afternoon through Sunday at noon. Yes, the same days as ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.
Registration was $675 (early bird – full cost was $750), higher than any library or business educator conference I’ve been too, but includes membership in the association for a year. We met in the Loews Hotel on Market Street, between City Hall and Independence Park. Always convenient to stay in the same building for a conference — until you really need to get outside for some fresh air and walking. There really wasn’t any sun that weekend but it wasn’t very cold.
The three librarians provided a 75-minute “competitive workshop” titled “Teaching students to use authoritative industry and market datasets in order to make informed decisions in their business plans”. We discussed both free sources (Economic Census, American Community Survey, and Consumer Expenditure Survey) and subscription databases while also leading discussions on how to get students to use such data.
I also participated in a workshop by the UNCG Coleman Fellows on “Beyond the basics of cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship: reaching across the curriculum with mentoring, counseling, research support, and assessment.” I spoke about how a business librarian has the freedom to support entrepreneurship classes across campus (not just in the business school) through research workshops and consultations, and also briefly summarized my research class, ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530.
And right after the librarians’ workshop, Diane presented with a Rider professor on “Experiential learning with non-profit organizations: how to use the student team consulting model for service learning situations.” Unfortunately Mary and I missed the Rider workshop due to our return flight schedule.
As with SBI [my recent Ticker conference review on SBI] and World Bank/GWU Entrepreneurship 2016, the faculty at this conference seemed genuinely pleased to have librarians present. The profs often complimented the roles and work or their own business librarians. (Good job, friends!) We librarians enjoyed the networking and the opportunities to provide comments to the faculty and PhD students on research sources and strategies. And some nice socials.
USASBE was very interesting for its variety of types of programs. This made the “call for submissions” document rather complicated. Interesting that educator conferences like USASBE and SBI don’t require “learning outcomes” for conference submissions unlike LOEX and ACRL, a silly submissions requirement in my opinion. On the other hand, competitive workshop submissions require proposals that could be up to 10 pages long. So it was a lot of work to submit for the librarians’ and Coleman Fellows’ workshops.
I made a point to attend most of these program types:
- Competitive Papers (short solo presentations on research, teaching, or program design)
- Teaching Cases (presentations of case studies used in the classroom)
- Developmental Papers (roundtable feedback on research in progress)
- Competitive Workshops (interactive panel discussions, mostly)
- Rocket Workshops (short workshops)
- Experiential Exercises (classroom exercises)
- Student Pitches (from Philly-area schools, with several rounds of voting throughout the conference)
- Exhibitor Sessions (mostly from entrepreneurship educational software vendors)
Sage, Emerald, Business Expert Press, and a couple of other publishers had tables. The reps on hand were editors and content recruiters, not sales staff.
USASBE provided several socials, including one Thursday night at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences, where these butterflies and moths live. Some of the attendees participated in the women’s march on Saturday. I hadn’t been to Philly since ALA Midwinter 2002, back when I served on the BRASS Education committee. That January, Independence Hall was surrounded by several concentric walls of fencing and concrete barriers after the 9/11 attacks. Mary and I visited the hall on Thursday and enjoyed its liberation from all that security. I also visited the National Museum of American Jewish History (new to me) and found it very interesting but also full of sad stories and concerns on anti-Semitism and anti-immigration that still resonate in our political climate.
On our way back to the airport, Mary and I discussed how useful this conference was to us personally. Of course we will get presentation credits for our CVs (and not just speaking to the librarian choir), but we didn’t really learn things that we could apply to our research classes. However, wearing my Coleman Fellow and embedded librarian hats, I did benefit from the discussions of teaching strategies and program design. And I gained more insight into the teaching and research needs of professors. So I really liked USASBE and (assuming our Coleman grant gets renewed) will consider attending at L.A. in 2018. Hmm maybe L.A. librarian Nataly Blas would consider submitting a proposal with me…
Thanksgiving break has begun, but the library is open today (Wednesday) and I was actually eager to come in to work to clean up my desktop, go out for Greek food for lunch with friends, and do a bit of writing.
Between last Friday and yesterday, the search committee for the professor of international marketing conducted nine interviews of candidates via Webex. We allotted an hour to each interview. So that was a lot of time to spend while also covering last-minute research consultations. But I had my last one-shot instruction session last week Monday, and submitted two long USASBE workshop proposals before their last week Tuesday deadline, so now my stress level is pretty low. Those might be subjects for future blog posts, but first I want to write about what the business librarians and vendors were up to at the Charleston Conference in early November.
Business vendors & business librarians at the Charleston Conference
Two years ago, five business librarians gathered in the late afternoon at the Charleston Conference to share notes. We expressed an interest in having business librarianship programs each year at the conference. Last year, I think there was another informal get-together (I didn’t go to Charleston that time). But this spring four business librarians and two business vendors worked together on a “lively lunch” discussion proposal, which was accepted.
The Charleston Conference meets in Charleston S.C. in very early November. As I’ve written before, I really like this conference for allowing publishers, vendors, and librarians to participate together throughout the conference, rather than banishing the vendors to the exhibit hall the entire time. The programming is high quality and varied (plenaries, panels, lively lunch discussions, posters, lightning rounds, Shark Tank-type pitches (new this year), parties, and dine-arounds). The conference sites are close together. And even though collections are now a minor part of our liaison roles here at UNCG (as covered in my “liaison reorganization” thread), there is enough programming regarding liaison roles and scholarly communication advocacy that I stay interested. Plus business content!
The title of our program was ““Why business content subscriptions can drive us crazy, and what to do about it: A dialogue with business librarians, business vendors, and the audience on best practices and solutions”.
The librarians on the panel included:
- Cynthia Cronin-Kardon(University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School/Lippincott Library)
- Betsy Clementson(Tulane/Freeman School/Turchin Library)
- Corey Seeman(University of Michigan/Ross School/Kresge Library)
- And me (a business librarian based in a general library, unlike the others)
The vendors on the panel included:
- John Quealy(S&P Global)
- Dan Gingert(PrivCo)
Our program description is below if you are interested. The four librarians are writing a conference proceedings article (due December 1) that will be openly available. I’ll post a link to that article when it becomes available.
The Charleston Conference “lively lunches” are intended to be discussions, not presentations, in the midday time slot. Some folks do bring a lunch but most of the attendees ate before or after. We were assigned the large Gold Ball Room in the Francis Marion Hotel. While we did arrange chairs into a couple of concentric circles, this was a challenging location given the room’s size. There was no portable mic, so folks sitting in the back had to listen carefully to hear everyone. But it worked out fine.
Around 40 folks attended. About 1/3rd of those folks were vendor representatives: in addition to S&P and PrivCo, Bureau van Dijk, InfoGroup, OCLC, Oxford University Press, Ebsco, and ProQuest representatives attended – and many, as we hoped, participated in the discussion. The librarians included other business librarians, electronic resources librarians, and collection development librarians.
[One of the business librarians in the house was Nora Wood from the University of South Florida. The previous day, Nora and a colleague led a lively lunch about liaison outreach. It was an excellent and useful discussion. I’ll provide a summary of it and some other liaison-centered Charleston programs in my next post, hopefully next week.]
Below is a summary of points made in our discussion. Many vendors and librarians thought the discussion was very useful and agreed that we should try to submit business content programming every year to the Charleston Conference. Bureau van Dijk even offered to host a social next year (thank you, BvD friends!). So we will see what we can make happen next time. If you have interest in attending Charleston but have questions about its value, logistics, etc., or want to share a programming idea, please let any of us know.
Summary of points
As you probably know, it can be hard to take notes about a program you are in the middle of. So I’m sorry if this summary seems fragmentary. I promise that the conference proceedings article will be more detailed. This summary reflects comments from both librarian and vendors. It was a frank, open, friendly discussion that never turned into an “us versus them” discourse. Betsy’s role in the discussion was to summarize the exchange in the form of best practices. Most of these points are thanks to Betsy.
- Open, clear, honest communication between business librarians and vendors is key.
- Librarians need to understand our users’ research needs AND need to protect our subscriptions, limiting access as much as we can to authorized users AND authorized usage.
- Vendors need to understand the access challenges of serving a business school or an entire campus. Vendors also need to understand the typical academic calendar and patterns of database usage. For example, for some subscription content, most of the usage comes in one short time period within the fall/and spring semester.
- And of course, vendors need to understand the budget challenges many of our campuses go through every year.
- We talked about potential abuse of our academic licenses. Student consulting projects, experiential learning, tech transfer support, and internships are blurring the lines between academic and corporate use. In general, the librarians emphasized that we need to tell our students to share their summaries of the research in our databases for such projects (well, internships may have additional issues) but not to share the downloaded content.
- In general, business librarians should educate our students about database licensing restrictions as part of our information literacy or “information has value” discussions. Cite the university honor code.
- Many vendors need to put more effort into providing standardized usage data (ex. Project COUNTER).
- Both librarians AND vendors complained about vendors sending corporate licensing terms to academic libraries. One vendor says that the legal team of his company always starts with a corporate version, despite his efforts to create an academic template for the legal team to start with for those customers. (So complaints of bureaucracy are not limited to us academics!)
- Law librarians have many of the same issues with legal vendors, so there was a suggestion for business librarians and law librarians to talk about our shared issues.
Business databases have a reputation for being expensive, having problematic licensing terms, and generally being a pain to work with. This reputation is particularly common among collection development and e-resources librarians in general libraries. In addition to affordability, issues can include licensing restrictions to specific campus populations and locations, requirements that users create personal accounts, severe download restriction s, not working with consortiums, and shutting down summer access to prevent usage by student interns. On the other hand, business vendors must design their products and licensing to work with many types of customers: corporations, government agencies, consultants, and academia. Their content is often very expensive to produce, and vendors sometimes have to license content from third-party providers that have their own pricing and licensing issues.
To help better understand why business databases can be challenging to work with, and to propose recommendations on how libraries and business vendors can best work together, a group of business librarians and business vendors will lead this lively lunch discussion. The librarians will represent both business libraries and general libraries, and will present case studies representing different types and sizes of campuses. The vendors will represent specialized business content publishers. Together we will discuss how business information is different, why business vendors behave differently, examples of challenges in working with business vendors, examples of challenges in working with libraries, and recommendations & best practices. We will invite audience participation throughout.
The official name of this conference is the GW October Annual Entrepreneurship Conference, http://gwoctober.com/. It is hosted by the World Bank Group and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) in D.C. The 2016 theme was “Promoting SMEs to drive growth.” I attended using Coleman travel funds. Registration wasn’t expensive, but man, the hotel rates in the Foggy Bottom area!
It really seemed like two different one-day conferences on adjacent days. Day one was last Thursday and consisted of short talks and discussion panels on public policy issues at the World Bank, a few blocks from the White House. There was also a long networking lunch. The speakers were a diverse group of federal government and NGO higher-ups from around the world. 150-200 folks attended, representing 16 countries. About a quarter of attendees where international students from GWU. Almost all the men wore dress coats and tie and the women dress suits. Sitting at my table most of the day were two Swedish academics, three Egyptian academics and NGO officers, and a U.S. SBA representative (born in Nigeria).
Day two was Friday and consisted of papers and workshops by mostly professors in the GWU business school. Attendance was small, maybe 30-40 people. There were three time blocks, each with four concurrent sessions to choose from. The evening ended with an ICSM dinner and awards ceremony (which I didn’t attend). So a very different flavor from day one.
This was my first overnight visit to D.C. since working a 5-week internship at the Smithsonian the summer before beginning college (many years ago!). We stayed at a small GWU dormitory not far from this conference’s two locations. So I enjoyed some nostalgia (also perhaps because I had a birthday the day before the flight up). I wasn’t able to visit the brand-new African American History and Culture museum, due to the high demand for the timed entry tickets, but did make time to visit the newish National Museum of the American Indian.
Here are some notes from some of the more interesting programs I attended, plus notes from networking lunches with U.S. Census officials and a GWU librarian friend.
At the World Bank:
“The State of SME Policies and Support Programs”
Description: According to estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 15 years to absorb the growing global workforce, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This panel will address the targets set by governments for SME policy development and help identify strategic priorities for improving business environments. The progress of SMEs is key towards narrowing the development gap.
- Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
- Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the US Small Business Administration
- Moderator: Luca Iandoli, President of International Council for Small Business (ICSB)
Contreras-Sweet opened the conference with an overview of the importance of SMEs to the world economy. She was an excellent speaker and also briefly related her life story. She entered the U.S. from Mexico as a five-year old girl in an extended migrant family. Her family (especially her grandmother) pushed her hard to do well in school, and she ended up founding a bank and a philanthropic organization before joining President Obama’s cabinet.
Contreras-Sweet described entrepreneurship as the “most powerful force for people to lift themselves out of poverty.” She has been promoting the creating of SBA-type agencies in other countries, with the support of the Kauffman Foundation. There will be a big international small business promotion conference in South Africa partially supported by the SBA.
Anabel Gonzalez, one of several World Bank officials on the program this day, spoke on how “promoting small businesses is essential to ending poverty & increasing shared prosperity.”
Luca Iandoli (a professor from Naples) moderated a discussion with those two speakers and also took questions from the audience and online listeners. He began by displaying a 2012 MIT Technology Review cover of moon-walker Buzz Armstrong lamenting: “You promised me Mars colonies; instead I got Facebook”. Iandoli noted that the IT revolution has not helped much with job creation and income growth, showing some stats on revenue-per-employee ratios for major IT companies compared to manufacturing companies like Ford Motor. He posed the question “So can SMEs benefit from innovation trends? Or will the income gap increase even more?” It was an interesting discussion that touched on the tax advantages enjoyed by multinational but unavailable for SMEs, the increasing digital divide especially when you compare richer countries to poorer countries, and other topics. The panel steered into ethical aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship (which reminded of Ilana Stonebraker’s recent post), and how the SBA has started to track the involvement of women, minorities, and veterans in SBA loans and other services. Women entrepreneurs proved to be a hot topic for the audience, and my SBA neighbor at our table discussed this over the coffee break.
“SME Policy Design and Evaluation: Insights from Research on Entrepreneurship and Innovation”
Description: Despite significant advances in the measurement and analysis of entrepreneurial activity, cross-country comparisons remain notably difficult. This panel will address the intersection of data and policy, and discuss how research can contribute to the design of national policy interventions as well as enable assessment of progress toward objectives.
- Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Senior Economic Advisor, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
- Winslow Sargeant, ICSB Vice President of Data and Policy [and SBA official]
- Moderator: Ayman El Tarabishy, Associate Professor at George Washington University and Executive Director of ICSB
Ah, then we got into some data. Well, just a little. Mary Hallward-Driemeier discussed the data collection the World Bank is trying to collect to assist its efforts to promote SME growth. She listed six thematic areas as priorities for trade and competitiveness (see the picture). These themes may help loaning organizations define and measure the success of its loans to SMEs. She also encouraged support organizations to be “gender informed” and look where women can disproportionately benefit: transportation issues; having broader definitions of collateral; and encouraging specific industrial sectors.
Winslow Sargeant was an engineering professor and Kauffmann professor, but now works in the SBA Office of Advocacy. Given his engineering background, he enjoyed discussing U.S. patent history but then used statistics to show the importance of small business to the US economy. He made the important distinction between small companies and nonemployers. I liked that because we discuss those important distinctions – and the different Census datasets involved – in my 530 class. Sargeant noted that most online sales are made by large companies, not SMEs, continuing the concerns that the social media revolution has been overhyped in terms of benefits to SMEs. He expressed concerns that the number of patents issues in the U.S. is falling compared to some other countries (as a percentage I think – my notes aren’t clear, sorry) but that U.S. immigrants continue to have a disproportionate positive impact on entrepreneurship, job creation, and patent submissions
Networking lunch with Census folks
There were a dozen themed tables for lunch discussions. I considered sitting at the social entrepreneurship table but decided to talk shop with the Census folks. Bárbara Zamora-Appel (Program Analyst), Philip Thompson (Special Projects and Outreach Coordinator), and Andrew Hait (Survey Statistician and leader of the Census Business Builder project) were there. I think those three were happy to have a business librarian present, although a couple of NGO types stopped by to ask questions.
Barbara had interesting insights into the tradition of Census racial categories, comparing them to an even more complex array of categories (20 total) used in her native Guatemala. We wondered if the younger U.S. generations are rebelling from the standard U.S. demographic variables involving race and Hispanic/Latino status. (I mentioned recent discussions with students on Census terminology). Barbara noted that the OMB maintains racial/ethnicity and country of origin terminology used by the Census – I didn’t know that.
Philip recently attended a business educators’ conference in Atlanta and wondered if I had advice on how to reach college students and also faculty on the value of Census data for population and industry research. Too many students don’t know where most U.S. demographic and industry data come from, he lamented. We talked about the need for business faculty to set clear expectations for research in their classes, and for librarians to be involved in the research classes. (Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I hope to lead a workshop on the expectations part at USASBE next semester.)
Andrew discussed his efforts to link related business, industry, and demographic data through the Census Business Builder, allowing users to find useful data they might not have known to exist. Such linkages would vary by industrial sector and might also include relevant trade data trends. Andrew would like to add short, practical case studies of how an entrepreneur or SME owner successfully used the Business Builder. These stories would help demonstrate the value of the tool and show off the diversity of data that could be applied to a business idea. I promised I would get back to him on this, although maybe an email to BUSLIB would be a better strategy to collect examples…
My notes after lunch were more limited, so let’s jump ahead to Friday morning at GWU and wrap up this already long post. The Friday conference didn’t begin until 10:30, a late start IMO.
“College and Community Partnerships: The Development of an Entrepreneurial Program to Support Economic Development”
Kathleen Burke (Professor of Economics) of SUNY Cortland lamented the loss of many small business in upstate and rural New York. Many of the 64 SUNY campuses provide the main economic activity in their small towns, including Cortland. Most of the businesses in this county are within a 4-mile radius of the Cortland downtown. Her campus became the main driving force for economic development through a new cross-campus entrepreneurship curriculum and an Appalachian Regional Commission grant. The students partnered with entrepreneurs and existing small businesses to help develop business plans and marketing plans. The grant also helped fund an innovation business center. Like the Coleman Fellow campuses, SUNY Cortland now has an entrepreneur in residence to work with the faculty to better support the students’ work and learning.
Their ENT 1 course (the first course in the sequence) covers primary and secondary research as well as business models, business plans, and making pitches. Students from all over campus are taking the class. The next class (still in development), ENT 2, will be an independent study with faculty and community mentors – that’s a different approach I think. The goal is for those advanced students to participate in regional competitions. Long Island Bagel is one downtown retail success established by students.
Next steps include classes on social entrepreneurship and social innovation. They are also creating a “Community Innovation Lab” that will support local nonprofits.
The concluding discussion focused on how to increase student participation across campus, how to increasing engagement with the community, and what other types of courses are offered. The Coleman Fellow director from Colorado Mesa University was in attendance too, so there was some discussion of best practices discussed at the annual Coleman summits.
“Geographies of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Non-Farm Proprietorship Employment by U.S. Metropolitan Area”
My buddy Keith Debbage (Professor of Economic Geography) presented on his new research on geographic aspects of entrepreneurship. (He is also researching innovation quarters.) These are new areas of interest for him, resulting in part from his involvement in the Coleman Fellows program beginning two years ago. My notes on Keith’s talk aren’t too detailed, partially due me taking some pictures of Keith’s talk and posting them to social media for the Coleman program and the UNCG Geography department. So if you ever read this, Keith, please forgive me for the brevity and any misinformation.
Keith’s framing question for the research: “Is self-employment in any geography primarily the entrepreneurship of opportunity or the entrepreneurship of last resort?”
…And already we have to deal with the issue of how to define and measure entrepreneurship. Many of you business librarians have wrestled with this question before in your research workshops and consultations. Keith decided to use BEA data on non-farm proprietorship (NFP), so he defined entrepreneurship as self-employment (also the Coleman Foundation’s definition). He also used American Community Survey and BLS data for his research.
He studied MSA’s, not cities, to take into consideration commuting silos that limit spill-over effects. (Keith pointed to me as an example of the value of using MSA data, since I commute from downtown Winston-Salem to downtown Greensboro for work.)
Jumping ahead to what factors seem very important for self-employment growth:
- Access to capital, such as bank loans and/or using ones house as collateral (high home values are disproportionate)
- Median age (rates of self-employment go up with age)
- Hispanic status (also higher rate of self-employment)
For example, notice in the picture how well Florida is performing.
Conclusions: NFP is an increasing important part of economy. Entrepreneurship of last resort AND of opportunity are important (capital is used more often in the latter case). So public policy needs to do better job of recognizing these two divergent entrepreneurship trends.
Finally talking to another librarian
I skipped the Friday conference lunch to have lunch with my friend Ann Goebel Brown, the Instruction Reference Librarian at GWU. Her library is right across the street from the business school. Ann has been very involved in RUSA and so besides catching up on family and personal life, we had an interesting discussion on the future of “reference services” (she is presenting at ACRL next spring on “Reference: The New Dirty Word?” – great title!) and how RUSA might be changing how it is organized to better reflect the nature of 21st century public services (with possible implications for BRASS).