Summer for me means time to catch up on professional reading. And the death of Google Reader forced me to finally get the unread items there down to zero and to actually read my starred items — before beginning anew with a different reader.* Here are reactions to a few of those interesting reads.
Making Sense of Business Reference
Celia Ross, ALA Editions
I checked out this book and the new 3rd edition of the Strauss’s Handbook of Business Information by BLINC friends Rita Moss and David Ernsthausen at the same time. For my spring semester “Research Skills for Entrepreneurs” class, both books might come in handy for useful teaching and learning strategies. I met Celia a while ago when we both served on the BRASS Education Committee, and she once kindly provided some materials from her RUSA “Business Reference 101” workshop to BLINC when we were creating a preconference.
Celia’s table of contents lists 12 chapters in large bold font – then at the very bottom in fine print appear “Stumpers” and “Index.” Running almost sixty pages (a good percentage of this short book), the stumpers section is my favorite. Celia provides business research questions brought to her workshops and then tackles each question with a mix of thoughtful strategies, suggested sources, and sympathies. Reviewing challenging questions is a wonderful tool for professional development. (Celia begins with the old favorite “How can I get a list of all the local green companies?”) The stumpers section is very useful for both newbie and more experienced business librarians.
New Kid on the Block: The Troubles and Triumphs of Being a New Business Librarian
Bridget Farrell, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 18:3, 251-258
Bridget graduated from library school last year and a month later began working as the business librarian at Auburn, based in its general library. She provides an honest and detailed assessment of her first semesters there, including her “most important lesson:”
As I continue to come across more questions that I cannot solve on my own, I have come to realize that not knowing is okay. There is no shame in not knowing everything right out of the gate. After all, even the experts get stumped sometimes! With this knowledge I took my biggest “step” toward becoming a better librarian because I began to learn from the hard questions instead of just dread them. And I stopped letting my pride get in the way of asking for help. (p. 257)
Bridget mentions joining the New Business Librarian Group, recently created by Ilana Barnes from Purdue. Like BLINC it seems that group was created by peers who identified a professional need and used social networking to get folks involved. A good example of social entrepreneurship. I shared this article with our Diversity Resident Librarian; she will be focusing on business librarianship for 2013-14 and I hope she considers asking to join that group.
Holding Us Back | Office Hours [blog post]
Michael Stephens, Library Journal
I usually don’t pay too much attention to the writings of the library profession Big Names. I would rather read about the experiences of librarians busy focusing on providing services to their core customers. (My old “honor roll” of blogs now better represents librarians with such a focus, I hope.) But Michael addresses the topic of focusing on outreach and making connections with the community including “citizens, business, nonprofits, and other entities.” His examples focus on public libraries but his general point fits well with trends in liaison work in academic libraries.
In “Fleeing the Reference Desk”, Library Journal reviewed an ALA program from Chicago (The New Reference Services: A Refdesk-Shattering Discussion, sponsored by RUSA–RSS Management of Reference) that described similar “community librarian” trends from the vantage point of public library directors. The director from Bend, Oregon reported that “a librarian who was initially opposed to the change has now embraced it.” A nice anecdote. However, I’ve heard from some of my public librarian friends in BLINC that their reference departments are understaffed and yet their director expects the librarians to keep the multiple service desks all hours. So they aren’t able to reach out to the chamber of commerce, etc.
Using the Case Method to Introduce Information Skill Development in the MBA Curriculum
Ann Cullen, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 18:3, 208-232
Ann (Emory) attempts to bridge the case method of MBA instruction and business information literacy. A challenging goal! An endnote informs us that Ann had training in the case discussion method at the Harvard Business School Christiansen Center for Teaching and Learning, suggesting she is well-qualified to tackle this assignment.
Her study attempted to answer three research questions:
“1. Is the case discussion method a useful way to communicate with MBAs about business information skills?
2. Does training using the case method impact a change in MBAs’ self-assessment of their business information skill level?
3. Is it useful to measure the attainment of MBA business information skills by competency levels and should the ultimate goal be “knowledge catalyst”?”
The instruction was a three hour session at MBA orientation built around the case method of discussion (reflecting some strong teaching skills by the librarian IMO). At the risk of simplifying her nuanced assessment, the answers to three research questions were 1. Yes; 2. No (but the students only had three skills levels to choose from, perhaps a weakness in the study, Ann concludes); 3. Probably not, at least using three levels, although Ann still likes the concept of “knowledge catalyst” as an indicator of information literacy.
I’ve blogged about my relatively low-level of involvement with our MBA students in comparison to the undergrads doing experiential learning projects on behalf of local businesses and entrepreneurs. So I’m always interested in case studies of getting more involved with MBA programs. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your innovative efforts.
* I switched to http://theoldreader.com/. Call me old fashioned.