Monday and Tuesday was fall break here at UNCG. On Monday, Wake Forest University and UNCG sponsored the 2016 edition of the Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians. Since I had just returned to work from D.C. and forgot to ask for a sub for my lunchtime reference desk shift, I wasn’t able to walk over to the conference until after my late lunch.

So I missed talks by friends Richard Moniz, Dan Maynard, and Nina Exner (sorry, guys) but did attend two very good programs in the afternoon, summarized below. A bunch of BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina, a section of NCLA) members attended, but there were also business librarians from Howard University and the fast-growing University of Central Florida. Between sessions, some of us talked about interest in a southeast regional business librarians’ conference of some sort, or just hosting a BLINC workshop the day before the next Entrepreneurial Librarians conference and inviting the out-of-state business librarians. Interesting ideas.

“Developing Liaison Librarians for Data-Intensive Research Engagement”

Hilary Davis, NCSU

Hilary Davis, NCSU. Sorry, these aren’t the best iPad pictures.

Hilary Davis and Honora Eskridge from North Carolina State University discussed a curriculum they created to help librarians “develop knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate effectively with researchers” regarding data. As many of you know, NCSU is well known for innovations in library spaces and tech tools, but I really enjoyed hearing Hilary and Honora discuss their investment in liaison skills development.

They began by summarizing the changing environment for liaisons at research universities:

  • Research is changing (increasingly interdisciplinary; open access);
  • Subject liaison roles are changing (programming and training for NCSU liaisons has not been consistent, but that may be changing)
  • Liaison services need to be aligned with the research enterprise on campus.

The “Leveraging the Liaison Model” report from Ithaka/Anne Kenney provided additional context for recent changes. Supporting data research was identified as a top priority by the library, and Hilary was asked to lead the process of providing training support to the liaisons. They decided to try a short course experience that the library would design with support from the Odom Institute in Chapel Hill. That led to the creation of the Data and Viz Institute for Librarians. The first institute was held in May 2016 for an international group of librarians and researchers.

The objectives included:

  • Effectively use the language of data science to communicate with researchers;
  • Demonstrate basic methods of exploring and analyzing data;
  • Apply visualization techniques to improve data communication;
  • Learn tools and techniques for version control;
  • Understand data sharing requirements of publishers and funding;
  • Understand the impact of open research practices.

This was 4.5 day program with a registration fee of $2,500 (which included food but not transportation or housing). Yes, rather pricey. The library provided laptops to limit problems with downloading software and practice datasets, which did take a lot of time to prepare.

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Thirty applicants were accepted out of ninety applications. The library gave preference to applicants whose work directly aligned with data research.  Honora summarized feedback from the inaugural institute (see picture). Not all instructors provided hands-on instruction, as they were asked. Participants also asked for more networking time.

The institute will repeat in April 2017 with a slightly different mix of instructors and more emphasis on hands-on learning. (Hmm a tough month for being away for a week for those of us who teach in the spring semester).

The NSCU liaisons have appreciated the training opportunities in response to their needs (although the big institute was mostly a vision of library administrators). Hilary and Honora emphasized the importance of investing in their liaisons. Some of the liaisons are putting their increased data skills to use by text-mining reference chat questions, creating predictions of DDA ebook usage and creating a data dashboard for ARL statistics.

Hilary and Honora suggest three top take-aways:

  • Train for exposure (short course-style training);
  • Develop for depth (deeper training, more specialized skills);
  • Put it into practice (include data skills in liaison job responsibilities, and offer data services to faculty and students).

“The Future of Subject Specialists in Academic Libraries”

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University)

Mary Scanlon (WFU) and Betty Garrison (Elon)

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University) led a discussion on “whether subject specialists remain relevant in the future.” They also provided predictions on “anticipated evolutionary changes to current responsibilities, potential for expanded roles, and the need for education and skills beyond the MLS.” While employing a clear outline, this program enjoyed a pleasant conversation feel to it.

Betty and Mary began by discussing their concern about the smaller attendance in BLINC’s quarterly meetings in last few years. They had considered possible reasons:

  • Cuts in professional development time?
  • Fewer business librarian positions?
  • More focus on national organizations?

They planned this program to delve into those possibilities.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business remains one of the most popular majors at college, so the demand for library and research support probably remains high.

However, the natures and job titles of liaisons are evolving. Many positions are now focusing on functions, not subjects. Betty said she is now the only librarian at Elon with a job title that indicates a subject focus (Business Librarian). Mary and Betty provided decade-by-decade snapshots of changing job titles, responsibilities, and roles. The changing roles are more evolutionary than revolutionary:

  1. Teaching: deeper engagement & embedding. Instructional design; teaching our own classes.
  2. Approval plan increasingly important –> same for collection policy. Less ordering.
  3. Reference services: meeting patrons where they are; the desk less important; using student workers in a triage model. Outreach librarians spending time in dorms. Public librarians going door to door, or working at the chamber or small business and entrepreneurship centers.
  4. Research and publications support. Data sets, open access, citation assistance, institutional repositories. (Betty’s business school dean recently called her to provide education to his faculty about predatory journals.)
  5. Supporting faculty tenure applications: impact factors, times cited, alt metrics.
  6. Outreach: supporting the outreach librarian (a functional position); frosh orientation; advising; embedded work.
  7. Technology: devices, services, location-independence; tech check-outs.

Some subject liaisons are shedding functional roles as libraries hire more functional librarians. This should help us deal with the crisis in the escalation of liaison responsibilities. Mary alluded to a workshop the WFU and UNCG liaisons once had on this topic.

Comments from the audience at this point:

  • “I’m one of those new outreach librarians. There has been a lot of support for my position. I’ve been asked to try some new things, and am sort of writing my own job description.”
  • “Do your 1st year instruction librarians have subject liaison roles too?” Many do, apparently.
  • Two librarians mentioned recent failed searches (for a science librarian and business librarian) because their favorite candidates were snatched up quickly by other companies.
  • Subject librarians continue to get busier. Work/life balance is becoming more difficult.

Conclusion from Betty and Mary: Subject liaisons will endure as our roles and responsibilities continue to evolve.

Conference proceedings will be published soon.

Beginning of the conference

Beginning of the conference

The official name of this conference is the GW October Annual Entrepreneurship Conference, http://gwoctober.com/. It is hosted by the World Bank Group and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) in D.C. The 2016 theme was “Promoting SMEs to drive growth.” I attended using Coleman travel funds. Registration wasn’t expensive, but man, the hotel rates in the Foggy Bottom area!

It really seemed like two different one-day conferences on adjacent days. Day one was last Thursday and consisted of short talks and discussion panels on public policy issues at the World Bank, a few blocks from the White House. There was also a long networking lunch. The speakers were a diverse group of federal government and NGO higher-ups from around the world. 150-200 folks attended, representing 16 countries. About a quarter of attendees where international students from GWU. Almost all the men wore dress coats and tie and the women dress suits. Sitting at my table most of the day were two Swedish academics, three Egyptian academics and NGO officers, and a U.S. SBA representative (born in Nigeria).

Day two was Friday and consisted of papers and workshops by mostly professors in the GWU business school. Attendance was small, maybe 30-40 people. There were three time blocks, each with four concurrent sessions to choose from. The evening ended with an ICSM dinner and awards ceremony (which I didn’t attend). So a very different flavor from day one.

This was my first overnight visit to D.C. since working a 5-week internship at the Smithsonian the summer before beginning college (many years ago!). We stayed at a small GWU dormitory not far from this conference’s two locations. So I enjoyed some nostalgia (also perhaps because I had a birthday the day before the flight up). I wasn’t able to visit the brand-new African American History and Culture museum, due to the high demand for the timed entry tickets, but did make time to visit the newish National Museum of the American Indian.

Here are some notes from some of the more interesting programs I attended, plus notes from networking lunches with U.S. Census officials and a GWU librarian friend.

At the World Bank:

World Bank from Pennsylvania Avenue

World Bank from Pennsylvania Avenue

“The State of SME Policies and Support Programs”

Description: According to estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 15 years to absorb the growing global workforce, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This panel will address the targets set by governments for SME policy development and help identify strategic priorities for improving business environments. The progress of SMEs is key towards narrowing the development gap.

  • Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
  • Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the US Small Business Administration
  • Moderator: Luca Iandoli, President of International Council for Small Business (ICSB)

Contreras-Sweet opened the conference with an overview of the importance of SMEs to the world economy. She was an excellent speaker and also briefly related her life story. She entered the U.S. from Mexico as a five-year old girl in an extended migrant family. Her family (especially her grandmother) pushed her hard to do well in school, and she ended up founding a bank and a philanthropic organization before joining President Obama’s cabinet.

Beginning of the conference

Opening panel

Contreras-Sweet described entrepreneurship as the “most powerful force for people to lift themselves out of poverty.” She has been promoting the creating of SBA-type agencies in other countries, with the support of the Kauffman Foundation. There will be a big international small business promotion conference in South Africa partially supported by the SBA.

Anabel Gonzalez, one of several World Bank officials on the program this day, spoke on how “promoting small businesses is essential to ending poverty & increasing shared prosperity.”

Luca Iandoli (a professor from Naples) moderated a discussion with those two speakers and also took questions from the audience and online listeners. He began by displaying a 2012 MIT Technology Review cover of moon-walker Buzz Armstrong lamenting: “You promised me Mars colonies; instead I got Facebook”. Iandoli noted that the IT revolution has not helped much with job creation and income growth, showing some stats on revenue-per-employee ratios for major IT companies compared to manufacturing companies like Ford Motor. He posed the question “So can SMEs benefit from innovation trends? Or will the income gap increase even more?” It was an interesting discussion that touched on the tax advantages enjoyed by multinational but unavailable for SMEs, the increasing digital divide especially when you compare richer countries to poorer countries, and other topics. The panel steered into ethical aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship (which reminded of Ilana Stonebraker’s recent post), and how the SBA has started to track the involvement of women, minorities, and veterans in SBA loans and other services. Women entrepreneurs proved to be a hot topic for the audience, and my SBA neighbor at our table discussed this over the coffee break.

“SME Policy Design and Evaluation: Insights from Research on Entrepreneurship and Innovation”

Description: Despite significant advances in the measurement and analysis of entrepreneurial activity, cross-country comparisons remain notably difficult. This panel will address the intersection of data and policy, and discuss how research can contribute to the design of national policy interventions as well as enable assessment of progress toward objectives.

  • Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Senior Economic Advisor, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
  • Winslow Sargeant, ICSB Vice President of Data and Policy [and SBA official]
  • Moderator: Ayman El Tarabishy, Associate Professor at George Washington University and Executive Director of ICSB
Mary Hallward-Driemeier

Mary Hallward-Driemeier

Ah, then we got into some data. Well, just a little. Mary Hallward-Driemeier discussed the data collection the World Bank is trying to collect to assist its efforts to promote SME growth. She listed six thematic areas as priorities for trade and competitiveness (see the picture). These themes may help loaning organizations define and measure the success of its loans to SMEs. She also encouraged support organizations to be “gender informed” and look where women can disproportionately benefit: transportation issues; having broader definitions of collateral; and encouraging specific industrial sectors.

Winslow Sargeant

Winslow Sargeant

Winslow Sargeant was an engineering professor and Kauffmann professor, but now works in the SBA Office of Advocacy. Given his engineering background, he enjoyed discussing U.S. patent history but then used statistics to show the importance of small business to the US economy. He made the important distinction between small companies and nonemployers. I liked that because we discuss those important distinctions – and the different Census datasets involved – in my 530 class. Sargeant noted that most online sales are made by large companies, not SMEs, continuing the concerns that the social media revolution has been overhyped in terms of benefits to SMEs. He expressed concerns that the number of patents issues in the U.S. is falling compared to some other countries (as a percentage I think – my notes aren’t clear, sorry) but that U.S. immigrants continue to have a disproportionate positive impact on entrepreneurship, job creation, and patent submissions

Networking lunch with Census folks

There were a dozen themed tables for lunch discussions. I considered sitting at the social entrepreneurship table but decided to talk shop with the Census folks. Bárbara Zamora-Appel (Program Analyst), Philip Thompson (Special Projects and Outreach Coordinator), and Andrew Hait (Survey Statistician and leader of the Census Business Builder project) were there. I think those three were happy to have a business librarian present, although a couple of NGO types stopped by to ask questions.

Barbara had interesting insights into the tradition of Census racial categories, comparing them to an even more complex array of categories (20 total) used in her native Guatemala. We wondered if the younger U.S. generations are rebelling from the standard U.S. demographic variables involving race and Hispanic/Latino status. (I mentioned recent discussions with students on Census terminology). Barbara noted that the OMB maintains racial/ethnicity and country of origin terminology used by the Census – I didn’t know that.

Philip recently attended a business educators’ conference in Atlanta and wondered if I had advice on how to reach college students and also faculty on the value of Census data for population and industry research. Too many students don’t know where most U.S. demographic and industry data come from, he lamented. We talked about the need for business faculty to set clear expectations for research in their classes, and for librarians to be involved in the research classes. (Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I hope to lead a workshop on the expectations part at USASBE next semester.)

Andrew discussed his efforts to link related business, industry, and demographic data through the Census Business Builder, allowing users to find useful data they might not have known to exist. Such linkages would vary by industrial sector and might also include relevant trade data trends. Andrew would like to add short, practical case studies of how an entrepreneur or SME owner successfully used the Business Builder. These stories would help demonstrate the value of the tool and show off the diversity of data that could be applied to a business idea. I promised I would get back to him on this, although maybe an email to BUSLIB would be a better strategy to collect examples…

My notes after lunch were more limited, so let’s jump ahead to Friday morning at GWU and wrap up this already long post. The Friday conference didn’t begin until 10:30, a late start IMO.


“College and Community Partnerships: The Development of an Entrepreneurial Program to Support Economic Development”

Kathleen Burke (Professor of Economics) of SUNY Cortland lamented the loss of many small business in upstate and rural New York. Many of the 64 SUNY campuses provide the main economic activity in their small towns, including Cortland. Most of the businesses in this county are within a 4-mile radius of the Cortland downtown. Her campus became the main driving force for economic development through a new cross-campus entrepreneurship curriculum and an Appalachian Regional Commission grant. The students partnered with entrepreneurs and existing small businesses to help develop business plans and marketing plans. The grant also helped fund an innovation business center. Like the Coleman Fellow campuses, SUNY Cortland now has an entrepreneur in residence to work with the faculty to better support the students’ work and learning.

Their ENT 1 course (the first course in the sequence) covers primary and secondary research as well as business models, business plans, and making pitches. Students from all over campus are taking the class. The next class (still in development), ENT 2, will be an independent study with faculty and community mentors – that’s a different approach I think. The goal is for those advanced students to participate in regional competitions. Long Island Bagel is one downtown retail success established by students.

Next steps include classes on social entrepreneurship and social innovation. They are also creating a “Community Innovation Lab” that will support local nonprofits.

The concluding discussion focused on how to increase student participation across campus, how to increasing engagement with the community, and what other types of courses are offered. The Coleman Fellow director from Colorado Mesa University was in attendance too, so there was some discussion of best practices discussed at the annual Coleman summits.

“Geographies of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Non-Farm Proprietorship Employment by U.S. Metropolitan Area”

Keith Debbage

Keith Debbage

My buddy Keith Debbage (Professor of Economic Geography) presented on his new research on geographic aspects of entrepreneurship. (He is also researching innovation quarters.) These are new areas of interest for him, resulting in part from his involvement in the Coleman Fellows program beginning two years ago. My notes on Keith’s talk aren’t too detailed, partially due me taking some pictures of Keith’s talk and posting them to social media for the Coleman program and the UNCG Geography department. So if you ever read this, Keith, please forgive me for the brevity and any misinformation.

Keith’s framing question for the research: “Is self-employment in any geography primarily the entrepreneurship of opportunity or the entrepreneurship of last resort?”

…And already we have to deal with the issue of how to define and measure entrepreneurship. Many of you business librarians have wrestled with this question before in your research workshops and consultations. Keith decided to use BEA data on non-farm proprietorship (NFP), so he defined entrepreneurship as self-employment (also the Coleman Foundation’s definition). He also used American Community Survey and BLS data for his research.

He studied MSA’s, not cities, to take into consideration commuting silos that limit spill-over effects. (Keith pointed to me as an example of the value of using MSA data, since I commute from downtown Winston-Salem to downtown Greensboro for work.)

Jumping ahead to what factors seem very important for self-employment growth:

  • Access to capital, such as bank loans and/or using ones house as collateral (high home values are disproportionate)
  • Median age (rates of self-employment go up with age)
  • Hispanic status (also higher rate of self-employment)

For example, notice in the picture how well Florida is performing.

Conclusions: NFP is an increasing important part of economy. Entrepreneurship of last resort AND of opportunity are important (capital is used more often in the latter case). So public policy needs to do better job of recognizing these two divergent entrepreneurship trends.

Finally talking to another librarian

I skipped the Friday conference lunch to have lunch with my friend Ann Goebel Brown, the Instruction Reference Librarian at GWU. Her library is right across the street from the business school. Ann has been very involved in RUSA and so besides catching up on family and personal life, we had an interesting discussion on the future of “reference services” (she is presenting at ACRL next spring on “Reference: The New Dirty Word?” – great title!) and how RUSA might be changing how it is organized to better reflect the nature of 21st century public services (with possible implications for BRASS).

Ilana Stonebraker is Assistant Professor of Library Science and Business Information Specialist in the Parrish Library of Management & Economics, Division of Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Business, Purdue University Libraries. She also serves on the BRASS Executive Committee and co-founded the New Business Librarians Group.

Steve asked me to share on his blog the impetus and beginning stages of my new course: HONR 299: Greater Lafayette Greater. HONR 299 came out of a themed version of MGMT 175: Information Strategies for MGMT Students, a class I have been teaching for nearly four years. MGMT 175 is a flipped course focused on information literacy that makes heavy use of problem-based learning. The aims of MGMT 175 are simple, yet deceptively challenging for students: “solve problems using information”. Students are given information-rich situations aided by library databases, and must find ways to generate insights.

First, some background. Purdue University is situated in West Lafayette, Indiana, which is bordered  by Lafayette, Indiana. The whole area is called “Greater Lafayette” or Greater Lala, if you must. West Lafayette is a college town, specifically a college town filled with engineers. Lafayette is a manufacturing town. The big employers are Subaru, Caterpillar, Tate and Lyle’s corn syrup plant, and Evonik. Greater Lafayette is surrounded by corn and soybean fields. The Wabash River runs through both cities, somewhat the boundary between the two of them.

In Fall 2015, I had started meeting regularly with a particularly excellent group of business librarians on Google Hangouts: Kenny Garcia, Caitlan Maxwell and Jessica Jerrit. This group, formed loosely at ACRL 2015, was focused on practicing what it called critical business information literacy (CBIL), defined as the application of social justice to business information literacy. What does it mean to be an ethical business person, and how does an ethical business person find, evaluate and use information?

Figure 1 Making Greater Lafayette Greater installation

Figure 1 Making Greater Lafayette Greater installation

The work I did in MGMT 175 was affected by CBIL thinking. More specifically the cases I used in class were affected. Many of the cases were focused on individual aims: more profits for one company, stakeholder or investor. Why was business information always about increasingly the success of the individual and not the community? After all, business people often work for communities, often think of themselves as being grounded in civic responsibility. What if students weren’t trying to solve the problems of a company, but rather the problems of a whole community?

Thus, the course theme “Making Greater Lafayette Greater” was shamelessly stolen from an art installation in Lafayette. Jason Tennenhouse, known locally for founding Greyhouse Coffee, created a website where people could submit ideas and they would be scrolling at the old gas station at 6th and State in Lafayette. It should be noted that at the time there were no political connotations to making something great.

I switched the four cases used in the class to be more civically focused.  Student investigated demographics, learned about best practices and considered local competitive strengths. They went on field trips to startup incubators, coworking spaces, and city beautification projects. As a final project, students were given a hypothetical 4 million dollar budget (the budget of the state street project, which had a call for proposals at the time) to fix something in the community. The problem they focused on had to affect not just students. In the final project, students proposed art filled bus stop shelters, day care centers, community gardens and ambitious development plans.

I liked teaching the course and I think the course had value. It led to me getting the “Exceptional Event Planner” award from Purdue’s Learning Community Office. But I felt rushed. MGMT 175 was a one-credit- eight week course. I had to balance multiple content needs of other things I felt I need to cover in the class (evaluation of sources, citation) with my more civically-minded approach. More specifically, my students, all lovely people, had not signed up for this adventure I had thrust upon them. It was the common teaching trap: teaching things which had had value in the abstract, but weren’t always valuable to my students in their lived experiences.

At Purdue, the Honors College is in an ambitious and new undertaking. Their mission to create “well rounded, global leaders” through four pillars: interdisciplinary academics, leadership development, undergraduate research, and community/global experiences (website). In Spring 2016, they put out a call for new courses. Teaching the Greater Lafayette class within the Honors College appealed to me because I could teach it as a three credit course, was given professional development funding, and also was guaranteed a class half the size (20 v. 40). It seemed to me to be the best place for further development of the Greater Lafayette course.

As it was once explained to the Von Trapp family, starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start. What do I want students to gain from the class? What’s the meaning of it all?

  • Student will articulate and empathize with the diverse group of struggles the Greater Lafayette area faces at a local and global level across economic, cultural, and administrative dimensions.
    • Students will find, organize, and evaluate information about the Greater Lafayette area.
    • Students will identify sources to learn more about problems that are important to them.
  • Students will apply concepts of economic development to create an action plan for either the Lafayette or West Lafayette city governments to implement change in the community.

The course is a triple challenge for me: I have not taught a three credit course, I have never taught in the Honors College, and I am also not an economic development expert, though I have had a personal lifelong fascination with its messy science. However, this is not the first time as a librarian I have had to do something I’ve never done before, and I doubt it will be the last.

My concern is whether my desire to teaching economic development will envelope my information literacy roots. I believe that a course is not information literacy just because a librarian teaches it. My roots are always in how students use information to inform their decisions, and that includes frank discussions of bias as well as moments for students to show empathy. My colleague Megan Sapp Nelson defends our role in data management by highlighting the unique group of skills that librarians bring to the table. Librarians, by the nature of their work and perspective, are system thinkers. Librarians think of things in terms of inputs and outputs in a larger scholarly communication cycle. I would characterize system thinking information literacy as how I approach HONR 299: from a high level. I hope students can solve problems by thinking in information literate ways.

Catching up

As Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from the University of Pennsylvania announced on BUSLIB recently, a group of librarians are working on creating business librarian programming every year at the Charleston Conference. This year, Cynthia, Betsy Clementson from Tulane, Corey Seeman from the University of Michigan, and I are facilitating a “lively lunch” on the topic of “Why business content subscriptions can drive us crazy, and what to do about it: A dialogue with business librarians, business vendors, and the audience on best practices and solutions”.

Also joining us will be John Quealy from S&P and Dan Gingert from PrivCo. As I’ve posted before, this is the best conference for discussion of trends in collections, publishing, licensing, and open access. Publishers and vendors participate in many panels and discussions, as opposed to being banished to the exhibit hall all conference long. And Charleston is a wonderful city for history, art, strolls along the rivers, and enjoying fancy food and drink. So we encourage business librarians, business vendors, and anyone else who has to work with business content as part of their job to join us.

Congrats to Orolando Duffus for being named ACRL member of the week!

Segue to today’s topic

For so many of us, search committees are a year-round concern. My department (Research Outreach and Instruction) recently hired a new department head, the amazing Amy Harris, who was our internal candidate and so there will be another search next year to replace her old position. But first we will have a search for an Online Learning Librarian based here in ROI. This is great news. After budget cuts a few years ago, we ended up with one of those dreaded Frankenstein positions — Electronic Resources & Distance Education Librarian — formerly two full time jobs.

Long-time readers know this blog don’t usually get into negative stuff (I’m not a very annoyed librarian I guess) but creating that kind of unsustainable position was pretty sad and probably reflected a momentary lack of leadership. When resources are scarce, we need to prioritize and consider making a difficult decision about staffing, or maybe consider if a team approach would work using existing staff. Anyway, Kate Hill, whom we hired for that Frankenstein position, is highly skilled and is working extra hard to try to keep up, but it’s simply not feasible for one person to handle that workload. Hence the new position. Kate is looking forward to “just” being an ER librarian (and pursuing tenure, etc.). I really like how the DE librarian will be based in our liaison department, emphasizing the public service focus of that kind of position and how this person will work with us liaisons supporting DE classes within our subject areas. My colleague and office neighbor Karen Grigg, Science Librarian, was asked to chair this search since she did such a good job chairing the Frankenstein search.

And one more bit of somewhat related news: I’ve been asked to serve on the search committee for the business school’s next professor of international marketing. My long time teaching partner Professor Nicholas Williamson is finishing his phased retirement this year. His department, Marketing Entrepreneurship Hospitality and Tourism (ok, yes, another Frankenstein thing! but MEHT is full of strong library supporters) wasn’t slated to get another position to replace Nick (not sure why). But the business school dean told the provost that the Export Odyssey project might be finished after this year, and the provost replied “We can’t have that.” So she gave MEHT an extra position. Since I co-lead that project, the MEHT department head asked me to serve on the committee. This is my first time serving on a search committee for a prof. I’ll write a post later about the experience and how it was different from librarian searches. Does anyone have experience with professor searches and would like to share?

Today’s topic (finally)

This is kind of a sequel to my “Confessions of a search committee chair” post from last winter. This spring, a librarian emailed me to ask for advice on interviewing for a business librarian position for the first time. She was particularly interested in how to make the mock research workshop stand out. I waited a while before sharing this here, removing any identifying information. Hopefully this is useful to others.

To make a mock class on business research information literacy stand out, I would suggest three areas of emphasis:

  1. Demonstration of specialized subject knowledge. Market research as a topic would certainly give you an opportunity to do this, especially if you demonstrate comfort with and knowledge of statistical data (ex. demographics, spending data, psychographic data). The Economic Census or other financial data benchmarking too. I guess trade data would be another example, although that’s maybe too specific/rare a research need for many campuses.
  1. Related to that, demonstrated familiarity with specialized business research tools. Most librarians are comfortable with the catalog and Ebsco and ProQuest databases. No big deal. But far fewer are comfortable with American FactFinder and the BLS.gov tools for finding statistical tables, let alone SimplyMap or DemographicsNow or Business Decisions or Euromonitor Passport (depending on what subscription tools for market data would be available). Lots of professors don’t know data tools well either. I see evidence of that at the business professor conferences I’ve started attending.
  1. Active learning exercises, tied to the needs of the research project/assignment of a particular class. So leading a discussion about how the Census is conducted (the decennial version as well as the American Community Survey — most students know something about the decennial census at least, which helps get the discussion going) as opposed to just lecturing, and then looking up some basic tables to highlight the main points (ex. “note the data from 2015 – so is that from the decennial Census or ACS? — also note the margins of error provided – why is that there? Yes, right, it’s a survey…”). Then later asking the students to find some information or data and then reporting back what they found and how they might be able to apply that to the project at hand (for example). So to do this you would really need to come up with a fake project to teach to. I would be happy to share one with you from UNCG if you would like (of course you could change details to fit your local situation).

[Follow-up suggestions:]

A few suggestions about SimplyMap (sorry if you are already aware of these issues!): most campuses have simultaneous user limits in their SimplyMap subscription (it’s 10 users here), so that may impact access to your mock students. I would suggest emailing Steven Swartz asking for more concurrent seats at that campus for your day there. I’m sure he would be happy to help. Also consider if you want everyone to create their own accounts (which requires checking their email to confirm) or using the S.M. guest access.

I agree that AFF, BLS (ex. the CEX data), and SimplyMap make an excellent progression of sources — if you have time for all three– for example using the much more detailed consumer spending data in SimplyMap, or ending with the psychographic data (if the MRI or SimmonsLocal modules are provided at that campus).

Good luck with the interview!

BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) met at the High Point Public Library yesterday, the 3rd day of classes at UNCG. This should be an interesting school year. with some new experiences to write about. I’m not sure yet how some of them will turn out!

High Point Public business librarians John Raynor and Vicki Johnson sponsored us in their sharp-looking library. We had 17 librarian present: mostly public and academic, but also one community college, one corporate, and one special librarian (a Senior Research Analyst at the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Raleigh.)

BLINC at High Point Public

BLINC at High Point Public during a break

After networking over breakfast snacks, Dan Maynard from Campbell University began the workshop with a presentation “What if you couldn’t scare me? Engaging your fourth sector community: high-impact educational experiences and a very different spin on financial literacy.”

The “4th sector community” phrase was new to me. Dan explained it basically as companies with a social entrepreneurship focus (ex. on local food, the environment, or social issues). We learned that Dan is a Sullivan Foundation Fellow at Campbell! He is the only Sullivan Fellow who is a librarian. Very cool.

As a fellow, Dan works with 3 classes in the business school, all required for business students in (generally) their first, second, and third years.

He framed his introduction to the 4th sector as “finding good work” (identifying a local need) and “funding good work”. Dan led us in a discussion of the ecosystem (including regulatory issues) in our state for nonprofits and 4th sector.

4th sectors companies in Dan’s rural Harnett County include mainly lifestyle companies: a bicycle shop, dairy farm, green/sustainable organic farm, a river adventures service outfit, a golf development/training company for “juniors”, a video production company, and the new Arts Council.

Moving into the funding good work aspect, Dan played for us a video about Detroit SOUP and talked about similar efforts in North Carolina. Some of his students are working on a SOUP project in Harnett County.

Dan concluded by getting into aspects of financial literacy. Instead of investing in multinational public companies via traditional investments, what about investing in local start-ups? He play a portion of a TEDx Piscataqua River talk by North Carolinian Carol Peppe Hewitt titled “What if you couldn’t scare me?” Hewitt is founder (I think) of Slow Money NC and has worked with Dan. The point of her TED talk title: we are scared into investing in big corporations as being necessary for our financial solvency and retirement savings. Instead, we should invest in local small business doing good work locally.

We ended the morning with a discussion of library services to nonprofits and 4th sector companies. Lydia Towery (Charlotte Public and Foundation Center coordinator) talked about how nonprofits are just another kind of company, and so the market and financial planning to start a nonprofit is much the same. Deanna Day, the SBTDC research analyst, and Heather Stanford from Mauney Memorial Public Library, Kings Mountain provided some interesting stories about working with social entrepreneurs/dreamers brimming with passion to start something up but not doing their feasibility homework first. It’s always reassuring to hear other business librarians discuss challenging consulting situations! A memorable quote from John: “Some dreams need to die.”

Business Center at High Point Public

Business Center at High Point Public

After lunch at a downtown Asian bistro, we looked at the library’s new business center. High Point Public just created this attractive and flexible space to support the library’s economic development work: workshops, consultations, and connecting entrepreneurs with other local support centers. The space is part of the library’s response to the city’s strategic goal of keeping more young business owners in High Point and not moving to the bigger cities in the state. Virginia Lewis, their department head, discussed their funding efforts to get the room and its tech set up. John, Vicki, and Casie (a community liaison librarian) will be leading this initiative. Creating more partnerships with other organizations is one of the outcomes that will be measured by the library and reported annually to the city and other stakeholders like the local chamber. Impressive, proactive work.

Inside the Business Center

Inside the Business Center

Back in our conference room, Heather described her trip to Omaha to attend the ReferenceUSA User Conference for public librarians in May. She attended as our NC LIVE rep, our state-wide database provider. I assumed this was mainly a focus group event, but Heather reports that the event instead focused on training the librarians and explaining in detail InfoGroup’s data collection and quality control practices – still certainly worthwhile.

Heather told us that InfoGroup wants ReferenceUSA to be closer associated with entrepreneurship research. The company is also promoting the database as the best source for closed businesses (part of the U.S. Businesses module). Social media links are being added to the establishment records.

Business Center again

Business Center again

We then got into an interesting discussion of SimplyMap versus ReferenceUSA U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles module for market data research, and where the data comes from in each product. Or course, SimplyMap is a collection of datasets with different methodologies, so we had to break down our discussion a bit into Census data v. survey data (ex. MRI and Simmons) v. the subscription and online purchase data used heavily by InfoGroup. This topic, the nature of the data, and how to make conclusions (ex. what is my local market size?) using these tools would be an interesting future BLINC workshop.

We ended the BLINC workshop with Lydia providing an update on the Foundation Center and then asking us for possible dates for our next workshop. NC LIVE has asked BLINC once again to review the NC LIVE business database mix and make recommendations for its 2018-2020 subscription package. BLINC has provided this service to NC LIVE every three years since 2008 or so. Always an interesting discussion for us, as we compare and debate the needs of our patrons (not necessarily the same needs!) and the best databases to serve those information needs. That will happen in November and December, with our report due to the NC LIVE officers on New Year’s.

Last week 90 Coleman Fellows gathered at a conference hotel near O’Hare Airport for the 2016 Coleman Fellows Summit. This was my fourth year attending [reports for 2013, 2014, 2015] but this summit was different. Usually the majority of attendees are new fellows, recruited to add entrepreneurship elements into an existing, non-business school class (or create a cross-listed class from scratch, as I did).

Big group of fellows discussion of assessment

Big group of fellows discussion of assessment

This year, however, there was a smaller group of new fellows joining a larger group of campus directors and veteran fellows, plus a new group: the first Coleman “Entrepreneurship in Residence” cohort. Their participation reflects a new strategic shift in how the Coleman Foundation is promoting cross-campus entrepreneurship. Rather than a continued focus on funding ongoing and new cross-campus classes, the foundation now expects the campuses to fund those classes themselves. A new focus features the Entrepreneurship in Residence as local entrepreneurs who will be providing teaching, consulting, and general support to many classes each semester. A second new focus is assessing the value and impact of the Coleman Fellows program. These changes are responses to the Coleman Foundation board’s concerns about the sustainability of the fellows program.

The residents program reminds me, frankly, of us business librarians. We are also nontraditional faculty charged with serving the needs of entrepreneurship students and classes across campus, which we do as guest teachers and research consultants. Outreach strategies for the residents are similar to our own outreach strategies I think. However, the residents’ focus will be only on entrepreneurship education. Tech transfer is not included in their charge.

Veteran Fellows prioritizing our needs and opportunities (Joe, Chris)

Veteran Fellows prioritizing our needs and opportunities (Joe, Chris)

The UNCG Entrepreneurship in Residence is my friend Noah Reynolds, an amazing guy who is a CPA, has started a number of businesses, serves on several corporate and foundation boards, and also teaches ENT 300 each spring. Noah and UNCG Geography Professor Keith Debbage hit it off right away by discussing mutual economic development interests in our “Triad” region of North Carolina. Also with Hospitality and Tourism Management Professor Bonnie Canziani.

We spent all of Friday morning working in small groups on assessment, developing rubrics and assessment methodology. Joe Roberts, the national Coleman Fellows coordinator, asked me to facilitate the small group on the so-called “infusion model”, Coleman’s term for adding entrepreneurship to existing non-business classes. A dozen profs and I proposed some pretty significant changes to the set of draft rubrics for our topic, but were energized by the great discussions we had. So our several hours before lunch together talking about assessment (not a topic that normally interests me much) went by fast.

After lunch, veteran fellows Julie Shields (Millikin University), Chris Broberg (Wichita State) and I led two hours of discussion with 35 or so veteran follows. We had the folks form small discussion teams around topics of high interest (we began with a post-in note poll) and then report back in the final 30 minutes. A lot of the ideas were pretty specific to the fellows program, but one professor mentioned working more with librarians at conferences (!). There was also a series of recommendations about fellows connecting by visiting neighboring campuses, and having mentors from the same subject disciplines (like an arts prof mentoring newer art Coleman Fellows at other campuses).

Veteran fellows getting ready for break-out discussions (Julie)Veteran fellows getting ready for break-out discussions (Julie)

So this summit didn’t have a focus on Entrepreneurship 101-type training this time, and therefore I didn’t do an “introduction to entrepreneurship research” type workshop. We did have one short big group discussion Thursday evening about data mapping tools, and I piped up to check with your library to see if you have access to tools like SimplyMap (and later posted a new SimplyMap screencast video to the fellows’ newsfeed).

UNCG Coleman Fellows 2016-17

UNCG Coleman Fellows 2016-17

But I was pretty involved wearing my assistant director’s hat, under the excellent leadership of Professor Dianne Welsh, the UNCG Coleman Fellows director. As the only librarian fellow, I noticed I was more likely to be named as “Steve the Librarian,” as opposed to “Steve from UNCG”.

Finally, there was some unusual service provided. A fellow had a zipper problem in the bathroom during a morning break and asked me if I could loan him a pair of pants. (He had only brought one pair for the 3-day summit.) We had a similar height and shape, so I said sure. I got those dress pants back (freshly washed and pressed, and with the button that came off on Saturday restored) on Monday. That was funny.

As usual, not long after a long post summarizing summer readings, I learn about one other interesting article or presentation. This topic is too rarely covered in more general information literary/teaching librarian conferences. I mixed in a few observations of my own, but hopefully not too much.

Being ‘In The Room Where It Happens:’ Supporting Information Needs of Students in Experiential Learning Programs
By Angela Horne (UCLA) and Corey Seeman (Michigan)
Leaders of Experiential Project-Based Education Conference 2016 (June 22)


  1. Introductions
  2. Information Needs of Business Students (Case Method vs. Experiential Learning Method)
  3. Library Support for Experiential Learning
  4. Working with teams (for librarians)
  5. Administrative Issues (for the library)
  6. Collection Issues
  7. Closing Thoughts

Angela and Corey provided mini-cases to the participants in order “to frame the discussion and get people thinking about information needs.” Interesting approach! — especially since this program compared students’ research needs for case study pedagogy versus experiential learning projects.

A case usually provides all the information a student team needs, and provide a controlled situation with an official “answer”.

In contrast to the passive information environment of cases, experiential learning requires active information gathering, the needs for which often evolve as the project develops. Both primary and secondary research is usually necessary. The complex research needs of these student teams can be challenging for business librarians to handle, especially for solo business librarians (like me).

Angela and Corey discussed how the librarians at their libraries consulted and communicated with their experiential learning student teams. Some observations:

  • “Information ambiguity is a common issue in most experiential learning projects we support”. [Also sometimes unanswerable questions!]
  • Since the research needs of teams in the same class can be very different, a one-shot instruction session isn’t really useful. Instead, librarians should provide an introduction session and then later have consultations with teams on their specific needs [my interpretation of slides 30-31].
  • In some classes [at Michigan, I think], the librarians get 30 minutes with each team at the beginning of the project. [This is a neat, very specific form of embeddedness, different from my co-teaching roles in which I’m in class most days but have to try to schedule team meetings outside of class, schedules permitting. Sometimes a team ends up with a “Cramer liaison” who becomes my official, solo in-person communication channel to a team].

Angela and Corey next provide interesting examples of research questions from teams. When a project needs to change direction is where the close connection with the librarian really pays off. Then the student teams really benefit from having the librarian “in the room where it happens.” Both UCLA and Michigan have surveyed student teams at the end of the semester and received student testimonials on the value of their librarian team member.

There’s a slide about potential licensing issues of using subscription databases on experiential projects.

And there is a short discussion about workloads and balancing time devoted to these experiential learning students versus those with more general, academic needs. This gets at the common and important topic of the sustainability of types of embedded work and also the value of that work. Corey notes:

“At Michigan, we have 440 students in MAP [Multidisciplinary Action Projects] (out of around 3000), but they take up the majority of time.”

Likewise, I spend much time with ENT 300 and MKT 426, both centered on experiential learning and required with their majors. That work leaves me with less time to be available in the library for random, walk-in questions from other classes. But I have always argued that the high value of my heavy involvement in those research-intensive classes justifies the time commitment, and my local library leaders have agreed. There have been a number of positive spin-offs and publicity resulting from that work (recent example).

Angela and Corey conclude that

“librarians always want to figure out how their work connects with students. This is the room where it happens – and is the best way to demonstrate and provide value to the enterprise.”

One of the PDF file provided at https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/120937 includes a short list of additional readings, including an upcoming book about experiential learning.