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!


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.

Early morning sun over the Charleston peninsula

Early morning sun over the Charleston harbor

Main point: vendors should stay for more than the showcase.

Carol and I returned home from the Charleston Conference Friday night, after stopping by the nephews’ house on the way home for a short play date. Charleston continues to be a high-quality conference for learning, networking, and socializing. It’s increasingly useful for business librarians and vendors as we work together to grow the business information programming. However I would like to write a short word to the growing number of business vendors and publishers who attend the Tuesday Vendor Showcase.

The Charleston Conference focuses on publishing, scholarly communication, and library collections and acquisitions. For most attendees, the conference begins on Tuesday with the Vendor Showcase in the roomy Gaillard Center. (The Francis Marion hotel got too small for this event as demand for tables kept increasing.) Unlike most major library conferences, this is the only day of exhibiting at the conference.

Why? On Wednesday and Thursday — the main programming days of the conference –vendors, publishers, and librarians are encouraged to network, socialize, share, and (most importantly) learn together. This communication happens formally in the plenary and concurrent sessions as well as informally through coffee breaks, meals, and happy hours.

From right: Dan Gingert (PrivCo), John Quealy (S&P), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. Penn), and Richard Landry (Data Planet/Sage) discussing the challenges of usage statistics for untraditional databases

From right: Dan Gingert (PrivCo), John Quealy (S&P), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. Penn), and Richard Landry (Data Planet/Sage) discussing the challenges of usage statistics for untraditional databases

So for most of the conference, vendors are not banished to the exhibit hall while the librarians are out and about talking about acquiring, promoting, and teaching vendor resources for their patrons. Instead, vendors are in the middle of the discussions. That interaction is considered one of the strengths of the Charleston Conference and we business librarians who attend love this. The vendors end up with increased influence on librarians, learn more about our needs, and perhaps gain ideas for new or improved products and services.

Some vendors have apparently not figured this out yet. On Tuesday, I talked to three or four vendors who were returning home first thing Wednesday morning. I told them they were missing a wonderful opportunity. (I know this is often the boss’ decision, not that of the rep who made the trip.) The airfare and expensive table space are sunk costs; the additional hotel night (or two) and conference registration fees will cost less in comparison.

In contrast, InfoUSA, S&P, PrivCo, Bureau Van Dijk, ProQuest, Gale, Sage, and Ebsco are regular attendees beyond the showcase. Those vendor reps even chat with each other at the socials and happy hours. Sometimes some of those reps speak alongside librarians on a topic of mutual interest.

As we continue to grow the business information programming at Charleston, there may be increased opportunities for vendor/librarian programming as well as socializing and networking. Vendors don’t get this opportunity for high-impact engagement at any other conference. Please consider attending past the Tuesday showcase if you haven’t before.

GCEC met in Chicago last week. Librarians Carey Toney, Christina Kim, and I attended and spoken at GCEC last year in Halifax, Nova Scotia (longer review at Ticker) but it looked like I was the only librarian this year. That’s not a big deal, since USASBE is probably more useful for business librarians to attend (2017 and 2018 reviews).

But first, one last Coleman summit

West Loop view from my hotel room

West Loop view from my hotel room

Since the Coleman Foundation is based in Chicago, and many of the Coleman campus directors would attend GCEC, the foundation hosted a final Coleman Fellows summit a day before GCEC began. The UNC Greensboro Entrepreneur-in-Residence (my buddy Noah Reynolds) and I (as associate UNCG Coleman Fellow director) flew up Wednesday morning, joining our director Dianne Welsh in representing UNCG. Nine campuses total were represented, about 40 folks total; we mostly knew each other.

After over ten years of funding the growth of cross-campus entrepreneurship across the U.S., the Coleman board of directors has decided to focus future funding on supporting the local Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem. We knew this strategic change was coming. So this summit was also a celebration of what each campus has accomplished through its Coleman Fellows program.

We met in a Chicago West Loop hotel for lunch, two breakout sessions, cocktails, and a recognition dinner. In the breakouts, the directors discussed post-Coleman transition plans and met with an ethnographer leading a focus group discussion. Noah and I and others met with representatives from Chicago NGOs to discuss connecting campus experiences with community entrepreneurship organization. This event was a bridge between the past and future Coleman strategies.

Dinner was fun, with fancy certificates given to all the fellows present, and short (often funny) speeches. Dr. Welsh referred several times to the “old Coleman gong” (used at past summits to signal agenda transitions) but we all keep hearing “the Coleman bong.” Hilarity ensued. Poor Dianne.

Dr. Welsh with Coleman Foundation's Clark McCain

Dr. Welsh with Coleman Foundation’s Clark McCain

I owe a lot to Dianne (and the Coleman Foundation) for recruiting me to become a fellow and a year later the UNCG associate director. All of the entrepreneurship education conferences I’ve attended (and blogged about) — USASBE, GCEC, SBI, GW October, and CEO — were funded out of our Coleman grant, plus a few library conferences too. My friend and sometimes co-speaker Diane Campbell from Rider University has attended and spoke at SBI and USASBE for many years. I enjoyed following in her footsteps in promoting entrepreneurship librarians and the use of library business databases to the professors and entrepreneurship center directors at these conferences.  My official library travel budget isn’t big enough to cover attending one of these expensive conferences, so we will see if I can swing another visit to USASBE someday.

Also, I wouldn’t have created my ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530 class without the Coleman program, and made friends across UNCG’s campus with fellows in the arts, social sciences, etc. We still get together at the campus bar several times a semester.

Moving day

Look, you can see Navy Pier from my Hilton room! (if you lean over and look hard)

Look, you can see Navy Pier from my Hilton room! (if you leaned over and looked hard)

After breakfast with Noah on Thursday morning, I checked out of the West Loop hotel and walked 1.8 miles east and a little south to the huge and historic Hilton on Michigan Avenue, the official GCEC hotel. The conference didn’t begin until an evening dinner reception at a DePaul University building, so I had a free afternoon. I spent it at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my favorite museums since I was a teenager living across the lake in West Michigan. The last time Carol and I were here, we focused on the European galleries (a few of you know that I was a Medieval Studies major) so this time I focused on everything else. Such a great collection.

GCEC begins

Last year, I wrote about the unusual nature of this conference:

  • Your campus must be an institutional member for you to attend;
  • A different campus (or campuses) hosts it each year, and takes on all the planning responsibility;
  • Those hosts take on financial risk but can turn a profit on the conference if they recruit enough sponsors and vendors while controlling costs.

This year, DePaul and the Illinois Institute of Technology hosted GCEC. Keynotes, lunches, and the concurrent sessions were held at ITT. Fans of modern architecture know that ITT is closely associated with Mies van der Rohe, who led its architecture program and designed many buildings on campus. (We spent the most time in Hermann Hall, a Skidmore Owings & Merrill building.) I enjoyed the architecture and took lots of pictures. A change of pace from historical styles that dominate U.S. campuses.

Attendees visited one of three downtown innovation centers/accelerators/incubators on Friday evening (1871, mHUB, or Blue1647). I skipped this event — I was getting over a cold and was tired. The Saturday evening reception and conference wrap-up party were at the Shedd Aquarium. It was lovely to be there at night. (Yes, I was feeling better.)

There was ample time for networking and librarian advocacy. Around 600 folks from 250 campuses attended, more than in Halifax, not surprising given the more central location compared to Halifax last year. Next year GCEC will be in Stockholm.

Friday morning

Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall, the IIT architecture school

Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall, the IIT architecture school, with a class in session

As part of the opening session, Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel discussed the rise of innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. He said Chicago has the most diversified industrial base of all big cities in the country. (That would be interesting to research and prove using Census Business Patterns data.) City policies provide strong support of first-generation college students. High school grads with a “B” average or higher get to attend local community college for free. Those students are disproportionately Hispanic, and also include a large number of Dreamers.

Across the two days of the congress, we heard keynotes from four local entrepreneurs, three of whom are women:

I note the gender emphasis given the opening discussion at GCEC last year. But race and income were also common themes this year. These were all good speakers, telling us their stories, lessons learned, their ideas about the future. But the audience had to think about how the speakers’ words applied to running and growing entrepreneurship centers on their own. So a little bit of a disconnect in my opinion.

GCEC lunch in the Hermann Hall (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

GCEC lunch in Hermann Hall (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Our two lunches were buffets. Among the tables were facilitated theme tables. Topics included “Entrepreneurship in General Education and Liberal Arts Education,” “Knowledge Entrepreneurship and the Research Student,” and “Towns with gowns: the roles played by university entrepreneurship initiatives in community and economic development.” I attended the table with that first topic on Friday, but arrived at lunch after a morning talk too late on Saturday to get a seat at a special table that day (I hoped to sit at the second topic listed above.) Lots of good networking at both themed and un-themed tables, however. A friendly bunch of people at GCEC.

Conference tracks for concurrent programs included:

  • Entrepreneurship beyond the business school
  • Social impact and entrepreneurship
  • The center: how, what, where, why?
  • Engaging the community
  • Global entrepreneurship
  • among a few others.

Friday afternoon

Entrepreneurship and the Creative / Engaging the Community Through Performance Learning” 

Amy E. Rogers, North Central College
Brian Hanlon, North Central College
Julie Shields, Millikin University
Thomas Cavenagh, North Central College
Jessa Wilcoxen, Millikin University

This was a well-attended, two-topic program in an hour-long slot. My friend Julie Shields, Coleman Fellows Director for Millikin University, was one of the speakers. Part one focused on arts entrepreneurship (a big thing here at UNCG). According to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), graduates of arts programs rate “financial and business management skills” and “entrepreneurial skills” as very important, but rarely studied in college, despite artists bring 4 times more likely than the population as a whole to be self-employed or start a business. One presenter summarized that arts students have the ideas but no execution skills while the business students have no ideas but know how to execute!

Millikan has an 8-session certificate program for entrepreneurship as well as its full curriculum. It also has a number of arts-based student-run ventures with faculty mentors. Students get course credit for working with a venture. But the student owners assume the financial risk — “authentic risk and authentic reward.”

Part two focused on design thinking, a hot topic in entrepreneurship education. We were asked to identify an existing course, project, or venture that has interdisciplinary potential and then discuss our hopes, our fears, and the risk factors with neighbors.

“10 Years After: The Coleman Entrepreneurship Infusion Model”

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

Coleman campus directors Dianne Welsh (UNCG), Julie Shields (Millikin University), Gina Betti (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and I discussed our Coleman Fellows program, in which non-business faculty incorporate entrepreneurship topics and student learning outcomes into existing classes. The goal is to foster cross-campus entrepreneurship education. Each of us provided three best practices, three lessons learned, and three suggestions for further implementation.

Not surprisingly, one of my best practices was “Invite your entrepreneurship/business librarian to into your core class to provide research consultations and hands-on workshops.” I also advocated for “establishing desired student research competencies (ex. “identify, segment, and measure a consumer or B2B market”) and determine where in the curriculum your students will develop those competencies”.

Saturday morning:

I rode the bus from the hotel to ITT with an entrepreneurship coordinator from Denmark.

My favorite takeaway from the morning keynotes: entrepreneurship is moving past convenience into substance. So not just another app or service to speed up an existing business model, but new models of thinking, business, and community engagement. We’ll see.

“Has the lean startup failed us? If not, how not? If so, what are we doing about it? / Capturing the attention of the first-year student”

David Touve, University of Virginia (the lean startup discussion)
James Zebrowski, The University of Tampa
Wendy Plant, Florida State University
Mindy Walls, Waynesburg University

David, an energetic discussion leader, asked the full room “has the lean startup failed us?” He argued that there is no data indicating that the lean startup model is more successful than other models. Design thinking and effectuation (a UVA thing) are other models.

Why has the lean startup been popular?

  • Provides focus on customer.
  • Provides a grounding for an approach and common language
  • A business plan is not always accurate anyway (when, then you need to raise expectations for research, I would argue)

Solving a problem versus starting a business = two different approaches and things. (Identifying and describing a problem before beginning to develop a business or nonprofit idea came up a lot this weekend.)

Engineering students love the lean startup model; it matches their tech training mindset, someone asserted.

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

We worked in small groups (it was really hard to hear each other — a downside of a glass-walled modernist classroom) discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the lean startup, reasons for using it, etc. I was paired with the Yale professor who last year in Halifax unexpectedly joined what had been an all-male panel discussing the state of entrepreneurship education in the opening plenary session.

Part two: Capturing the attention of the first-year student. I was able to take better notes here.

Waynesburg University, a small liberal arts college in rural Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, has a strong focus on service learning. Mindy, a new hire, is working to help incorporate an entrepreneurial mindset into that service tradition.

ENT mindset  —> creative problem solving –> forming a venture

She uses the Who Owns the Ice House book as a mindset tool. She has to avoid the b-word (business) and the e-word (entrepreneurship) since those words are unpopular among their liberal arts students. But they need an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed in 21st century, Mindy asserts.

FSU just started a new living-learning community of 36 entrepreneurship students. Wendy’s campus also hosts high school day camps in the summer. Her campus has a new ENT school that is independent of the b-school, thanks to a major donor. Students enroll in the school in their junior year.

James is a leader in CEO. He discussed encouraging campus clubs. Our EIR Noah Reynolds (see above) runs our CEO club and takes the officers to the national conference.

Question: why are some frosh not interesting in E?

  • Parental concerns (“you need to work at a real company!”)
  • Young students just don’t know yet what they want
  • Limited availability of curriculum sometimes (have to wait till their junior year?)

Saturday lunch discussion

Train tracks over the McCormick Tribune Campus Center

Train tracks over the McCormick Tribune Campus Center

I sat at a random table with several GCEC old timers. They noted the growth of the conference. They also noted that the same topics are being discussed this year as 20 years ago. A standard problem for growing conferences (like some focused library conferences?)

Saturday afternoon

“Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for New (and not so new) Non-Academics”

Steven Phelan, Fayetteville State University
Sara Cochran, University of Missouri System
II Luscri, Washington University in St. Louis
Gurpreet Jagpal, University of the West of England, Bristol

The panels discussed the motivations of professors, deans, chancellors, and the system president, and suggested strategies for working with those people.

The majority of the audience for this one was campus entrepreneurs-in-residence or entrepreneurship center directors — folks from “industry” mostly. PhDs and other folks with faculty status were in the minority. Attendance and the energy level were high.

This would have also have been an excellent program for a new academic liaison librarian! Maybe I will steal from it for a blog post sometime, ha.

Professor level:

Like a medieval craft guild:

  • 3 categories: master apprentice system (PhD students); journeyman (tenure track); masters (tenured), which requires a masterpiece
  • Self-governance (shared faculty governance)
  • Charter of rights (faculty governance and documentation; right to control process; representation on decision-making bodies)
brand new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (John Ronan)

Brand-new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (John Ronan)

Professor motivations: 40% teaching (impact measured by student evaluations of scheduled teaching), 40% research (impact measured by citations), 20% service

Q and A about changing positions and/or campuses after getting tenured: Would you retain that rank? What about non-PhDs with faculty rank? (I piped up here.) With whom do you negotiate with in these situations? Lots of questions from the non-academics.

It’s tough to finish a PhD, get hired, and then get tenured. There is about a 50% drop at each of those three stages.

There are now more non-faculty than faculty teaching classes at most schools. There is a subtrend toward hiring more “professors of practice” (typically non-tenure).

Professors don’t have much time for service, but have lots of options to meet service requirements (some do want to do practical service).

Trying to recruit faculty to work with your center? Start with a few willing volunteers and build from there.

Dean level:

Deans are typically academics. On U.S. campuses, fundraising is now their primary function. Turf wars and academic silos are common. For example, deans often don’t like sharing credit hours with other campus units, which can be problematic for cross-campus entrepreneurship programs (true at UNCG).

Things deans list in their annual reports:

  • Rankings
  • Awards
  • Accreditation renewals
  • New programs

Deans on the same campus will have different priorities: new buildings, more scholarships, more centers, etc.

Chancellor level (from a more UK perspective):

  • Income diversification.
  • Student recruitment.
  • Reputation and rankings
  • Awards

Strategies to influence deans and chancellors:

  • Help them climb the ladder;
  • Have a strategy that will make them look good;
  • Donors are easier to find for ENT (but then there is the silo problem);
  • New student demand;
  • Potential for licensing/commercialization income;
  • Metrics
Something with curves for a change

Something with curves for a change of pace (see below for context)

Audience comment: there is a lack of useful metrics for ENT centers. Also lack of consistency. [How to measure the success of ENT education and programs is a big topic at these conferences.]

Build allies in every academic department and unit. There will be meetings of academics on campus where you are discussed but you won’t be there. (True of librarians too!)

System president level:

Nature of:

  • Politicized environment
  • Boards of often political appointees
  • Change of government leads to different priorities
  • Patronage issues


  • Keep key legislators and the board happy
  • The need to balance the interests of multiple campuses and their resource allocation
  • Protect the brand of the system (PR issues)


  • Encourage system-wide collaboration [so much easier said than done!]
  • Link to economic development
  • Appeal to the residents of the state

Question: what about when alumni affairs targets the same funding sources as the center? Replies: can first just invite them to talk to your ENT students. Get to know the alumni affairs folks, help them connect to new potential donors, they love that. Keep alumni affairs informed.

“Designing and diversity and inclusion: why it matters and what to do about it”

Ji Mi Choi, Arizona State University
Rebecca Corbin, National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship
Ian Grant, University of New Hampshire
Isabelle Monlouis, Georgia State University

This event had the youngest crowd I’ve any I attended at GCEC this year. It was also majority female. Folks were passionate about these topics and stayed late (after this session was the final keynote and awards, see below).

The speakers provided some goals of their programs and best practice ideas for diversity and inclusion. Similar to discussions of diversity and inclusion in libraries.

Another IIT scene

Another IIT scene

Stereotypical VC-funded glamorous entrepreneurship is hard when a student has to work 20+ hours a week to support themselves, on top of classes and pursuing an entrepreneurial idea. Entrepreneurship incubators on campus usually assume economic privilege.

NACCE = National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, with 300-member colleges across the U.S.

The UNH center works hard to attract students from across campus. We are the “Switzerland of campus”, Ian joked.

Other best practices and examples:

  • Importance of role modeling
  • Providing peer and near-peer mentors
  • T-shirts given to students: “Entrepreneurs are everywhere, and I am one of them”
  • Recruit minority and female entrepreneurs to promote the program, and speak to younger and future students.
  • Partner with and design with underprivileged communities, as opposed to doing things for them or to them. (My church calls this a missional attitude.)
  • Importance of going to people, not waiting for them to come to you. For example, go to diversity centers and clubs.

“Entrepreneurship” as a term can turn some people off. Is there a good alternative word? Not really.

An entrepreneurial mindset is a “success mindset.”

Equality (treating everyone the same) versus equity (supporting under-represented or under-privileged groups).

Conference wrap-up

Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower

Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower

I stayed through the bitter end this year. A lot of folks did. One more talk by an entrepreneur. Thank yous to the sponsoring schools. Top nominations and then the winners of seven annual GCEC awards, plus a special legacy award for lifetime achievement in research and service, with pictures taken of each. The legacy award winner gave a speech, but it wasn’t very long. The managing director of NASDAQ announced the “NASDAQ Center Award for Entrepreneurship Excellence,” the top annual award.

I’ve learned from these entrepreneurship education conferences that giving awards is a common and major function of the sponsoring association. Awards seem to be more important to the professors and their departments than they are to librarians and libraries. Is this an aspect of our service (or servant) tradition? However, there are far more academic associations and conferences than we librarians have, providing more opportunities to win awards.

Finally, we had a few words from the University of Stockholm, next year’s hosts of GCEC. It’s only an 8-hour direct flight from Chicago, he said! The Swede told a number of short, bad jokes about Sweden and its culture. A fun way to end the afternoon.

Weedy Seadragons

Weedy Seadragons

The conference wrapped up with the Shedd Aquarium all to ourselves in the evening, sponsored by the Coleman Foundation. It was fun being there after dark.

WFU building in the Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter

WFU building in the Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter after an evening storm (Bailey Park in foreground)

The Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians was back in downtown Winston-Salem last Friday and I enjoyed being able to walk over to it from home. The one-day conference met in new Wake Forest University space in the Innovation Quarter, built from RJ Reynolds tobacco factories. BLINC had a workshop over here in 2015 hosted by the Forsyth Technical Community College’s Business & Industry Services. It’s exciting to see these sturdy, tall-ceiling, big-window spaces converted to new uses and bringing more employees back downtown. (There are also lots of new residential spaces nearby, although affordability and gentrification are becoming more of a problem.)

The latest hurricane moved through North Carolina Thursday afternoon. I had a fun 9:30am research workshop for an investments class (and most of the 48 students were there!) but we learned then that classes would be cancelled at 2pm. Three big trees were down on the highway between Greensboro and Winston-Salem on my way home in mid-afternoon. Our region had localized flooding and power outages, but no deaths. Several speakers at the conference were unable to get to Winston-Salem (including the morning keynote, who had to provide his talk online).

As mentioned here in 2014 and 2016, this is not a conference about entrepreneurship librarianship, although a few business librarians usually attend each year. “Entrepreneurial” in the conference’s name is defined as “innovation”, so the topics of the speakers and discussions are broad. As an attendee, I focused on supporting as many of the business librarian speakers as I could. One of those business librarians was Ash Faulkner, whom Carol and I joined for dinner downtown Thursday night. The sun came out an hour before sunset.

“Retiring in 2055: Evolution and Education a Long Library Career”
Ash Faulkner
(Ohio State University Libraries)

Ash Faulkner

Ash Faulkner

Abstract: “As a librarian at the beginning of her career, the presenter has devoted considerable time to considering the future of libraries and librarianship. In this presentation she will discuss her views on the evolving roles of librarians and how she has prepared for these changing needs. Discussion will include the utility of basic business knowledge (gleaned from an MBA), the importance of understanding data and the growing need to understand statistical analysis and software, how to utilize professional organizations and personal networks to address learning gaps, and best bet resources for individual learning pursuits. The presenter will discuss her views of current and future librarianship, as well as those found in the literature and through conversations with other early-career librarians.”

A financial planner told Ash that she could expect to retire in 2055. In this discussion-oriented program, Ash explored trends in librarianship and the workforce in general to guess what the nature of her career might look like up to its end.

She used Mentimeter to display her slides and enable instant feedback from the participants. We discussed ideas like digital nomads and the gig economy applied to librarianship. Ash speculated on the future of librarians:

  • “Yup, data” (increasingly important)
  • Boutique service (emphasis on specialized services)
  • Increasing collaboration…to integration
  • Fewer professional librarians
  • Self-service (less interaction with librarians)

She also speculated on gap areas in our skills and education:

  • Deeper subject expertise
  • Finding data
  • Data management
  • Statistics
  • Basic business knowledge

Some of the discussion was on near-future trends but it was interesting speculating on the long term possibilities.

 “An Entrepreneurial Approach to Helping Entrepreneurs”
Kassie Ettefagh, & John Raynor (High Point Public Library)

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

Abstract: “The High Point Public Library was tasked with finding a way to help support the city’s strategic plan to increase population, create new housing and employment, and create a vibrant downtown. Focusing efforts on entrepreneurs, job-seekers, and current small-business owners, HPPL designed a plan to provide personalized research sessions, one-on-one training with databases, social media usage advice, and space for job-related programming. Three Business Librarians work with Chamber of Commerce, small business expos, city council, and more. By changing its methods of providing information and trying to be more proactive, HPPL has evolved to better serve entrepreneurs, job-seekers and small-business owners.”

Kassie and John are BLINC friends whose outreach and consulting work at the High Point Public Library have always been impressive. They discussed their library’s proactive engagement with the local business and nonprofit community, inspired by the embedded librarian model of reference service.

The business librarians promote the development of ongoing, productive relationships between the library and its customers. Getting out of the library to build relationships with clients is key. “We need to leave the library and show the community what a powerful tool we are,” John advocates.

This embedded work is the library’s response to the city’s strategic plan, which promotes entrepreneurship city-wide but with emphasis on downtown. The library also created a dedicated business center in the library for training and hosting local organizations. The library has partnered with many local organizations supporting entrepreneurship, economic development, and nonprofits. The librarians now help steer entrepreneurship to relevant support groups.

The library had a preliminary goal of 12 client consultations a year, but now averages around 150 per year. The librarians use NC LIVE databases (such as ReferenceUSA and SimplyAnalytics) and High Point GIS data, but also provide some tech training, such as basics of using social media. Some clients want to learn how to use the databases themselves, so the librarians are trainers as well as research consultants.

Kassie and John provided several happy customer testimonials and some examples of research projects. One example: when the city tore up Main Street for a long, comprehensive utilities rebuild, the library organized downtown businesses to collect feedback and complaints about the road closure, and to help those businesses promote that they were still open for business. Now another chunk of downtown will be ripped up to build a new minor league baseball park. The city asked the library to repeat those coordinating services for that neighborhood. State legislators are also hearing about the library’s business and nonprofit outreach.

Really good stuff – high impact and progressive. Kudos to Kassie and John (and their former colleague Vicki Johnson) for their excellent work, but also to library leadership for funding these positions and the business center.

“The ROI of ROI Outreach”
Amy Harris-Houk & Maggie Murphy (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Abstract: “Liaison librarians in the Reference, Outreach, and Instruction (ROI) department of UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries have collaborated on educational programming with regional high schools, the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, a nearby retirement community, and a grassroots political advocacy group in Greensboro. Through these collaborations, our information literacy programs have reached a range of audiences, from middle-schoolers to retirees. However, while these opportunities have raised the library’s profile in the community, they are not without downsides. This session will discuss our collaborations, how these partnerships began, the lessons we have learned, and balancing the time commitment associated with community outreach with other duties to maximize return on investment.”

My colleagues Amy and Maggie discussed their recent outreach and programming to groups outside of the university. With implications for liaison work (and workloads), they discussed how to prioritize such outreach, and balance “departmental work with our core constituents with community outreach”. They also presented a SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results) analysis for evaluating the impact of the work.

“Growing and Evolving Education: Librarians Developing and Implementing Community Health Literacy Workshops”
Sam Harlow (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Abstract: “In order to align with the University Libraries strategic plan to increase both general information literacy and health literacy efforts in the community, UNCG Health Science librarians developed a series of workshops on “Finding Health Information on the Internet.” In these workshops, librarians covered website evaluation, database recommendation, search strategies, and created a LibGuide for community members interested in finding health information. This presentation will cover outreach and marketing strategies when reaching out to community partners (such as churches, local hospitals, and university staff); successes and failures of presenting to community patrons; future plans for health literacy workshop expansion; and ways to further engage your community in information literacy workshops and conversations.”

My colleague Sam followed up with a description of a community engagement project she implemented along with Lea Leininger, the UNCG Health Sciences Librarian. They have provided 5 workshops so far. Challenges include communicating the medical terminology, dealing with different levels of technology, assessing the workshops, and participation.

Other conference notes

 The opening keynote speaker was Patrick Sweeney, Political Director for EveryLibrary, the only PAC for supporting libraries. I didn’t know anything about this organization. He challenged our traditions of feel-good marketing (all those ALA posters) and instead asserted that the goal of advocacy is driving public library supports to action – doing something (donating money, fundraising, or voting). He asserted that libraries need to use data analytics on its financial and voting supporters and make decisions based on that data. Libraries need to understand their communities – demographics, lifestyles, and attitudes/politics [there’s the business librarianship connection] – and craft their messages to match, not just speak from a librarian echo chamber.

Timothy Owen, Assistant Librarian for the State of North Carolina, discussed telling stories. He also provided examples of problems in data visualization and asked us to figure out what was going on.

lunch outdoors at the conference

lunch outdoors at the conference (opposite direction from the first picture above)

Half the value of a good conference is networking, and this conference enabled that in the breakfast social and lunchtime. Several new and veteran BLINC members, plus other friends from the area, attended and updated each other on what was new in their lives. (The newest downtown brewery is one block from our conference location, in the old power plant for the RJR factories – I was surprised there was no night-before or right-after social planned there.)


I had to miss this session due to an overlapping event:

“Reaching Campus and Community with Entrepreneurship Research Workshops”
Meghann Kuhlmann & Sara Butts (Wichita State University)

Abstract: “Wichita State University (WSU) has positioned itself as an “innovation university” with strong emphasis on invention, small business incubation, and economic development across the region. WSU Libraries launched the Entrepreneurship Research Series (ERS) of workshops in Fall 2016. Each semester since then we have offered 6-11 workshops on intellectual property and market research topics relevant to inventors and prospective business owners. Workshops are open to students and the community. Successful outreach, with marketing beyond our traditional patron base, has led to increasing our visibility as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) and partner in innovation support and promoting use of our business and intellectual property resources. We’ll discuss the opportunities and challenges of creating an entrepreneurship education initiative aimed at both campus and community members including alignment of the library initiative to university goals, community outreach, partnership creation, and managing multiple priorities in an academic setting.”

These librarians were unable to fly in due to the storm:

 “How to Never Underestimate Librarians as New Commercialization Partners”
Yvonne Dooley & Steven Tudor (University of North Texas)

Abstract: “As higher education evolves and re-imagines information exchange with industry, an increasing number of universities are creating and expanding Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) to commercialize faculty created intellectual property. This exchange fosters technology-based economic development and entrepreneurial success. Conference attendees will learn about the successful alliance between UNT Libraries and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, where the library moved outside its normal sphere to help create a patent internship program. Presenters will explain how this collaborative partnership works and provides win-win situations for all parties involved. Attendees will also learn new ways librarians can advance innovative community initiatives, position themselves as trusted partners, and create professional experiences to prepare students for valuable career opportunities.”

I also missed this interesting talk about managing liaison workload. App State is a UNC campus, so I should reach out to Jennifer about sometime. Sounds like her idea for engagement plans might be relevant to my last post about the lean liaison model. (I learned that Ask Faulkner covers 8,000 or 9,000+ students on her own, another example that dwarfs my situation.)

Enterprising Liaisons: Evolving Engagement
Jennifer Natale—Appalachian State University

Abstract: “Liaisons have responsibility for multiple academic departments and/or student populations and are pulled in too many directions in the middle of the semester, leaving themselves unable to accomplish all the liaison activities. Enterprising librarians can stay ahead of the curve by building a profile of the academic departments or student populations they serve and developing an engagement plan for the year. In this workshop I will outline key concepts within a profile identifying ways liaisons can intersect with their departments or student populations. The profiles will then provide the foundation for generating an annual engagement plan and allow you to balance your workload throughout the year. Engagement plans, and some technology tools, can be implemented in part or in whole and as an individual or liaison team.”