On March 15, seven business librarians from around the United States met online to talk about the for-credit business research classes we teach. We were frank in our sharing, so no names will be mentioned here! But they did give me permission to post a short summary of our main topics.
The classes range from one to three credits. Most are for undergraduates, but a couple include graduate students. The classes focus on entrepreneurship, economic development, competitive intelligence, or data visualization. Some are required; others are elective.
We intentionally didn’t record the WebEx session – it was intended to be an informal sharing session – but I tried to take some notes. Here are the core discussion topics that came up.
Lack of core textbooks
No one uses a comprehensive textbook. We aren’t aware of one. We agreed that the LIS business information textbooks aren’t useful outside of LIS classes. I mentioned I use the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Market Research by Wenzel (Praeger), which is really good for research strategies and how to make decisions based on the research. But it only covers consumer marketing for the most part.
Create an open textbook?
There was interest in working together to create a modular, flexible, free online textbook. That would certainly be a lot of work though. We’ll see.
The need to share the resources we use
Instead of relying on a textbook, we all use a mix of articles, web pages, and reports. We agreed to share examples from our classes as well as our syllabus, assignments, and other course documents via a private libguide. We’ll probably have to remind each other to add more to the guide after the spring semester wraps up.
Are you paid for your class?
A few are. Others do the work as part of their normal, expected librarian duties. I mentioned I get conference travel money through our Coleman Foundation grant. I think most of us would like to get paid extra for teaching, but as one of the librarians noted, adjunct instructors don’t usually get paid a fair wage for their time anyway.
Do you teach on your own time or as part of your normal librarian hours?
Both situations exist for us. Some teach as part of their normal duties, and others teach outside of their normal work hours. One of us hasn’t been sure what the expectations are and does grading at home.
What about the workload?
A big issue, certainly. There is some resentment about the workload demand, which some of our colleagues don’t have to deal with as much. Some of us are also very busy with research consultations and other teaching (such as one-shots). It’s not easy keeping up.
Some of us teach very large, required classes (80 or more students). Some of us (ex. me) teach little boutique classes in comparison.
What terminology for what we teach and who we are?
Some library terminology isn’t meaningful outside the librarianship bubble. “Information literacy” is an example. So we teach “business research”, “competitive intelligence”, “economic development,” etc. The ACRL frameworks seem to focus on first-year composition classes and use language appropriate for that type of teaching.
Likewise, business students, business faculty, and the business and nonprofit community recognize the value of “business research consultants” but have other notions of what “librarians” do or would teach. This is not a new observation, of course.
What we get from teaching these classes?
Increased recognition and respect from professors and others. Greater understanding of what teaching college students entails. Appreciation for having more time with our students and building long-term relationships with them. Teaching at a deeper level and witnessing students’ substantial growth (hopefully) as researchers and critical thinkers.
We hope to stay in touch. If you teach a for-credit business research class and we missed you, we are sorry. Let me know if you are interested in connecting with the group.