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Archive for the ‘Business Research’ Category

Dusk at UGA and the main library

Dusk at UGA and the main library

After teaching on Tuesday afternoon and celebrating our anniversary that evening, I drove over to Athens, Georgia on Wednesday for the second run of SOUCABL (Southern University and College Academic Business Librarians Conference). When I headed out, I never thought I wouldn’t see my entrepreneurship research or Export Odyssey students again in person this semester.

At the Wednesday evening happy hour, SOUCABL attendees were washing hands frequently and not shaking hands. On Thursday we were all a bit distracted by the news of campus closures (and for many of us, the cancellation of sporting events). By Friday, we were beginning to practice social distancing. Out-of-state travel was now banned for UNC Greensboro employees. Oh well.

But none of the librarians were coughing or had a fever. Most of us arrived by car, reducing the risk. A small number of folks couldn’t make it, including one speaker, a campus entrepreneur in residence, who learned he had one day to help his daughter move out of her dorm room in Florida.

Nonetheless, what a fun conference! SOUCABL was full of networking events during the day and each evening. It also featured many speakers plus small group discussions. Here was the schedule. I liked it. (And as a couple of the conference founders guessed, I was also checking out this event for ELC 2020 ideas.)

Trip Wyckoff (Florida State University) had been talking about creating a regional business librarians event for years. Last year, Trip, Sheila Devaney (University of Georgia, our host) and Rahn Huber (Vanderbilt University) created the first SOUCABL. For 2020, additional librarians joined those three in planning and promoting the event:

  • Allison Gallaspy (Tulane University)
  • Amanda Kraft (College of Charleston)
  • Nancy Lovas (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Tyler Martindale (Auburn University)
  • Summer Krstevska (Wake Forest University)
Ernie Evangelista & Timothy Tully

Timothy Tully (SDSU) & Ernie Evangelista (FRB Atlanta) at a happy hour

I missed the Wednesday preconference on “Evidence-based practice in business librarianship” by two old UNCG friends, Claire Wiley and Amanda Click, but caught up with those two that evening at the happy hour. I heard the preconference was very good. Around 60 librarians attended on Thursday for the full day of programming, including six BLINC members (four of whom were early career). Friday was a half-day and by the boxed luncheon we had around 25 folks left. Five of us visited the campus art museum after lunch.

Ten vendors were present and helped sponsor the conference. We had time to chat with the reps in small groups on Thursday, and several reps also attended the happy hours.

In my next post, I’ll summarize some of the presentations. Part three will be a summary of the round table I facilitated on getting involved with business classes. Right now though I need to work on editing my syllabus for the — surprise! — online second half of my research class.

Good luck to everyone this week.

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Last week was busy for me, with 12 class sessions plus a few early research consultations. (Two of those sessions were for my own for-credit class, but I had to prep for those too — accessing Census industry data using the new data.census.gov interface, which I’m not a big fan of yet. At least it didn’t freeze up in class this time.)

My first class last week was the only new one — Retail & Consumer Studies 355: Retail Consumer Research: 

An introduction to reading and evaluating retail consumer data to make key merchandise buying and planning decisions. Analysis of retail consumer data as applied to the development of business strategy.

The instructor, Professor Wood, talked to me about this class last fall when she was creating the syllabus. The industry advisory board for this department (CARS) reported that data analysis had become a vital need but that few new hires had skills in that area. CARS Faculty had additional anecdotal feedback about analytics becoming a big deal, even for a mere internships in the Wal-Mart HQ (which makes a lot of sense for that company).

One of the four student learning outcomes in RCS 355 is “demonstrate how to use retail data to develop customer insights and business strategy through hands-on experience.” One of the textbooks is the new Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice.

The workshop set-up

We met in the smaller computer classroom in the library. This was a small class, so I asked all the students to introduce themselves and wrote their names down in their seating order. I told them that their instructor and I decided that the goals for this workshop include:

  • Developing some familiarity with professional databases for retailing data;
  • Improving their statistical literacy skills;
  • Getting experience with telling stories and making decisions with data.

I shared my agenda with the class:

  1. Introductions
  2. Warm up with Euromonitor: Discussion — what country drinks the most beer?
  3. Euromonitor Passport data and analytics: explaining a country’s sales forecast for womenswear
  4. Mintel market data and research: making decisions based on a table in a market report
  5. SimplyAnalytics for mapping U.S. demographic & psychographics: map a variable of your choice in a favorite city, block group level

Spoiler: we ran out of time before getting to data mapping. More on that below. That happens sometimes with a new lesson plan focusing on active learning and discussion. Those lesson plans usually take more time than you first predict. 

What happened

Warm-up discussion: what country drinks the most beer?

Box of markers

Box of markers (I used to have more colors — need to replenish)

I asked each student to pick their favorite color from my box of white-board markers. We got up and gathered around one of the big whiteboards. I asked the students to start writing down their guesses to the above question. Lots of ideas. Then I asked:

 “Ok, but how do we define “most beer”? How do we measure that?” 

The students started talking about volume, per person/capita, total money spent, etc. 

After discussing their guesses, we returned to the computers and opened up Euromonitor Passport. Using the “search statistics” box on the Passport homepage, it’s easy to get beer consumption by country on screen. Then I asked the students to start manipulating the data, for example, showing the data for total spending.

  • My question: What is wrong with using this data to compare countries?
  • A: Well, the data is in the native currency for each county. 
  • Q: Yes, good! See if you can figure out how to fix that….
  • A: Ah, you can change to one currency here…
  • Q: Ok, with all country data reported in U.S. dollars now, which country spends the most?
  • A: China. 
  • Another student: But it has the most people too.
  • Q: Ok, earlier, student X wrote “per person” on the board — can you make that change?
  • A: Umm yes, you do that here…wow, none of us guessed that country!

And so on. The students were using different versions of the Euromonitor data to tell stories, each story highlighting a different country that drinks the most beer according to different measurements.

After that warm-up, we focused on apparel for the rest of the workshop.

Second activity: interpreting sales forecasting (more story-telling)

I provided a short introduction to Euromonitor as a research company famous for global consumer data. Retail companies also buy their data, as I demonstrated using marketrearch.com (and noting the prices for a report).

I asked the students to pair up, pick a county, and then look up that country’s “Womenswear” report. 

“Look at the 5-year sales forecast. Summarize the forecast for your country (high growth, low growth, flat, or decline?)” 

“Ok, now please spend 5 minutes looking at both the industry trends and data as well as the macro-environment trends and data in this womenswear report. Based on what you learn, explain that sales forecast. Why does Euromonitor predict growth or decline in their forecast? What’s the story?”

We had an interesting discussion about Canada v. Italy, including the role of birth rates and immigration but also fashion trends and more general consumer trends.

Third (and final) activity: making a strategic decision using retail data

I briefly introduced Mintel as a research company, again showing the per-report prices in marketresearch.com. Professor Wood mentioned that early in her professional career, her company purchased Mintel reports. Back then the reports arrived on paper.

The students opened the recently-updated Luxury Fashion–US report. I asked each pair of students to find one table in that report that interested them. 

“What does that data mean? If you owned a luxury brand or a luxury fashion store, what decision might you make based on this data?”

Student answers (among others):

  • Gotta offer sales and discounts, even for luxury products.
  • Omni-channel is vital. Sell using both online and bricks ‘n mortar.
  • Younger women have less disposable income, so create a separate retailing brand with cheaper luxury goods for that market.

End of workshop feedback

One student said “it was useful to learn how to navigate these databases.” Another volunteered “I don’t like numbers but this workshop was fun.” Professor Wood told me that the workshop was “exactly what they needed.”

Two days later, after their next class session, Professor Wood emailed me to report that the students “felt it was a very valuable session and really liked learning how to find data in the Euromonitor and Mintel. They liked it so much that we discussed having one more session late this semester if you could be persuaded to do so?” 

She suggested we begin the second workshop with data mapping via SimplyAnalytics and end with prepared questions from the students regarding their final projects. Looking forward to that. Hopefully the students will sit in the same seats so that I’ll get their names right.

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The usual business librarian gang promoting the Charleston Conference wasn’t as vocal in its promotion as in past years, but there were nonetheless even more business librarians at Charleston last week. Advocates of this conference might get annoying on occasion with their gushing praise, but much of their enthusiasm is justified – Charleston is indeed very interesting and useful and packed with learning and networking opportunities.

Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor

While some conferences seem to struggle with breaking from strongly held traditions, this conference seems to emphasize continual improvements. For example, the time devoted to plenaries continues to get rolled back. When I first attended Charleston, the plenaries (speakers, panels, satirical skits, etc.) started at 8:30 and rolled on until 12:30 or so. That was so draining! This was back when all conference activities fit inside the Francis Marion Hotel. This year on Wednesday morning (now using the performance hall at the Gaillard Center, a short walk from the hotel), there was a plenary talk by the Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, followed by a plenary panel on scholar communication trends. Then concurrent sessions for the rest of the day. On Thursday, the only plenary was a talk by new Elsevier head Kumsal Bayazit (first female CEO of that company).

New this year was a consultation service for job hunters on Tuesday during the Vendor Showcase. Out this year was the “fast pitch” competition, in which libraries competed for money to try something new at their library. That event was interesting but maybe the donor dropped out. Charleston (and USASBE) are innovative conferences I’m looking at closely as we plan our own Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020 conference.

My big regret this year is that I never made time (well, played hooky) to put on my walking shoes and stroll down the peninsula past the old houses, gardens, churches, synagogue, and cemeteries to the harbor front.

So here is another long conference review. My next blog post will be different, I promise. I might write about “What entrepreneurship librarians want in a conference” based on our interesting planning discussions so far for the ELC.

Tuesday

Vendor showcase

Mintel's Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

Mintel’s Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

Carol and I drove down on Tuesday and then visited the Vendor Showcase (the one-day exhibit hall). Every year more business information vendors come to Charleston. One of the first-time vendors this year was Mintel. And each year more business vendors attend the programs (and socials) on Wednesday through Friday. While visiting vendors, I promoted Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020, since we are interested in partnering with vendors in a few different ways.

ProQuest focus group

I had to leave the showcase a little early to attend a late-afternoon “Juried Product Development Forum” with ProQuest’s Jo-Anne Hogan, who I met at a BLINC workshop two summers ago. About ten of us attended. I sat with Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U Penn/Wharton) and Corey Seeman (U Michigan/Ross). We didn’t have to sign a nondisclosure agreement since we were not looking at a product under development. Instead, ProQuest asked us to provide context and details for different types of business research that happen each semester on our campuses. After discussing those journal maps, we next designed our own preferred homepage layout for a database that would cover all ProQuest business content. Then we compared our designs. Some of them were quite different, depending on our specific target audience (we were asked to pick one): perhaps first year students writing a short paper, or an MBA team working on its capstone consulting project. I came away from this product development forum with increased awareness of how hard it is for a business vendor to please all of its markets and users. (Jo-Anne told me a day later that she was glad the ProQuest interface expert who was also present at the forum got to hear firsthand from business librarians about our special and challenging needs.

After dinner, Ian Hertz (Winston-Salem State University) and I had a nightcap with our friend Juan Vasquez from SimplyAnalytics.

Wednesday

“Pain Points and Solutions: Bringing Data for Startups to Campus”

Kelly LaVoice (Business Information Librarian for Collections, Vanderbilt University), Daniel Hickey (Librarian for Business & Economics, New York University), and Mark Williams (Head of Collections Services, Massey Law Library, Vanderbilt University)

Kelly, Dan, and Mark provided a fast-paced, slide deck-free panel discussion. They summarized the growth of entrepreneurship and incubators on campuses. As a law librarian, Mark provided a different perspective. He teaches a for-credit class on legal aspects and resources for entrepreneurship. All three discussed the need for datasets and data feeds. Collaboration with other campus units (such as the b-school) for purchasing high end products is often necessary. Consortial efforts, too. Sometimes a resource is licensed only for the business students. Negotiations for academic access can be tricky. “Back-channel discussions” (talking to other librarians) can be a big help.

Best practices:

  • Understand the needs of your users.
  • Work closely with e-resource librarians about entrepreneurship needs.
  • De-silo-ing across campus – get other units involved, sometimes they have funding available.

Key take-aways:

  • Advocate as a team, not as an individual.
  • Build relationships outside of the library.
  • Advocate for academic-friendly licensing.
  • Partner with vendors – a more effective approach than an adversarial “us versus them” mentality.

Q/A topics:

  • Our practices [supporting cross-campus programs; dealing with unusual databases and datasets] will become more common among other subject areas — business librarianship is ahead of the curve.
  • Vendor access to a campus but not to the tech transfer office or incubator? Yes, sometimes.
  • Mintel sometimes collaborates with academic researches, sharing data and access in exchange.

“ ‘I Don’t Want to Go Among Mad People’: Adventures in Establishing Good Communication between Subject Librarians and Technical Service Departments in a Large Academic Library”

 Jennifer Mezick (Collections Strategist, University of Tennessee) and Elyssa Gould (Head, Acquisitions & Continuing Resources, University of Tennessee)

This program was a “lively discussion”, which means 70 minutes with a focus on talking to each other and minimal use of slides. (Most other Charleston slots are 40-minutes long.)

UT Knoxville recently went through a big reorganization. Through focus groups with technical services and liaisons, they learned that communication was a big issue – often inconsistent and uneven. Use of tools (like Google Drive, email, and libguides) varied widely. There was also a lack of understanding of shared goals. Some liaisons thought tech services was too beholden to standards and policies; some tech services folks thought liaisons could get too focused on boutique services, which are sometimes driven by a single patron with an unusual need or request.

Outward-facing liaisons often work with patrons with upcoming deadlines, while tech services may not be feeling that time pressure. And often those liaisons are not in the library when tech services need to talk to them – the liaisons are out teaching in classrooms, meeting with faculty or working in a research center, etc. Meanwhile liaisons are often not aware of the workflows built into tech service operations by necessity. So culturally based miscommunication.

What is working well in the UT new organization? They are working hard to build relationships between departments. Subject group meetings. Holding Acquisitions Department office hours in the main library (that department is no longer located on main campus). Share licensing agreement issues with liaisons. A liaison is serving on a search committee for an e-resources librarian and has learned much about how tech services works. Perhaps a tech services person should serve on the next liaison search committee.

“Bringing Some Stranger Things of Streaming Video up From the Upside-Down World: Research Insights from Faculty and Students”

Christine Fischer (Head of Technical Services and Associate Professor, UNC Greensboro), Michael Carmichael (Head of Visual Media, SAGE Publishing), Elizabeth Ellis (MLIS Student, LIS Instructor, UNC Greensboro), and Dina Samora (Program Chair, Organizational Leadership, Colorado State University Global)

Use of streaming video databases continues to increase in higher education according to many metrics. Key issues: rights, training, and accessibility. UNCG’s assessment team surveyed faculty and students on their use and perceptions of video as a teaching tool. Elizabeth summarized some faculty findings:

  • Video can be a partial solution to lack of literacy skills in students.
  • Gives more control of learning to students.
  • Given the large selection, it can be overwhelming to find the most useful videos in the stream video databases (sometimes the library liaison helps).
  • Lack of stability in the offerings can be frustrating and challenging.

Student findings:

  • They prefer the library databases over consumer streaming services.
  • They appreciate guidance from faculty in finding good video content.
  • They use videos on multiple devices.

Wednesday networking

Sunset view of the Francis Marion Hotel

Late afternoon view of the Francis Marion Hotel

After the streaming video session, I met up with Victoria Poole of Mergent on the roof of a new hotel (a re-developed art deco government building) overlooking the park with lovely views of the rivers and the sunset. We discussed a Carolina Consortium deal we are working on and also the ELC 2020.

Next was the ReferenceUSA happy hour for business librarians. InfoUSA’s Jeremy Groen and Jeff Jones have organized this event at the Victor Social Club for several years now. They kindly welcome other business vendors too. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture (too busy socializing).

Some of the folks left this event for the all-conference reception at the aquarium that ended the day’s activities.

Thursday

The morning keynote/defense by the new Elsevier CEO was interesting but I’m sure Library Journal and other pubs will cover her talk. She was a good speaker.

“A New Sense of Campus Privacy? Are Libraries Out of Step?”

Reverse direction from the above

Reverse direction from the above picture (from our hotel room)

This provocative program began with Darby Orcutt (Assistant Head, Collections & Research Strategy, NC State University Libraries) challenging us to reconsider some old traditions in libraryland.  He argued that libraries sacrifice improved services and usability with our “knee-jerk, holy grail” attitude toward privacy. (Yes, this was an opinionated introduction, but the two other speakers got into specifics.) Our users face much bigger issues in their lives that strict library privacy: high drop-out rates, increased tenure costs, high student loan debt, discrimination and institutional racism, etc. Can we use library data analytics to better support students? Other academic units on campus try to do that. Darby asserted that our devotion to extreme privacy represents a generational, white, privileged, and Western (individualism) mindset that has dominated libraries for too long. Interesting, I would like to hear more about that.

Doreen Bradley (Director of Learning Programs and Initiatives, University of Michigan Library) discussed how a few years ago her campus began utilizing “learning analytics in all directions” to support the students – but the UM libraries were not. The librarians were not at the table supporting this student-centered institutional goal. So they decided to get involved, using campus and IMLS grants to explore how the libraries could support learning analytics. They updated the library privacy statement, adding  “…may collect some data to improve services.” She argued that library data is indeed an institutional asset. The library analyzed the library data of HAIL Scholars (high-achieving, low-income students). After instruction session, HAIL Scholars engaged with the library at twice the rate of all students. UM students can now get their checkout history, for which they have been asking for years, according to Doreen.

Stopwatch Session 3: Faculty & Researcher Services

Thanks to my short attention span, I like lightning rounds. I presented one once and it was hard to be so concise! These folks did a good job, though. Here is one summary from this session.

“Adventures in Streamlining Research Data Services: Through the Looking Glass of an Academic Library’s Data Services Team”

Brianne Dosch (Social Sciences Data Librarian, University of Tennessee – Knoxville)

Brianne is a new librarian. She is also the Psychology liaison. To better serve data services on campus, three functional and subject librarians — Data Curation Librarian, STEM Librarian, and Brianne — recently formed a data team. The team members represent two departments in the library. The campus also has a business librarian who provides data services, but that librarian isn’t interested in joining this team yet.

Challenges in team formation: different levels of knowledge, skills, and length of tenure at UT; the different definitions of research data services; the need to learn much more about RDS needs across campus. The team is working on environmental scans (chat transcripts, reference transactions, lit review, existing UTK library assessment).

“Leading from below: Influencing vendors and collection budget decisions as a subject liaison”

Min Tong (Business Librarian, University of Central Florida), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (Business Reference & Resource Development Librarian, Lippincott Library at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), and me

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

We facilitated this lively discussion on one aspect of serving as liaison. The discussion had good turnout, about 30 folks including many business librarians and also vendors (not just business vendors) plus a smaller number of e-resources and collection development librarians.

Our discussion questions included:

1. What are your biggest challenges in terms of content, pricing, and licensing when pitching a new subscription ?

2a. If you are a subject/liaison librarian: What other strategies do you use when you are pitching to your decision makers?

2b. If you are a decision maker: How can your subject librarians better communicate and work with you?

2c. If you are a vendor: How can you better assist the subject librarian with making their case to the decision maker?

3. How can we influence vendors about product development, pricing, and licensing as subject librarians but not budget controllers?

4. How else can librarians and vendors work together?

from our lively discussion

from our lively discussion

Ideas and comments from the small groups:

  • Translate library language for vendors. Translate business language for other librarians.
  • Vendors: share your academic customer list. That helps liaisons show that your product and its licensing has worked for other campuses.
  • Vendors, please don’t directly contact faculty, unless it is a very specific interaction. Work through the liaison instead.
  • There can be tension between social science, humanities, and natural science liaisons. It’s useful to have collection development heads who aren’t liaisons and therefore would be more neutral.
  • The lack of standard usage statistics (like COUNTER) for specialized products can be a challenge. [Cynthia, three vendors, and I talked about this last year.]
  • Vendor webinars during a trial period help make the trial more useful.
  • It can be really challenging to be in a sales role! Sometimes librarians don’t realize that. Vendors “lead from below” in their organizations as well.
  • Sometimes looking at the licensing before negotiating access and pricing options helps.
  • It’s hard for vendors to understand the workflows and processes that go on in libraries, and who is involved.
  • Librarians need to value the expertise of vendors and be generous with feedback.
  • Make sure communication goes in both directions.
  • Some vendors have business librarian advisory boards. Those are useful.
  • Some vendors don’t have a dedicated academic sales representative. Liaisons can tell when a vendor understands the academic market.
  • If vendor recognizes a problem and reports to their boss, there may not be much impact. But if librarians complain, the impact is much greater.
  • Pricing: flexibility is vital. Total campus FTE is not the only option. Consider just the b-school population, for example.
  • Tie a resource request into campus wide initiatives and goals.
  • Seek alliance among other subject liaisons for products with broader appeal.

Stopwatch Session 5: Collection Assessment

“Of Database Assessment & Budget Increases: A New Data Management Strategy”

Anna Milholland (Business Librarian, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, William & Mary)

Anna is a former BLINC member and now a CABAL officer. I enjoyed catching up with her in Charleston. Anna is based in and employed by the business school but liaises with the main W&M library. The budget for business databases comes from the b-school and has increased. [Later I told her I was jealous.]  The school wanted a reassessment of the mix of databases available, and wanted to consider more than usage statistics. So Anna benchmarked other business schools with similar rankings. She adopted a 75% threshold for the benchmarking: if 75% of peers subscribed, then her library should also subscribe.

Anna also mapped the curriculum and considered faculty research trends, interviewing the majority of the professors. To help manage this data, she applied some marketing concepts. I’ll quote from her abstract here to ensure I represent her short talk correctly:

By applying the Marketing concepts of Points of Parity (POP) and Points of Difference (POD), benchmarking database subscriptions, mapping them to the curriculum, aligning data sets with faculty research expertise and institutional strategic strengths, and socializing decisions with key faculty and administrative stakeholders, librarians at institutions of varying sizes can confidently add new resources, feel empowered to replace underutilized and undervalued subscriptions, and effectively advocate for budget increases.

Anna, your talk would make a good article.

“Wait, I don’t just become CEO of a Fortune 500 Company? Helping Students’ Gain Foundational Skills for the Academic to Workforce Transition”

Lauren Reiter (Business Librarian, Penn State University Libraries), Corey Seeman (Director, Kresge Library Services, University of Michigan), Jason Sokoloff (Head, Foster Business Library, University of Washington), and Kristi Ward (Director, Library Editorial, SAGE Publishing)

Kristi moderated this panel and asked a series of discussion questions.

What resources and approaches are needed to support essential skills in the workplace?

  • Not just books and journals!
  • It’s not just business students using business content – example, cross-campus entrepreneurship.
  • Many students are now creating their own job, not just wanting to join a large company.
  • Soft skills are very important too.
  • Many students are aware they lose access to database after graduation. Increased demand for databases that alumni can use.

Entrepreneurship and soft skills development?

  • Students often want to create a local, small business, not just venture capital-funded enterprises with a goal of going public.
  • ENT + Engineering: much collaboration across campus.
  • Campus commercialization endeavors also contribute to library business needs.

What are current business library opportunities and challenges?

  • Students [and faculty] want everything but we don’t have unlimited budgets.
  • Library culture can be the biggest barrier to supporting our patrons — example not supporting a database that requires users to create a personal account.
  • Providing access for multi-location campuses.
  • Academic-use only licensing considerations.
  • A true entrepreneurial idea should be an innovative business model and product or service. Therefore there will be no directly relevant secondary data and reports.
  • Dealing with ambiguity and proxy data (the next best data) is an important learning outcome.

How do business librarians handle assessment and ROI, given there is much competition for business resources as well as changing student needs?

  • Evaluate overlap.
  • Trying to find a proxy for the missing data.
  • Cost per use. But usage calculation varies for less traditional databases.
  • Track research questions – often suggests a new trend.
  • Importance of learning how to deal with ambiguity in b-school curriculum.

Trends in placement?

  • Consulting continues to be big.
  • But more students are pursing non-traditional roles: small business, nonprofits — types of organizations that don’t come to campus for interviews (unlike the big consulting firms).

“The Future of Subscription Bundles: Big Deal, No Deal, or What’s the Deal?”

By this point on Thursday, I was getting tired and so my notes are brief for this one. Beth Bernhardt (Oxford University Press) read a short opening statement from Tim Bucknall of UNC Greensboro, who couldn’t make the conference. Tim lamented the increasing number of sweeping and factually incorrect statements from library deans lately. He provided some examples from within the Carolina Consortium, comparing a couple of crazy comments (no names mentioned) with the actual data. These deans seem to be out of step with the big deals their libraries are participating in. As transformational deals increase in number, accurate data and facts are vital as we explore these new deals.

Other comments from this session:

  • “Open access is free like free puppies.”
  • “Our choices not limited to “grow big deal” or “cancel it.””

Whew. Carol and I had a late afternoon break before enjoying a lovely Lebanese dinner with Kathleen Gignac from Gale Group.

Friday

Friday is a half day at Charleston. It begins at 8:30am with the “Long Arm of the Law” plenary, one that many folks really look forward to each year. We learned about the newest (or old ongoing) legal cases and trends involving copyright, fair use, and publishing. It always ends with one lawyer and the whole librarian crowd singing a legal parody pop song. Really!

Stopwatch Sessions 7: Scholarly Communications

Final set of lightning rounds. I found these two the most interesting.

Carol Cramer, WFU

Carol Cramer, WFU

Carol Cramer (Head of Collection Management, Wake Forest University) discussed “What We Can Learn from the Big Deal that Never Was.” WFU has all but one of the biggest big deals. The price increases of that missing publisher have been higher than that of the other publishers. Journals from the missing publisher dominate ILL requests and requests for individual subscriptions.

Adam Blackwell (Project Manager, ProQuest) discussed “Your IR is Not Enough: Exploring Publishing Options in Our Increasingly Fragmented Digital World”. He began with a story of faculty members in Germany who initially were interested in talking to him about a digitization project. Then those faculty learned that ProQuest is a for-profit company and they all canceled. With that context in mind, Adam discussed the value of having one’s dissertation in the big ProQuest database as well as in one’s one institutional repository. Benefits include better Google Scholar indexing, quality assurance, backups on secured servers around the world, and indexing (depending on subject) in databases like PsycInfo, MLA, etc.

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NCLA 2019

NCLA, our state library association, holds its conference every two years. There is periodic discussion about holding the conference every year, like Texas and Virginia do. In conference years, the NCLA budget is strong; in the off years, the budget is weak. Some of the quieter sections of NCLA don’t provide much value to their members between conferences, so holding annual conferences would help those members get more out of their sections. Reuniting with old and new friends, seeing former interns now as happy professionals, and making new contacts are always highlights at NCLA.

BLINC (the business librarianship section) has always been quite active at the conference, on top of offering quarterly workshops in both conference- and non-conference years. This year we had four programs plus a vendor-sponsored dinner and a vendor-sponsored happy hour. This schedule reflects BLINC’s emphasis on training and also networking.

Mary Scanlon and Summer Krstevska

Mary Scanlon and Summer Krstevska, BLINC’s past and future chairs

As the outgoing chair of BLINC, I attended a program titled “There’s Space for Us All: An Introduction to NCLA” in which each chair could provide an elevator pitch about their section to the new members. Here was mine:

BLINC is a community of folks who value networking, socializing, mentoring and peer-mentoring, and frequent free workshops. Every time someone joins our Google Group, the chair welcomes that person with a message to the full group, and usually five or six other members reply with their own greetings. That behavior illustrates our organizational culture. In terms of content, we cover small business, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, and economic development.

As in 2017, the conference met in Winston-Salem. I live right on the edge of downtown and so enjoyed being able to walk to the convention center. Downtown W-S continues to grow and I think most of the folks at the conference (900-1,000) enjoy the easy access to many restaurants and breweries, plus the retro arcade, indy arts movie theater, ax-throwing bar, Mast General Store, nonprofit bookstore, arts district, and the newest attraction, a cat cafe (across the street and 3 doors down from the convention center). You can probably tell that I’m proud to live there and have enjoyed the changes Carol and I have witnessed since we moved there in 2001. But I better move on to summarizing what I learned at the conference…

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Libraries’ Expanding Role as Catalysts of Community Change

Two librarians from High Point Public Library, Mary Sizemore and Mark Taylor, joined EPA Program Manager Chip Gurkin to discuss how this downtown library became a leader in the fight against food insecurity. The library partnered with local groups and the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program to create several initiatives.

Part of the library parking lot was rebuilt into space for a weekly farmer’s market. Cooking demos and classes happen there now too. Mary, the library’s director, joked that “ I didn’t think I would be running a farmers market when I was in library school.” The library also hosts a community garden, leveraging support from several local organizations: county health department, a local food security nonprofit, the High Point University pharmacy school, the High Point Economic Development Corporation, local churches, Home Depot, and others. A local church provides free, healthy lunches for the local homeless once a week in the library.

I think I was the only academic librarian at this program, which was disappointing since this library illustrated proactive community engagement and creative library-as-place so well.

Make it Stick: Active Learning Techniques for Programming and Instruction

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

BLINC members Mary Abernathy (Salem College) and Betty Garrison (Elon University) discussed how active learning helps move learners from passive to engaged learning. After summarizing the core concepts, Betty talked about a one-shot class she taught involving family history and immigration. She asked the students to record the full names and birthdates of their parents and grandparents. One student pulled out their phone to call grandmother and ask. Betty and the professor were ok with that and quickly other students called home too. Then the students began looking up their family in HeritageQuest. At least one student called back the grandmother while in class to report the findings!

General suggestions: find what resonates with your students. Have them fill out or develop ideas using a shared page in Google Drive. Try a digital scavenger hunt. Have them look up a favorite public company in the Morningstar database. Get students to move around — use the white board, form teams, come and get supplies, what have you.

Mary and Betty asked us to share our favorite active learning strategies on poster boards spread out across our room. There was a lot of small group discussion. Betty summarized and some audience members expanded on what they noted, with the microphone being passed around. There was a strong vibe of engagement and sharing in this session.

Comics in the Academic Library: Alienated Superheroes, Feminism Dystopias, and Graphic Memoirs

Steve Kelly and Meghan Webb from Wake Forest University discussed their process for creating a graphic novel browsing collection on the main floor and then creating a comic book reading club. Steve discussed acquisition and cataloging issues. Per book, this new collection is much more popular with students than the long-established general browsing collection. The library expanded the graphic novel collection based on this data.

Slides at http://Bit.ly/ncla19comics

The book club helped the library collect feedback from both students and faculty on the collection. Discussions often expanded into broader social and cultural issues related to the stories in question. Recent titles for discussion include March, Bitch Planet, Black Hammer, and Persepolis. Most meetings attract 10-15 students. Student activities fees are used to buy the books for book club participants.

A lesson learned: synthesizing collections and programming can lead to success.

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner at Spring House

Wednesday night was the BLINC dinner sponsored by SimplyAnalytics at a fancy downtown restaurant in what was an old mansion. Steven Swartz and Juan Vasquez were our gracious hosts. After drinks and appetizers in the former library in the mansion, we dined in a private garden-view room. A handful of BLINC retirees joined a bunch of new members and us older members for a lively time.

Thursday, Oct. 17

2020 Census: Counting on Libraries

Bob Coats is the North Carolina Governor’s Census Liaison, based in our State Data Center. Bob updated us on the Census 2020. Good attendance at this one. He is an engaging speaker and super knowledgeable — BLINC should invite him to workshop sometime.

Bob provide a quick history of census-taking, starting from Rome, pre-empire. He told us the English word comes from “censere” meaning “to estimate”.

No Bob picture so here is the BLINC dinner menu

Besides congressional reappointment, he noted the use of census data in federal funding, to understand our local communities, and as foundational data to many other surveys, models, estimates for the next decade. [We could add here use of each decennial census by the market research companies like EASI, ESRI, MediaMark, and Nielson/Simmons to provide their own demographic and psychographic data.]

MSAs will get redefined in 2023.

NC will probably gain 1 or 2 seats from population growth between 2010 and 2020. However, the urban and suburban areas are getting most of the growth. Most rural counties had small growth, no growth, or some decline in total population. Not unlike other states.

The urban/rural divide is reflected in American Community Survey data on “no home internet access”. Since the Census will no longer be using paper forms, internet access will be an issue next year. Libraries will be asked to help people fill out their online forms. There was much interest in the room in discussing community awareness and questionnaire assistance. Bob mentioned https://census.nc.gov/ and a toolkit at https://www.census.gov/partners/toolkit.pdf

Bob showed us the https://www.census.gov/roam site — “Response Outreach Area Mapper” — areas with higher percentage of no-returns. There is also the Census Engagement Navigator.

Lots of concern and energy in the room.

Finally, Bob talked about how the Census will be masking some data that we used to have access to, due to privacy concerns and ever-growing data processing power by our computers — differential privacy. A big concern for many. Maybe we will have to rely on Census data processed by the market research companies like ESRI and EASI to have access to that level of detail.

Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em: Reinvigorating, Reinventing (and Occasionally Relinquishing) Library Outreach Programs

Hu Womack and Meghan Webb of Wake Forest University discussed some of their outreach programs but also assessment and when programs needed to be revised or simply retired. The “fold ‘em” (yes, they played that song) aspect was particularly interesting since conference programming and articles tend to focus so much on successes.

Most of the innovative and creative WFU outreach programs are documented at the library’s Flickr site, so I’m going to be lazy and refer you to those pictures instead of summarizing all the programs.

Hu and Meghan are outreach librarians. Many of us do outreach as subject liaisons, a narrower scope of activity for a narrower target population. But the encouragement to always consider if a program needs to be reframed, revamped, scaled back, or shut down applies to liaison outreach too.

You’re in business: Four free & NC LIVE resources for non-business experts

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College), Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill), and John Raynor (High Point Public Library) provided this training session for librarians who are not business information specialists. Using the frame of “What questions do you need to ask for opening a plant nursery?”, they covered ReferenceUSA, SimplyAnalytics, and ABI-INFORM (all part of our state-wide NC LIVE package).

John rivals Juan Vasquez as one of the best speakers and trainers on SimplyAnalytics. John introduces that database as a tool to “turn detailed, daunting tables of data into colorful and meaningful maps…our human brains have evolved to work better with color, shape, and pattern” rather than tabular, numeric data.

John likens filters to “a series of hurdles [as in track and field, he had a picture of this]: “Your mapped geographies need to clear each hurdle to finish the race and show up on your map.”

Nancy and Sara’s sections were equally useful. At the end, they answered questions regarding ABI v. Business Source, the industry reports within the ProQuest Business suite, and the creation of tables (not maps) in SimplyAnalytics.

BLINC Happy Hour

BLINC happy hour

BLINC happy hour at Small Batch (first wave)

Two years ago after NCLA 2017, John had suggested that BLINC host a happy hour on the Thursday before the all-conference reception. This year, we tried out that idea at the brewery across the street from the convention center with sponsorship from ProQuest (Jo-Anne Hogan and Dawn Zehner). Dawn was able to join us. We had a good time. (Jo-Anne wasn’t at this conference but will be at the Charleston Conference next month.)

Friday, Oct. 18

Developing your personal brand as a librarian

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

Angel Truesdale (UNC Charlotte), Ingrid Hayes (Rockingham County Public Library), De’Trice Fox (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library), and I (all BLINC members) did this program. De’Trice ended up double-booked and couldn’t make NCLA but did provide slide content.

Slides and resources.

Angel, Ingrid, and I began by providing our elevator pitches as examples of what we hoped the participants would craft for themselves in this program. Then we covered our slide materials before asking the attendees to form small groups and start drafting their own brand messages. Three brave volunteers took the mic and shared the pitches they wrote.

Raising your Library’s Profile: Making your Community Relationships Work for You

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

Morgan Ritchie-Baum (Greensboro Public Library) and Summer Krstevska (Wake Forest University), more BLINC members, profiled community engagement projects they initiated. Both librarians are fairly new at their libraries and have been building their professional networks and growing relationships with local partners.

Slides and a handout with tips and resources.

Morgan’s library has hosted meetings for the local Small Business Center, but the librarians have not really been involved. She asked if she could staff their registration table, which provided her an opportunity to meet everyone. Then Morgan got five minutes in front of everyone to pitch her services and the library business databases.

Later Morgan organized a nonprofit resources fair with the Small Business Center and 14 other partners. Over 80 people (plus local media) attended.

Morgan’s final recommendations: Research your relationship. Begin by just showing up. Promote that your library offers more than just spaces. And document everything.

Before moving to WFU, Summer was the business librarian for the National University in San Diego. This institution has 26 campuses and presence in 56 countries but just one library. That library had a goal of more programming. Summer created an entrepreneurship series: start up stories, business planning workshops, and a business plan pitch competition. The SBDC was an important partner, and Wells Fargo provided a grant. 120+ folks attended. Three student ventures won financial support.

Summer’s best practices: don’t take it personally when folks say no; don’t choose entrepreneurs at random, likewise with community partners. Have a theme, or stick to a local strength, like a local growth industry. Don’t forget to mention what’s in it for them. Be persistent. Name-drop when necessary. Choose entrepreneurs that own businesses that you personally are passionate about and have a connection to.

Friday lunch

The conference wrapped up with a big lunch at the convention center. Afterwards another BLINC member and I slipped away to a brewery to enjoy an adult beverage and conversation about work. And with that chat, our NCLA 2019 ended.

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Catching up

This will be the last post here before the fall semester begins — officially begins, at least. On July 31, I had 20 incoming students from our new online PhD Business Administration program in the library for a 2-hour workshop. So the semester has really already begun for me. I had a lesson plan based on active learning (student teams presenting the pros and cons of scholarly research tools like Scopus, Google Scholar, Business Source Premier, etc.) that I use for classes with year-3 PhD students writing a prospectus, but this new cohort was so talkative and eager to ask questions that we ended up covering the planned learning outcomes through discussion and conversation instead. (We did do some computer work together.)

I hope you read Elizabeth Price’s guest post on her adventures leading business students in a semester-abroad experience in Antwerp. When I first read Elizabeth’s draft, I laughed out loud twice. She’s a good writer and shared some interesting lessons learned from her very embedded experience.

This fall I hope to make time for a couple of posts on general liaison issues. At the Charleston Conference in November, Min Tong (U. Central Florida), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (Penn), and I will be leading a “lively discussion” (one of the formats there) on “Leading from below: Influencing vendors and collection budget decisions as a subject liaison”. I’ll try to post a summary of that discussion and other Charleston learnings.

Also, there have been some changes in our liaison organization, a once frequent topic here at this blog (example post). I can’t write that I’m particularly happy with what has happened in the last few years, but we might try some new approaches this school year. So given the past detailed coverage of our reorganization here, I should probably write an update on that this fall.

But let’s focus on business librarianship one last time before classes resume…

Today’s topic

Fred the Bear welcomes you to Belk Library

Fred the Bear welcomes you to Belk Library

Last Friday, BLINC met in Belk Library, Appalachian State University in Boone for its summer workshop. Leslie Farison, the ASU Business Librarian, was our host. A dozen friends assembled for the workshop, fewer than usual, but not an unexpected number given the location on the edge of the state and the season. Two librarians were first-time attendees and we gave them a warm welcome. Some folks came up with their families for a short mountain vacation; one of us spent Friday night camping on the Blue Ridge. The weather was lovely, ten degrees cooler than down in the Carolina Piedmont.

Our agenda consisted of recently requested topics that didn’t fit cleanly within our recent themed workshops. So sort of a grab bag or a short attention span agenda:

  1. Introductions and updates: what’s new with you and/or your library?
  2. Teaching business databases in social science classes
  3. Collection development: How are you selecting business books for the circulating collection? What business reference books are still useful? Other collections issues?
  4. Advanced SimplyAnalytics

We began the workshop in a top-floor conference room with a pretty view of campus and a few mountains. Leslie arranged food and coffee. In the introductions and updates, many BLINC friends talked about new and ongoing economic and community engagement projects. Those projects are always interesting to hear about and often inspirational too.

Teaching business databases in social science classes

Dan Maynard of Campbell University led this discussion and provided some examples from his campus. He focused on two NC LIVE (state-wide access) databases, ReferenceUSA and SimplyAnalytics, that provide geographical data.

Dan Maynard leading the discussion

Dan Maynard leading the discussion

Dan looks for classes that focus on “small places” such as rural and micropolitan areas, custom-defined geographies, or identification of specific populations and establishments. Recent examples at Campbell include identification of local food systems and food deserts, public health education work with locally owned restaurants, researching a town of 646 people, and analyzing a specific social enterprise zone in eastern North Carolina. Dan displayed course descriptions that focus on communities, social change, and engagement – those classes could be targets for outreach too (time permitting, he added).

Other applications for these databases from our discussion:

  • In a community college, an upper-level English class writes social science papers on a social issue of interest, and local data must be included;
  • Several campuses have business writing classes within the English department;
  • From a public library angle: a nonprofit focuses on local social, educational, and economic development and needed help understanding the nature of downtown neighborhoods;
  • Helping an artist become an arts entrepreneur (even she didn’t use that language).  In the example, the BLINC librarian helped an artist use SimplyAnalytics to define her market (“interest in art shows” variable) and then that data “flipped a switch in her brain” regarding how so-called “business” databases also apply to her situation.

Lunch

BLINC friends at the F.A.R.M Café

BLINC friends at the F.A.R.M Café

We walked over to Boone’s little combination college town/mountain gateway downtown street with hardly a chain restaurant to be seen [ok, there was a Jimmy John’s and a Ben & Jerry’s]. Most of us dined at the F.A.R.M Café, a nonprofit community kitchen serving healthy food where everyone is welcome (“Food Regardless of Means”). The restaurant is in an drug store space (think soda shop in the back). Social entrepreneurship! A local church started it up. It was busy for this Friday lunch; we arrived right before the noon rush.

Collection Development

After lunch, we reassembled in a computer classroom on the ground floor, near Fred the Bear (see picture above). Morgan Ritchie-Baum of the Greensboro Public Library led a discussion of collection development. BLINC talks about data and databases all the time, but it’s probably been too long since we discussed other aspects of collections such as managing print book collections.

Morgan Ritchie-Baum leading the discussion

Morgan Ritchie-Baum leading the discussion

Morgan began by telling us this was her first weeding project in her career. Her library’s business collection hadn’t been weeded 10 years and needed attention. (Greensboro Public’s emphasis has been on ebooks.) Morgan used a CREW Method 5/3/MUSTIE weeding policy (“Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding”; MUSTIE explanation – these were all new to me).

Morgan’s discussion questions:

  • How are you selecting business books for your circulating question?
  • Print or digital? What are your patrons asking for?
  • How are you selecting and deselecting titles for your business reference collection?
  • What business reference books are still useful?
  • Are print business reference books still useful?
  • How are you tracking usage of your business reference collection?
  • Is repurposed space more important than space for print reference collections?
  • How big a part of your job is collection development?

Most of us reported little to no usage of print business reference books. The ratio books, Gale Business Plan Handbooks, the NC Manufacturers Directory, and the S&P Industry Surveys were still used sometimes. (We then discussed the electronic versions of those titles.)

For circulating business books, there was still significant interest from patrons for print copies. Someone mentioned Jennifer Boettcher’s zombie list project.

Morgan shared lists of resources for collection development:

  • Library newsletters (NYPL, Grand Rapids, Free Library of Phily)
  • BRASS outstanding titles
  • Reference guides from BRASS and the Library of Congress [BLINC librarians in the room have worked on both sets]
  • Lists of core collections from the U. of Florida
  • Plus the more general publications like CHOICE, Charleston Advisor, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, and the book review magazines

SimplyAnalytics

Our final workshop topic was advanced applications of this database and also how to make decisions from the data. I led the discussion with some preparation help from SimplyAnalytics’ Juan Vasquez. Steven Swartz contributed by increasing the number of concurrent users at ASU that day, and temporarily giving the campus access to the Simmons Local dataset, which isn’t in the NC LIVE dataset package but is used by some of us in the state. (MRI is in the NC LIVE deal.) So maybe a lesson here is that vendor reps are often happy to help with peer-training when you ask.

We voted from a menu of topics and decided to focus on:

  • Manipulating the legend;
  • Nature of psychographic data;
  • When to use tracts and block groups versus other types of geographies with variable populations (zips, counties, etc.);
  • How to determine local market size or potential;
  • Filters (we spend a lot of time building good filters and understanding their visualizations in maps and tables).

Final round of community building

Lost Province Brewing Co. of Boone

Lost Province Brewing Co. of Boone

After officially ending the workshop at 3pm, most of us had time to visit a downtown brewery for some more socializing. That was fun. There was also some discussion there and at lunch about for-credit classes some of us are teaching, and about the Entrepreneurship & Libraries Conference. Sara Thynne and I will be rotating off of BLINC leadership and will soon be focusing on co-chairing that conference along with Morgan.

So ended the BLINC summer workshop and now the fall semester is welcome to arrive.

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Happy summer, everyone.

Catching up

summer scene

summer scene at Magdalen

Carol and I are back from vacation and I’m getting into the summer projects mode. One of those projects is an offer to BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) to take over the Entrepreneurial Librarians Conference. Its organizers told us that their original vision of the conference has “run its course” and it’s time for another group to consider a new vision. BLINC is discussing the offer and will decide soon, and I may write here about our discussions and plans.

BLINC colleagues Angel Truesdale (UNC Charlotte), Summer Krstevska (Wake Forest University), and Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) just started a blog called BizLibratory. They will “cover topics perspective of being new to the world of academic business librarianship: instruction, research strategies and resources, conferences and professional development, outreach, entrepreneurship, collections, and more.” These are smart librarians, so I recommend following their writing.

New to me is the blog of the Library Association of Singapore, Singapore Librarians Bulletin. While not focused on business librarianship, there is content here useful to liaisons. The most recent posts concern professional development.

Today’s topic

Last month Min Tong (U. Central Florida), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (Penn), and I were brainstorming program ideas for the 2019 Charleston Conference. We ended up submitting a program on how liaisons who don’t have final spending authority for big ticket items (like databases) can influence both the budget decision makers and the vendors. We hope that this program would be useful to any subject liaison at Charleston as well as vendors, who also attend programs there.

One idea we decided not to pursue for Charleston is:

“No commercial use”: academic licensing in the era of community engagement, experiential learning, and campus entrepreneurship.

An alternative title:

What does “educational use only” licensing mean on a campus full of community engagement, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship?

We also liked this topic but thought it might be a little to business librarianship-centered for Charleston. So I’m going to try turning it into a blog post instead. I’m not speaking for Min or Cynthia – they are innocent of anything crazy below.

Part 1. Definitions

We would have needed to define some phrases for the benefit of non-business librarians and vendors in the audience. Some of these phrases can represent a wide variety of things but here is an attempt to write short definitions based on my experience at UNC Greensboro. There are certainly other definitions out there.

Community engagement: students working with people and groups beyond campus. “Groups” can include companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations/NGOs. (Community-engaged scholarship is related but focuses on research, usually by faculty and graduate students.)

Experiential learning: classes that apply classroom learning and research to real projects, resulting in students having to make recommendations or decisions based on data. Hmm maybe that’s a little sloppy. Wikipedia emphasizes “learning through reflection on doing” and notes that hands-on learning and service learning are subsets. Experiential learning is increasingly emphasized by AACSB, I’ve heard (although I need a better source for that claim).

Entrepreneurship: creating a self-employment opportunity. Ok, that’s the short Coleman Foundation definition. “Creating an organization (for- or non-profit) that employs people” is another.

Social entrepreneurship: creating something that helps address or solve a community problem. Could be for-profit or non-profit.

Campus incubator: a campus-funded space or organization that supports (and subsidizes) the development of start-ups by students. There are lots of discussions at USASBE and GCEC each year about whether campus incubators are good things to or not. (UNCG doesn’t have one of these – lack of funding, and most of our students have to work real jobs to support themselves and pay for school and so can’t put long hours each week into developing an idea at an incubator. Campuses of privilege are much more likely to have incubators.)

2. Licensing

For most vendors of business intelligence and data, the corporate market is their primary market. The academic market is much smaller. (Some vendors don’t serve the public library market at all due to the potential loss of sales to corporate users.) The vendors will point out that their margins are usually much higher for the corporate clients than the academic clients.

This is quite different from other subject areas, for which the academic market is their bread and butter. Think MLA for its bibliography, APA for PsycInfo, and ACS for its chemistry journals.

Likewise the default licensing terms for business content address corporate needs, not the academic needs for large data downloads, campus-wide IP authentication, etc. Bobray Bordelon of Princeton reminds us of this in BRASS discussions. However some libraries have negotiated very favorable licensing terms to serve their needs. Christina Kim of the MaRS Discovery District gave an interesting example at GCEC two years ago of licensing she helped negotiate that serves their complex patron base across Ontario.

A major problem for some vendors has been students at the elite business schools who get summer internships at Wall Street firms and then use their campus business databases to support their employers’ needs. Because, you know, JP Morgan can’t afford to fund its own research subscriptions or something. Some schools known to be pipelines for Wall Street have to accept 9-month database subscriptions so that there is no summer access at all.

3. Licensing terms for each situation: ok or not?

So how does “educational-use only” or “not for commercial use” licensing language impact community engagement, experiential learning, and campus entrepreneurship?

Some librarians report that their campus lawyers or whoever in the library signs the contracts are extremely conservative (or skittish) concerning campus entrepreneurship. I tend to swing the other way.

My takes on database usages by situation:

Community engaged experiential learning: this is 100% educational work. So yes, databases can and should be used by the students. However, the students should not share reports and raw spreadsheets from databases with the community partners. The students should summarize (quote or paraphrase) content from databases. The librarian (or professor) working with these students should emphasize this as part of their instruction on research skills and info literacy.

Entrepreneurship / social entrepreneurship: for class projects (like a student team developing a business model, feasibility analysis, or business plan), yes. Same as above. Likewise if the community engaged experiential learning involves working with a local entrepreneur. No difference for for-profit or non-profit entrepreneurship.

Campus incubator: hmm trickier. Are the students using the incubator as part of a class project? Then using databases should be fine. Are they working on their own business idea, independent of any class? Then no, I don’t think “educational use” applies. Being a student is not enough if the class credit is missing. Yes, that student is learning something in the process but so is a community member who walks into the library for a research consultation. Certainly debatable, I realize.

4. Conclusion

This topic came up in the Q/A time of our “Who’s Counting? Measuring Usage of Untraditional Databases Subscriptions” program last year at Charleston. I was moderating the Q/A. Panelists Cynthia and our vendor friends from S&P, Data Planet, and PrivCo re-directed the question back to me. I provided my “experiential learning class projects is educational use” answer and got a sudden round of applause in response. Librarians do really care about this issue and some are willing to stand up for this point of view.

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Wrapping up the semester

Exams at UNC Greensboro end today (Thursday) but my semester wrapped up Tuesday afternoon with the final presentations in MKT 426: International Marketing, the Export Odyssey class. The event took three hours and included three visitors: our SBTDC partner Owen George and two of the company representatives. I hosted the reps while Professor Bahadir was busy up-front grading and managing the team transitions. Half of the students were graduating, and for many this presentation was the final work of their UNCG career.

Unlike last semester, there were no presentation flops this time – all the teams did at least a good job presenting their research and recommending a detailed export market strategy based on that analysis. A couple of teams struggled to articulate their recommendation for the nature of the channel of distribution (i.e. “place” in the 4 P’s such as “indirect sales to a wholesaler” or “direct sales to major hotel chains”) based on their industry and customer identification research. But we asked them to discuss it more and eventually they got it right. This was an example of trying to make decisions based on research, perhaps the main goal of business research instruction. (This comes up later in this post.)

One student team’s company was AEG International, which exports the Firefly product: a solar-powered battery to run lights and power mobile phones. Firefly was developed in West Africa to support rural communities with no electricity. (Note the pictures on that page.) The students proposed having an NGO that serves rural areas in Senegal to distribute the product to its potential users. Professor Bahadir and I hope to have teams work with AEG on their additional products in the future, maybe their water purification product.

While walking back to the library after the final presentation, I bumped into a student who recognized me. His name is Vincent, finance major about to graduate. He reported he had three exams to go and looked tired already but stopped to thank me for the research workshop I led in his FIN 442: Investments class last fall. He said his team didn’t know what they were doing with their research project on Tesla until my workshop, and they ended up with a decent grade on that project because of me. I don’t do that much for the finance program, so this comment warmed my heart. Vincent has a summer job in Research Triangle Park (where BLINC met last time) and hopes to land a full time job in RTP after that. I wished him well.

On return to the library, our LIS intern Ashlea was working the Information Desk. She told me this was her last desk shift as she too was graduating. We exchanged a hug and I asked her to stay in touch as she begins her professional career as a librarian. And on these happy notes my school year ended.

Today’s topic

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

A few academic librarians in BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) have a tradition of gathering at the end of the spring semester for a 3-hour discussion of trends too narrow in scope for a general quarterly BLINC workshop. Mary Abernathy, our BLINC member from Salem College, hosted this event on Wednesday. Salem is the oldest, continually operated educational institution for women in the United States. The Moravians who settled Salem (nucleus for what became Winston-Salem) founded this institution before the American Revolution as a girls’ school. There is also a high school for women next to the college. (Old Salem is a neighbor; my pictures here are actually Old Salem pictures although the college is very pretty too.)

This year six friends were able to meet. Four of them were new members of BLINC and early-career business librarians, bringing energy and fresh ideas to our discussions. Before drafting our agenda, we asked Angel Truesdale from UNC Charlotte for an update on how she and her colleagues were doing after the shooting there last week. She reported that emotions remained high but that they were moving forward. Angel was not on campus the day of the shooting but was helping staff the library the next day.

We agreed to this discussion agenda:

  1. Measuring faculty research impact
  2. Programming for business students in the library
  3.  Instruction:
    • Classroom engagement and workshop design
    • Use of instructional tech
    • Assessment of business research instruction
  4. Summer projects: what do you focus on?

Any confusion in this summary of our discussions is my fault.

Measuring faculty research impact

Betty Garrison of Elon University introduced this topic. She and her colleagues are doing a lot of work in this area. Betty helped create a library guide on “Measuring Your Research Impact.”

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

We discussed marketing strategies for reaching professors on this topic. Summer Krstevska of Wake Forest University suggested than an informal and personal strategy can be more effective than mass emails. Focus on building relationships, meeting in person outside of the library, etc.

We discussed our faculty status (or not) on campus and how that status can help or hinder us. The status of librarians at UNC Charlotte is complex, Angel reported, but at least her dean is a member of the faculty council and is able to advocate for librarian expertise and services.

Angel also affirmed Summer’s focus on the personal touch. Angel uses a mail merge to email her faculty, so that the faculty member’s name is included in her opening line. She does get more responses that way, it seems. She also advocates for making friends with business school staff persons. Those folks are often key gatekeepers and holders of key information.

Several of us email the new faculty hires and new PhD students each August with personalized greeting and offers of teaching and research support. And attending scheduled research presentations in the b-school helps to get noticed (and to better understand the research the faculty are doing).

Angel created a visual graphic describing her services to faculty, as opposed to just using text.

Google Scholar now provides alerts for new publications with specific keywords, such as the name of your campus or the business school.

Business schools tend to highly rank journals from the big for-profit publishers like Elsevier. This could become an issue as more libraries and faculty senates reconsider supporting big subscription packages from those publishers. Stay tuned…

Programming for business students in the library

We discussed hosting special events in the library targeting business students. Ideas mentioned in our discussion:

  • Partner with the b-school on a co-branded program. (I mentioned the library-funded social entrepreneurship business model competition I need to work on this summer.)
  • Work with career services (also to provide research instruction to non-business students as they prepare for interviews).
  • Betty reminded us that the First Research industry reports (which NC LIVE provides via ProQuest) include sections on “conversation starters” and “call prep questions” – great for interviews, not just sales.
  • Partner with student clubs like CEO.
  • Nancy Lovas from UNC Chapel Hill discussed the Live Action CLUE game that her library system puts on each semester. (She played Professor Plum last time!)
  • Young business alumni can be interesting to current students (some alums could perhaps talk about the value of working with the business librarian and using databases too).
  • Consider livestreaming events for online students and satellite campuses.

Instruction

Given that four of us are newish business librarians, we talked a lot about making inroads intro classes for instruction time. Angel discussed her work with an accounting/ pre-business major class in which she provided drop-in lab support and research consultations. We talked about time efficiencies a bit here.

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene (flag represents the construction date of the building)

Nancy discussed the mere five minutes of class time she was allowed in a 400-student introduction to entrepreneurship class. There was some sentiment that short visits to large classes sometimes is a good strategy to get started creating productive engagements with students.

We talked about the sometimes tricky need to help professors create better assignments and research projects. This led to a really good discussion about the nature of teaching business research skills and information literacy. Summer lamented when students fail to apply research to making a decision. Or as students have put it:

  • “What do I do with this industry report or market data?”
  • “How do I apply this to my project?”
  • Or “What do I do next?”

We mentioned Ilana Stonebraker’s work at this point. Sometimes it helps to give students specific prompts:

  • Based on this demographic (and/or psychographic) research, who is your best customer?
  • Based on this industry analysis, how would you describe the long-term health of this industry?
  • Based on this financial benchmarking, what is a likely profit margin for your start-up?

Nancy discussed how she asks students to brainstorm their own research questions: “What do you need to know about this market or industry or company or business idea?” If looking at articles, “what are you looking for in the article?” Have them share their questions in a Google Document.

Don’t ask “Does anyone have a question” but rather “What questions do you have?”

Angel recommending looking at some of the products in Project Cora, which covers business research topics and specific business databases.

(In our spirited discussion of business research instruction, there was no mention of the frameworks, even though all of us are familiar with them.)

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

We discussed how we prepare for a workshop. While many of us usually have teams focus on their assigned or chosen topic (an industry, market, product, public company, local small business or nonprofit, etc.), Summer sometimes has all the students work on a product that is harder to classify than their officially assigned product for the class. She discussed how her example provides a deeper learning experience than researching the simpler, official product.

One of us likes to use mind-mapping tools, in which students develop a list of subtopics and/or research options for their assigned topic. Students still like Kahoot. Padlet can be a visually attractive alternative to a shared Google Document. Are tech tools like these effective or merely flashy? Well, students do respond well to the visual elements that these tools provide.

Nancy described an assessment research project she is working on. It will involve student use of a LibGuide with a test and control class. She is working on the IRB submission.

That was it for assessment, sorry. We were starting to get hungry but wanted to discuss one more topic before lunch.

What do you do in the summer?

For some of us, this will be the first summer as an academic librarian. What do you prioritize? How do you handle the sometimes very different workflow compared to the fall and spring when we are busy with instruction and consultations? (Of course this isn’t the situation with everyone. I just got off the phone with my fellow BLINC officer Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College, and Sara is no less busy in the summer.)

Some answers:

  • Betty’s library has weekly workshops for librarians and library staff. Departments take turns coming up with the topics.
  • Library faculty retreats and unconferences.
  • Updating web sites, LibGuides, videos, etc. Betty’s library devotes two full days for everyone to work on standardizing, updating, and improving LibGuides.
  • Mapping out a personal research agenda and writing articles.
  • Working through a “summer to-do” list used each summer. It covers updating LibGuides and videos, cleaning out email folders, desktop files, heavy-use folders, and paperwork in the office; updating social media professional profiles; adding possible conferences as well as fall semester embedded classes to the calendar, etc.
  • Updates to make, cleaning out my email folders, cleaning up my desktop and networked folders, etc.
  • Catching up on professional readings (articles and blog posts) saved up since the fall semester began.
  • Submitting proposals to fall and spring conferences (we briefly discussed our different travel funding policies).
  • Getting name and contact info for new incoming professors, PhD students, etc.

Then we walked up to Willow’s Bistro for lunch with a bit more work-related discussion but mostly socializing before bidding adieu.

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