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UNCG Bell Tower in summer

UNCG Bell Tower in summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tulsa at twilight

Tulsa at twilight (1 of 3 vacation pix)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Useful comments to make in a class:

“You’ll want to write this down.”

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

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

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

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

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

4. Recognizing the limited opportunities for learning to stick

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

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

San Antonio river walk scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Some notes about using resources in class

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

Show the big picture first

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

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

Be very positive about research tools

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

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

“See if you can figure this out….”

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

7. Reveal personhood: greet students individually

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Home stretch of the spring semester — getting into the peak weeks of research consultations, as the student teams prepare their final reports and presentations. Good luck to all the academic librarians facing the same time demands!

BLINC had a well-attended March workshop in the Durham County Library MakerLab. We had 25 folks present, half of whom were first-time attendees to a BLINC workshop. I wrote last winter about the apparent decline of business librarian positions in North Carolina. That situation is unchanged, but demand for programming on community engagement and economic development remains strong. Perhaps that should be the focus of BLINC, not pure business librarianship. Something to think about.

Meanwhile, BLINC has collaborations coming up with the Government Resources Section of NCLA in May as well as CABAL up in Richmond, VA in July. We are looking forward to those events.

And a bunch of librarians are working on proposals for business content programs at the Charleston Conference this fall. We had at least four such programs last year, plus a dinner, and also a happy hour sponsored by InfoUSA. So we hope to have even more programming in 2018. We will email BUSLIB about that soon. Proposals can be submitted between mid-April and July.

Today’s topic

UNCG’s Professor Latasha Valez is teaching two sections of LIS 620: Information Sources and Services: a hybrid class and a synchronous online class. The hybrid class meets on Monday mornings, the purely online class Wednesday evening. Professor Valez asked if I could introduce business information sources and services to these first-year LIS students.

Years ago, I taught a 3-credit “Business Information Sources & Services” class for the UNCG LIS program. For LIS 620, I dug up my old slides from the first day of that old LIS class to see what I could reuse. Not much! I basically retained two slides (I’ll point those out below). The rest of the slides were too out of date, or I no longer liked the content. My current research class is cross-listed with LIS, but it doesn’t attract many LIS students, and that class isn’t an “introduction to business librarianship”-type class. So there wasn’t much from my current class to apply to LIS 620.

No, I normally don’t use slides when I teach. I have (quietly) enjoyed the sometimes fierce debates between librarians regarding using slides in research instruction. This debate sometimes comes up in our search committee discussions, when we need to critique the mock class a candidate provided. Strong feelings are sometimes expressed and the committee chair might have to assert “we are not going to reject this candidate because he/she used slides and you don’t” (or the reverse). (Yes, a little exaggeration there.)

But for online classes, I wanted the students to be able to see content and review it later. Otherwise, all they could do to review would be to watch the recording of me speaking and using a LibGuide. I also embedded links in the slides and included some content I didn’t cover during my time with the two sections (mainly, examples of real research questions from business students, nonprofit managers, entrepreneurs, but with vital details removed of course).

What happened

As part of the classes, I had the students explore three NC LIVE databases: SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, and Morningstar. These are available state-wide. Most of the students had not used any of those products yet. That hands-on work was the final third of my class.

Before that, we discussed the nature of business sources and the nature of business information services. I had discussion questions for those two topics. If I talk to this class again, though, it might be interesting to start with some database exploration and then discuss sources and services.

Each section had around 25 students. I began by asking then to introduce themselves, describing any specialization in library science or archives they are interested in, and describing any experience they already have with business information. None of them expressed a goal at this early stage of their library studies in business librarianship. But some already work at a library service desk supporting general questions, including business research and job seeking. At the beginning of the Wednesday evening class, some participated via their phones while driving home from work. Yikes!

It was not hard getting the students to participate, either verbally or via text. There some strong personalities in the class! That was fun to hear.

Here is what I talked to the students about, including my discussion questions and database searches. I preached a few times. My comments on slide content are in italics.

My content and active learning

 Agenda:

  • About me, about you
  • Nature of business services
  • Nature of business sources
  • Hands-on exploration of research questions using NC LIVE business databases

About you:

  • Your background
  • Plans after graduation?
  • Business research experience?

See above for a quick summary of this.

Part 1: Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What are the types of patrons (users/clients)?

The students did of a good job of thinking beyond just business owners.

Patron base [my answers to that question]

  • Nonprofits
  • Small (& large) businesses
  • Entrepreneurs (& social entrepreneurs)
  • Governments & economic development agencies
  • Personal investors
  • Students, faculty, teachers

No one had heard of “social entrepreneurs”. When I asked what they thought that means, the responses were “social media companies”. I hadn’t expected that. Maybe I’m in an entrepreneurship bubble.

Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What do you think?
  • Or, how is business information service different from other kinds of service?

Some students mentioned statistical data and more specialized sources that take more time to learn or figure out.

Nature of services [my answers]

  • Strong need for subject skills, to understand and apply the sources
  • High demand for library instruction, training, and research consultations
  • Promotion of the library’s services and collections is vital, given…
  • The many types of patrons
  • The availability of free web sources for basic-level business information
  • The historic impression of libraries being merely book warehouses

Nature of services: within the library

  • Business librarians tend to be among the busiest subject librarians
  • Other library staff often not comfortable with business research (opportunity?)
  • A library that can’t analyze its own changing community (demographics, psychographics, industry mix & employment) is a weak library.

I preached a bit here. (The students said they enjoyed hearing me get more passionate for this topic.) I did briefly discuss how business librarians often have to be the hardest working librarians in their departments or libraries. I also emphasized not being afraid of business research can get you noticed. But I focused more on the last point. I still sometimes hear librarians at conferences saying “oh, we are a public good, we don’t need to do marketing – that’s something icky corporations do.” Um no. Are you patron-centered or not? It’s not all about you the librarian and your preconceived notions. Get over yourself, understand your community, and then serve your community. Can’t do that without market research.

Nature of services: embedded

  • Discussion: What does embedded librarianship mean to you?

Nature of services: embedded [my answers]

  • Proactive engagement with the community
  • Get out of the library!
  • Get invited (or crash) board meetings, entrepreneurship or nonprofit forums, etc.
  • Sell yourself and the library’s resources
  • Experiential learning (classes working with local businesses, nonprofits, & agencies)
Export Odyssey homepage story

Export Odyssey homepage story

At the risk of being self-centered, I showed a screen capture of when I was on the campus homepage with Professor Williamson and Jenny from Ms. Jenny’s Pickles, as example of the community engaged, economic development Export Odyssey project. I also showed a picture of me working with an Economics graduate student in the business school that was on the Economics Department homepage for a while.

Nature of services: job titles

  • “Business Librarian” is one.
  • What else can MLS graduates with these skills be called?

Trying to get the students to think beyond academic and public library work.

Nature of services: job titles [my answers]

  • Information Specialist
  • Competitive Intelligence Specialist
  • Knowledge Manager
  • Research Consultant
  • Corporate & Special Librarian

The students did come up with some of these.

Part 2: Nature of business sources

  • What do you think?
  • Or, how is business research different from humanities research?

A suite of topics

  • Industries
  • Competitive intelligence (CI) (company research)
  • Public company financials
  • Private company financial benchmarking
  • Nonprofit financials
  • Investments

More:

  • Consumer/B2C marketing (demographics, psychographics)
  • B2B marketing
  • Real estate
  • Economic data
  • Trade data
  • Management (best practices, trends)

I was trying to show that “business” is a broad discipline, like the “humanities”, not just one topic or one academic degree program. This information and the “Nature of sources” section below are all I saved from my old slides.

One library guide example: http://uncg.libguides.com/mba

  • Note use of subtopics to organize these links
  • Also the opportunities for intro videos
  • And the need for specialized APA help

Nature of sources

  • Usually specialized tools
  • Often very expensive
  • Libraries usually not the primary market
  • Numeric data is vital
  • Local data often needed
  • Functionality can be as important as content
  • Example: sorting or ranking companies or data; exporting to a spreadsheet; mapping data

Emphasis on the functionality point, and the “not just libraries use these” point. Those factors make our content much more challenging (and interesting too) than content for most other disciplines, I suggested.

More on sources

  • Changes in vendors, publishers, and products are routine and should be expected.
  • There are many choices in vendors and publishers, making evaluation and re-evaluation of products very important.
  • Government datasets also vital
  • Census / American FactFinder
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • State-level data, like state data centers or http://accessnc.nccommerce.com/

Part 3: Hands on time using NC LIVE business sources

  • https://www.nclive.org/
  • 3-part mission: “helps member libraries to better support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.”
  • Funding state-wide access to SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, ABI-INFORM, & Morningstar
  • BLINC & NC LIVE work closely together

The students already working in libraries knew about NC LIVE.

ReferenceUSA

  • URL was here
  • Covers every business, nonprofit, & government location in the U.S.
  • But often called a “marketing database” due to its B2B applications
  • Google, Microsoft, & Yahoo buy this company data for their mapping tools
  • Has nine other modules

Scenario: Export Odyssey example:

  • Find all the SME (small-medium size establishments) chemical manufacturers in the Triad

I had created two scenario/practice questions per database, but decided to only use one for each. The students had to use the custom search to figure out how to find these companies. They didn’t have much problem. I also demonstrated searching for very specific industries, using “yoga” as a keyword. Students were impressed by the scope of this database and curious about the other modules.

SimplyAnalytics

  • Called SimplyMap before Aug. ‘17
  • 30,000+ demographic & psychographic variables
  • Create maps & tables from U.S. states to Census block groups (neighborhoods)
  • Fun and popular!
  • UNCG pays for the Simmons data module

The first scenario was a real entrepreneurship example:

  • “I’m working on a business plan for a K-8 private school in Philadelphia. I would like to know about the expected tuition costs, what neighborhoods have above-average income, and what neighborhoods are spending the most on education.”

But I had the students do scenario 2 instead:

  • Look up one of our hobbies or interests.
  • Map interest or participation in that hobby in a city of your choice.
  • What neighborhoods (use Census tracts or block groups) are more interested?

In the process, I had the students discuss the meaning of “psychographics”. (This was before the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.) I also had the students discuss how the market research companies like MRI and Nielsen/Simmons get their data. The students started to express privacy concerns, but then I ask how many have location services enabled on their smart phones. They had some good insights about how citizens/consumers (including library students) willingly give away their own behavioral data to companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Morningstar Investment Research Center

  • Investment data and analysis for stocks and mutual funds
  • Also a public company research database
  • Used by students and also local investment clubs
  • Look up individual stocks or funds, or use the screener to create lists that match your criteria

Scenario

  • Is Netflix a good company to invest in?
  • Why or why not?

At the time, Morningstar assigned 2 stars to Netflix. I tried to find a famous, new company that the analyst wasn’t gushing over. That made the “why or why not” discussion more interesting.

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Here is another of the new changes I alluded to last time. So another personal update, but with some conclusions about sustaining time-intensive embedded librarianship work.

My first major embedded role was with Professor Williamson for the Export Odyssey class, MKT 426: International Marketing (subject of the first blog post here). Over the years, we become co-teachers, dealt with all sorts of complicated student team situations, pursued a couple of entrepreneurial opportunities, and published a few articles together.

For the three previous school years, Prof. W. taught as a phased-retirement professor. Three years is all one is allowed, so he is now officially retired. But Prof. W. was awarded emeritus status and still has an office in the business school as he supports the new professor teaching Export Odyssey. And he and I are writing a short, inexpensive ebook version of the Export Odyssey project textbook for the Kendall Hunt publisher (due December 31, yikes). So our relationship continues.

But what about my relationship with the class and its new professor?

In late 2013, I looked ahead toward succession planning for a co-teaching embedded relationship:

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

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

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

Last fall, in Prof. W’s final year, the head of the marketing department asked me to serve on the search committee for the new professor of international marketing. It was useful to meet all the top candidates via Skype, and to have a little solo time with the candidates invited to campus.

Professor B was hired for the job and very recently moved to Greensboro. The department head expressed hope that I would continue to support the class and the new professor. Professor Williamson met with Prof. B. in early August to help him prepare for the class and Export Odyssey project, and I had a meeting with him too. The class will continue to use the unpublished project textbook written by Prof. W. and me. For a while, at least. Eventually Professor B. may decide to do something different with the experiential project.

This is now the second week of class. Prof. B. did invite me to serve as his unofficial co-teacher. He has relied on me fairly heavily for introducing the EO project to the students. However, we have discussed some revised approaches to the project that reflect how Prof. B prefers to work. For example, we are going to try having the students turn in their big project deliverables electronically. I like Professor B and look forward to working with him, and I think he likes me too.

Therefore my role in the class remains (so far) unchanged. Even though I usually frame this type of embedded work around having a close working (and co-teaching) relationship with a professor, I did end up being tied closely to the class and its big experiential project. Those additional ties proved key.

And the class remains important to UNCG, helping connect the campus to the North Carolina manufacturing scene and providing the marketing majors with a major learning experience (complete with data and research skills) that contributes to their professional success. I think this class is still worth putting a lot of my time into each fall and spring semester, and my department head here in the library agrees.

So the embedded role in Export Odyssey continues.

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Another random recent vacation photo

Another random recent vacation photo

Last time I predicted “part 2 coming in July”, but I guess I’ve really been in the mood to read the literature of our profession lately. Now I’m finally caught up. All bolding inside quotes is my emphasis.

1.

“Steering Change in Liaisonship: A Reverse Engineering Approach”
Eric Resnis and Jennifer Natale
ACRL Proceedings 2017
http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2017/SteeringChangeinLiaisonship.pdf

Like many libraries, the library at Miami University (Oxford, OH.) now has both subject liaisons and functional liaisons. How the two types of librarians should collaborate has been a question. Liaison work had been “siloed and scattered” with little to no coordination or leadership of liaison work. Like our own liaison reorganization, the desire for change at Miami seems to have been from the ground-up: “True buy-in did not come until the results from the initial workshops were shared with [administration], bringing home the dysfunctional symptoms that were described earlier” (663). The liaisons decided to implement a “reverse engineering approach” with a target goal of “productive engagement with users.”

The liaisons met in a series of workshops to redefine their work and goals. One interesting workshop idea: “The group activity…was to imagine a new librarian who would be joining our team of liai­sons. Individuals were asked to brainstorm three best practices they would share as a way of explaining liaison­ship at our library” (664).  In the third workshop, the liaisons considered other liaison models and organizational strategies. After the three workshops, however, there were still big problems:

“There were four pervasive themes that emerged from the workshop discussions:

  • There was no consensus regarding liaisonship duties and expectations.
  • Considerable uncertainty existed regarding quality liaisonship.
  • There was confusion regarding “outreach” and other duties as related to liaisonship.
  • Execution of liaisonship duties varied greatly between departments” (665).

Nonetheless, the workshop leaders created a framework for liaisons that established expectations for liaison work and performance measurements for supervisors to use. The four core liaison goals include engagement, teaching and learning, collection management, and research support. Subject and functional liaisons will collaborate on scholarly communication, digital scholarship, student services, and special collections.

Miami’s assessment plans are interesting and add something new to the liaison reorganization literature. There will be faculty surveys and a LIBQUAL, but also assessment of individual liaisons using three categories, “Base Level, Developing, and Accom­plished” (667), tied to a liaison’s ongoing development of proactive relationships with an academic department. The three categories also are loosely tied to the librarians’ faculty ranks. But impact on a department is more important than simple performance statistics: “For instance, while the number of instruction sessions might have decreased, involvement with the department curriculum committee might have resulted in much more impactful instruction” (667).

Given the lack of consensus after the three workshops, I wonder how these assessment plans were received by the other liaisons.

2.

“The Impact of Physically Embedded Librarianship on Academic Departments”
Erin O’ Toole, Rebecca Barham, Jo Monahan
portal: Libraries and the Academy, July 2016, 16(3) 529-556.
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/624188

The authors are three liaisons at the University of North Texas (UNT). First question from me is what kind of physical presence are we writing about here. Sitting in an office waiting for a visitor? Co-teaching in the class room? Meeting with a research team in a conference room? Yet another definitional problem with embedded librarianship. (Answer below.) The authors summarize different definitions in their lit review, but focus instead on goals: “increased interaction, collaboration, and integration with the target community” (531). Most articles on embedded librarianships are case studies. Some more quantitative studies have been published, but it’s difficult to measure the impact of embedded work.

The main question of this paper: “Does embedding a subject librarian within a department lead to increases in interactions, collaboration, and integration with faculty and students?” (530).

As late as 2012, their library had seven service desks. They went down to two desks (a combined service desk and a tech support desk). Liaisons no longer staffed a desk, which freed them to consider new services (or forced them to?).

The arts, biology, and education liaisons began physically embedded work. Short case studies on each follow. All three liaisons already had long and strong connections to their departments. The arts and biology liaisons sit at public tables in high-traffic areas and used name tags and signs to announce their services. The education liaison now works 36 hours a week in an office in the education school. All three use electronic communication to promote their on-site services.

To measure the impact of the new services, before and after reference statistics were collected – a “natural experiment” (only available for a sudden, distinct change in services, not more gradual change). Details on the nature of the data and its limitations (rather significant regarding the old service desk data) follow. Email and phone numbers were also studied; course guide hits too.

Results are interesting (548). Walk-up transactions decreased for the three librarians. The authors suggest two reasons: the decreased visibility (for two of the three liaisons), and less foot traffic in their new spaces compared to the busy library. Phone reference also decreased. However, consultations, emails, and instruction increased.

Casual chats with faculty were not recorded. The authors speculate that such casual contact and resulting word-of-mouth advertising contributed to the increase in emails and instruction requests (which makes much sense based on my own experience). There was student word-of-mouth too.

The increased exposure leads to other types of engagement with students and faculty (illustrated with a graphic that attempts to depict three nested zones of embedded accomplishment). It’s an interesting visual but limited in the examples of embedded work.

3.

“Toward Informed Leadership: Teaching Students to Make Better Decisions using Information”
Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 2016 21: 229-238.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08963568.2016.1226614

Stonebraker defines informed leadership as “the purposeful integration of information into decision management.” She asserts that simply gaining more information without the appropriate context doesn’t help people make better decisions, and might even hinder the decision-making process. Instead, decision management and evidence-based management provide teaching approaches to help students learn information in the context of the problem at hand.

Decision management can connect to research instruction through decision awareness (ex. recognizing bias), process creation (ex. having the students create a SWOT analysis as they do research), and decision practice (practicing making decisions based on information). There are lots of concepts here, so sorry if this summary seems rushed.

Stonebraker give a few examples of classroom discussions and activities to illustrate the application of these concepts to teaching. She discusses implications for the one-shot and her focus on “qualitative and authentic” assessment. Common one-shot assessment strategies will not help assess decision making and informed leadership skills. Stonebraker includes a lesson plan as her appendix B.

4.

“Trusted Librarian: Service Model Offers Best Practices for New Subject Librarians”

Tina P. Franks (Ohio State)
Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 2017, 6(2): 1-16.
https://journals.tdl.org/pal/index.php/pal/issue/view/367

I didn’t read this one closely, but it’s open access and provides a useful summary to new liaisons on how to build strong relationships. Franks includes ten best practices to become trusted (and well-respected and effective): see pages 14-15 of the PDF. She presented on this topic at ALA last summer.

5.

“Flipping the Classroom in Business and Education One-Shot Sessions: a Research Study”
Madeline E. Cohen, Jennifer Poggiali, Alison Lehner-Quam, Robin Wright, Rebecca K. West
Journal of Information Literacy 2016, 10(2) 40-63
http://dx.doi.org/10.11645/10.2.2127

The authors work at Lehman College. “Researchers explored two research questions: Do students in a flipped session demonstrate greater knowledge before their session than students in a control session? Do flipped and control students demonstrate significant, positive improvement in knowledge after their session?” They used pre- and post-tests to evaluate the effectiveness of assigning homework before class and using active-learning. The answer to both questions was yes.

The business classes were Introductory Business Management and Advanced Business Management. Both involved student teams researching a public company. The original teaching strategy was the business librarian demoing databases and SEC filings. The LexisNexis Academic portion became a 7-minute screencast video with a homework worksheet. The librarian visited the class before the research session to briefly review the homework; the professors provided “participation credit” for doing the homework. Then in the research session, the librarian reviewed the homework and had the students work in teams to explore the other databases.

For the pre- and post-tests, traditional classes were compared to the flipped classes. Lots of data follow. Most of the business students completed the homework, which certainly contributed to the improvements in learning of the flipped sections.

 6.

“Text Mining in Business Libraries”
Clifford B. Anderson & Hilary A. Craiglow, Vanderbilt University
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 2017,  22:2: 149-165.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08963568.2017.1285749

Useful introduction to this topic; I learned a lot. The bottom of page 151 gets into licensing issues regarding text mining of subscription databases. (I once pursued text mining of the Wall Street Journal via ProQuest for a professor, and after a very long wait from PQ management, got a polite response that they still don’t allow or enable text mining but may someday offer a fee-based product to support that.) “Publishers and information aggregators are also trying to figure out how text mining can be a benefit to their interests…The library community is still organizing around the best way to address potential legal barriers” (151-52).

If access is available, researchers may not have the tech skills to conduct the mining. This could be a new role for librarians, the authors suggest.

The article describes 7 stages of a typical text-mining project:

  1. Identifying sources
  2. Licensing data [which includes funding]
  3. Extracting data
  4. Data munging [preparing the text for mining, ex. changing formats]
  5. Devising models
  6. Curation and preservation
  7. Publishing [including the data itself]

Librarians can provide support throughout these stages, resulting in a more embedded research partnership than may be typical for faculty research projects. There may be workload issues too: “In one case, our librarians spent approximately 50 hours assisting with a graduate student’s text-mining project, primarily helping out with the data extraction and munging stages” (155). (I hope the librarians were listed as co-authors for any resulting publication! And that this collaboration wasn’t recorded as a single “stat” in their public service statistics.)

The article next provides a long case study in which the library’s scholarly communication team supported the business librarians. Finance profs wanted to text-mine management calls with investment analysts. The libraries decided that the best source of those transcripts was…LexisNexis Academic of all things, using a LN add-on API service. The library provided technical skills and training as well as licensing prowess and ended up signing a memorandum of understanding with the business school regarding their involvement in the research project. The project is on-going.

As text mining at Vanderbilt grows, the scholarly communication team now has an XQuery Working Group that includes a business school representative. The group meets 2-3 hours a week (wow) for ongoing discussion and training. This and other working groups reflect the library’s support of emerging functional skills and roles of liaisons.

7.

“Collaborating for Success: A Case Study on Mentoring, Partnering, and Teaching”
Megan N. Kellner, Nedelina Tchangalova, Rachel W. Gammons, Alexander J. Carroll, Devon C. Payne-Sturges
Collaborative Librarianship, 2016 8(4): 202-223
http://drum.lib.umd.edu/handle/1903/19120

University of Maryland College Park Libraries. “The authors present the experience of one MLIS student in collaboration with a subject librarian and a faculty member to plan, implement, and assess an information literacy instruction session for an undergraduate course in public health” (from the abstract). So how to help a library student get practical library teaching experience.

In 2015, the Maryland MLS program created a Research and Teaching Fellowship for students to gain paid and for-credit teaching experience. In the first two semesters, the students learn teaching theory and teach a few one-shots for first-year students. In the third and final semester, “fellows complete a Teaching as Research Project of their design, which provides a unique opportunity to partner with a subject liaison librarian and disciplinary faculty member to develop an information literacy session for an undergraduate course” (204). I like the focus in that last semester on subject-specific instruction. That would certainly help the library student grow as a teacher and provide an experience that would liven up a cover letter and resume.

The student worked with the Physical Sciences and Public Health Librarian to target a Public Health class. With the Public Health professor’s support, they picked “Introduction to Environmental Health: A Public Health Perspective.” The MLS student had interest and some academic experience in public health, and the public health librarian already had a working relationship with the professor of this class. The class had a semester-long research project involving critical thinking about evidence in popular and scholarly articles (so not exactly the banal “research paper”). The MLS student designed a tutorial module and some quizzes, which the prof assigned points for completion. They also created pre- and post-tests. The MLS student led one research workshop for the class (60 students, so a big class).

There are some assessment results, but then on page 207 under “Discussion” we learn that finding a class for this fellowship experience was actually challenging. A limitation was that the student wanted more than one-shot exposure to a class. There was also a staffing snafu of some sort with the research session. Few details provided about these challenges.

“Impacts for Collaborators” are covered for the student, the co-director of the fellowship program, the liaison librarian, and the professor.  For the student: this was a “substantial undertaking” (208), being an instruction leadership experience. The work strengthened her interest in health science librarianship with a focus on teaching. The experience helped her land a post-MLS health sciences librarian fellowship. For the director: of course, this is excellent and otherwise hard-to-get experience for their MLS students. For the librarian: the librarian benefited from the mentoring experience. For the professor: the public health students cited few web sites in this semester, and had more meaningful conversations on credibility. One of the students won a “Library Award for Undergraduate Research” that semester. (This section of the article reads more like a sales pitch than a critical assessment of the experience.)

However, the nature of the fellowship was interesting to read about. I have mentored LIS students in practicums and independent studies in “library liaisoning” and also worked with two diversity resident librarians to get them embedded in research-intensive business classes. So I can affirm that the process of engaging a MLS student (or early career librarian) in an upper-level class does require thought, planning, and conversations with all the stakeholders. Time commitments to the MLS student are indeed substantial and have to be factored into the semester’s workload.

The assignment, lesson plans, student learning objectives, and the assessment tools make up the second half of the article.

8.

“Client-Based Experiential Learning and the Librarian: Information Literacy for the Real World”
Andy Spackman, BYU
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 2016, 21(3-4) 258-273.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08963568.2016.1226616

I’m looking forward to this one. Community-engaged, experiential learning is big here and has long been my focus for proactive engagement. Sometimes, frankly, for some purely-academic undergraduate research projects (including cases), I have to fake my enthusiasm.

From Andy’s abstract: “The shift from academic learning to experiential learning requires a corresponding shift in the way librarians approach information literacy. This article explores this trend through the literature and through personal interviews and proposes ways in which library instruction, collection development, and liaison relationships can be tailored to meet the needs of experiential learners.”

Common factors in business school experiential learning: students work in teams; the client can be a business or nonprofit [or entrepreneur or social entrepreneur]; the project is integrated into the curriculum [and much of the semester]; the student teams are accountable to the client, academic program, and university. So stakes can be high. “Service learning” and “student consulting” are related terms.

Spackman summarizes the literature and trends on experiential learning in business schools. The emphasis on such learning is increasing. Spackman talked to the founder of EduSourced, which provides project management software for universities. [There are now vendors who sell a service to connect classes with potential clients. One of these vendors offered to sell their services to Export Odyssey last semester. We were curious about what the vendor could do for us but declined the invitation. Perhaps I should shut up and let Andy tell his story.]

For experimental learning projects, students need to know how to find and interpret company, industry, and market data – skills the students will need as professionals. Not how to read scholarly journals. Interpreting such data forces the students to deal with ambiguity as they try to make evidence-driven decisions. These “deeper principles” (261) can’t be easily taught in a one-shot. Use of proprietary business research sources gets students exposed to the idea of “information has value” and “authority is constructed and contextual” as they work toward recommendations for the client.

Spackman describes how research instruction for experiential learning can be different. Librarians sometimes have to teach students that the information they need (ex. market share for a new or obscure product or service) doesn’t exist. “This provides an opportunity for instruction on the differences between primary and secondary research, including the relative costs in money and time involved” (263). Experiential learning students are often interested in learning about the costs of library databases and different pricing models offered to corporate customers. The librarian might have to teach the use of proxy data. Embrace the messiness of real-world research. Teaching as well as consulting with teams is often necessary. Teams often share what they learned from the librarians about research and research tools with their clients.

Spackman next writes about collection development implications, including licensing issues concerning client projects. As with the research student teams are pursuing, there can be ambiguity regarding the contracts. This has become a hot topic in business librarianland lately. Spackman recommends (as budgeting allows) a just-in-time strategy for providing access to useful subscriptions. I wish he included a few examples of resources purchased this way, and why.

Specialized research tools may not designed for the library market and so may come with unusual interfaces, limited access options, and problematic licensing terms.

Experiential learning also impacts liaison work. Consultation stats increase. A lot. Long consults and follow-up visits with teams are common. Non-business students may be involved (as with many UNCG entrepreneurship classes) and so the business librarian needs to be considerate of varying levels of business knowledge among the teammates. The librarian often works closely with the professors, even at the project design phase before the semester begins.

In his conclusion, Spackman predicts increased emphasis on experiential learning. This creates an even stronger need for a proactive librarian. “By positioning themselves as essential facilitators of experiential learning, librarians better benefit students, faculty, and even the external clients” (267). Students see how research skills help them develop as professionals and help them get good jobs. “By adapting to their needs, librarians can help these students gain experience finding, evaluating, and applying actionable business intelligence to form their own conclusions, make decisions, and convincingly defend their recommendations” (267-68). So true life-long information literacy.

The article ends with a few pages of interviews regarding “perspectives from experiential learning program directors.”

9.

“Divide and Conquer: A Not-So-Common Approach to Develop Information Literacy Programs”
Andrea Wilcox Brooks, Mary Todd Chesnut (Northern Kentucky University)
Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 2016 6(1): 1-18
https://journals.tdl.org/pal/index.php/pal/issue/view/366

The authors’ library had a traditional reference and instruction services department, in which subject liaisons provided reference, consulting, embedded, and instruction services. “In 2012, however, the department broke tradition and RIS librarians split responsibilities. One group continued to provide research services, which included online and face-to-face reference assistance; individual consultation appointments for students, faculty, and staff; and a growing embedded librarian program. The second group of librarians focused solely on designing and teaching IL to undergraduate and graduate classes” (2). The change was largely driven by the need and desire to augment instruction services: teaching a for-credit IL class, and closer integrating IL needs to academic departments.

Interesting, isn’t it. My gut reaction was “how can you better support the research and teaching needs of a department when your instructional services aren’t directly informed from research consulting, and vice versa?” I also wondered about the effectiveness of outreach to a department with this functional split of core liaison services. I also wondered if the department considered creating teams. So kudos to Brooks and Chesnut for not being shy about their experience.

They studied how the “evolving role of information literacy in the last decade” impacted the organization of reference/research/instruction departments. The lit review focuses on the increasing importance of instruction and IL while reference desk staffing has been deemphasized.

Brooks and Chesnut conducted a survey and received 115 responses. Most departments cover both reference and instruction. Most have not considered splitting their departments as Northern Kentucky has. Some libraries had split departments, but the focus of the splits were varied: instruction, outreach, assessment, engagement, etc.

Based on the survey answers, splitting “allowed for an increased focus on growing and formalizing the instruction program, gave more time for training and planning, enabled innovative instruction, helped with flexibility in scheduling classes, and increased clarity in specific roles of librarians” (7). However, instruction in both the split and unsplit departments still focused on one-shots. By percentages, librarians in unsplit departments were more likely to teach for-credit classes, design instruction with faculty, and create tutorials.

The authors next describe the Northern Kentucky situation in detail. Before the split, six librarians taught one-shots. There was little collaboration in teaching and assessment. After the split, only two librarians taught one-shots. (A department of two?) The libraries decided to replace one-shot instruction in the core first-year English class with a tutorial; consistency was improved and more sections could be reached. The instruction librarians could then put more effort into a core sophomore English class that has more substantial research needs.

They address the need for strong communication between the teaching and reference functions. The instruction librarians gained more time to develop their skills and design their instruction. Despite the increased teaching load, their stress level fell – so burnout became less of an issue. (That’s an important outcome that shouldn’t be minimized.) The reference department was also able to focus on training and made some significant improvements to their services.

An interesting article.

One point I was looking for but never came up in the article: the role of department liaisons/subject specialist librarians. Is the library too small to serve those roles? Libraries that abandoned subject liaisons and switched to only functional liaisons usually did so due to staff reductions from financial emergencies and the resulting smaller library staff. (One flagship campus library that famously switched to only functional liaisons eventually recreated its subject liaison corps after hearing too many complaints from faculty that they no longer had librarian contact, and after gaining a new library dean who did something about those complaints.)

How library outreach to academic departments is provided is also not covered.

Finally, I was surprised at the emphasis on traditional reference, a service most libraries have deemphasized. This library now has a single service desk, the authors tell us. What are the reference librarians up to now? I would love to see a follow-up article.

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vacation pix

vacation pix

I’m back from vacation and getting back into summer work projects. My folder of professional readings had gotten much too full since last summer, so I’ve done at lot of reading this week. Blogging a summary (sometimes with a bit of commentary) helps me slow down and ponder the ideas and experiences being discussed. Hopefully these summaries are useful to a few of you too. The topic focus as usual is on liaison work and business librarianship. More to come in July.

1.

“Relationship Building One Step at a Time: Case Studies of Successful Faculty-Librarian Partnerships”
José O. Díaz, Meris A. Mandernach
portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2017 (17:2), 273-282
https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2017.0016

Based on examples from Ohio State University, “this study examines the qualities that help liaison librarians develop relationships with faculty and support ongoing library services” (273). The literature review notes the lack of writings on relationship building by liaisons. (The authors refer to Hyun-Duck Chung’s article “Relationship Building in Entrepreneurship Liaison Work” in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship from 2010, back when Hyun-Duck was a BLINC member and I spilled Coke on her at a BLINC workshop in Burlington. (She now lives back home in Toronto.))

The authors interviewed seven OSU liaisons and five faculty members. The questions to both groups are provided in the appendix.

Findings: Relationships take time to build and significant energy to maintain. Liaisons need to be proactive to build relationships. Both the liaison and the professor need to benefit from the relationship for it to be successful and sustainable. Many examples of how to make first contact are provided (none surprising to a liaison who has been around the block already but a useful list nonetheless).

The authors also summarize reasons for failures: “Most liaison librarians indicated that the major deficiencies centered around poor communication, built-in systemic limitations, “poor chemistry,” meager planning, and faulty timing” (279). The relationship needs to start with a connection, shared experience, or an existing need. Faculty value liaisons who follow technology trends and “share their secrets”.

From the conclusion:

“Good relationship building represents a constellation of traits, values, and skills. Chief among them are patience (relationships take time), knowledge (know your constituency and your discipline), follow-through (go the extra mile), sincerity (treat every interaction as your most important), responsiveness (acknowledge all requests and respond promptly), and finally, individuality (customization for classes or interactions) is essential” (280-81).

This would be a good warm-up article for a liaison workshop on the topic.

2.

“Liaisons as Sales Force: Using Sales Techniques to Engage Academic Library Users”
Nathaniel King and Jacqueline Solis
In the Library with the Lead Pipe
http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/liaisons/

King and Solis succinctly summarize the evolving roles of liaisons and assert “While collection management, research services, and teaching remain core skills for liaison librarians, the advocacy elements of an engagement-centered philosophy positions liaison librarians as a “salesforce” for library-related solutions.”

Solis is the Director of Research and Instructional Services at UNC Chapel Hill, and King (who used to work there as the Social Science Librarian) is Director of Library Services at Nevada State College.

The authors explain how a sales attitude can enhance our liaison work:

“1. Recognition that selling is a positive and necessary part of a liaison librarian’s role.
2. Effective selling requires goal-focused interactions.
3. Enthusiasm for the library’s resources and services.
4. Ability to investigate the needs of the customer.”

King and Solis provide details for each point. They propose the SPIN® Selling method as the best method for “selling library services”. After defining the elements of SPIN, they provide a hypothetical interview of a prof by a liaison that applies the SPIN method.

Important stuff and well-written. I appreciate library writers who have the audacity to suggest that certain teachings from the business world can help libraries improve their value to their users.

3.

 “Good for Business: Applying the ACRL Framework Threshold Concepts to Teach a Learner-Centered Business Research Course”
Charissa Odelia Jefferson, California State University, Northridge
Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 2:1 (2017)

Jefferson created and teaches an honors class on business research methods. It’s a one-credit class at the sophomore level graded as credit/no-credit. In the first semester, most of the students were seniors, but in the second semester the sophomores slightly outnumbered the seniors. (Mary Scanlon of Wake Forest told me that seniors often take one or 1.5 credit research classes when they need another credit to graduate). The class objectives include

“expose students to the resources they may want to consider for future research; be able to remember the resources at the appropriate time; understand the capacity of each source; and to be empowered to conduct independent research by their senior year capstone project.” (p.5)

Jefferson administered pre- and post-assessment questionnaires for two semesters and summarized the data here. She also summarizes feedback, such as ““I finally learned how to do proper research!” and “I learned more than I expected to. There were a lot of resources available that I never thought to use, and now can’t imagine not using them.” (I love testimonials like that.)

Next Jefferson discusses redesigning her class from Bloom’s Taxonomy to L.Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning, which facilitated a focus on the ACRL Framework. Her article then provides lesson plans (activities and discussions) covering the six thresholds of the framework. Interesting ideas for introducing some of those threshold concepts.

4.

“Canceling Serials Based on their Availability in Aggregated Full-Text Databases” [such as Business Source Complete]
Anthony Raymond, Business Librarian, Santa Clara University
Against the Grain, April 2017

Since 2005, Raymond’s library has been cancelling individual journal subscriptions in business and economics when coverage in aggregator databases is considered “sufficient”. He defines sufficient as “no publisher-imposed embargo” except for journals “considered of only marginal value to the SCU research community” (p. 30).

75 subscriptions have been cut in his subject areas for a savings of $22,750 over the ten-year period (he provides the list). The cuts were never announced to faculty because faculty don’t care if the article they want comes from a publisher or aggregator, Raymond asserts. He adds that there has not been a single complaint about the cancelled subscriptions since this process began. Raymond provides some thoughtful cautions about this strategy and speculates on what would happen to the publishing industry if many libraries adopted this strategy in all subject areas.

5.

“Taking the Plunge! A Case Study in Teaching a Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Course to Business Undergraduate Students”
Laura Leavitt, Michigan State University
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 2016, 21:274-287
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08963568.2016.1226617

This is a three-credit, elective class taught twice as a pilot project (as of press time). Leavitt provides the syllabus and other class materials at http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/BusinessIntelligenceResources. Course objectives, student learning outcomes, and the topic outline are included in the article. Leavitt is one of four business librarians in the business librarian.

Most business instruction at MSU is one-shot, although there have been some embedded engagement with classes too. The librarians had built a strong connection with the one-credit, first-year orientation class for business students. The librarians have taught one of those sections for five years, incorporating some research instruction. After “years of informal advocacy with key decision makers in the College of Business” (p. 277), the librarians were asked to develop a credit class and begin teaching it only five months later.

The proposed class was given a BUS course designation, which allows it to be developed without going through a departmental curriculum committee (I think): BUS 291(2): Business intelligence resources. Enrollment was capped at 30 and ended up being open to all class levels and majors. It met twice a week. “The course was designed to be an introductory-level course that would inform the students’ work in other courses as they progressed through the business curriculum” (p. 278). The course objectives owe much to the ACRL Standards (the framework wasn’t out yet).

As many of you know, there isn’t a focused textbook for classes like this. The MSU librarians used a mix of readings and videos, including portions of Berkman’s The Skeptical Business Searcher (2004) and Ross’ Making Sense of Business Reference (2013).

The “Assignments: The good, the bad, and the ugly” section of Leavitt’s article is very interesting. The students found much value in the regular discussions of Financial Times articles, with a focus on the sources of information used in each article. The students also appreciated writing reviews of popular business books. Leavitt writes “It is an interesting observation that both of these more successful assignments required close reading of new material, reflection upon and discussion of that material, and writing an analysis of what was read—none of which are possible in a one-shot class.” (283).

The librarians also had the students watch a video of an entrepreneurial pitch, breakdown the pitch using the business model canvas framework, and then use databases to test the entrepreneur’s assumptions.

Grading workload was high, but in the second year, the librarians gained a teaching assistant to help. Most students earned high grades (as with my own 3-credit research class). And course evaluations were very positive. One student comment: “My Dad is the CEO of a Real Estate company and told me that I could use the stuff I learned in this class to work for him.”

In the conclusion, Leavitt notes the high value of being able to spend 3 hours a week with students compared to one-shots. Assessment was also much more meaningful. The class was a rewarding experience for the teachers. They gained more visibility for teaching it – among both students and business faculty.

A limitation of the class is of course the time involved in teaching it. It’s not scalable to all business students unless many more librarians were hired. And there might be issues with compensation. Some of us discussed these issues recently.

6.

“LOEX 2017: Teaching Popular Source Evaluation in an Era of Fake News, Post-Truth, and Confirmation Bias”
Lane Wilkinson, Instruction Librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
https://senseandreference.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/loex2017/

This is an interesting blog. Wilkinson is thoughtful and often cuts through hype and bandwagon-thinking. His examinations of the framework are examples. This post is elaboration on his LOEX presentation last month in Lexington. He provides specific suggestions (ex. don’t use controversial topics as search examples) as well as relevant psychological theory.

7.

“Realizing Critical Business Information Literacy: Opportunities, Definitions, and Best Practices”
Ilana Stonebraker, Caitlan Maxwell, Kenny Garcia & Jessica Jerrit
Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship 2017, 22: 135-148
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08963568.2017.1288519

The authors spoke on this topic at ACRL last spring and also led a #critlib Twitter discussion. Critical business information literacy = “the application of social justice to business information literacy” (135). The article address “What does it mean to be an ethical businessperson, and how does an ethical businessperson create, locate, organize, and evaluate business information?” (135).

After a long lit review of the library and business education literature, the authors provide examples of best practices from their teaching experiences. One challenge is the time constraints of one-shot instruction. The University of Washington librarians discuss student-centered, active learning exercises on source evaluation as one technique for one-shots; students are given much freedom to shape the workshop content.

At California State University–Monterey Bay, the business librarian provide a one-shot (one hour in a lecture hall or two hours in a computer classroom) session for the required “Business Communication, Ethics, and Critical Thinking” class. The students analyze the website of a nonprofit serving a homeless population. So the one-shot includes a discussion of the causes of homelessness.

The Purdue librarian writes about her 3-credit “Making Greater Lafayette Greater” research class (which Ilana has written about in this blog and elsewhere). The class has an “explicit egalitarian focus” on under-privileged groups in the city, discussing economic development failures as well as successes, and local economic and market trends, not just the national trends that are much easier to research.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t provide any evidence of impact of the critical business information literacy focus on students. I would have liked to seen a few quotes from students at least.

8.

“Both Sides Now: Vendors and Librarians: Terms & Conditions”
Michael Gruenberg
Against the Grain, Feb. 2017, pp. 69-70.

Gruenberg was a senior sales executive in the info industry and now runs a consulting firm. In his February column, he asserts that most vendors are very aware of their operating costs, target margins, the costs of competing products, and the prices the market can bear. After describing some pricing situations vendors face when selling to academic and public libraries, Gruenberg focuses on how flexibility in the “T & C”’s can help the vendors make a sale (and get renewals) and improve the deal for the library. But the libraries have to make the effort to suggest changes as part of the negotiation. Gruenberg suggests asking the simple question “Can you defend your price?” whenever the proposed pricing doesn’t sound reasonable to the library.

9.

“The University of Houston’s Liaison Services Advisory Board: A Case Study in Leadership Development and Succession Planning”
Christina Hoffman Gola and Miranda Henry Bennett
College and Research Library News 2016 77 (10)
http://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/9570/10928
University of Houston Business Librarian Orolando Duffus pointed out this article to me. The authors describe the first two years of their new advisory board, its challenges and successes, and recommendations for other libraries.

Creating the board was a response to significant growth in the Liaison Services Department (11 to 21 people since 2011). The department had two co-department heads plus four functional coordinators. (We have a similar set of coordinators here who serve as leaders of our cross-departmental liaison teams.) The department heads wanted to provide the coordinators with increased opportunities to develop leadership skills through project management. Projects included training sessions for the liaisons and team-building activities.

Year two featured peer-mentoring discussions. The department heads also began to include the coordinators in strategic planning. Finally, the board also assessed liaison services, growth opportunities, and future needs.

The board struggled at first with defining exactly what it was, but ended up working together well to support peer-mentoring and a higher level of trust. Two of the coordinators ended up promoted to “higher positions” (official supervisors or department heads, I assume), an indication of success regarding the emphasis on leadership development.

The authors recommend peer-mentoring for library leaders and providing project management opportunities.

This is an interesting take on liaison organization and leadership development. I would be curious to read the perspectives of the liaisons working under this leadership system. I also wonder if the only opportunities for gaining leadership and project management skills in this library are through serving as a department head or coordinator?

10.

“Interview Intelligence: Teaching Students to Demonstrate Their Passion by Doing Their Homework”
Andy Spackman, Business and Communications Librarian, Brigham Young University
Academic BRASS Vol 12 (1), Spring 2017

Spackman writes about getting asked by his university’s career and advisement centers to provide research instruction. All BYU undergraduates take classes taught by these centers for career preparation. Spackman decided to adapt his approach to teaching business communication classes toward these workshops: instead of focusing on discussing themselves, students should focus on having intelligent conversations with interviewees. He offers six questions about the target company to investigate, three steps to take to do that research, and one final reminder:

“You don’t actually need to know the answers. The point isn’t to show off how much homework you’ve done. The point is to be able to have an intelligent conversation, and sometimes this is more about uncovering questions than finding answers.”

The same Academic BRASS issue includes a “Google Bucket Activity Lesson Plan” by Grace Liu of the University of Maine customized for a company and industry research assignment. Student teams compare content found through Google to subscription business database content.

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For the first time, I was invited to serve on a search committee for a professor position.

Professor Williamson, creator of the Export Odyssey experiential learning and trade promotion project, is retiring after next semester. We have been co-teaching the Export Odyssey class (MKT 426, International Marketing) for many years. So he and I and three other marketing professors make up the search committee. The new hire will teach the Export Odyssey class and other classes to be determined later.

The search is still in the works, so this post will have to go easy on the illustrative details (as with my most recent post about search committee work). But I have enjoyed experiencing the differences between how librarians conduct their searches at UNCG and Duke versus how professors conduct a search. Of course, this is my only experience of the later type, so my sample size is small.

Local context: UNCG librarians are hired as tenure-track faculty so scholarship is also required for us. We require a MLS from an ALA-accredited school, while this professor search requires a PhD or DBA from a business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Recruiting candidates

In addition to posting the job announcement to general (ex. Chronicle of Higher Education) and specific (AACSB’s BizSchoolJobs) job posting services, the marketing faculty on the search committee also utilized their own professional networks to encourage individuals to apply. I got a sense of how small a world an academic specialization can be. Working as a team, the four marketing professors on the committee seemed to have contacts at most of the schools with PhD programs in marketing. Maybe this level of networking isn’t too different from how closely academic business librarians network with each other, but the connections of senior faculty to the PhD students they guide and publish with doesn’t really have a counterpart in the librarian world. Our mentoring programs tend to be informal, and we aren’t in graduate school for very specialized research training for more than two years.

For this search, there was also much effort into recruiting candidates at conferences. Sure, there is the Placement Center at ALA conferences (where a booth costs $625 plus a minimum spend of $250 on JobList— yikes!) but the marketing professors coordinated a proactive recruitment effort to targeted individuals attending the conference. So before we formally talked to our top nine candidates (see below), a few candidates had already informally talked to one or two of the search committee members at a conference.

Research expectations

UNCG librarians talk and ask about research, publishing, and speaking in our interviews. But not surprisingly, there is greater emphasis in the business professor search on research. Existing publications, current research projects, and potential to publish enough to get tenured are big concerns. So we spend as much time talking about research as we do teaching. The position posting includes a long list of top journals that professors in the Marketing department have published in. But the ad also mentions teaching export promotion using experiential learning.

Diversity

Unlike librarian candidates, the majority of the professor candidates are male. Also unlike librarian candidates, the professor candidates represent many nationalities. This reflects how ALA accreditation only covers two countries (U.S. and Canada) while AACSB accreditation covers 52 and counting. So the candidates represent a more diverse pool than I’m used to with librarian searches, in which the majority of the candidates are usually white. The professor search committee can fly in candidates from outside the U.S, although many of the non-native candidates already live and work in the U.S.

Nature & quality of applications

As expected, the average application package is longer than a librarian’s. The package includes a longer list of published research, plus sometimes commentary on a candidate’s research agenda and works in progress. Teaching evaluations – both statistical summaries of student evaluations and peer observation reports – and statements of teaching philosophies are often included.

Many cover letters are well-written, customized to the position, and incorporate research into UNCG, the business school, and marketing department.

And some cover letters focus on why this position would be great for the candidate, with no words concerning what the candidate would offer UNCG. Others read like generic cover letters written for any kind of position. Some cover letters consist mostly of bullet lists that summarize bullet points from the CV.

So the same mistakes librarian candidates sometimes make.

 “Phone” interviews

We scheduled interviews with ten top candidates via WebEx, with video. One dropped out of the search, so we conducted nine video interviews. We allocated an hour each; they lasted between 25 and 55 minutes. All nine within three days – a busy stretch. No technical problems at either end.

I remain interested in the question of video interviews versus phone interviews. As a search chair, I’ve only conducted phone interviews. I feel that not seeing the candidate helps limit bias. It’s also easier to schedule and simple to execute. But certainly it was nice to see the candidates on screen and their facial expressions and body language, and the candidates probably appreciated seeing us.

Our questions to the candidates centered on their interest in the position and UNCG, their research experience and goals, and the same for teaching. I was charged with asking about their interest in community-engaged experiential learning.

The candidate’s questions to us mainly concerned the timeline of the search, research expectations, teaching loads, and rank considerations. A few asked additional questions regarding the nature of students body as well as faculty relationships within the business school.

Vetting candidates

We are vetting our top candidates more than we usually do for librarian searches. In addition to receiving letters from all the official references, we are also calling additional faculty who have advised, taught with, or published with the candidates.

Respect for librarians?

In our WebEx interviews, I introduced myself as the UNCG business librarian, tenured member of the faculty, and co-teacher of the Export Odyssey class with Professor Williamson. None of the WebEx candidates expressed surprise that I was a member of this search committee. However, they already had a list of the committee members from the committee chair, and given the power dynamic of searches, it would have been foolish for any candidate to react to my presence with surprise. But based on our discussions, I do think that most of the candidates have respect for librarians and were glad that the Export Odyssey class has one on board.

Scheduling

The candidates will have a 1.5 day interview. I was surprised to learn that the business school doesn’t use the fancy hotel near campus that the library uses for its candidates, due to the cost.

The schedule isn’t too different from a librarian candidate schedule. Meet with the dean, department head, search committee, and other stakeholders. Tour the campus. But three differences:

  1. For their presentation, the candidates discuss one of their current research projects.
  2. We have the candidate visit with the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development regarding research resources.
  3. We will also bring the candidates to a marketing class to provide a short (15 minute) lesson or presentation relevant to the class. These may be different classes, given the days each candidate will be on campus. Guest teaching will be interesting to see, and I’m curious to see what kind of feedback we collect. (I’ve heard of libraries who make their candidates teach a real workshop to real students. I’ve never liked that idea, but this short round of teaching is different I think.)

Conclusion and Lessons Learned

Serving on the search has been a new type of embedded work for me. I now have a better understanding of the research pressure that the professors face, the nature of their professional networks, and also what it’s like to be a freshly minted PhD in the job market.

I will be chairing another librarian search starting next month and will reconsider some of my usual practices, such as using only phones for the first round of interviews.

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