Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

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

Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

Vendor showcase

Mintel's Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

Mintel’s Alison Agnew and Sarah Blaney

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

ProQuest focus group

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

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

Best practices:

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

Key take-aways:

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

Q/A topics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student findings:

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

Wednesday networking

Sunset view of the Francis Marion Hotel

Late afternoon view of the Francis Marion Hotel

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

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

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

Thursday

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

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

Reverse direction from the above

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

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

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

Stopwatch Session 3: Faculty & Researcher Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

Cynthia Cronin-Kardon and Min Tong

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

Our discussion questions included:

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

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

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

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

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

4. How else can librarians and vendors work together?

from our lively discussion

from our lively discussion

Ideas and comments from the small groups:

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

Stopwatch Session 5: Collection Assessment

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

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

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

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

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

Anna, your talk would make a good article.

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

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

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

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

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

Entrepreneurship and soft skills development?

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

What are current business library opportunities and challenges?

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

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

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

Trends in placement?

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

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

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

Other comments from this session:

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

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

Friday

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

Stopwatch Sessions 7: Scholarly Communications

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

Carol Cramer, WFU

Carol Cramer, WFU

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

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

Read Full Post »

NCLA 2019

NCLA, our state library association, holds its conference every two years. There is periodic discussion about holding the conference every year, like Texas and Virginia do. In conference years, the NCLA budget is strong; in the off years, the budget is weak. Some of the quieter sections of NCLA don’t provide much value to their members between conferences, so holding annual conferences would help those members get more out of their sections. Reuniting with old and new friends, seeing former interns now as happy professionals, and making new contacts are always highlights at NCLA.

BLINC (the business librarianship section) has always been quite active at the conference, on top of offering quarterly workshops in both conference- and non-conference years. This year we had four programs plus a vendor-sponsored dinner and a vendor-sponsored happy hour. This schedule reflects BLINC’s emphasis on training and also networking.

Mary Scanlon and Summer Krstevska

Mary Scanlon and Summer Krstevska, BLINC’s past and future chairs

As the outgoing chair of BLINC, I attended a program titled “There’s Space for Us All: An Introduction to NCLA” in which each chair could provide an elevator pitch about their section to the new members. Here was mine:

BLINC is a community of folks who value networking, socializing, mentoring and peer-mentoring, and frequent free workshops. Every time someone joins our Google Group, the chair welcomes that person with a message to the full group, and usually five or six other members reply with their own greetings. That behavior illustrates our organizational culture. In terms of content, we cover small business, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, and economic development.

As in 2017, the conference met in Winston-Salem. I live right on the edge of downtown and so enjoyed being able to walk to the convention center. Downtown W-S continues to grow and I think most of the folks at the conference (900-1,000) enjoy the easy access to many restaurants and breweries, plus the retro arcade, indy arts movie theater, ax-throwing bar, Mast General Store, nonprofit bookstore, arts district, and the newest attraction, a cat cafe (across the street and 3 doors down from the convention center). You can probably tell that I’m proud to live there and have enjoyed the changes Carol and I have witnessed since we moved there in 2001. But I better move on to summarizing what I learned at the conference…

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Libraries’ Expanding Role as Catalysts of Community Change

Two librarians from High Point Public Library, Mary Sizemore and Mark Taylor, joined EPA Program Manager Chip Gurkin to discuss how this downtown library became a leader in the fight against food insecurity. The library partnered with local groups and the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program to create several initiatives.

Part of the library parking lot was rebuilt into space for a weekly farmer’s market. Cooking demos and classes happen there now too. Mary, the library’s director, joked that “ I didn’t think I would be running a farmers market when I was in library school.” The library also hosts a community garden, leveraging support from several local organizations: county health department, a local food security nonprofit, the High Point University pharmacy school, the High Point Economic Development Corporation, local churches, Home Depot, and others. A local church provides free, healthy lunches for the local homeless once a week in the library.

I think I was the only academic librarian at this program, which was disappointing since this library illustrated proactive community engagement and creative library-as-place so well.

Make it Stick: Active Learning Techniques for Programming and Instruction

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

BLINC members Mary Abernathy (Salem College) and Betty Garrison (Elon University) discussed how active learning helps move learners from passive to engaged learning. After summarizing the core concepts, Betty talked about a one-shot class she taught involving family history and immigration. She asked the students to record the full names and birthdates of their parents and grandparents. One student pulled out their phone to call grandmother and ask. Betty and the professor were ok with that and quickly other students called home too. Then the students began looking up their family in HeritageQuest. At least one student called back the grandmother while in class to report the findings!

General suggestions: find what resonates with your students. Have them fill out or develop ideas using a shared page in Google Drive. Try a digital scavenger hunt. Have them look up a favorite public company in the Morningstar database. Get students to move around — use the white board, form teams, come and get supplies, what have you.

Mary and Betty asked us to share our favorite active learning strategies on poster boards spread out across our room. There was a lot of small group discussion. Betty summarized and some audience members expanded on what they noted, with the microphone being passed around. There was a strong vibe of engagement and sharing in this session.

Comics in the Academic Library: Alienated Superheroes, Feminism Dystopias, and Graphic Memoirs

Steve Kelly and Meghan Webb from Wake Forest University discussed their process for creating a graphic novel browsing collection on the main floor and then creating a comic book reading club. Steve discussed acquisition and cataloging issues. Per book, this new collection is much more popular with students than the long-established general browsing collection. The library expanded the graphic novel collection based on this data.

Slides at http://Bit.ly/ncla19comics

The book club helped the library collect feedback from both students and faculty on the collection. Discussions often expanded into broader social and cultural issues related to the stories in question. Recent titles for discussion include March, Bitch Planet, Black Hammer, and Persepolis. Most meetings attract 10-15 students. Student activities fees are used to buy the books for book club participants.

A lesson learned: synthesizing collections and programming can lead to success.

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner at Spring House

Wednesday night was the BLINC dinner sponsored by SimplyAnalytics at a fancy downtown restaurant in what was an old mansion. Steven Swartz and Juan Vasquez were our gracious hosts. After drinks and appetizers in the former library in the mansion, we dined in a private garden-view room. A handful of BLINC retirees joined a bunch of new members and us older members for a lively time.

Thursday, Oct. 17

2020 Census: Counting on Libraries

Bob Coats is the North Carolina Governor’s Census Liaison, based in our State Data Center. Bob updated us on the Census 2020. Good attendance at this one. He is an engaging speaker and super knowledgeable — BLINC should invite him to workshop sometime.

Bob provide a quick history of census-taking, starting from Rome, pre-empire. He told us the English word comes from “censere” meaning “to estimate”.

No Bob picture so here is the BLINC dinner menu

Besides congressional reappointment, he noted the use of census data in federal funding, to understand our local communities, and as foundational data to many other surveys, models, estimates for the next decade. [We could add here use of each decennial census by the market research companies like EASI, ESRI, MediaMark, and Nielson/Simmons to provide their own demographic and psychographic data.]

MSAs will get redefined in 2023.

NC will probably gain 1 or 2 seats from population growth between 2010 and 2020. However, the urban and suburban areas are getting most of the growth. Most rural counties had small growth, no growth, or some decline in total population. Not unlike other states.

The urban/rural divide is reflected in American Community Survey data on “no home internet access”. Since the Census will no longer be using paper forms, internet access will be an issue next year. Libraries will be asked to help people fill out their online forms. There was much interest in the room in discussing community awareness and questionnaire assistance. Bob mentioned https://census.nc.gov/ and a toolkit at https://www.census.gov/partners/toolkit.pdf

Bob showed us the https://www.census.gov/roam site — “Response Outreach Area Mapper” — areas with higher percentage of no-returns. There is also the Census Engagement Navigator.

Lots of concern and energy in the room.

Finally, Bob talked about how the Census will be masking some data that we used to have access to, due to privacy concerns and ever-growing data processing power by our computers — differential privacy. A big concern for many. Maybe we will have to rely on Census data processed by the market research companies like ESRI and EASI to have access to that level of detail.

Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em: Reinvigorating, Reinventing (and Occasionally Relinquishing) Library Outreach Programs

Hu Womack and Meghan Webb of Wake Forest University discussed some of their outreach programs but also assessment and when programs needed to be revised or simply retired. The “fold ‘em” (yes, they played that song) aspect was particularly interesting since conference programming and articles tend to focus so much on successes.

Most of the innovative and creative WFU outreach programs are documented at the library’s Flickr site, so I’m going to be lazy and refer you to those pictures instead of summarizing all the programs.

Hu and Meghan are outreach librarians. Many of us do outreach as subject liaisons, a narrower scope of activity for a narrower target population. But the encouragement to always consider if a program needs to be reframed, revamped, scaled back, or shut down applies to liaison outreach too.

You’re in business: Four free & NC LIVE resources for non-business experts

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College), Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill), and John Raynor (High Point Public Library) provided this training session for librarians who are not business information specialists. Using the frame of “What questions do you need to ask for opening a plant nursery?”, they covered ReferenceUSA, SimplyAnalytics, and ABI-INFORM (all part of our state-wide NC LIVE package).

John rivals Juan Vasquez as one of the best speakers and trainers on SimplyAnalytics. John introduces that database as a tool to “turn detailed, daunting tables of data into colorful and meaningful maps…our human brains have evolved to work better with color, shape, and pattern” rather than tabular, numeric data.

John likens filters to “a series of hurdles [as in track and field, he had a picture of this]: “Your mapped geographies need to clear each hurdle to finish the race and show up on your map.”

Nancy and Sara’s sections were equally useful. At the end, they answered questions regarding ABI v. Business Source, the industry reports within the ProQuest Business suite, and the creation of tables (not maps) in SimplyAnalytics.

BLINC Happy Hour

BLINC happy hour

BLINC happy hour at Small Batch (first wave)

Two years ago after NCLA 2017, John had suggested that BLINC host a happy hour on the Thursday before the all-conference reception. This year, we tried out that idea at the brewery across the street from the convention center with sponsorship from ProQuest (Jo-Anne Hogan and Dawn Zehner). Dawn was able to join us. We had a good time. (Jo-Anne wasn’t at this conference but will be at the Charleston Conference next month.)

Friday, Oct. 18

Developing your personal brand as a librarian

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

Angel Truesdale (UNC Charlotte), Ingrid Hayes (Rockingham County Public Library), De’Trice Fox (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library), and I (all BLINC members) did this program. De’Trice ended up double-booked and couldn’t make NCLA but did provide slide content.

Slides and resources.

Angel, Ingrid, and I began by providing our elevator pitches as examples of what we hoped the participants would craft for themselves in this program. Then we covered our slide materials before asking the attendees to form small groups and start drafting their own brand messages. Three brave volunteers took the mic and shared the pitches they wrote.

Raising your Library’s Profile: Making your Community Relationships Work for You

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

Morgan Ritchie-Baum (Greensboro Public Library) and Summer Krstevska (Wake Forest University), more BLINC members, profiled community engagement projects they initiated. Both librarians are fairly new at their libraries and have been building their professional networks and growing relationships with local partners.

Slides and a handout with tips and resources.

Morgan’s library has hosted meetings for the local Small Business Center, but the librarians have not really been involved. She asked if she could staff their registration table, which provided her an opportunity to meet everyone. Then Morgan got five minutes in front of everyone to pitch her services and the library business databases.

Later Morgan organized a nonprofit resources fair with the Small Business Center and 14 other partners. Over 80 people (plus local media) attended.

Morgan’s final recommendations: Research your relationship. Begin by just showing up. Promote that your library offers more than just spaces. And document everything.

Before moving to WFU, Summer was the business librarian for the National University in San Diego. This institution has 26 campuses and presence in 56 countries but just one library. That library had a goal of more programming. Summer created an entrepreneurship series: start up stories, business planning workshops, and a business plan pitch competition. The SBDC was an important partner, and Wells Fargo provided a grant. 120+ folks attended. Three student ventures won financial support.

Summer’s best practices: don’t take it personally when folks say no; don’t choose entrepreneurs at random, likewise with community partners. Have a theme, or stick to a local strength, like a local growth industry. Don’t forget to mention what’s in it for them. Be persistent. Name-drop when necessary. Choose entrepreneurs that own businesses that you personally are passionate about and have a connection to.

Friday lunch

The conference wrapped up with a big lunch at the convention center. Afterwards another BLINC member and I slipped away to a brewery to enjoy an adult beverage and conversation about work. And with that chat, our NCLA 2019 ended.

Read Full Post »

Catching up

This will be the last post here before the fall semester begins — officially begins, at least. On July 31, I had 20 incoming students from our new online PhD Business Administration program in the library for a 2-hour workshop. So the semester has really already begun for me. I had a lesson plan based on active learning (student teams presenting the pros and cons of scholarly research tools like Scopus, Google Scholar, Business Source Premier, etc.) that I use for classes with year-3 PhD students writing a prospectus, but this new cohort was so talkative and eager to ask questions that we ended up covering the planned learning outcomes through discussion and conversation instead. (We did do some computer work together.)

I hope you read Elizabeth Price’s guest post on her adventures leading business students in a semester-abroad experience in Antwerp. When I first read Elizabeth’s draft, I laughed out loud twice. She’s a good writer and shared some interesting lessons learned from her very embedded experience.

This fall I hope to make time for a couple of posts on general liaison issues. At the Charleston Conference in November, Min Tong (U. Central Florida), Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (Penn), and I will be leading a “lively discussion” (one of the formats there) on “Leading from below: Influencing vendors and collection budget decisions as a subject liaison”. I’ll try to post a summary of that discussion and other Charleston learnings.

Also, there have been some changes in our liaison organization, a once frequent topic here at this blog (example post). I can’t write that I’m particularly happy with what has happened in the last few years, but we might try some new approaches this school year. So given the past detailed coverage of our reorganization here, I should probably write an update on that this fall.

But let’s focus on business librarianship one last time before classes resume…

Today’s topic

Fred the Bear welcomes you to Belk Library

Fred the Bear welcomes you to Belk Library

Last Friday, BLINC met in Belk Library, Appalachian State University in Boone for its summer workshop. Leslie Farison, the ASU Business Librarian, was our host. A dozen friends assembled for the workshop, fewer than usual, but not an unexpected number given the location on the edge of the state and the season. Two librarians were first-time attendees and we gave them a warm welcome. Some folks came up with their families for a short mountain vacation; one of us spent Friday night camping on the Blue Ridge. The weather was lovely, ten degrees cooler than down in the Carolina Piedmont.

Our agenda consisted of recently requested topics that didn’t fit cleanly within our recent themed workshops. So sort of a grab bag or a short attention span agenda:

  1. Introductions and updates: what’s new with you and/or your library?
  2. Teaching business databases in social science classes
  3. Collection development: How are you selecting business books for the circulating collection? What business reference books are still useful? Other collections issues?
  4. Advanced SimplyAnalytics

We began the workshop in a top-floor conference room with a pretty view of campus and a few mountains. Leslie arranged food and coffee. In the introductions and updates, many BLINC friends talked about new and ongoing economic and community engagement projects. Those projects are always interesting to hear about and often inspirational too.

Teaching business databases in social science classes

Dan Maynard of Campbell University led this discussion and provided some examples from his campus. He focused on two NC LIVE (state-wide access) databases, ReferenceUSA and SimplyAnalytics, that provide geographical data.

Dan Maynard leading the discussion

Dan Maynard leading the discussion

Dan looks for classes that focus on “small places” such as rural and micropolitan areas, custom-defined geographies, or identification of specific populations and establishments. Recent examples at Campbell include identification of local food systems and food deserts, public health education work with locally owned restaurants, researching a town of 646 people, and analyzing a specific social enterprise zone in eastern North Carolina. Dan displayed course descriptions that focus on communities, social change, and engagement – those classes could be targets for outreach too (time permitting, he added).

Other applications for these databases from our discussion:

  • In a community college, an upper-level English class writes social science papers on a social issue of interest, and local data must be included;
  • Several campuses have business writing classes within the English department;
  • From a public library angle: a nonprofit focuses on local social, educational, and economic development and needed help understanding the nature of downtown neighborhoods;
  • Helping an artist become an arts entrepreneur (even she didn’t use that language).  In the example, the BLINC librarian helped an artist use SimplyAnalytics to define her market (“interest in art shows” variable) and then that data “flipped a switch in her brain” regarding how so-called “business” databases also apply to her situation.

Lunch

BLINC friends at the F.A.R.M Café

BLINC friends at the F.A.R.M Café

We walked over to Boone’s little combination college town/mountain gateway downtown street with hardly a chain restaurant to be seen [ok, there was a Jimmy John’s and a Ben & Jerry’s]. Most of us dined at the F.A.R.M Café, a nonprofit community kitchen serving healthy food where everyone is welcome (“Food Regardless of Means”). The restaurant is in an drug store space (think soda shop in the back). Social entrepreneurship! A local church started it up. It was busy for this Friday lunch; we arrived right before the noon rush.

Collection Development

After lunch, we reassembled in a computer classroom on the ground floor, near Fred the Bear (see picture above). Morgan Ritchie-Baum of the Greensboro Public Library led a discussion of collection development. BLINC talks about data and databases all the time, but it’s probably been too long since we discussed other aspects of collections such as managing print book collections.

Morgan Ritchie-Baum leading the discussion

Morgan Ritchie-Baum leading the discussion

Morgan began by telling us this was her first weeding project in her career. Her library’s business collection hadn’t been weeded 10 years and needed attention. (Greensboro Public’s emphasis has been on ebooks.) Morgan used a CREW Method 5/3/MUSTIE weeding policy (“Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding”; MUSTIE explanation – these were all new to me).

Morgan’s discussion questions:

  • How are you selecting business books for your circulating question?
  • Print or digital? What are your patrons asking for?
  • How are you selecting and deselecting titles for your business reference collection?
  • What business reference books are still useful?
  • Are print business reference books still useful?
  • How are you tracking usage of your business reference collection?
  • Is repurposed space more important than space for print reference collections?
  • How big a part of your job is collection development?

Most of us reported little to no usage of print business reference books. The ratio books, Gale Business Plan Handbooks, the NC Manufacturers Directory, and the S&P Industry Surveys were still used sometimes. (We then discussed the electronic versions of those titles.)

For circulating business books, there was still significant interest from patrons for print copies. Someone mentioned Jennifer Boettcher’s zombie list project.

Morgan shared lists of resources for collection development:

  • Library newsletters (NYPL, Grand Rapids, Free Library of Phily)
  • BRASS outstanding titles
  • Reference guides from BRASS and the Library of Congress [BLINC librarians in the room have worked on both sets]
  • Lists of core collections from the U. of Florida
  • Plus the more general publications like CHOICE, Charleston Advisor, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, and the book review magazines

SimplyAnalytics

Our final workshop topic was advanced applications of this database and also how to make decisions from the data. I led the discussion with some preparation help from SimplyAnalytics’ Juan Vasquez. Steven Swartz contributed by increasing the number of concurrent users at ASU that day, and temporarily giving the campus access to the Simmons Local dataset, which isn’t in the NC LIVE dataset package but is used by some of us in the state. (MRI is in the NC LIVE deal.) So maybe a lesson here is that vendor reps are often happy to help with peer-training when you ask.

We voted from a menu of topics and decided to focus on:

  • Manipulating the legend;
  • Nature of psychographic data;
  • When to use tracts and block groups versus other types of geographies with variable populations (zips, counties, etc.);
  • How to determine local market size or potential;
  • Filters (we spend a lot of time building good filters and understanding their visualizations in maps and tables).

Final round of community building

Lost Province Brewing Co. of Boone

Lost Province Brewing Co. of Boone

After officially ending the workshop at 3pm, most of us had time to visit a downtown brewery for some more socializing. That was fun. There was also some discussion there and at lunch about for-credit classes some of us are teaching, and about the Entrepreneurship & Libraries Conference. Sara Thynne and I will be rotating off of BLINC leadership and will soon be focusing on co-chairing that conference along with Morgan.

So ended the BLINC summer workshop and now the fall semester is welcome to arrive.

Read Full Post »

Wrapping up the semester

Exams at UNC Greensboro end today (Thursday) but my semester wrapped up Tuesday afternoon with the final presentations in MKT 426: International Marketing, the Export Odyssey class. The event took three hours and included three visitors: our SBTDC partner Owen George and two of the company representatives. I hosted the reps while Professor Bahadir was busy up-front grading and managing the team transitions. Half of the students were graduating, and for many this presentation was the final work of their UNCG career.

Unlike last semester, there were no presentation flops this time – all the teams did at least a good job presenting their research and recommending a detailed export market strategy based on that analysis. A couple of teams struggled to articulate their recommendation for the nature of the channel of distribution (i.e. “place” in the 4 P’s such as “indirect sales to a wholesaler” or “direct sales to major hotel chains”) based on their industry and customer identification research. But we asked them to discuss it more and eventually they got it right. This was an example of trying to make decisions based on research, perhaps the main goal of business research instruction. (This comes up later in this post.)

One student team’s company was AEG International, which exports the Firefly product: a solar-powered battery to run lights and power mobile phones. Firefly was developed in West Africa to support rural communities with no electricity. (Note the pictures on that page.) The students proposed having an NGO that serves rural areas in Senegal to distribute the product to its potential users. Professor Bahadir and I hope to have teams work with AEG on their additional products in the future, maybe their water purification product.

While walking back to the library after the final presentation, I bumped into a student who recognized me. His name is Vincent, finance major about to graduate. He reported he had three exams to go and looked tired already but stopped to thank me for the research workshop I led in his FIN 442: Investments class last fall. He said his team didn’t know what they were doing with their research project on Tesla until my workshop, and they ended up with a decent grade on that project because of me. I don’t do that much for the finance program, so this comment warmed my heart. Vincent has a summer job in Research Triangle Park (where BLINC met last time) and hopes to land a full time job in RTP after that. I wished him well.

On return to the library, our LIS intern Ashlea was working the Information Desk. She told me this was her last desk shift as she too was graduating. We exchanged a hug and I asked her to stay in touch as she begins her professional career as a librarian. And on these happy notes my school year ended.

Today’s topic

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

A few academic librarians in BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) have a tradition of gathering at the end of the spring semester for a 3-hour discussion of trends too narrow in scope for a general quarterly BLINC workshop. Mary Abernathy, our BLINC member from Salem College, hosted this event on Wednesday. Salem is the oldest, continually operated educational institution for women in the United States. The Moravians who settled Salem (nucleus for what became Winston-Salem) founded this institution before the American Revolution as a girls’ school. There is also a high school for women next to the college. (Old Salem is a neighbor; my pictures here are actually Old Salem pictures although the college is very pretty too.)

This year six friends were able to meet. Four of them were new members of BLINC and early-career business librarians, bringing energy and fresh ideas to our discussions. Before drafting our agenda, we asked Angel Truesdale from UNC Charlotte for an update on how she and her colleagues were doing after the shooting there last week. She reported that emotions remained high but that they were moving forward. Angel was not on campus the day of the shooting but was helping staff the library the next day.

We agreed to this discussion agenda:

  1. Measuring faculty research impact
  2. Programming for business students in the library
  3.  Instruction:
    • Classroom engagement and workshop design
    • Use of instructional tech
    • Assessment of business research instruction
  4. Summer projects: what do you focus on?

Any confusion in this summary of our discussions is my fault.

Measuring faculty research impact

Betty Garrison of Elon University introduced this topic. She and her colleagues are doing a lot of work in this area. Betty helped create a library guide on “Measuring Your Research Impact.”

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

We discussed marketing strategies for reaching professors on this topic. Summer Krstevska of Wake Forest University suggested than an informal and personal strategy can be more effective than mass emails. Focus on building relationships, meeting in person outside of the library, etc.

We discussed our faculty status (or not) on campus and how that status can help or hinder us. The status of librarians at UNC Charlotte is complex, Angel reported, but at least her dean is a member of the faculty council and is able to advocate for librarian expertise and services.

Angel also affirmed Summer’s focus on the personal touch. Angel uses a mail merge to email her faculty, so that the faculty member’s name is included in her opening line. She does get more responses that way, it seems. She also advocates for making friends with business school staff persons. Those folks are often key gatekeepers and holders of key information.

Several of us email the new faculty hires and new PhD students each August with personalized greeting and offers of teaching and research support. And attending scheduled research presentations in the b-school helps to get noticed (and to better understand the research the faculty are doing).

Angel created a visual graphic describing her services to faculty, as opposed to just using text.

Google Scholar now provides alerts for new publications with specific keywords, such as the name of your campus or the business school.

Business schools tend to highly rank journals from the big for-profit publishers like Elsevier. This could become an issue as more libraries and faculty senates reconsider supporting big subscription packages from those publishers. Stay tuned…

Programming for business students in the library

We discussed hosting special events in the library targeting business students. Ideas mentioned in our discussion:

  • Partner with the b-school on a co-branded program. (I mentioned the library-funded social entrepreneurship business model competition I need to work on this summer.)
  • Work with career services (also to provide research instruction to non-business students as they prepare for interviews).
  • Betty reminded us that the First Research industry reports (which NC LIVE provides via ProQuest) include sections on “conversation starters” and “call prep questions” – great for interviews, not just sales.
  • Partner with student clubs like CEO.
  • Nancy Lovas from UNC Chapel Hill discussed the Live Action CLUE game that her library system puts on each semester. (She played Professor Plum last time!)
  • Young business alumni can be interesting to current students (some alums could perhaps talk about the value of working with the business librarian and using databases too).
  • Consider livestreaming events for online students and satellite campuses.

Instruction

Given that four of us are newish business librarians, we talked a lot about making inroads intro classes for instruction time. Angel discussed her work with an accounting/ pre-business major class in which she provided drop-in lab support and research consultations. We talked about time efficiencies a bit here.

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene (flag represents the construction date of the building)

Nancy discussed the mere five minutes of class time she was allowed in a 400-student introduction to entrepreneurship class. There was some sentiment that short visits to large classes sometimes is a good strategy to get started creating productive engagements with students.

We talked about the sometimes tricky need to help professors create better assignments and research projects. This led to a really good discussion about the nature of teaching business research skills and information literacy. Summer lamented when students fail to apply research to making a decision. Or as students have put it:

  • “What do I do with this industry report or market data?”
  • “How do I apply this to my project?”
  • Or “What do I do next?”

We mentioned Ilana Stonebraker’s work at this point. Sometimes it helps to give students specific prompts:

  • Based on this demographic (and/or psychographic) research, who is your best customer?
  • Based on this industry analysis, how would you describe the long-term health of this industry?
  • Based on this financial benchmarking, what is a likely profit margin for your start-up?

Nancy discussed how she asks students to brainstorm their own research questions: “What do you need to know about this market or industry or company or business idea?” If looking at articles, “what are you looking for in the article?” Have them share their questions in a Google Document.

Don’t ask “Does anyone have a question” but rather “What questions do you have?”

Angel recommending looking at some of the products in Project Cora, which covers business research topics and specific business databases.

(In our spirited discussion of business research instruction, there was no mention of the frameworks, even though all of us are familiar with them.)

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

We discussed how we prepare for a workshop. While many of us usually have teams focus on their assigned or chosen topic (an industry, market, product, public company, local small business or nonprofit, etc.), Summer sometimes has all the students work on a product that is harder to classify than their officially assigned product for the class. She discussed how her example provides a deeper learning experience than researching the simpler, official product.

One of us likes to use mind-mapping tools, in which students develop a list of subtopics and/or research options for their assigned topic. Students still like Kahoot. Padlet can be a visually attractive alternative to a shared Google Document. Are tech tools like these effective or merely flashy? Well, students do respond well to the visual elements that these tools provide.

Nancy described an assessment research project she is working on. It will involve student use of a LibGuide with a test and control class. She is working on the IRB submission.

That was it for assessment, sorry. We were starting to get hungry but wanted to discuss one more topic before lunch.

What do you do in the summer?

For some of us, this will be the first summer as an academic librarian. What do you prioritize? How do you handle the sometimes very different workflow compared to the fall and spring when we are busy with instruction and consultations? (Of course this isn’t the situation with everyone. I just got off the phone with my fellow BLINC officer Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College, and Sara is no less busy in the summer.)

Some answers:

  • Betty’s library has weekly workshops for librarians and library staff. Departments take turns coming up with the topics.
  • Library faculty retreats and unconferences.
  • Updating web sites, LibGuides, videos, etc. Betty’s library devotes two full days for everyone to work on standardizing, updating, and improving LibGuides.
  • Mapping out a personal research agenda and writing articles.
  • Working through a “summer to-do” list used each summer. It covers updating LibGuides and videos, cleaning out email folders, desktop files, heavy-use folders, and paperwork in the office; updating social media professional profiles; adding possible conferences as well as fall semester embedded classes to the calendar, etc.
  • Updates to make, cleaning out my email folders, cleaning up my desktop and networked folders, etc.
  • Catching up on professional readings (articles and blog posts) saved up since the fall semester began.
  • Submitting proposals to fall and spring conferences (we briefly discussed our different travel funding policies).
  • Getting name and contact info for new incoming professors, PhD students, etc.

Then we walked up to Willow’s Bistro for lunch with a bit more work-related discussion but mostly socializing before bidding adieu.

Read Full Post »

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) met for its spring workshop last week Friday. You can’t tell from this lunch-time picture, but the flowering trees are now blooming over here in the NC Piedmont, and the daffodils are up and looking pretty. Well, the lack of coats on these business librarians enjoying lunch and networking outdoors is a sign of spring!

We met at the Frontier, a shared-work space, in Research Triangle Park, just south of Durham. It had been a while since we met in RTP. It’s pretty famous for being one of the most successful research parks in the country. It reflects the early, 1950’s, suburban model of research parks; only recently has the park become concerned with mixed-used development and more sustainable transportation options. In contrast, the newish Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter, where BLINC has met before, is largely built from downtown former RJ Reynolds tobacco factories. The Quarter is high-density and has lots of housing a short walk away. (However, we are still waiting for our downtown, full-sized grocery store.)

Around 20 business librarians, public and academic, attended the workshop. We had more public librarians than academic librarians this time, a nice change of pace. Four folks were first-timers at a BLINC workshop. We gave our new friends a special welcome.

Workshop description: “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream, but libraries have been helping people trying to solve problems in their communities for a long time. At this workshop, we will share and discuss library services and resources to support social entrepreneurs in both public and academic libraries.”

My notes are somewhat rough since I was also serving as the workshop coordinator, along with fellow-officer Sara Thynne of Alamance Community College. My apologies to the presenters and you readers.

Agenda:

9:30-10:00: Socializing over morning snacks and coffee
10:00-10:30: Introductions; what’s new with your work or at your library
10:30-11:30: Social entrepreneurship, part 1:
Steve Cramer (UNC Greensboro): Introduction to social entrepreneurship and how today’s topics fit together
Dan Maynard (Campbell University):  Lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs  as a Sullivan Fellow
Betty Garrison (Elon University): IRS 990 forms for nonprofit research and financial benchmarking
11:30-12:30: Lunch at the Food Truck Rodeo
12:30-2:00: Social entrepreneurship, part 2
Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill): The UNC Makeathon — students developing prototypes that promote positive social impact
Deanna Day (Small Business and Technology Development Center): Support organizations for social entrepreneurs
Steve Cramer: Simply Analytics (NC LIVE) v. PolicyMap v. Social Explorer for community indicators data
Final discussions facilitated by Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College)
2:00-3:00: BLINC planning discussions: NCLA 2019 additional program proposals and final decisions on our socials; topics for summer workshop at App State

Introducing the topic

I used the definition from UNCG’s Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship class:

“Social entrepreneurship is a growing field that depends on market-driven practices to create social change. Social entrepreneurs leverage available economic resources and innovations, to support their passion to have a positive impact on the global and local community.”

After describing a few examples from recent magazines and newspapers, we discussed core aspects of social entrepreneurship. Many of these aspects impact our consulting work with social entrepreneurs.

  • Includes for-profit and nonproft organizations (including triple bottom line companies: people, planet, profits)
  • The need to define and measure the problem being addressed, and the people involved
  • The need to have direct experience with target populations
  • And working in partnership with members of a target community, not swooping in to fix problems for them – that’s almost never helpful or effective or indeed wanted
  • Industry analysis, competitive intelligence, financial benchmarking, and market analysis are required – the same research required by general entrepreneurship — even if you want to start a nonprofit and your heart is in the right place
  • Social entrepreneurs can’t expect grant money to come in from local governments or foundations just because it’s a significant social problem and you are passionate about your proposed solution
  • Social entrepreneurs must think seriously about possible revenue streams, and will have to create an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow – whether nonprofit or for-profit

Lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

Dan Maynard (Campbell University) discussed “lessons learned about working with social entrepreneurs as a Sullivan Fellow”. Dan remains the only librarian serving as a Sullivan Fellow. From that page:

Dan Maynard

Dan Maynard on lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

“The Sullivan Foundation is focused on supporting faculty who are interested in incorporating social innovation and entrepreneurship into new or existing classes and/or proposed projects that serves to deepen knowledge of students interested in the field and faculty impact in the community.”

Dan has a lot of interesting stories to tell and recommendations to share. He presented social entrepreneurship in terms of the 3 M’s:

  1. Mission (useful work)
  2. Margin (it’s profitable)
  3. Meaning (“good work”)

The Sullivan Foundation focuses on rural and micropolitan places in the U.S. south — the kinds of places that often get ignored in discussions of trendy entrepreneurship.

Lessons learned:

  • Turn outward: everyone has aspirations: find out what they are
  • Discover your niche: deal with causes, rural issues, or urban issues. Don’t try to solve all the problems at once
  • Social entrepreneurship is not social innovation, social justice, service learning, or community engagement per se. It often involves those things, though. But watch out for folks with their own agenda but less interest in sustainable solutions
  • Be prepared for push-back from some faculty for using the “e” word. For some, entrepreneurship is a dirty word, a capitalistic idea
  • Be prepared to push back against administrators, bosses, sponsors, and funding agencies with their top-down pronouncements and top-down agenda (Dan gave a few examples)

Measuring outcomes: assessment or story telling?

  • Foundations seek storytelling and branding – human aspects, humanity on display. Not a spreadsheet of numeric assessments
  • Provide storytelling that earns name recognition
  • Assessment data is a fading emphasis in the foundation community

An example Campbell U story from Sullivan (Dan shared this link with us after our workshop – the story was posted the same day.)

Success stories sell, Dan asserts. He is getting more instruction and consultation requests on his campus as a result of Sullivan Foundation storytelling,

Dan is helping social entrepreneurs grow their networks and seek funding. Slow money, micro grants, and peer lending is happening in Dan’s rural county. It’s not just Detroit Soup anymore.

From the Q&A with Dan on academic implications:

  • A business schools are not the most fertile ground for social entrepreneurship — the arts and humanities are.
  • There is much less emphasis on traditional business plan writing [more on that after lunch].

We moved the IRS 990 discussion for after lunch.

Food truck lunch

The Frontier has “Food Truck Rodeos” on Friday, so we went outside and had lunch. That was fun. Easy to network and socialize on foot, and then we munched on benches.

Nonprofit financial research and benchmarking

Betty Garrison (Elon University) caught a bug and couldn’t make it, so I jumped in to cover this topic. Most of the BLINC friends had experience with the IRS 990 financial forms required for many nonprofits.

  • 501(a) organizations.
  • Due 5 ½ months after fiscal year ends
  • If under $200K in receipts, an organization can submit a shorter version, 900-EZ
  • Private foundations of any size submit a 990-PF that usually includes a list of organizations given funds with the dollars amount

Using some examples I pulled up from http://foundationcenter.org/find-funding/990-finder, we discussed using these forms for financial benchmarking and strategic insights.

Librarian support of the UNC-Chapel Hill Makerthon

Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) described the nature of this event and her role in it as the recently-hired entrepreneurship librarian. This is a new but already big event at her campus. https://www.makeathon.unc.edu/ . It lasts a week. Ideas must have a social impact focus. Many non-business students compete.

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Student teams present either an idea for a physical product or an app (apps are really popular). The teams use the business model canvas for their submissions and 12-minute presentations. Nancy provided research consultations for six of the teams.

Nancy has a research guide, https://guides.lib.unc.edu/lean-canvas, organized around the topic boxes of the business model canvas.

She also works with the campus’ social entrepreneurship hub, located within the Campus Y.

Nancy led a discussion on the business model canvas versus the business model versus the traditional business plan. Many of the public librarians hadn’t been exposed to these alternatives to the business plan.

Small Business and Technology Development Center & social entrepreneurship

Deanna Day (research consultant (and librarian), Small Business and Technology Development Center) discussed how the SBTDC supports social entrepreneurs. SBTDC is the “business and technology extension service of The University of North Carolina” [from that site]. So it covers the whole state through our 16 campuses.

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna provided some examples of SBTDC’s social entrepreneurship clients. SBTDC councilors also support students working on pitch competitions (I didn’t know that).

The councilors’ biggest concern when working with new social entrepreneurship clients: that the clients won’t be able to sustain their business/organization, and that their financial planning is undeveloped.

Deanna expanded on the financial challenges of creating nonprofits. From one of her slides:

  • Everyone wants to be a nonprofit
  • Because funding is difficult to obtain from traditional sources?
  • Most VCs and angels are not interested in social impact funding
  • Only 11% of big bets go to people to color
  • But other business structures can also be effective
  • SBTDC’s biggest challenge is clients who are not interested in developing a financially sound, sustainable enterprise

SBTDC now uses Liveplan, available to their clients. It works well, she reported. Banks and the SBA accept Liveplan reports when they consider making a loan.

Social data

 I talked briefly about Simply Analytics (which we all have access to via NC LIVE), PolicyMap, and Social Explorer as tools for social entrepreneurship.

Even though many of us usually turn to Simply Analytics for its deep collection of psychographic data, it has plenty of Census data too, which can easily be ranked by location as well as mapped.

PolicyMap has lots of free data and therefore is still useful without having a subscription. It has a robust collection of health indicators, not just Census data: CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Service, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Also HUD data on affordable housing. The PolicyMap blog is open access and had been very helpful to me: https://www.policymap.com/blog/

Social Explorer is very useful for time series data, since it has data back to the original, 1790 Census. Of course, the data back then was pretty limited in scope. For more recent years, it has data from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

Read Full Post »

Happy spring break! Well it’s that magic week at UNCG at least.

Catching up

Sorry I haven’t written here since before the spring semester began. We liaisons are busy people, right? I’ve had more night classes than usual this semester, for both one shot instruction (often graduate classes) plus two of my core embedded classes (for which I had to reduce my roles). I’ve also had some morning classes on the same day as the night classes, so a number of 12-hour days this semester. Tiring.

But perhaps also because of this trend:

UNCG business school enrollment trend

UNCG business school enrollment trend

The UNCG School of Human & Health Sciences has also grown a lot, while the Nursing, Arts & Sciences, and Education schools have been declining in enrollment. Interesting trends that will maybe someday have liaison staffing implications here if our subject assignments become partly informed by data? But I have to bear in mind business librarian friends like Ash Faulkner from Ohio State and Min Tong from U. of Central Florida who have over twice as many students in their liaison roles as me. Props to those hard-working professionals working their lean liaison programs.

Over 125 folks have filled out the survey my friend Betty Garrison from Elon University and I created on experiences with business librarian organizations. The results including the comments are very interesting and we look forward to writing them up. With Betty’s permission, I might share a few findings and comments from survey here this summer while writing about ACRL 2019 and BLINC programming. BLINC’s spring workshop in mid-March focuses on social entrepreneurship — outreach, services, instruction, and resources.

I also hope to write more about our explorations of librarian (and liaison) workload and evaluation guidelines. That task force has identified some interesting guideline examples from other libraries. Eventually our revised guidelines (if approved by our librarians) will help us better define and manage workloads plus expectations for scholarship and professional service. But on to…

Today’s topic

In outreach and teaching opportunities, I’ve been thinking about this more.

We are teachers, research consultants, and economic development partners who frequently make first contact with students, professors, deans, entrepreneurs, and/or eco dev leaders. So we need to establish strong, favorable first impressions through delivering a concise, effective sales pitch — we are selling ourselves as liaisons.

In the 2018 edition of USASBE’s Annals of Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy (sorry, no open access), the lead-off article is “What I’ve Learned about Teaching Entrepreneurship: Perspectives of Five Master Educators”. One of those five “master educators,” Luke Pittaway (Ohio University), wrote of his very mindful work in his classroom before the students show up for the first class session. Some of this mindfulness applies to introducing ourselves as liaisons.

Professor Pittaway enters the classroom quite early, turns up the heat (wow I’ve never been in a classroom in which you can control the heat! What a luxury), writes his contact info and class learning objectives on the board, powers up the projector while opening Pandora for some Latin Jazz, and reviews his printouts of the student names and pictures. Finally the students begin to trickle in.

Professor Pittaway shakes each student’s hand as they enter the room and chats with many of them about their backgrounds. He asks them to set out their name tags out on the desks (table tents — a stable of MBA education). Finally he begins class not by going through the syllabus but by asking the students about entrepreneurship and getting them to talk and share.

Of course, professors and librarians don’t always have that much time before a class begins. Yet this is a good example of trying hard to make a good first impression.

[This article is also interesting for illustrating the biggest debate in ENT education — should educators focus purely on teaching students to become entrepreneurs, or should they also help students launch ventures while still a student? Strong views on this issue with ethical and educational arguments. There’s also the too-rarely discussed issue of privilege; students who are largely paying their own way through college (as do many UNCG business students) can’t spend 20-30 hours a week outside of class working on a venture.]

Building your liaison pitch

There is much in that story we could apply to research instruction, but let’s try to apply those ideas to our first contact situations as subject and functional liaisons. We need to communicate that:

  1. We care (we want the students, professors, entrepreneurs, the center etc. to succeed)
  2. We are engaged (often illustrated in part just by showing up. Assuming we aren’t stuck at the reference desk for many hours a week, which some business librarian friends report is still the case)
  3. We provide needed expertise and resources (your functional and/or subject knowledge, and perhaps also your library’s databases and physical spaces)

Point #3 becomes our value proposition as liaisons. Instead of pitching our business model in the elevator, we need to pitch the value we bring to the table as a library liaison. Or, if you prefer, we need to have a prepared yet authentic-sounding answer to this question our patrons might be thinking: “How can you help me with my research needs, or with my class, department, or center?”

Preparing our pitch to answer that question helps us use patron-centered language, as opposed to the language used in our library goals, the ACRL framework, etc. Those documents are written for a different purpose.

Our liaison pitches can be used in:

  • A class (whether in a one shot or the first day with an embedded class)
  • A welcome video
  • Meeting a new prof, department head, student, etc.
  • Random encounters in the business school hallways, a special event you are attending (crashing or invited), or indeed in an elevator

Our pitches need to vary by target audience. In my case, the Geography grad students have very different needs compared to the evening/executive MBA students. Or the PhD students in our Consumer Apparel and Retailing Studies program, the new head of Economics, or the head of our campus entrepreneurship center. Or the Action Greensboro officers working to keep more young professionals in the city.

Some examples

For a research workshop:

“I am your business librarian, which means I am your personal business research consultant. I will help you save time, reduce stress, and probably help you get a better grade on this project.”

I use this one a lot. Yes, it’s not intellectual. But this message resonates with students. They hear I am on their side. Usually when I say this, I get both eye contact and some head nods from the students. The professor (even if sitting in the back of the room focused on grading) sometimes pipes up with a verbal “Yes!” as confirmation.

In my for-credit research class, I have told the students I want them to become “more effective and efficient researchers” and “more comfortable searching for numeric data from datasets.” But those students have already signed up for a 3-credit class on ENT and eco dev research, so they are already pretty crazy umm I mean committed.

Sometimes I talk about how employees increasingly want to hire recent graduates with skills in “big data” and “data analytics.” The professors also add a “yes” to this. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to use such language regarding skills using ReferenceUSA, SimplyAnalytics, or American FactFinder. But I do anyway.

An addition for a team-based experiential learning class:

“I have a list of your teams and their topics and have already done some pre-research on your industries and markets in order to learn where your research challenges will be. So if I don’t get to your topic today in our workshop, get in touch with me next week for some customized research support.”

I try to avoid telling students to see me when they need “help.” Some students perceive “needing help” as a sign of failure on their part. Instead, say something like “need some research suggestions” or “want to explore this research option [ex. mapping data] with me.”

Plugging library subscription databases:

“Through this research guide I made for your class, you can access expensive research tools that are free to you as students. They give you information and data you can’t find via Google. These are some of the same research tools that major corporations buy for their own needs.”

[Then show a pre-looked up example of industry growth projections, or mapped consumer spending data — some research need straight out of their project description, a need I remind them of.]

Sometimes after they have used some of the databases, I ask the students to guess the commercial cost of an individual IBIS or Mintel report. Usually the students underestimate the prices at first. I respond “higher, guess again!” until they get close. Then I show the actual cost using marketresearch.com (pulled up before class began). “Information has value!” sez the framework.

For PhD students:

Emphasize your skills in identifying possible datasets they could use, teaching citation management software, and conducting citation analysis to identify seminal works and the core authors.

To students in general (via a script for a short welcome video when I became the Geography liaison recently):

“[camera mode] Hello! My name is Steve Cramer and I am the Geography librarian. My focus as a librarian is on teaching research strategies and sources and providing research consultations. Each year I provide dozens of hands-on research workshops for my academic departments and provide hundreds of consultations. Each spring semester, I also teach GEO 530, (which by the way has no prerequisites.) [switch to screencast showing the GEO subject guide] I try to make myself as approachable as possible and answer questions as quickly as I can. My contact information on the right side of this guide [zoom in] …so please let me know what I can do to help you save time and improve your research. [back to video] Thank you and have a good semester!”

Hmm that pitch could have been more student-centered, which something like “When you need data or articles for your research projects, please let me know and I’ll…”

To new, untenured professors:

Here is an email template I use each summer. I haven’t looked at this since last summer. It would be more interesting if I worked in something specific about the prof, like their teaching or research focus.

“Subject: Welcome from the UNCG Business Librarian
Hello, Professor X. [Your dept head] told me you were joining the faculty this fall. As the librarian for [Dept X], I would like to welcome you to campus. If there is anything I can do to help with your research and library needs, or if you would like an orientation to the library’s digital and print resources and services, please let me know anytime. I also provide research instruction, consultations, web guides, and screencast tutorials to a number of classes each semester and would be happy to help your students, too. The library XX portal is http://uncg.libguides.com/xxx. I look forward to meeting you, and hope you have a good fall semester.”

The in-person pitch to a new prof can be more challenging since it’s more conversational. You have to remember your core points and try to work them in without sounding like you are giving a speech. Lots of new professors have never talked to or worked with an academic librarian before. Some profs come from countries in which librarians have limited roles. So try to work in that:

  • You serve as a teacher and research consultant, as well as a librarian who oversees collections (mostly electronic) in the new prof’s subject area
  • You have worked with other professors (perhaps including the department head) in that department on research and teaching
  • You might be going through (or have gone through) the tenure process yourself
  • You can provide guidance on navigating the library’s ejournals, citation management software, and other research needs
  • While budgets may be tight, you can certainly pursue acquiring datasets and other resources the new prof might need for their own research agenda.

Wrapping up

Some of these liaison pitches could certainly be improved. I hope you found the examples interesting and are thinking about your own pitches. A vendor recently told me that I would be good in sales (she may have been buttering me up). I replied that sales is part of being a liaison — we just call it outreach.

Read Full Post »

Snow day today! We got about 18 inches on Sunday. Campus will probably be closed on Tuesday too, although the snow is melting pretty fast.

Full group at the BLINC workshop

Almost the full group at the BLINC workshop

At its August workshop, BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) focused on ReferenceUSA and Proquest business content. Both products are available state-wide through NC LIVE. InfoUSA’s David Turner, an old friend of BLINC, came over from Omaha. New friend Jo-Anne Hogan, ProQuest business content manager, came down from London, Ontario. David and Jo-Anne talked to us about their new content, their third-party data acquisition process, and interface issues and options. The librarians asked many questions and made a number of suggestions. That was basically it for the workshop agenda.

For our December workshop last week Wednesday, BLINC returned to its roots: sharing, networking, and learning from each other.

We met in Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte, courtesy of UNCC Business Librarian Nicole Spoor. BLINC planned this workshop with Carolinas SLA. There were five special librarians present along with 15 public and academic librarians. Having those special librarians aboard enriched our discussion. We welcomed several first-time attendees at a BLINC workshop, including one MLS student.

The morning focus was “selling ourselves as information professionals.” Today I’m mainly writing about that discussion. But here was the full agenda:

9:30-10 Socializing and morning snacks
10-10:30 Introductions; what’s going on with your position or at your library
10:30-11:45 Selling ourselves as librarians and information professionals
11:45-1:15 Lunch on campus
1:15-2: New techniques for business info teaching & training (BLINC/CABAL Richmond workshop highlights)
2-2:30: Short report on the ReferenceUSA User Conference in Omaha; NC LIVE request for feedback on searching ProQuest market research reports;
2:30-3: Brainstorming BLINC programming at the NCLA 2019 Conference

Sara Thynne (Alamance Community College) and Betty Garrison (Elon U.) summarized the instruction sessions at the BLINC/CABAL workshop from last summer. Both Sara and Betty were speakers at that event. Beth Scarborough (UNC Charlotte) described her experience at the ReferenceUSA User Conference, and what she learned about how InfoUSA collects and verifies its data.

We also asked Susie Corbett, Vice President, Library and Information Technology, of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, to tell us more about her interesting institution (a “public-funded private non-profit”) and the drug pipeline and venture capital databases she and her team use in their information center. Both the public and academic librarians thought this was very interesting.

Today’s topic

To help facilitate a good discussion and sharing of experiences and skills, we sent out these discussion questions ahead of time:

  1. To whom are we selling ourselves?
  2. What does each group of people care about? (What are their motivations or needs?)
  3. How can we align our messages with our organizational priorities?
  4. Formats of outreach: in person, email, social media, print, meetings, events? Pros and cons of each?
  5. Stories of successful outreach you can share? Not so successful stories, or still in progress?
  6. How do we measure success or outcomes in selling ourselves?
  7. How can leverage the special powers of introverts toward effective outreach?

We began our discussion with the first question, using a big white board to segment our markets. So the first step: identify your different targets or types of customers for outreach. Most of those groups have different needs. So your outreach message and strategy need to be customized for each group.

White board work

White board work

Here is what we came up with for “whom are we selling ourselves to”:

Public libraries:

  • Small business owners
  • Nonprofit leaders
  • Entrepreneurs and “wantapreneurs ”
  • Chambers of commerce/other eco-system groups/small business centers
  • Local government officers
  • K-12 students using the library, and their teachers
  • Library department heads and administrators
  • Job seekers

Academic libraries:

  • Schools, colleges, other academic units on campus
  • Academic deans and other administrators
  • Faculty
    • Untenured
    • Associate & full profs
    • Named professorships
    • Department heads
    • Adjuncts
    • Whoever is teaching online classes
  • Campus partners (writing center, career services, etc.)
  • Students
    • First year
    • Upper-level
    • Graduate
      • Professional program (MBA, MS-Accounting, etc.)
      • Academic (PhD programs)
    • Online students
    • Adult students
  • Early or pre-college students on campus
  • Incubators, entrepreneurship centers
  • Library department heads and administrators
  • Job seekers

Special libraries:

  • Small business owners
  • Nonprofit leaders
  • Incubators
  • Pre-ventures
  • Consultants
  • Other librarians
  • Local professors
  • Colleagues and other departments in the organization
Public librarians small group disussion

Public librarians small group discussion

Some overlap in groups, as we expected. We get pretty nuanced. For example, MBA and PhD students have some pretty different needs. For any campus that has diverse graduate programs, generalizing about the needs of graduate students (“our grad students need this…grad students want that…”) isn’t a very thoughtful or effective way to support them.

After developing those lists as a big group, we broke into small groups by type of library: special, public, academic. We had about 25 minutes for the break-outs. Each team wanted to talk longer, but I was a meanie and asked them to come back into the big group for our summary of small group thoughts before lunch time.

Special librarians round table

Special librarians round table

I joined the academic group. They focused on outreach to adjuncts and teachers of online courses. Often those faculty have full-time jobs in addition to their teaching gigs, adding another barrier to our outreach efforts. Ideas and programs mentioned:

  • UNC Charlotte has a “library faculty engagement award.” (Nicole mentioned that a business prof recently won this award, but donated the prize money back to the library to help fund a new business database subscription that the business school really wanted!)
  • Creating local “READ” posters (using local faculty and students as the featured readers)
  • Offering adjuncts library spaces for their office hours (could be a small study room or just a table in a public room)
  • Getting on the agenda for required online educator orientations
  • Creating modules for classroom management systems

I didn’t take notes when we reassembled as a big group to share key points from the break outs, I’m sorry. I was standing down in front of the classroom moderating the discussion.

Academic librarians small group

Academic librarians small group

Attendees thought our outreach discussion that morning was very useful but could have used more time. Lesson learned. We could have budgeted an hour after lunch to continue discussing outreach, but there were other topics we wanted to talk about too (and a couple of time-sensitive requests from NC LIVE and NCLA). Hopefully in our 2019 workshops, we will build on what we started at UNC Charlotte.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »