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WFU building in the Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter

WFU building in the Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter after an evening storm (Bailey Park in foreground)

The Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians was back in downtown Winston-Salem last Friday and I enjoyed being able to walk over to it from home. The one-day conference met in new Wake Forest University space in the Innovation Quarter, built from RJ Reynolds tobacco factories. BLINC had a workshop over here in 2015 hosted by the Forsyth Technical Community College’s Business & Industry Services. It’s exciting to see these sturdy, tall-ceiling, big-window spaces converted to new uses and bringing more employees back downtown. (There are also lots of new residential spaces nearby, although affordability and gentrification are becoming more of a problem.)

The latest hurricane moved through North Carolina Thursday afternoon. I had a fun 9:30am research workshop for an investments class (and most of the 48 students were there!) but we learned then that classes would be cancelled at 2pm. Three big trees were down on the highway between Greensboro and Winston-Salem on my way home in mid-afternoon. Our region had localized flooding and power outages, but no deaths. Several speakers at the conference were unable to get to Winston-Salem (including the morning keynote, who had to provide his talk online).

As mentioned here in 2014 and 2016, this is not a conference about entrepreneurship librarianship, although a few business librarians usually attend each year. “Entrepreneurial” in the conference’s name is defined as “innovation”, so the topics of the speakers and discussions are broad. As an attendee, I focused on supporting as many of the business librarian speakers as I could. One of those business librarians was Ash Faulkner, whom Carol and I joined for dinner downtown Thursday night. The sun came out an hour before sunset.

“Retiring in 2055: Evolution and Education a Long Library Career”
Ash Faulkner
(Ohio State University Libraries)

Ash Faulkner

Ash Faulkner

Abstract: “As a librarian at the beginning of her career, the presenter has devoted considerable time to considering the future of libraries and librarianship. In this presentation she will discuss her views on the evolving roles of librarians and how she has prepared for these changing needs. Discussion will include the utility of basic business knowledge (gleaned from an MBA), the importance of understanding data and the growing need to understand statistical analysis and software, how to utilize professional organizations and personal networks to address learning gaps, and best bet resources for individual learning pursuits. The presenter will discuss her views of current and future librarianship, as well as those found in the literature and through conversations with other early-career librarians.”

A financial planner told Ash that she could expect to retire in 2055. In this discussion-oriented program, Ash explored trends in librarianship and the workforce in general to guess what the nature of her career might look like up to its end.

She used Mentimeter to display her slides and enable instant feedback from the participants. We discussed ideas like digital nomads and the gig economy applied to librarianship. Ash speculated on the future of librarians:

  • “Yup, data” (increasingly important)
  • Boutique service (emphasis on specialized services)
  • Increasing collaboration…to integration
  • Fewer professional librarians
  • Self-service (less interaction with librarians)

She also speculated on gap areas in our skills and education:

  • Deeper subject expertise
  • Finding data
  • Data management
  • Statistics
  • Basic business knowledge

Some of the discussion was on near-future trends but it was interesting speculating on the long term possibilities.

 “An Entrepreneurial Approach to Helping Entrepreneurs”
Kassie Ettefagh, & John Raynor (High Point Public Library)

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

Abstract: “The High Point Public Library was tasked with finding a way to help support the city’s strategic plan to increase population, create new housing and employment, and create a vibrant downtown. Focusing efforts on entrepreneurs, job-seekers, and current small-business owners, HPPL designed a plan to provide personalized research sessions, one-on-one training with databases, social media usage advice, and space for job-related programming. Three Business Librarians work with Chamber of Commerce, small business expos, city council, and more. By changing its methods of providing information and trying to be more proactive, HPPL has evolved to better serve entrepreneurs, job-seekers and small-business owners.”

Kassie and John are BLINC friends whose outreach and consulting work at the High Point Public Library have always been impressive. They discussed their library’s proactive engagement with the local business and nonprofit community, inspired by the embedded librarian model of reference service.

The business librarians promote the development of ongoing, productive relationships between the library and its customers. Getting out of the library to build relationships with clients is key. “We need to leave the library and show the community what a powerful tool we are,” John advocates.

This embedded work is the library’s response to the city’s strategic plan, which promotes entrepreneurship city-wide but with emphasis on downtown. The library also created a dedicated business center in the library for training and hosting local organizations. The library has partnered with many local organizations supporting entrepreneurship, economic development, and nonprofits. The librarians now help steer entrepreneurship to relevant support groups.

The library had a preliminary goal of 12 client consultations a year, but now averages around 150 per year. The librarians use NC LIVE databases (such as ReferenceUSA and SimplyAnalytics) and High Point GIS data, but also provide some tech training, such as basics of using social media. Some clients want to learn how to use the databases themselves, so the librarians are trainers as well as research consultants.

Kassie and John provided several happy customer testimonials and some examples of research projects. One example: when the city tore up Main Street for a long, comprehensive utilities rebuild, the library organized downtown businesses to collect feedback and complaints about the road closure, and to help those businesses promote that they were still open for business. Now another chunk of downtown will be ripped up to build a new minor league baseball park. The city asked the library to repeat those coordinating services for that neighborhood. State legislators are also hearing about the library’s business and nonprofit outreach.

Really good stuff – high impact and progressive. Kudos to Kassie and John (and their former colleague Vicki Johnson) for their excellent work, but also to library leadership for funding these positions and the business center.

“The ROI of ROI Outreach”
Amy Harris-Houk & Maggie Murphy (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Abstract: “Liaison librarians in the Reference, Outreach, and Instruction (ROI) department of UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries have collaborated on educational programming with regional high schools, the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, a nearby retirement community, and a grassroots political advocacy group in Greensboro. Through these collaborations, our information literacy programs have reached a range of audiences, from middle-schoolers to retirees. However, while these opportunities have raised the library’s profile in the community, they are not without downsides. This session will discuss our collaborations, how these partnerships began, the lessons we have learned, and balancing the time commitment associated with community outreach with other duties to maximize return on investment.”

My colleagues Amy and Maggie discussed their recent outreach and programming to groups outside of the university. With implications for liaison work (and workloads), they discussed how to prioritize such outreach, and balance “departmental work with our core constituents with community outreach”. They also presented a SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results) analysis for evaluating the impact of the work.

“Growing and Evolving Education: Librarians Developing and Implementing Community Health Literacy Workshops”
Sam Harlow (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Abstract: “In order to align with the University Libraries strategic plan to increase both general information literacy and health literacy efforts in the community, UNCG Health Science librarians developed a series of workshops on “Finding Health Information on the Internet.” In these workshops, librarians covered website evaluation, database recommendation, search strategies, and created a LibGuide for community members interested in finding health information. This presentation will cover outreach and marketing strategies when reaching out to community partners (such as churches, local hospitals, and university staff); successes and failures of presenting to community patrons; future plans for health literacy workshop expansion; and ways to further engage your community in information literacy workshops and conversations.”

My colleague Sam followed up with a description of a community engagement project she implemented along with Lea Leininger, the UNCG Health Sciences Librarian. They have provided 5 workshops so far. Challenges include communicating the medical terminology, dealing with different levels of technology, assessing the workshops, and participation.

Other conference notes

 The opening keynote speaker was Patrick Sweeney, Political Director for EveryLibrary, the only PAC for supporting libraries. I didn’t know anything about this organization. He challenged our traditions of feel-good marketing (all those ALA posters) and instead asserted that the goal of advocacy is driving public library supports to action – doing something (donating money, fundraising, or voting). He asserted that libraries need to use data analytics on its financial and voting supporters and make decisions based on that data. Libraries need to understand their communities – demographics, lifestyles, and attitudes/politics [there’s the business librarianship connection] – and craft their messages to match, not just speak from a librarian echo chamber.

Timothy Owen, Assistant Librarian for the State of North Carolina, discussed telling stories. He also provided examples of problems in data visualization and asked us to figure out what was going on.

lunch outdoors at the conference

lunch outdoors at the conference (opposite direction from the first picture above)

Half the value of a good conference is networking, and this conference enabled that in the breakfast social and lunchtime. Several new and veteran BLINC members, plus other friends from the area, attended and updated each other on what was new in their lives. (The newest downtown brewery is one block from our conference location, in the old power plant for the RJR factories – I was surprised there was no night-before or right-after social planned there.)

Epilogue:

I had to miss this session due to an overlapping event:

“Reaching Campus and Community with Entrepreneurship Research Workshops”
Meghann Kuhlmann & Sara Butts (Wichita State University)

Abstract: “Wichita State University (WSU) has positioned itself as an “innovation university” with strong emphasis on invention, small business incubation, and economic development across the region. WSU Libraries launched the Entrepreneurship Research Series (ERS) of workshops in Fall 2016. Each semester since then we have offered 6-11 workshops on intellectual property and market research topics relevant to inventors and prospective business owners. Workshops are open to students and the community. Successful outreach, with marketing beyond our traditional patron base, has led to increasing our visibility as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) and partner in innovation support and promoting use of our business and intellectual property resources. We’ll discuss the opportunities and challenges of creating an entrepreneurship education initiative aimed at both campus and community members including alignment of the library initiative to university goals, community outreach, partnership creation, and managing multiple priorities in an academic setting.”

These librarians were unable to fly in due to the storm:

 “How to Never Underestimate Librarians as New Commercialization Partners”
Yvonne Dooley & Steven Tudor (University of North Texas)

Abstract: “As higher education evolves and re-imagines information exchange with industry, an increasing number of universities are creating and expanding Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) to commercialize faculty created intellectual property. This exchange fosters technology-based economic development and entrepreneurial success. Conference attendees will learn about the successful alliance between UNT Libraries and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, where the library moved outside its normal sphere to help create a patent internship program. Presenters will explain how this collaborative partnership works and provides win-win situations for all parties involved. Attendees will also learn new ways librarians can advance innovative community initiatives, position themselves as trusted partners, and create professional experiences to prepare students for valuable career opportunities.”

I also missed this interesting talk about managing liaison workload. App State is a UNC campus, so I should reach out to Jennifer about sometime. Sounds like her idea for engagement plans might be relevant to my last post about the lean liaison model. (I learned that Ask Faulkner covers 8,000 or 9,000+ students on her own, another example that dwarfs my situation.)

Enterprising Liaisons: Evolving Engagement
Jennifer Natale—Appalachian State University

Abstract: “Liaisons have responsibility for multiple academic departments and/or student populations and are pulled in too many directions in the middle of the semester, leaving themselves unable to accomplish all the liaison activities. Enterprising librarians can stay ahead of the curve by building a profile of the academic departments or student populations they serve and developing an engagement plan for the year. In this workshop I will outline key concepts within a profile identifying ways liaisons can intersect with their departments or student populations. The profiles will then provide the foundation for generating an annual engagement plan and allow you to balance your workload throughout the year. Engagement plans, and some technology tools, can be implemented in part or in whole and as an individual or liaison team.”

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Summer ends early when you work at UNC Greensboro. We are already two weeks of classes into the fall semester.

This fall, all three of my embedded classes feature significant changes. Perhaps the biggest change is with ENT 300, a feasibility analysis (pre-business plan) class required of all Entrepreneurship majors and minors and all Arts Administration majors. This is a team-based, research-intensive class in which the students create a major report to decide if a business or nonprofit idea should move forward to the business plan phase.

This semester ENT 300 is asynchronous online for the first time. A gutsy experiment? My workload for this class could be much less or much higher, I don’t know yet. We shall see. (The spring section will continue as an on-campus night class.)

MBA 741, the capstone course Orolando Duffus wrote about a few years ago, has a new professor, Dr. Beitler. But after two evening classes so far, the nature of this class is very similar and my role (based on Orolando’s successful embedded work) is unchanged.

Today’s topic

The third class is MKT 426: International Marketing, the oldest ongoing story at this blog. The class is dominated by Export Odyssey, an exports promotion and experiential learning project in which the student teams try to make a sale to a new country market for a North Carolina manufacture.

From the BizEd photoshoot

From the BizEd photoshoot

Working closely with this class was my first embedded librarian role. The class helped me gain teaching experience that I couldn’t get from one-shot instruction and also helped me get involved in the local economic development ecosystem. And it was a lot of fun although also at times challenging and always time consuming. Collaborating with Professor Williamson gave me confidence to pursue other embedded opportunities, such as getting involved with cross-campus entrepreneurship.

The rest of this post updates the story of this embedded role. I’ll also touch on workload and sustainability – issues always behind the scenes in embedded work.

New professor, same project

Last year, I wrote about Professor Williamson wrapping up his phased retirement, and the hiring of the new international marketing professor, Dr. Bahadir. We made the adjustment of working together as co-teachers. We also like each other. But it is a different relationship than I had with Professor Williamson. It would have to be because the professors are different people.

Professor Bahadir teaches more Export Odyssey research methodology than Professor Williamson did. So I’m not formally teaching as much as I used to in class. I miss that a little. But he is the professor of record on the syllabus, and he feels responsible to know all the Export Odyssey material. He learned all that very quickly.

BizEd photoshoot

BizEd photoshoot

I continue to attend most class sessions but decided to skip a few sessions early in the semester when class content focuses on core concepts, not the Export Odyssey project. Those sessions don’t involve the students learning research strategies and so I think my time is now better spent elsewhere on those days. (Sometimes, like both class days this week, I have one-shot instruction for other classes when MKT 426 meets.)

I used to put so much time into this class (including research consultations, team counseling, and consoling upset students). So being able to adjust my role and the workload in this project has been nice.

This fall there are now two 75-minute sections with a 15-minute break in between. So an almost 3-hour time commitment to this class each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. For past ten years or so, there was only one section.

Utilizing my professional network

Professor Bahadir recognized how time consuming it is for the student teams to recruit their own manufacturers. We give them four weeks to do that at the beginning of the semester, limiting the time the teams have to develop their export marketing strategies. So Professor Bahadir asked if we could pre-recruit manufacturers to assign to student teams.

Through partnering with Professor Williamson, I had met officials from several export promotion agencies. I began inviting those folks to have lunch or coffee with Professor Bahadir and me to see if their agencies could help recruit interested manufacturers. We ended up talking to representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce (the local office), Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC, a UNC system organization), the Triad Regional Export Initiative (a grant-funded local organization on whose advisory board I serve) and some folks from state government. I enjoyed introducing everyone at those lunches.

We did end up with four student teams out of ten working with companies recruited from the SBTDC. The SBTDC became part of the support network of those teams, and attended class a few times. We hope to have more pre-selected companies in the future. Professor Bahadir is coordinating this work now that he had met everyone.

(Earlier this month, I wrote an external review for a tenure candidate in a rural part of Ohio. She is doing amazing work supporting her regional entrepreneurship eco-system and received really strong reference letters from economic development officers. I hope she writes an article about that important and interesting embedded work. )

A real Export Odyssey textbook

Cover of Export Odyssey textbook

Cover of Export Odyssey textbook

This summer, Kendall Hunt published the Export Odyssey textbook. Professor Williamson and I used to create a home-made project textbook for the students that the UNCG bookstore printed and packaged like a course pack. Through some other professors in the business school, Professor Williamson learned that Kendall Hunt was interested in new content. We pitched the idea to KH’s local rep and they agreed. We spent nine months updating and improving it.

We had to rewrite the book to accommodate non-UNCG audiences. I cut out most of the references to commercial databases in favor of free sources (mostly .gov sources like export.gov) with the exception of ReferenceUSA. We also greatly improved (IMO) coverage of the 4 P’s in the context of export marketing and provided updated case studies.

The plan was to sell the book as an e-textbook for $50. I liked the cheap price. Alas, the price has gone up already. So much for affordability as a selling point.

The MKT 426 students are using the new textbook this fall. A few professors from other campuses are apparently peer-reviewing it. We will see if any other international marketing classes pick it up. And then see what the feedback is.

BizEd article & photoshoot (in the library!)

Final story today. In May, the communications department of the UNCG business school was finishing up an invited article about Export Odyssey for BizEd, the magazine of AACSB International (accrediting body for business schools). The magazine wanted to include a picture of the instructors and some students. So we invited some students from the teams that worked with SBTDC-recruited companies. We also wanted an attractive location for the photoshoot, so instead of the business school, we ended up…in the library’s Special Collections reading room, ha.

The campus photographer took a zillion pictures, as they tend to do at photoshoots. You can see the one that BizEd decided to run at the article, but above are two rejects I liked (although I look kind of inebriated in the group portrait?) The diversity of those students is pretty typical for UNCG – we are almost a majority-minority campus.

Most of the students were about to graduate, so they were a little giddy that afternoon. Professor Bahadir and I enjoyed that symbolic wrapup of the project. It was the end of our first year working together on Export Odyssey and it went pretty well.

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Vanessa

Blame Vanessa for this post

Yesterday my work friend Vanessa Apple, a coder in our tech department, drove over to Winston-Salem for a visit. At one of the downtown breweries (a dog-friendly one, as Vanessa is into dogs), I was telling her about my crazy Friday with its ups and downs. She replied “you should write about that on your blog! You could title it ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’.”

Eh, why not? It’s been a while since I wrote anything personal about liaison work. And then I can procrastinate on some other projects I’m not in the mood for yet…

Vanessa, thank you for the suggestion. Sorry I used a different title, though.

Last Friday

8am

Didn’t sleep well, so a lame start to the day. Sunny and hot already. Put on new dress shoes to start breaking them in for the fall semester. Traffic not bad.

9am

Learned that a Charleston Conference proposal I submitted with Orolando Duffus (U. of Houston) and Rosalind Tedford (Wake Forest U.) was accepted. Yay. It will be a “lively discussion” (one of this conference’s program formats) on liaison trends. Should be fun.

Walked over to the student union next door to deposit the royalties check for the 2017-18 version of the Export Odyssey project textbook Professor Williamson and I co-wrote. (That version was printed by the campus bookstore. The next edition will be an ebook published by Kendall Hunt. More on significant changes to this, my originally embedded role, in a blog post next month hopefully.)

Right heel starting to hurt.

10am

Prepared a bit for next week’s BLINC workshop at Elon University. Got caught up on emails. Reviewed my notes from Thursday’s liaison teams retreat.

Scheduled a chat with Kelsey Molseed, a former intern and mentee, for late afternoon today in downtown Winston-Salem, where she also lives. Kelsey has just finished her MLS and had been interviewing.

12pm

Drove from campus to our downtown Nursing school building (easy parking), then walked a half mile to a downtown Mediterranean restaurant to have lunch with the new business librarian at the Greensboro Public Library, Morgan Ritchie-Baum. Morgan is also a new member of BLINC. I ordered a new-to-me wrap that included strips of dried beef. Ended up with some of it stuck in my throat and had to retire to the bathroom to cough it out. Very embarrassing. But Morgan was super-polite. She is already getting involved with the local entrepreneurial and nonprofit ecosystems.

After lunch, we walked a few blocks south and I gave Morgan a quick tour of HQ Greensboro (an incubator space — UNCG is an institutional member).

On the sidewalk, we bumped into a former reference intern, Melanie Knier, who also took my old business information class. She opened a vintage apparel shop in the neighborhood.

Foot hurts more.

1:30pm

Back in the office. Took off shoes. Oh look, I had a blister which popped and then bled through my dress sock. Yuck. Applied Neosporin and band-aids.

2:30pm

Went home early.

3:00pm

Switched to my hiking shoes with thick short socks. Heel feels much better in them.

Considered changing shirts for the 4pm chat with Kelsey. Notice the new knit shirt I’ve been wearing today had a tear along the seam in the armpit area. Lovely.

3:10pm

Decided to change shirts.

4:00pm

Met Kelsey in a coffee shop and we had a nice chat. She just received two job offers (from a small school and a big school) and had to make a tough decision. We talked about that and other things for a while. She moves away next month. Hopefully we’ll meet again at a conference sometime soon.

Evening

Read a book in a brewery (not the one Vanessa I visited yesterday), then played some pinball in the retro arcade. Chatted with barkeep Cheyanne before heading home to see my wonderful wife Carol and ask her how her day went.

Made dinner together and talked about looking forward to playing with the little nephews on Saturday at a family pool party. Slept much better that night.

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

Hometown summer beach scene

Hometown summer beach scene

1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe related to all that, Danya continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently, the survey didn’t cover social entrepreneurship.

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

5.

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

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

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

Similar results regarding the words used to describe relevant programming.

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

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

6.

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

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

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

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

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

7.

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

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

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

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

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

8.

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

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

9.

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

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

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

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

10 & 11.

Two educational and interesting blogs:

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

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

SearchReSearch
http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/

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

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

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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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