Last week I had two overlapping online conferences as well as four classes and some consultations. So I wasn’t able to give either conference my full attention. A big downside of virtual conferences? Yes, I could have blocked out my calendar a while ago, but late October remains a moderately busy time for liaison work, and neither online conference offered eight hours of programming a day (or eight hours I wanted to see, in the case of NCLA). I’ll try to catch up on the recordings from both events this week.

In contrast, for the Charleston Conference in two weeks, I will be there physically and so will be listed as “busy” in my calendar for four days. I’ll just keep up with emailed questions from faculty and students while down there.

BLINC at NCLA 2021

The North Carolina Library Association has a conference every two years. The official communication described this year’s version as a hybrid conference, but it’s mostly online, and asynchronous at that. Panelists and presenters uploaded videos of their talks, even though there were official time slots for their sessions. Using Whova, interested attendees were encouraged to watch the videos at the designated times and then to ask questions to the speakers, who were monitoring the session page. An interesting virtual conference model. Not surprisingly, viewers started watching the videos at different times, and so the comments in the chat box sometimes were often out of sync time-wise and a bit confusing to follow.

BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) usually has a lot going on at NCLA (evidence from two years ago) but we dialed it down this year due to the pandemic and the unusual conference format. There were two programs and one social. 

On Thursday evening, a few of us near Winston-Salem, where the few physical NCLA 2021 events took place, gathered at a downtown brewery with outdoor seating. An old friend and supporter of BLINC, David Turner from DataAxle, had traveled from Omaha and we were happy to see him. David kindly sponsored the dinner that followed at a nice Italian bistro with sidewalk seating. 

Part of the BLINC social
Part of the BLINC social group (some folks had left already) including dinner sponsor David Turner from DataAxle

The best thing about NCLA conferences is seeing old and new friends, including former colleagues and interns, not just BLINC buddies. Except for the BLINC social, I didn’t enjoy any networking and socializing except for watching some videos and chatting with friends in Whova. 

NCLA programs I watched:

How we got here: how a banker, a medievalist, systems & collection librarians became business liaisons and how they cope

Speakers: Ophelia Chapman (Business & Communication Studies Librarian, UNC Wilmington), Velappan Velappan (Head of Access Services, Fayetteville State University), Summer Krstevska (Business, Economics & Data Access Librarian, Wake Forest University), and Shaun Bennett (Research Librarian for Business, Education, and Data Literacy, NC State University Libraries)

How many business librarians began library school planning on becoming a business librarian? Not many! One take-away: don’t be surprised if your career path leads to unexpected places. Another: you might like business librarianship! Give it a try if the opportunity presents itself. (I didn’t know that Ophelia is now Dr. Chapman, having earned her PhD this year. Congratulations, Ophelia.) (Shaun provided details of his journey as a medievalist in a blog post we co-wrote last December.)

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Finding Your Library’s Place in the Business Community

Laurel Holden (Southern Pines Public Library) and Mary Howard (Southern Pines Public Library)

Lauren and Mary discussed how their library hosted the Ice House Entrepreneurial Mindset Program via a grant from the NC IDEA Foundation. (See the keynote #1 video from the ELC 2020). The librarians also provide a discussion forum for local entrepreneurs. There was a discussion in Whova chat that a library doesn’t have to provide an expensive outside speaker, or a long and intensive research workshop, to be useful for local entrepreneurs. The public library is now considered part of the local ecosystem. Very impressive work.

From their abstract: “This presentation will prove that becoming a part of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem is possible regardless of library size or budget, and building mutually beneficial relationships with local business owners is essential for libraries dedicated to empowering their community.”

Several times, Lauren and Mary emphasized that they were not business librarians, a helpful reminder I think to others watching the program.  

The Ball’s in Our Court: Virtual academic interview experiences from administrative and candidate perspectives” [slides]

Elizabeth Ellis (Instruction Librarian, Wake Forest University), Mary Beth Lock (Associate Dean, Wake Forest University), Katherine Heilman (Electronic Resources Librarian, UNC Greensboro), Christine Fischer (Head of Technical Services, UNC Greensboro), Morgan Pruitt (Outreach and Assessment Librarian, Central Carolina Community College)

Morgan moderated. She, Elizabeth, and Katherine interviewed and were hired during the pandemic. Are online interviews more “equitable, diverse, and inclusive” (from the summary) than on-campus interviews? What good and useful experiences are left out from not interviewing on-campus? Note the notes in the slides. This was a very interesting discussion. 

Preparing NC librarians for marijuana legalization: public and academic perspectives

Shaun Bennett (see above), Morgan Ritchie-Baum (Business & Social Science Librarian, Wake Forest University) and I made this video. Medical marijuana may get legalized soon in North Carolina. Recreational legalization seems far off, but with neighboring states supporting it, will NC be able to abstain? (We got a state lottery after getting surrounded by lottery states.) See the ELC spring workshop for videos on this topic if you are interested.

BRASS Fall Thing

Meanwhile, BRASS hosted its inaugural Fall Thing via Remo. Love the name. It made my wife laugh too, especially when I talked about filling out my UNCG reimbursement form for the cost of “the Thing”. And I am an old fan of Ben Grimm. (Ohhh second comic book reference this year.)

The group used Remo effectively to promote socializing and networking between and during sessions (in contrast to NCLA, which didn’t emphasize those things for online attendees). Example from the Thing description:

There will be tables to talk to various speakers about their presentations, and we’ll also have tables set up for work-related and casual conversation. Feel free to come and go and move between tables as you please.

There were some grumbles that the Thing had a registration fee beyond the BRASS membership fee, but, you know, BRASS parent RUSA has cash flow issues and needs more revenue. 

It wasn’t too many years ago that some BRASS members lamented that lack of programming on instruction and outreach. Historically, BRASS content seemed to focus on resources, especially for finance. What a change! And much appreciated.

I was only able to attend the Wednesday Thing programming live. I hope to watch the recordings after Charleston. (Older BRASS online programming is also available to Thing attendees, a nice perk.)

Framing the Frame: ‘Information has Value’ for Business Library Instruction

Ilana Stonebraker (Indiana University), Grace Liu (West Chester University), LuMarie Guth (Western Michigan University), and G. Arave (Indiana University)

Each librarian began with a summary of their lesson plan. Then participants, sitting at small tables in Remo, were asked to do the assignment and report back their findings or conclusions to the full group. We had links to the slides and as well as any worksheets used in the instruction. This session turned out to be an efficient and useful way to get a bunch of new teaching ideas, especially if you teach info lit to new students. 

Instruction Materials (IM): Share-and-receive-athon using BLExIM

Annette Buckley (UC Irvine), Kara Van Abel (University of Alabama), and Orolando Duffus (University of Houston)

The three creators of BLExIM, Business Librarians Exchanging Instructional Materials. After a quick overview, we were invited to take the time to add some instructional materials to the site. There were also three tables in Remo for discussing different aspects of using the site and utilizing the content. The creators reminded us that if your content gets used by another librarian, you might be able to list that accomplishment in your annual review as external validation of your teaching skills. 

Other programming at the Thing concerned evidence-based practice, AACSB accreditation, data visualization tools, the Business Research Competencies, data quality in business research tools, and dedicated networking and socializing time.

Catching up:

I hope readers saw the announcement that the Entrepreneurship & Libraries Conference is accepting lightning round submissions for its workshop “Inclusive Entrepreneurship: A workshop on how librarians support entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic justice, empowerment, and a counter to systemic racism”.

Friends from BRASS have new articles out in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship:  

The Charleston Conference will be a hybrid event next month. Everyone attending in person is required to submit proof of vaccination. Many of us are really looking forward to a F2F experience again. There will be two vendor-funded socials for business librarians, one a happy hour and the other a dinner. Both events may take place outside (the weather is usually quite temperate down there in early November). Let Heather Howard or me know if you are interested. Look for a conference recap here next month.

Last week I had three evening classes in row, but this week is mostly open, an opportunity to return to this “Liaison Year One Redux” series.

Today’s topic:

How do you learn about your assigned academic departments? How do you keep up with developments?

Getting to know your departments can be especially tough if you are a lean liaison with (it feels like, anyway) hundreds of faculty.

There are push and pull options to consider.

First (and yes, obviously), examine the list of faculty on the department website. Note if possible what they usually teach, their research agendas, their rank, etc.

If the CVs aren’t posted, look up a professor in Google Scholar or your favorite subscription database. Use Scopus or Web of Science to rank their pubs by “times cited” to learn what their biggest hits have been. And see if the profs have profiles in your institutional repository. I still do this when I meet a professor for the first time or for the first time in a long while.

Pull communication options really help with keeping up with developments.

At the start of each workday, I check my newsreader. My feeds include the blog and news portal for the UNCG business school, as well as the same pair for the whole campus. Stories cover faculty awards and other honors, new publications, new academic programs, interviews with students and alumni, and links to news stories that quoted faculty.

NetVibes screenshot

My next stop is LinkedIn. My feed there includes posts from faculty members, academic departments, the business school, the campus, the graduate school, etc. Content is similar to what comes up in my news reader, plus posts from individuals about their thoughts, new pubs, conference presentations, etc. Yes, LinkedIn can be a time suck especially if you have a lot of student and alumni connections.

I don’t do other social media for faculty updates due to the overlap in posts and the reduced ROI on my time.

I receive the business school dean’s newsletter via email, and an email notification when the school’s magazine has a new issue. The magazine provides summaries of faculty accomplishments in case I missed anything from the other communication channels.

Then there’s the ancient value of bulletin boards outside a department’s office. Latest pubs, awards, and conference talks are usually featured. And hanging out in their space, I might bump into a professor and be able to ask, “So what is new with you?”

Finally…so what?

What do you do with this intel? How much of it is actionable?

Most of what I learn hopefully stays somewhere in my head to be pulled out as needed. When I have a conversation or email exchange with Prof. X, hopefully I will remember when Prof. X came up in my newsfeed recently, and mention that thing.

If you are trying to create a relationship with a professor, a short note of congratulations for something you read about might get you started.

Sometimes I will attend a talk or workshop after learning about it through a business school posting. Those events become networking opportunities too.

After learning about program or curricular changes, or simply a new class on an emerging topic, I might review the library’s resources relevant for that topic and contact the teacher or program coordinator with an offer of support.

More abstractly, I learn from business school communication what the school really values, and what strategic messaging it creates for students, alumni, and supports. Is the library, or I as the business librarian, positioned to support those values and that strategy? If I am, and communicate my own value and services using similar language, I am more likely to be seen as a partner (maybe sometimes even a problem solver) by the powers that be in that school.

But again, usually my response to learning something about the academic departments I serve is: “ok” or  “interesting, good to know”. Most of us need to prioritize our outreach and engagement work, since we don’t have time to accomplish everything that would be useful.

Hmm how to prioritize – and why – would make a good blog post on its own someday.


Continuing a fall semester series of posts about starting over (sort of) as a subject liaison. 

Last week I began teaching face to face again. I hadn’t taught F2F since the pandemic began. I had three classes on Tuesday and five on Thursday, ranging in size from 2 students to 50 (but most were around 20). Student levels ranged from first-years/sophomores to PhD students (the class of 2). The Tuesday classes were in three different buildings; my Thursday marathon took place in one of the library’s computer classrooms. We all wore masks and practiced safe distancing. 

For the Thursday evening class, I led a research workshop for a new-to-me nonprofit management class. The “sort of” aspect here is that the professor is a friend of mine through our cross-campus entrepreneurship program. Another professor in her department for whom I have guest-taught recommended me to prof #1 for a research workshop. I’m going to discuss the planning process.

Format & location

This is an evening (6:30 start time) face-to-face class. We used the larger of the two library computer classrooms. Most of the students met in their normal classroom at 6:30 and then walked over together with the prof. I had some up-tempo Latin jazz playing for atmosphere and energy (for my sake as much as theirs). I had written on the big whiteboard “Hello! Please sit with your teammates”.

UNCG  library classroom
the UNCG library classroom I mentioned

[On Monday, during a class change window, I scoped out the classrooms for my Tuesday classes. Every campus has at least one confusing building. My class of 50 was in a room with a 200-room number but was in the basement along with some 100-numbered rooms. Maybe because the room I was seeking was two stories high with exit doors upstairs? It’s also very useful to be aware of the instructional tech in the room. And to learn if it includes whiteboards or chalkboards. I’ve learned that some profs prefer chalkboards — scientists and economics, for example. Therefore I keep both markers and chalk in my office. And it helps to simply know the layout of the room. Can the students communicate as teams? Can the instructor walk around? Where is the screen positioned? I enter classrooms with more confidence when I know all these things already.]


The class was Political Science 440/540: Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Three seniors were enrolled under 440, 18 masters’ students under 540. The class meets once a week. I learned most of the grad students were working professionals. 

I am not our Poli Sci liaison — that would be my office neighbor Rachel Olsen. Rachel was fine with me leading this data workshop. She is already involved with this class and also has Canvas access. Rachel gets a shout-out in the syllabus.

In this class, student teams provide consulting with local partner nonprofits, chosen by the students from a list of possibilities. So community-engaged, experiential learning as happens in many business school capstone courses. (I mentioned to these students that I work with the Masters of Public Administration students and also consult with student teams working with local nonprofits in social entrepreneurship, marketing, and MBA classes. Trying to establish a connection and maybe some expertise early.)

Partner examples include the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, Greensboro Pride, and the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. While there was some Canvas communication about signing up for partners, the list of student teams was not posted in Canvas. I asked the students to tell me their partners when class began. I would have done that anyway — a good way to get the students talking early, and to demonstrate that I had studied their project requirements.


The first big assignment was an individual “nonprofit strategic and market analysis” paper. Students need to:

  • Analyze their partner nonprofit using Guidestar, its IRS 990 form, and other sources; 
  • Identify and analyze similar nonprofits;
  • Write a PEST analysis;
  • Write a SWOT on the partner nonprofit;
  • Discuss how the pandemic has impacted the partner.

Library guide

For my “data workshop,” as the professor called it, I made a separate guide from the existing one Rachel maintains for the class. Most of the pages are reused from my private master guide (I renamed “Markets” to “People” for this audience). I created new pages for PEST and SWOT. The SWOT page might be useful for other classes, so I copied it to my master guide for more work someday before maybe reusing that page. The students and I discussed that my links on the PEST and SWOT pages are just opening suggestions. We also brainstormed additional research strategies.

Active learning/lesson plan

While I was teaching daytime classes on Thursday, the professor emailed me a 3-page worksheet for the students to begin filling out during the data workshop. It covered researching the partner and obtaining data and analysis for the PEST. So my workshop would follow that outline. That was my plan anyway, no worries.

What happened

I had the students introduce themselves and identify their partner. Guessing correctly that many of them have researched nonprofits before (some worked for nonprofits), we discussed Guidestar, NTEE codes, and 990 forms. We then spent some time looking up the partners and sharing one interesting thing about each. I also briefly demonstrated how to use DataAxle to identify nonprofits. My example was listing all of the Habitat for Humanity locations in the United States, and looking at the NAICS codes assigned.

After a break, we brainstormed topics that could fall under each section of a PEST. I wrote their ideas on the whiteboard. We also identified kinds of data that could be used to measure each topic. I asked the students to look up the American Community Survey narrative profile for their target geography. We also discussed mapping data using PolicyMap and SimplyAnalytics. I would have liked more time to have students use one of those tools, but we spent almost an hour on Guidestar, which seemed a bit long to me.


I looked at some of their worksheets. The students were able to find the data they needed from Guidestar, and many were making progress on the PEST. Really though, given my long day, I was happy that the students were engaged and interested. And that my voice wasn’t too sore.

Late that night at home over the Ben & Jerry’s I had been looking forward to all day, I read an email from the prof: “I just want to thank you again sooooo much for tonight’s excellent workshop. I was so pleased to see students were actively responding to your questions, and some even talked to you after the workshop (which I wanted to add was not always the case!). It was so informative for myself, too. I really hope you will be back next year.”

Next time, I will know that some of the class time will be used to fill out the Guidestar section of the worksheet. To have more time for the students to gain hands-on experience with data sources, I might cut back on the “introduction to PEST and its sources” discussion. We’ll see. 

Last week I attended the SLA annual conference for the first time. I hoped to go a few years ago when I had some extra travel money via a grant, but I learned those funds had to be spent by early May. The 2021 conference was online only, and registration was cheap if you had a submission accepted: $145.

New members and conference first-timers were invited to an orientation session and to several socials, one hosted by SLA Fellows with new folks in mind. Breakout rooms in Zoom allowed small groups of us to share a bit with some fellows. One first-timer social featured fancy prizes (bottles of wine or boxes of fine chocolate) awarded to random people. (The first 500 registrants to the conference got a gift box of swag and snacks mailed to them.) First-timers also received a personal greeting via email from a fellow, with an invitation for a one-on-one follow-up on SLA up if desired. I think SLA’s very intentional planning to be welcoming was quite successful. Lots of good behavior and strategies here that other organizations could learn from.

SLA bingo card that was in the swag box
SLA bingo card that was in the swag box

The conference utilized Pathable. We could watch presentations through embedded Zoom videos, although I usually watched directly using Zoom because I like to control the layout. Speakers used Zoom in webinar mode, so we couldn’t see who was attending, or invite verbal responses. The only interaction option was text-chatting via Pathable. That’s also how we could learn some names of people attending live — assuming a speaker was jumping back and forth between Pathable and Zoom as they were speaking. Sometimes the Zoom host, an SLA staff person, helped connect the speaker with the audience.

So I wasn’t a big fan of the limited interaction. In the ELC conference and workshops, we have been using the normal Zoom classroom/meeting mode, which has helped us build that informal community through more open communication. On the other hand, Pathable is excellent for archiving the presentation, speaker files, and the attendee comments. SLA attendees have access to all the programs for months to come. This November, the Charleston Conference is using Pathable too. We’ll see what that platform is like for that hybrid event. I’m always interested in how an online conference is set up. Planning decisions can be hard to make, and we don’t always have as many choices as we would like. 

The conference also included “on-demand” sessions: pre-recorded presentations and panels. Those became available early in August. 

The opening keynote was (surprise!) a practical workshop. The topic was how to write more effective emails. Not “Libraries are important!” or “Libraries need to change!”, which my librarian wife once told me (with much wisdom) was what most library conference keynotes are all about. Preceding the opening keynote was a 30-minute recorded concert by the Barenaked Ladies we watched in Zoom.

The closing keynote featured a journalist discussing civics, public discourse, and disinformation. Preceding the closing talk was a magician. 

I don’t have time (classes at UNCG started yesterday) to write detailed summaries of my favorite programs. But here are some I found very interesting and/or useful.

Heather Howard and Alyson Vaaler (friends from the Charleston Conference) discussed the intersection of entrepreneurship and agribusiness. Heather included a case study of cannabis entrepreneurship that I paid close attention to since some other friends and I are working on an invited JBFL article on this topic.

LaMonica Wiggins, Rachel Masilamani, and Kristine Mielcarek-Sharpe presented “Promoting Equity in Entrepreneurship through Business Information Services” using examples of their outreach and programming in Pittsburgh. Really good stuff. LaMonica is on the planning team for the ELC workshop on social equity in November.

Nicole Mullings, Sheena Sereda, and Céline Gareau-Brennan described how they created a nimble, grassroots regional professional organization: “Harvesting knowledge through collaboration: How a group of Alberta business librarians sprouted from the ground up.”

Moderated by Martha Foote (lots of Canadians active in SLA, I learned), BLINC friends Susan Corbett and Rebecca Vargha presented “Secrets of Building Career Resilience in the New Normal,” illustrated with many stories. Once BLINC has its next group of officers in place this fall, I’m going to recommend they invite Susan and Rebecca to give this talk at a quarterly workshop.

My UNCG colleagues Jo Klein and Megan Carlton discussed how to engage local communities in public science using an iNaturalist project. And pictures and videos of real wild critters! A treat as well as educational.

Erin Rowley, Carolyn Klotzbach-Russell, and Rachel Starry discussed micro-credentials for entrepreneurship research education in their talk

“Librarians in the LaunchPad: Collaborative Approaches to Supporting Inclusive Entrepreneurship.” They used the Blackstone Launchpad software. 

I watched a long and detailed guide to using various social media platforms for competitive intelligence, courtesy of Arthur Weiss. Will definitely need to review those slides later, and maybe add something of what I learned to my entrepreneurship research class, which has an active learning project on this topic.

Jami Yazdani laid out some best practices for leading teams in “More Successful Teams and Collaborations.”

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and I spoke about our “What do business librarians want from their professional associations?” research. We invited attendees to give their own opinions. Based on our first Slido poll, we had about an equal number of academic and special librarians at the session, with a smaller but still substantial number of “other” and a few “self-employed”. Attendee attitudes were similar to what we found in our survey:

Slido poll on "What makes for a successful organization?"
Slido poll on “What makes for a successful organization?”

New points (not in our article) I paraphrased from commenters: 

  • What about awards? Those can be important roles for organizations and outcomes for members. (Certainly true! The academic entrepreneurship organizations like USASBE and GCEC give out many awards at each conference. Librarian conferences, not so much.)
  • Many special librarians can’t use the Google Suite, Zoom, or social media at work, which limits their work-hours engagement with many professional organizations. 
  • After you have welcomed the early career librarians, what about programming and engagement with librarians 3-5 years into their careers? A service gap?
Slido word cloud: "If you have been disappointed with a library organization, why?"
Slido word cloud: “If you have been disappointed with a library organization, why?”

Finally, I mentioned in an earlier blog that Mark Bieraugel, Theresa Pipher, and I made an “on-demand” recording for SLA 2021. Kathryn Cartini from Chloe Capital also had a segment in our video. We focused on providing entrepreneurship support for under-served or under-resourced communities.

SLA 2022 will be in Charlotte NC, an easy drive from home, and I hope to attend and relearn the fun of face-to-face conferences.

Elizabeth Price works as the Business Librarian at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Elizabeth Price has been the business librarian at James Madison University since 2016. When not threating to make hugely unpopular resource cancellations (aka working), she is usually either reading a mystery novel or laughing at her rambunctious dogs. Elizabeth’s first post here at TLL was Lost phones, 5 a.m. texts, and etiquette lessons: When the business librarian goes abroad with students

Like many academic libraries in 2020-21, the liaison librarians at James Madison University were asked to potentially cut our database expenditure to offset other institutional budget deficits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our target: A 30% reduction. Ouch.

Collections spending at JMU is handled in clusters, and I’m part of the Science, Technology and Business (SciTechBus) cluster along with the liaisons to our Applied Sciences programs and the Science and Math programs. To hit 30%, we would have to make painful choices.

The initial scapegoat will be familiar to most business librarians: several high-cost datasets that are accessed through Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS).

JMU’s total WRDS outlay was almost exactly 30% of the SciTechBus cluster’s continuing resource budget. Because many WRDS datasets are queried once, downloaded to a personal computer, and then used locally until the next year’s data becomes available, the usage numbers can be low compared to other library databases and datasets. That made WRDS an easy target – internally, at least.

Outside the library, the most frequent feedback I get from business faculty has been: “Just don’t touch WRDS.” That mantra guided me through my first two database reviews at JMU – once I figured out what WRDS was, that is.

Now I had to determine – quickly – a better way to communicate the value of WRDS internally if I had any hope of shielding it from cancellation and avoiding a business faculty revolt.

I sent out an SOS to the BUSLIB listserv and received several helpful responses that suggested other ways to demonstrate the value of WRDS to my cluster and collections team. They included analyzing published articles to see how many cited WRDS data (25 since 2016, netting 160 citations in Google Scholar) and analyzing user accounts to see if other JMU departments were relying on WRDS data in their scholarly output (none were).

I also explained to the librarians in my cluster how JMU interpreted the AACSB accreditation standards to mandate that faculty have at least three publications every five years. The other librarians’ departments don’t have to contend with such specific faculty publishing expectations.

BUSLIB colleagues also helped me make sense of the unusual pricing structure of WRDS. Subscribers choose datasets based on the research agendas at their institution. Most of these datasets can’t be accessed without paying an annual WRDS platform fee. Furthermore, some datasets require you to both purchase access to years of data outright (one-time costs) and pay an annual hosting fee to query them (continuing costs).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wrds-dbs-costs.png
Current WRDS datasets and percentage of costs
Current WRDS datasets and percentage of costs

Plus, WRDS is the access platform, but the datasets are purchased from — and invoiced by — individual vendors such as the Wharton School, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. All of these oddities made total expenditures opaque.

Several BUSLIB respondents also mentioned that the business school itself paid for the WRDS platform fee and/or specific datasets, making them more akin to Bloomberg Terminals than library databases like Scopus. I recalled that a finance faculty member had once mentioned a cost-sharing arrangement involving WRDS, and I had interpreted that to mean a 50-50 split between the libraries and the business school. If that was the case, the libraries certainly couldn’t recommend cancellation without the business school weighing in.

Further investigation revealed that the business school had agreed to pay a portion of the costs for a single, relatively inexpensive dataset soon after JMU subscribed in 2006. The business school also was paying for a couple of recent add-ons requested by newly hired faculty. They were invoiced for some of these independently. But this handful of datasets were the extent of the cost-sharing. That meant the libraries was paying for more than 95% of JMU’s total outlay for WRDS. That included the platform fee and the costs for the two most used – and priciest – datasets: CRSP and Compustat.

WRDS Users and Impact at JMU (research and teaching)
WRDS Users and Impact at JMU

Altogether, fewer than 30 faculty a year were accessing WRDS for their research or having students use the data in finance courses. While invaluable to the business school’s scholarly output, I began to understand why my colleagues were questioning having the libraries pay for a clearly niche resource. The various WRDS resources certainly didn’t fit within the libraries’ Data Collection Policy that we had instituted in 2019.

For JMU to preserve access to WRDS, I realized I would need to approach the business school about agreeing to a cost-sharing arrangement. Before I did, I asked several business librarian colleagues: Who pays for WRDS? The library? Or the business school?

Fourteen colleagues responded to my email (my eternal gratitude to each one of you – you know who you are!). Some identified the percentage of costs that the libraries or the b-school covered, while others told me which datasets each entity paid for. In the latter case, I estimated the cost-sharing split based on JMU invoices. The responses broke down as:

  • Category 1: More than 90% paid by b-school: 6
  • Category 2: More than 90% paid by library: 2
  • Category 3: Cost-sharing arrangement in-between those extremes: 7

The cost-sharing arrangements ranged from 25% library to 66% library, based on JMU costs. At some institutions, the costs were shared among multiple campus libraries (e.g., a law school and a business school). Though a small sample, JMU was clearly an outlier.

Armed with this data and some feedback from my faculty council, I asked the business school to take on an additional 40% of our costs in FY21 to prevent a pause in our WRDS subscription or an outright cancellation. The dean’s office graciously agreed to do so and granted us a reprieve, albeit a temporary one.

This makes my goal for FY22 to negotiate a more equitable WRDS cost-sharing arrangement and sign a memo of understanding (MOU) to ensure that split carries forward and is documented. At the request of our business school leadership, we asked the vendor whether it was possible to reduce costs by licensing seats only for our business school enrollment instead of our institutional FTE. We also explored whether we could secure a consortium rate for our state’s research libraries. Unfortunately, the vendors didn’t have either of those options available.

Moving forward, we also are aiming to consolidate invoicing to reside solely in the libraries to make sure we are able to negotiate smaller annual subscription increases and to regularly review datasets to cull those no longer relevant based on faculty turnover or shifts in research agendas. Altogether, if I’m successful, these steps should provide some cushion for WRDS in future reviews, considering that the high cost of business resources can be a sticking point during our internal collections discussions.

This crash course in WRDS funding was stressful, to say the least — especially since WRDS can be seriously intimidating for newish business librarians, both in how to use it and how to evaluate its ROI. I’m sharing my experience in hopes it might help some of my peers, particularly those who are also working at other master’s colleges or universities. Because abiding by the collection philosophy “Just don’t touch WRDS” might protect you from the wrath of your finance faculty, but it won’t make database reviews any less challenging in lean budget times.


Today I brought my UNCG office chair back to the library, after using it at home since March 2020. A symbol of hope for the new school year.

The next post here will be a second guest post by the amazing Elizabeth Price! Its title: “Down the WDRS Rabbit Hole”.

Today’s topic

Last week I blogged about pretending to be a new liaison again. One strategy I mentioned was trying to visit business school department meetings this fall. I haven’t gone to meetings very often in favor of one-on-one communication.

This morning was my first: Management invited me to their pre-semester retreat as their first topic. This Friday, at 8:45am (yikes), I talk to the Marketing/Entrepreneurship/Hospitality department at their retreat. So yesterday, I had to hurry up and finalize what I wanted to say to the faculty. Both retreats this week are via Zoom; I had hoped to meet with them face to face in one of the big rooms in the b-school.

I only asked each department for 10 minutes (although the Management department head gave me 30), so brevity on my part was vital. It’s not unlike an entrepreneurship pitch, right? Get in, share information and ideas that will grab their attention, invite questions, and leave with a thank you and invitations for private follow-ups.

What would you say if you had only 10 minutes?

Well, you can’t say too much, can you. After some thought, I decided:

  • To be faculty-centered;
  • To grab their attention;
  • To share some good news;
  • But also update or educate them on budget realities;
  • And remind them of my liaison public service roles.

I also decided not to ask to share slides. Instead, for the Management Zoom meeting, I shared a link to a Google Doc with my key points and then summarized them verbally. I’m not going to share that doc here since I included some budget and contract details, but here is a summary of what happened and what I said.


I joined the Zoom at the start of the retreat, 15 minutes before my talk, in order to hear the faculty introduce themselves. A handful had been hired in the pandemic and had not seen the other faculty face to face. Like many of my librarian colleagues, all the profs were excited to meet up this fall. Several had new babies to announce. (We didn’t get to see any, though. Nor any pets.)

After the department head introduced me, I added some details:

  • my main role is supporting their research and teaching needs;
  • reminder that the UNCG librarians are faculty too and therefore know what being tenure-track is like;
  • that I look forward to meeting the new faculty face to face sometime this year.

I also reminded them of my subject guide for their department and that we had two new products via special one-time funds from last spring, one of which (Sage Business Cases) being an open education investment.

Topic one: the big deals

Despite a second year of budget cuts due to pandemic-related enrollment declines, the library will be able to renew the 3-year deals for our “big deal” ejournal packages, which I named (the top six). I told the faculty that most of the packages will go up 2%, but that the most expensive one, Elsevier, is actually dropping in total cost a little. I also shared what we will pay for Elsevier in 2021-22, our biggest bill. I concluded with the message that subscriptions to ejournals and well as business databases remain unsustainable in the long run, since our budgets are not increasing. 

So that was my faculty-centered lead-off topic, since access to the journal literature is always a top priority of theirs.

I also mentioned that we are trying out a Wiley transformative deal. More on this below.

Topic two: NC DOCKS

It had been a few years since I promoted the UNCG institutional repository, NC DOCKS. My message:

Why have your articles posted there? Open-access articles get read and cited more often than articles only available behind expensive library subscription pay-walls. Also, Google Scholar prioritizes IRs in its algorithms. To get your articles posted in NC DOCKS, just send me your CV. You could also provide a picture and short biography. 

As an example, I shared the link to the NC DOCKS page of one of the Management professors.

When my time with the Management professors ended and I left Zoom, I already had 4 emails with CVs attached. Two more CVs came in later. 

Topic three: liaison services

I told the faculty I plan on being on campus most days in the fall semester, and then reminded them of my public service focus as a liaison:

  • In 2019-2020, I provided research workshops for 80 classes and sections, in-person and online. Let me know if I can support your classes too.
  • I’ve been averaging 430 research questions a year from students, faculty, and staff (via email, in-person, and Zoom). Please feel free to send your students my way.
  • I also make screencast videos for specific class projects on request.
  • Finally, I also make research guides for any class that needs one.

Final discussion

The above took about 10 minutes as planned. We had time for questions and discussion. We talked more about read+publish deals, including the new UNC system Wiley deal and some mini-grants provided by the Provost and the Libraries. The Management faculty liaison for monographic firm-ordering reminded everyone that we do have a small budget for that format. I mentioned that we mainly buy ebooks with our book funds and also get them through packages and DDA. Another prof asked about streaming audio books. I agreed that the public libraries (and NC LIVE) are their best bets for that format.

At 10:45, right on time (very important), I gave a final thank you for having me at their retreat, and then with agreement from the department head, signed out.

If anything interesting happens with the other five department meetings this fall, or I decide to change my speaking notes, I will post an update when I next write about some other “liaison year-one” work.

Catching up

I hope you caught Mark Bieraugel’s post last week about how librarians can support queer entrepreneurs. Their detailed research guides are worth bookmarking and aren’t limited to GLBTQIA. Theresa Pipher of Dawnbreaker (and an ELC colleague) connected us for an SLA 2021 pre-recorded panel on the entrepreneurial intelligence needs of diverse populations.

Fall semester classes here at UNCG begin in two weeks. Looks like most library staff will be working in the library four days a week or so. My liaison colleagues and I have started to go in more often as we ramp up our on-campus presence. While I remain concerned about the virus of course, I do look forward to seeing students and faculty face to face after almost 18 months of the privilege of working from home. That’s context for…

Today’s topic

Not just an excuse to write a little about comics in my blog
Batman Year 1, 1986

I’m an old fan of comic books and still own two long and two short boxes: mostly Marvel and DC stuff from the 80’s, and independent stuff from the 80’s and early 90’s. I haven’t bought many floppies since then since I prefer trades and graphic novels now (shelved next to our books, not in the boxes).

While I’ve never been a big Batman fan, I did eagerly pick up Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One” issues in 1986. This was not long after “Crisis on Infinite Earth” and many DC titles were reintroducing their characters. (It’s too much of a digression to summarize “Crisis”; the curious can read the Wikipedia summary.) This was well before Frank Miller went off the rails.

These four issues relate the Dark Knight’s first few adventures, but also weave in Jim Gordon’s own origin story. By the end of the final issue of the storyline, the two characters have begun to work together. It’s an engaging restart story. Many other comics (including from Marvel) adopted the premise. Some seem to do it every year now (and restart the numbering at #1; in 1986, these were issues 404-407.)

Year One Liaison

After working from home for many months, I’m also interested in a restart as the UINCG business librarian. But it’s not just due to the pandemic. There are many new faces among the faculty in the UNCG business school, largely due to retirements, but also some new faculty lines in response to b-school enrollment growth. There are also bunch of newish degree programs (mostly online masters programs).

And while my consultation numbers have held steady (even in the pandemic working from home), maybe I’ve been too complacent with ongoing outreach efforts to faculty, instead relying too much on word-of-mouth advertising and recommendations from the department heads and senior faculty who know me well.

While I’m not a new librarian at UNCG and it would be silly to pretend that, I’m going to prioritize outreach, active listening, syllabus reading, and curriculum mapping this school year — things first-year liaisons often have to do to get started building relationships and getting involved with classes and research. I’ll summarize some strategies and hopefully share a few stories in this blog this school year.

First thing

inside page
from #405

On my summer to-do list each year is emailing the department heads in the business school to ask if they have any new faculty. I then email a short greeting to each new faculty member, welcoming them to UNCG and offering support for their research and teaching needs. I include a link to my subject guide for their department. I usually get a response. It probably helps that I mention in the welcoming email that their department head told me about them. Asking the department heads for these new names also reminds each head that I care about the success of their department and people.

However, this summer, I also asked the heads if I could speak briefly at one of their department meetings this fall; I haven’t done that in a long time. All have said yes so far. I mentioned renewing our “big deal” subscriptions as one possible topic. I thought that would get some attention.

(Next week I will start emailing all the new PhD students. I ask the graduate program coordinators in each department for those names. I don’t always hear back from those new grad students, but do eventually hear back from most. Word-of-mouth usually is effective among those close-knit cohorts so I don’t stress if a student doesn’t get back to me.)

Second thing

One of my department heads is new. I’m meeting her on Wednesday in the library. She already has started an email conversation about research needs and learning strategies for PhD students in her program. Besides providing a short library tour, what is my priority for that 30-minute conversation? Hmm I will work on that tomorrow…

For the past ten years, Mark Bieraugel has been the business librarian at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and works as a paid research consultant through the local Small Business Development Center. Prior to their coming to Cal Poly, they worked for two years at Tacoma Community College and Edmonds Community College as a reference and instruction librarian. For the first ten years of their library career, they worked at companies doing competitive intelligence and business research. Mark is a non-binary queer person, and their gender expression is a mix of traditional male and female clothing and accessories. Combining a vigorous business background and an understanding of organizational culture, Mark has a unique and practical take on the challenges libraries face in diversity and inclusivity issues.

Cat People

Mark Bieraugel
Mark Bieraugel

Hi, my name is Mark Bieraugel, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I’m a nonbinary white queer person who loves cats, hand sewing clothes, and helping nascent entrepreneurs. I’m the business librarian at Cal Poly, a polytechnic state university with a predominately white student, staff, and faculty population. I give you some of my positionality right off because I think it helps to frame where I’m coming from, and what informs my point of view.

Thanks to Steven for giving me some space to chat about a topic close to my heart: helping underrepresented student entrepreneurs.

Golden Years

Prior to working as an academic librarian, I worked at businesses, including three startups. One company grew too big, and after working there for three months I was let go along with 90% of the staff. The next startup I worked for it lasted seven months after I was hired and then shut down as they ran out of money. The third startup I worked for I learned my lesson and just worked as a contractor for them. I worked ten years for businesses as a researcher, doing competitor intelligence, and market research.

I’ve been at my current position for around ten years. We are a student-focused school, almost all undergrads, with most of our students immediately going out to work after graduation. This is especially true with the business and entrepreneur students I support.

My initial philosophy in how to support student entrepreneurs was rooted in making the most broadly helpful library guides for the most people. An “all things to all people” approach to making online research guides. That meant I made one guide for all the student entrepreneurs on campus.

Market and Customer Data Sources for Entrepreneurs LibGuide

Magic Dance

I’ve been doing DEI work on campus, in our library. I even made an “Inclusive Excellence” library guide for our campus to help education folx on DEI: https://guides.lib.calpoly.edu/c.php?g=988130

However, I didn’t consider my underrepresented student entrepreneurs and the information they might need. The information specific to their unique needs to be successful entrepreneurs. I focused on the biggest bang for my library guide buck. In focusing on the (white/male/straight) majority of our students I forgot to support the rest of our students.  

Also, heck, I’m a queer person! And a feminist, and working towards a more inclusive and welcoming world for BIPOC folx. I should do something for those entrepreneurs.


In turning to face BIPOC, women, and queer student entrepreneurs I realized they need support in ways our white straight male students don’t need. Everything made to support entrepreneurs is, by default, supporting white straight men. Even the very image of an entrepreneur is seen as that, you know, those billionaires in space right now. Our white students often have “friends and family” money to tap for their startups. Our BIPOC, women, and queer student entrepreneurs may not have family money, or are estranged from their families.

Mark’s cat

Under Pressure

What resources do our BIPOC, queer, and women entrepreneurs need to move their startups towards reality? Four things: money, advice, incubators, and inspiration/role models. Each of the three populations need very specific resources to find organizations and funding to get them going.

I won’t bore you with the process of researching and organizing each of the three library guides, but rather I welcome your feedback on the guides below:

Young Americans

In each of the guides you’ll note is that I added articles about each of the above groups. This is the inspiration/role models I mentioned earlier. The articles have entrepreneurs that look like our underrepresented folx, black, women, queer, and more. They tell their stories of how they created their startups, and how they overcame challenges.

These articles are a bit of a corrective to the lack of diversity in representing entrepreneurs in our popular culture. I wonder, what does a nonbinary entrepreneur look like and how did they make a successful company? Well, here are 25 trans and nonbinary entrepreneurs: https://www.queerency.com/stories/25-trans-and-nonbinary-entrepreneurs

These images, these stories, work to validate and manifest a new reality and model for our entrepreneurs. And for me too. I need to expand my ideas of who are entrepreneurs. I imagine most of us do.

Station to Station

I urge you to think about who you’re missing when you create library guides. Take a look at your student population statistics and work to fill in those gaps. And feel free to borrow any of the resources you find on my guides! I’d love to see what you’re doing in this area.

Catching up:

This is the final month of year 10 of this blog. Thank you, readers! There probably won’t be much action here this summer though, my apologies. Reasons/excuses below. In most summers, I usually post some summaries of recent articles and slide decks on liaison and business librarianship. Maybe this fall instead.

ELC 2021a: Cannabis

Thank you to all the amazing speakers and attendees at the ELC workshop on cannabis and libraries. We had around 260 people registered and 130 in attendance at the busiest point (during the social equity keynote conversation). Videos for all the speakers and two slide decks are available through the above link. So are the crowd-sourced resource guide (coordinated by Carey Toane) and the pun contest submissions. Co-chairs Morgan Ritchie-Baum, Andrea Levandowski, and I just drafted a conference report for Ticker, and Celia Ross invited us to write an article about cannabis research sources and strategies for JBFL. Along with Carey, we will start work on that one shortly.

ELC 2021b: Anti-Racism

A different set of ELC co-chairs (Orolando Duffus, Betsey Suchanic, Morgan, me) is about to start the formal planning process for this free workshop on November 11. The scope will probably be something like

“how librarians engage with BIPOC entrepreneurs and/or under-resourced entrepreneurs (for-profit and non-profit) as a pathway to economic justice, and how librarians support economic development in minority-majority communities and campuses to counter systemic racism.”

Too wordy? We’ll work on it. I’m sure the co-chairs and planning team will have interesting planning discussions and so I’ll probably post an update on this event well before November.

Promotion pitch

Thank you card from a recent PhD student back home in Thailand

Besides those workshop and writing projects plus normal summer liaison work, the other big thing lately has been applying for promotion to Professor. I wrote last summer about our successful efforts to add rank to our faculty status. This summer, the first cohort of “full” applicants from my library are submitting their applications. We are using the same form I used in 2006 when applying for tenure (no ranks back then, so I wasn’t applying for promotion to Associate)…except now there’s this additional section on the candidate’s teaching philosophy. I’ve read other librarians’ philosophy statements, usually thinking “boy I’m glad I didn’t have to write this in 2006”. But alas, now my turn.

Anyway, my application is 47 pages long. Yikes. But that includes 15 pages of service and scholarship lists from my CV. I think all of us are using Google Drive to store exhibits. I’ve enjoyed going through 20 years of stuff (ahem, “exhibits”) gathering dust on my office hard drive or in file folders. Did you know that students used to send thank you cards through the mail? Wow. Sometimes from far away. I have enjoyed the deep look back in time, especially when remembering favorite students and student teams from my embedded classes.

Today’s topic.

So here is my current draft of the philosophy statement. It’s much shorter than any other such statement I’ve ever read, to be frank. I wrote my application from the bottom (“Service”) up, and so this was my last section and I was tired. But maybe also I’m just not philosophically inclined. Oh well. This statement is not going to make or break my application.

Here ‘tis.

My teaching philosophy centers on business information literacy, implemented by necessity through lean liaisoning.

Business information, as I teach library science students on occasion, usually centers on numeric data: financial, economic, industry, market, competitive intelligence, etc. The data can come from primary (usually the client) and secondary (propriety and governmental) sources. Students often use data to measure local, national, or international conditions (state of the industry, market size and trends, international trade flows, among many other possibilities). Meanwhile, student teams with community-based, experiential learning projects need to find relevant data first to measure and analyze the client’s problem, and then to propose solutions. Such team-based, problem-based learning using data is central to my role as a teaching librarian at UNCG. In the academic literature, using data to make better decisions is best discussed in Stonebraker (2016). Pothier and Condon (2019) frame data literacy in the broader context of the professional work of business school graduates.

My ENT/GES/LIS/MKT 430/530/630: Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Research class is built around teaching students to use numeric data to make decisions on creating a for-profit or non-profit that solves a social or market problem that the students are passionate about. I won the 2015 PrivCo Award, the first of my two national awards, largely for creating and teaching this class (details below). Examples and testimonies of how I use active learning in my guest teaching to help students use data to make decisions follow in the next section.

Other information literary models such as the ACRL Guidelines, the ACRL Frameworks, and the BRASS Business Research Competencies are certainly useful to business librarianship and have influenced my own teaching philosophy. The frame of “Information has value” is one example: I often lead students in discussions of the value of proprietary research, and ask them to guess the cost of individual industry and market reports before revealing the actual prices. However, as Click, Walker-Wiley, and Houlihan will soon be publishing, some of the more general information literary models were not designed with business information in mind, nor were business librarians consulted, despite the very large number of business students on most campuses.

I have to implement my business information literacy practices as a lean liaison. While not yet well addressed in the literature, lean liaisoning refers to serving the needs of many thousands of students plus their faculty as a solo subject librarian based in the campus’ general library. The UNCG business school has around 4,000 students, and I am responsible for additional students around campus. As I wrote in that blog post, it is not possible for me to reach every business student with thorough information literacy engagement. (I do work with almost all business school majors through MKT 309, as discussed below, with research instruction for their design thinking-based innovation project.) Instead, I have to prioritize. For example, the classes I focus on for embedded engagement allow me to at least provide deep business information literacy instruction and consulting for those research-intensive team projects. Details below of course.

Nancy Lovas is the entrepreneurship and business librarian at UNC Chapel Hill. She is one of the bloggers at Biz Libratory, where this post also appears. Her best days include a walk outside and a strong cup of tea. Find her on Twitter: @entrebizlib

Steve Cramer is the business and entrepreneurship librarian at UNC Greensboro. On his best fall days, he listens to modern jazz, sips hot chocolate, and takes an evening stroll with his wife.  See “About” for more.

If you remember, way back in August, Nancy Lovas and I cross-posted our exchange Online All the Time? Planning for Research Instruction during COVID-19. We wrote one update after the Fall 2020 semester, and now we’re back for an end-of-year special.

1. How did your teaching workload in the pandemic year change compared to past years?

Last spring flowers in NC
Late spring color in NC

Nancy: My teaching workload increased. I had 42 sessions from May 2020-May 2021! Compare that to 52 sessions over the previous two years. I counted all class interactions as a session and noted the format (asynchronous or synchronous). 

Steve: My colleagues and I worked from home this entire school year, although 45% of UNCG classes still met on campus. (We didn’t have any COVID shutdowns). I had far fewer one-shot instruction sessions this school year: 32 sessions compared to 80 the previous year. (Those numbers don’t include my embedded work nor my 3-credit research class), The biggest reason for the reduction was many classes switching to asynchronous mode (including a business communications class with 20 sections each semester). Most of the classes got a video instead. But I bet some instructors teaching on-campus didn’t invite me to guest-teach because I was working from home. Did it take more time to prepare for teaching research instruction via Zoom? I don’t think so. For many classes, I had to convert an active learning worksheet to a shared Google Drive, but those teaching strategies have to get updated (and reprinted) each semester under normal conditions anyway. But yeah, since I taught far fewer one-shots, I spent less time teaching in the pandemic. I put a lot of that former teaching time into scholarship and professional service, which was nice. A needed rebalancing from my lean liaison workload/overworked load? Maybe. A nice spin, anyway. We’ll see what happens in 2021-22.

2. What have you learned from teaching in the pandemic that you will carry forward into non-pandemic times?

Nancy: Structure, structure, structure! Taking the time on the front end to plan carefully is always makes for a more successful teaching experience. And, it’s one of the key principles for inclusive teaching. I plan to avoid reverting to my before-times habit of running into a session after having spent less than 30 minutes looking over my lesson plan from the previous semester. I also discovered that I can really enjoy teaching online, given the right group of students and the right amount of structure. A lot has to go right for online teaching to be successful, but when it doesn’t at least I can wear comfy clothes and teach from my couch. (In fact, I like online teaching enough that I’m about to start coursework for a graduate certificate in instructional design and online learning.)

Steve: When I started to provide research instruction as a brand-new librarian, it was tempting to cover as many topics and research tools as possible in 50 minutes or so. (And sometimes the faculty ask us to cover many topics in one visit.) Sound familiar? Eventually we learn that to effectively teach and incorporate active learning, we can only really cover one or two big ideas. The need to prioritize the learning goals is particularly strong with online teaching. Teaching this year reminded me of that.

3. What will you miss about teaching over the past year? What are hoping you never have to deal with again?

Nancy: I will miss teaching from my couch wearing comfy clothes. In actuality, though, I’m not sure what I’ll miss. I do hope I’ll never have to again deal with a myriad of tech failures, like breakout rooms failing, getting the sharing settings wrong for the online handout, or when the campus servers overheated and shutdown and we lost off-campus proxy access less than 2 hours before the class I was supposed to teach.

Steve: Well, I will miss not having to commute! And (following Nancy’s observation) only being dressed up above the waist. More seriously: UNCG already had a bunch of online classes and programs before the pandemic (including a new online PhD program in Business Administration), so teaching online was not new to us and will continue. I enjoy teaching synchronous online. However, I’m hopeful that I won’t have to teach a hybrid class (some students in the classroom and some online) ever again. That format is so challenging with active learning and student teams in play. I will also not miss when I had to Zoom into a traditional, on-campus class. Awkward, and I always felt guilty for avoiding what students had to go through to attend class. Oh, also, I will miss being able to see everyone’s name in Zoom for every class I do! That was so helpful when leading discussions — and building rapport with the students.

4. Any new tech tools (or new uses of old tools) over the past year?

Steve: Hmm regarding new tools, just Slido. For a small number of classes, I have used it to poll the students on their energy level (a graph) and their favorite research tools or fashion brands (a word cloud). Other sites provide the same features, of course. I use Google Docs frequently for student brainstorming, and for student teams summarizing the results of their research and their possible strategic decisions based on that data. I do like the Zoom breakout rooms for student teams to work on their specific research needs. Concerning the hottest new instructional tech tools, I would like to think I focus much more on planning active learning, pre-researching the specific needs of each student team (which as business librarians know, can vary widely based on if their client or project is U.S. or international, B2C or B2B, a nonprofit or a start-up, etc.), and devising good discussion questions. 

Nancy: I love Google Jamboards! Like you, Steve, I think it’s more important to focus on planning content, structure, and good questions. The tool is merely the mechanism and should not be used for its own sake. Have a teaching/learning purpose in mind, and choose a tool that can help achieve that purpose. I wrote a little about this in another post that described a workshop with my campus’ social innovation cohort program.

5. What are your needs and plans regarding outreach to faculty after (mostly?) working from home for a year?

Steve: My business school has new faculty I haven’t met yet in person. Some of them have been working here for over a year now. I will need to invite myself over their offices, or ask to be added to the agenda of department meetings or the school-wide faculty meetings. But face-to-face personal communication is the most effective strategy to start building relationships with the new folks. I should also look up what all the new profs are teaching and researching before reaching out. I only know that for some of them right now.

Nancy: This is a good question to reflect on this summer and make some plans. Maybe I will write notes to faculty & send them through campus mail? Or hand deliver if/when we’re back on campus. Otherwise I’ll do similar things to what you are thinking of, Steve.