A summer goal continues to be getting caught up on professional readings since last winter break. Blogging about readings helps me not rush through them. Hopefully these summaries and occasional responses are useful for other folks too. Topics relate to liaison work and business librarianship.
Connect, build, develop: Forming effective liaison strategies through peer mentoring and partnership.
Cayce Van Horn. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 89-94
From the new business librarian at Auburn University. But the article is very useful for any subject liaison new to the job.
Cayce “became the business and economics liaison at Auburn University during the summer of 2015. It was an unexpected change in focus [business is not her background], and my initial reaction was a feeling of fear.” But she benefited from having a mentor:
“Bridget Farrell, the current marketing liaison and previous business and economics librarian at Auburn University, has served as a peer mentor as I make the transition from instructor to liaison, and together we developed a plan to help me connect with faculty and students in my subject area, build effectual and productive relationships with them, and develop my own skills and knowledge in this new role.”
(In 2013 Farrell wrote “New Kid on the Block: The Troubles and Triumphs of Being a New Business Librarian” — see https://liaisonlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/reading/).
Cayce discusses planning (“the importance of reaching out to subject-area faculty was immediately noted as a top priority”), collection development (book ordering & weeding), and subject training. Cayce and Bridget drafted a learning plan for Cayce that included taking Celia Ross’s Business Reference 101 class, reading Ross’s Making Sense of Business Reference, attending webinars, and getting involved in BRASS.
Through the mentoring relationship, Cayce gained much confidence in her skills. Lessons learned:
- Non-business research and teaching skills can be applied to business liaisoning.
- It is ok for business librarians to need some time to explore and research a difficult research request, and get back to the patron later.
- Yes, some questions are unanswerable.
Once the fall semester began, Cayce and Bridget implemented an effective outreach campaign to faculty. They began with an associate dean of the business college, which led to attending an executive meeting of the college (deans and department heads), which led to meetings with departments and department heads. By the end of this series of meetings, Cayce was entertaining faculty research questions and requests for instruction workshops for classes. She also targeted new faculty via email and had many fruitful responses.
“As a result of this peer-mentoring experience, I have learned to draw upon my own strengths while benefitting from the expertise of others, a process that embodies the true spirit of collaboration and support while fostering an environment of successful and engaging librarianship”
Business librarians and new academic program review
Kerry Wu & Heidi Senior. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 114-134.
This article is also useful for any subject liaison. It provides excellent suggestions for outreach and relationship building for any liaison initiative.
These Portland-based librarians have been busy supporting new program reviews and surveyed the profession on such involvement. From the abstract:
“Although more than 60% of the respondents thought that librarians should play a part in the proposal process, more than 65% of them indicated that they were never involved….The authors held in depth interviews with [nine] survey participants reporting higher-than average involvement to find out about their strategies for success.”
They identify a challenging (but common?) situation:
“The implied expectation is for the librarian to provide an affirmative statement that ‘library resources are adequate.’ Sometimes librarians are caught in an awkward position when the expected statement is not true.”
The article provides a literature review, survey methodology, and findings. There is discussion of library funding limitations and having to “make-do” with existing resources to support the new subject area.
Based on the nine interviews, the authors provide a list of success factors for getting very involved with new program applications. Examples: being held in high regard by the business faculty; and having strong existing relationships with the faculty. The “strategies to improve librarian participation” focus on building trust and relationships with faculty and certainly apply to any kind of liaison work, ex. teaching, consulting, and scholarly communication advocacy.
One interviewee emphasized proactive engagement, as the authors summarized:
“Insert yourself wherever possible,” one participant advised, “I was pretty good in terms of pushing the envelope…. I always try and make the library sticky.” He was willing to negotiate and the following summed up his philosophy:
But often it is very definitely [sic] you cannot wait for them to come to you, you have to go to them and be willing to be “insertive” and make some suggestions going, “You know, I think the library can help you or we could help you with this, let’s talk about it…”
Ah, some new synonyms for embedded librarianship?
- Sticky librarian
- Insertive librarian
Hmm wouldn’t recommend an unfiltered web search for those phrases! Haha
Another good suggestion from an interview: “gave [faculty] a talk on ‘these are things that you can use me for’”.
Using rubrics for assessing information literacy in the finance classroom: a collaboration
Elizabeth M. Mezick & Lorene Hiris. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 95-113.
This article presents rubrics to assess ACRL info lit standards (not the frameworks) through a company and industry information assignment that uses a handful of popular business databases. The full assignment is provided.
Transition to the great ACRL controversy of summer 2016…
Framework or Standards? It doesn’t matter
Blog post by Lane Wilkinson
A calm discussion about the current frameworks v. standards brouhaha. Refreshing.
Another thoughtful response but in a different tone: http://betterlibraryleaders.com/2016/06/30/reframing-our-standards-initial-thoughts-on-information-literacy-in-a-post-standards-framework/
Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working
Blog post by Barbara Fister
Yes, this post is old, but I reread it in May after returning from LOEX. I get tired of hearing librarians only discussing the “research paper” as an outcome of student research work.
From near the end:
“If you want students to learn about a topic and be able to synthesize information effectively, fine – but don’t call it research. Turn it into a presentation, an informational brochure, or a Wikipedia article. If you want students to make an argument, start from something they know and care about, something that matters to them and about which they can hold an informed opinion. If you want them to read and understand scholarly material, focus on close reading and have the class jointly prepare an annotated edition. If you want them to write academic prose, wait until they know enough about the discipline to know what they’re talking about and how to ask a meaningful question about it.”
We could add a sentence like “If you want your students gain experience working in teams, as so many grownups have to do in their professional and volunteer work, structure the project to be done within teams.”
Small changes in teaching: the minutes before class: 3 simple ways you can set up the day’s learning before the metaphorical bell rings
James M. Lang, Nov. 15 2015. Chronicle of Higher Education
Excellent suggestions! Yes, it’s easy to spend all your time before class begins getting the libguide and Canvas on screen, and writing notes on the whiteboard. The “create wonder” suggestion is certainly one I should be using more often, like a new Statista infographic, or interesting results from a SimplyMap map.
Corey is the head of the University of Michigan business school Library (Kresge Library). His library has gone through a major physical change, which had impact on the nature of metrics collected by the library. He makes an important point about our complex customer base:
“Library challenge [with assessment] is that we have multiple stakeholders and they have different needs:
- Faculty needs –scholarly journals, articles, books , datasets
- Student needs –articles, company & industry information, market reports
- Community –Mostly similar to student needs”
He warns that “Numbers have no intrinsic value –they can show just about anything you want.” Also: “And while your indicators might be fine –it might not reveal the threats that are all about you.”
There’s more about library change, and telling your story (be proactive, talk to your stakeholders, and rewrite your mission as needed.)
A Response to “Embedded Librarianship: A Critical Perspective”
Blog post by Robert Farrell
A thoughtful rebuttal of a polemic piece about the limits of embedding as a co-teaching librarian. Robert notes that the proposed alternative is clearly another type of embedded librarianship – proactive involvement with the curriculum, utilizing strong relationships with faculty. A bit ironic.
Rejection burnout–a guest post
by Kaitlin Springmier
A guest post from a resident librarian at the University of Chicago. (I’m a little concerned about why a resident librarian fresh out of library school would be writing on this topic). She presents “5 tips I’ve learned that can greatly reduce the rejection of new ideas or the burnout you feel after hearing ‘no.’” Interestingly, tip #4 goes against recommendations made in other posts at this blog, ex. maintaining work-life balance and enjoying “me time”.
Some interesting articles in the journal Against the Grain: Linking Publishers, Vendors, & Librarians from the Dec 2015-Jan 2016 & February 2016 issues
Since no one gets a chance to take a negotiation skills class in library school, consultant Michael Gruenberg lays out a 4-point preparation plan involving objectives, timetable, team, and strategy. Gruenberg authored the 2014 book Buying and Selling Information: A Guide for Information Professionals and Salespeople to Build Mutual Success (Information Today).
Michael Arthur (University of Alabama) and Stacy Sieck (Taylor & Francis) discuss their two organizations working together to provide workshops on open access and how to get published. Favorite quote:
“More recently, however, there’s been a gradual shift away from publishers being seen as adversarial to libraries, and there’s now a stronger sense that improving these relationships is important, if not imperative, to the success of both parties…But developing these relationships doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that starts with building trust and creating open and honest lines of communication.”
The often provocative and always interesting Rick Anderson (University of Utah) wrote on this old debate. He contrasts using data to learn what users actually want (which he calls “science”) versus what our patrons should want according to us librarians (“religion”). Providing what they want is our old service model, while advocating for what they should want is our education model. He asserts that
“the first option kind of grates on us as professionals; the second is fraught with frustration (since changing people is notoriously difficult) and political peril (since the people we’re trying to change are also people whose support is essential for our professional survival).”
The education route also risks “alienating our stakeholders”.
I don’t usually get into philosophical writing on librarian issues, but I was thinking about how these ideas might apply to a business librarian working with business faculty and students. Maybe a future post…
Dread data no more: crash course in data visualization for librarians (presentation)
Liz Johns. LOEX 2016.
Liz is the Librarian for Education at Johns Hopkins University. This presentation is a good introduction to the topic. It includes polls in which the audience is asked to pick the better representation of the data, which we readers can also participate in by reviewing the slides. Nice interactive touch.
BusinessDecision: demographic and expenditure data for small business owners [product review]
Trevor L. Winn & Steven Assarian. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, (2016, May) 21:2, 175-181.
A detailed, expert review of this database by two business librarians in Michigan. The Michigan State Library provides both DemographicsNow and BusinessDecision to libraries in the state. This review well illustrates two really important aspects of database reviews: talking about the source data, and comparing the product to competing products. It usually frustrates me when a shorter review in a publication like Library Journal makes no mention of competitors. That really reduces the value of the review to me, since due to our flat budgets (in a good year), we only get new subscriptions by cancelling existing ones.
But be careful making the comparisons:
“With its extensive consumer data, business and people directory, and mapping features, DemographicsNow is the prime competitor to BusinessDecision when considering the needs of small business owners. Although SimplyMap most closely resembles BusinessDecision’s scope and map-centric interface, DemographicsNow offers more data points relevant to entrepreneurs.”
No, SimplyMap offers data points just as relevant to entrepreneurs as DemographicsNow, and even much more so if you subscribe to SimplyMap modules like MRI and SimmonsLocal. That’s in part why NC LIVE has provided SimplyMap to this state for 8 years now (although not the SimmonsLocal module). My new 3-minute SimplyMap video uses entrepreneurship examples.
13 (last one):
Transitioning to 100% Business E-Books: The Case of a Large University Business Collection
Wahib Nasrallah. Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 1:2 (2016)
Wahib is the Senior Business Librarian at the University of Cincinnati. I’m not sure if I’ve read an ebook study before that focused on business ebooks. He writes of his library’s successful transition to mostly ebook purchasing. Regarding why the business school was happy with this change, he writes:
“In many ways, we forget that we are in the knowledge business, clinging to old formats while the world around us requires adaptation and change….Book publishing is a slow process, and the transporting of a physical book to a patron isn’t always feasible…The practice of housing print books in mammoth structures with very little circulation statistics to show for is neither efficient nor effective and has not served the goals of business research.”
The library worked with YBP to create notifications of new e-books only. He notes that some publishers have crazy ebook pricing strategies, and presents data on the number of ebooks on business topics published by core business publishers (see the table on p. 3).
Wahib asserts that “Librarians have always shown a preference for selecting books rather than leasing collections from aggregators (Vasileiou, 2012)” but I don’t think that’s true. We like the Safari package for updating its collections of tech books every year, keeping the collection fresh and relevant.
Their library began using DDA in 2012. There has been an increase in titles triggered for purchase and total spending since then. But the library is not using DDA-only:
“The DDA plan is supplemented by minimal print book purchases from those publishers who resist e-publishing. It is also supplemented by a few e-book purchases for books not available on the DDA platform. We are also retaining our publisher-based e-book collections…In 2013/2014, the e-book collection totaled 1,710 DDA titles and 2,937 titles from other sources.. In the same year, we purchased [only!] 89 print books from publishers who do not supply electronic copies for libraries.
Wahib concludes that their “transformation has received much praise and little to no complaints.” A useful case study.