Hello, friends, Happy November. This year at UNCG classes end right after the Thanksgiving holiday, so we are in the home stretch. Students in my co-teaching classes are eager to finish their research projects (and some eager to bid farewell to their teammates). Between consultations this month I hope to get caught up on blog posts regarding last month’s NCLA conference, Coleman Fellow training and the national CEO conference in Chicago last week, and trying out PDA e-books for business and economics approval books.
The North Carolina Library Association holds its conference every two years in different cities. This year the location was the downtown convention center in Winston-Salem, within walking distance of our condo. My librarian-wife and I enjoyed being able to stroll to the conference from home each morning.
The business librarians were busy as usual with ten programs accepted. BLINC has always been very active with programming despite our small size. We offered a series of programs on library support of entrepreneurs, reflecting one of BLINC’s strategic goals in the last two years under the capable leadership of Mary Scanlon of Wake Forest University. Some of the programs are now online and I link to them below. We also had a lovely and well-attended BLINC dinner in a fancy downtown restaurant sponsored by Steven Swartz and Geographic Research/SimplyMap. (Networking and having fun have always been a goal of the group too.)
Here are some highlights and takeaways from the conference.
The BLINC programming began on Wednesday with Kathy Makens from Durham County Public introducing the entrepreneurship series with “How to Write a Business Plan: Intro to Business Planning.” She mentioned the Municode site as a good source for state and local licensing and regulatory information. Kathy also emphasized the need for public libraries to have a business information specialist who can provide outreach as well as research skills to the local nonprofit and business community.
Betty Garrison from Elon University followed in the next time slot with “How to Write a Business Plan: Researching Industry and Regional Economic Information.” (Since my ENT 530 class is cross-listed with Geography and will include research strategies for local economic info, I was very interested to see how Betty approached that topic.) She discussed the value of the First Research sales call preparation questions in Hoovers (content I don’t utilize enough) and the SBA industry directories. Betty concluded by encouraging libraries to work together to help each other out with research needs.
My last program on Wednesday was “Comics in the Community” by Amy Godfrey at Durham County Public. I read the description too quickly and thought this program focused on building a graphic novel collection, but it was actually more interesting than that. Amy discussed programming on creating comics, including comic jams, meet-ups, workshops, and a community blog. Amy had each of us create a little comic and also provided a lesson on story-boarding – she created a comic on a giant scroll based on one attendee’s recent comic experience involving her pets waking her up way too early in the morning. Besides being an old fan of comics, I always enjoy seeing a creative and interactive example of conference program design. Amy certainly nailed that aspect too.
Thursday morning at 8:30am (ack!) was the first of two programs I contributed to. Jo Henry from Charlotte/Mecklenburg Library, Richard Monitz and Joe Eshleman from Johnson & Wales University, and I provided a revised version of our Metrolina program from June: “The Academic Liaison: From Resources to Relationships to Reinvention.” Joe posted the program on the NCLA page for Thursday (it’s first in the list but give the page a minute to load – it’s an odd way to link to the presentations). Jo, Joe, and Richard just wrote an ALA Editions book about the history of liaison work. We were pleased to have good attendance and discussion despite the early hour; Trevor Dawes the ACRL President was also in the house (he was the featured speaker for Friday’s closing session). I really enjoyed collaborating with Jo, Joe, and Richard and look forward to reading their book as my reference department finishes its transition year.
[During the same time slot BLINC friends Leslie Farison from Appalachian State University and Sara Thynne from Alamance County Community College presented “How to Write a Business Plan: Researching Marketing/Competition”. Their slides are also available from the Thursday page. I’m sure Sara and Leslie did a great job.]
Right after our program was “Always be Closing: Liaisons as Sales Force” by Nathaniel King and Jacqueline Solis from the UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries. They discussed developing and using soft skills to drum up teaching and consulting business from faculty and their students, and used case studies to illustrate the sales technique. The book Spin Selling by Neil Rackham provides a four-part model of communication Nathaniel and Jacqueline utilized: Situation (finding background information on a professor), Problem (identifying ahead of time a likely need of the professor in terms of research or student performance), Implication (asking a question about how that need impacts the professor negatively) and Needs payoff (a possible liaison-based solution to the problem). Nathaniel and Jacqueline led us in a group exercise involving planning a SPIN session with a professor profiled on screen. While some folks questioned the ability of a liaison to deliver on certain problems (e.g. purchasing a needed but expensive dataset), I appreciated the practical nature of this session.
From liaison programs and outreach to embedded librarian sustainability: Mark Coltrain of Central Piedmont Community College spoke on “Growing Embedded Librarians like Kudzu: How a Popular Program Got Out of Hand and the Collaboration That Saved It” (online at the NCLA site as well as Slideshare). What a great title! The best of the conference. Mark’s library serves a fast growing distance education “virtual campus.” To help provide embedded librarians in over 65 courses, Mark and his colleagues partnered with the UNCG library science department to recruit MLS student interns. After a training program, the students became embedded in the classroom management system, assisting the students and getting valuable experience. The librarians don’t use any synchronous classroom software, instead focusing on screencasting software, LibGuides, and Blackboard tools. As I read articles in the Embedded Librarianship: What Every Librarian Should Know book, sustainability comes up over and over again in the articles about DE embedded work. Mark presents a creative solution that also supports library education.
[During the embedded librarian event was another BLINC program: “Economic Development in Your Community: Become Mission Critical” by Jill Morris of NC LIVE, Leslie Farison, Mary Scanlon, and Debbie Hargett of Wingate University. Their slides are also online – look in the 11am time slot.]
Concluding my Thursday was a presentation and discussion from UNCG PhD student (and BLINC member) Nancy Poole on “Stronger Together: Another Look at Faculty/Librarian Collaboration.” Nancy’s dissertation is dealing with this topic; her exploration began a few years ago by witnessing my collaboration with Professor Williamson in MKT 426. Nancy got the audience to discuss other types of collaboration with professors like grant writing. We also discussed targeting new professors who could become strong advocates of the library.
Friday morning, BLINC friend Beth Kaylor from UNC Wilmington presented “Using Government Resources to Support Small Business” (available from the Friday list of presentations) on behalf of the Government Resources Section. She provided many useful government web sites for data and small business support. Beth also described the creation of Port City BizInfo, a partnership between the UNCW library and the New Hanover County Public Library to support the research needs of local entrepreneurs. The librarians utilized advice from SCORE mentors to set up this partnership, still in development. BLINC folks will have to keep an eye on what Beth and her fellow Wilmington librarians accomplish with this project. Beth recently changed her official job title to “Business and Entrepreneurship Support Services Librarian” to emphasize her support focus – very cool.
Finally, there was “Outreach to Faculty in the Digital Age: Successes and Failures,” which has a Google document with presentation links. Anders Selhorst of Guilford Technical Community College organized a large panel of presenters from GTCC, Winston-Salem State University, Elon, Texas A&M University, and UNCG. I was the UNCG rep, but did take a few notes from the other presenters. Carl Leak from WSSU discussed how their outreach efforts were “intentional and selective” and focused on upper-level classes. As most of us deal with workload and sustainability issues, that was an important point and it’s nice to hear others not sounding guilty for being selective in their outreach work. Lynne Bisko described how all the liaisons at Elon are expected to send monthly emails to their faculty regarding library news and offers of support. (Here at UNCG the liaisons have historically not really been held accountable for outreach, so I’m interested to hear about expectations of liaisons at other schools.) See the Google document for other case studies.
A few other programs by BLINC members have also been posted to the NCLA site:
“Research Literacy” by Nina Exner & Saundra Evans, NCA&T
“Lessons Learned: Marketing Library Resources and ROI” by Kathleen Wheeless, Forsyth County Public
“The Role of the Librarian in Teaching Social Entrepreneurship” by Mary Scanlon and Michael Crumpton, UNCG