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Archive for the ‘BLINC’ Category

Vanessa

Blame Vanessa for this post

Yesterday my work friend Vanessa Apple, a coder in our tech department, drove over to Winston-Salem for a visit. At one of the downtown breweries (a dog-friendly one, as Vanessa is into dogs), I was telling her about my crazy Friday with its ups and downs. She replied “you should write about that on your blog! You could title it ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’.”

Eh, why not? It’s been a while since I wrote anything personal about liaison work. And then I can procrastinate on some other projects I’m not in the mood for yet…

Vanessa, thank you for the suggestion. Sorry I used a different title, though.

Last Friday

8am

Didn’t sleep well, so a lame start to the day. Sunny and hot already. Put on new dress shoes to start breaking them in for the fall semester. Traffic not bad.

9am

Learned that a Charleston Conference proposal I submitted with Orolando Duffus (U. of Houston) and Rosalind Tedford (Wake Forest U.) was accepted. Yay. It will be a “lively discussion” (one of this conference’s program formats) on liaison trends. Should be fun.

Walked over to the student union next door to deposit the royalties check for the 2017-18 version of the Export Odyssey project textbook Professor Williamson and I co-wrote. (That version was printed by the campus bookstore. The next edition will be an ebook published by Kendall Hunt. More on significant changes to this, my originally embedded role, in a blog post next month hopefully.)

Right heel starting to hurt.

10am

Prepared a bit for next week’s BLINC workshop at Elon University. Got caught up on emails. Reviewed my notes from Thursday’s liaison teams retreat.

Scheduled a chat with Kelsey Molseed, a former intern and mentee, for late afternoon today in downtown Winston-Salem, where she also lives. Kelsey has just finished her MLS and had been interviewing.

12pm

Drove from campus to our downtown Nursing school building (easy parking), then walked a half mile to a downtown Mediterranean restaurant to have lunch with the new business librarian at the Greensboro Public Library, Morgan Ritchie-Baum. Morgan is also a new member of BLINC. I ordered a new-to-me wrap that included strips of dried beef. Ended up with some of it stuck in my throat and had to retire to the bathroom to cough it out. Very embarrassing. But Morgan was super-polite. She is already getting involved with the local entrepreneurial and nonprofit ecosystems.

After lunch, we walked a few blocks south and I gave Morgan a quick tour of HQ Greensboro (an incubator space — UNCG is an institutional member).

On the sidewalk, we bumped into a former reference intern, Melanie Knier, who also took my old business information class. She opened a vintage apparel shop in the neighborhood.

Foot hurts more.

1:30pm

Back in the office. Took off shoes. Oh look, I had a blister which popped and then bled through my dress sock. Yuck. Applied Neosporin and band-aids.

2:30pm

Went home early.

3:00pm

Switched to my hiking shoes with thick short socks. Heel feels much better in them.

Considered changing shirts for the 4pm chat with Kelsey. Notice the new knit shirt I’ve been wearing today had a tear along the seam in the armpit area. Lovely.

3:10pm

Decided to change shirts.

4:00pm

Met Kelsey in a coffee shop and we had a nice chat. She just received two job offers (from a small school and a big school) and had to make a tough decision. We talked about that and other things for a while. She moves away next month. Hopefully we’ll meet again at a conference sometime soon.

Evening

Read a book in a brewery (not the one Vanessa I visited yesterday), then played some pinball in the retro arcade. Chatted with barkeep Cheyanne before heading home to see my wonderful wife Carol and ask her how her day went.

Made dinner together and talked about looking forward to playing with the little nephews on Saturday at a family pool party. Slept much better that night.

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Last November, Tommy Waters (Howard University) emailed me in his capacity as chair of CABAL (Capital Area Business Academic Librarians). He asked about the possibility of CABAL and BLINC working together sometime. Fellow BLINC officer Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College) and I liked that idea and proposed Richmond, VA, as a possible location. Carrie Ludovico (University of Richmond) volunteered her campus’ downtown Richmond location, which is where we met last week Friday for this day-long workshop.

downtown Richmond

downtown Richmond

Seven academic BLINC members (we include academic, public, and a few special librarians) signed up to join 23 CABAL members from as far as Baltimore. (Two of those BLINC members had very recently moved to Richmond; a third BLINC member starts work in a couple of weeks at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg VA but was still unpacking boxes and couldn’t make it to the workshop. I think the Virginia Library Association owes us a commission!)

Jo Ann Henson

Jo Ann Henson (standing)

The night before the workshop, the BLINC folks plus three of our spouses/partners and a business librarian friend (whose membership in CABAL would be voted on the next morning) whom I met at the Charleston Conference gathered for dinner and drinks in the hip Carytown neighborhood. As I wrote last time, socializing and networking and supporting each other are really the core functions of BLINC and so we had a great time, concluding with a group walk and ice cream. Meanwhile, CABAL had a fancy dinner downtown that we were invited to, but after our recent fancy retirement dinner, we wanted to do something more casual this time.

The workshop began at 10am with introductions by everyone. Tommy and I also asked each librarian to share one opportunity and one challenge he or she is facing. I identified some trends:

  • Getting up to speed as a newly appointed business librarian;
  • Building relationships in the business school and across campus;
  • Data services;
  • Workload and sustainability issues with serving large and fast-growing business student populations without additional library staffing support;
  • Business info lit strategies and applying the framework to business research;
  • Weeding collections to create more space (and the headache of having to ask to withdraw government documents).

I enjoyed seeing some old BRASS friends like Jennifer Boettcher (Georgetown University) and old UNCG friends like Amanda Click (American University).

Sara Thynne

Sara Thynne

The main morning slot was devoted to short presentations on active learning strategies for business research. Shana Gass (Towson University) moderated. We had a nice mix of topics:

  1. Betty Garrison (Elon University) on MBA orientation strategy
  2. Natalie Burclaff (University of Baltimore) on scenario-based learning for marketing analysis and stock research
  3. Elizabeth Price (James Madison University) on a first-year source exploration activity
  4. Me on supporting problem-based, experiential learning in community-engaged capstone classes
  5. Amanda Click on a first-year online information evaluation exercise.

I took notes on each but I’m reluctant to just cut and paste them here (email me if you are really curious about one of these). Several speakers talked about the less than thrilling results with earlier versions of their instruction plan, and then described more effective revisions. Several also discussed decision-making as the desired outcome of effective information literacy. Another theme: selling the value of subscription databases as expensive library products also used by professionals in the business world.

Indian buffet lunch

Indian buffet lunch, with a patient smile from Ian

Often in this blog I lament the limited opportunities for business librarians to discuss teaching strategies in our more specialized info lit realm, and the limited relevance of more general info lit content (ex. at LOEX and ACRL). So not surprisingly, I thought these presentations and the ensuing discussions proved the most interesting part of the Richmond workshop. I wish we could have kept on going.

We broke into three groups for lunch downtown (no banal box lunches, hooray!)

The main after-lunch topic was databases, moderated by Shmuel Ben-Gad (George Washington University):

  1. Jo Ann Henson (George Mason University) on Factiva;
  2. Sara Thynne on SimplyAnalytics;
  3. Susan Norrissey (University of Virginia) on merger and acquisitions information in Bloomberg, Pitchbook, Privco, & Capital IQ;
  4. Sara Hess (University of Virginia) on EMIS (Emerging Markets Information System);
  5. Shmuel Ben-Gad on ABI-INFORM.

Good content from all five presenters with ensuing “compare and contrast” and “is this really worth the money?” discussions.

Early in our planning of this workshop, we considered bringing in a vendor to do an hour-long training session. That would have been useful to the librarians who subscribed to that product, but I’m really glad we ended up with this format instead.

socializing at CABAL/BLINC 2018

socializing at CABAL/BLINC 2018

No profound conclusion today. It’s always useful to get folks together to talk about shared topics of interest and build professional friendships and networks. That’s what makes successful professional organizations.

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BLINC workshop in the Durham MakerLab

BLINC workshop in the Durham MakerLab

This is a sequel to my last post of 2017. The folks in BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) think we are making progress in re-energizing the group and its workshops. But we have reminded ourselves what is most important to us as an organization.

Our first 2018 workshop was at the Durham Public Library MakerLab in March. The MakerLab is in a mall north of downtown. (The main library is being completely rebuilt and so the library system is leasing that space.) The workshop theme was “community engagement, including library support of job hunting and economic development.” Four librarians from special, public, and academic librarians led discussions on partnering with local organizations, using a new NC LIVE job hunting subscription database, and supporting for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurship.

BLINC workshop in the Durham MakerLab

BLINC workshop in the Durham MakerLab

Turnout was strong – 25 people — with half of the folks being first-time attendees to a BLINC workshop. The new people provided many positive comments about the workshop being a friendly and welcoming event with the emphasis on networking and sharing. They seemed to really enjoy the short topics and ensuing discussion plus chatting over lunch in the mall’s food court (no boring boxed lunches, hooray; the Greek place proved most popular).

Most of the first-timers were not official business, nonprofit, or entrepreneurship librarians. The workshop’s emphasis on community engagement attracted this diverse turn out. Given the evolution of business librarianship I wrote about in December, community engagement might be the emphasis that BLINC needs to grow beyond the core “business librarian” cohort.

In May, BLINC offered a hands-on Census data workshop with our sister organization Government Resources Section (of NCLA). The workshop included a preview of the new data.census.gov interface that will replace FactFinder, as well as training in American Community Survey and Economic Census data.

In ten days, seven BLINC members will travel up to Richmond, Virginia to meet up with seventeen members of the recently formed group CABAL for a joint workshop on active learning strategies and research databases.

In early August, VIPs from ProQuest and ReferenceUSA (both are NC LIVE subscriptions) will be flying to North Carolina to meet with BLINC at Elon University. They will be discussing content acquisition, licensing issues, quality control, usability, and future plans for the databases. We rarely invite vendors to BLINC workshops but do like to check in with the NC LIVE vendors occasionally since their products are available state-wide.

Finally, in early December, we will be down at UNC Charlotte for a discussion of “selling ourselves as librarians and information professionals” and also “outreach for introverts”. This will be a combined workshop with NC-SLA and (like the March event in Durham) will feature many voices representing different types of librarianship.

Meanwhile, we now have 41 people in our new BLINC Google Group, which replaced our old Wiggio group when that product died last winter. Sara Thynne and I (the current officers) are trying to do a better job of announcing and publicly welcoming each new member of our virtual space in order to continue to build fellowship and networking. Member Mimi Curlee always replies to those announcements with her own affirmation.

Mary Scanlon and Lydia Towery

Mary Scanlon and Lydia Towery

BLINC folks have long recognized networking as the #1 goal of the organization. But networking often leads to friendships too. That friendship was apparent last Saturday evening, when twelve of us gathered at a fancy restaurant in downtown Winston-Salem to celebrate the careers and contributions of two retiring business librarians and past chairs of BLINC, Lydia Towery and Mary Scanlon. My wife Carol and I could have walked to this restaurant (although we didn’t, it was too hot) but some other folks drove from two hours away to honor Lydia and Mary in person.

While BLINC has our strong tradition of creating free quarterly workshops, it is networking and friendship that really defines who we are. If that emphasis continues, then BLINC will remain a successful group.

Most of the folks at the dinner

Most of the folks at the dinner

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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

 Agenda:

  • 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

More:

  • 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.

ReferenceUSA

  • 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.

SimplyAnalytics

  • 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

Scenario

  • 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.

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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:

Strengths:

  • 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

Weaknesses:

  • 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

Opportunities:

  • 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

Threats:

  • 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!

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Catching up: NCLA 2017

Sunrise from my Halifax hotel room at GCEC 2017 (I didn’t pay extra for a harbor view)

This school year, I am attending three conferences. Two were back to back, ending on Friday, and the third begins two weeks from today. So no conferences next semester unless something local and cheap pops up.

The biennial conference of the North Carolina Library Association met in downtown Winston-Salem last week. So I was able to walk to work for three days! That was great. Many members of BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina, a section of NCLA) presented. Topics included researching grant opportunities, outreach to local small businesses and entrepreneurs, NC LIVE databases for business, researching local market data, and data visualization and data literacy.

We also had a fun BLINC dinner sponsored by SimplyAnalytics. Thank you, Steven and Juan! Steven said this was really Juan’s conference, since NC LIVE renewed its subscription to S.A. for another three years and so everyone at NCLA is a customer.

I also attended a packed program by friends Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, and Richard Moniz on “Addressing the Problem of Incivility in the Library Workplace”, a talk based on their latest ALA Editions book, The Dysfunctional Library: Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships.

But equally important at NCLA 2017 was the networking and socializing and sharing experiences with librarian friends from across the state. Smaller conferences are so good for that.

Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres 2017

Break during a plenary session at Dalhousie University

Three days before NCLA 2017 began, I returned from Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres 2017 conference. Around 300 entrepreneurship program coordinators and professors plus two entrepreneurship librarians from Ontario and one from North Carolina attended. Around 40 folks attended the “New Conference Attendee” orientation. There were no graduate students, since this conference doesn’t have a research track.

(In comparison, NCLA 2017, which I just called “smaller”, had around 920 attendees. The five entrepreneurship conferences I have now attended have all been very small by library conference standards, although USASBE came close to 900 people last winter.)

An organizational membership in GCEC is a prerequisite for individuals to attend this conference. There are 250 campus members. The conference registration fee for individuals, $450, was not high compared to other business education conferences.

Member campuses apply to host the annual conference. The host school(s) are responsible for all conference expenses, but retain all the conference registration fees as well as any sponsorship money the school is able to recruit. An interesting model. So a school could in theory make some money by hosting. GCEC usually has met in the U.S., but University College London hosted in 2014, and the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship will host in 2019. 2018 will be co-hosted in Chicagoland by DePaul University and Illinois Institute of Technology (a Coleman Fellows campus like UNCG).

This year, Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, and the University of New Brunswick were the hosts. The main conference days were Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14. We met at Dalhousie on Friday and Saint Mary’s on Saturday. We enjoyed visiting a different campus each day. There were conference buses, but some folks walked since both campuses are downtown. The official conference hotel faced the historic harbor. Breakfasts and some socials happened in the hotel.

In December when the semester is over, I will submit a formal conference report to Ticker for its consideration. But here are some more personal notes and observations.

Lunch on Friday

First, wow, the free drink tickets! We had four a night for three nights. Very nice. (No, I didn’t actually use all of mine. For one thing, I had to get up early Sunday morning to catch a flight to Toronto!) The first evening social (Thursday night) was at Pier 21, the national immigration museum of Canada. The second was at a local brewery, while the final evening social was at the local science center, which had a crazy special exhibit on quantum physics. On the top floor, we made giant soap bubbles. There was also a late evening hospitality room back in the hotel each night.

Some aspects of communication and scheduling with the conference presenters were dicey. This is perhaps a consequence of this conference floating around different campuses each year – the organizers are different each time, may have no experience with conference planning, and might have a full time job to do in additional to the GCEC planning work. Participants submitted programs for 50 minute slots, but most of us ended up paired with another speaker or panel within the 50 minute slot. We got that news of that pairing pretty late. Awkward after having a 50 minute program accepted months in advance to have to make it a 25 minute program with only 3 weeks to go. Most of the program titles were apparently written by the conference organizations after the mergers of accepted submissions. On the other hand, having 2-in-1 50 minute programming slots resulted in brisk presentations and panels with lots of idea-sharing.

Since this conference focuses on entrepreneurship centers, most of the programs concerned the creation and support of accelerators and educational programs. Experiential learning, collaboration and engagement with local entrepreneurial ecosystems, mentoring and counseling programs, creating cross-campus programs, and how to measure and assess successful programs were common topics.

As usual for entrepreneurship education conferences, the attendees at GCEC were happy to have librarians in attendance. The profs consider us partners in entrepreneurship education and most know who their own entrepreneurship librarian is. There were a number of questions after each of the librarian panels, and the comment “I which you had more time to talk” was expressed at both.

On Friday, as part of a program given the title “Learning from Being on the Ground and Asking for Help from Those Who Know”, Carey Toane, Entrepreneurship Librarian at the University of Toronto, and I presented on “Teaching Entrepreneurship Students to use Regional Industry and Market Data to Make Better Decisions and Reduce Risk” (the title we submitted).

Carey provided data from a survey she conducted on “campus entrepreneurs’ research habits and needs.” The survey helped describe the information seeking behavior of University of Toronto entrepreneurs. I talked about the roles academic libraries and entrepreneurship librarians can perform for entrepreneurship programs and centers, and emphasized faculty’s key role in making sure students utilize high quality research sources (including data) and utilize their research consultants (us librarians). Carey concluded our talk with a walk-through of a Toronto-based case study in which students did make some significant decisions using data (including Canadian consumer data via SimplyAnalytics).

Carey Toney and Christina Kim speaking on how librarians support campus entrepreneurs

Carey Toney and Christina Kim speaking on how librarians support campus entrepreneurs

On Saturday, Carey and librarian Christina Kim (Senior Manager of Market Intelligence of MaRS Discovery District, cross-appointed from the University of Toronto) spoke on “How Librarians Support Campus Entrepreneurs and Build Culture.” Carey discussed how she supports students and startups across three campuses, nine campus accelerators, and courses that span from Music to Medicine to Computer Science at her campus of almost 89,000 students (whew!). Chris coordinates the provision of research databases and datasets to the MaRS accelerator program, but also supports regional innovation centres across several provinces as well as other campus-based accelerators in Ontario. Carey and Chris concluded with recommendations to faculty (“Your homework”) to reach out to their business or engineering librarians, provide links to their guides, and invite librarians to class to support students’ research.

The conference began and ended with plenary sessions. The opening plenary featured a debate on “education versus acceleration” – which should be the focus for an entrepreneurship? The debate was pretty good (the Hyde Park debates at the Charleston Conference are more entertaining) but the plenary got much more interesting when the first attendee to ask a question, a prof from Yale, pointed out that the moderator and the four debaters were all males speaking to a conference that was about 50% female. (My neighbor complained to me that all four guys were from the U.S., despite GCEC meeting in Canada for the first time.) In response, the moderator invited the female prof from Yale to join the group on stage as they fielded more questions. But sexism in entrepreneurship (both education and the world of start-ups) remained an unofficial theme for the rest of the conference. We even discussed this in the Halifax airport Sunday morning as we waited to fly out.

Privilege came up less often. Getting students to work 20-40 hours a week in a campus incubator on their business idea while also taking a full load of classes is only a possibility for well-off kids who don’t need to work a job to pay for their education (or support their families, since sometimes students are also parents). In contrast, UNCG is an urban, regional state school with many first generation college students (as I was at the U of M), and almost minority-majority.

Diversity came up a few times, as did the vital role of immigrants in creating jobs and supporting the economy. Canada continues to out-complete the U.S. for recruiting immigrants who start companies, create jobs, and grow the economy.

I really liked this conference for the exchange of practical ideas and the ample opportunity for networking. Ok, yes, for the socials too.

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Monday and Tuesday was fall break here at UNCG. On Monday, Wake Forest University and UNCG sponsored the 2016 edition of the Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians. Since I had just returned to work from D.C. and forgot to ask for a sub for my lunchtime reference desk shift, I wasn’t able to walk over to the conference until after my late lunch.

So I missed talks by friends Richard Moniz, Dan Maynard, and Nina Exner (sorry, guys) but did attend two very good programs in the afternoon, summarized below. A bunch of BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina, a section of NCLA) members attended, but there were also business librarians from Howard University and the fast-growing University of Central Florida. Between sessions, some of us talked about interest in a southeast regional business librarians’ conference of some sort, or just hosting a BLINC workshop the day before the next Entrepreneurial Librarians conference and inviting the out-of-state business librarians. Interesting ideas.

“Developing Liaison Librarians for Data-Intensive Research Engagement”

Hilary Davis, NCSU

Hilary Davis, NCSU. Sorry, these aren’t the best iPad pictures.

Hilary Davis and Honora Eskridge from North Carolina State University discussed a curriculum they created to help librarians “develop knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate effectively with researchers” regarding data. As many of you know, NCSU is well known for innovations in library spaces and tech tools, but I really enjoyed hearing Hilary and Honora discuss their investment in liaison skills development.

They began by summarizing the changing environment for liaisons at research universities:

  • Research is changing (increasingly interdisciplinary; open access);
  • Subject liaison roles are changing (programming and training for NCSU liaisons has not been consistent, but that may be changing)
  • Liaison services need to be aligned with the research enterprise on campus.

The “Leveraging the Liaison Model” report from Ithaka/Anne Kenney provided additional context for recent changes. Supporting data research was identified as a top priority by the library, and Hilary was asked to lead the process of providing training support to the liaisons. They decided to try a short course experience that the library would design with support from the Odom Institute in Chapel Hill. That led to the creation of the Data and Viz Institute for Librarians. The first institute was held in May 2016 for an international group of librarians and researchers.

The objectives included:

  • Effectively use the language of data science to communicate with researchers;
  • Demonstrate basic methods of exploring and analyzing data;
  • Apply visualization techniques to improve data communication;
  • Learn tools and techniques for version control;
  • Understand data sharing requirements of publishers and funding;
  • Understand the impact of open research practices.

This was 4.5 day program with a registration fee of $2,500 (which included food but not transportation or housing). Yes, rather pricey. The library provided laptops to limit problems with downloading software and practice datasets, which did take a lot of time to prepare.

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Thirty applicants were accepted out of ninety applications. The library gave preference to applicants whose work directly aligned with data research.  Honora summarized feedback from the inaugural institute (see picture). Not all instructors provided hands-on instruction, as they were asked. Participants also asked for more networking time.

The institute will repeat in April 2017 with a slightly different mix of instructors and more emphasis on hands-on learning. (Hmm a tough month for being away for a week for those of us who teach in the spring semester).

The NSCU liaisons have appreciated the training opportunities in response to their needs (although the big institute was mostly a vision of library administrators). Hilary and Honora emphasized the importance of investing in their liaisons. Some of the liaisons are putting their increased data skills to use by text-mining reference chat questions, creating predictions of DDA ebook usage and creating a data dashboard for ARL statistics.

Hilary and Honora suggest three top take-aways:

  • Train for exposure (short course-style training);
  • Develop for depth (deeper training, more specialized skills);
  • Put it into practice (include data skills in liaison job responsibilities, and offer data services to faculty and students).

“The Future of Subject Specialists in Academic Libraries”

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University)

Mary Scanlon (WFU) and Betty Garrison (Elon)

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University) led a discussion on “whether subject specialists remain relevant in the future.” They also provided predictions on “anticipated evolutionary changes to current responsibilities, potential for expanded roles, and the need for education and skills beyond the MLS.” While employing a clear outline, this program enjoyed a pleasant conversation feel to it.

Betty and Mary began by discussing their concern about the smaller attendance in BLINC’s quarterly meetings in last few years. They had considered possible reasons:

  • Cuts in professional development time?
  • Fewer business librarian positions?
  • More focus on national organizations?

They planned this program to delve into those possibilities.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business remains one of the most popular majors at college, so the demand for library and research support probably remains high.

However, the natures and job titles of liaisons are evolving. Many positions are now focusing on functions, not subjects. Betty said she is now the only librarian at Elon with a job title that indicates a subject focus (Business Librarian). Mary and Betty provided decade-by-decade snapshots of changing job titles, responsibilities, and roles. The changing roles are more evolutionary than revolutionary:

  1. Teaching: deeper engagement & embedding. Instructional design; teaching our own classes.
  2. Approval plan increasingly important –> same for collection policy. Less ordering.
  3. Reference services: meeting patrons where they are; the desk less important; using student workers in a triage model. Outreach librarians spending time in dorms. Public librarians going door to door, or working at the chamber or small business and entrepreneurship centers.
  4. Research and publications support. Data sets, open access, citation assistance, institutional repositories. (Betty’s business school dean recently called her to provide education to his faculty about predatory journals.)
  5. Supporting faculty tenure applications: impact factors, times cited, alt metrics.
  6. Outreach: supporting the outreach librarian (a functional position); frosh orientation; advising; embedded work.
  7. Technology: devices, services, location-independence; tech check-outs.

Some subject liaisons are shedding functional roles as libraries hire more functional librarians. This should help us deal with the crisis in the escalation of liaison responsibilities. Mary alluded to a workshop the WFU and UNCG liaisons once had on this topic.

Comments from the audience at this point:

  • “I’m one of those new outreach librarians. There has been a lot of support for my position. I’ve been asked to try some new things, and am sort of writing my own job description.”
  • “Do your 1st year instruction librarians have subject liaison roles too?” Many do, apparently.
  • Two librarians mentioned recent failed searches (for a science librarian and business librarian) because their favorite candidates were snatched up quickly by other companies.
  • Subject librarians continue to get busier. Work/life balance is becoming more difficult.

Conclusion from Betty and Mary: Subject liaisons will endure as our roles and responsibilities continue to evolve.

Conference proceedings will be published soon.

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