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Archive for the ‘Collections & Resources’ Category

NC summer flowers

NC summer flowers say hi

Summaries (and some opinionated reactions) to articles and blog posts. Mostly recent stuff, but maybe some older things too since I’m trying to catch up from not having much time for professional reading last summer.

This week’s selections:

  1. “Moving from collecting to connecting: articulating, assessing, and communicating the work of liaison librarians”
  2. “Networking, not a four letter word”
  3. “Help! I’m new to licensing and don’t know where to start”
  4. “Knowing when to cry uncle: balancing instructional initiatives”
  5. A reference librarian working from home”

Here we go.

1.

Moving from collecting to connecting: Articulating, assessing, and communicating the work of liaison librarians
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/753299
Nancy Kranich, Megan Lotts, Jordan Nielsen, and Judit H. Ward
portal: Libraries and the Academy, 20(2) 2020, 285–304.

The authors are liaison librarians at Rutgers. (Nielsen, the business librarian, is now at San Francisco State University.)

Longtime readers (the two or three of you) of this 9-year old blog might remember that I used to post extensively about our liaison reorganization. While redefining liaison roles was in the mix, we focused on how liaisons should be organized and led to accomplish those revised goals. Those organizational and leadership aspects remain frequently missing from discussions of liaison trends. Refreshingly, the Rutgers librarians do write about both liaison roles and organization. 

Although not emphasized in the article, staff reductions were also drivers of their change. It seems that Rutgers resisted the “functional liaisons only” model that libraries at Guelph and U. of Arizona tried out in response to downsizing. (See this slide deck, part 4, for details on Arizona’s experiment including its return to subject liaisons.) Instead, Rutgers adopted a more nuanced approach. 

Case study #1 is an example. The library lost its liaison to the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences with its 6,000+ students (so it’s not just business librarians who serve as lean liaisons!) A team of subject and functional liaisons started working with this school. The liaison team partnered with the experiential “Social and Cultural Aspects of Design” class, in which the students provided strategic planning consulting for the science library. 

Another case study described the impressive outreach work of Nielsen to the local entrepreneurship ecosystem. He provided market research workshops with the Small Business Development Center, which led to his engagement with the new cross-campus Entrepreneurship Coalition.

This article includes a detailed and useful lit review. 

2.

Networking, not a four letter word
https://bizlibratory.wordpress.com/2020/05/21/networking-not-a-four-letter-word/
Nancy Lovas
Biz Libratory

As I told Nancy, I love her title. Professional networking is certainly something I did not learn in library school (and that’s my fault). Lovas emphasizes: “the best networking is instead humanized by genuine interest in the other person’s professional work. The best networking is building relationships” [emphasis mine]. Give this post a read, it’s not long. 

The three creators of this blog recently pushed the story of its origin at Academic BRASS: “The BizLibratory: Collaborative Blogging for Professional Development and Networking.” Each wrote a paragraph about the impact of their blogging on their careers and their building of professional relationships.

3.

Help! I’m new to licensing and don’t know where to start
http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/ticker.16481003.0004.104
Breezy Silver
Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 4(1), 2019.

As Diane Zabel writes in “A Ticker Refresh”, this open access journal has relaunched with additional categories. The editorial board has expanded, recruited from the ABLD. 

This article is the first for the “Tips” column. Whether you are officially responsible for licensing, or if you sometimes need to work with the vendor and your licensing expert to influence the process, Silver provides helpful recommendations and insights. 

Regarding licensed business content, Silver writes:

“Business resources and database licenses can add their own challenge, since many come from companies in the corporate arena, and they do not translate well to academia and our needs. Some companies are so new to academia that they do not know that academia uses resources differently than the corporate world. That means the licenses may need some extra work to make them fit our needs.”

Silver addresses “academic use only” issues that can be tricky to interpret with student and faculty commercialization projects, as well as specific aspects of trying to license datasets. In the “Access Methods” section, she emphasizes that licenses can protect the library’s interests as well as the vendor’s. 

The article ends with negotiation tips:

“Do not be afraid to negotiate and do not automatically accept any terms or prices. You will be amazed what you can get just by asking. Vendors are not our enemies. They are trying to sell a product, and as an employee of an institution, you must be a good steward of resources that benefit your users. You can work together to find some mutually beneficial ground.”

4.

Knowing when to cry uncle: Balancing instructional initiatives
https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/24278
Angie Cox, Jim Kelly, and Chris Neuhaus
C&RL News, Feb. 2020

A 3-page editorial. The authors, the instruction librarians at the University of Northern Iowa, created a one-credit info lit course called “Beyond Google” intended for lower-level undergrads. Creating and teaching it was time consuming of course but the class became “very popular with students and advisors.” 

However:

“with only three library instructors, the course never reached more than a small percentage of the student population. The instructors teaching Beyond Google were getting burned out as their one-shot teaching load remained unchanged even with their added Beyond Google assignments” [emphasis mine, also below].

What could the librarians do about this problem? 

“So we did what the organization hadn’t done in years — we stopped doing something: we stopped offering Beyond Google.”

Nice introduction! I really like practical and honest case studies like this.

The class featured complex and variable learning options and evaluation techniques, which apparently prevented other librarians from volunteering to teach additional sections, and prevented use of Blackboard modules to facilitate efficiency. Eventually the instruction librarians hired a temp librarian for one semester solely to set up Blackboard. Sounds like they focused more on trendy learning strategies rather than sustainability but maybe that’s too harsh.

As with other one-credit IL classes, many seniors who needed one more credit to graduate also took the class. The mix of students made it harder to teach. 

The library pursued some strategic planning in 2017. Everyone reported that their work was vital and needed to keep doing it, but were overworked and needed more support. Retirements and a new associate university librarian provided an opportunity to rethink reference and instruction. The instruction librarians considered how to reach more students with info lit instruction across campus. They decided they couldn’t do that while still teaching “Beyond Google”:

Ah yes: “We realized, at last, that sustainability was just as important as innovation.” The instruction librarians instead began to work on easily customizable modules that could be used in many subject areas. They utilized Credo IL modules and LibGuides.

From the conclusion:

“A system that keeps adding new initiatives without routine program assessment and services realignment can have a negative impact on employee well-being, morale, and productivity. A successful organization finds a balance between risk-taking and program management that allows for sustainable innovation.”

5.

A reference librarian working from home
https://pegasuslibrarian.com/2020/04/a-reference-librarian-working-from-home.html
Iris Jastram

Despite mainly working with patrons who rely on physical collections, Jastram from Carleton College writes:

“One thing that’s struck me, though, is how completely similar my work as a Reference Librarian During Pandemic Times is to my work as a Reference Librarian”

Her users (especially faculty and upper-level students) often ask about texts only available in one specific special collections library elsewhere in the world:

“So then we’re back to the conversations that are actually familiar even while feeling strange — those reference interview questions that are intended to help you and the researcher figure out what the goals of the information need are, and whether those goals could be accomplished with materials that are accessible. And if not, what are some accessible materials that are sufficiently interesting and similar that if we adjust the goals slightly the researcher could have meaningful work to accomplish.”

Continuing to be able to provide effective reference interviews is “comforting in a world that feels pretty chaotic and uncertain.” Her post is comforting and reassuring too.

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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 internship 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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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.

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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.

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Early morning sun over the Charleston peninsula

Early morning sun over the Charleston harbor

Main point: vendors should stay for more than the showcase.

Carol and I returned home from the Charleston Conference Friday night, after stopping by the nephews’ house on the way home for a short play date. Charleston continues to be a high-quality conference for learning, networking, and socializing. It’s increasingly useful for business librarians and vendors as we work together to grow the business information programming. However I would like to write a short word to the growing number of business vendors and publishers who attend the Tuesday Vendor Showcase.

The Charleston Conference focuses on publishing, scholarly communication, and library collections and acquisitions. For most attendees, the conference begins on Tuesday with the Vendor Showcase in the roomy Gaillard Center. (The Francis Marion hotel got too small for this event as demand for tables kept increasing.) Unlike most major library conferences, this is the only day of exhibiting at the conference.

Why? On Wednesday and Thursday — the main programming days of the conference –vendors, publishers, and librarians are encouraged to network, socialize, share, and (most importantly) learn together. This communication happens formally in the plenary and concurrent sessions as well as informally through coffee breaks, meals, and happy hours.

From right: Dan Gingert (PrivCo), John Quealy (S&P), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. Penn), and Richard Landry (Data Planet/Sage) discussing the challenges of usage statistics for untraditional databases

From right: Dan Gingert (PrivCo), John Quealy (S&P), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U. Penn), and Richard Landry (Data Planet/Sage) discussing the challenges of usage statistics for untraditional databases

So for most of the conference, vendors are not banished to the exhibit hall while the librarians are out and about talking about acquiring, promoting, and teaching vendor resources for their patrons. Instead, vendors are in the middle of the discussions. That interaction is considered one of the strengths of the Charleston Conference and we business librarians who attend love this. The vendors end up with increased influence on librarians, learn more about our needs, and perhaps gain ideas for new or improved products and services.

Some vendors have apparently not figured this out yet. On Tuesday, I talked to three or four vendors who were returning home first thing Wednesday morning. I told them they were missing a wonderful opportunity. (I know this is often the boss’ decision, not that of the rep who made the trip.) The airfare and expensive table space are sunk costs; the additional hotel night (or two) and conference registration fees will cost less in comparison.

In contrast, InfoUSA, S&P, PrivCo, Bureau Van Dijk, ProQuest, Gale, Sage, and Ebsco are regular attendees beyond the showcase. Those vendor reps even chat with each other at the socials and happy hours. Sometimes some of those reps speak alongside librarians on a topic of mutual interest.

As we continue to grow the business information programming at Charleston, there may be increased opportunities for vendor/librarian programming as well as socializing and networking. Vendors don’t get this opportunity for high-impact engagement at any other conference. Please consider attending past the Tuesday showcase if you haven’t before.

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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!

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