Archive for the ‘Embedded’ Category

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.


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.


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.

Read Full Post »

New space for the plenary sessions

New space for the plenary sessions — I liked it

Last time, I reported on the business librarian/business vendor discussion. Here are notes from a few other programs I attended at the Charleston Conference in early November.

Liaison Librarians in the Know: Methods for Discovering Faculty Research and Teaching Needs

Nora Wood (Business Librarian) and Melanie Griffin (Special Collections Librarian) of the University of South Florida led this “Lively Lunch” discussion:

Using a case study of a liaison re-envisioning project at a large, research-intensive public university as the framework for this session, we will discuss methods for determining the curriculum and research needs of faculty across disciplinary boundaries and ways for promoting library resources and services to departments across campus. [from the program description]

Nora is a new business librarian. Melanie is also the English Liaison. Nora is teaching a one-credit class for first year students on making the transition to college. As an aside, she noted that her teaching experience is helping her better understand the needs and experience of freshmen.

The USF librarians discussed how their library is re-envisioning their liaison model in response to faculty needs. In the process, they are discovering challenges in better understanding faculty research and instructional needs. USF is a fast-growing campus with 50,000 students, 42,000 of which are based on the main campus. But they only have 13 liaisons! (I complain that our liaison count has not grown as the UNCG student body and number of UNCG librarians have grown, but maybe our staffing level here is not as disappointing as I tend to think.)

Their environmental scan indicated that project and service learning classes are on the rise, with fewer classes writing traditional research papers (that would be good news to me!) They also examined usage data, interviewed administrators, and assembled lists of faculty publications. The USF librarians decided their questions should be tailored to the audience (administrators v. faculty, etc.) and should not be library-centric.

The USF librarians then pondered how to use this data to take action, and how to better communicate liaison services to faculty and academic departments.

One discussion point from the lively lunch participants: segment the researchers: untenured, tenured, named chairs, graduate students.

The USF liaisons identified areas of emphasis on campus:

  1. Freshmen success (retention)
  2. QEP
  3. More online classes
  4. Instruction still the emphasis, not research (according to the administrators, at least).

So action items taken or planned:

  • Textbook affordability project
  • Creating a first-year experience librarian position
  • Assisting with online classes
  • Asking to join more campus committees

Going forward, the questions for the liaisons include:

  • How to share all this collected data?
  • How to incorporate all this into daily liaison work?
  • How to measure if they are meeting current research and instruction needs?

Nora and Melanie alternated summaries of the USF experience with assigning us small group discussions. We ended with a final discussion involving everyone. Key points made:

  • Should do targeted outreach, instead of trying to target everyone. You will get better returns on your time.
  • Tap into campus goals, ex. the USF goal of 100% employment after graduation. Support that goal in any way you can. (Nora is already working with the Career Services Center.)
  • Is this research into campus needs a one-time project or ongoing? (A sustainable project? When does the ROI for learning something new get too low?)

Seeing that Students Succeed: Rising Expectations and the Library’s Role in Teaching and Learning

Kate Lawrence (Vice President, User Research, EBSCO Information Services) and Roger C. Schonfeld (Director, Library and Scholarly Communication Program, Ithaka S+R) led a discussion based on Ithaka S+R’s latest US Faculty Survey and recent research from Ebsco’s User Research Group.

Ithaka’s main finding is that “In recent years, expectations have increased not only for the library to demonstrate its impact on students but for universities to increase retention, progression, graduation, and later-life outcomes”. Ebsco studied “student research practices and the challenges they face, as well as the kinds of librarian-faculty partnerships that are effective in supporting students.” [quotes from the program description]

Much of this is not new to folks following trends in liaison roles. We could compare some of these findings to the ideas expressed at Nora Wood and Melanie Griffin’s Lively Luncheon (see above).

Roger’s study asked professors by type of school (4-year, masters, doctoral) to identify the most important functions of an academic library. He presented summary graphs. Information literacy was identified as the most important library function at both 4-year schools and masters-level schools. For doctoral schools, the functions of archiving, information literacy, providing access to research (ex. subscriptions), and supporting research were ranked very close. But over time, information literacy is growing in emphasis for all types of schools.

Kate described her unit’s ongoing ethnographic study of students and faculty in the U.S., U.K., and China. U.S. students tend to research and write papers using “microbursts of activities” rather than a steady amount of work over time.

Students’ research behavior is driven by efficiency. Some compared their research strategies to finding shortcuts to finish a level in gaming. Meanwhile, faculty research strategies are often driven by tradition. Adjunct instructors often feel left out but want library support.

The most impactful role of librarians in influencing student behavior is when the librarian is in the classroom teaching research alongside the professor.

There was some audience discussion. There are many models of embedded librarianship, but sustainability of that work remains a concern. It’s necessary to prioritize which classes to target.

There is a need for more assessment strategies to link library usage to student success and retention.

Several librarians expressed frustration with students who avoid reading scholarly journal articles, or don’t read past the abstract. I suggested (based on some interesting discussions I listened to at LOEX) that there is limited value in having lower-level undergraduates using peer-reviewed research articles in first place. Those young college students don’t have a background in the specialized, intellectual concepts (and jargon) used within an academic discipline, and certainly don’t have an understanding of  scholarly research methodologies, especially statistical analyses used so often in social science and natural science research. More appropriate sources would be feature articles in intelligent magazines like the Atlantic or the Economist.

Rolling On or Getting Rolled Over? Introducing New Functional Specializations in Academic Libraries

Rachel Fleming-May (Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences; University of Tennessee) and Jill Grogg (Licensing Program Strategist, LYRASIS, previously an electronic resources librarian) discussed how “individual functional specializations develop as sub-professions of academic librarianship.” They also compared “findings from large-scale surveys of librarians in two areas of specialization: Electronic Resources Management and Assessment.” [They noted that the Library Assessment Conference was going on at the same time up in D.C.]

Much of the discussion focused on how these specialists grow their skills and gain professional development. Rachel and Jill provided a bit of history. A decade ago, many of these functional specialists did not have a MLS, but now most do.

Rachel summarized a 2009-10 survey of ER librarians. The favorite method of professional development of these librarians was consulting with counterparts. They compared that survey to a 2015-16 survey of assessment librarians. The main tasks of these librarians was writing reports. Professional development focused on collaboration, but conferences and publications were also important.

The audience asked questions about other specialist roles, like first-year instruction or student success librarians. Are those also functional specialists? The speakers thought those roles overlapped with instruction librarians. They emphasized that functional specialists are based on specialized knowledge, but could be focused on public service, such as data service librarians. Someone noted that assessment librarians also need skills in telling stories and conducting ethnographic research.

I was interested in learning how functional specialists in these emerging areas do professional development. The discussion of definitions isn’t very important IMO. All functional specialists need development support, and the public service functional specialists need to collaborate with their local subject liaisons (and vice versa) to work their magic across campus.

Read Full Post »

Monday and Tuesday was fall break here at UNCG. On Monday, Wake Forest University and UNCG sponsored the 2016 edition of the Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians. Since I had just returned to work from D.C. and forgot to ask for a sub for my lunchtime reference desk shift, I wasn’t able to walk over to the conference until after my late lunch.

So I missed talks by friends Richard Moniz, Dan Maynard, and Nina Exner (sorry, guys) but did attend two very good programs in the afternoon, summarized below. A bunch of BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina, a section of NCLA) members attended, but there were also business librarians from Howard University and the fast-growing University of Central Florida. Between sessions, some of us talked about interest in a southeast regional business librarians’ conference of some sort, or just hosting a BLINC workshop the day before the next Entrepreneurial Librarians conference and inviting the out-of-state business librarians. Interesting ideas.

“Developing Liaison Librarians for Data-Intensive Research Engagement”

Hilary Davis, NCSU

Hilary Davis, NCSU. Sorry, these aren’t the best iPad pictures.

Hilary Davis and Honora Eskridge from North Carolina State University discussed a curriculum they created to help librarians “develop knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate effectively with researchers” regarding data. As many of you know, NCSU is well known for innovations in library spaces and tech tools, but I really enjoyed hearing Hilary and Honora discuss their investment in liaison skills development.

They began by summarizing the changing environment for liaisons at research universities:

  • Research is changing (increasingly interdisciplinary; open access);
  • Subject liaison roles are changing (programming and training for NCSU liaisons has not been consistent, but that may be changing)
  • Liaison services need to be aligned with the research enterprise on campus.

The “Leveraging the Liaison Model” report from Ithaka/Anne Kenney provided additional context for recent changes. Supporting data research was identified as a top priority by the library, and Hilary was asked to lead the process of providing training support to the liaisons. They decided to try a short course experience that the library would design with support from the Odom Institute in Chapel Hill. That led to the creation of the Data and Viz Institute for Librarians. The first institute was held in May 2016 for an international group of librarians and researchers.

The objectives included:

  • Effectively use the language of data science to communicate with researchers;
  • Demonstrate basic methods of exploring and analyzing data;
  • Apply visualization techniques to improve data communication;
  • Learn tools and techniques for version control;
  • Understand data sharing requirements of publishers and funding;
  • Understand the impact of open research practices.

This was 4.5 day program with a registration fee of $2,500 (which included food but not transportation or housing). Yes, rather pricey. The library provided laptops to limit problems with downloading software and practice datasets, which did take a lot of time to prepare.

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Thirty applicants were accepted out of ninety applications. The library gave preference to applicants whose work directly aligned with data research.  Honora summarized feedback from the inaugural institute (see picture). Not all instructors provided hands-on instruction, as they were asked. Participants also asked for more networking time.

The institute will repeat in April 2017 with a slightly different mix of instructors and more emphasis on hands-on learning. (Hmm a tough month for being away for a week for those of us who teach in the spring semester).

The NSCU liaisons have appreciated the training opportunities in response to their needs (although the big institute was mostly a vision of library administrators). Hilary and Honora emphasized the importance of investing in their liaisons. Some of the liaisons are putting their increased data skills to use by text-mining reference chat questions, creating predictions of DDA ebook usage and creating a data dashboard for ARL statistics.

Hilary and Honora suggest three top take-aways:

  • Train for exposure (short course-style training);
  • Develop for depth (deeper training, more specialized skills);
  • Put it into practice (include data skills in liaison job responsibilities, and offer data services to faculty and students).

“The Future of Subject Specialists in Academic Libraries”

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University)

Mary Scanlon (WFU) and Betty Garrison (Elon)

Betty Garrison (Elon University) and Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University) led a discussion on “whether subject specialists remain relevant in the future.” They also provided predictions on “anticipated evolutionary changes to current responsibilities, potential for expanded roles, and the need for education and skills beyond the MLS.” While employing a clear outline, this program enjoyed a pleasant conversation feel to it.

Betty and Mary began by discussing their concern about the smaller attendance in BLINC’s quarterly meetings in last few years. They had considered possible reasons:

  • Cuts in professional development time?
  • Fewer business librarian positions?
  • More focus on national organizations?

They planned this program to delve into those possibilities.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business remains one of the most popular majors at college, so the demand for library and research support probably remains high.

However, the natures and job titles of liaisons are evolving. Many positions are now focusing on functions, not subjects. Betty said she is now the only librarian at Elon with a job title that indicates a subject focus (Business Librarian). Mary and Betty provided decade-by-decade snapshots of changing job titles, responsibilities, and roles. The changing roles are more evolutionary than revolutionary:

  1. Teaching: deeper engagement & embedding. Instructional design; teaching our own classes.
  2. Approval plan increasingly important –> same for collection policy. Less ordering.
  3. Reference services: meeting patrons where they are; the desk less important; using student workers in a triage model. Outreach librarians spending time in dorms. Public librarians going door to door, or working at the chamber or small business and entrepreneurship centers.
  4. Research and publications support. Data sets, open access, citation assistance, institutional repositories. (Betty’s business school dean recently called her to provide education to his faculty about predatory journals.)
  5. Supporting faculty tenure applications: impact factors, times cited, alt metrics.
  6. Outreach: supporting the outreach librarian (a functional position); frosh orientation; advising; embedded work.
  7. Technology: devices, services, location-independence; tech check-outs.

Some subject liaisons are shedding functional roles as libraries hire more functional librarians. This should help us deal with the crisis in the escalation of liaison responsibilities. Mary alluded to a workshop the WFU and UNCG liaisons once had on this topic.

Comments from the audience at this point:

  • “I’m one of those new outreach librarians. There has been a lot of support for my position. I’ve been asked to try some new things, and am sort of writing my own job description.”
  • “Do your 1st year instruction librarians have subject liaison roles too?” Many do, apparently.
  • Two librarians mentioned recent failed searches (for a science librarian and business librarian) because their favorite candidates were snatched up quickly by other companies.
  • Subject librarians continue to get busier. Work/life balance is becoming more difficult.

Conclusion from Betty and Mary: Subject liaisons will endure as our roles and responsibilities continue to evolve.

Conference proceedings will be published soon.

Read Full Post »

As usual, not long after a long post summarizing summer readings, I learn about one other interesting article or presentation. This topic is too rarely covered in more general information literary/teaching librarian conferences. I mixed in a few observations of my own, but hopefully not too much.

Being ‘In The Room Where It Happens:’ Supporting Information Needs of Students in Experiential Learning Programs
By Angela Horne (UCLA) and Corey Seeman (Michigan)
Leaders of Experiential Project-Based Education Conference 2016 (June 22)


  1. Introductions
  2. Information Needs of Business Students (Case Method vs. Experiential Learning Method)
  3. Library Support for Experiential Learning
  4. Working with teams (for librarians)
  5. Administrative Issues (for the library)
  6. Collection Issues
  7. Closing Thoughts

Angela and Corey provided mini-cases to the participants in order “to frame the discussion and get people thinking about information needs.” Interesting approach! — especially since this program compared students’ research needs for case study pedagogy versus experiential learning projects.

A case usually provides all the information a student team needs, and provide a controlled situation with an official “answer”.

In contrast to the passive information environment of cases, experiential learning requires active information gathering, the needs for which often evolve as the project develops. Both primary and secondary research is usually necessary. The complex research needs of these student teams can be challenging for business librarians to handle, especially for solo business librarians (like me).

Angela and Corey discussed how the librarians at their libraries consulted and communicated with their experiential learning student teams. Some observations:

  • “Information ambiguity is a common issue in most experiential learning projects we support”. [Also sometimes unanswerable questions!]
  • Since the research needs of teams in the same class can be very different, a one-shot instruction session isn’t really useful. Instead, librarians should provide an introduction session and then later have consultations with teams on their specific needs [my interpretation of slides 30-31].
  • In some classes [at Michigan, I think], the librarians get 30 minutes with each team at the beginning of the project. [This is a neat, very specific form of embeddedness, different from my co-teaching roles in which I’m in class most days but have to try to schedule team meetings outside of class, schedules permitting. Sometimes a team ends up with a “Cramer liaison” who becomes my official, solo in-person communication channel to a team].

Angela and Corey next provide interesting examples of research questions from teams. When a project needs to change direction is where the close connection with the librarian really pays off. Then the student teams really benefit from having the librarian “in the room where it happens.” Both UCLA and Michigan have surveyed student teams at the end of the semester and received student testimonials on the value of their librarian team member.

There’s a slide about potential licensing issues of using subscription databases on experiential projects.

And there is a short discussion about workloads and balancing time devoted to these experiential learning students versus those with more general, academic needs. This gets at the common and important topic of the sustainability of types of embedded work and also the value of that work. Corey notes:

“At Michigan, we have 440 students in MAP [Multidisciplinary Action Projects] (out of around 3000), but they take up the majority of time.”

Likewise, I spend much time with ENT 300 and MKT 426, both centered on experiential learning and required with their majors. That work leaves me with less time to be available in the library for random, walk-in questions from other classes. But I have always argued that the high value of my heavy involvement in those research-intensive classes justifies the time commitment, and my local library leaders have agreed. There have been a number of positive spin-offs and publicity resulting from that work (recent example).

Angela and Corey conclude that

“librarians always want to figure out how their work connects with students. This is the room where it happens – and is the best way to demonstrate and provide value to the enterprise.”

One of the PDF file provided at https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/120937 includes a short list of additional readings, including an upcoming book about experiential learning.

Read Full Post »

A summer goal continues to be getting caught up on professional readings since last winter break. Blogging about readings helps me not rush through them. Hopefully these summaries and occasional responses are useful for other folks too. Topics relate to liaison work and business librarianship.


Connect, build, develop: Forming effective liaison strategies through peer mentoring and partnership.
Cayce Van Horn. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 89-94

From the new business librarian at Auburn University. But the article is very useful for any subject liaison new to the job.

Cayce “became the business and economics liaison at Auburn University during the summer of 2015. It was an unexpected change in focus [business is not her background], and my initial reaction was a feeling of fear.” But she benefited from having a mentor:

“Bridget Farrell, the current marketing liaison and previous business and economics librarian at Auburn University, has served as a peer mentor as I make the transition from instructor to liaison, and together we developed a plan to help me connect with faculty and students in my subject area, build effectual and productive relationships with them, and develop my own skills and knowledge in this new role.”

(In 2013 Farrell wrote “New Kid on the Block: The Troubles and Triumphs of Being a New Business Librarian” — see https://liaisonlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/reading/).

Cayce discusses planning (“the importance of reaching out to subject-area faculty was immediately noted as a top priority”), collection development (book ordering & weeding), and subject training. Cayce and Bridget drafted a learning plan for Cayce that included taking Celia Ross’s Business Reference 101 class, reading Ross’s Making Sense of Business Reference, attending webinars, and getting involved in BRASS.

Through the mentoring relationship, Cayce gained much confidence in her skills. Lessons learned:

  • Non-business research and teaching skills can be applied to business liaisoning.
  • It is ok for business librarians to need some time to explore and research a difficult research request, and get back to the patron later.
  • Yes, some questions are unanswerable.

Once the fall semester began, Cayce and Bridget implemented an effective outreach campaign to faculty. They began with an associate dean of the business college, which led to attending an executive meeting of the college (deans and department heads), which led to meetings with departments and department heads. By the end of this series of meetings, Cayce was entertaining faculty research questions and requests for instruction workshops for classes. She also targeted new faculty via email and had many fruitful responses.

Cayce concludes:

“As a result of this peer-mentoring experience, I have learned to draw upon my own strengths while benefitting from the expertise of others, a process that embodies the true spirit of collaboration and support while fostering an environment of successful and engaging librarianship”


Business librarians and new academic program review
Kerry Wu & Heidi Senior. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 114-134.

This article is also useful for any subject liaison. It provides excellent suggestions for outreach and relationship building for any liaison initiative.

These Portland-based librarians have been busy supporting new program reviews and surveyed the profession on such involvement. From the abstract:

“Although more than 60% of the respondents thought that librarians should play a part in the proposal process, more than 65% of them indicated that they were never involved….The authors held in depth interviews with [nine] survey participants reporting higher-than average involvement to find out about their strategies for success.”

They identify a challenging (but common?) situation:

“The implied expectation is for the librarian to provide an affirmative statement that ‘library resources are adequate.’ Sometimes librarians are caught in an awkward position when the expected statement is not true.”

The article provides a literature review, survey methodology, and findings. There is discussion of library funding limitations and having to “make-do” with existing resources to support the new subject area.

Based on the nine interviews, the authors provide a list of success factors for getting very involved with new program applications. Examples: being held in high regard by the business faculty; and having strong existing relationships with the faculty. The “strategies to improve librarian participation” focus on building trust and relationships with faculty and certainly apply to any kind of liaison work, ex. teaching, consulting, and scholarly communication advocacy.

One interviewee emphasized proactive engagement, as the authors summarized:

 “Insert yourself wherever possible,” one participant advised, “I was pretty good in terms of pushing the envelope…. I always try and make the library sticky.” He was willing to negotiate and the following summed up his philosophy:

But often it is very definitely [sic] you cannot wait for them to come to you, you have to go to them and be willing to be “insertive” and make some suggestions going, “You know, I think the library can help you or we could help you with this, let’s talk about it…”

Ah, some new synonyms for embedded librarianship?

  • Sticky librarian
  • Insertive librarian

Hmm wouldn’t recommend an unfiltered web search for those phrases! Haha

Another good suggestion from an interview: “gave [faculty] a talk on ‘these are things that you can use me for’”.


Using rubrics for assessing information literacy in the finance classroom: a collaboration
Elizabeth M. Mezick & Lorene Hiris. (2016). Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21:2, 95-113.

This article presents rubrics to assess ACRL info lit standards (not the frameworks) through a company and industry information assignment that uses a handful of popular business databases. The full assignment is provided.

Transition to the great ACRL controversy of summer 2016…


Framework or Standards? It doesn’t matter
Blog post by Lane Wilkinson

A calm discussion about the current frameworks v. standards brouhaha. Refreshing.

Another thoughtful response but in a different tone: http://betterlibraryleaders.com/2016/06/30/reframing-our-standards-initial-thoughts-on-information-literacy-in-a-post-standards-framework/


Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working
Blog post by Barbara Fister

Yes, this post is old, but I reread it in May after returning from LOEX. I get tired of hearing librarians only discussing the “research paper” as an outcome of student research work.

From near the end:

“If you want students to learn about a topic and be able to synthesize information effectively, fine – but don’t call it research. Turn it into a presentation, an informational brochure, or a Wikipedia article. If you want students to make an argument, start from something they know and care about, something that matters to them and about which they can hold an informed opinion. If you want them to read and understand scholarly material, focus on close reading and have the class jointly prepare an annotated edition. If you want them to write academic prose, wait until they know enough about the discipline to know what they’re talking about and how to ask a meaningful question about it.”

We could add a sentence like “If you want your students gain experience working in teams, as so many grownups have to do in their professional and volunteer work, structure the project to be done within teams.”


Small changes in teaching: the minutes before class: 3 simple ways you can set up the day’s learning before the metaphorical bell rings
James M. Lang, Nov. 15 2015. Chronicle of Higher Education

Excellent suggestions! Yes, it’s easy to spend all your time before class begins getting the libguide and Canvas on screen, and writing notes on the whiteboard. The “create wonder” suggestion is certainly one I should be using more often, like a new Statista infographic, or interesting results from a SimplyMap map.


Don’t get married to the results: managing library change in the age of metrics (presentation)
Corey Seeman, from the ABLD-EBSLG-APBSLG Joint Meeting 2016 in Singapore

Corey is the head of the University of Michigan business school Library (Kresge Library). His library has gone through a major physical change, which had impact on the nature of metrics collected by the library. He makes an important point about our complex customer base:

“Library challenge [with assessment] is that we have multiple stakeholders and they have different needs:

  • Faculty needs –scholarly journals, articles, books , datasets
  • Student needs –articles, company & industry information, market reports
  • Community –Mostly similar to student needs”

He warns that “Numbers have no intrinsic value –they can show just about anything you want.” Also: “And while your indicators might be fine –it might not reveal the threats that are all about you.”

There’s more about library change, and telling your story (be proactive, talk to your stakeholders, and rewrite your mission as needed.)


A Response to “Embedded Librarianship: A Critical Perspective”
Blog post by Robert Farrell

A thoughtful rebuttal of a polemic piece about the limits of embedding as a co-teaching librarian. Robert notes that the proposed alternative is clearly another type of embedded librarianship – proactive involvement with the curriculum, utilizing strong relationships with faculty. A bit ironic.


Rejection burnout–a guest post
by Kaitlin Springmier

A guest post from a resident librarian at the University of Chicago. (I’m a little concerned about why a resident librarian fresh out of library school would be writing on this topic). She presents “5 tips I’ve learned that can greatly reduce the rejection of new ideas or the burnout you feel after hearing ‘no.’” Interestingly, tip #4 goes against recommendations made in other posts at this blog, ex. maintaining work-life balance and enjoying “me time”.


Some interesting articles in the journal Against the Grain: Linking Publishers, Vendors, & Librarians from the Dec 2015-Jan 2016 & February 2016 issues

Negotiation Skills 101: Where Is That Course Given?

Since no one gets a chance to take a negotiation skills class in library school, consultant Michael Gruenberg lays out a 4-point preparation plan involving objectives, timetable, team, and strategy. Gruenberg authored the 2014 book Buying and Selling Information: A Guide for Information Professionals and Salespeople to Build Mutual Success (Information Today).

Cooperation is Key:  How Publishers and Libraries are Working Together to Achieve Common Goals

Michael Arthur (University of Alabama) and Stacy Sieck (Taylor & Francis) discuss their two organizations working together to provide workshops on open access and how to get published. Favorite quote:

“More recently, however, there’s been a gradual shift away from publishers being seen as adversarial to libraries, and there’s now a stronger sense that improving these relationships is important, if not imperative, to the success of both parties…But developing these relationships doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that starts with building trust and creating open and honest lines of communication.”

Give the People What They Want — or What They Need?

The often provocative and always interesting Rick Anderson (University of Utah) wrote on this old debate. He contrasts using data to learn what users actually want (which he calls “science”) versus what our patrons should want according to us librarians (“religion”). Providing what they want is our old service model, while advocating for what they should want is our education model. He asserts that

“the first option kind of grates on us as professionals; the second is fraught with frustration (since changing people is notoriously difficult) and political peril (since the people we’re trying to change are also people whose support is essential for our professional survival).”

The education route also risks “alienating our stakeholders”.

I don’t usually get into philosophical writing on librarian issues, but I was thinking about how these ideas might apply to a business librarian working with business faculty and students. Maybe a future post…


Dread data no more: crash course in data visualization for librarians (presentation)
Liz Johns. LOEX 2016.

Liz is the Librarian for Education at Johns Hopkins University. This presentation is a good introduction to the topic. It includes polls in which the audience is asked to pick the better representation of the data, which we readers can also participate in by reviewing the slides. Nice interactive touch.


BusinessDecision: demographic and expenditure data for small business owners [product review]
Trevor L. Winn & Steven Assarian. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, (2016, May) 21:2, 175-181.

A detailed, expert review of this database by two business librarians in Michigan. The Michigan State Library provides both DemographicsNow and BusinessDecision to libraries in the state. This review well illustrates two really important aspects of database reviews: talking about the source data, and comparing the product to competing products. It usually frustrates me when a shorter review in a publication like Library Journal makes no mention of competitors. That really reduces the value of the review to me, since due to our flat budgets (in a good year), we only get new subscriptions by cancelling existing ones.

But be careful making the comparisons:

“With its extensive consumer data, business and people directory, and mapping features, DemographicsNow is the prime competitor to BusinessDecision when considering the needs of small business owners. Although SimplyMap most closely resembles BusinessDecision’s scope and map-centric interface, DemographicsNow offers more data points relevant to entrepreneurs.”

No, SimplyMap offers data points just as relevant to entrepreneurs as DemographicsNow, and even much more so if you subscribe to SimplyMap modules like MRI and SimmonsLocal. That’s in part why NC LIVE has provided SimplyMap to this state for 8 years now (although not the SimmonsLocal module). My new 3-minute SimplyMap video uses entrepreneurship examples.

13 (last one):

Transitioning to 100% Business E-Books: The Case of a Large University Business Collection
Wahib Nasrallah. Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 1:2 (2016)

Wahib is the Senior Business Librarian at the University of Cincinnati. I’m not sure if I’ve read an ebook study before that focused on business ebooks. He writes of his library’s successful transition to mostly ebook purchasing. Regarding why the business school was happy with this change, he writes:

“In many ways, we forget that we are in the knowledge business, clinging to old formats while the world around us requires adaptation and change….Book publishing is a slow process, and the transporting of a physical book to a patron isn’t always feasible…The practice of housing print books in mammoth structures with very little circulation statistics to show for is neither efficient nor effective and has not served the goals of business research.”

The library worked with YBP to create notifications of new e-books only. He notes that some publishers have crazy ebook pricing strategies, and presents data on the number of ebooks on business topics published by core business publishers (see the table on p. 3).

Wahib asserts that “Librarians have always shown a preference for selecting books rather than leasing collections from aggregators (Vasileiou, 2012)” but I don’t think that’s true. We like the Safari package for updating its collections of tech books every year, keeping the collection fresh and relevant.

Their library began using DDA in 2012. There has been an increase in titles triggered for purchase and total spending since then. But the library is not using DDA-only:

“The DDA plan is supplemented by minimal print book purchases from those publishers who resist e-publishing. It is also supplemented by a few e-book purchases for books not available on the DDA platform. We are also retaining our publisher-based e-book collections…In 2013/2014, the e-book collection totaled 1,710 DDA titles and 2,937 titles from other sources.. In the same year, we purchased [only!] 89 print books from publishers who do not supply electronic copies for libraries.

Wahib concludes that their “transformation has received much praise and little to no complaints.” A useful case study.

Read Full Post »

Orolando Duffus is the 2014-2016 Diversity Resident Librarian at the UNCG Libraries. In July he joins the University of Houston Libraries as a business librarian.

Orolando Duffus

Orolando Duffus

For the purpose of this article, an embedded librarian is defined as a librarian who has a semester-long integrated instruction presence in an online, on-site or hybrid course. Some of the activities include delivering research instruction, creating LibGuides, tutorials, and providing in-depth research assistance to students and faculty.

Over the last two semesters, I have been exploring my new role as an embedded librarian for an MBA capstone course at UNC Greensboro. The course is entitled MBA 719: Strategic Management in Action and it is taken predominately by final semester MBA students. The course is very research intensive — mainly because students engage in professional consulting projects with local organizations. As a result, students often have to research and analyze their respective company’s industry, target market, and competitors, among other things.


I think it is important to note that students in the evening session of MBA 719 waited about 8.9 years prior to undergrad to pursue their degree while the daytime students averaged less than a year between both degrees. My experience working with those sessions have contradicted the idea that going to grad school earlier would make the transition easier and that going later would dull students’ study habits. For the remainder of this post, I will share my experience embedded with both evening and daytime MBA classes, and I will highlight some of my observations relating to students’ research skills, demand for research consultations, quality of class discussion, direction and focus, collaboration and confidence.

Research Skills

From an assessment of both sections, I learned that about 97% of students have received some type of research instruction from a business librarian. Therefore, they were very familiar with many of the specific tools, services and resources provided by the library for business students. However, the research skill sets were a bit difference for the two sets of students. The evening students were generally less knowledgeable about the contents of various databases but they tend to do extremely well on their own once you point them in the right direction. The daytime students on the other hand generally needed more hand holding. They often contacted me within days after an instruction session seeking step-by-step direction on how to navigate databases in search of specific content.

Demand for Research Consultation

The evening students needed few consultations to supplement my in-class research instruction. In fact, I received over ten times more consultation requests (office visits) and emails from daytime students than I received from evening students. The daytime students generally needed help finding articles and data sets, resolving teammate conflicts, developing statements of work (SoW), and retrieving almost impossible to find proprietary data.

Quality of Class Discussion

The evening students brought a lot of experience into the classroom. As a result, they engaged in more fruitful discussions and shared valuable experiences with each other. Those perspectives were very insightful for the students as they came up with recommendations for their client/sponsoring firm. The daytime students struggled a bit with crafting and articulating their final recommendations. As consultants, they were sometimes tasked with telling their clients that he/she was heading in the wrong direction or that he/she had a bad idea all together. That aspect of their engagement was very challenging for the daytime students. I suspect that maturity and lack of work experience played a role.

Direction, Focus & Collaboration

In addition to have a fulltime job, most of the evening students had a family. They often had a strict schedule and had to balance multiple tasks simultaneously. Initially, I thought those elements would adversely affect their focus and availability. But I became impressed by how well they worked together to coordinate their schedules. They were very self-directed and needed very little interference from the professor. Ironically, it was the daytime students who had the biggest issues scheduling time for group meetings and consultations. Once I had to play the role of a mediator in a consultation session after a student stated that she felt alienated by her team because of her gender. She further lamented that it was unreasonable that she was peered to work with two male students who were best friends. I brought the issue to the professor’s attention; he wasn’t aware of the conflict nor did he know that the guys were best friends when he assigned the teams.


This was somewhat of a challenging area for the daytime students. In comparison to the evening students, the daytime students had less impressive presentation skills. Their final recommendations or deliverables lacked some teeth. For instance, one group’s client wanted to create a go-to-market strategy that relied heavily on QR codes. Choosing avoidance, the group ignored the body of literature pointing to the declining usage of QR codes. In other words, the group was not confident enough to inform their client that the use of QR codes is not viable. Instead, they created a plan that would work well only if people actually used QR codes.


Overall the students were easy to work with although their projects were very challenging at times. Their projects were extremely different and covered a plethora of disciplines. The students worked with and advised companies that have dealings with insurance, healthcare, retail, computer software engineering, real estate, food processing, wineries, and more.

The diverse nature and scope of the students’ research projects prompted me to collaborate and consult with numerous subject specialist both internal and externally. On several occasions I’ve had to consult with Steve Cramer (fellow Business Librarian), Science & Health Science Librarian, and other librarians at UNC Greensboro. On one occasion I ventured beyond the confines of UNCG to consult with Michael Knee, Nanoscale Science & Engineering Librarian at the University at Albany. The University at Albany has been doing a lot of semiconductor research so naturally Michael’s insight into the Semiconductor Intellectual Property (SIP) industry was invaluable. I believe that collaboration and teamwork are some of the most essential elements needed to effectively support students enrolled in a MBA capstone course.

Read Full Post »

I had a new outreach experience yesterday. I can’t offer much in take-aways or lessons learned except maybe:

  • Librarians are held in high-regard in academia;
  • Academic leaders are interested in hearing about librarian contributions beyond our traditional roles;
  • We need to keep getting our word out, not just speak to each other at library conferences.

My teaching partner Professor Nick Williamson and I spoke at the UNC Student Success Symposium in Raleigh. This state-wide event was sponsored by the UNC General Administration (GA), which oversees our 17 campuses. The goal of the symposium is to

bring UNC campus administrators, staff, and faculty together with key legislative decision makers for a one day convening, focusing on a better understanding and fostering of student success

The audience included members of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG), GA members, campus leaders, and state legislators.

Audience from up front before we were called up to the podium

Audience from up front before we were called up to the podium

The symposium began with a welcome from our new UNC President, Margaret Spellings, followed by a “policy makers” panel discussion. Their discussion was pretty broad in contrast to the next event, a “Speed round of five initiatives highlighting UNC institutions to enhance post-graduation opportunities”.

GA asked campuses to submit proposals for the speed round. The UNCG Provost collected ideas from our campus deans, choose four, and submitted those to GA. From the four UNCG proposals, GA choose the Export Odyssey class which Nick and I co-teach.

Program: front page

Program: front page

We had five minutes and one presentation slide to work with. All the speed round presenters were interesting, but ours was the only one that actually mentioned students by name (significant I think since this was after all a student success symposium). We were also the only business-related topic, which is probably why many members of the Board of Governments talked to us after the program. Most of those folks are now business people.

Nick was left out for some reason.

Nick was left out for some reason.

Below is the introduction of our talk. A 10-minute break followed the speed round, and Nick and I spent all of that time up front fielding questions or receiving well-wishes. We talked to members of the BOG, GA vice-presidents (such as the one for International Community & Economic Engagement), one of the state legislators, and our own UNCG Provost. There was interest in the possibility of expanding the program. But a couple of folks stopped me just to say they were happy to see a librarian on stage (I was most likely the only librarian at the event). One GA official said he hopes to see more examples of such librarian engagement in the future. I’ve heard similar comments when Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I spoke at the SBI conference recently, and when colleague Jenny Dale and I quizzed our campus deans.

Nick and I were invited to stay for lunch, but I had to teach at 2pm back in Greensboro. Nick said it’s always good to leave the audience wanting more, anyway. Nick and a former student of his who is now a member of the BOG plan to have lunch soon as a follow-up. I’ll go too if I’m free.

Opening of our 5 minute talk:

Good morning! The heart of UNCG’s Marketing 426, International Marketing (a class required of all marketing majors) is the Export Odyssey project. The goal of Export Odyssey is for the student teams to recruit a North Carolina manufacturer and then make that company’s first international sale, or make for that company a sale to a new foreign market. The students learn how to do this in only about 10 weeks. Student teams have make export sales of North Carolina manufactured products to foreign buyers.  Examples include….

  • $15,000 yarn density testing machine made by J.A. King of Greensboro, NC, sold to a trading company located in Mumbai, India.
  • Industrial rollers used to impart ink onto beverage cans, sold to a Malaysian producer of beer. The exporter was Finzer Roller of Kernersville.
  • Wine from the Noni Bacca Winery of Wilmington sold to an Australian retailer
  • Pickles sold to the U. K. on behalf of Miss Jenny’s Pickles of Kernersville. That English customer later became a large scale, repeat customer. Miss Jenny’s Pickles became the 2014 North Carolina Exporter of the Year.
  • And there are other examples.

Therefore the students in this class live out the emphasis of UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics on problem-solving, community and global engagement, and economic development, while also learning from a research-intensive, hands-on experience that has no direct counterpart in the United States, as far as we know….

[Then we talked about how Nick was inspired by a student to create the Export Odyssey project, the research we teach the students to do, and 3 student success stories.]

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »