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Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

Another random recent vacation photo

Another random recent vacation photo

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

1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.

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

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

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

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

4.

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

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

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

5.

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

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

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

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

 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An interesting article.

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

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

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

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vacation pix

vacation pix

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

1.

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

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

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

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

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

From the conclusion:

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

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

2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.

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

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

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

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

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

4.

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

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

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

5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.

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

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

7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.

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

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

9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.

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

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

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

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

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Nataly Blas banner

Nataly Blas banner (used with her permission)

Two quick examples I’ve been meaning to write about for a while:

1. Signage: Nataly Blas

The William H. Hannon Library of Loyola Marymount University created a series of giant banners promoting the skills and services of its liaisons, including business librarian Nataly Blas, as you can see here. Her banner provided a strong, concise message to business students, faculty, and administrators. It’s also a sign of respect from the library for the work of liaisons. I’m sure those giant banners weren’t cheap!

2. Awards: Ilana Stonebraker

Congrats to Purdue’s Ilana Stonebraker for being selected as one of this year’s Library Journal Movers and Shakers. Her innovative local economic development class was a big factor, apparently.

Winning an award is usually welcome recognition to the awardee, but can also become a promotional tool. In this case, both the Honors College and the library wrote articles illustrating Ilana’s contributions (and by extension, the library’s contributions) to the campus and community. Libraries with smart communications strategies know how to leverage these opportunities for promotion.

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Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway

Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway

This should be my last conference report for a while, I promise.

Last Tuesday, I finished grading the final reports in my entrepreneurship/ economic development research class, submitted final grades, and helped evaluate final team presentations in the Export Odyssey class. The next day, I took my time going up to Radford University for Thursday’s The Innovative Library Classroom 2017 (TILC) conference, driving a thirty mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Fancy Gap and Rocky Knob. There are a few pictures below from some short hikes along that stretch (plus one from TILC). A lovely way to celebrate the end of the semester and start unplugging a bit after a crazy school year.

Opening social

The conference began Wednesday evening with a social and poster session. There were eight posters, adult beverages, and some heavy hors d’oeuvres. Most attendees were from Virginia or the Carolinas, so there were lots of reunions. I chatted with former interns now working as young professionals, as well as candidates from searches I’ve chaired who now have positions at other schools. After the event, my UNCG library friends Samantha and Karen and I drove across the river to have a sunset nightcap at a brewpub with a big deck overlooking the river and campus.

Nature of TILC

Except for the Wednesday evening social, this is a one-day conference that (I think) always meets at Radford, a beautiful location on the edge of the Appalachians and along the New River (one of the oldest rivers on the continent, actually). Virginia Tech is nearby. This was my first time at TILC. Registration was a mere $40, which included the social as well as Thursday lunch (not a boxed lunch! Those are so boring).

Lisa Becksford of Virginia Tech

Lisa Becksford of Virginia Tech

Around 90 folks attended. Most were instruction librarians but there were liaison, DE, and outreach librarians too. Some people drove over to Lexington for LOEX right afterwards. TILC was in fact very much like LOEX and the quality of programming was just as high, in my opinion. Like LOEX, TILC is most useful for teaching librarians who focus on composition courses. There were no programs explicitly focused on upper level and/or subject-specific instruction, although some programs could be applied to those kinds of classes.

The day began with a keynote. Then there were four 50-minute slots offering a choice of three concurrent programs, with lunch in the middle. We ended with four lightning rounds. So very content-rich. I like conferences like that. All speakers spoke well and engaged the audience. Speaker files will be provided online by early June.

Opening keynote: teaching and leadership

The 9 am keynote featured Rebecca Miller, Head of Library Learning Services at Penn State on “Teaching, Learning, and Leading: Be a Professional Triple Threat”. She discussed applying our teaching skills to providing leadership in our libraries and across campus. Miller included some audience interaction that got us talking to our neighbors (rare for a keynote). This keynote would have benefited from a distinction between management and leadership. Too often in the library world, those two things are treated the same.

Teaching mindfulness & social justice

Blue Ridge Parkway, small waterfall

Blue Ridge Parkway, small waterfall

Kristen Mastel of the University of Minnesota led a program on “Integrating Mindfulness Approaches while Teaching Social Justice in the Classroom”. She called the mindfulness part “contemplative pedagogy.” Mastel gave the same talk at LOEX a day or two later. I’ve mentioned in this blog my fellow Coleman Fellow Bill Johnson, the “Dream Dean” of the UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences (HHS), a few times. He teaches a required course for HHS students on figuring out what each student wants to get out of college (and life), with mindfulness as part of the teaching strategy. (Bill told me that he often begins class with five minutes of unplugged, off-line silence. Early in the semester, that silence can make the students really uncomfortable. But once late in the semester, he told the students he was skipping the five minutes to make room for some other activity, and the students loudly protested – they had learned to really appreciate that time for meditation.)

Mastel asked us to examine our own comfort with various contemplative practices and then led us through an exercise. Next she connected mindfulness to social justice via the ACRL Frameworks, noting that mindfulness and thresholds can overlap. I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch the connection between mindfulness and social justice, except that there are certainly mindful approaches to considering social issues. Mastel gave us an exercise she has used with graduating seniors: they are asked to “examine [their] own information privilege” in three life stages: before college, at the University of Minnesota, and after graduation. She then led discussions on the information landscape and social privilege.

Building classroom engagement before class begins

Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra of Grand Valley State University presented “Maximizing “Down Time”: Innovative Strategies to Build Student Engagements Before the Start of Class”. [slides] She used to be a K-12 teacher and told us teachers call the few minutes before class officially begins as “bell work”.

Scripps-Hoekstra organized her session around three engagement strategies:

  1. activate prior knowledge
  2. facilitate self-assessment of students
  3. build rapport

In fact, before her session began, she gave us an activity: “In exactly 16 words (no more, no less!) describe the purpose of activating prior knowledge when teaching”. Several attendees were brave enough to share their 16 words.

Activating prior knowledge = triggering long-term memory. Scripps-Hoekstra described several activities, some tied to the frameworks, others to database searching and plagiarism. For example, she sometimes shows this scene from the Little Mermaid and then asks how that clip connects to library research.

Facilitate self-assessment = students demonstrate what they already know. Sometimes  Scripps-Hoekstra incorporates creativity and competition into these activities. Example: a space race via Socrative, based on database searching steps.

Build rapport. This is something I do try to do in my teaching and co-teaching classes, as well as in one-shots. Harder with one-shots unless you know some of the students already. “Creating a tone of approachability by treating students with respect”, Scripps-Hoekstra said.

We ended with a Q/A and then broke for lunch. Mushroom risotto and a fudge brownie.

Urban Legend or Practical Pedagogy?

Candice Benjes-Small and Jennifer Resor-Whicker of Radford University provided a very interesting program called “Urban Legend or Practical Pedagogy: Are you a Teaching Ninja?” This program won my award for most creative and engaging program at TILC.

We began by forming six teams, 4-5 librarians each. Each team was given a green and red sheet.

Then, on screen, Benjes-Small and Resor-Whicker gave us a well-known teaching concept. Each team had a minute to debate if that concept was proven by research (“practical pedagogy”) or had no basis in research (“urban legend”). We voted with our color sheets (green=real, red=bogus). Benjes-Small and Resor-Whicker tallied the correct scores and then cited research proving or disproving the concept. Then we discussed for a few minutes before getting the next concept to vote on.

This was fun!

But also thought-provoking. And kind of sad sometimes, regarding the concepts that we once talked about all the time (or still do, in some cases) that turned out to be bogus. I recorded all the concepts we were quizzed about, but don’t want to give all the answers here in case you someday participate in this exercise with Benjes-Small and Resor-Whicker. But here are three examples, with the answers at the bottom of this post:

  1. Everyone has a preferred learning style: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.
  2. People learn better when content is spread over multiple classes.
  3. The learning pyramid (or cone of learning – the one with “10% of reading is retained” at the top of the pyramid).

At the end, we wondered about other current concepts, like “digital natives” – real or bogus? I pondered out loud how well the ACRL thresholds will stand the test of time (and research).

Benjes-Small and Resor-Whicker mentioned they have used this exercise with other librarians as well as professors, and that we can get very attached to our sacred cows of concepts. It can get very emotional for us to confront these ideas.

Getting beyond “popular v. scholarly”

My UNCG colleagues Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam spoke on “Beyond Popular v. Scholarly: Teaching Outside the Peer-Reviewed Checkbox”.

Dale showed us the evolution of her source evaluation assignment, moving from an ACRL Standards approach to more of a frameworks approach. Originally, the assignment required students to identify the nature of articles by popular v. scholarly, authorship, the nature of the language used (“It’s in English”, one student accurately wrote down once), etc.

A newer approach incorporates the BEAM model:

  • Background
  • Exhibits
  • Arguments
  • Methods

The idea of BEAM comes from a 2008 Joseph Bizup article concerning “Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing”. The focus is on the function of various sources (social media, videos, light magazine articles, long Economist or Atlantic cover stories, scholarly research articles, etc.) regarding a topic. All four functions can be at work in writing and research. Dale and Kellam handed out example sources for teams in the audience to discuss in terms of a BEAM analysis.

More examples at a Kellam libguide. Everyone around me was very interested in this approach. It’s not always clear which category a source fell under (ex. argument v. method). But the discussion itself is probably useful.

Lighting rounds

Lisa Becksford of Virginia Tech: “They Want Me to Teach APA for 75 Students?: Transforming Citation Instruction for Large (or Small) Classes.​” My lone TILC pix above is Becksford. She provides a citation via a Google Form and asks students to identify the problems with it. This activity works well in large classes regardless of student level.

Blue Ridge Parkway ridge trail

Blue Ridge Parkway ridge trail

Vicki Marie Palmer of Longwood University: “Hole in One: Marketing YOUR Library Services on the Green​.” As part of a 4-day welcome week for new students, Palmer planned a miniature golf course that wound through several library service points. She also hired a student DJ and installed a photo booth.

Shannon Tennant of Elon University: “Instruction is for Everyone: Including Technical Services Staff in Library Instruction Programs​.” Tennant is a cataloger who has become the head of Technical Services but also does some teaching each year as a liaison. Credit for her for being the only cataloger at this conference! Makes being the only business librarian present seem not a big deal in comparison. Tennant advocated for involving tech services staff in library instruction programs. She linked the skills of technical services to the ACRL Frameworks in a pretty convincing fashion, centered on the management (acquisitions, metadata, creating access points, etc.) of information. In the process of getting teaching support from tech services, the tech services librarians gain increased visibility, more diverse skills, and deeper understanding of user behavior.

Liz McGlynn Bellamy of Radford University: “The Struggle is Real: Facilitating Information Literacy Learning by Being Leaders of Failure.” Bellamy shared her “first epic fail”: in her first year as a professional librarian, she demonstrated prepared searches to a business class. Later that week, one of those business students came to her office frustrated and upset about his/her lack of success, exclaiming “you made it look so easy but I can’t find anything!” So Bellamy advocated the benefits of showing failure in our example strategies and searches. Capitalize on the teachable moments. – have the students think about and discuss what happened, and then re-strategize.

Thus ended TILC 2017. I would go back.

 

Urban Legend or Practical Pedagogy?

  1. learning styles = urban legend. Reality is much more complicated.
  2. spreading out learning = practical pedagogy [specifically, “distributed practice”]
  3. learning pyramid = urban legend.

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Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

Business librarians Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University), Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I attended and presented at USASBE 2017 last week in Philadelphia. Diane has presented at this conference before, but this was the first visit for Mary and me. I’m going to submit a detailed conference review for Ticker but will provide a short summary and a quick assessment here.

USASBE is the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship:

the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. With over 1000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector, USASBE is a diverse mix of professionals that share a common commitment to fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors. [introduction to USASBE]

But mostly entrepreneurship faculty. Around 500 attended. I heard there is higher attendance in even-numbered years, when USASBE meets in southern California (San Diego last February, L.A. next year). Preconferences met on Wednesday, with the main conference running Thursday afternoon through Sunday at noon. Yes, the same days as ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

Registration was $675 (early bird – full cost was $750), higher than any library or business educator conference I’ve been too, but includes membership in the association for a year. We met in the Loews Hotel on Market Street, between City Hall and Independence Park. Always convenient to stay in the same building for a conference — until you really need to get outside for some fresh air and walking. There really wasn’t any sun that weekend but it wasn’t very cold.

The three librarians provided a 75-minute “competitive workshop” titled “Teaching students to use authoritative industry and market datasets in order to make informed decisions in their business plans”. We discussed both free sources (Economic Census, American Community Survey, and Consumer Expenditure Survey) and subscription databases while also leading discussions on how to get students to use such data.

I also participated in a workshop by the UNCG Coleman Fellows on “Beyond the basics of cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship: reaching across the curriculum with mentoring, counseling, research support, and assessment.” I spoke about how a business librarian has the freedom to support entrepreneurship classes across campus (not just in the business school) through research workshops and consultations, and also briefly summarized my research class, ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530.

And right after the librarians’ workshop, Diane presented with a Rider professor on “Experiential learning with non-profit organizations: how to use the student team consulting model for service learning situations.” Unfortunately Mary and I missed the Rider workshop due to our return flight schedule.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

As with SBI [my recent Ticker conference review on SBI] and World Bank/GWU Entrepreneurship 2016, the faculty at this conference seemed genuinely pleased to have librarians present. The profs often complimented the roles and work or their own business librarians. (Good job, friends!) We librarians enjoyed the networking and the opportunities to provide comments to the faculty and PhD students on research sources and strategies. And some nice socials.

USASBE was very interesting for its variety of types of programs. This made the “call for submissions” document rather complicated. Interesting that educator conferences like USASBE and SBI don’t require “learning outcomes” for conference submissions unlike LOEX and ACRL, a silly submissions requirement in my opinion. On the other hand, competitive workshop submissions require proposals that could be up to 10 pages long. So it was a lot of work to submit for the librarians’ and Coleman Fellows’ workshops.

I made a point to attend most of these program types:

  • Competitive Papers (short solo presentations on research, teaching, or program design)
  • Teaching Cases (presentations of case studies used in the classroom)
  • Developmental Papers (roundtable feedback on research in progress)
  • Competitive Workshops (interactive panel discussions, mostly)
  • Rocket Workshops (short workshops)
  • Experiential Exercises (classroom exercises)
  • Student Pitches (from Philly-area schools, with several rounds of voting throughout the conference)
  • Exhibitor Sessions (mostly from entrepreneurship educational software vendors)

Sage, Emerald, Business Expert Press, and a couple of other publishers had tables. The reps on hand were editors and content recruiters, not sales staff.

Philly moth from a social event

Philly moth from a social event

USASBE provided several socials, including one Thursday night at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences, where these butterflies and moths live. Some of the attendees participated in the women’s march on Saturday. I hadn’t been to Philly since ALA Midwinter 2002, back when I served on the BRASS Education committee. That January, Independence Hall was surrounded by several concentric walls of fencing and concrete barriers after the 9/11 attacks. Mary and I visited the hall on Thursday and enjoyed its liberation from all that security. I also visited the National Museum of American Jewish History (new to me) and found it very interesting but also full of sad stories and concerns on anti-Semitism and anti-immigration that still resonate in our political climate.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

On our way back to the airport, Mary and I discussed how useful this conference was to us personally. Of course we will get presentation credits for our CVs (and not just speaking to the librarian choir), but we didn’t really learn things that we could apply to our research classes. However, wearing my Coleman Fellow and embedded librarian hats, I did benefit from the discussions of teaching strategies and program design. And I gained more insight into the teaching and research needs of professors. So I really liked USASBE and (assuming our Coleman grant gets renewed) will consider attending at L.A. in 2018. Hmm maybe L.A. librarian Nataly Blas would consider submitting a proposal with me…

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New space for the plenary sessions

New space for the plenary sessions — I liked it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The USF liaisons identified areas of emphasis on campus:

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

So action items taken or planned:

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

Going forward, the questions for the liaisons include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Developing Liaison Librarians for Data-Intensive Research Engagement”

Hilary Davis, NCSU

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

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

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

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

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

The objectives included:

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

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

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

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

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

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

Hilary and Honora suggest three top take-aways:

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

“The Future of Subject Specialists in Academic Libraries”

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

Mary Scanlon (WFU) and Betty Garrison (Elon)

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

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

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

They planned this program to delve into those possibilities.

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

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

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

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

Comments from the audience at this point:

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

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

Conference proceedings will be published soon.

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