Welcome back, summer

summer view at UNCG

summer view at UNCG

Except for the final grading in the entrepreneurship research class, my spring semester ended with six hours of student presentations to evaluate across three classes (2pm to 9pm, plus a dinner break). Whew. Had to force myself to concentrate for the last team presentations (I don’t have the longest attention span).

It was an interesting semester and I’m tempted to write a bit about some spring developments, but I’m trying to resist for the sake of a shorter post today.

Yet I would like to briefly mention another positive experience talking about embedded business librarianship to a non-librarian audience. The upcoming prof to teach the UNCG MBA capstone consulting course (which Orolando Duffus has blogged about) invited the outgoing prof, two of the executive mentors, two of the recent students, and me to talk about our roles in that class to a regional branch of an association of management consultants. That conference was Monday. Mostly older men in the audience, but some younger women too (evidence of generational shifts in the business world?) Those consultants were very interested to learn about what academic business librarians are up to these days, the value we add to the class and student teams, and the “big data” tools now provided by libraries.

Today’s topic

Here is the 3rd and final post on our Liaison Team Structure Review Task Force.

Part 1 covered why we reorganized five years ago. Part 2 summarized feedback on our teams & liaison trends: what’s working well and what’s not.

We have finished and released our final report, and so I can now share our recommendations here. In late August 2017, we began work on this report that originally had a target deadline of January. Given the difficulty we had in getting teams together to talk (see the part 2 post), we had to ask for an extension.

Our Research, Outreach, and Instruction department head, Amy Harris, has scheduled a liaison retreat in July, so I’m hopeful that this summer we will start discussing and maybe taking action on some of these recommendations.

The short comments after the eight recommendations are mine, except where noted.


1.  Implement methods and increased opportunities for communication, information-sharing, brainstorming, and strategic planning among liaisons and liaison team members

a. Hold annual liaison strategic planning retreats.

We haven’t had one in a while. I blogged about our 2014 event (that’s when we brainstormed our new department name, among other accomplishments). We have found our retreats useful. Both subject and functional liaisons plus other team members have been invited. Making this an annual event would make this a routine best practice for us.

b. Create a central location to share documentation

Some teams have used Google Drive to store info, but we haven’t coordinated this well across teams.

2. Create structures and documentation to support team leaders

a. Create documentation to address team leader guidelines and best practices

We aren’t sure what team leaders are supposed to do. That means we can’t really hold them accountable. Or reward them (if possible) for their service. The guidelines will probably be different for subject team leaders (in which we take turns serving as leaders) and functional team leaders (in which our official functional leader librarians are permanent leaders, ex. our head of collections chairs the collections team).

b. Create opportunities for information-sharing and support among team leaders

We need regular meetings for team leaders with Amy and Kathy Crowe, our AD for Public Services. Agendas would include checking in on progress made to annual goals, making sure we are doing our peer-workshops, sharing challenges and opportunities faced by a team, etc.

3. Retire using liaisons at the Information Desk, including for weekend work and backups. Try new staffing models

We debated if we should include this recommendation, since reference service is not one of our official liaison roles. But info desk hours came up several times in our surveys of the liaisons. Most questions at the physical desk concern directions and guest-printing. Meanwhile, liaisons are asking for more time for writing and their growing liaison roles.

We recommend considering these models:

a. Reference desk triage model

Use undergraduate student worker to handle directional and guest-printing questions (the bulk of desk activity), with well-trained interns (including our MLS students) and our excellent staff colleagues handling the less frequent research questions. Refer to a liaison for more challenging subject-specific questions. We have never used undergraduate students at our information desk, but such students answer directional and basic reference questions at our check-out deck and our Digital Media Commons desk.

b. Combined service desk model

Examine the possibility of combining the Access Services and Information Desks on the first floor. We are doing “Master Space Planning” with the hope of new library expansion in the next decade, so maybe we should get used to this model before we have a new first floor layout.

4. Make recommendations on liaison workload expectations and roles.

Yup, workload. Every liaison’s main problem? Roles and responsibilities continue to increase, and our campus is increasing (see part 2). Some of us struggle with balance and prioritization.

We should benchmark with other libraries to compare workloads. We should also calculate how many faculty and students each liaison is responsible for, and discuss if there will ever be a reasonable limit on that number.

5. Evaluate optimal team sizes and formats

Some teams aren’t functioning well. (Again, see part 2.)

a. Team format

Subject teams and functional teams will probably need different formats. We need to discuss that. We didn’t when we formed our teams.

b. Team size

Some teams (*cough* Humanities Team) are probably too big. Maybe it should be split up. Also consider membership. Membership could be flexible, not permanent, based on goals and needs. But having a member of SCUA (Special Collections & University Archives) on most teams remains a successful outcome of our teams.

6. Establish expectations for regular, ongoing team workshops, and hold team leaders accountable for those expectations.

So more defining of team goals, and the roles of team leaders.

7. Update the liaison roles document to better match current campus needs and changes based on the task force’s recommendations

Our current documents are:

These docs should probably be reviewed every few years (at summer retreats?) as campus needs and library goals evolve.

8. Make recommendations on space needs of department in relation to desired service model

I think Karen Grigg, our task force co-chair, wrote this excellent paragraph: “While the issue of departmental and Libraries’ space is outside the charged purview of this committee, space is intrinsically connected to liaison work. And as the Libraries are involved in a significant space planning initiative, it seems not only appropriate but critical to consider space in relation to liaison work.”

Hear hear! For example, perhaps a multi-use consultation room. This would really help when a student team needs to meet with a liaison in his/her narrow office. Sometimes we sit at a big table in the reference room, but it’s hard for 5-6 heads to see the same laptop or iPad.


summer walk through the woods to the UNCG music school

summer walk through the woods to the UNCG music school

Karen, Amy, and another colleague (Maggie Murphy) recently attended the ARL Liaison Institute in Atlanta. They found it useful, but also reported that we are mostly on top of the liaison trends discussed. There apparently wasn’t any programming on how liaisons should be organized and led to accomplish their goals, so my colleagues didn’t change our draft recommendations when they returned from the institute.

I will probably blog about our July liaison retreat and may have updates on the next steps regarding these recommendations.

Between now and then, I will try to get caught up on professional reading concerning liaison and business librarianship trends. My “read me!” folder has 29 items right now (saved up since September), plus there are some interesting blog posts starred in my news reader.

I hope everyone has a good summer!



Home stretch of the spring semester — getting into the peak weeks of research consultations, as the student teams prepare their final reports and presentations. Good luck to all the academic librarians facing the same time demands!

BLINC had a well-attended March workshop in the Durham County Library MakerLab. We had 25 folks present, half of whom were first-time attendees to a BLINC workshop. I wrote last winter about the apparent decline of business librarian positions in North Carolina. That situation is unchanged, but demand for programming on community engagement and economic development remains strong. Perhaps that should be the focus of BLINC, not pure business librarianship. Something to think about.

Meanwhile, BLINC has collaborations coming up with the Government Resources Section of NCLA in May as well as CABAL up in Richmond, VA in July. We are looking forward to those events.

And a bunch of librarians are working on proposals for business content programs at the Charleston Conference this fall. We had at least four such programs last year, plus a dinner, and also a happy hour sponsored by InfoUSA. So we hope to have even more programming in 2018. We will email BUSLIB about that soon. Proposals can be submitted between mid-April and July.

Today’s topic

UNCG’s Professor Latasha Valez is teaching two sections of LIS 620: Information Sources and Services: a hybrid class and a synchronous online class. The hybrid class meets on Monday mornings, the purely online class Wednesday evening. Professor Valez asked if I could introduce business information sources and services to these first-year LIS students.

Years ago, I taught a 3-credit “Business Information Sources & Services” class for the UNCG LIS program. For LIS 620, I dug up my old slides from the first day of that old LIS class to see what I could reuse. Not much! I basically retained two slides (I’ll point those out below). The rest of the slides were too out of date, or I no longer liked the content. My current research class is cross-listed with LIS, but it doesn’t attract many LIS students, and that class isn’t an “introduction to business librarianship”-type class. So there wasn’t much from my current class to apply to LIS 620.

No, I normally don’t use slides when I teach. I have (quietly) enjoyed the sometimes fierce debates between librarians regarding using slides in research instruction. This debate sometimes comes up in our search committee discussions, when we need to critique the mock class a candidate provided. Strong feelings are sometimes expressed and the committee chair might have to assert “we are not going to reject this candidate because he/she used slides and you don’t” (or the reverse). (Yes, a little exaggeration there.)

But for online classes, I wanted the students to be able to see content and review it later. Otherwise, all they could do to review would be to watch the recording of me speaking and using a LibGuide. I also embedded links in the slides and included some content I didn’t cover during my time with the two sections (mainly, examples of real research questions from business students, nonprofit managers, entrepreneurs, but with vital details removed of course).

What happened

As part of the classes, I had the students explore three NC LIVE databases: SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, and Morningstar. These are available state-wide. Most of the students had not used any of those products yet. That hands-on work was the final third of my class.

Before that, we discussed the nature of business sources and the nature of business information services. I had discussion questions for those two topics. If I talk to this class again, though, it might be interesting to start with some database exploration and then discuss sources and services.

Each section had around 25 students. I began by asking then to introduce themselves, describing any specialization in library science or archives they are interested in, and describing any experience they already have with business information. None of them expressed a goal at this early stage of their library studies in business librarianship. But some already work at a library service desk supporting general questions, including business research and job seeking. At the beginning of the Wednesday evening class, some participated via their phones while driving home from work. Yikes!

It was not hard getting the students to participate, either verbally or via text. There some strong personalities in the class! That was fun to hear.

Here is what I talked to the students about, including my discussion questions and database searches. I preached a few times. My comments on slide content are in italics.

My content and active learning


  • About me, about you
  • Nature of business services
  • Nature of business sources
  • Hands-on exploration of research questions using NC LIVE business databases

About you:

  • Your background
  • Plans after graduation?
  • Business research experience?

See above for a quick summary of this.

Part 1: Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What are the types of patrons (users/clients)?

The students did of a good job of thinking beyond just business owners.

Patron base [my answers to that question]

  • Nonprofits
  • Small (& large) businesses
  • Entrepreneurs (& social entrepreneurs)
  • Governments & economic development agencies
  • Personal investors
  • Students, faculty, teachers

No one had heard of “social entrepreneurs”. When I asked what they thought that means, the responses were “social media companies”. I hadn’t expected that. Maybe I’m in an entrepreneurship bubble.

Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What do you think?
  • Or, how is business information service different from other kinds of service?

Some students mentioned statistical data and more specialized sources that take more time to learn or figure out.

Nature of services [my answers]

  • Strong need for subject skills, to understand and apply the sources
  • High demand for library instruction, training, and research consultations
  • Promotion of the library’s services and collections is vital, given…
  • The many types of patrons
  • The availability of free web sources for basic-level business information
  • The historic impression of libraries being merely book warehouses

Nature of services: within the library

  • Business librarians tend to be among the busiest subject librarians
  • Other library staff often not comfortable with business research (opportunity?)
  • A library that can’t analyze its own changing community (demographics, psychographics, industry mix & employment) is a weak library.

I preached a bit here. (The students said they enjoyed hearing me get more passionate for this topic.) I did briefly discuss how business librarians often have to be the hardest working librarians in their departments or libraries. I also emphasized not being afraid of business research can get you noticed. But I focused more on the last point. I still sometimes hear librarians at conferences saying “oh, we are a public good, we don’t need to do marketing – that’s something icky corporations do.” Um no. Are you patron-centered or not? It’s not all about you the librarian and your preconceived notions. Get over yourself, understand your community, and then serve your community. Can’t do that without market research.

Nature of services: embedded

  • Discussion: What does embedded librarianship mean to you?

Nature of services: embedded [my answers]

  • Proactive engagement with the community
  • Get out of the library!
  • Get invited (or crash) board meetings, entrepreneurship or nonprofit forums, etc.
  • Sell yourself and the library’s resources
  • Experiential learning (classes working with local businesses, nonprofits, & agencies)
Export Odyssey homepage story

Export Odyssey homepage story

At the risk of being self-centered, I showed a screen capture of when I was on the campus homepage with Professor Williamson and Jenny from Ms. Jenny’s Pickles, as example of the community engaged, economic development Export Odyssey project. I also showed a picture of me working with an Economics graduate student in the business school that was on the Economics Department homepage for a while.

Nature of services: job titles

  • “Business Librarian” is one.
  • What else can MLS graduates with these skills be called?

Trying to get the students to think beyond academic and public library work.

Nature of services: job titles [my answers]

  • Information Specialist
  • Competitive Intelligence Specialist
  • Knowledge Manager
  • Research Consultant
  • Corporate & Special Librarian

The students did come up with some of these.

Part 2: Nature of business sources

  • What do you think?
  • Or, how is business research different from humanities research?

A suite of topics

  • Industries
  • Competitive intelligence (CI) (company research)
  • Public company financials
  • Private company financial benchmarking
  • Nonprofit financials
  • Investments


  • Consumer/B2C marketing (demographics, psychographics)
  • B2B marketing
  • Real estate
  • Economic data
  • Trade data
  • Management (best practices, trends)

I was trying to show that “business” is a broad discipline, like the “humanities”, not just one topic or one academic degree program. This information and the “Nature of sources” section below are all I saved from my old slides.

One library guide example: http://uncg.libguides.com/mba

  • Note use of subtopics to organize these links
  • Also the opportunities for intro videos
  • And the need for specialized APA help

Nature of sources

  • Usually specialized tools
  • Often very expensive
  • Libraries usually not the primary market
  • Numeric data is vital
  • Local data often needed
  • Functionality can be as important as content
  • Example: sorting or ranking companies or data; exporting to a spreadsheet; mapping data

Emphasis on the functionality point, and the “not just libraries use these” point. Those factors make our content much more challenging (and interesting too) than content for most other disciplines, I suggested.

More on sources

  • Changes in vendors, publishers, and products are routine and should be expected.
  • There are many choices in vendors and publishers, making evaluation and re-evaluation of products very important.
  • Government datasets also vital
  • Census / American FactFinder
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • State-level data, like state data centers or http://accessnc.nccommerce.com/

Part 3: Hands on time using NC LIVE business sources

  • https://www.nclive.org/
  • 3-part mission: “helps member libraries to better support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.”
  • Funding state-wide access to SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, ABI-INFORM, & Morningstar
  • BLINC & NC LIVE work closely together

The students already working in libraries knew about NC LIVE.


  • URL was here
  • Covers every business, nonprofit, & government location in the U.S.
  • But often called a “marketing database” due to its B2B applications
  • Google, Microsoft, & Yahoo buy this company data for their mapping tools
  • Has nine other modules

Scenario: Export Odyssey example:

  • Find all the SME (small-medium size establishments) chemical manufacturers in the Triad

I had created two scenario/practice questions per database, but decided to only use one for each. The students had to use the custom search to figure out how to find these companies. They didn’t have much problem. I also demonstrated searching for very specific industries, using “yoga” as a keyword. Students were impressed by the scope of this database and curious about the other modules.


  • Called SimplyMap before Aug. ‘17
  • 30,000+ demographic & psychographic variables
  • Create maps & tables from U.S. states to Census block groups (neighborhoods)
  • Fun and popular!
  • UNCG pays for the Simmons data module

The first scenario was a real entrepreneurship example:

  • “I’m working on a business plan for a K-8 private school in Philadelphia. I would like to know about the expected tuition costs, what neighborhoods have above-average income, and what neighborhoods are spending the most on education.”

But I had the students do scenario 2 instead:

  • Look up one of our hobbies or interests.
  • Map interest or participation in that hobby in a city of your choice.
  • What neighborhoods (use Census tracts or block groups) are more interested?

In the process, I had the students discuss the meaning of “psychographics”. (This was before the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.) I also had the students discuss how the market research companies like MRI and Nielsen/Simmons get their data. The students started to express privacy concerns, but then I ask how many have location services enabled on their smart phones. They had some good insights about how citizens/consumers (including library students) willingly give away their own behavioral data to companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Morningstar Investment Research Center

  • Investment data and analysis for stocks and mutual funds
  • Also a public company research database
  • Used by students and also local investment clubs
  • Look up individual stocks or funds, or use the screener to create lists that match your criteria


  • Is Netflix a good company to invest in?
  • Why or why not?

At the time, Morningstar assigned 2 stars to Netflix. I tried to find a famous, new company that the analyst wasn’t gushing over. That made the “why or why not” discussion more interesting.

In part one, I summarized what motivated us to pursue a liaison reorganization in 2012-14, and what the new team structure looked like. The Liaison Team Structure Review Task Force has spent much of this school year gathering feedback from liaisons and other liaison team members on the state of the teams. We have also asked about liaison trends. Here in part two, I will summarize that feedback and discussion. (In part three, in a month or two, I’ll write about our recommendations.)

We began in fall 2017 by re-asking survey questions written in early 2013, back when we began to explore liaison reorganization. In 2017, these liaison questions weren’t very relevant to the non-liaisons serving on our subject and functional teams. But we added new questions relevant to all:

  • From your perspective, what aspects of the team structure and associated activities are working well?
  • From your perspective, what aspects of your team structure and associated activities are not working well?
  • Do you have recommendations on what could be done better or differently in relation to the team structure?
  • What suggestions do you have for our current mix of subject and functional teams?

After collecting survey responses, members of the task force led discussions with all but one of the subject and functional teams (see below regarding the missing team), to discuss common themes from the surveys and solicit additional feedback. Next we shared the themes from those meetings with larger groups of liaisons and team members, asking them to respond with more details on the issues as well as possible solutions.

Our able task force leaders, Anna Craft and Karen Grigg, recorded much of the feedback. Task force members Kathy Crowe and I contributed notes too. Below is my summary of all the feedback covering what is working well, what is not working as well, and the main issues in more detail. The task force hasn’t written its final report yet, so any typos or lack of clarity below are on me.

What is working well

  • Organizing relevant, specific, and practical discussions on our work as liaisons;
  • Peer-mentoring and professional development; sharing our skills and experience in workshops or more informally around a table;
  • Having a welcoming and supportive small group for brainstorming and discussing new ideas;
  • Discussing subject-specific and upper-level research instruction;
  • Discussing support of graduate students;
  • Teammates helping each other, like co-teaching large classes or helping cover during illness or a conference;
  • Getting subject liaisons, functional leaders, and folks from other departments like Special Collections, Archives, Technical Services, and the Digital Media Commons together to share, discuss, and collaborate.

What is not working so well

  • Finding time — making time! – to meet and work together;
  • Lack of accountability for the work of the teams;
  • Lack of accountability for the team leaders — but also lack of support system and rewards structure for serving as a team leader;
  • General coordination of the teams and communicating across teams;
  • Need for clearly defined purpose of both subject teams and functional teams;
  • The goal of functional teams supporting a subject liaison with a challenging situation or new idea or opportunity doesn’t happen often – while all teams are often invited to a workshop sponsored by one team, we don’t have much inter-team collaboration.

Main issues

Here is more detailed coverage of major themes that have come up concerning liaison work as well as the nature of our subject and functional teams.

Liaison workloads always increasing

Quotes from UNCG liaisons:

“Collections work & reference desk have lessened [since 2013] but everything else increases.”

“There is always the issue of too much to do and too little time to accomplish everything. I think learning from each other is the best support we can give – if there is ever time to do that.”

“Maybe we could have careful discussions about how to prioritize when you have an overload or what to do when you can’t do something that needs doing.”

I feel like I need more time for all of [our liaison roles]. Not sure about what kind of support would help. Cloning?”

Yes, all librarians are busy, but the number of students, faculty, research centers, graduate programs, and online programs at UNCG keep going up, as do the number of liaison roles (see below). Yet the number of subject liaisons has been basically flat. (See the end of part 1).

There is also strong interest in having more dedicated writing time, or release time for writing and research. We are tenure-track and so are required to write and present. In the summer, most of us have more time to pursue that work. But in the fall and spring semester, it can be hard to focus in our offices, where interruptions from patrons and colleagues are to be expected, and where we are usually expected to be logged into chat reference to support that service channel.

Liaison work continues to be very much solo work. There has been a lack of contributions of staff and student workers to supporting liaison work. This was mentioned as an opportunity back in 2013. That this largely hasn’t happened is the fault of liaisons (and perhaps liaison teams and leadership), not the fault of staff and student workers.

The ongoing expansion of liaison roles is a factor in how busy we feel. Busyness is also a problem with getting some teams together. But one issue at a time…

Expanding roles

What’s new or growing since 2013?

  • Data curation/management;
  • Open education resources (promotion of);
  • Copyright and licensing questions and training for faculty (well, this is not new, but happening more often; related to the above, also to open access publishing);
  • More online classes and programs (so new tech tools to learn and use, and increased need for outreach). “Online take a lot of time to do well”, someone wrote for the task force’s survey;
  • Teaching of credit courses (ex. LIS 200: Information Use in a Digital World) with no work release time or compensation for;
  • Community outreach (ex. more high school programs connected to UNCG);
  • Embedded and outreach opportunities;
  • Importance of creating and using assessment tools.

As noted above in one of the quotes, our liaison reorganization has resulted in much reduced time and obligations for collections development work, especially book and e-book selection and also weeding.

Our reference desk obligations have been low for many years, but is still an issue with many liaisons. There is concern that reference staffing expectations are creeping up (creeping back, really).

Team sizes

Also related to busyness, some teams have rarely met due to how busy its members are. For example, Karen and Anna were never able to meet with the largest team (the Humanities Team) over a five-month period because there was no time when all the team members could meet. So that team is basically too big to meet during the fall and spring semester. Also, too big to function? (But the members of the Humanities Team had opportunities to give feedback in other meetings or with other teams.)

Smaller teams seem to do more workshops and collaborate more.

There will be some interesting recommendations regarding team size as we wrap up our task force report.

Functional teams helping subject liaisons with specific needs

The final org chart from last time suggests that the functional teams will be connected to the subject teams, helping subject liaisons with specific functional needs or goals. There are a few examples of such collaboration, but in general this hasn’t happened much. There is still a lot of old liaison behavior: liaisons working by themselves, not partnering with others as often as they could.

Functional teams v. working groups?

All the functional teams (Collections, Scholarly Communications, Reference Desk, and Instruction) have a functional leader. Those leaders have their functions in their job titles (ex. Head of Collections; Information Literacy Coordinator). So they are team leaders for life, basically, and that makes good sense. But some of the teams, like Collections and Reference, behave more like working groups. They take care of routine tasks, such as making sure reference services are running smoothly, or weeding the book collection. Only the Instruction Team provides regular programming for liaisons.

In contrast, subject teams have rotating leaders and instead focus on discussions and workshops.

Do we really need the functional teams anymore? We created them in part because we proposed ended the large Collections Management Committee and needed to deemphasize reference services as a liaison function. Creating a Collections Team and Reference Desk Team helped insure that those functions would continue, and, frankly, hopefully helped reassure a small number of liaison/reference librarians who were very focused on selection and reference. (The Instruction Team predates our liaison reorganization.)

On the other hand, the functional teams help us connect across departmental lines. That’s important.

Communication issues

Communication within teams has been good, but communicating across teams has been a challenge. This connects to the time issues (see above) and to leadership issues (see below).

Team leadership

We need to do a lot of work with team leadership. Their roles, expected workloads, and the credit or rewards they should earn for serving need to be defined and written up. The rotation of leaders needs to be clarified too.

We haven’t had a summer all-teams retreat in years.

More generally, the goals of both subject teams and functional teams are unclear. The lack of clarity is increasing as the time since our reorganization increases. The initial enthusiasm and investment in our teams – responses both emotional and intellectual to the structural issues we mostly fixed back in 2013 – have faded over time. The teams have become the new normal, and we hired many librarians since we reorganized. Team leadership and the teams in general need redefining and recharging.

There’s also concern about the workload of expecting the head of the Research, Outreach, and Instruction Department (ROI) to also serve as our liaison team leader, making sure that all the teams are functioning well and communicating with each other. Since the teams cross departmental lines, the liaison leader role covers more ground than ROI. Is that fair to ask and doable? But we do really need that liaison leader role.

That’s it for feedback. By exam week, I’ll post part 3 – recommendations to solve all these problems forever! Haha.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I just saw a male student walking to class with a cluster of big shiny balloons. Was he a giver or receiver?

Catching up

Thanks again to Alyson Vaaler for writing her review of USASBE 2018. It’s important to support librarians taking their skills and knowledge to business conferences, educating faculty and promoting the value of business librarians. We can’t just preach to the choir at library conferences. USASBE will be in St. Pete Beach early next year, GCEC in Chicago in October.

Ilana Stonebraker, fearless business librarian at Purdue, has started a blog on “Teaching on Purpose” and other issues: http://ilanastonebraker.com/. Recommended. A number of interesting posts on teaching strategies, including some active learning lesson plans.

CABAL and BLINC are working on a joint one-day workshop in Richmond, VA this summer, probably a Friday in July. It’s still in the early planning stages, but the event will probably focus on both sources and services (including business research instruction), with dinner and partying afterwards. We will promote the event on BUSLIB in case you aren’t a member of one of those groups but would be interested in making the trip. Thank you to Howard University’s Tommy Waters, CABAL chair, for the suggestion that we do something together!

Professor Nick Williamson and I have finished writing our Export Odyssey e-textbook. Publisher Kendall Hunt is editing and processing the book. This is my first book, so hooray! Hopefully some classes will use it and help some local SME manufacturers make their first export sales.

Today’s topic: update on our team structure review

Four months ago, I posted on the creation of our Liaison Team Structure Review Task Force. That structure is around five years old. We need to periodically review how well it is serving our needs, and indeed, there are some significant issues with our liaison work that need attention.

Progress has been slow, mainly because it’s hard to get the teams together (more on that in part 2). But we are getting there. Our chairs Karen Grigg (Science Librarian) and Anna Craft (Coordinator of Metadata Services) are providing excellent leadership. The task force is summarizing the feedback we have received from individuals and teams, and has begun debating recommendations. I will post on our work in three parts:

Part 1: backstory on our liaison reorganization (2012-14) (see below);
Part 2: summary of feedback on our team structure and recent trends in liaison work (I will post that one over spring break, hopefully);
Part 3: recommendations for changes (by final exams week).

Back in 2012-14, I posted many times on the work and ideas of our liaison reorganization task force (tagged with “liaison organization”), largely wrapping up that thread with our 2015 ACRL program with Johns Hopkins and Villanova.  But as part of the current task force, I wrote a two page summary last week of what motivated us to pursue liaison reorganization back then and what the results were. Here is that summary.

Part 1: backstory on our liaison reorganization

Origins of our liaison and functional team model

In spring of 2012, Dean Bazirijan commissioned the Liaison Collections Responsibilities Task Force. The task force description begins with this observation: “the enhanced responsibilities of our liaisons have created some very real issues regarding the amount of time that can be spent on collection development.” The charge of the task force included:

  1. Define the collection development, instruction, outreach, and newly defined and enhanced responsibilities of our liaisons.
  2. Define the ways that collection development has changed over the years.
  3. Benchmark with other libraries to see how they are handling the complexities of liaison responsibilities in new, creative and innovative ways.
  4. Recommend an organizational model for collection development and other liaison responsibilities that will allow us to give the proper attention to both areas in a sleek and efficient way. More than one organizational model should be recommended providing alternatives to choose from.

While collections work dominates that charge, many liaisons had also grown frustrated with the increasing disconnect between evolving liaison roles (for example, an emphasis on proactive engagement with teaching and research support) and the lack of opportunities for discussion and training regarding those roles. Most meetings of the Reference & Instructional Services department continued to focus on collections work and reference desk staffing and policies. These issues were also considered by the task force.

A July 2012 retreat of the Administrative Advisory Group modified the goals of our liaison program: liaisons would spend much less time providing collection development and reference services, while focusing more on providing proactive support of research across campus. The task force was asked to incorporate these revised liaison goals into its work, expanding the scope of its final recommendations.

At this time, liaisons were based in a number of UL departments (including Music, missing from the below graphic). Liaisons met via the large Collection Management Committee. There was no central liaison coordinator. Some liaisons had other full-time roles in the UL; their liaison role was primarily handling collections questions from their academic departments.

Circa 2012 liaison organization

Circa 2012 liaison organization (the “before”)

Through the spring and summer of 2012, the task force organized many discussion and brainstorming sessions (including once with WFU liaisons), examined the (scant) literature on best practices in liaison organization and leadership, and interviewed liaison coordinators from the small number of libraries that had recently reorganized their liaisons away from the decentralized, collections-centered model. The task force then presented several new organization models to the liaisons and other stakeholders for final feedback. Finally, the task force submitted its report to the Dean in August 2012.

In December 2012, Dean Bazirijan formed two implementation task forces. The Collections Implementation Team had the goals of “Define the role of collections as it relates to other responsibilities of library liaisons; streamline collections decisions prior to sending projects/requests to library liaisons; reduce the involvement of liaisons in collection development activities, thereby freeing them up to spend more time on instruction, outreach and direct faculty support.”

The goal of the Liaison Implementation Team was to “strengthen the roles of liaisons in the areas of teaching, faculty support and consulting and outreach and reduce the collections responsibilities to the extent possible.” The charge of the liaison team included implementing these two models of liaison subject teams and cross-departmental functional teams:

Liaison teams and leadership

Liaison teams and leadership (proposed “after”)


Functional teams

Functional teams

The Liaison Implementation Team created a two-year timeline (2013-14) to implement these subject and functional teams. As part of the process, members of the Special Collections and University Archives and the Digital Media Commons become team members. The Reference and Instructional Services department was rebranded as Research, Outreach, and Instruction [long overdue]. The ROI department head become our liaison coordinator, who oversaw the teams and organized monthly all-liaison discussions. Some liaisons whose main role was collections work retired their liaison roles. The UL created a Science Librarian position for the first time; that liaison joined our existing Health Sciences Librarian and a SCUA member to form the Science Team.

Liaisons rewrote the UL’s official description of liaison roles. Teams began providing peer-training (often inviting other teams to participate). In general, meetings seemed more useful and more interesting to liaisons. However, communication across teams and through the UL proved challenging.

While collections work is now much less demanding on liaisons’ time, liaisons still struggle with workload issues. UNCG expanded student enrollment and the number of faculty dramatically in the 21st century. Some liaisons have experienced a large growth in their target population (one liaison is now responsible for over 4,000 students). A new liaison position to serve the School of Education was created in 1998, but was later redefined with a non-liaison focus. The creation of the dedicated Science Librarian position in 2014 restored the UL to the 1998 level of liaison staffing.

Online education, scholarly communication advocacy, and data management have joined instruction, collections, and more traditional research support as liaison roles. The UL has hired more functional liaisons to serve these roles, including two new positions planned for 2018-19. Hiring more functional liaisons doesn’t necessarily result in more manageable workloads for subject liaisons. (However, some of the functional liaisons also have liaison assignments, which certainly helps.)

In Fall 2017, the Liaison Team Structure Review Task Force was formed to examine and reassess the 2013-14 changes and their intended outcomes.

Blog post postscript

Those last two organizational charts were illustrative examples. We never really had a scholarly communications team, for example. (We may get one eventually: we are hiring our first dedicated ScholCom officer next year, apparently.) But overall those images do reflect what we ended up with by 2015.

In part 2, what continues to work well with our liaison teams but also a discussion of old and new struggles

Alyson Vaaler is an Assistant Professor and Business Librarian at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She works with the management department in the business school, which encompasses entrepreneurial programs and centers on campus. Prior to Texas A&M, Alyson worked as a Circulation Supervisor at Eastern Illinois University.

She earned a B.A. in music history and literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alyson also holds a M.M. in music history and literature, as well as a M.L.I.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Review of USASBE 2018

This year, I attended and presented at USASBE 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. The conference was held  at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood, January 10-14. Wednesday and Thursday were pre-conference days, so the main full conference days were Friday and Saturday, ending at noon on Sunday.

Logistics: Very close to Hollywood Boulevard and the Chinese Theater. The immediate area around the hotel was nice, but the farther you ventured the more dodgy it got. I didn’t wander off on my own and didn’t have a lot of time to play tourist.

Food: We were fed very well at this conference. There was a continental breakfast each morning with a sit down plated lunch. During lunch there was a presentation or award given. I would have preferred to socialize with my tablemates during this time because some of the lunch presentations were hard to hear. Several people ate and left during them.

Cost: Expensive. I paid $725 because I was waiting to find out if our presentation was accepted before I registered. The early bird was $675. I applied for an ACRL VAL Travel Scholarship (which I didn’t end up getting), but it’s a possible source of funding for a conference like this. The travel scholarship is specifically for librarians presenting about the value of libraries at non library conferences.

Size: The conference used the Whoova app and it listed 512 attendees. I suspect this includes exhibitors.

Exhibitors: Representatives from Sage, Emerald, and Business Expert Press. The exhibitors were small in number, a lot of individual entrepreneur programs had booths, as well as companies that sold market simulation products.

From reading Steve’s blog post about his experience with USASBE 2017, it seems the conference structure has changed. This made submitting to the conference a bit confusing, as some of the proposal examples and instructions were not updated to reflect this. Nevertheless, the new structure included three tracks:

  • Teaching Track (experiential exercises, case studies, emerging exercises, sharing modules or courses)
  • Research Track (papers, panels, workshops, emerging research)
  • Programming Track (share best practices in running centers, incubators, competitions, training programs, etc.)

Terence O’Neill (Michigan State University) and I presented our “Emerging Teaching Exercise” on Friday morning. I would almost describe these as “lightning talks”, quick ideas that were meant to spark conversation. Some other ideas that were presented alongside ours focused on idea generation, conducting design sprints, and using virtual reality to aide in business observation. We presented in a two hour block with six other presenters. Each presenter had 15 minutes to talk about their idea and comments were held until the end.

Part of Alison Vaaler & Terence O’Neill's Emerging Teaching Exercise

From Alyson Vaaler & Terence O’Neill’s Emerging Teaching Exercise

Our presentation “Connecting Market Sizing to Business Intelligence Resources” discussed how to identify and use data found in library resources to calculate market size. I’m actually using the lesson plan that we developed for this exercise, so it was a very practical presentation to prepare for. People in the audience were engaged and we received very thoughtful comments about how best to integrate this idea into the classroom. I was most surprised that throughout the conference, people tracked me down and asked me questions about my presentation. That generally never happens at library conferences!

One of the things I disliked about this conference (and I suspect this is part of the new structure) were the two hour programming blocks. [Yes, this wasn’t the case last year –Steve] The large blocks of time made it difficult to see different programming within the tracks. I tried to duck in and out of a couple sessions, but the audience would ask questions or reference an earlier presentation that I had missed. I quickly found it easier to just sit it out in one session for two hours. This was a long time to sit in one session, especially during the research heavy sessions.

My favorite track (and the one most worthwhile to me personally) was the teaching track, particularly programs where faculty led the audience in experiential exercises. As a librarian, I typically don’t get to sit in a classroom and see the different problems and issues students struggle with. It was enlightening to see how faculty approach these problems and have developed exercises to engage students in the entrepreneurial process.

I was struck by how comfortable these teachers were in front of an audience and how well they connected with an audience. This is probably something that is second nature to them, but I was impressed by it all the same. The audience also had very constructive feedback and questions at the end of the sessions. I truly felt as if the audience were engaged and were eager to have a dialogue about these presentations.

From another USASBE program

From another USASBE program

The conference as a whole felt like a large community of practice. I think this was a reflection of the variety of attendees. I talked to faculty, staff members, lecturers, all with varying degrees of experience and involvement in their entrepreneur programs. It was a refreshing mix of people that kept the conference from being overly academic or stuffy. Overall, this made for a very accessible conference. People were very friendly and eager to learn.

USASBE also has several special interest groups that met during the conference. I attended the special interest group meeting for “Creative and Arts Entrepreneurship”. I have an arts background and think this would be an interesting avenue for future research. Attendees talked about ways to bolster the involvement of arts entrepreneurship topics overall in USASBE. I also learned about an adaptation of the Business Model Canvas for arts called the “Creative Canvas”. I’m working with a student group “Business in the Arts” later on in the semester and I think I’m going to integrate this somehow into my discussion with them.

I attended one research session block because I was curious about the research field in entrepreneurship. I get the sense that entrepreneurship is a relatively young field and it is still “fighting” for recognition as a scholarly, academic research field. The research was very high quality (in my opinion), but several people I talked to indicated that they don’t go to this conference for the research programming. What most people expressed appreciation for were the programming sessions and the teaching sessions. I would agree that these were the most valuable parts of the conference to me as well.

Overall, this is a worthwhile conference for librarians involved in entrepreneurship. For me, it served as another venue for presenting, which I’m trying to do more of. Proposals also do not need as much future casting as library conferences. (Our proposal was due October 15th, 2017 and we were notified late November of acceptance).

USASBE 2019 will be in Tampa, FL, so at least it will be a warm location again!

Last day of work in 2017! The campus closes at 5pm today for the winter break. Despite the campus being quiet all week, I’ve been pretty busy: training an Economic prof on Zotero as he begins writing his next book; creating promotional videos for a couple of entrepreneurship classes switching to online format; preparing to teach my 530 class next semester; and working on BLINC projects as its new chair.

We formed BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) in 2003 as an independent group representing public, academic, and special libraries. BLINC joined the state library association, NCLA, a few years later as a new section. However, we have continued our tradition of offering quarterly workshops that are free and open to all. Workshop locations rotate around the state.

We have sadly noticed a slow decline in attendance in our workshops in this decade. Based on our discussions with librarians, we attribute that slow decline to:

  • Reduced staffing of public service points (making it harder for some librarians at smaller libraries to be away for the day);
  • Reduced travel support;
  • And the declining number of librarians with a focus on outreach and service to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses.

That last trend is particularly disturbing. Wake County Public Library is our poster child for that one. Wake is the second largest county in population in the state; it includes Raleigh, Cary, and the southern edge of Research Triangle Park. Normally the public library systems in larger counties have a business librarian. Wake once did (Susan Wolf Neilsen, a 2016 winner of the BRASS Public Librarian Support Award sponsored by Morningstar, and co-founder of BLINC, now recently retired; Kathe Rauch was another Wake County public librarian involved in BLINC –Kathe recently retired too). But apparently the library administrators there have a strong focus on children now, not proactive engagement with entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses to support economic development. Wake Co. is also unusual for not having a central or headquarters library, which is where a business librarian would normally be based.

In strong contrast is the High Point Public Library (a city-based, not county-based library, which is uncommon in this state). HPPL has three business librarians (Cassie Ettefagh, Vicki Johnson, John Raynor) charged to build connections across the city, provide support in economic development and job hunting, and promote the value of the public library to community stakeholders.

There are also academic business librarians (or liaisons assigned to business programs among other programs) who are not very engaged with BLINC. This is sometimes due to geography – it’s a long drive from the coast (UNCW) or the mountains (WCU) to the center of this state.

Another issue is the recent emphasis in many academic libraries on functional liaison roles over subject liaisons. In this decade, the liaisons covering the business schools at UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU have also been assigned many social science programs, a huge workload that makes business information one of many foci for those business librarians. UNCCH is hiring its first entrepreneurship librarian very soon, so BLINC will invite that person to get involved with us like BLINC founding member Rita Moss (a past UNCCH Business Librarian, now retired) was. (However, David Ernsthausen remains a BLINC member. He is the Faculty Teaching and Research Support Librarian for the UNCCH business school. We appreciate David’s continued involvement.)

And that brings up what could have been a fourth bullet point above, so I’ll add it now:

  • BLINC needs to put more energy into recruiting and welcoming new members.

So at our winter workshop two weeks at the Greensboro Public Library, a dozen BLINC friends spent two hours after lunch brainstorming some strategic planning, including marketing and promotion. Our discussion included what are the trends with our own positions and professional needs, not just trends in BLINC, since BLINC needs to remain relevant to our own needs.

the value of BLINC, or, how would you describe BLINC

the value of BLINC, or, how would you describe BLINC

Our first question was:

“What is the BLINC value proposition; or, how would you describe BLINC to a prospective member?”

We had fun with post-it notes and came up with this list:

  • Developing/professional growth
  • Learning
  • Getting feedback
  • Networking
  • Consulting
  • Collaborating
  • Amplifying the capacity of business librarians
  • Turning outward / Supporting economic development
  • Sharing
  • Training / teaching / educating
  • Mentoring
  • Caring (about each other)

The next question:

“What are your individual needs as a business librarian (or as a librarian who supports business/entrepreneurship/nonprofits among other roles)?”

Responses (with some overlap, as you would expect):

  • Teaching — examples, learning from other experiences, best practices
  • Resource sharing: new, free sources
  • Inspiration, what others are doing, getting me out of my bubble; real life uses of business databases
  • Affirmation: need to know what others are doing, thinking of doing
  • Big topics in business education
  • How to be a better educator
  • Learning about emerging/big topics in business (ex. A.I., crypto-currency)
  • Need to build relationships/network: with business and nonprofit service providers
  • Opportunity to collaborate with other business librarians: conference presentations, publications, etc.
  • Networking: getting out of office; looking for expertise
  • Getting help evaluating business collections and resources; what is still core resources and reference sources; sharing resources (ex. gov docs)
  • Getting help with a tough question.
  • Evaluating NC LIVE business collections
  • Promoting NC LIVE business collections
  • Developing training
  • Collecting success stories
  • Data skills: finding, collecting, interpreting, how to teach making decisions

Then we transitioned to discussing BLINC itself. Question three:

“What are BLINC’s needs as an organization?”

blinc as a group -- SWOT analysis

blinc as a group — SWOT analysis

Being business librarians (or just smart and effective thinkers, haha), we organized this discussion around a SWOT analysis, making sure to limit the S and W to internal factors (BLINC) while O and T focused on the external:


  • Our diversity (roles, experiences, work situations)
  • Our energy (interest and enthusiasm for networking and training and collaborating, and in service to our communities)
  • Esprit de corps
  • Professional experience and knowledge
  • History of professional development
  • Pride


  • Our diversity [yes, listed twice – John said, very thoughtfully]
  • We have been getting smaller
  • Fewer business librarian positions in the state
  • Our name – too business focus? There’s also nonprofits, entrepreneurship, job/career services, economic development. Some folks who are not full-time business librarians might be scared off by the emphasis on the B-word.
  • Lack of marketing and promotion of BLINC
  • Limited time and attention
  • Not collecting success stories enough and sharing


  • Google (need to provide more advanced training on)
  • New professionals we can recruit
  • Awareness could grow
  • Provide broadcasts of our quarterly workshops and/or webinars
  • Partnering with groups (GRS and STEM [NCLA sections], CABAL, Azalea, SBTDC, etc.)
  • Increasing focus on data (big data, data analytics, data visualization, new sources for data)
  • Cal Shepard (State Librarian for NC)
  • Telling stories
  • Collaborating with NC LIVE on training that has already been asked for


  • Google
  • Competition
  • Fear (and misunderstanding) of business research
  • Travel budgets in decline
  • Travel time allowed in decline
  • Lack of economic development mission/focus in public libraries (maybe some campuses too)
  • Our bosses out of touch with community needs, possible roles of libraries in communities.

Finally, we discussion action steps based on the above:

“What can we do to meet those individual and group needs while living out our value proposition; or, what should BLINC do in 2018-19?”

  • Recruit new members:
    • Make a list of prospective members and contact them
    • Also prospective LIS students (there are several LIS programs in this state)
  • Develop a marketing strategy; rebranding: our focus, titles, roles
  • Professional development, learning, sharing
  • Partnering with other groups (see above in SWOT – Opportunities)
  • Online workshops/Webinar trainings (have an N.C. focus at first)
  • NC LIVE training package / toolbox
  • Quarterly workshops — possible topics:
    • Business service support / promoting economic development using NC LIVE and government data (Census, BLS…)
    • Learning more about emerging business topics, such as AI and cybersecurity
    • Learning the needs of city/metro planners (ask one to talk to us)
    • Data sources
    • Teaching and training techniques (on business research topics, not common info lit topics).
    • Trends in embedded librarians and liaison librarians

We have begun to work on some of those ideas already, with more work to come in 2018. My fellow officers for the next two years are the amazing Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College and Arnetta Girardeau of the NCCU Law Library (very recently the business librarian for Greensboro Public). The three of us will try to leverage the full BLINC membership to identify potential new members (or former members) and reach out to each person individually. Time consuming, but more effective than a blanket emails to NCLA-L.

We also plan on targeting messages to library system directors, with the angle that “if your library has a goal to be more involved in your community, then you need a BLINC representative” (something like that).

We also need continued programming, attractive and convenient, promoted effectively. We have had that every year since 2003, although not always promoted as well as could be. But there are some other types and formats of programming, alone or with other groups, we could consider adding to the mix.

Wish us luck!

Oh, and happy holidays!

This year, the Charleston Conference on collections, publishing, and scholarly communications moved from a Wednesday-Saturday schedule to a Tuesday-Friday schedule. I preferred the earlier schedule since now I had to miss my Tuesday co-teaching class, and it’s hard to avoid the terrible rush-hour traffic in Charlotte on the return drive home on Friday afternoon. Oh well. Maybe next year if I go, Carol and I will splurge on a Friday night stay and play tourist after the conference wraps up at Friday lunch time.

dinner group

dinner group

A growing number of business librarians and business information vendors attended and presented in Charleston. Some of those programs overlapped, which was disappointing but can happen at any conference. The business librarians also enjoyed a cocktail social sponsored by InfoUSA, and many of them attended a “dine-around” dinner Thursday night. So we continue to expand our unofficial business information track after last year’s “lively lunch” discussion. (Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from Penn is already working on a great programming idea for 2018 and has recruited a couple of business vendors to be co-speakers. Cynthia also worked with InfoUSA on the social this year.)

We would be happy to find a business vendor sponsor for a 2018 dinner. It might just be 10-15 folks, so not a huge group.

Critical business collections

On Wednesday, Heather Howard (Purdue University Libraries), Katharine Macy (IUPUI), Corey Seeman (University of Michigan) and Alyson Vaalar (Texas A&M) presented “Critical business collections: Examining key issues using a social justice lens.” Great topic. I couldn’t make this one (see below) but Corey sent me the URL ahead of time (http://tinyurl.com/CHS17CritBiz). Their topics included:

  • Business Librarianship Basics
  • What is Critical Librarianship
  • Open Access & Evaluation of Collection Resources
  • Database Licenses & Practical Business Activities
  • Making Business Resources Available for Walk-in Users

Among the issues specific to business information: Is market research and survey data being collected using bias-free methodologies? Is there a binary representation of gender (and other demographic variables)?

Can student teams working on experiential learning projects (ex. working with or consulting for local entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, and large businesses) use business subscription databases under the terms of the licensing for academic customers? Is experiential learning compatible with “non-commercial use”? (There has been more discussion of this issue lately.)

What about walk-in use of business databases in a library? This is a particularly important issue for public universities increasing expected to support the people/taxpayers in our states. Most vendors allow walk-in usage (and usually that traffic is a very small percentage of all use) but some do not.

Data & mapping

Charles, Steve, & Kevin

Charles, Steve, & Kevin (speaking)

At the same time as “Critical business collections”, Kevin Harwell (Penn State), Charles Swartz (SimplyAnalytics), and I presented And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? Library and vendor perspectives on mapping, data visualization, and geographic analytics.” [Does anyone recognize the italicized part?] This is another topic that hasn’t been covered in Charleston before. Kevin and I enjoyed speaking with Charles, the VP of Technology of the company and a PhD.

Charles Swartz


Charles began with an overview of raster versus vector spatial data and then listed the many examples of attribute data available (including “Tree data — species, height, health rating, etc.”– cool). He provided examples of how mapped data can be used, such as “A public library in NC used Hispanic population data in their decision to hire a bilingual librarian” (thanks to NC LIVE being an early subscriber to SimplyMap). The lone examples of SimplyAnalytics Charles provided compared ownership of Chevys in the U.S. to Honda ownership at the county level. Midwestern countries had high ownership for one brand, and coastal states had high ownership for the other – try to guess which ones. Quite a striking difference.

Kevin identified various web applications (vendor databases and ArcGIS Online) and desktop applications like ArcMap, MapInfo, Manifold, QGIS, and GRASS GIS. He then compared characteristics of web applications (ex. “Easy to use, but less advanced functionality”) to those of desktop applications (“Oriented to using your own data”).



I concluded with selection issues, such as which units on campus might pay for the data, limitations on access, and limits on concurrent users. I used WRDS at UNCG as a quick case study. In evaluating web applications, look for the level of geography provided (down to the Census block group?), the level of NAICS coverage (down to 6 digits?), currency (recent American Community Survey data?), and the availability of proprietary psychographic data (from MRI, Simmons, Nielsen, etc.). Finally, try to explore the level of vendor support provided, and the nature of usage data provided. A librarian can easily spend an hour working on a single variable & map with a patron, so we should also collect success stories (ex. for economic development and entrepreneurship projects).

We finished our slides in 25 minutes and then had a solid 15 minutes of discussion with the audience until our 40 minute block ran out. The audience had many questions for Charles, a first-time attendee at the conference.

Career services

On Thursday, Heather Howard (Purdue), Lauren Reiter (Penn State), and Nora Wood (U. of South Florida) presented “Landing the job: Tips and tricks to prepare students for the job hunt.” Heather began by discussing the uncoordinated funding of career databases by several campus units at Purdue, including the library. She worked with several centers to create a more efficient, joint payment plan for those databases. Now the campus has access to more resources for the same amount of spend. She has talked to the 35 campus centers and offices providing some type of career assistance about linking her master library guide on the subject. Heather teaches career research in three core classes using active learning. The workshop concludes with students discussing how the research tools can “help them start conversations, write cover letters, interview, etc.”

Heather, Lauren, & Nora

Heather, Nora, & Lauren

Lauren discussed how she coordinates with her Career Services Center, which has its own librarian. She teaches career research in the first-year seminar for business students, as well as an English class on business writing taken by juniors and seniors. The assignments vary by instructor, but can include writing persuasive letters on “why I am pursuing career ABC in field XYZ.” She also helps train student mentors in financial education. Those mentors provide financial literacy support to fellow students.

Nora described providing services on her large, new campus with little funding support. She co-teaches a number of workshops with catchy names:

  • ResuMe—How to Get Noticed (on creating a resume)
  • Map Your Major to Your Future (career exploration and sources)
  • Tips and Tricks for Acing Your Interview (including company and industry research)
  • Building Your Brand with a Custom Resume (using Adobe InDesign)
  • Using Internships to Kickstart Your Career
  • Networking—Why and How You MUST (and Can!) Do It!

During the Q/A, Heather (if I remember correctly) showed us https://datausa.io/, which aggregates and visualizes useful career data using the BLS and other sources.

Alumni resources

At the same time as the career services discussion, Corey Seeman and Jo-Anne Hogan (Publisher, Business, ProQuest) discussed “What’s past Is possible: Opportunities and perspectives for library alumni resources.” From their abstract:

A growing number of colleges and universities are offering alumni a suite of electronic resources that are either bundled as part of their existing package, negotiated or purchased separately. The value to the vendor may be as an additional revenue line or exposure to a larger population. This might be especially true in business where the need for information and news resources is ongoing. The value to the library may be as a connection to a mission of lifelong learning that can partner with other aspects of the school. Even in a time of tight resource budgets, this can be a good investment by the library.

Other Charleston programming

fall color in Charleston 2017

fall color in Charleston 2017

The Tuesday vendor showcase (the one day of exhibits – otherwise librarians, publishers, and vendors attend programs together) took place in the larger Gaillard Center for the first time. Everyone liked the extra elbow room.

Of course, the conference also had plenty of programs not provided by business libraries. A morning session on “Publication Ethics, Today’s Challenges: Navigating and Combating Questionable Practices” was very interesting. A Wolters Kluwer director discussed the increasing challenges of dealing with fraudulent article submissions and the publishing industry’s efforts to fight back without limiting submissions by legitimate authors.

The “Long Arm of the Law” session once again kicked off the final morning with analysis (plus the usual sing-along) of legal developments in fair use and copyright. This panel and the “Legal Issues” section of Against the Grain are my favorite ways of keeping up with the legal issues in our industry.

Finally, I also got to hear my wife Carol Cramer (Head of Collections at Wake Forest University) present a lightning round on “A Tempest in a Teapot? Comparing Same-Publisher Sales Before and After DDA Withdrawal”. She addressed the questions “Did individual librarian selectors start buying more print from this publisher, offsetting any savings? Did the publisher make more sales from WFU before or after the change?” It was fast-paced and interesting, and Carol drew the biggest laugh of the hour.