Archive for the ‘BLINC’ Category

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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BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) met at the High Point Public Library yesterday, the 3rd day of classes at UNCG. This should be an interesting school year. with some new experiences to write about. I’m not sure yet how some of them will turn out!

High Point Public business librarians John Raynor and Vicki Johnson sponsored us in their sharp-looking library. We had 17 librarian present: mostly public and academic, but also one community college, one corporate, and one special librarian (a Senior Research Analyst at the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Raleigh.)

BLINC at High Point Public

BLINC at High Point Public during a break

After networking over breakfast snacks, Dan Maynard from Campbell University began the workshop with a presentation “What if you couldn’t scare me? Engaging your fourth sector community: high-impact educational experiences and a very different spin on financial literacy.”

The “4th sector community” phrase was new to me. Dan explained it basically as companies with a social entrepreneurship focus (ex. on local food, the environment, or social issues). We learned that Dan is a Sullivan Foundation Fellow at Campbell! He is the only Sullivan Fellow who is a librarian. Very cool.

As a fellow, Dan works with 3 classes in the business school, all required for business students in (generally) their first, second, and third years.

He framed his introduction to the 4th sector as “finding good work” (identifying a local need) and “funding good work”. Dan led us in a discussion of the ecosystem (including regulatory issues) in our state for nonprofits and 4th sector.

4th sectors companies in Dan’s rural Harnett County include mainly lifestyle companies: a bicycle shop, dairy farm, green/sustainable organic farm, a river adventures service outfit, a golf development/training company for “juniors”, a video production company, and the new Arts Council.

Moving into the funding good work aspect, Dan played for us a video about Detroit SOUP and talked about similar efforts in North Carolina. Some of his students are working on a SOUP project in Harnett County.

Dan concluded by getting into aspects of financial literacy. Instead of investing in multinational public companies via traditional investments, what about investing in local start-ups? He play a portion of a TEDx Piscataqua River talk by North Carolinian Carol Peppe Hewitt titled “What if you couldn’t scare me?” Hewitt is founder (I think) of Slow Money NC and has worked with Dan. The point of her TED talk title: we are scared into investing in big corporations as being necessary for our financial solvency and retirement savings. Instead, we should invest in local small business doing good work locally.

We ended the morning with a discussion of library services to nonprofits and 4th sector companies. Lydia Towery (Charlotte Public and Foundation Center coordinator) talked about how nonprofits are just another kind of company, and so the market and financial planning to start a nonprofit is much the same. Deanna Day, the SBTDC research analyst, and Heather Stanford from Mauney Memorial Public Library, Kings Mountain provided some interesting stories about working with social entrepreneurs/dreamers brimming with passion to start something up but not doing their feasibility homework first. It’s always reassuring to hear other business librarians discuss challenging consulting situations! A memorable quote from John: “Some dreams need to die.”

Business Center at High Point Public

Business Center at High Point Public

After lunch at a downtown Asian bistro, we looked at the library’s new business center. High Point Public just created this attractive and flexible space to support the library’s economic development work: workshops, consultations, and connecting entrepreneurs with other local support centers. The space is part of the library’s response to the city’s strategic goal of keeping more young business owners in High Point and not moving to the bigger cities in the state. Virginia Lewis, their department head, discussed their funding efforts to get the room and its tech set up. John, Vicki, and Casie (a community liaison librarian) will be leading this initiative. Creating more partnerships with other organizations is one of the outcomes that will be measured by the library and reported annually to the city and other stakeholders like the local chamber. Impressive, proactive work.

Inside the Business Center

Inside the Business Center

Back in our conference room, Heather described her trip to Omaha to attend the ReferenceUSA User Conference for public librarians in May. She attended as our NC LIVE rep, our state-wide database provider. I assumed this was mainly a focus group event, but Heather reports that the event instead focused on training the librarians and explaining in detail InfoGroup’s data collection and quality control practices – still certainly worthwhile.

Heather told us that InfoGroup wants ReferenceUSA to be closer associated with entrepreneurship research. The company is also promoting the database as the best source for closed businesses (part of the U.S. Businesses module). Social media links are being added to the establishment records.

Business Center again

Business Center again

We then got into an interesting discussion of SimplyMap versus ReferenceUSA U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles module for market data research, and where the data comes from in each product. Or course, SimplyMap is a collection of datasets with different methodologies, so we had to break down our discussion a bit into Census data v. survey data (ex. MRI and Simmons) v. the subscription and online purchase data used heavily by InfoGroup. This topic, the nature of the data, and how to make conclusions (ex. what is my local market size?) using these tools would be an interesting future BLINC workshop.

We ended the BLINC workshop with Lydia providing an update on the Foundation Center and then asking us for possible dates for our next workshop. NC LIVE has asked BLINC once again to review the NC LIVE business database mix and make recommendations for its 2018-2020 subscription package. BLINC has provided this service to NC LIVE every three years since 2008 or so. Always an interesting discussion for us, as we compare and debate the needs of our patrons (not necessarily the same needs!) and the best databases to serve those information needs. That will happen in November and December, with our report due to the NC LIVE officers on New Year’s.

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On Monday, six academic business librarians gathered at the Salem College Library in Winston-Salem, NC for a morning-long discussion of professional writing and speaking opportunities.

Salem College is oldest women’s college in the United States (13th oldest overall), having been founded by Moravians in colonial times. The campus is adjacent to Old Salem and near our condo, so I walked over to meet with friends for our chat. After our discussion we strolled over to what used to be the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway building for a bistro lunch.

Discussion at Salem College

Discussion at Salem College

A few of us have faculty status and so are required to write and speak; one of us is deep into a PhD program and very involved with research and publishing; and others are interested in doing more writing and speaking.

After sharing our summer news and vacation recaps, we decided on this simple agenda:

  1. How to identify topics that are publishable;
  2. Where to publish;
  3. The same but for speaking

I didn’t keep complete notes on my iPad, and some of our talk should be kept private, but here are some points that are hopefully interesting and useful. Sorry if these notes seem too brief. Maybe another general point to make here is the importance of building and using your professional network to explore opportunities.

1. How to identify topics that are publishable

Question: do you start pursuing a writing idea with the topic or the publishing venue? We discussed that it could be both, too. Sometimes we get solicitations or encouragement to write something from a publisher or editor. It can certainly by harder for a newer librarian to benefit like that from a professional network, but partnering with another librarian to write something can help.

There are a few blogs about library writing which often list opportunities:

As for topics? The first question in response is — what are you passionate about? What are you most interested in? Start from those topics. Don’t force yourself to write about something you find boring. If you get rejections on a topic you have passion for, you may need to tweak the main idea but don’t give up on it too quickly.

However, having a unique angle on your topic is pretty important, or having unique or better data of some sort. Look for gaps in the literature (like PhD students are encouraged to do when they are considering a dissertation topic).

Go with your comfort writing, which may be quantitative or qualitative. Consider partnering with a friend who has a writing strength you don’t have.

Offer to write a column (email a column editor about an idea you have) or consider writing a position piece (“Librarians need to start doing….”). It doesn’t have to be a research article every time.

Got a preliminary idea? Write a blog post about it (lots of them accept guest-writing). See if you find the writing interesting and would be interested to write more. You might get some useful preliminary feedback, too. (Just don’t publish your complete manuscript as a blog post – save some writing and ideas for the more traditional publication.)

Regarding rejections from editors, one librarian told of getting an article harshly rejected from a mid-quality journal, getting a no-feedback rejection from a low-quality journal, but later being told by editors of a high-quality journal that it was among the best papers they have ever received. So don’t give up.

We discussed that some editors are supportive and helpful (even when rejecting an article outright) while others are well, less so. The editors for ACRL’s College and Research Libraries have a reputation for being harsh, but they do receive a large number of mediocre submissions that don’t even try to follow its “instructions for authors.”

We discussed institutional review boards a bit. It’s good to make a friend on the board who can provide advice. Sometimes you will submit a proposal to the board and it will declare the research to be exempt from IRB requirements. So don’t fear the IRB. You can usually check with the IRB before running a survey, etc. to get feedback.

2. Where to publish

We talked about good and bad experiences with editors. One of us co-edited a book but received almost no support from the publisher. Two of us wrote a Q/A article but didn’t have our names listed as co-authors until six weeks after publication. Bogus!

I reported on writing a book chapter for an ABC-CLIO book edited by two librarians in Alabama and having an excellent experience.

And one of us wrote a book chapter for IGI and had to use their format, which really didn’t fit the content of the chapter, but otherwise had a good experience with IGI and would write for them again.

We emphasized the importance of researching what kind of articles (editorials, practical pieces, reviews, or research) a journal publishes, and of course what topics it tends to publish. So look at recent articles and table of contents, and read the journal’s scope/author instructions very carefully.

Except for occasional special issues in various journals, the main venues for business librarianship have been the Taylor & Francis Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship and the new Ticker open-access journal, created by some of the ABLD directors.

There’s nothing wrong with writing a short practical article for publications like College & Research Library News or Academic BRASS.

3. On speaking

There was a pretty free-wheeling discussion, since we all had stories to tell from various conferences. We considered ourselves lucky to have lots of high-quality small, annual conferences within a short drive of our homes.

We discussed ACRL a bit too. Alas it has no business section but many business librarians do attend and speak (and party) there. Key aspects when designing a panel proposal to ACRL: uniqueness, applicability to other libraries, and connection to hot trends.

You can submit an excellent proposal for an ACRL contributed paper and not be accepted if there aren’t other related submissions than can be combined with your own to form an hour-long series of papers.

Some conferences invite speakers to contribute to a conference proceedings, which is an easy way to get a peer-review article published as well as credit for your talk. LOEX, the Charleston Conference, and ACRL are examples. Your proceedings could be just a narrative write-up of your slides, or could provide deeper analysis or additional case studies.

Some international conferences can be less expensive than you might think (one of us recently spoke in Dublin). Two of us are now attending and speaking at business professor conferences, which our administrators really like. So don’t limit yourself.

We can’t say with certainty, but we assume that a proposed panel of librarians from different libraries is often more interesting to a conference programming committee than a panel of librarians from the same library. ACRL bears this out we think.

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I’m catching up on my professional reading after the fall semester. Here are summaries and thoughts on some of the readings with my usual focus on liaison work and business librarianship. Good luck to everyone as your semester and year wind down.


It’s Your Business: Evaluating the Business Curriculum to Target Information Literacy in the Discipline [pdf]
by Nataly Blas (Loyola Marymount University)
Academic BRASS, Vol 10 (1), Spring 2015

Nataly provides a step-by-step plan to create a curriculum map of a business info lit program. She writes about what kind of documents to use and look for (ex. syllabi, accreditation standards, library goals, etc.) and provides the example of a business law class. At the end of the short article, she provides a link to map of the Finance curriculum, and also provides a Word template for our mapping efforts. Nataly attended ACRL Immersion this year, so hopefully she will continue to share her thoughtful work with us.


Framework-ized Information Competency Skills for Business Students
by Amanda Howell (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) after Nancy A. Cunningham (Director, Academic Services University of South Florida)
Google Drive document

Amanda updated Nancy’s information literacy guidelines for the ACRL frameworks idea. The instruction leaders in my library have begun to schedule workshops for liaisons to work on frameworks for our areas, so I’m grateful for Amanda for sharing this recently in a BRASS online discussion. As I’ve heard business librarians lament more than once, the old standards seemed overly focused on students using articles, books, and web sites to write research papers – old-fashioned outputs of student work. So it’s great to see statistical data, market research, company financials, etc. covered on a frameworks guide, and “authorship” defined as more than individuals writing a book or article.


Both Sides Now: Vendors and Librarians: Can You Give Me a “Ballpark” Price of What This Will Cost?
by Michael Gruenberg (President, Gruenberg Consulting, LLC)
Against The Grain, June 2015

ATG is the companion publication to the Charleston Conference. (A small group of business librarians rendezvoused in Charleston last month, Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from the Wharton School reported. Maybe for the 2016 conference we will submit a panel proposal or organize a business librarians & publishers dinner?) Both the publication and the conference are great for facilitating dialogues between librarians and vendors, and for better understanding each other’s practices and needs. In this article, Michael discusses the salesperson’s challenge of responding to early requests for a price, and the information professional’s need to not provide budget details too early. Michael also provides suggestions to both parties on how to handle the negotiation dance.


Two presentations from NCLA 2015

If You Build It, Will They Come? Designing a More Engaged Liaison Program
by Teresa LePors and Betty Garrison (Elon University)

I missed this one due to a class commitment, but really wanted to go. Betty is the Business Librarian and a BLINC-buddy. Teresa became the library dean in summer 2012 and worked with the librarians and staff on some strategic planning and reinvisioning. In 2014 the Elon librarians created a Library Research and Scholarly Services department, with monthly meetings of liaisons. Increased outreach and stronger relationships with faculty is one goal of the new group.

Email was chosen as a target communication tool, and so the liaisons did a study of email interactions with profs by time of day, day of the week, department, who initiated the email, etc. Most of the slides are devoted to this. There are some graphs and pie charts, plus a study of topic/word mapping with quotes for each topic, ex. instruction.

Best practices according to the Elon liaisons:

  • Be visible
  • Show interest
  • Experiment
  • Build relationships
  • Respond promptly
  • Support colleagues

There is also a useful timeline of outreach responsibilities over one year (slide 40).

North Carolina Librarian on Main Street
Nancy Tucker (Business Librarian, Mauney Memorial Library, Kings Mountain, NC), Sharon Stack (Library Director), and Jan Harris (Director, Kings Mountain Main Street Program, City of Kings Mountain). Heather Sanford is the other business librarian involved with this project.

Another program from a BLINC member I regret having to miss. Nancy discusses her library’s proactive engagement of downtown businesses – she and Heather went door-to-door (yes, literally) to offer the library’s support of small businesses:

In this presentation, participants will learn how a small library in Kings Mountain partnered with its city’s Main Street™ organization and Planning and Economic Development department to help small businesses be successful in the 21st century marketplace and in return, the program has benefited downtown revitalization efforts.  This program is a powerful example of how the library has facilitated, through partnerships, a transformation downtown and triggered small business success and economic growth.

The library’s involvement is a vital part of the city’s “Four Point Approach” to revitalize downtown:

  • Organization
  • Promotion
  • Design
  • Economic restructuring

The library offered to help the downtown businesses with business plans, market research, website development, online marketing, print marketing, logo design, branding, technology assistance, mission statement writing, and secret shopping (!) A wonderful example of effective, proactive engagement.


Making All the Right Moves for Liaison Engagement: A Strategy for Relating to Faculty
by John G. Bales
C&RL News, November 2015

A short opinion piece encouraging liaisons to create an action plan for faculty outreach, and then track progress using a spreadsheet that covers all the faculty. Other liaisons have proposed using customer relationship management (CRM) software to enable a group of librarians to track faculty connections. Creepy or really useful?


Where Have All the Books Gone? Exploring “Virtual Libraries” at Cornell University’s Engineering and Physical Science Libraries
by Jill Wilson, Jeremy Cusker, & Dianne Dietrich (Cornell University)
Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 5(2):23-31, 2015

Some of you business librarians may have heard Corey Seeman talk about what happened with the library space at the University of Michigan business school. These stories from Cornell are similar. The most interesting parts to me where the outreach efforts that had to be ramped up big time to compensate for the built-in promotional value of the physical space:

New undergraduate and graduate students may hear from peers that “there was once a library and now there is not” and believe—erroneously—that the library is no longer relevant to their development as future researchers. It is crucial then, in the virtual model, that librarians continually develop partnerships with faculty members and remain visible to students.

Interesting perspective for those of us who have always worked out of a general library.


First issue of Ticker

The first issue of Ticker: the Academic Business Librarianship Review came out last summer. The aforementioned Corey wrote a summary of the “Action Learning Conference” held at Michigan Ross. Representatives of several MBA programs discussed their active learning programs or capstones. Michigan business librarians have written about their embedded work in such classes.

In another Ticker article, Jessica Lange of McGill University described a team competition she created for MBA orientation (“MBA Versus MBA Challenge: Developing an Engaging Library Orientation for Incoming Students”). In the first challenge, teams competed to find certain database content the fastest. In the second, the students did a battledecks competition. Slides in the presentation were from Jessica’s short introduction to library services that began the library workshop. Interesting idea!

The research article in Ticker’s first issue is “Our Year of Assessment at Columbia University’s Business and Economics Library” by Kathleen Dreyer and Nisa Bakkalbasi of Columbia University. They adopted

a multi-method assessment approach combining quantitative and qualitative statistics through a survey, exit polls, and direct observations to inform improvement planning of library services and spaces.

Their assessment was partially in response to concerns from MBA students about sharing the library with undergraduates from other campus units. Services fared well in the assessment, but the Columbia librarians reported less satisfaction with technology (for which the library has limited control) and physical spaces. The library has addressed some of those concerns, but still faces the challenge of balancing the needs for group study and social space versus quiet study space.


More from the RSR special issue on entrepreneurship

As noted here recently, Reference Services Review published a special issue on entrepreneurship. Lots of interesting articles from that issue, more than I will summarize here.

Engaging with Entrepreneurs in Academic and Public Libraries
by Jared Hoppenfeld (Texas A&M) and Elizabeth Malafi (Miller Business Resource Center, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY), both leaders in BRASS.

A good introduction to the special issue. I like the focus on both types of libraries. After a long lit review, Jared and Elizabeth summarize the kinds of services they provide to entrepreneurs in their libraries

  • Networking (librarians networking with entrepreneurs, and providing space for entrepreneurs to network with each other)
  • Outreach (ex. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Texas A&M).
  • Business incubator support
  • Supporting entrepreneurs’ intellectual property research needs
  • Educating entrepreneurs at the library

Many short case studies are briefly summarized.

Jared and Elizabeth conclude with recommendations. The main points:

  • Back to the basics: perform a reference interview
  • Learn about licensed data and entrepreneurs (for the academic subscriptions) [Posie Aagaard and Natasha Z. Arguello from UT San Antonio have an article about this in the same issue]
  • Use your support network (ex. SCORE, SBA, BUSLIB-L)
  • Networking: don’t do it alone; be persistent; try new approaches sometimes
  • Become familiar with intellectual property
  • Take advantage of entrepreneurs’ experiential learning preferences (do hands-on teaching, and get involved with pitch competitions)
  • Keep aware for the next opportunity

In Entrepreneur Assistance & Economic Development in Florida Libraries, Janet Elaine Franks (Saint Leo University) and Carol Johns (Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, Tampa) provide survey results from entrepreneurs and analyze public library services provided to entrepreneurs. A good read after the Hoppenfeld and Malafi survey article.

Academic Libraries as Community Resource Partners for Entrepreneurs by Patrick Griffis (UNLV) focuses on his library’s “strategy of collaborating with community agencies in assisting community entrepreneurs,” especially the local Small Business Development Center and the UNLV law school.

The Business Model Canvas as a Platform for Business Information Literacy Instruction by Terence William O’Neill of Michigan State. Great topic for an article, given how common the one-page business model has become. I remember when even a freshman entrepreneurship class assigned a “business plan” to the student teams, which in hindsight was a foolish choice. Business models are a much better choice for lower-level or introductory courses in entrepreneurship, or for cross-campus classes (ex. Dance or Chemistry) “infused” (as the Coleman Fellows program puts it) with an entrepreneurship module lasting three weeks or so.

In this article, Terence discusses how the MSU business librarians use the business model to organize a research workshop, assigning the students databases like IBIS for the boxes on the model that require industry research. First the librarians have the students spend five minutes fleshing out their business idea. Then the students look at IBIS and reconsider what they have decided so far about the model. Terence notes that IBIS’s topics and subtopics for each industry match pretty easily to the business model topics/boxes. Terence continues:

This in-class exercise immediately encourages the students to think of their business model, and the resultant canvas, as flexible and changeable with new information. The exercise encourages them to check their assumptions while also filling in details for some aspects of the business they might not have had a strong sense of previously.

Nice. Noting that IBIS doesn’t cover all the business model topics, the librarians present an image of the business model with the logos of relevant database in the relevant boxes. For example, RMA eStatement Studies and BizMiner are in the “Revenue Streams” box – a great idea!

My second thought on first seeing that image (the first being that it was a great idea) was that more resources should be listed, ex. Census.gov, SimplyMap, and DemographicsNow for “Customer Segments”. But Terence later writes that in their experience, students are less likely to use databases if too many are listed. An interesting note of caution.


Latest from JBFL

Finally, some good stuff since the spring in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, including reviews of CCH  Accounting Research Manager, PrivCo, the now-free IMF portal, and the OECD e-library. (The ARM review by Susan Klopper of Emery includes a memorable section header: “Accounting Content: Not The Sexiest”. I always appreciate good help like this with accounting resources.)

In a short opinion piece (“What’s in a Name? Rebranding Librarianship for Professional Students”), J. P. Huffman of Penn State University reviews the old “librarian” image problem and discusses the business librarians’ efforts to rebrand themselves as “research consultants”. That language emphasizes their role as coworkers and partners instead of information gatekeepers. She also notes that “consultants” are common in the business world and therefore seeking out the help of a business consultant doesn’t carry a stigma that asking a librarian for help might include. Instead “the library as an institution takes a backseat to our skill set and interactions with students…our identity should come from our actions, not our titles.”

And Ilana Stonebraker wrote up her very interesting flipped classroom experience I first heard her talk about at LOEX last year (“Flipping the Business Information Literacy Classroom: Redesign, Implementation, and Assessment of a Case Study”).  There are a couple of other interesting info lit articles from this issue too.

I could go on, but I just thought of a good title for a post I want to write concerning a search committee I’m chairing this winter.

Happy holidays, all!

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BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) got 2015 off to a fruitful start with a quarterly workshop on Monday, January 5.

We met at the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem – big old RJR Reynolds factories being converted to research, education, and entrepreneurship support spaces. We were kindly hosted by the Forsyth Technical Community College’s Business & Industry Services in the 525 @ Vine building [photos]. Across the courtyard is Flywheel co-working innovation space, which we toured later. The next building over is being gutted to become the new home of the WFU School of Medicine.

Reynolds Tower

Reynolds tower (background) as seen from 4th Street, Winston-Salem, NC. (Creative Commons)

I walked to the workshop from our downtown condo. It’s exciting to see the continued revival of and reinvestment in downtowns across the country. I passed the Reynolds Tower (the little Empire State Building, designed by the same architect before its younger, taller brother was built in Manhattan), where workers were busy converting it to a boutique hotel that will retain the stunning art deco lobby. The historic county courthouse, a block away, was busy with workers converting it to apartments. The place we live was a 1900 textiles mill (women’s underwear) a few blocks from Old Salem, where some German-speaking Moravians settled in the 1750’s. Lots of history restored or reclaimed leading to economic development growth, tourism, and innovation.

Forsyth Tech’s Business & Industry Services includes the local Small Business Center. Every community college in North Carolina has one of these to support entrepreneurs and small business owners. BLINC colleagues Kathleen Wheeless and Jody Lohman of the Forsyth County Public Library regularly spend time here to provide training and do outreach. Kathleen serves on the SBC advisory board.

Mary Scanlon of WFU, our excellent BLINC chair, welcomed us and introduced Allan Younger, the SBC director. Allan, Kathleen, and Jody led us in a long and interesting discussion about supporting entrepreneurs and small business and nonprofit owners, making connections locally and state-wide, library marketing, and how academic and public libraries collaborate on this stuff.

My favorite quote from Allan, regarding the significant research needs of nonprofits: “A nonprofit is still a business, just with a different legal structure”.

I’m still struck by how few public library systems allow their business specialists to use the title “Business Librarian”. Maybe I’m being narrow-minded here (given the job title my department heads have allowed me to choose), but having a customer-centered job title seemed like an easy way to facilitate outreach and marketing efforts.

Nancy Tucker and Sharon Stack from the Kings Mountain Public library drove in from beyond Charlotte for the workshop. Like Natasha Francois of Wayne County Public Library (see a previous BLINC workshop post), Nancy’s focus is going door to door visiting businesses in King’s Mountain to provide business research support and promote library services. I hope Nancy and Sharon (perhaps with Natasha?) will write an article about their work or provide a conference presentation.

Later in the workshop we talked about new tools and apps, began discussing BLINC programming for the 2015 NCLA conference in October, and spent an hour evaluating the specialized reports provided by ABI-INFORM, now available statewide via NCLIVE. (BLINC members, look for Mary’s summary in Wiggio soon).

We ended with a tour of the SBC spaces as well as the neighboring Flywheel. I really liked its half-sized basketball court (cement floor) with its hung-from-the-ceiling projector (risky?), ample white boards, portable stackable chairs, and wooden raisers with cushions.

We ran out of time for Nina Exner (NC A&T) and Kathleen to discuss grant support for academics and nonprofits, respectively. Next time, Mary promises. Props to Nina for taking notes and taking care of our lunch orders.

I picked up some milk and OJ on the walk home at the little downtown grocery store.

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Mary Scanlon of Wake Forest University hosted yesterday’s quarterly BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) workshop in the new WFU business school building. Mary’s office moved from the WFU main library to the b-school building, making her physically embedded in the building where both undergraduate and graduate business students now go to class and study. (Before the new building, there were separate schools and buildings for the two groups of students.)

Mary reports that her consultations have increased dramatically and that she has formed stronger relationships with the students. She does miss the daily camaraderie of her library peers in the main library, though, and she has had reduced contact with the Economics Department, now physically more distant. (There is one other WFU business librarian. He was assigned to the graduate students before the merger of the schools and buildings.) We enjoyed learning about Mary’s transition and encouraged her to write up her experiences in an article.

Anyway, 21 librarians meet at WFU for this BLINC workshop. A majority were public librarians – a nice change of pace for our group, which lately had been skewed a bit to the academic side in terms of participation. The sharing of ideas and experiences between public and academic business librarians has been one of the wonderful aspects of BLINC over its 12 years.

After introductions and updates on our professional lives (personal life updates happened over lunch – such a friendly group!), Natasha Francois of Wayne County Public Library took the floor to discuss her library’s new outreach project: public librarians visiting small businesses one-on-one for short discussions. Natasha met Dan Maynard of Campbell University (and a BLINC officer with Mary) at a training session he provided southeast of Raleigh, and Dan invited Natasha to talk to BLINC about her plans for business outreach in her rural county.

The Wayne County Public Library strategic plan includes building partnerships with businesses as well as nonprofits and other community players. The library already works with the local Small Business Center to provide monthly workshops on entrepreneurship and small business themes.

The goal of the outreach initiative is to provide 5- to 15-minute one-on-one sessions with business owners. In this short time, the librarians would promote library services to the owner, but also ask for input on the services the business would like – making the visit more than a library sales pitch. Smart. The library hopes that some of the visits will result in future research consultations.

The library plans to spend two Wednesdays a month making these visits, hopefully visiting 10 businesses within 3 hours. The library will make some appointments but also try unscheduled drop-ins. They will begin the visits in August and hope to have visited 100 establishments by the end of the year. At that point the program will be reevaluated.

In preparation for the visits, Natasha used Mergent Intellect to identify businesses in Wayne County by industry sector, and Google Maps to map routes. Natasha has created an evaluation plan involving surveys and statistics on reference statistics, database usage, and her business research web site hits.

The BLINC folks thought this was a very interesting project. From the public librarians, there were suggestions to collect success stories as well as statistics. Another note was how important it is to revisit the targeted businesses; it’s often at the second or third contact that the working relationship between a business and the library really begins. We asked Natasha if she could provide an update for us next year.

After lunch and informal networking, we had a presentation and discussion with Barry Ryan of the Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship in the NC Rural Economic Development Center. He profiled the various programs the institute provides (one of them, the Small Business Credit initiative, covers all NC 100 counties, not just the 85 classified as rural.) As usual whenever BLINC meets with an economic development official, we advocated for involving with the local libraries, since the libraries are already providing services and content (like NC LIVE business databases) that the institute’s clients are asking for.

We ended the workshop with Nina Exner from NC A&T providing an example of how she introduces SimplyMap to non-business students. Nina has a lot of fun with her ice cream case study and so did we. The librarians got into a discussion about the data needs of social scientists versus business researchers in the context of extrapolated survey data (like consumer expenditure data at the block group level). Lynda Kellam, you would have been proud of us.

This workshop recap doesn’t capture the fun BLINC friends have at the quarterly workshops, nor the satisfaction we get from the unplanned learning and sharing that goes on between (and during) the scheduled events. Kudos also to Betty Garrison of Elon University, the other current BLINC officer, for her leadership and hard work too.

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1. Catching Up

This is the quiet week before the campus shuts down for the holiday break.

Last month, I had a new, interesting, and potentially challenging experience in one of my co-teaching classes. The professor needed an important medical procedure (he’s fine now) which ended up being scheduled the same day as three student teams were making their final presentations. The company representatives of one student team were coming, too. So the business school’s Executive-in-Residence and I had to play host to the company reps, administer the presentations, and grade the presentations ourselves. (The professor did receive paper versions of the slides and carefully reviewed them before determining the final grade of the presentations.) Happily, all three presentations were good or very good, and the company reps left happy. If any team had deserved a bad grade and received one, I wonder if the team might have protested. (In my recent book chapter, I wrote about the possible ethical issues of co-teaching embedded librarians helping with grades).

Last week at Elon University, seven BLINC friends from academic libraries gathered to demonstrate, discuss, and evaluate specialized business databases. The session was very useful as UNC campuses prepare for big budget cuts, and as the private schools consider possible swaps or additions to their current mix of databases. We looked at Freedonia, MarketLine, NetAdvantage, Euromonitor Passport GMID, Data-Planet, the Simmons and Claritas PRISM modules in SimplyMap, DemographicsNow, BizMiner, RMA eStatement Studies, Global Road Warrior, the newer modules in IBISWorld, ICPSR, and Social Explorer. This workshop also helped us look ahead to the larger BLINC quarterly workshop next month in which we once again work toward consensus recommendations for NC LIVE business databases for its 2015-7 package.

And last week my new ENT/GEO/LIS 530 class finally entered the UNCG class registration system after five months of curriculum reviews. The class had to go through six, count ‘em, six curriculum committee reviews:

  1. Library & Information Science (School of Education)
  2. Geography (College of Arts & Sciences)
  3. Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality & Tourism (Bryan School of Business & Economics)
  4. Bryan School Undergraduate Curriculum Committee
  5. UNCG Graduate Studies Committee (I’m on this committee as a non-voting member — this group answers to the graduate faculty, not the Faculty Senate, which the UNCG librarian faculty are members of)
  6. UNCG Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (chaired this year by my colleague, the excellent Jenny Dale)

[Tedious details and a short whine you might want to skip]:

The first five of those reviews happened between mid-August and mid-October. Then there was a six-week wait between #5 and #6, even though #6 had a meeting two weeks after #5’s positive vote. That was frustrating. Even though the staff coordinator of #6 was emailed the results of the #5 vote the same time I was emailed, I should have confirmed that my class was on the agenda for #6’s early November meeting. Instead, #6 reviewed and approved my class in early December, during exam week. (Registration began in in early November.) By the time the Registrar added the class to the class registration system, and then each of the three departments (MEHT, LIS, and GEO) added the class to their listings, it was the day of commencement, several days after the end of exams. So most students have already signed up for their Spring 2014 classes. However, a few students had told me they saved space in their calendar for the class, and indeed some students have signed up already. So lesson learned: double-check that the curriculum paperwork is moving along at every stage.

[Back to less tediousness]:

So, finally, my class is official and I’m looking forward to teaching it next semester!

2. Today’s Topic

Co-teaching is usually based on a strong relationship between the two teachers. I wrote about this recently and Sara J. Beutter Manus provided an example from music librarianship. So what happens when the professor moves on or retires? Will the librarian remain with the class after the break-up?

I’m considering these questions for both of the research-intensive, required classes I help teach.

In ENT 300, Professor Welsh is taking the Spring 2014 semester off to write a book on creating cross-campus entrepreneurship programs. She has worked so hard at UNCG creating our award-winning program, teaching classes, writing successful grant proposals, and publishing research articles that she certainly deserves a break. A lecturer/professor of practice, Noah Reynolds, will be teaching the class instead. Dianne told him that I have been helping teach the class, and Mr. Reynolds responded to me that he is interested in working with me. I appreciate his support, especially since we probably won’t meet until the first day of class. (Hmm maybe I should try to catch up with him before then.)

One complication is that this spring, ENT 300 will meet for three hours on a Tuesday night. Given the need to maintain a work-life balance, plus the likelihood of having some Tuesday morning events, I didn’t promise Mr. Reynolds that I would attend the full class period every week. Most weeks I might try to just stay until the break time halfway through the class.

I look forward to working with Mr. Reynolds and appreciate Professor Welsh recommending me to him. In Fall 2014, I assume Professor Welsh will be teaching ENT 300 once again.

In MKT 426, Professor Williamson has been talking about retiring pretty soon. He might do a phased retirement in order to focus exclusively on teaching Export Odyssey. It’s hard for me to imagine Export Odyssey living on without Professor Williamson, but he thinks it certainly can. He mentioned that a professor who researches global teams might be interested in working with us on creating an online version of the project. I’ve yet to discover a research-intensive online business course at UNCG yet, so that would be an interesting development. I remain co-author of the Export Odyssey text, so I would remain plugged-in to developments with the class. We’ll see what happens. Of course, a new professor of international marketing could perhaps decide not to bother with an experiential learning, export promotions project like Export Odyssey. That’s a possibility too.

3. Concluding thoughts:

First, most embedded librarians have learned that the sustainability of their large time commitments is a key issue. However, here the issue is the sustainability of the co-teaching relationship. If the co-teaching librarian wants to remain with the course as the professor of record changes, the librarian needs to make sure the department head or program coordinator understands and appreciates the value the librarian provides. The librarian really needs to be wedded to the class, not just the professor.

Second: Of course, the librarian needs to decide if he or she likes the new professor and can work well with him or her.

Finally, a change in professor of record might be the best time for the librarian to drop out of the co-teaching role in order to free up time for new priorities or other embedding opportunities. Part of sustainability is knowing when to say “no,” and a break-up with a professor might be just the time to do so.

That’s it for 2013 for me. Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday break.

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