Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

NC summer flowers

NC summer flowers say hi

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

This week’s selections:

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

Here we go.


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

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

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

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

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

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

This article includes a detailed and useful lit review. 


Networking, not a four letter word
Nancy Lovas
Biz Libratory

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

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


Help! I’m new to licensing and don’t know where to start
Breezy Silver
Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, 4(1), 2019.

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

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

Regarding licensed business content, Silver writes:

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

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

The article ends with negotiation tips:

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


Knowing when to cry uncle: Balancing instructional initiatives
Angie Cox, Jim Kelly, and Chris Neuhaus
C&RL News, Feb. 2020

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


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

What could the librarians do about this problem? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the conclusion:

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


A reference librarian working from home
Iris Jastram

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

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

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

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

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

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Call for writings on business info lit

I promised Genifer Snipes to help promote the call for proposals for this book that many of us will be eager to read:

Call for chapter proposals for the ACRL book Teaching Business Information Literacy, edited by Genifer Snipes, Ash E. Faulkner, Lauren Reiter, and Marlinda Karo.

This will be the first-ever title focused specifically on business information literacy instruction…readers will find a collection of practical, classroom-tested business information lesson plans, learning guides, research activities, and projects for one-shot, embedded, and credit-bearing library classes in disciplinary and interdisciplinary settings.

Contact Genifer at gsnipes@uoregon.edu with questions, to discuss proposal ideas, or for the proposal submission form. Deadline is July 30, 2020.

Catching up

Tuesday was my last long day of the semester. I had a brief student consultation at 9am but then free the rest of the morning and took some time off as comp time. Later read about Summer Krstevska taking her future “Creating Social Change” class to Rotterdam, got jealous, and told her so. (Elizabeth Price wrote about her experience with students in Antwerp last year.)

Our library faculty met at noon for a final discussion of our rewritten evaluation guidelines plus other topics. The rewrite addresses several previously unanswered questions: What are the quality and quantity expectations in scholarship and service to get tenured? What does it take to become a Full Professor? Votes on the rewrite are due by Thursday. I should post an update on that long process; the discussions and decisions have been interesting.

Then lunch.

My entrepreneurship research class met for the last time at 2pm, followed by the final Export Odyssey class session. In both classes, we discussed the final project, so pretty informal.

From 5pm to 9pm, UNCG Entrepreneur in Residence Noah Reynolds and I observed 8 final presentations, 30 minutes each, by the teams in the entrepreneurship capstone course.

Whew. Too much WebEx and Zoom for one day. But now the rest of my week is mostly open.

Meanwhile, Chad Boeninger wrote an interesting piece this month about making the most of online consultations.

Today’s topic

Competition flier

Competition flier

I spoke about this competition at SOUCABL in March and promised to conclude the story in a blog post at the end of the semester. Here is that full story.

In spring 2019, my new library dean, Dean Martin Halbert, joined me in attending the luncheon of our cross-campus entrepreneurship program. He was excited to learn about my embedded work within the program as a Coleman Fellow and offered to provide some funds for a student entrepreneurship competition. He funded such an event at his previous library in Texas.

I began to think about the scope of this library-funded competition. There are a few entrepreneurship competitions on campus and in the city already, but we no longer had one that focused on social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is big at UNCG. Many academic programs and many students are interested in helping solve problems in our city and the world. So a few weeks later, I proposed this focus to Dean Halbert and he liked it.

I told Professor Dianne Welsh, our entrepreneurship program, about the competition and she replied “Great, thank you! We can make that part of ‘Entrepreneurship Everywhere’.” I replied “umm, ok, sure!” That was a day-long program in the ballroom of our student union scheduled for Feb. 13, 2020. I was helping organize that program.

Next steps — decisions to make:

  • Solo or team submissions
  • Graduate students judged separately from undergraduates
  • How the pot of award money would be shared
  • What kind of document and financials get submitted
  • Amount of primary and secondary research required
  • Evaluation rubric used
  • Who will judge
  • Strategies for promoting submissions
  • What would happen in the hour-long slot allocated for this at “Entrepreneurship Everywhere”


Other libraries have sponsored or hosted competitions, right? I asked BUSLIB-L and learned of some interesting examples:

  • Philadelphia Free Library: Pitch Corner (media coverage). Quote: “The Free Library’s Business Resource and Innovation Center wants to teach Philly entrepreneurs a thing or two about pitching…” Gillian Robbins runs this. She is co-chairing the Concurrents Team for the Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020 conference.
  • Brooklyn Public Library: PowerUP! (Timothy Tully told me about this competition he helped run. Tim now works at the San Diego State University and I enjoyed getting to know him over beers at SOUCABL.)
  • New York Public Library: New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition


From the libguide for the competition:

Social entrepreneurship means creating sustainable organizations that address a problem for local or global communities in an innovative way. The organizations can be for-profit or not-for-profit, and could be social, educational, environmental, artistic, etc. in nature.

(The libguide still exists but is now “unpublished”.)

What gets submitted?

Steve speaking at SOUCABL

Speaking at SOUCABL. (No, I don’t golf. Bill and I were performing for a skit in Chicago.)

I asked the SOUCABL librarians a short discussion question, “If you were creating a social entrepreneurship competition, what document would you require?” Choices could include business plans, feasibility analyses, business models, the business model canvas, lean startup frameworks, short financial projections, super-detailed spreadsheet templates, etc.

Between USASBE, GCEC, and SBI conferences, I’ve heard all of these things praised and all of them condemned.

While our already mentioned capstone course ENT 300 (also required for Arts Administration majors) requires a long feasibility analysis report (followed by a business plan in the follow-up class), most of the cross-campus and cross-listed entrepreneurship classes at UNCG require a 3-4 page business model. Not too long but usually detailed enough to require critical thinking and some secondary research. Professor Welsh created a business model that most of the classes use. I modified it just a bit to make it more clear about market versus industry research. The outline:

  1. Business Overview
  2. Industry & Market
  3. Financial Analysis
  4. Funding & Next Steps
  5. References
  6. Financials

Professor Welsh recommended the SCORE financial template, which is the super-detailed one I referred to above. It’s intimidating to finance newbies so I was interested in something shorter. Our Entrepreneur in Residence created his own financial template for his version of the ENT 300 class. With his permission, I copied four small tables from his template for the social entrepreneurship competition. See the Appendix below for both the full business model and those tables.

Judging rubric?

Competition libguide

Competition libguide (no longer public). The other tabs came from my master guide.

I enjoyed creating this section from scratch. Please note the emphasis on problem identification (1-2) and research (6-9):

  1. Clearly defining the problem or issue
  2. Clearly defining and measuring the target population and geography
  3. Proposing a solution that is innovative but also well-defined, realistic, and sustainable
  4. Writing in a professional style (no grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, or run-on sentences)
  5. Using the business model outline and covering all the listed topics in 3-4 pages
  6. Effective use of relevant, high-quality, secondary research sources (ex. for local industry size data, target market segmentation size data, and financial benchmarking)
  7. Incorporating a data visualization (ex. a data map, graph, or chart)
  8. Effective use of primary research (for example, a personal interview)
  9. Proper use of APA or MLA citations (within your text as well as the works cited list)


Morgan Ritchie-Baum and Christina Adams, entrepreneurship librarians at the public libraries of Greensboro and High Point (and BLINC friends), agreed to serve. Professor Welch recruited Pete Peters, a retired, serial life-sciences entrepreneur who also founded some non-profits and taught as an adjunct. Plan B for judges would have been reaching out to some of the NGO leaders in Greensboro whom I’ve met through experiential learning classes.


Emails to the faculty who teach social entrepreneurship classes, mostly.

Money and February 13 event?

Another quote from the libguide:

The UNCG University Libraries is offering $400 each to the best undergraduate and graduate student social entrepreneurship business models. Second-place submissions will earn $100 each. Participants must be current students. The business models can be past class projects or can be written for this competition.

So I did decide to spread the money around a bit. If we had two graduate competitors and two undergraduate competitors summarizing their business models in the final round during “Entrepreneurship Everywhere” on February 13, then all four students would win some money.

So what happened?

No submissions!

Afterwards I talked to a few students in the target classes. They said their business models were due at the end of the semester and so were barely started by mid-February. (Most UNCG students work to support themselves and so don’t have time to do big projects outside of class work.)

At SOUCABL in early March, I discussed my revised plan:

  • New deadline: April 30 (reading day)
  • Re-promote the competition to the social entrepreneurship classes, circulate paper fliers, and ask for the professor to also share the flier via Canvas.
  • Hold the final event in the library’s attractive Special Collections reading room, not the cavernous student union ballroom.

Then I drove back to North Carolina on Saturday, returned to work on Monday, and then the campus shut down.

Final chapter

I didn’t want to convert the final event to a Zoom session. (Writing this here at the end of semester, Zoom fatigue is now quite apparent.) So I wrote the judges and Professor Welsh:

I’m very sorry, but I’ve decided to cancel the competition for this school year. The final presentations and award ceremony were supposed to be a celebration of the winners and the idea of social entrepreneurship, plus serve as a promotional opportunity for the library and the UNCG cross-campus entrepreneurship program. I don’t think we could accomplish those goals in an online environment. Plus, students (and many of the faculty too) are getting really tired this semester from doing school in the new normal and I don’t think there would be much energy left in early May for even an online event.


I’m not going to decide right away about pursuing this idea in 2020-21. Will the campus be open this fall? Given the budget cuts coming, could I get $1,000 from library administration? Will I have more time to devote to promotion than in 2019-20?

Having a cross-campus event on social entrepreneurship in the library would certainly help promote this topic as well as the library as a promoter of and partner in solving problems in our community. I already have strong connections to the cross-campus entrepreneurship program. Would my time and energy be better served by trying to better connect with programs I don’t have strong connections with?

So to be determined. But at least the library tried something new.


Business model for the Social Entrepreneurship Competition

Business model © Dr. Dianne Welsh, 2019 (which some small additions)
Financial form © Noah Reynolds, 2019.

A. Business Overview

  1. Describe your idea and business model: Who does what with whom and how? Who pays for it?
  2. Financial value proposition: Why is this great idea from a monetary standpoint-for the people investing in the service or product? For the target market?
  3. Value proposition: What is your niche? Who are you selling to and why are they buying your product of service?
  4. Vision: What is the ultimate objective of your plan?

B. The Industry & Market

  1. Customer Identification: who is the target population, consumers, non-profits, or businesses? (B2C or B2B)
  2. Market size, analysis and forecast: What is the need?
  3. Industry analysis and forecast: Who else is delivering this service already? What is the outlook on this type of activity?
  4. Your competitive advantage: What makes your business or nonprofit the best qualified/positioned to deliver the good or service you are proposing?

C. Financial Analysis

  1. Funding sources: Where will the money actually come from for the activity? What funding already exists or is committed?
  2. Discuss assumptions and capital requirements.

D. Funding/next steps

  1. How much funding does your plan require to get off the ground?
  2. How much time does your plan require to get off the ground?

E. References

F. Financials: fill out the four boxes below

Financials set 1


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Summer Krstevska is the business, economics & entrepreneurship librarian at Wake Forest University; she is co-creator of Bizlabratory. Steve Cramer is the business librarian at UNC Greensboro; he writes This Liaison Life. They co-wrote this post, which was published at both blogs.

SC: Summer, how has the transition to working from home going for you? 

Summer Krstevska visiting Steve's workstation

Summer Krstevska visiting Steve’s home workstation

SK: I suppose I had the opposite experience of most people that I work with. Before starting at Wake, for 2 years I worked for National University. National has mostly online classes, and prior to that I worked for an English language learning institute, Education First, where I taught English as a second language from home for almost 4 years (at times full-time, other times part-time). When considering that, the move to online and WFH, really feels like returning to something familiar. I really can’t complain, especially because in this case there is so much additional support due to our current circumstances. Everyone is trying to help each other out and is empathetic, even many publishers are opening-up their resources for free use during this time! The feeling of community is surreal and much appreciated, both within Wake, the profession in general, and between myself and my friends and family. Have you noticed this, Steve?

SC: Yes I think so. Even [that one very annoying business content vendor] has been respectful, ha. My department has been meeting every day for hourly “water cooler” sessions. We use Zoom with its grid view (or the “Brady Bunch mode”, a reference that, yes, dates my childhood). But there is also plenty of stress among many of my colleagues and also lots of students. We have UNCG students who suffer from food insecurity, for example, and sending those students home doesn’t necessarily solve that problem, particularly if they had on-campus jobs that they can’t work anymore. Yesterday I had a consultation in my WebEx office with a UNCG student from Berlin. She is on our golf team and was in Arizona for a big tournament when the team suddenly had to fly back to NC; a few days later she was back home in Berlin with her family, where she struggles to work with her student teams given the time difference. Summer, at National, you primarily worked with remote students. How did that work experience help prepare you for how we are serving our students and faculty in this crisis? Is it any different now?

SK: My previous experience prepared me to be ‘camera ready’. I’m not shy about turning on my camera and pulling together resources (video, etc.) that supports use of our resources. I think the only difference between providing distance services at my previous job compared to now, is that it was the norm and now providing these services comes with so many uncertainties behind it. Policies are changing daily and weekly on what services we’re offering, for example if we’re buying materials or what hours we’re monitoring the chat. But, on the brighter side, the current circumstances also seem to bring an air of empathy. The expectations for our services are reasonable and students and faculty are understanding as we work to figure out what the new normal is. There’s so much messaging around just trying something and that it won’t be perfect the first time, which is completely true.

SC: Yes! Very true. For example, the first day of classes after our unexpected, second spring break, I spent the evening meeting online with each team in our evening executive MBA capstone class, in which I’m embedded as a research consultant. To me it seemed a normal set of online consultations (UNCG has had online programs for years) but the following weekend one of the students emailed me this:

Hi Steve, Thanks for the information and research but more importantly thank you for having the call and bringing some normality to a chaotic week. The casualness that you had for the video portion of the call helped me tremendously for my next online class (Tuesday) where I had to present a case study. It was a very simple thing and something that you are likely very accustomed to but it was pivotable…Thanks again. Your touchpoint was beneficial in getting used to the new normal. Also the information presented was helpful in confirming & expanding our research.

I guess that’s a reminder that we liaison librarians can have an impact on our students beyond just dropping research knowledge, maybe now more than ever. I was happy to get that student email out of the blue. What has surprised you about our new normal so far?

SK: What has surprised me is that I really feel a difference in regards to my physical and mental state. I feel less tired, both physically and mentally. Most days I feel really motivated when I start working. I think I’m better at taking care of myself in these WFH circumstances, not that I’m perfect at it by any means, but I feel a difference, so that must speak to something.

SC: Wow, that’s great. I wish I could say the same! Carol [my wife who is also a WFU librarian] brought home her office chair and now I wish I had done that. But I’m trying a back cushion this week. I certainly don’t miss my 30-minute commute and do enjoy taking a long walk every workday at 5pm. And I do now sympathize more with my colleagues who don’t have windows in their work offices, since I’m working out of our windowless den. So during the work day I frequently step outside for a few minutes of sun. And I’m wearing shorts but also a button-up shirt for classes and consultations.

SK: I too have found that I am much more purposeful in these WFH circumstances about getting outside regularly. I am also more aware of how much (or unfortunately at times, how little) I’m moving my body. I’ve been doing my best to regularly workout at home and go for walks! I am quite jealous that you live in a much more walkable neighborhood than me! There are no sidewalks near where I live, well there are a few but they end abruptly! I feel so lucky to have great windows in my apartment and a small balcony, though our home office has been thoroughly taken over by my husband, who worked from home prior to COVID-19 (completely fine by me, I find I like to change up where I’m doing my work). I do not miss having to spend a good chunk of time in the morning getting myself in business-casual dress for the business school! I’m enjoying wearing my yoga pants with my blouses! It has been a relief of sorts to go to meetings and see everyone, whether it’s my colleagues from the library or the business school or students in a one-shot, in a slightly more casual setting! Despite the crisis and the distance, the feeling of community is strong. We seem to be building a stronger bond as we go through this together and allow each other to be more open and vulnerable.

Steve Cramer visiting Summer's home workstation

Steve Cramer visiting Summer’s home workstation

SC: You mentioned the feeling of community earlier. Probably like many others, I’ve been checking in with some library friends, ex-interns and mentees and colleagues around the country. We are lucky that business librarians are a well-networked bunch and so member-oriented organizations like BLINC, the Entrepreneurship & Libraries planning group, and BRASS are providing opportunities for us to connect and share. Hopefully for our CABAL friends too. Now is the time for liaisons of all stripes to ask their groups and sections to do something to foster online support and community if their groups aren’t already. If not, dump those groups! Find better ones. Or create one with a friend or two. And at the risk of sounding like I’m sucking up, we appreciate your leadership with BLINC in this time of crisis, Summer, thank you.

SK: Thank you, Steve. It really has been so comforting to know that we have these various outlets to reach out to for help and that folks are out there listening and willing to help, I just want to do my part in this sense. I completely agree with you that this is the time for liaisons to take advantage of the connections they have and bring folks together or to use this time as an opportunity to make new relevant connections and offer their expertise. Prior to working at Wake, I did more work that was faculty-facing. There was a much heavier demand on me to work together with faculty to curate course materials, create and collaborate on library instruction videos, and to work directly with instructional designers and IT. Those instincts still exist because when we first were told to start WFH, I reached out to the few instructional designers that our business school has to offer my support in finding course materials. I also had scheduled one-shots prior to the outbreak, so once I started WFH, I reached out to the faculty and offered to go do a live-Zoom session or create some videos to place in their course guides. The timing is perfect because everyone is looking for assistance and is open to trying new ways of doing things! I’ve now been asked to join a team that is developing an orientation course for the online MSM program.

SC: Oh, very cool, good luck with that project! I’m glad your b-school is recognizing (and utilizing) your mad skills. This crisis is hopefully an opportunity for liaisons to get involved with their academic programs in new and expanded ways. “Never let a crisis go to waste” or something. I have heard from a few friends that they and their liaisons haven’t had to work with distance education before and so are kind of scrambling to learn the tools, strategies, and etiquette. From what I’ve heard so far, these are typically flagship public campuses or highly prestigious private schools? But public librarian friends working from home are also now starting to do online programming and consults. What special projects are you working on in response to the stay-at-home order?

SK: I’m currently working to host a book club in coordination with a local non-profit organization in Winston-Salem, called Venture Cafe. This book club was being planned for months prior to COVID-19, and we have decided to go virtual! So, I’ve been spending some time reading the book, Thinking Outside the Building by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and thinking about how I will lead and prompt the discussion in an engaging way! I’m looking forward to discussing Kanter’s theories on social entrepreneurship! I’ve also been working on planning BLINC’s upcoming workshop, I believe it will be BLINC’s first virtual workshop! Unfortunately, I think we will have to shorten our gathering time, just in considering best practice for online conferencing. Typical BLINC workshops take up most of the workday, from around 9am-3pm, and they have a heavy focus on socializing and networking! Somehow, I don’t think 6 hours of Zooming will be as enjoyable, but I’m hoping 2 – 3 hours will be (that’s my initial thoughts as I start planning at least). I’m looking forward to trying out the new format and seeing what others in the group think of the experience. You know that my Research Methods for Entrepreneurs for-credit class ended as usual half way through the semester, before the campus was shut down, but your for-credit class runs through the spring semester. What happened in March and how’s it going? 

SC: So as I wrote recently, I was at SOUCABL (you too!) when everything started going crazy. My class was already cancelled for Thursday, March 12 since I was away at that conference, but we learned by Saturday that all classes were cancelled for the next week to allow students to go home and for faculty to have time to convert their on-campus classes to an online format. We met via WebEx on March 24, our first class since March 10 (and the week before that was the regular spring break). The students all reported they and their families were doing ok, and that they did want to meet synchronously at our normal class time. I was very happy to hear that since real-time interaction with students is maybe my favorite part of teaching. And most of our class periods in April focus on using their new research skills to try solving problems, which best happens through discussion and collaboration. One of the students is in the Army and I was afraid he would be called up, but not so far. He has a baby at home, who he sometimes needs to tend to during class — I wish he would show us the kid on camera! Sounds pretty cute. In our most recent session, one student had a maintenance worker come into his apartment to fix something and as per a new requirement in his complex, the student had to leave the apartment to obey social distancing. So during our practice time, he had to call back into WebEx on his phone while hanging out on his tiny balcony for 30 minutes!

SK: That’s great that they wanted to meet synchronously! I think the students are searching for routine and socialization! We’ve mentioned community a few times already, but it really is so heartwarming that not only librarians are coming together to support one another, but that students, faculty and staff are as well! With these virtual circumstances, I think we all have a funny story of interruptions (pets, spouses, etc) or technical issues that have come up during our meetings or classes! I think these are moments that open us up to each other. We see each other in these situations and we relate easier to one another! I’m glad we’ve gotten the chance to collaborate during this time! Good luck in April, Steve!

SC: Thank you, Summer, you too! Good luck to everyone. 

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Final dinner at SOUCABL (pre-social distancing)

Final dinner at SOUCABL (pre-social distancing but we used our own tongs) [credit: Summer Krstevska]

Final post about SOUCABL. (Here’s the first & second.) Yes, I’m stretching my conference reporting out this time but people often like shorter posts, right? And this topic is worthy of standing on its own.

Among SOUCABL’s formats were 50-minute roundtable discussions. I love roundtable discussions at conferences and so submitted a proposal. The topic of getting involved with classes came up in an online BRASS discussion last fall and ended up being the longest topic of that session. (That was a nice change of pace from a typical focus on high-end financial products that most of us business librarians don’t have access to.) So getting involved with business classes seems to be a hot topic. Maybe under-discussed?

My proposal got accepted. But a few weeks before the event, the conference planning chairs informed the discussion leaders that instead of a 50-minute session with a small group, we would have 15-minutes each with five small groups who would rotate in and out of our rooms. So each SOUCABL attendee would get to engage with all five discussion topics but only for a short time. An admirable goal but our complex topics needed more time to support a quality conversation.

Nonetheless, here is a summary of the short conversations, followed by text from a one-page handout I created after learning about the format change. I was saddened to hear how many business librarians are struggling to get involved with classes. One librarian was actually very involved with teaching and I encouraged her to start writing and/or speaking about her successful outreach. The five groups ranged from 1 (why?) to 6 persons in size. The one-person group was the representative from WRDS; we ended up chatting for 15 minutes about trends in data services in libraries.

My roundtable submission:

Many business librarians report obstacles and frustrations with getting involved with classes for research instruction, in-class team consultations, and other types of classroom engagement, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In this round table, we will talk about the challenges but also our successes, sharing strategies that others might want to try.

These were the questions I submitted with the proposal:

  1. What challenges have you faced with getting involved with business classes?
  2. What strategies have you tried that worked?
  3. How are you leveraging your research expertise, your library’s subscription content, and your existing relationships with faculty? (ok, that’s really three questions in one)
  4. What advice would you give other business librarians to get on the other side of classroom door?

What the librarians said

  • [An early career librarian in a new position] I asked to do a one-shot for a new faculty member. That class (one of my first) didn’t go well and I’ve haven’t been able to get back into that class, but that professor and I actually became and remain friends. My one-shots in other classes got better.
  • One professor keeps changing their expectations for my teaching topics each time. It’s hard to have to start over my planning each time. Once the prof asked me to adopt an organic approach and let the students suggest the research topics for me to teach. But I use reflective practitioner techniques, which helps. Maybe next time I simply should give the professor a limited set of choices for my teaching objectives!
  • I’ve only had 10-minute slots to speak to a core accounting class. So I made a Mergent Online tutorial and provided some drop-in labs. Still working on getting my foot in the door.
  • [An early career librarian in a new position] I had 5 minutes to talk to an MBA hybrid class – so just enough time to introduce myself and make my marketing pitch about library services — but was successful in generating follow-up consultations.
  • One prof calls me an “information bad-ass”. I love that.
  • I teach about 35-40 one-shots a semester and also teach a three-credit class on corporate social responsibility once a year, and a HR class once a year.
    • By teaching those for-credit classes, I have gotten to know the management faculty really well.
    • I have office hours in the business school three days a week.
    • Don’t do much for accounting and finance though.
    • I have a background in sales and that experience really helps me do outreach as a librarian. I market myself often. “How can I help you?” “How can I help your students do better?”
    • My profile picture features me wearing a bright pink coat. That coat has become an icon for me. Students and faculty often mention it.
  • We need to make ourselves relatable and approachable. We need to get out there to where the students and faculty are.
  • I have a presence in the required organizational communication classes each year. Adjuncts teach the many sections of this class, so it takes work to connect with them. One strategy: commando gift giving – I get to class early with a gift bag of library knickknacks. I also worked on building a relationship with the advisor to all the sections, who makes sure each new adjunct adds me to their class schedules. So be proactive.
  • I was asked to cover too much and the class didn’t go well.
  • I have had more success with adjunct faculty than with the tenured and tenured-track faculty. The adjuncts worked in industry, understand the value of business intelligence, and are more open to change.
  • [Early career librarian in a new position] I have been identifying the research classes and case study classes. Still looking for leads!
  • Faculty interest in open education resources has helped me get engaged with classes.
  • I work closely with a marketing class. The students really need our databases. I consult with each student team and the students are more comfortable asking questions in their small groups.
  • Most of my faculty are tenured and aging. Many use old teaching notes and class plans. But I have benefited from word-of-mouth advertising. I’ve had success teaching business research to engineering and science students.
  • My library has had a shift in senior leadership, and we have new instruction librarians who are very into the ACRL frameworks. The frameworks seem to work better for the writing of traditional academic papers. My faculty don’t care about those concepts; they emphasize real-world decision making.
  • The newly finalized business research competencies are very useful.

My handout:

Study your target market:

  • Curriculum mapping: what are the core classes? Required classes?
  • Writing intensive classes (assuming research is involved)?
  • Experiential learning and community-engaged classes?
  • Data analytics classes?
  • Identify your library (and library database) champions among the faculty.

How to talk to faculty:

  • Use their language (look at the syllabuses), or the language of industry, not libraryland language.
  • Example: not “library databases” but “big data analytics tools”, “industry/market analysis products,” or “proprietary research tools used by industry.”
  • Not “information literacy frameworks” but “data analytics” and “competitive intelligence.”
  • And you are a Business Research Consultant (and trainer) as well as a Business Librarian.

Leveraging your successes / telling your stories:

  • Save the “thank you” comments you receive in person and via email, and the positive statements from students’ “1-minute essay” assessments.
  • Share those short messages with the faculty teaching your target classes.
  • Also tell them your workshops will make their teaching easier via higher quality student projects (assuming that quality research is required of course).

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This is a follow-up from Monday’s post.

On Thursday morning, Tripp Wyckoff (Florida State) kicked off the main conference day with a thoughtful introduction. Here is a paraphrase based on our collective SOUCABL notes (set up by Nancy Lovas, UNC Chapel Hill, thank you, Nancy):

We need to acknowledge our fear. We are in the middle of something few people ever have experienced. This conference is here for a reason – to help academic business librarians in this region communicate better. After this conference, we need to keep in touch, even if at home, and continue to support each other. Finally, be kind. This is a time when we have to hold together and keep positive feelings.

My favorite programming of the conference were the 20-minute presentations on Thursday afternoon. The 20 minutes included a 5-minute Q/A and each speaker was asked good questions from the appreciative and engaged audience. Abstracts are available but the talks were actually more conversational than many of those abstracts suggest.

Allison Cruse

Allison Cruse

“Hope Is Not a Strategy: Making the Most of One-Shot Library Instruction for Strategic Management Courses,” Allison Cruse, Western Carolina University

Allison is the new business librarian at WCU (and a new BLINC member). Allison discussed having to re-create library liaison contacts and relationships with the business school. Through those efforts, she identified “things I do not recommend”:

  • Trying to do it all
  • Talking theory
  • Placing the focus on tools
  • Making assumptions

Allison views each class session as a marketing opportunity — a chance to demonstrate her value as a liaison, build relationships, and promote library services.

She is doing one-shots in the required capstone class MGT 404 “Strategic Management” class: 440 students in 15 sections. The students create a strategic plan to support a local small business (community-engaged, experiential learning). She is having success encouraging student consultations as follow-ups to her one-shot instruction.

Allison briefly described two classroom active-learning activities she has been using:

  • Brainstorming PESTE factors (environmental is often challenging for students to understand)
  • Dissecting IBIS reports – students find specific data/trends/characteristics for their industry and identify each using a shared Google Document. (Students don’t realize they sometimes should use more than one IBIS industry report.)

One assessment tool she uses is a “Nicolas Cage Scale of Academic Preparedness” visualization. It was hilarious but I can’t find it online. Allison, did you make it yourself?

Allison Gallaspy

Allison Gallaspy

“Business Librarian and MBA Student: Peer and Practitioner,” Allison F. Gallaspy, Tulane University

Allison recently earned her MBA. Her abstract isn’t too long, so I’ll quote it all:

Confession: I failed at getting my group members in an MBA class to cite resources from library databases in a research project. If my role as a peer researcher isn’t enough to get students to see the value in developing good information practice, what does that mean for the work I do as a practitioner? This presentation will describe the assumptions I made about part-time MBA students’ information behavior, attempt to ascribe some motivation to their choice of resources via interviews, and begin to define what good information practice would look like for a part-time MBA student.

In her research study, she asks how effective is the librarian in promoting good information practices among students. What Allison learned:

  • Research practices can vary widely among members of the same group.
  • It’s hard to communicate the value of good research practice when resources are scarce.
  • The students tend to display linear thinking in their information retrieval.

She created a survey and had seven responses. Some of the findings:

  • Students do only enough research to meet the assignment’s requirements.
  • They are constrained by the scarcity of resources for many topics.
  • They have major time constraints.
  • They don’t know where to start their research/which databases to use.
  • They satisfice.

Allison plans to expand this study and would be happy to work with a research partner.

[In the Q/A, I suggested that the problem of MBA students not using much quality research is usually not the fault of the librarian. MBA education can be as much about team training and building a cohort as about learning management theory and skills. In the capstone client class at UNCG, the MBA teams generally don’t include citations in their final recommendations because the clients aren’t very interested in the research – the clients focus on the team’s recommendations. If the client is curious about the research and data, they will ask.]

Amanda Kraft

Amanda Kraft

“Vis-à-vis: Using Springshare Data to Expand and Improve Business Librarian Visibility,” Amanda Kraft, College of Charleston

Amanda is both the business and user experience librarian – a neat combination! Well, maybe too much work… Slides posted at bit.ly/soucablvisavis.

Amanda’s library is at the opposite end of campus from the b-school, but that gives her an excuse to stroll through beautiful downtown Charleston while officially working. (Sometimes it’s really humid though.) The b-school has excellent facilities and so there aren’t many spaces in the library that the business students need. The Starbucks and the quiet zones are exceptions.

Amanda explained their liaison data collection practices, leveraging their 6 Springshare products. She showed us some data. One example was the daily hourly distribution of the students (starting at slide 12). She also presented data on when consultations were scheduled.

Amanda has staffed a table in the b-school and the campus Student Success Center. She discussed data for those outreach efforts too.

Jennifer Wilhelm

Jennifer Wilhelm

“Career Collaborators: Using Library Resources to Help Students Reach their Career Goals,” Jennifer Wilhelm, Texas A&M University Libraries

Jennifer provides a collaboration and outreach success story. From her abstract:

…how an initial collaboration between Texas A&M’s Business Library and Collaboration Commons and the Mays Business School’s Center for Retailing Studies has grown into a robust collection of partnerships. What started as a table at a career fair has grown into workshops, research guides, and presentations, and has expanded to include other career centers and student affairs departments.

Jennifer received her MBA last week. Her library has a goal to support the students’ career searching needs through their entire college journey:

  1. New to this
  2. Continuing their path
  3. Job seeker
  4. Graduate

Her LibGuide: http://tamu.libguides.com/CareerResources

I think Jennifer will be publishing on this work. The business students earn points through workshops and visiting booths at campus fairs. One set of co-curricular workshops with the Career Center failed to attract any students, alas.

I spoke on “What I Learned from Creating a Library-Funded, Cross-Campus Social Entrepreneurship Business Model Competition”. In May, after the competition is (hopefully) finished, I’ll post the full story at this blog.

Catherine Staley (Loyola Notre Dame Library) was going to speak on “Goals, Gifs, and Gaffs: Learning from a Failed Flipped Classroom” but couldn’t make it. Hopefully Catherine will present or write this up elsewhere/when.

Finishing up the day of programming (before the day’s happy hour) was Matthew Pierson, a research director for WRDS. He had 40 minutes to present from a long slide deck on WRDS data trends. We learned right away that most WRDS usage involves CRSP first and Compustat second, together accounting for 65% of usage. The rest of the data usage is a very long tail of datasets.

Matthew also presented data by type of user and access method (example, PC-SAS usage is much higher than using the website). Usage by any access method is highest in the summer.

WRDS is doing more with unstructured data, text mining, too. A WRDS R studio and Jypiture Lab studio are in the works. Eventus has a free equivalent in WRDS called Event Study.

Ernie Evangelista

Ernie Evangelista

In the previous post, I mentioned what happened to the Friday morning plenary speaker. Instead on Friday morning, we first got to hear Ernie Evangelista (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta) who proved to be an engaging speaker with a focus on audience interaction.

Ernie talked about and quizzed us on the history and roles of the Fed. He reviewed how the 12 Federal Reserve Banks are private and quasi-governmental in nature. Each one focuses on regional data. Industries of focus for each vary by bank too, and we had fun trying to guess certain core industries by location (ex. Native American lands? Construction and home improvement stores? Gambling? Tech?)

We volunteered major data repositories from St. Louis:

Fed sites new to me:

Friday programming ended in late morning with round tables. I led discussions of “Opening the classroom door: stories and strategies for getting involved with business courses and curricula.” Stories from the SOUCABL librarians were not quite what I expected to hear! More on that next time, my final post about this conference.

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Catching up

Sorry about the slow rate of posting this fall. Besides the usual liaison workload, I had three co-writing projects (a book chapter, conference proceeding, and an article still in progress), ELC co-planning (see below), and co-submitting an experiential education program to USASBE.

Some recommended reads since summer:

  • Becoming a librarian for Computer Science by the Pegasus Librarian (Iris Jastram from Carleton College). Jastram has been a primarily a literature and language librarian but writes about picking up this new department. I love how she adopted a subject-centered and student-centered approach to beginning this new liaison work, using the field’s concepts and terminology instead of starting with a more traditional librarian info lit approach. She has also written recently about differential privacy in the Census 2020.
  • Where’d you go, Ruby Chen? by Ilana Stonebraker. Powerful post about caring for the students in your class (or students missing from your class). Congrats and good luck to Ilana on her new position.
  • Lots of good stuff this fall from the three biz libratory authors, including discussions of instruction (one-shot, embedded, and for-credit) plus a guest post on intensive work with data consultations.

Update on the ELC 2020

ELC 2020 homepage snapshot

ELC 2020 homepage: https://entrelib.org/

In late June, I wrote about BLINC being offered the Entrepreneurial Librarians Conference brand and turning it into a new Entrepreneurship & Libraries Conference.

Planning the ELC 2020 seems to be going well. Starting with 8 or 9 BLINC members, the planning group now includes about 20 public, academic, and special librarians from the U.S. coast to coast plus one librarian from Toronto.

We are about finished with the big picture planning. The conference will have two full days (Nov. 12-13) plus a half day (Nov. 11) afternoon preconference (or maybe two) followed by a rooftop kick-off party.

There will be four tracks of concurrent sessions:

  • Community Engagement, Economic Development, & Outreach
  • Instruction & Programming
  • Resources & Spaces
  • Entrepreneurship Outside the Box [the miscellaneous track]

And there will be four types of concurrent programs:

  • Panels & presentations
  • Lightning rounds
  • Experiential instruction/programming exercises
  • Discussion circles

We plan on two hours total of plenary talks/panels, one hour of posters, and several social/networking events plus the Ebsco-funding pitch competition.

The web site will be updated very soon with those details plus the “conference at a glance”. The dates of the call for submissions will follow later this winter.

Planning discussions

The planning group has collaborating through online meetings, emails, and collaborative writing via Google Drive. Two early questions we discussed were:

What makes for a good conference? What specific thing has happened at a conference that you really liked?

After that discussion, we began brainstorming how to design the ELC. As with any good discussion and brainstorming, there were differences of opinion (although mild), ideas mentioned and affirmed multiple times, and ideas only mentioned once.

In the process, we have learned a lot about what entrepreneurship librarians want in a conference plus what training and professional development they need and desire.

What does this tell us about the state of entrepreneurship librarianship? What follows is my take on that topic. These are summaries, of course – not every librarian in our planning group wants the same thing nor thinks the same way despite my use of “they” below. And the sample size for entrepreneurship librarians is small. So grain of salt.

What entrepreneurship librarians want

“Cross-pollination” – interacting, networking, and learning from a mix of special, public, and academic librarians. They don’t want to see entrepreneurship librarians getting too cliquey by type of library.

Emphasis on practical content over research and theory. They prefer practical tips and ideas most librarians could try and implement, not presentations of services that only the most well-funded and well-staffed libraries could provide. Similarly, they want feedback from other entrepreneurship librarians on their instructional techniques.

Content and training useful for all experience levels, including for librarians with no experience supporting entrepreneurship and limited to no knowledge of the core concepts. They asked each other to think of the needs of librarians and paraprofessionals who are asked to work with and support entrepreneurs but are not officially business or nonprofit librarians. But experienced entrepreneurship librarians need useful content too.

A variety of sessions through the day. “Go from a panel to a lightning talk, networking event, to poster session, to an active learning session,” one librarian wrote as a their preference.

Frequent networking opportunities, including mentor-match opportunities. They hope that conferences help build connections and relationships that last well past a conference’s last day.

They want to learn from ecosystem partners and other experts from outside libraries.

They also want to learn more about the information needs of entrepreneurs. What are the pain-points of entrepreneurs? Can the library help with those pain-points? (This was a very popular topic in our discussion.)

They believe in social equity and want to support a mix of entrepreneurs that includes minority, women, and immigrant entrepreneurs. They are interested in helping under-resourced and under-served communities and individuals tap into resources and services available in our local ecosystems.


The process of creating a presentation, book chapter, article, BLINC workshop, or conference can be as significant an experience as witnessing the final product, especially if you meet new people and build connections along the way. That has certainly happened with ELC 2020 planning. At the end of one of the brainstorming discussions, one team member typed:

I am so excited to work with everyone on this.  This conversation has been a highlight of my week–I love how engaged and enthusiastic everyone has been.  One of the best online meetings I’ve attended ever!

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The usual business librarian gang promoting the Charleston Conference wasn’t as vocal in its promotion as in past years, but there were nonetheless even more business librarians at Charleston last week. Advocates of this conference might get annoying on occasion with their gushing praise, but much of their enthusiasm is justified – Charleston is indeed very interesting and useful and packed with learning and networking opportunities.

Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor

While some conferences seem to struggle with breaking from strongly held traditions, this conference seems to emphasize continual improvements. For example, the time devoted to plenaries continues to get rolled back. When I first attended Charleston, the plenaries (speakers, panels, satirical skits, etc.) started at 8:30 and rolled on until 12:30 or so. That was so draining! This was back when all conference activities fit inside the Francis Marion Hotel. This year on Wednesday morning (now using the performance hall at the Gaillard Center, a short walk from the hotel), there was a plenary talk by the Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, followed by a plenary panel on scholar communication trends. Then concurrent sessions for the rest of the day. On Thursday, the only plenary was a talk by new Elsevier head Kumsal Bayazit (first female CEO of that company).

New this year was a consultation service for job hunters on Tuesday during the Vendor Showcase. Out this year was the “fast pitch” competition, in which libraries competed for money to try something new at their library. That event was interesting but maybe the donor dropped out. Charleston (and USASBE) are innovative conferences I’m looking at closely as we plan our own Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020 conference.

My big regret this year is that I never made time (well, played hooky) to put on my walking shoes and stroll down the peninsula past the old houses, gardens, churches, synagogue, and cemeteries to the harbor front.

So here is another long conference review. My next blog post will be different, I promise. I might write about “What entrepreneurship librarians want in a conference” based on our interesting planning discussions so far for the ELC.


Vendor showcase

Mintel's Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

Mintel’s Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

Carol and I drove down on Tuesday and then visited the Vendor Showcase (the one-day exhibit hall). Every year more business information vendors come to Charleston. One of the first-time vendors this year was Mintel. And each year more business vendors attend the programs (and socials) on Wednesday through Friday. While visiting vendors, I promoted Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020, since we are interested in partnering with vendors in a few different ways.

ProQuest focus group

I had to leave the showcase a little early to attend a late-afternoon “Juried Product Development Forum” with ProQuest’s Jo-Anne Hogan, who I met at a BLINC workshop two summers ago. About ten of us attended. I sat with Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (U Penn/Wharton) and Corey Seeman (U Michigan/Ross). We didn’t have to sign a nondisclosure agreement since we were not looking at a product under development. Instead, ProQuest asked us to provide context and details for different types of business research that happen each semester on our campuses. After discussing those journal maps, we next designed our own preferred homepage layout for a database that would cover all ProQuest business content. Then we compared our designs. Some of them were quite different, depending on our specific target audience (we were asked to pick one): perhaps first year students writing a short paper, or an MBA team working on its capstone consulting project. I came away from this product development forum with increased awareness of how hard it is for a business vendor to please all of its markets and users. (Jo-Anne told me a day later that she was glad the ProQuest interface expert who was also present at the forum got to hear firsthand from business librarians about our special and challenging needs.

After dinner, Ian Hertz (Winston-Salem State University) and I had a nightcap with our friend Juan Vasquez from SimplyAnalytics.


“Pain Points and Solutions: Bringing Data for Startups to Campus”

Kelly LaVoice (Business Information Librarian for Collections, Vanderbilt University), Daniel Hickey (Librarian for Business & Economics, New York University), and Mark Williams (Head of Collections Services, Massey Law Library, Vanderbilt University)

Kelly, Dan, and Mark provided a fast-paced, slide deck-free panel discussion. They summarized the growth of entrepreneurship and incubators on campuses. As a law librarian, Mark provided a different perspective. He teaches a for-credit class on legal aspects and resources for entrepreneurship. All three discussed the need for datasets and data feeds. Collaboration with other campus units (such as the b-school) for purchasing high end products is often necessary. Consortial efforts, too. Sometimes a resource is licensed only for the business students. Negotiations for academic access can be tricky. “Back-channel discussions” (talking to other librarians) can be a big help.

Best practices:

  • Understand the needs of your users.
  • Work closely with e-resource librarians about entrepreneurship needs.
  • De-silo-ing across campus – get other units involved, sometimes they have funding available.

Key take-aways:

  • Advocate as a team, not as an individual.
  • Build relationships outside of the library.
  • Advocate for academic-friendly licensing.
  • Partner with vendors – a more effective approach than an adversarial “us versus them” mentality.

Q/A topics:

  • Our practices [supporting cross-campus programs; dealing with unusual databases and datasets] will become more common among other subject areas — business librarianship is ahead of the curve.
  • Vendor access to a campus but not to the tech transfer office or incubator? Yes, sometimes.
  • Mintel sometimes collaborates with academic researches, sharing data and access in exchange.

“ ‘I Don’t Want to Go Among Mad People’: Adventures in Establishing Good Communication between Subject Librarians and Technical Service Departments in a Large Academic Library”

 Jennifer Mezick (Collections Strategist, University of Tennessee) and Elyssa Gould (Head, Acquisitions & Continuing Resources, University of Tennessee)

This program was a “lively discussion”, which means 70 minutes with a focus on talking to each other and minimal use of slides. (Most other Charleston slots are 40-minutes long.)

UT Knoxville recently went through a big reorganization. Through focus groups with technical services and liaisons, they learned that communication was a big issue – often inconsistent and uneven. Use of tools (like Google Drive, email, and libguides) varied widely. There was also a lack of understanding of shared goals. Some liaisons thought tech services was too beholden to standards and policies; some tech services folks thought liaisons could get too focused on boutique services, which are sometimes driven by a single patron with an unusual need or request.

Outward-facing liaisons often work with patrons with upcoming deadlines, while tech services may not be feeling that time pressure. And often those liaisons are not in the library when tech services need to talk to them – the liaisons are out teaching in classrooms, meeting with faculty or working in a research center, etc. Meanwhile liaisons are often not aware of the workflows built into tech service operations by necessity. So culturally based miscommunication.

What is working well in the UT new organization? They are working hard to build relationships between departments. Subject group meetings. Holding Acquisitions Department office hours in the main library (that department is no longer located on main campus). Share licensing agreement issues with liaisons. A liaison is serving on a search committee for an e-resources librarian and has learned much about how tech services works. Perhaps a tech services person should serve on the next liaison search committee.

“Bringing Some Stranger Things of Streaming Video up From the Upside-Down World: Research Insights from Faculty and Students”

Christine Fischer (Head of Technical Services and Associate Professor, UNC Greensboro), Michael Carmichael (Head of Visual Media, SAGE Publishing), Elizabeth Ellis (MLIS Student, LIS Instructor, UNC Greensboro), and Dina Samora (Program Chair, Organizational Leadership, Colorado State University Global)

Use of streaming video databases continues to increase in higher education according to many metrics. Key issues: rights, training, and accessibility. UNCG’s assessment team surveyed faculty and students on their use and perceptions of video as a teaching tool. Elizabeth summarized some faculty findings:

  • Video can be a partial solution to lack of literacy skills in students.
  • Gives more control of learning to students.
  • Given the large selection, it can be overwhelming to find the most useful videos in the stream video databases (sometimes the library liaison helps).
  • Lack of stability in the offerings can be frustrating and challenging.

Student findings:

  • They prefer the library databases over consumer streaming services.
  • They appreciate guidance from faculty in finding good video content.
  • They use videos on multiple devices.

Wednesday networking

Sunset view of the Francis Marion Hotel

Late afternoon view of the Francis Marion Hotel

After the streaming video session, I met up with Victoria Poole of Mergent on the roof of a new hotel (a re-developed art deco government building) overlooking the park with lovely views of the rivers and the sunset. We discussed a Carolina Consortium deal we are working on and also the ELC 2020.

Next was the ReferenceUSA happy hour for business librarians. InfoUSA’s Jeremy Groen and Jeff Jones have organized this event at the Victor Social Club for several years now. They kindly welcome other business vendors too. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture (too busy socializing).

Some of the folks left this event for the all-conference reception at the aquarium that ended the day’s activities.


The morning keynote/defense by the new Elsevier CEO was interesting but I’m sure Library Journal and other pubs will cover her talk. She was a good speaker.

“A New Sense of Campus Privacy? Are Libraries Out of Step?”

Reverse direction from the above

Reverse direction from the above picture (from our hotel room)

This provocative program began with Darby Orcutt (Assistant Head, Collections & Research Strategy, NC State University Libraries) challenging us to reconsider some old traditions in libraryland.  He argued that libraries sacrifice improved services and usability with our “knee-jerk, holy grail” attitude toward privacy. (Yes, this was an opinionated introduction, but the two other speakers got into specifics.) Our users face much bigger issues in their lives that strict library privacy: high drop-out rates, increased tenure costs, high student loan debt, discrimination and institutional racism, etc. Can we use library data analytics to better support students? Other academic units on campus try to do that. Darby asserted that our devotion to extreme privacy represents a generational, white, privileged, and Western (individualism) mindset that has dominated libraries for too long. Interesting, I would like to hear more about that.

Doreen Bradley (Director of Learning Programs and Initiatives, University of Michigan Library) discussed how a few years ago her campus began utilizing “learning analytics in all directions” to support the students – but the UM libraries were not. The librarians were not at the table supporting this student-centered institutional goal. So they decided to get involved, using campus and IMLS grants to explore how the libraries could support learning analytics. They updated the library privacy statement, adding  “…may collect some data to improve services.” She argued that library data is indeed an institutional asset. The library analyzed the library data of HAIL Scholars (high-achieving, low-income students). After instruction session, HAIL Scholars engaged with the library at twice the rate of all students. UM students can now get their checkout history, for which they have been asking for years, according to Doreen.

Stopwatch Session 3: Faculty & Researcher Services

Thanks to my short attention span, I like lightning rounds. I presented one once and it was hard to be so concise! These folks did a good job, though. Here is one summary from this session.

“Adventures in Streamlining Research Data Services: Through the Looking Glass of an Academic Library’s Data Services Team”

Brianne Dosch (Social Sciences Data Librarian, University of Tennessee – Knoxville)

Brianne is a new librarian. She is also the Psychology liaison. To better serve data services on campus, three functional and subject librarians — Data Curation Librarian, STEM Librarian, and Brianne — recently formed a data team. The team members represent two departments in the library. The campus also has a business librarian who provides data services, but that librarian isn’t interested in joining this team yet.

Challenges in team formation: different levels of knowledge, skills, and length of tenure at UT; the different definitions of research data services; the need to learn much more about RDS needs across campus. The team is working on environmental scans (chat transcripts, reference transactions, lit review, existing UTK library assessment).

“Leading from below: Influencing vendors and collection budget decisions as a subject liaison”

Min Tong (Business Librarian, University of Central Florida), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (Business Reference & Resource Development Librarian, Lippincott Library at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), and me

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

We facilitated this lively discussion on one aspect of serving as liaison. The discussion had good turnout, about 30 folks including many business librarians and also vendors (not just business vendors) plus a smaller number of e-resources and collection development librarians.

Our discussion questions included:

1. What are your biggest challenges in terms of content, pricing, and licensing when pitching a new subscription ?

2a. If you are a subject/liaison librarian: What other strategies do you use when you are pitching to your decision makers?

2b. If you are a decision maker: How can your subject librarians better communicate and work with you?

2c. If you are a vendor: How can you better assist the subject librarian with making their case to the decision maker?

3. How can we influence vendors about product development, pricing, and licensing as subject librarians but not budget controllers?

4. How else can librarians and vendors work together?

from our lively discussion

from our lively discussion

Ideas and comments from the small groups:

  • Translate library language for vendors. Translate business language for other librarians.
  • Vendors: share your academic customer list. That helps liaisons show that your product and its licensing has worked for other campuses.
  • Vendors, please don’t directly contact faculty, unless it is a very specific interaction. Work through the liaison instead.
  • There can be tension between social science, humanities, and natural science liaisons. It’s useful to have collection development heads who aren’t liaisons and therefore would be more neutral.
  • The lack of standard usage statistics (like COUNTER) for specialized products can be a challenge. [Cynthia, three vendors, and I talked about this last year.]
  • Vendor webinars during a trial period help make the trial more useful.
  • It can be really challenging to be in a sales role! Sometimes librarians don’t realize that. Vendors “lead from below” in their organizations as well.
  • Sometimes looking at the licensing before negotiating access and pricing options helps.
  • It’s hard for vendors to understand the workflows and processes that go on in libraries, and who is involved.
  • Librarians need to value the expertise of vendors and be generous with feedback.
  • Make sure communication goes in both directions.
  • Some vendors have business librarian advisory boards. Those are useful.
  • Some vendors don’t have a dedicated academic sales representative. Liaisons can tell when a vendor understands the academic market.
  • If vendor recognizes a problem and reports to their boss, there may not be much impact. But if librarians complain, the impact is much greater.
  • Pricing: flexibility is vital. Total campus FTE is not the only option. Consider just the b-school population, for example.
  • Tie a resource request into campus wide initiatives and goals.
  • Seek alliance among other subject liaisons for products with broader appeal.

Stopwatch Session 5: Collection Assessment

“Of Database Assessment & Budget Increases: A New Data Management Strategy”

Anna Milholland (Business Librarian, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, William & Mary)

Anna is a former BLINC member and now a CABAL officer. I enjoyed catching up with her in Charleston. Anna is based in and employed by the business school but liaises with the main W&M library. The budget for business databases comes from the b-school and has increased. [Later I told her I was jealous.]  The school wanted a reassessment of the mix of databases available, and wanted to consider more than usage statistics. So Anna benchmarked other business schools with similar rankings. She adopted a 75% threshold for the benchmarking: if 75% of peers subscribed, then her library should also subscribe.

Anna also mapped the curriculum and considered faculty research trends, interviewing the majority of the professors. To help manage this data, she applied some marketing concepts. I’ll quote from her abstract here to ensure I represent her short talk correctly:

By applying the Marketing concepts of Points of Parity (POP) and Points of Difference (POD), benchmarking database subscriptions, mapping them to the curriculum, aligning data sets with faculty research expertise and institutional strategic strengths, and socializing decisions with key faculty and administrative stakeholders, librarians at institutions of varying sizes can confidently add new resources, feel empowered to replace underutilized and undervalued subscriptions, and effectively advocate for budget increases.

Anna, your talk would make a good article.

“Wait, I don’t just become CEO of a Fortune 500 Company? Helping Students’ Gain Foundational Skills for the Academic to Workforce Transition”

Lauren Reiter (Business Librarian, Penn State University Libraries), Corey Seeman (Director, Kresge Library Services, University of Michigan), Jason Sokoloff (Head, Foster Business Library, University of Washington), and Kristi Ward (Director, Library Editorial, SAGE Publishing)

Kristi moderated this panel and asked a series of discussion questions.

What resources and approaches are needed to support essential skills in the workplace?

  • Not just books and journals!
  • It’s not just business students using business content – example, cross-campus entrepreneurship.
  • Many students are now creating their own job, not just wanting to join a large company.
  • Soft skills are very important too.
  • Many students are aware they lose access to database after graduation. Increased demand for databases that alumni can use.

Entrepreneurship and soft skills development?

  • Students often want to create a local, small business, not just venture capital-funded enterprises with a goal of going public.
  • ENT + Engineering: much collaboration across campus.
  • Campus commercialization endeavors also contribute to library business needs.

What are current business library opportunities and challenges?

  • Students [and faculty] want everything but we don’t have unlimited budgets.
  • Library culture can be the biggest barrier to supporting our patrons — example not supporting a database that requires users to create a personal account.
  • Providing access for multi-location campuses.
  • Academic-use only licensing considerations.
  • A true entrepreneurial idea should be an innovative business model and product or service. Therefore there will be no directly relevant secondary data and reports.
  • Dealing with ambiguity and proxy data (the next best data) is an important learning outcome.

How do business librarians handle assessment and ROI, given there is much competition for business resources as well as changing student needs?

  • Evaluate overlap.
  • Trying to find a proxy for the missing data.
  • Cost per use. But usage calculation varies for less traditional databases.
  • Track research questions – often suggests a new trend.
  • Importance of learning how to deal with ambiguity in b-school curriculum.

Trends in placement?

  • Consulting continues to be big.
  • But more students are pursing non-traditional roles: small business, nonprofits — types of organizations that don’t come to campus for interviews (unlike the big consulting firms).

“The Future of Subscription Bundles: Big Deal, No Deal, or What’s the Deal?”

By this point on Thursday, I was getting tired and so my notes are brief for this one. Beth Bernhardt (Oxford University Press) read a short opening statement from Tim Bucknall of UNC Greensboro, who couldn’t make the conference. Tim lamented the increasing number of sweeping and factually incorrect statements from library deans lately. He provided some examples from within the Carolina Consortium, comparing a couple of crazy comments (no names mentioned) with the actual data. These deans seem to be out of step with the big deals their libraries are participating in. As transformational deals increase in number, accurate data and facts are vital as we explore these new deals.

Other comments from this session:

  • “Open access is free like free puppies.”
  • “Our choices not limited to “grow big deal” or “cancel it.””

Whew. Carol and I had a late afternoon break before enjoying a lovely Lebanese dinner with Kathleen Gignac from Gale Group.


Friday is a half day at Charleston. It begins at 8:30am with the “Long Arm of the Law” plenary, one that many folks really look forward to each year. We learned about the newest (or old ongoing) legal cases and trends involving copyright, fair use, and publishing. It always ends with one lawyer and the whole librarian crowd singing a legal parody pop song. Really!

Stopwatch Sessions 7: Scholarly Communications

Final set of lightning rounds. I found these two the most interesting.

Carol Cramer, WFU

Carol Cramer, WFU

Carol Cramer (Head of Collection Management, Wake Forest University) discussed “What We Can Learn from the Big Deal that Never Was.” WFU has all but one of the biggest big deals. The price increases of that missing publisher have been higher than that of the other publishers. Journals from the missing publisher dominate ILL requests and requests for individual subscriptions.

Adam Blackwell (Project Manager, ProQuest) discussed “Your IR is Not Enough: Exploring Publishing Options in Our Increasingly Fragmented Digital World”. He began with a story of faculty members in Germany who initially were interested in talking to him about a digitization project. Then those faculty learned that ProQuest is a for-profit company and they all canceled. With that context in mind, Adam discussed the value of having one’s dissertation in the big ProQuest database as well as in one’s one institutional repository. Benefits include better Google Scholar indexing, quality assurance, backups on secured servers around the world, and indexing (depending on subject) in databases like PsycInfo, MLA, etc.

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