Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Business Research’ Category

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) met for its spring workshop last week Friday. You can’t tell from this lunch-time picture, but the flowering trees are now blooming over here in the NC Piedmont, and the daffodils are up and looking pretty. Well, the lack of coats on these business librarians enjoying lunch and networking outdoors is a sign of spring!

We met at the Frontier, a shared-work space, in Research Triangle Park, just south of Durham. It had been a while since we met in RTP. It’s pretty famous for being one of the most successful research parks in the country. It reflects the early, 1950’s, suburban model of research parks; only recently has the park become concerned with mixed-used development and more sustainable transportation options. In contrast, the newish Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter, where BLINC has met before, is largely built from downtown former RJ Reynolds tobacco factories. The Quarter is high-density and has lots of housing a short walk away. (However, we are still waiting for our downtown, full-sized grocery store.)

Around 20 business librarians, public and academic, attended the workshop. We had more public librarians than academic librarians this time, a nice change of pace. Four folks were first-timers at a BLINC workshop. We gave our new friends a special welcome.

Workshop description: “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream, but libraries have been helping people trying to solve problems in their communities for a long time. At this workshop, we will share and discuss library services and resources to support social entrepreneurs in both public and academic libraries.”

My notes are somewhat rough since I was also serving as the workshop coordinator, along with fellow-officer Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College. My apologies to the presenters and you readers.

Agenda:

9:30-10:00: Socializing over morning snacks and coffee
10:00-10:30: Introductions; what’s new with your work or at your library
10:30-11:30: Social entrepreneurship, part 1:
Steve Cramer (UNC Greensboro): Introduction to social entrepreneurship and how today’s topics fit together
Dan Maynard (Campbell University):  Lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs  as a Sullivan Fellow
Betty Garrison (Elon University): IRS 990 forms for nonprofit research and financial benchmarking
11:30-12:30: Lunch at the Food Truck Rodeo
12:30-2:00: Social entrepreneurship, part 2
Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill): The UNC Makeathon — students developing prototypes that promote positive social impact
Deanna Day (Small Business and Technology Development Center): Support organizations for social entrepreneurs
Steve Cramer: Simply Analytics (NC LIVE) v. PolicyMap v. Social Explorer for community indicators data
Final discussions facilitated by Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College)
2:00-3:00: BLINC planning discussions: NCLA 2019 additional program proposals and final decisions on our socials; topics for summer workshop at App State

Introducing the topic

I used the definition from UNCG’s Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship class:

“Social entrepreneurship is a growing field that depends on market-driven practices to create social change. Social entrepreneurs leverage available economic resources and innovations, to support their passion to have a positive impact on the global and local community.”

After describing a few examples from recent magazines and newspapers, we discussed core aspects of social entrepreneurship. Many of these aspects impact our consulting work with social entrepreneurs.

  • Includes for-profit and nonproft organizations (including triple bottom line companies: people, planet, profits)
  • The need to define and measure the problem being addressed, and the people involved
  • The need to have direct experience with target populations
  • And working in partnership with members of a target community, not swooping in to fix problems for them – that’s almost never helpful or effective or indeed wanted
  • Industry analysis, competitive intelligence, financial benchmarking, and market analysis are required – the same research required by general entrepreneurship — even if you want to start a nonprofit and your heart is in the right place
  • Social entrepreneurs can’t expect grant money to come in from local governments or foundations just because it’s a significant social problem and you are passionate about your proposed solution
  • Social entrepreneurs must think seriously about possible revenue streams, and will have to create an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow – whether nonprofit or for-profit

Lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

Dan Maynard (Campbell University) discussed “lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs as a Sullivan Fellow”. Dan remains the only librarian serving as a Sullivan Fellow. From that page:

Dan Maynard

Dan Maynard on lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

“The Sullivan Foundation is focused on supporting faculty who are interested in incorporating social innovation and entrepreneurship into new or existing classes and/or proposed projects that serves to deepen knowledge of students interested in the field and faculty impact in the community.”

Dan has a lot of interesting stories to tell and recommendations to share. He presented social entrepreneurship in terms of the 3 M’s:

  1. Mission (useful work)
  2. Margin (it’s profitable)
  3. Meaning (“good work”)

The Sullivan Foundation focuses on rural and micropolitan places in the U.S. south — the kinds of places that often get ignored in discussions of trendy entrepreneurship.

Lessons learned:

  • Turn outward: everyone has aspirations: find out what they are
  • Discover your niche: deal with causes, rural issues, or urban issues. Don’t try to solve all the problems at once
  • Social entrepreneurship is not social innovation, social justice, service learning, or community engagement per se. It often involves those things, though. But watch out for folks with their own agenda but less interest in sustainable solutions
  • Be prepared for push-back from some faculty for using the “e” word. For some, entrepreneurship is a dirty word, a capitalistic idea
  • Be prepared to push back against administrators, bosses, sponsors, and funding agencies with their top-down pronouncements and top-down agenda (Dan gave a few examples)

Measuring outcomes: assessment or story telling?

  • Foundations seek storytelling and branding – human aspects, humanity on display. Not a spreadsheet of numeric assessments
  • Provide storytelling that earns name recognition
  • Assessment data is a fading emphasis in the foundation community

An example Campbell U story from Sullivan (Dan shared this link with us after our workshop – the story was posted the same day.)

Success stories sell, Dan asserts. He is getting more instruction and consultation requests on his campus as a result of Sullivan Foundation storytelling,

Dan is helping social entrepreneurs grow their networks and seek funding. Slow money, micro grants, and peer lending is happening in Dan’s rural county. It’s not just Detroit Soup anymore.

From the Q&A with Dan on academic implications:

  • A business schools are not the most fertile ground for social entrepreneurship — the arts and humanities are.
  • There is much less emphasis on traditional business plan writing [more on that after lunch].

We moved the IRS 990 discussion for after lunch.

Food truck lunch

The Frontier has “Food Truck Rodeos” on Friday, so we went outside and had lunch. That was fun. Easy to network and socialize on foot, and then we munched on benches.

Nonprofit financial research and benchmarking

Betty Garrison (Elon University) caught a bug and couldn’t make it, so I jumped in to cover this topic. Most of the BLINC friends had experience with the IRS 990 financial forms required for many nonprofits.

  • 501(a) organizations.
  • Due 5 ½ months after fiscal year ends
  • If under $200K in receipts, an organization can submit a shorter version, 900-EZ
  • Private foundations of any size submit a 990-PF that usually includes a list of organizations given funds with the dollars amount

Using some examples I pulled up from http://foundationcenter.org/find-funding/990-finder, we discussed using these forms for financial benchmarking and strategic insights.

Librarian support of the UNC-Chapel Hill Makerthon

Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) described the nature of this event and her role in it as the recently-hired entrepreneurship librarian. This is a new but already big event at her campus. https://www.makeathon.unc.edu/ . It lasts a week. Ideas must have a social impact focus. Many non-business students compete.

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Student teams present either an idea for a physical product or an app (apps are really popular). The teams use the business model canvas for their submissions and 12-minute presentations. Nancy provided research consultations for six of the teams.

Nancy has a research guide, https://guides.lib.unc.edu/lean-canvas, organized around the topic boxes of the business model canvas.

She also works with the campus’ social entrepreneurship hub, located within the Campus Y.

Nancy led a discussion on the business model canvas versus the business model versus the traditional business plan. Many of the public librarians hadn’t been exposed to these alternatives to the business plan.

Small Business and Technology Development Center & social entrepreneurship

Deanna Day (research consultant (and librarian), Small Business and Technology Development Center) discussed how the SBTDC supports social entrepreneurs. SBTDC is the “business and technology extension service of The University of North Carolina” [from that site]. So it covers the whole state through our 16 campuses.

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna provided some examples of SBTDC’s social entrepreneurship clients. SBTDC councilors also support students working on pitch competitions (I didn’t know that).

The councilors’ biggest concern when working with new social entrepreneurship clients: that the clients won’t be able to sustain their business/organization, and that their financial planning is undeveloped.

Deanna expanded on the financial challenges of creating nonprofits. From one of her slides:

  • Everyone wants to be a nonprofit
  • Because funding is difficult to obtain from traditional sources?
  • Most VCs and angels are not interested in social impact funding
  • Only 11% of big bets go to people to color
  • But other business structures can also be effective
  • SBTDC’s biggest challenge is clients who are not interested in developing a financially sound, sustainable enterprise

SBTDC now uses Liveplan, available to their clients. It works well, she reported. Banks and the SBA accept Liveplan reports when they consider making a loan.

Social data

 I talked briefly about Simply Analytics (which we all have access to via NC LIVE), PolicyMap, and Social Explorer as tools for social entrepreneurship.

Even though many of us usually turn to Simply Analytics for its deep collection of psychographic data, it has plenty of Census data too, which can easily be ranked by location as well as mapped.

PolicyMap has lots of free data and therefore is still useful without having a subscription. It has a robust collection of health indicators, not just Census data: CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Service, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Also HUD data on affordable housing. The PolicyMap blog is open access and had been very helpful to me: https://www.policymap.com/blog/

Social Explorer is very useful for time series data, since it has data back to the original, 1790 Census. Of course, the data back then was pretty limited in scope. For more recent years, it has data from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year, everyone. Good luck with your winter months and spring semester.

I like to occasionally post on instructional design and teaching tips. Every year there seems to be more demand from business librarians for business instruction tips and strategies, but the opportunities to share on and discuss this topic remain pretty limited. Here is hopefully a worthy if tiny contribution.

Student team planning some research

Student team planning some research

Last fall, I was going to write about planning research workshops for the two sections each semester of CRS 363: Global Sourcing. This is a class in our Consumer and Retailing Studies program. The students research aspects of sourcing clothing from other countries (health of the local manufacturing industries, key companies, country macro-issues like political and business climates, labor policies, trade barriers, etc.) for a pretend corporate client. Pretty challenging research, especially for developing countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Lately in the research workshops, I assign each student team a core source (ex. a database like Euromonitor or a web site like doingbusiness.org) and give the team questions to research. Then the student teams take turns presenting their findings to all the other teams. My assigned questions include “discuss how using this source helps you make better sourcing decisions for your client”, so the students are not just providing basic database orientation. This semester I’m going to have the teams fill out a Google sheet linked from the libguide as a strategy to share team findings beyond the verbal summaries.

But then in October, the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship published “Taking care of business (before class): Information literacy in a flipped classroom” by Natalia Tingle (William M. White Business Library, University of Colorado at Boulder). The classroom activity discussed by Natalia is similar to what I summarized above for CRS 363, but her detailed and thoughtful article is much more useful than what I would have accomplished in a blog post. So go take a look if you have access to JBFL.

Instead I’ll write about instruction for X-Culture

My hardest one-shot teaching situation lately has been the X-Culture sections. X-Culture is an international business experiential learning project in which students work in global teams. A UNCG student might be in a team with students from Finland, China, and India.

UNCG Management Professor Vas Taras created X-Culture around ten years ago or so. He wasn’t happy with his syllabus for the undergraduate Introduction to International Business class (MGT 301). Through the Academy of International Business, he asked if other management profs were interested in the idea of global student teams trying to solve international business problems. Many profs said yes.

X-Culture now has over 5,000 students each year from over 40 countries. There are some summary videos about the project at the above link (they are out of date regarding the number of students involved). Professor Taras recruits projects from U.S. and international companies and nonprofits. Student teams select one of the projects and create a report suggesting solutions for their client’s need. Teams with the same client compete with each other. Each semester, the best teams around the world are identified. Some clients have provided incentives (including intern or job offers) for the best teams.

Once or twice a year, many of the X-Culture professors and students gather for an international X-Culture global symposium. I made some short research videos (center column, under my intro video) by request for last summer’s symposium in Italy. (I would love to attend this symposium sometime, but you know, funding limitations.)

The large scope of X-Culture allows the professors to collect data, conduct research, and publish on international virtual teams, experiential learning, and crowdsourcing.

Example of client projects

The project descriptions live behind a password since they contain some strategic details about each client. So I’ll just summarize here.

  • A U.S.-based cross-cultural management consultancy hosts a summit that only attracts a local crowd. The company wants to attract attendees from around the world.
  • A tea manufacturer in Colombia wants to expand into new export markets.
  • A plagiarism detection company in the Ukraine wants to develop a business model based on personal subscriptions.
  • The chamber of commerce in a large city wants to attract more foreign direct investment to its area. What are good countries and industries to target, and what is an effective sales pitch given the nature of this city and its business conditions?
  • An Indian designer of 5D gaming machines wants to expand to new markets.
  • A Spanish company makes software for NGOs and wants to expand into new markets.
  • A U.S. supplier of organic alpaca poop wants to expand into additional B2B markets such as large commercial nurseries.

There were 13 clients total in Fall 2018.

Why is X-Culture challenging for research instruction?

Well, let’s make a list!

  1. As you hopefully noticed, the client projects are diverse: companies and nonprofits/NGOs in various countries, with B2B or B2C markets (sometimes both), with needs involving industry trends, market and customer identification, competitive intelligence, financial benchmarking, best practices in logistics or operations management, trade barrier analysis, etc. So a wide variety of research strategies and resources are needed each semester.
  2. I only have contact with 1/4 of the student team, namely, the single UNCG team member.
  3. Given licensing terms for subscription databases, UNCG students are not allowed to share database content with their teammates and their clients. Another topic to address in class.
  4. Many of the MGT 301 students haven’t had any significant business research projects yet in their curriculum.
  5. Each semester, there are several hundred of these UNCG students between the on-campus and online sections.

My responses to these challenges

One-shot instruction here requires sort of a triage model. First, distill the client project topics down to the commonalities for all teams. Typically:

  • The client’s industry identification
  • State of that industry (U.S. industry and/or global)
  • Competitors (U.S. and/or global)

Second, ask the students to identify if their client is focusing on B2B or B2C. I ask the B2C teams to research a foreign consumer market and the B2B teams research the business dynamics of a target country. Euromonitor works well for both of these topics, so at least the students are in the same resource.

Below as an appendix are the research questions from my worksheet. The questions could be given to the students on paper or via Google Drive linked from the libguide.

(At the request of the UNCG X-Culture instructors, Prof. Taras and Karen Lynden, I designed the libguide to have value for non-UNCG students as well as UNCG students. Hence the inclusion of “free authoritative sources”. Vas and Karen share that libguide with the other X-Culture instructors around the world. Good for my usage stats.)

Third, in terms of classroom management: I can’t have the students sit together in their teams of course (as I do for almost all of my other instruction sessions). Instead, I ask the students to sit based on their clients (even though the students are competing with each other). That way they can discuss their research findings and learn from each other. And I can visit each client-group by the end of the session. As always, contacting me or seeing me outside of class is emphasized by me and the instructor.

Finally, I do emphasize appropriate use of licensed subscription content in a global project like this. I also try to work in a few words about plagiarism. By request, I made a short presentation for the online sections on this topic. One of the videos made for the annual summit covers this too, since plagiarism might be more of a problem in some other cultures. (Judging from the number of views, the global X-Culture faculty are not showing this video to their students. Of course, it’s only provided in English.)

It also was by Karen’s request that I created a visual guide to “How to cite figures, tables, graphs, and maps in APA”, which I now provide on all my libguides through my master APA page (see upper left).

Assessment is challenging for a global teams research project in which the research needs vary widely. When I check in with each ad hoc client team during my visit, I can get a quick sense of whether the students understand the nature of the research required for their client, and if they understand how to apply the database content to solving some of the problems involved.

I have not used the final reports as a type of authentic assessment, due to the global team aspect and frankly a lack of time on my part. My embedded classes (and my own class, when I am teaching it) are already time-consuming during final presentation and final report season, plus there is the final surge of consultations from other classes. If my library had two business librarians, we could do better with this. (See my recent post on the lean liaison model.)

That’s it. Hope that was useful!

–sc

Appendix: my worksheet questions

1. B2B or B2C?

Is your client primarily B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)?

2. State of the U.S. industry

Use the IBIS database to identify your client’s industry:

Summarize its industry outlook:

Summarize the key success factors (look in the “Competitive Landscape” chapter):

Summarize industry globalization (same chapter):

3a. for B2C clients: a foreign consumer market

Search the Euromonitor Passport database for your consumer product or service category in any country (ex. “France tea” or “Brazil baby”). Name the report you found:

Summarize the market forecast:

List the top three brands or companies:

Note the related reports.

3b. for B2B clients: business dynamics

Search Euromonitor Passport database for its “business dynamics” report for a foreign country (ex. “Egypt business dynamics”). Name the country:

Summarize its regulatory market:

Summarize its operating risk:

Use the “More Related Items” list near the top left to find one more Euromonitor report that would be useful for your client:

4a. U.S. competitors

Search ReferenceUSA for your U.S.-based competitors, ranked by sales descending.

Note you can download the list, generate a heat map, etc.

You can also use this to identify B2B customers in the U.S.

4b. Global competitors

Use the Company Dossier search in NexisUni to identify, rank, and download international competitors and potential B2B customers.

Read Full Post »

Catching up

Yesterday BLINC met at UNC Charlotte for our winter workshop. The morning focus was “selling ourselves as information professionals,” in collaboration with Carolinas SLA. We had five special librarians present along with 15 public and academic librarians. Having those special librarians aboard enriched our discussion. More on this workshop next week.

Exams at UNCG end today. There are still students studying in the library this morning, but I bet it will be pretty empty but the time I go home this afternoon. Looks like we get some snow this weekend, so hello, winter!

Charleston Conference 2018

Charleston featured a record number of programs provided by business librarians and vendors. Alas, many of those programs overlapped. We knew that would eventually start to happen as we continue to grow our presence there.

I already wrote a suggestion to vendors who haven’t been embracing the unique opportunity they have at this conference. Below are a few notes on interesting programs.

Stacy Gilbert and Alyson Vaaler

Stacy Gilbert and Alyson Vaaler

Alyson Vaaler (Texas A&M) and Stacy Gilbert (U. of Colorado at Boulder) gave an interesting talk on “Bringing the Workplace into Collection Development: Analyzing Advertising Position Descriptions to Inform Database Collections”. Based on their research of the job postings, they discussed using workplace research needs to plan and provide collections and instruction. Alyson and Stacy compared industry databases (primarily sold to corporate users) to library databases (courtesy of campus-friendly licensing terms). Could this methodology be applied to other fields, like accounting? I asked if they would consider doing this time-intensive study for that field, and they laughed at me. Humph.

No, actually they were very nice.

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. of Pennsylvania) organized a well-attended panel on “Who’s Counting? Measuring Usage of Untraditional Databases Subscriptions”. The pictures on my two most recent posts are from this panel and identify the other speakers. Lots of good points about the challenge of trying to apply COUNTER usage methods designed for articles and ebook databases toward databases for data, mapping, and company records. COUNTER Project Director Lorraine Estelle was present and told everyone that COUNTER version 5 will work with such databases much better. This program had a lot of questions and could have gone on longer. Maybe Cynthia will lead a sequel and update next year?

Orolando Duffus and Rosalind Tedford

Orolando Duffus and Rosalind Tedford

Orolando Duffus (U. of Houston), Rosalind Tedford (Wake Forest U.), and I led a lively lunch discussion on liaison trends: “Thriving (or Just Surviving) as a Liaison Librarian: a Lively Discussion of our Evolving Roles, Opportunities, and Challenges.” Roz summarized the trends and needs identified by the 40 attendees, who then discussed some of those items in small groups with share-backs to everyone. We could have used more time too.

Here is Roz’s summary of the liaison trends and needs identified. I bolded the ones mentioned the most:

  • Not being able to get users the resources they need: 2 mentions of
  • Keeping up with the literature and resources available: 1
  • Prioritizing how to spend time: 3
  • Time spent in learning to be a liaison takes away from being a liaison: 1
  • Supporting new areas (or not your area of expertise) when they are assigned to you: 7
  • Extra duties assigned (checking the formatting on theses, etc.): 2
  • Making one-shots as effective as possible: 2
  • How to reach all the faculty and researchers at your institution: 1
  • Convincing faculty that we can bring value to their courses; Faculty buy-in when we know students want and need help; engaging faculty: 3
  • Scope creep when liaison role is a small part of your job: 2
  • Help the librarians that report to you – new skills require time to learn; they need more functional expertise; what is the best structure: 5
  • How to integrate the materials into the classroom – what could vendors provide?:  2
  • Getting started as a liaison – esp. When there isn’t a structure: 2
  • Learning the products we have: 1
  • Organizing liaison work within the structure of the liaison program and/or library: 4
  • Keeping departments informed: 1
  • Digital scholarship duties and interests: 1
  • Productive relationships between functional liaisons and subject liaisons: 1
  • Empowering liaisons in purchasing decisions: 1
One of the small groups at our lively lunch discussion

One of the small groups at our Thursday lively lunch discussion (Cynthia is there too)

That lively lunch discussion was on Thursday. On Wednesday, I missed a lively lunch on entrepreneurship librarianship organized by Alyson and other friends in order to attend the first lively lunch on liaison trends. I wanted to hear if any interesting ideas or new hot topics would be mentioned there for us to consider in preparation for our discussion the next day. Oddly, however, that Wednesday lively lunch discussion (70-minute sessions in which “use of slides is strongly discouraged”, according to the conference submission form) featured lots of slides and absolutely no discussion. We just listened to the speaker and filled out a series of online polls. Quite a surprise. Conference speakers, please follow your submission guidelines.

Both business librarian happy hours (sponsored by PrivCo and InfoUSA respectively) were fun, as was the dinner provided by Gale Cengage. We dined at a little Italian place on a side street near the College of Charleston. Thank you, vendor friends.

Read Full Post »

More summaries (and sometimes feedback) of articles I finally had time to read this summer. There’s also a couple of recommended blogs for helping improve one’s research skills. Unlike last time, most of these articles are behind paywalls.

Hometown summer beach scene

Hometown summer beach scene

1.

Distinctive roles: Engagement, innovation, and the liaison model
Jennifer Church-Duran
portal: Libraries and the Academy, 17:2 (2017)
http://muse.jhu.edu/article/653203

Jennifer is the head of user services for the University Libraries at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This is a useful summary of trends and published case studies. From the abstract:

“Bent on improving the teaching and learning experience, enhancing the productivity of researchers, and increasing the visibility of research outputs, libraries are redistributing staff, reallocating resources, and reorganizing internal structures, all to better partner campus-wide. Nowhere is the impact of this push for service innovation and user engagement greater than on the workload, direction, and even future of liaison librarian programs.”

Jennifer begins with a summary of the focus shift in research libraries from collections to engagement. Liaisons may be the librarians most impacted by this shift. The 2009 ARL white paper “A Framework for Articulating New Library Roles,” based on work at the University of Minnesota Libraries, led to other updated definitions of liaisons at Duke and other libraries (see links from a 2015 post of mine; table 1 in this article provides a concise comparison).

Core roles circa 2015 include outreach, research services, resources, teaching, and scholarly communication, but in the last 6-8 years, a bunch of new roles have been added: digital humanities, data management, bibliometrics, etc.

This “explosion of additional service areas” leads to a need to establish desired skill sets and (less often, alas) training sufficient to help liaisons acquire those needed skills. One 2012 study identified “32 skills or areas of knowledge” liaisons will need. [How liaisons are organized and managed — and partnerships with subject liaisons and functional liaisons – could be additional responses to help liaisons.]

So yes – this “explosion” of liaison roles can lead to issues of workload and resources stretched too thin:

“…librarians will work as liaison officers between the library and researchers in their domains, as knowledgeable consultants who understand the unique information cycles of faculty in their disciplines, as entrepreneurs able to identify opportunities and offer innovative solutions, and as trainers to improve users’ skills and understanding.” [emphasis mine]

[And also as teachers, a role sometimes ignored by the research libraries, sadly.]

Jennifer then quotes from UNCG’s own 2012 liaison reorganization task force regarding the unreasonable expectation that each liaison should be skilled in every liaison role and apply those roles equally to all academic departments, regardless of the nature of those departments. Later studies echo concerns about “sustainability and scalability”.

How liaisons are organized and managed can be part of the problem, with liaisons at many libraries working solo. (Our task force actually focused on liaison organization, not liaison roles.) Jennifer next provides an update on the literature of liaison organization, but reports that

“While a growing number of publications explore librarian engagement with users as a critical part of innovation, far less is available in the professional literature to connect that engagement with strategic priorities, or to offer up the means for assessing the merit of ideas and the methods for then managing the process of innovation from idea to implementation.”

Sometimes our library structures inhibit innovation in liaison services. (Hmm is that actually a strength of the “solo liaison” approach?) A few libraries experimenting with different organizations are mentioned, including UNCG, but details aren’t provided (subject and functional teams, in our case).

Jennifer concludes with encouragement to try out new library structures that support innovation (I would add nimbleness):

“To truly create agile systems for translating engagement into ideas and, in turn, transforming those ideas into scalable, sustainable, and replicable services, libraries must work to connect the ongoing emphasis on engaged librarianship with the need for supportive organizational strategy, structure, and culture.”

2.

Mapping information literacy using the Business Research Competencies
Heather Howard, Nora Wood, and Ilana Stonebraker
Reference Services Review, (2018) (no vol or issue #?)
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/RSR-12-2017-0048

From the abstract: “This paper aims to provide an overview of the current landscape of curriculum mapping across business courses at two institutions and a replicable methodology for other institutions.”

Heather (Purdue), Nora (University of South Florida), and Ilana (Purdue) used the BRASS Business Research Competencies in mapping of Purdue and USF business school curriculums. They sought to answer these questions:

  1. “Do the Competencies serve as a good framework for understanding business information literacy and its effects on an undergraduate curriculum and graduate level curriculum?”
  2. “How do the Competencies inform our scaffolded instruction?”
  3. “Do the Competencies relate to the overall curriculum of the business school?”

Based on their study, the authors recommend this approach and provide examples of uncovering gaps in business research skills on their campuses based on the Competencies.

The authors provide lit reviews of the business research competencies, curriculum mapping in business education, and scaffolding.

Of the competencies, only international business research was missing from the Purdue curriculum. Since the business librarians teach a required research course, they will work to correct this oversight. The South Florida curriculum lacked emphasis on international business research and business law. There is not a simple fix for the absence of business law research in the curriculum. (IMO the “international business” competency seems to focus on foreign direct investment research strategies and databases. There are other types of international business research.)

Topics not covered in the BRASS competencies were also mapped. The authors recommend adding “ethical use of information, intellectual property and decision-making” as well a career research to the competencies.

The article’s discussion section includes a paragraph on liaison workload issues. Nora writes “At the University of South Florida, providing comprehensive support across all departments in the business school is not feasible owing to the size and structure of the existing library liaison program.” My situation too (although Nora covers around 5,500 business students, about 1,400 more than me, but that’s still way too much). “This lean [liaison] model results in inconsistent coverage of the whole business curriculum and limits the number of new projects that can be pursued.” Therefore partnerships across the business school are essential to support school-wide business research skills.

Given the lack of AACSB standards in information literacy, the authors advocate for more comparisons of curriculum mapping across campuses.

Appendixes cover the draft competencies, the core curriculum at the two schools, and “suggested additional research competencies”.

3.

“Is corporate a bad word?”: The case for business information in liberal arts libraries
Danya Leebaw
portal: Libraries and the Academy, 18(2), April 2018, 301-314
http://muse.jhu.edu/article/690731

Fun title! The first paragraph explains it through an anecdote.

From the abstract: “Are there reasons to teach [liberal arts students] to grapple critically with business information?”

Danya (social sciences and professional programs director at the University of Minnesota Libraries) uses survey results, critical information theory, and the ACRL frameworks to explore that question.

A number of us now work with cross-campus entrepreneurship programs, in which some of the students come from the liberal and performing arts. That’s not the focus here though.

Danya asserts that “business information is useful material for teaching core liberal arts learning outcomes: critical inquiry, lifelong learning, and ethical citizenship.” She also believes that the frameworks “help to situate business information comfortably in a liberal arts context.” That’s a refreshing attitude to me since I find the frameworks (like the standards) too focused on scholarly articles and books as research. Business research (especially research to make decisions in community-engaged experiential learning) requires a much, well, richer research experience with much more lifelong learning potential that traditional academic scholarship. However, I know that Charissa Jefferson, Amanda Click, and other business librarians are doing interesting work in applying the framework to biz info lit.

Maybe related to all that, Danya continues:

“This paper argues that the absence of business information from library reference and instruction programs at liberal arts colleges is out of step with both liberal arts and information literacy learning goals. Indeed, this absence risks communicating to students that business sources are unworthy of critical study, thus inadvertently reinforcing biases and missing a variety of pedagogical opportunities.”

She surveyed reference librarians in the Oberlin Group, a “consortium of 80 highly selective, top-ranked liberal arts college libraries.” Most of those campuses provide business classes but few offer regular business instruction. Few of the surveyed librarians reported confidence in teaching business research.

Danya discusses that negative connotations of “business” and “corporate” seem to be factors limiting business info lit on many of these campuses. Not too surprising — “corporate” is not one of my favorite words either. But I wonder what the reactions of the liberal arts librarians would be to “entrepreneurship”, “self-employment”, or “social entrepreneurship”.

Danya next applies critical pedagogy literature. Since (in the U.S. at least) our students live in a capitalistic society in which large corporations wield much influence and power, the students need to understand that business information “can be understood as a discourse with its own guiding practices, worthy of sophisticated study and understanding.”

She next gets into the framework, devoting a few paragraphs to each frame. This topic forms the largest section of this interesting article. For each frame, Danya provides

“examples of business sources and learning scenarios that deepen students’ and librarians’ understanding of these threshold concepts, in ways authentic—rather than external—to the core missions and values of small liberal arts colleges.”

Frame 1 focuses on business news and trade journals, formats (particularly the latter) unfamiliar to most students, not just liberal arts students. Articles from those publications are usually more understandable to undergraduates, who typically don’t have the research methodology background or disciplinary knowledge to get very much out of peer-reviewed research articles.

Frame 2: Focuses on quantitative information. Statistical literacy! And also the creation process for advertising, which can mirror that of academic research.

Frame 3: The existence of expensive proprietary business research, much of which is not available on a liberal arts campus. This becomes a teachable moment (or conversation) with the students. (Using marketresearch.com, I often show student teams the cost of specific reports from IBIS and Mintel they have just used via the library’s subscription. The students usually have a strong reaction when learning that a report their team used to start making decisions costs over $4K to corporate buyers.)

Frame 4: Since liberal arts students have to do more creative research when the expensive reports are not available, they “must be prepared to turn to unexpected or unfamiliar sources, with curiosity and an open mind about where to look, what one might find, and where that might lead.” Danya’s students often have to get beyond core library tools like the catalog and article databases and instead do some primary research, make some phone calls, dig into the hidden web, etc. The students get much deeper research experience and learn some lifelong-learning research skills too.

Frame 5: Business researchers have conversations too but use their own language and communication practices.

Frame 6: Danya discusses using commodity chain research to explore “searching as strategic exploration.” Students learn that “there no clear, objectively correct path for their research. Instead, they must pursue a series of questions, explorations, redirections, decisions, and restarts.”

A useful article for both liberal arts librarians and business librarians.

4.

Toward core competencies for entrepreneurship librarians
Carey Toane & Rachel Figueiredo
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 23:1 (2018)
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08963568.2018.1448675

Carey is the Entrepreneurship Librarian at the University of Toronto (with whom I presented at GCEC in Halifax last fall), and Rachel is the Engineering and Entrepreneurship Librarian at University of Waterloo (Waterloo is the Silicon Valley of eastern North America). They surveyed North American entrepreneurship librarians “to identify the job responsibilities and tasks, skills and experience they employ, and the impact of campus context on engagement with this community.”

The article begins with a detailed lit review on the rise of campus entrepreneurship and the evolution of definitions of librarian core competencies. The authors utilized BRASS and SLA documents to design their survey as well as the Ohio State University Libraries Framework for the Engaged Librarian.

88 librarians filled out the survey. While a narrow majority of those folks had been librarians for 8-25 years, 56.82% had served as entrepreneurship librarians for four years or fewer. So an emerging field. 63.64% reported entrepreneurship being a “central area or focus of their work” but only 24% were able to spend over 30% of their time on entrepreneurship.

The next section of this article summarizes the types of entrepreneurship classes, programs, and activities on the campuses. Level of library support is mixed. Some libraries have multiple librarians engaged, but others lack library support outside the solo entrepreneurship librarian. Research services and consultations were the most common service (especially market research), followed by teaching and then outreach. These services/activities drive the rankings of the competencies reported in this article, with collections and scholarly communications coming in last.

Detailed analysis of each of these five competencies follows, complete with heat maps  by level of importance and frequency, and illustrative quotes from the survey.

For subject expertise, market and industry research took the top two spots, followed by company research. Financial research was #7 of 12, which surprised me – thought that would be higher.

The top “enabling competency” (language from the SLA document) was “Initiative, adaptability, flexibility, creativity, innovation, and problem solving.” My two favorite survey quotes from this section:

“Researching new ideas—new markets and technologies—requires a high level of creativity and “out of the box thinking”—you’re not looking for straightforward, easy-to-find information.”

“People don’t come to me with easy questions. They answer those on their own. So by the time a question gets to me, creative thinking is required”

The essential need to develop relationships (I would call that proactive engagement leading to an embedded relationship) is also discussed.

While cross-campus entrepreneurship seems to be increasingly emphasized, most of the entrepreneurship librarians are also serving as general business librarians. But cross-campus services and physical spaces offered by campus libraries seem to be on the rise.

The authors refer to Kauffman’s limited support of cross-campus education (which they stopped doing a while ago), but not to the work of the Coleman Foundation, which at one point had a larger cross-campus Entrepreneurship Fellows program than Kauffman had. But Coleman is changing the nature of its entrepreneurship support too (blog post about that coming this fall, after the last Coleman Fellows summit in Chicago in October).

Apparently, the survey didn’t cover social entrepreneurship.

This is really good analysis of the state of entrepreneurship librarians and library support of entrepreneurship.

5.

Entrepreneurship resources in U.S. public libraries: Website analysis
Ashley E. Faulkner
Reference Services Review, 46:1 (2018), 69-90
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/RSR-07-2017-0025

Ashley studied the websites of the largest 46 U.S. public libraries to learn how they support entrepreneurs. She first conducted a qualitative evaluation of the websites, limited to 15 minutes each. Then Ashley conducted a thorough analysis using the “Checklist for Entrepreneurship Resources in US Public Libraries” document (see her appendix).

She did not include web site content listed under the label “business” or “small business”, an interesting decision she write about. Most of the libraries did not use the word “entrepreneurship” in any way to label databases by subject — “business” was the core and common keyword. A few more sites had research guides using the E-word. Few business or entrepreneurship librarians are identified at all on the public library web sites (which is also true of most N.C. public libraries, which makes it harder to recruit BLINC members from public libraries!)

Similar results regarding the words used to describe relevant programming.

Most of the libraries mentioned partner with community partners like the SCORE, SBA, SBDC, etc.

Ashley recommends that more public library web sites provide a site search engine. (Librarians like to browse; patrons like to find?). Slightly less than half of the libraries have a business or entrepreneurship center or space. It was usually unclear if an entrepreneur could use library meeting spaces for free. There is more potential for collaboration with local support organizations. Finally, listing a public services librarian who can work with entrepreneurs would be a boon to the local entrepreneurship community.

6.

Buying the haystack: New roles for academic business libraries
Meg Trauner
Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 2:2 (2017)
http://ticker.mcgill.ca/issue/view/5

Meg is the director of the Ford Library at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. She writes about how usage of traditional subscription datasets like WRDS modules and Capital IQ at her school have dropped dramatically. Meanwhile, requests for purchasing one-off datasets from untraditional sources are on the rise. These are

“stand-alone data sets that are not widely available to the library market and not available through WRDS. The seller often withholds university-wide use, and in many cases is not set up to offer it.”

The new library role is figuring out how to license, fund, and host or access these datasets, in cooperation with the data provider (who may never have sold data to a library before) and the faculty.

Meg provides reasons for the library remaining involved in this data market. Meg asks for other libraries dealing with this shift in data demand to share their stories with her for a follow-up article in Ticker.

7.

A day in the life: Interviews with three PE/VC librarians
Doug Southard
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 22:3-4 (2017)
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08963568.2017.1372012

Doug interviews Laura Young and April Kessler (co-partners at Bizologie, a research consultancy) and Laura Berdish (Ross School of Business, University of Michigan). Interesting stuff, but my favorite section provides the responses to Doug’s question “What specialized skills or expertise are helpful in this area?”

LY: “I think you have to be willing to learn something new all the time…”

LB: “My first one would be flexibility. You have to be fast. You get all kinds of questions from different teams, you have to be quick, you have to be persistent…”

LY: “You mentioned having confidence in what you are doing. If you are not used to being in a business setting, it helps to have confidence in general. Business  librarianship can be intimidating to new librarians…”

8.

If we built it, would they come? Creating instruction videos with promotion in mind
Leticia Camacho
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 23:1 (2018)
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08963568.2018.1431867

In this short article, Letica discusses creating a series of short videos to help make teaching 1,800 students per year in a required business writing class manageable. She explains the process of creating the videos, and summarizes her formal assessment of their effectiveness. Not highlighted in her article title – but equally interesting and significant I think – is her partnership with the faculty to help design, narrate, and promote the videos.

9.

A business librarian’s review of the AACSB International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM)
Annette Buckley
Academic BRASS,  Vol 12 (2), Fall 2017
http://www.ala.org/rusa/sites/ala.org.rusa/files/content/sections/brass/Publications/Acad_BRASS/2017_fall_buckley.pdf

Annette is the Research Librarian for Business at UC Irvine. She attended this Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business conference instead of ALA due to a schedule conflict. Always good to read about librarians attending business faculty conferences and promoting the value of librarians (she provides an example of doing that). Throughout this short review, Annette compares this conference to ALA (not a fair comparison, but entertaining).

Annette details how this is a 1.5-day conference with a registration fee of $1,295. Whew, more than USASBE! She summarizes networking opportunities and programming slots.

Her “key take-aways” are direct and refreshing. She suggests strategies to learn from a conference like this without actually attending it (for example, you can review the published agenda and read the white papers).

10 & 11.

Two educational and interesting blogs:

 PolicyMap’s mapchats blog: Insights into GIS, data and mapping
https://www.policymap.com/blog/

If you work with numeric data and mapping, this blog is very useful, regardless of subscribing to PolicyMap or not. Each posts explains the nature of the data on that topic, discusses the issues with mapping that data, and may also discuss data visualization best practices. I learn a lot from it and am going to assign some of the posts to my entrepreneurship/economic development research students for in-class discussion.

SearchReSearch
http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/

Byline: “A blog about search, search skills, teaching search, learning how to search, learning how to use Google effectively, learning how to do research. It also covers a good deal of sensemaking and information foraging.”

Blogger Dan Russell is a “search research scientist at Google”. Sometimes he does work in libraries and proprietary content (databases) when appropriate. His research challenges are fun!

Read Full Post »

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

downtown Richmond

downtown Richmond

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

Jo Ann Henson

Jo Ann Henson (standing)

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

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

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

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

Sara Thynne

Sara Thynne

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

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

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

Indian buffet lunch

Indian buffet lunch, with a patient smile from Ian

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

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

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

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

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

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

socializing at CABAL/BLINC 2018

socializing at CABAL/BLINC 2018

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

Read Full Post »

UNCG Bell Tower in summer

UNCG Bell Tower in summer

I continue to work on summer projects, but this week finally started to dip into a folder full of readings that date back to last fall. Below are summaries and some comments on articles, blog posts, and conference presentations concerning teaching and business librarianship.

All of these readings are open access (except the one from the Journal of the Academy of Business Education, which is available in ProQuest and Ebsco).

Conference review: MBAA International Annual Conference 2017
Cara Cadena
Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 2:2 (2017)
http://ticker.mcgill.ca/article/view/25

MBAA is a business administration academic conference that meets each spring in Chicago. 900 folks attended in 2017. Cara is a business librarian from Grand Valley State University (who did a good program at LOEX in 2016). She summarizes the programming and support for research and publishing offered by this conference.

Cara spoke at this conference with an international management professor with whom she co-teaches. Cara writes that she

“…was the only librarian in attendance at MBAA International and was warmly welcomed by attendees and organizers. The idea to collaborate or team-teach with a librarian was new to many in the audience. Many viewed this as a real innovative idea and sought to replicate it at their institution. The presentation is available at: https://works.bepress.com/cara-cadena/2/ .”

Do check out the slides, which approach the issue from both business education and librarianship perspectives. You can tell from the slides how Cara was teaching the MBAA profs about our take on information literacy.

Thank you, Cara, for promoting the value of business librarians at this academic conference.

Speaking our language: Using disciplinary frameworks to identify shared outcomes for student success in college … AND BEYOND!
Rebecca Lloyd and Kathy Shields
LOEX 2018
http://www.loexconference.org/sessions.html and Google Drive

Rebecca is from Temple University, Kathy from Wake Forest University. Both are subject liaisons. I would have certainly attended this one if I had gone to LOEX in Houston this year. Don’t overlook the notes to the slides.

Do you remember what popular movie “…AND BEYOND!” comes from? The initial communication problem of those two co-stars was a result of two different mindsets (being a real spaceman v. being a toy), which Kathy compared to talking “to disciplinary faculty about information literacy” from a library mindset. Understanding a disciplinary mindset regarding IL helps up perform more effectively as liaisons.

Rebecca wrote (quoting from the notes, slide 9):

“[Information literacy] is not a term that resonates with most disciplinary faculty. And even for those that can define it, they do not see information literacy as a separate skill-set, detached from the other knowledge practices in their discipline. Instead disciplinary faculty see it as embedded within the various practices and ways of thinking students need to learn as they move through their discipline’s curriculum.”

So liaisons need to use the language of the discipline to help develop “higher order critical thinking skills among undergraduate students.” The next part of their presentation discusses disciplinary frameworks (with a link to the ACRL list) and connects those frameworks with the ACRL Framework (ex. slide 14 notes). Case studies follow.

The Framework, like the old Standards, seem to me too focused on using scholarly literature, other types of articles, and evaluating web pages (article-like content). Those content areas aren’t relevant for the majority of teaching I do, in which the students are using specialized content (including lots of numeric data and other structured data, like company lists) to solve problems in their communities. I’ve seen some attempts to apply all the Frameworks to business research, and sometimes the suggested active learning activities seem irrelevant to business research needs. It’s easier to do this with more social sciencey disciplines like Economics and Geography. Something I need to think more about.

Business and workplace information literacy: Three perspectives
Elizabeth Malafi, Grace Liu, and Stéphane Goldstein
Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57 (2), Winter 2017
https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq/article/view/6521

Three short articles by public, academic, and special librarians (published under the above title) on the state of IL in those three different environments. This piece provides a good summary for those new to business librarianship, but also some benchmarks for more veteran librarians. Show this to your boss if he/she doesn’t understand your work or operating environment as a business librarian.

Elizabeth Malafi, the coordinator of the Miller Business Center at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, New York writes on “Business Empowered at the Public Library.” She asserts that public library business services must reflect the needs of the local business community, and then provides examples of that customer-centered focus. Career research, financial literacy, and legal questions dominate her scene. Their business librarians also support other reference librarians. Research consultations with business persons are common and encouraged. Elizabeth concludes with this message to us:

“The only way to get to know your local business community is to meet them. Talk to them at your programs. Visit local business groups and partner with local business organizations.”

Grace Liu, Business Reference Librarian at the University of Maine, writes on “Business Information Literacy in Academic Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities in Meeting Trends in Business Education.” She identifies five trends in business education affecting business research instruction and services:

  1. AACSB’s “Engagement, Innovation and Impact” Principles (more emphasis on community engagement, community problem solving, and experiential learning. But challenging to support without embedded librarian engagement; one-shots can’t really cut it.)
  2. Data-Driven or Evidence-Based Decision-Making (more emphasis on critical-thinking and analytical-reasoning skills)
  3. Customization, Specialization, and Innovation (students have more choices in their business school curriculum, so librarians need to be more flexible)
  4. Experiential Learning (which “enhance students’ critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, self-directed-learning skills, and teamwork skills”. My focus by necessity at UNCG.)
  5. New Business Curricula (ethics, leadership, entrepreneurship, etc.)

Stéphane Goldstein, the Executive Director of InformAll CIC and Advocacy and Outreach Officer for the CILIP Information Literacy Group, writes on “Workplace Information Literacy.” Unlike in academia, IL in the workplace concerns the “social contexts” of each workplace as well as the skills of the individual:

“Effective handling of information—and the IL that goes with that—contributes to the growth of organizational knowledge; and workplace information tends to be less structured and more chaotic than is the case in educational settings.”

IL leads to both improved organizational performance but also employability. People with strong IL skills will be vital to the development of “knowledge societies”. (This section is dense with idea and hard for me to summarize.)

I made my students 49% smarter and I can prove it
Chad Boeninger
Libraryvoice.com (January 2018)
http://libraryvoice.com/teaching-learning/i-made-my-students-49-smarter-and-i-can-prove-it

Blog post from the always inspiring Chad Boeninger from Ohio University. This post describes Chad’s lesson plan for teaching 100 students at a time how to research a business venture of each team’s choosing. So two challenges:

  1. Leading active-learning in a huge class;
  2. Supporting all the teams despite each needing to use different research strategies and sources based on their business model. (I wrote a little about this challenge last time.)

Chad discussed how the last time he taught this class, the students focused on learning the databases, but didn’t do much thinking about how they could use their research findings to make decisions and solve problems with their proposed business. (See some of Ilana Stonebraker’s writing about problem solving being the ideal goal of research instruction and IL.) Chad ended up having to provide many consultations with student teams regarding using their research.

The next time he taught these sections, Chad had the student teams watch database video tutorials and then answer questions using database content. Through answering the questions, the students learned more about understanding the content and applying it to a business idea. Chad still had many consultations with teams after the workshop, but the consults tended to focus on the business ideas and how to support them, not just database training. Much more lesson planning details in Chad’s post. I always enjoying reading detailed accounts of a lesson plan for interesting research assignments!

Why can’t I just Google it? Factors impacting millennials use of databases in an introductory course
Anne Walsh and Susan C. Borkowski
Journal of the Academy of Business Education, (199) Spring 2018
Available in ProQuest and Ebsco

The authors are faculty at La Salle University. They surveyed students in an introductory business class and “found that performance features, along with ease of use, were primary factors influencing database selection.” The authors didn’t apparently work with a librarian on this project (see below for such a research partnership) but do refer to librarians several times in this long research article and cite some library science journals. However, the idea of librarians proactively supporting research and classes is not mentioned.

The article opens with a lit review on millennials’ digital behavior. The introductory class is taken by all first-year students in the business school, who work in teams to develop a business plan over 16 weeks. That’s an interesting choice. I think most entrepreneurship educators would recommend having new/young students first learn to develop a business model. But writing a business plan in this class does get the students into using research for problem solving (one of Liu’s trends in business education, see above).

In each class session, the students view PowerPoint slides that link to one of 17 “online databases” to use to research their business idea. Table 1 identifies the databases – mostly free sites, some not normally defined as a database, like the Johnson & Johnson homepage (?), but also Mintel, MarketLine and Capital IQ. Some of the more complex databases like Capital IQ were demonstrated in class by the instructors.

The article’s theoretical discussion explores students’ preference for using a small number of search engines that they are familiar with, and discusses other information seeking behavior. The authors surveyed 141 students from several sections of the class near the end of the semester and had a 55.3% response rate.

Students were asked to rate the usefulness, ease of use, and intention to use each database in the future. J&J, MarketLine, Monster, UPS, and Mintel were deemed “easy to use” by over 50% of the students. The research/library databases scored well for “intended to use in the future”, despite being new to most of the students and more challenging to use. Nice to learn. The authors note this as one of several pleasant surprises from the findings.

The discussion provides strategies to encourage student success with databases. Being extra responsive to first year students is one suggestion. Introducing new databases relevant to current research needs in class is another. The authors caution that a longitudinal study is needed to learn if students do continue to use databases introduced in this class.

From barrier to bridge: Partnering with teaching faculty to facilitate a multi-term information literacy research project
Elizabeth Pickard
Collaborative Librarianship, 9(3) 2017
https://digitalcommons.du.edu/collaborativelibrarianship/vol9/iss3/5/

Elizabeth is the Science & Social Sciences Librarian at Portland State University. She writes about collaborating with a professor on IL instruction in an asynchronous, online class. She also provides recommendations for creating such partnerships.

This project began with Elizabeth’s interest in conducting an IL research project comparing different teaching formats (ex. face-to-face v. online). She first needed access to bibliographies from student papers. Elizabeth targeted a 300-level online and face-to-face archaeology course and pitched the benefits of her involvement in the class to its professor. (See p.4 of the PDF for her selling points, which concern the needs of both the students and the prof.)

Elizabeth relates successes and frustrations getting students to agree to participate in the student. Working with a second instructor of this class proved to be a challenge. (Given the nature of this journal, its articles tend to go into great detail about relationships and communication. Editorial emphasis I’m sure.) In the first professor’s sections, Elizabeth’s contributions paid off for both the students and the professor. Other professors in the department learned of the collaboration and project and were interested in and enthusiastic about the results.

Read Full Post »

Back at work after the longest vacation we will take this summer. Included on my annual list of summer projects is “Review teaching notes.”

Tulsa at twilight

Tulsa at twilight (1 of 3 vacation pix)

My colleague Lynda Kellam recently wrote about the “Performance Zone” (being busy performing our expertise, like providing instruction and consultations in our subject or functional areas) versus the “Learning Zone” (intentionally making time to reflect and develop our skills). Too often we are too busy performing to have time to learn. Reviewing my teaching notes on a quiet summer day each year is a learning zone activity.

These notes are based on ideas, tips, and tricks picked up from conferences, workshops, blogs, and articles. Some years, I delete content when I think the info is integrated in my teaching performance.

I thought it would be interesting to share those tips along with some real-life classroom applications, or perhaps with speculation on how a tip might be applied if I haven’t tried it yet. This list might also be useful for those of us with short attention spans. Some of you might find some of these tips obvious.

These aren’t in any kind of order. Yes, I’ve overused “So…” as the first word of a sentence. So saith grammer-check.

1. Students like seeing that their feedback is being considered and used in class

So if you ask for feedback, actually do something with their comments and suggestions. Students will appreciate the respect you show them by responding to their ideas. Certainly this is easier to do in an embedded situation with multiple class sessions than in a one-shot.

In my entrepreneurship research class this spring, in the 5th week, I asked the students to anonymously write replies to the question “What could improve the value of this class to you?” One response was “Use more examples from current news” (as opposed to using my archive of past entrepreneurship and economic development research questions).

Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

That was a good suggestion. It doesn’t necessarily have to take much more class prep time. So before a planned review/practice/“deeper application of your new research skills” day, I assigned the student to read a short news article about North Carolina once again failing to recruit a big new auto manufacturing plant. (N.C. is the only southern state without a car plant; this state didn’t play the incentives and tax break game in the past, and so we don’t have the local supplier infrastructure that, for example, Alabama has, which won that Toyota/Mazda plant).

So to practice local industry and economic development research, I had the students work together to measure and compare the transportation manufacturing supply chain infrastructure in N.C. and Alabama, using datasets like County Business Patterns, the Economic Census, BizMiner, and ReferenceUSA. That topic worked well for this review day.

(For the 5th week check-in, I also ask the students “What aspects of this class have been most valuable so far?” and “Any other comments or suggestions?”)

In a two-shot instruction class, we could use a “one-minute paper” from the end of the first session to collect ideas, and then implement a student suggestion in the second session. I haven’t done that before for two-shots but should try that this fall.

2. Use shared a Google Document link on a class library guide; have student teams fill out their findings on the shared document as it is projected on the big screen

Haven’t tried this yet either, but I should. Great for student teams showing off the good work they are doing, learning from each other, providing a little competition, and making it easier for the instructor to see which teams are working hard in the workshop.

The challenge might be that in many of the experiential, community-engaged classes I work with, each team is consulting for a different small business, nonprofit, entrepreneur, or government agency; some have B2C projects, others B2B. Completely different research strategies AND sources in the same class. So the teams’ research findings aren’t comparable.

In some one-shots I work with each semester, each student is researching a different publicly-traded company. But they could all be using Mergent Online or their 10-K. So this strategy could work for those workshops.

I need to finally try this in the fall for some class. My colleague Jenny Dale probably first demonstrated this teaching strategy to me (a while ago).

However, sometimes in smaller classes, I do have the students all come to the whiteboard in front of class, grab a marker from my Big Box O’ Markers, and work together to brainstorm.

In a transportation geography class, I asked the students to list ways to measure transportation by metro area (infrastructure, personal behavior, environmental impact, financial, etc.), which led to a discussion of data sources for many of those measures/variables.

In a marketing capstone class, I have asked the students to brainstorm on the board segmentation variables (demographics and psychographics), which leads to discussions of definitions (ex. Household? Family? Hispanic? (hint—not a race)), followed by a discussion of Census data versus privately-conducted survey data (asking the students to color-code the variables with circles regarding Census versus private data).

Group board work is harder with a big class. Sometimes I will split the class into two groups (left side, right side) and have a volunteer from each group come down to the board and write suggestions shouted out by groupmates who remain in their seats. Then see which side of the room has more or better suggestions. Business students usually enjoy a little competition and get spirited. Sometimes the prof urges them on like a sports coach.

A variation in a library classroom with portable white boards is having groups form in each corner of the room, with their own whiteboard. Then wheel the 3 or 4 whiteboards up front to compare the ideas.

3. Useful comments to make in a class:

“You’ll want to write this down.”

Resulting in a dramatic pause time, calling attention to something really important. When I have said this, most students have listened and wrote something down.

“Do you understand why this matters?” and then “Can you explain why this matters?”

And wait for a response. Short bits of silence while teaching are quite all right. Find your water bottle and take a sip. Usually you will get a response and then an opportunity for a discussion.

“I do have a response to your question, but want to have the class react/respond to that first”

When a student (or instructor!) asked me a question I was planning on the students addressing via active learning or discussion, my usual response has been “Sorry, no, I want the class to work on that question…”, but the above quote is friendlier.

4. Recognizing the limited opportunities for learning to stick

This applies to one-shots as well as teaching a 3-credit class:

  • Most learning happens in the first 10 minutes;
  • Then again in the last few minutes.
San Antonio river walk scene

San Antonio river walk scene

Therefore learning doesn’t happen continuously through a class. Our brains learn in chunks. So break up the class with short interruptions, a change of pace (ex. showing a video, running a think/pair/share exercise, etc.), and frequent start-overs.

I probably noted this from an education professor. Maybe at LOEX a few years ago in Grand Rapids, MI. A Central Michigan University prof gave a key note concerning research on reading comprehension and learning. (That was also the first time I heard a researcher debunk the idea of “learning styles” — kinesthetic, visual, auditory – since there was no research supporting that concept. See my post from the 2017 Innovative Library Classroom Conference in which Candice Benjes-Small and Jennifer Resor-Whicker led a workshop on “Urban Legend or Practical Pedagogy?” Their workshop was fun and informative but also a little shocking, too.)

So write or display the learning goals or the agenda points on the screen or white board before class beings. Refer to that list as you teach. At the end of class, ask the students to remind everyone what they learned and the main points you tried to make about research.

5. Teach how to research questions and problems, not topics

Humans do research to explore questions or solve problems. [Probably too simple an assertion, but please bear with me.]

I had a quote for this recommendation, so I can actually give credit where it is due! In 2009, Mark Dibble of Texas Lutheran University spoke at LOEX on “Shifting the language of research using problem-based learning”. (His slides and handout are still available from that link.) His summary:

“When librarians teach students how to conduct research, we need to use language which reflects how faculty conducts research. Faculty do not research topics, instead they are researching problems and questions. Instead of focusing on a topic, they should be focusing on a particular problem/question. Using problem-based learning as a teaching method allows librarians to model and instruct students on how research is done.”

Problem-based learning is pretty much required for supporting experiential learning (see #2 above), so Mark’s point can extend beyond finding peer-reviewed articles.

Reviewing his 2009 slides today, it’s hard to not think of the ACRL framework.

Ok, so I’m trying to think of an example from my experience that applies this recommendation. Can’t really think of one, I’m sorry. Perhaps because experiential learning is the nature of most of the classes I work with. Researching to solve problems in the community is built in.

6. Some notes about using resources in class

Or, ways to avoid merely “teaching a database”.

Show the big picture first

Useful for more complex research strategies and research tools, like SimplyAnalytics or the ITC Trade Map. Start with a map that looks good, or a table of data that’s not too hard to grasp (download it ahead of time). Tell the students “this is what you will need to create to be successful – and effective — in your research for your client.” Then begin some active learning involving the concepts that will lead to using such a tool effectively: NAICS codes, the nature of psychographics, HS codes, the availability of financials for private companies, whatever.

This also applies to company lists (“here are your competitors [or B2B customers] in your industry and target market”), industry reports, market reports, or infographics that live inside databases or .gov sites.

Be very positive about research tools

Yes, Euromonitor isn’t the easiest database to use, but it’s worth the effort, right? Yes it is, students. (It better be for the price, right? Haha.)

I think I first heard this concerning library catalogs. Sad.

“See if you can figure this out….”

When the primal urge to demo a database comes welling up from our animal brain stems, say this instead, and then be quiet for a minute. Get another sip of water and walk the room a bit. Maybe even ask for a student volunteer or two to use the instructor’s workstation to show us how they did it.

7. Reveal personhood: greet students individually

Show that you are a person – and care that the students are persons too. Before class, you probably can’t meet every student, but at least introduce yourself to the folks who get to class early, or sit in the front. I find that this helps reduce my pre-class jitters, too.

If the class is small enough, ask for everyone’s name and write them down in their seating order. (Perhaps also ask them to tell you their research problem, or what team they are on if you already know what each team’s experiential project is). Then try to use their names during the workshop. Even if you have pull out your seating chart occasionally to look up a name. Students will respond to your efforts with more enthusiasm (and perhaps respect too?) than otherwise. The instructor will appreciate your efforts at building a rapport with the students. Your list of students will be useful for post-instruction consultations with those students, too.

Do this in videos, too. Both introduce and show yourself at the beginning. Chad Boeninger from Ohio University provides excellent examples of this in his screencasts. Then the videos become outreach tools as well as instructional tools.

8. Two short notes on teaching the Decennial Census & American Community Survey

Wrapping up this blog post with two very specific suggestions involving Census data, the newest additions to my “teaching notes”.

When discussing the American Community Survey, emphasize that the ACS is best used for trends & characteristics. The Decennial Census is best for exact counts, of course.

Michele Hayslett, the UNC Chapel Hill Librarian for Numeric Data Services & Data Management, suggested that wording at a recent data workshop co-sponsored by BLINC and GRS, the Government Resources Section of NCLA. My colleague Lynda Kellam, our own Data Librarian, uses similar language.

When discussing potential undercounts in the Decennial Census, I ask students what demographic segments are harder to find. Hoped-for-answers include the homeless, college students, migrant workers, and undocumented residents. But from Michele, I learned that foreign language speakers are also at risk of being undercounted.

Now noted on my “Teaching notes” document, to be reviewed and pondered each summer.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »