Archive for the ‘Reference’ Category

During lunch at my desk today, I took a look at my oft-neglected newsreader (for this time in the semester) and saw the article “ARL Library Liaison Institute: What we learned about needs and opportunities for reskilling” from the March issue of College & Research Libraries News. The article summarizes a 1.5-day workshop that brought together 50 liaisons from Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Toronto. A 34-page final report of the event is available at http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/library-liaison-institute-final-report-dec2015.pdf. The C&RLN article provides a concise recap, so I will just point out some things from the final report that I found particularly interesting.

The institute sounds like a larger and longer version of the “WFU & UNCG Liaison Benchmarking & Brainstorming” workshop we conducted together in May 2012, although our workshop had a focus on liaison organization as well as liaison roles. I wish there was more in the ARL report about how liaisons should be organized and led to achieve their goals. There are a few ideas. For example, from the “Next Steps” section near the end (p. 22):

Helping liaisons understand the big picture requires investment in training for managers and liaisons (both in core competencies and communication skills that provide the ability to look beyond the library as the center), but also an organizational structure for liaisons to collaborate (among themselves, with functional experts, beyond the confines of their departments or disciplines). Setting up a team-based model might be one way to encourage such collaboration.

Also, on page 23, regarding follow-up activity at Columbia:

Finally, the libraries addressed a recent vacancy in the Journalism Library with a new approach to filling the interim position. A team of librarians from the science, social science, and humanities libraries was created to fill the interim journalism librarian position. The libraries see this team approach as a possible model going forward for permanent positions, breaking down disciplinary silos and better integrating research methods.

Sounds interesting! I hope the Columbia folks have followed what has happened in Arizona with team liaison assignments to academic departments. The two situations are a bit different, though – in its previous model, Arizona Journalism faculty would have to decide which functional team to contact for a particular need.

Also, “Scenario Two” on page 9 involved liaison teams. However, we can’t tell what major themes came out of the Scenario Two teams compared to the other scenario teams.

The write-up of the “healthy debate” on the value of subject expertise (pages 10-11 and also 21) is interesting. While few of the liaisons here at UNCG in my time have preferred the traditional bibliographer expert model of liaison work, we have had some discussions like this. So what is the mix of subject and functional skills a liaison should have? Does the need for that mix vary by subject area (ex. business versus history)? But without strong skills in outreach, teaching, and advocacy, can you do much with your subject expertise besides ordering books? (Trying to be provocative here).

Also interesting was that some librarians were offended by the customer segmentation and value proposition exercise (11-16). Sounds like a really useful exercise that could help liaisons reconsider traditions and pre-conceived notions of what our customers err patrons need. Some of the suggestions were more interesting than others.

The summary of “what kind of support they need from library administrators” on page 18 reminds me of some of the goals of our liaison reorganization that began in 2013 – more relevant and frequent training; less time in meetings; use of teams; etc.

The report concludes with “concrete next steps that Columbia, Cornell, and Toronto are taking as a result of the Library Liaison Institute.” Lots of communication and sharing of course. But I also came away with respect for these large institutions (especially Toronto) for re-envisioning liaison work in very complex organizations. In comparison, almost all liaisons at UNCG and WFU work in the main library. So credit to those three schools for running an institute like this.

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I’m catching up on my professional reading after the fall semester. Here are summaries and thoughts on some of the readings with my usual focus on liaison work and business librarianship. Good luck to everyone as your semester and year wind down.


It’s Your Business: Evaluating the Business Curriculum to Target Information Literacy in the Discipline [pdf]
by Nataly Blas (Loyola Marymount University)
Academic BRASS, Vol 10 (1), Spring 2015

Nataly provides a step-by-step plan to create a curriculum map of a business info lit program. She writes about what kind of documents to use and look for (ex. syllabi, accreditation standards, library goals, etc.) and provides the example of a business law class. At the end of the short article, she provides a link to map of the Finance curriculum, and also provides a Word template for our mapping efforts. Nataly attended ACRL Immersion this year, so hopefully she will continue to share her thoughtful work with us.


Framework-ized Information Competency Skills for Business Students
by Amanda Howell (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) after Nancy A. Cunningham (Director, Academic Services University of South Florida)
Google Drive document

Amanda updated Nancy’s information literacy guidelines for the ACRL frameworks idea. The instruction leaders in my library have begun to schedule workshops for liaisons to work on frameworks for our areas, so I’m grateful for Amanda for sharing this recently in a BRASS online discussion. As I’ve heard business librarians lament more than once, the old standards seemed overly focused on students using articles, books, and web sites to write research papers – old-fashioned outputs of student work. So it’s great to see statistical data, market research, company financials, etc. covered on a frameworks guide, and “authorship” defined as more than individuals writing a book or article.


Both Sides Now: Vendors and Librarians: Can You Give Me a “Ballpark” Price of What This Will Cost?
by Michael Gruenberg (President, Gruenberg Consulting, LLC)
Against The Grain, June 2015

ATG is the companion publication to the Charleston Conference. (A small group of business librarians rendezvoused in Charleston last month, Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from the Wharton School reported. Maybe for the 2016 conference we will submit a panel proposal or organize a business librarians & publishers dinner?) Both the publication and the conference are great for facilitating dialogues between librarians and vendors, and for better understanding each other’s practices and needs. In this article, Michael discusses the salesperson’s challenge of responding to early requests for a price, and the information professional’s need to not provide budget details too early. Michael also provides suggestions to both parties on how to handle the negotiation dance.


Two presentations from NCLA 2015

If You Build It, Will They Come? Designing a More Engaged Liaison Program
by Teresa LePors and Betty Garrison (Elon University)

I missed this one due to a class commitment, but really wanted to go. Betty is the Business Librarian and a BLINC-buddy. Teresa became the library dean in summer 2012 and worked with the librarians and staff on some strategic planning and reinvisioning. In 2014 the Elon librarians created a Library Research and Scholarly Services department, with monthly meetings of liaisons. Increased outreach and stronger relationships with faculty is one goal of the new group.

Email was chosen as a target communication tool, and so the liaisons did a study of email interactions with profs by time of day, day of the week, department, who initiated the email, etc. Most of the slides are devoted to this. There are some graphs and pie charts, plus a study of topic/word mapping with quotes for each topic, ex. instruction.

Best practices according to the Elon liaisons:

  • Be visible
  • Show interest
  • Experiment
  • Build relationships
  • Respond promptly
  • Support colleagues

There is also a useful timeline of outreach responsibilities over one year (slide 40).

North Carolina Librarian on Main Street
Nancy Tucker (Business Librarian, Mauney Memorial Library, Kings Mountain, NC), Sharon Stack (Library Director), and Jan Harris (Director, Kings Mountain Main Street Program, City of Kings Mountain). Heather Sanford is the other business librarian involved with this project.

Another program from a BLINC member I regret having to miss. Nancy discusses her library’s proactive engagement of downtown businesses – she and Heather went door-to-door (yes, literally) to offer the library’s support of small businesses:

In this presentation, participants will learn how a small library in Kings Mountain partnered with its city’s Main Street™ organization and Planning and Economic Development department to help small businesses be successful in the 21st century marketplace and in return, the program has benefited downtown revitalization efforts.  This program is a powerful example of how the library has facilitated, through partnerships, a transformation downtown and triggered small business success and economic growth.

The library’s involvement is a vital part of the city’s “Four Point Approach” to revitalize downtown:

  • Organization
  • Promotion
  • Design
  • Economic restructuring

The library offered to help the downtown businesses with business plans, market research, website development, online marketing, print marketing, logo design, branding, technology assistance, mission statement writing, and secret shopping (!) A wonderful example of effective, proactive engagement.


Making All the Right Moves for Liaison Engagement: A Strategy for Relating to Faculty
by John G. Bales
C&RL News, November 2015

A short opinion piece encouraging liaisons to create an action plan for faculty outreach, and then track progress using a spreadsheet that covers all the faculty. Other liaisons have proposed using customer relationship management (CRM) software to enable a group of librarians to track faculty connections. Creepy or really useful?


Where Have All the Books Gone? Exploring “Virtual Libraries” at Cornell University’s Engineering and Physical Science Libraries
by Jill Wilson, Jeremy Cusker, & Dianne Dietrich (Cornell University)
Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 5(2):23-31, 2015

Some of you business librarians may have heard Corey Seeman talk about what happened with the library space at the University of Michigan business school. These stories from Cornell are similar. The most interesting parts to me where the outreach efforts that had to be ramped up big time to compensate for the built-in promotional value of the physical space:

New undergraduate and graduate students may hear from peers that “there was once a library and now there is not” and believe—erroneously—that the library is no longer relevant to their development as future researchers. It is crucial then, in the virtual model, that librarians continually develop partnerships with faculty members and remain visible to students.

Interesting perspective for those of us who have always worked out of a general library.


First issue of Ticker

The first issue of Ticker: the Academic Business Librarianship Review came out last summer. The aforementioned Corey wrote a summary of the “Action Learning Conference” held at Michigan Ross. Representatives of several MBA programs discussed their active learning programs or capstones. Michigan business librarians have written about their embedded work in such classes.

In another Ticker article, Jessica Lange of McGill University described a team competition she created for MBA orientation (“MBA Versus MBA Challenge: Developing an Engaging Library Orientation for Incoming Students”). In the first challenge, teams competed to find certain database content the fastest. In the second, the students did a battledecks competition. Slides in the presentation were from Jessica’s short introduction to library services that began the library workshop. Interesting idea!

The research article in Ticker’s first issue is “Our Year of Assessment at Columbia University’s Business and Economics Library” by Kathleen Dreyer and Nisa Bakkalbasi of Columbia University. They adopted

a multi-method assessment approach combining quantitative and qualitative statistics through a survey, exit polls, and direct observations to inform improvement planning of library services and spaces.

Their assessment was partially in response to concerns from MBA students about sharing the library with undergraduates from other campus units. Services fared well in the assessment, but the Columbia librarians reported less satisfaction with technology (for which the library has limited control) and physical spaces. The library has addressed some of those concerns, but still faces the challenge of balancing the needs for group study and social space versus quiet study space.


More from the RSR special issue on entrepreneurship

As noted here recently, Reference Services Review published a special issue on entrepreneurship. Lots of interesting articles from that issue, more than I will summarize here.

Engaging with Entrepreneurs in Academic and Public Libraries
by Jared Hoppenfeld (Texas A&M) and Elizabeth Malafi (Miller Business Resource Center, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY), both leaders in BRASS.

A good introduction to the special issue. I like the focus on both types of libraries. After a long lit review, Jared and Elizabeth summarize the kinds of services they provide to entrepreneurs in their libraries

  • Networking (librarians networking with entrepreneurs, and providing space for entrepreneurs to network with each other)
  • Outreach (ex. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Texas A&M).
  • Business incubator support
  • Supporting entrepreneurs’ intellectual property research needs
  • Educating entrepreneurs at the library

Many short case studies are briefly summarized.

Jared and Elizabeth conclude with recommendations. The main points:

  • Back to the basics: perform a reference interview
  • Learn about licensed data and entrepreneurs (for the academic subscriptions) [Posie Aagaard and Natasha Z. Arguello from UT San Antonio have an article about this in the same issue]
  • Use your support network (ex. SCORE, SBA, BUSLIB-L)
  • Networking: don’t do it alone; be persistent; try new approaches sometimes
  • Become familiar with intellectual property
  • Take advantage of entrepreneurs’ experiential learning preferences (do hands-on teaching, and get involved with pitch competitions)
  • Keep aware for the next opportunity

In Entrepreneur Assistance & Economic Development in Florida Libraries, Janet Elaine Franks (Saint Leo University) and Carol Johns (Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, Tampa) provide survey results from entrepreneurs and analyze public library services provided to entrepreneurs. A good read after the Hoppenfeld and Malafi survey article.

Academic Libraries as Community Resource Partners for Entrepreneurs by Patrick Griffis (UNLV) focuses on his library’s “strategy of collaborating with community agencies in assisting community entrepreneurs,” especially the local Small Business Development Center and the UNLV law school.

The Business Model Canvas as a Platform for Business Information Literacy Instruction by Terence William O’Neill of Michigan State. Great topic for an article, given how common the one-page business model has become. I remember when even a freshman entrepreneurship class assigned a “business plan” to the student teams, which in hindsight was a foolish choice. Business models are a much better choice for lower-level or introductory courses in entrepreneurship, or for cross-campus classes (ex. Dance or Chemistry) “infused” (as the Coleman Fellows program puts it) with an entrepreneurship module lasting three weeks or so.

In this article, Terence discusses how the MSU business librarians use the business model to organize a research workshop, assigning the students databases like IBIS for the boxes on the model that require industry research. First the librarians have the students spend five minutes fleshing out their business idea. Then the students look at IBIS and reconsider what they have decided so far about the model. Terence notes that IBIS’s topics and subtopics for each industry match pretty easily to the business model topics/boxes. Terence continues:

This in-class exercise immediately encourages the students to think of their business model, and the resultant canvas, as flexible and changeable with new information. The exercise encourages them to check their assumptions while also filling in details for some aspects of the business they might not have had a strong sense of previously.

Nice. Noting that IBIS doesn’t cover all the business model topics, the librarians present an image of the business model with the logos of relevant database in the relevant boxes. For example, RMA eStatement Studies and BizMiner are in the “Revenue Streams” box – a great idea!

My second thought on first seeing that image (the first being that it was a great idea) was that more resources should be listed, ex. Census.gov, SimplyMap, and DemographicsNow for “Customer Segments”. But Terence later writes that in their experience, students are less likely to use databases if too many are listed. An interesting note of caution.


Latest from JBFL

Finally, some good stuff since the spring in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, including reviews of CCH  Accounting Research Manager, PrivCo, the now-free IMF portal, and the OECD e-library. (The ARM review by Susan Klopper of Emery includes a memorable section header: “Accounting Content: Not The Sexiest”. I always appreciate good help like this with accounting resources.)

In a short opinion piece (“What’s in a Name? Rebranding Librarianship for Professional Students”), J. P. Huffman of Penn State University reviews the old “librarian” image problem and discusses the business librarians’ efforts to rebrand themselves as “research consultants”. That language emphasizes their role as coworkers and partners instead of information gatekeepers. She also notes that “consultants” are common in the business world and therefore seeking out the help of a business consultant doesn’t carry a stigma that asking a librarian for help might include. Instead “the library as an institution takes a backseat to our skill set and interactions with students…our identity should come from our actions, not our titles.”

And Ilana Stonebraker wrote up her very interesting flipped classroom experience I first heard her talk about at LOEX last year (“Flipping the Business Information Literacy Classroom: Redesign, Implementation, and Assessment of a Case Study”).  There are a couple of other interesting info lit articles from this issue too.

I could go on, but I just thought of a good title for a post I want to write concerning a search committee I’m chairing this winter.

Happy holidays, all!

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Marla, Richard, & Steve presenting at NCLA 2015

Marla, Richard, & Steve presenting at NCLA 2015

Marla Means, Richard Moniz, and I presented at NCLA 2015 today on “The Expanding Role of the Academic Liaison: Balancing Subject Versus Functional Skills” (PDF).

[Summary of the final discussion with the audience]

Marla introduced the topic and provided definitions. Richard discussed the Johnson & Wales University Library in Charlotte, NC as a small library case study. I summarized the interesting experiment at the University of Arizona of having only functional liaisons, and briefly presented UNCG’s team model of subject v. functional teams.

Good comments, ideas, and questions from the audience. Thanks for everyone who came.

There are some cites and links at the end of the PDF.


“For liaison services, subject knowledge used to be enough. Now functional skills are increasingly important — academic libraries are expanding their outreach and advocacy efforts into data curation, scholarly communication, information literacy, distance education services, etc. How should libraries balance these two types of liaison roles? Should libraries hire functional specialists to partner with the subject liaisons, or somehow train subject liaisons to pick up the needed functional expertise? And how should these functional and subject specialists be organized and managed? Two librarians representing a small and large library and a LIS student doing an independent study on liaison trends will lead a discussion on these questions. With help from the participants, we will conclude with suggested best practices.”

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So our department heads and administrators are reviewing some statistical policies. (Hooray to those folks for working on stuff like that so liaisons like me don’t have to!) We learned that the current ACRL definition of “consultation” is:

Consultations are one-on-one or small group appointments (i.e., scheduled) with a library staff member outside of the classroom. Include consultations conducted in a physical or digital/electronic manner. Include appointments made with special collections or archives staff. This does not include any walk-up transactions, no matter what the length or topic discussed [emphasis mine]. [Source — PDF]

So all you subject and functional specialists out there, what do you think of that definition?

Scenario 1: a PhD student walks by, sees you are in your office, and asks after a greeting “So I worked on that research strategy regarding my dissertation we talked about last week — that was great advice by the way, thanks! — can I talk about a follow-up problem with you?” And then you chat about this for 15 minutes.

Scenario 2: You get a chat message from a student team working in a computer lab at the other end of the library: “Hey, Steve, our Export Odyssey team has a problem with our shift-share analysis of the trade data — can we come over and talk about it for a few minutes?” And they do, as we examine their Excel formulae for a while.

So according to ACRL, these two scenarios are not consultations. Instead they are just reference questions, equal to “Where is the bathroom?” and “How late is the library open?”

Pretty foolish definition of a consultation IMO.

Library specialists (whether in subject matter, formats like government information, or technology) generate consultations through their special skills, skills their target market learn about through proactive engagement with classes, friendly and inviting library guides, word of mouth marketing, etc.

So a consultation to me is a substantial research session — both scheduled and unscheduled — in which patrons seek out a specific library specialist for his/her specialized knowledge and skills; the consultation can be in person, online, or by phone.

(Yes, we could debate what “substantial” means.)

Ok, not the most elegant definition, but I hope you get my drift there. This ACRL committee needs to get out of its traditional library mindset to embrace and encourage the vital role of library specialists who actively promote their skills and services to students and faculty. The results of such work can be research appointments as well as pleasant surprises.

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Catching up:

This is spring break for the UNC system, and spring-like temperatures have finally arrived. Flowers are budding and pretty birds are foraging the new growth. The library is quiet as expected but there are still some business faculty, graduate students, and one Export Odyssey student team working on their research. It’s been a nice break before some extra teaching next week, and then ACRL the week after that.

Our ACRL program will be “New Models for New Roles: Creating Liaison Organizational Structures that Support Modern Priorities” (#ACRL2015liaisons). I will be introducing the topic and then our three main speakers:

  • Jutta Seibert (Coordinator for Academic Integration and History Liaison Librarian, Villanova University)
  • Margaret Burri (Associate Director for Academic Liaison and Librarian for History of Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University)
  • Lynda Kellam (Data Services & Government Information Librarian and Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science, UNC Greensboro)

The event is Saturday, March 28 at 9:45 AM in Portland Ballroom 253 of the Convention Center.  UNCG looked at the Villanova and Johns Hopkins models of centralized liaison organization as benchmarks for our own liaison shake-up. Jutta and I met at LOEX last year but Margaret and I have only chatted on the phone. So it will be fun to all meet up in person. We plan on leaving plenty of time for discussions with the libraries who attend. (Look here for a recap by April).

My wife Carol from Wake Forest University is speaking at the same day and time — in the adjacent room! (If we yell maybe we could hear each other through the ballroom’s movable wall.) Her program is “Weed it and Reap: Successful Strategies for Re-shaping Collections“; she is working with librarians from St. Olaf College and Macalester College.

I didn’t read this new article in time to include it in my last post: “Teaching students what we do: A collection management course” by Tony Horava, in the March 2015 issue of College & Research Libraries News. Tony describes a LIS collections class firmly grounded in the modern realities of library collection management. He also describes some very interesting active learning assignments for the students.

I took advantage of today’s quiet to finish work on…

Today’s topic:

Sort of an epilogue to our recent liaison reorganization. Our AD of Public Services, Kathy Crowe (also a liaison) asked us to define our liaisons roles as a tool for planning, evaluation, assessment, and recruitment. Creating our liaison roles document proved to be quick and easy compared to our long reorg process.

Now this is not innovative work on our part – other libraries have worked on and published very thoughtful strategic planning documents on liaison roles. The main theme seems to be liaison work moving from a focus on collections to a focus on engagement. The published history of this theme was discussed in the RUSA Quarterly article “Outreach Activities for Librarian Liaisons” by Isabel D. Silver (see last post, item 3).


Three of us –colleagues Mark Schumacher, Jenny Dale, and me – volunteered to start the process of creating this document. We reviewed the Minnesota, Duke, and Washington documents. We really liked Duke’s use of best practices. Washington provided similar examples if you click through to the “More information at…” pages.

Within an hour, we came up with five roles:

  • Outreach & Engagement
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Research Services
  • Collections
  • Scholarly Communications

We decided our document would include defining aspects of each role as well as best practice examples.

A few weeks later we met with most of the liaisons at one of our monthly, hour-long liaison workshops, where all subject and functional team members are invited to a discussion on prearranged topics. Folks knew we were gathering to draft our roles document. Afterwards Mark, Jenny, and I would clean it up and email it out for further suggestions and edits.

We divided the assembled folks into five groups and gave each group a sheet with one of the five roles on top. The sheet had two sections: one labeled “define this role”, the other “best practices for this role”.

Each group spent 15 minutes working on their definition. Then we shared. The most interesting idea came from the “Outreach and Engagement” team, who said they struggled to define that topic independently of the other four. (Jenny, Mark, and I had discussed that problem earlier.) That group proposed we remove “outreach” as a role and instead cover that topic in the introduction of our proposed document.

Then we had the five groups pass their sheet to the next group clockwise, and work on some best practices for the role listed on their new sheet.

We concluded with a discussion of some of the best practices. The workshop went well: lots of energy and collaboration and no philosophical objections. (I thought we would have some word-smithing discussions about the roles, like “teaching & learning”.)

Then Mark, Jenny, and I typed up the ideas on the five sheets, standardized the verb tenses, and wrote an introduction. You can see below how we handled “outreach & engagement”. We received a few suggestions after emailing out the first draft. Today I emailed the second draft to library administration for final approval. I’m guessing the admins won’t ask for significant changes.

Liaison Roles
UNCG University Libraries
March 2015


The roles of library liaisons (subject specialists assigned to academic disciplines) continue to evolve. This document describes both ongoing and new roles in order to assist with planning, evaluation, assessment, and recruitment. Best practices for each role are included to provide concrete examples of effective work.

Four functional roles of liaisons

Liaison Roles Matrix

Central nature of outreach & engagement

The ethos of liaison work is a mindset of outreach to and proactive engagement with UNCG students, faculty, staff and administrators. Liaisons might also work with alumni, other researchers, and community members. This outreach mindset permeates all four functional liaison roles described below.

General responsibilities of liaison work

  • Develop strong working relationships with faculty
  • Seek opportunities to collaborate and establish partnerships in research, teaching, advocacy, etc.
  • Monitor trends in teaching and scholarship in assigned disciplines
  • Promote library services and resources
  • Assess both user needs and liaison services
  • Engage in continual education in librarianship and assigned academic disciplines

1. Teaching and Learning

  • Provide information literacy and research instruction to distance and residential classes via guest instruction, teaching or co-teaching credit-classes, online learning objects, etc.
  • Work with instructors to integrate information literacy and research skills into the curriculum
  • Create and maintain effective library guides, subject portals, tutorials, videos, and other learning objects
  • Design graded and ungraded research assignments in collaboration with instructors that incorporate information literacy goals
  • Assess student learning of information literacy concepts using the University Libraries’ “Student Learning Outcomes” and via multiple assessment methods
  • Identify core classes and curricula that would benefit from research instruction and/or learning objects, and contact the teachers involved

Best practices

  • Developing teaching and assessment skills through conferences, workshops, team-teaching, observing others teach, etc.
  • Discussing teaching experiences and ideas with other librarians
  • Reading new and revised syllabi
  • Reading students’ research projects or observing final presentations for assessment
  • Examining other libraries’ research guides, tutorials, videos, etc. for fresh approaches and new ideas

2. Research Services

  • Provide customized reference and research services through email, phone, chat, and individual and group consultations
  • Help staff the Information Desk and AskUs online service
  • Make referrals to other librarians, SCUA, campus units, etc. as appropriate
  • Seek opportunities to extend services through embedded work
  • Understand database interfaces, citation management tools, and other research tools used on campus
  • Support the Reference Intern program through training and mentoring
  • Understand the research process of students and faculty

Best practices:

  • Monitoring information desk and liaison queues in LibraryH3lp
  • Applying reference interviewing strategies to research services
  • Following up with users after the initial research session
  • Investigating the research interests of faculty and graduate students in preparation for providing future research service
  • Learning new interfaces and tools through training, webinars, and self-directed learning
  • Analyzing LibStats, web logs, and other methods of data tracking to better understand user behavior and to make recommendations on how to improve our services or interfaces

3. Collections

  • Communicate with users regarding collection and research needs
  • Develop and maintain print and electronic collections for assigned subject areas
  • Manage collection funds effectively and efficiently
  • Monitor research and publishing trends in assigned subject areas
  • Contribute to accreditation reports and “new program” applications
  • Remain knowledgeable about SCUA collections and collaborate with SCUA as needed
  • Support donor connections as relevant to liaison subject areas

Best practices:

  • Discussing collection, budget, and licensing issues with faculty, administrators, and graduate students in meetings and one-on-one conversations
  • Examining UNCG-authored papers for research interests, trends, and use of research sources
  • Promoting use of Gobi alerts
  • Investigating and offering trials to new or cheaper databases
  • Supporting NC LIVE and the Carolina Consortium

4. Scholarly Communications

  • Keep current with general trends in scholarly communications, and monitor subject-specific trends
  • Educate and inform faculty, graduate students, and campus administrators about scholarly communication issues, copyright, author rights, etc.
  • Investigate and promote new avenues of scholarly communication such as open access publishing, institutional repositories, journal hosting, etc.
  • Encourage and support the writing of data management plans
  • Discover and recruit UNCG scholarly output for inclusion in the open access digital initiatives

 Best practices:

  • Encouraging faculty to submit their work to NC DOCKS
  • Attending workshops, webinars and forums sponsored by the Scholarly Communication Team, ACRL, etc.
  • Encouraging faculty to attend such workshops, webinars, and forums
  • Referring users to the Scholarly Communications Officer when appropriate

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Happy March!


Robert Berkman has created a new blog about business research: http://www.bestbizweb.com/thinking-out-loud . The most recent post identifies his favorite deep news archives; that post also provides an example of date-limited Google searching. Looks like a useful blog to follow.


Also, Reference Head and Business Librarian Chad Boeninger from Ohio University has resumed blogging: http://libraryvoice.com/


Some articles from the latest issue of the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship:

“Information Literacy in Business Education: Experiential Learning Programs” by Patrick J. Griffis (University of Nevada–Las Vegas)

Patrick provides an introduction to the subject and then provides three examples of a business librarian embedded into “university field-based consulting initiatives” as a research instructor and consultant:

  • First-year students exploring the nature of being a business student through a Domino’s Pizza challenge competition;
  • MBA students working with engineering seniors to create business plans for a design competition;
  • Student interns working with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ExporTech service and local manufacturers to increase exports, with significant research support to the students and companies from the business librarian.

Other experiential learning programs are profiled, each demonstrating leadership from the librarian in building research instruction and consulting into the process, and through collaboration with business professors. Impressive work!


“Database review: DemographicsNow Library Edition: Customized Local Market Research” by Kate Pittsley (Eastern Michigan University)

Even if you don’t subscribe to this database, this review is quite useful for explaining how certain kinds of data are collected (ex. psychographic data like Simmons or Experian’s Mosaic Market Segmentation). The review also provides a useful content comparison chart covering DemographicsNow, SimplyMap, and Business Analyst Online, including which use EASI, Experian, Mediamark/MRI, etc.

(Also from that issue of the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship is an article from two former BLINC members, Kelly Evans & Jeanie Welch, on historical international economic data sources.)


From the Winter 2014 issue of RUSA Quarterly:

“Outreach Activities for Librarian Liaisons” by Isabel D. Silver (University of Florida)

This article beings with a review of how liaison work is now largely defined as engagement work, not collections work. The remainder of the article is an analysis of survey results from 28 liaison librarians. Isabel defines three phases of liaison outreach:

  • Phase I: Introductory Communications
  • Phase II: Take Action
  • Advanced Phase: Academic Collaboration And Program Evaluation

The three phases correspond to “three role phases”:

  1. For the benefit of beginning liaisons building core outreach services;
  2. For liaisons with basic experience and ready to progress to more unique and specialized services to meet the clientele needs; and
  3. For veteran liaisons who would like to develop closer partnerships with faculty and possibly involving collaborative teaching and research.

There are lots of bulleted, specific examples of outreach activity for each phase. This article provides a useful checklist to help assess the state of a liaison program.


You might have seen an announcement for Ticker: The Academic Business Librarianship Review, a new open-access journal published by the Academic Business Library Directors:

Ticker is a forum for the exchange of the research, best practices, and innovative thinking in business librarianship and business library management. The journal welcomes research articles, opinion pieces, member profiles, case studies, and conference reports reflecting all aspects of business librarianship.

The research articles will be peer reviewed, but not the opinion pieces, conference reports, and case studies. According to the site,

Reviewers are from the Academic Business Library Directors member institutions. Research manuscripts will be read by at least two reviewers within approximately six weeks of submission.

Authors retain copyright, but articles are published under the standard Creative Commons Attribution License that allows commercial republishing with only attribution given in return. (I would prefer a non-commercial CC license.)

Hopefully in a few months we will begin getting some interesting articles from this journal.


Praeger has a useful book series called “Entrepreneur’s Guide”. One of the books is The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Market Research (2012) by Anne M. Wenzel. I’ve been re-reading much of it for my ENT 530 class this semester (it’s one of the two assigned books). The book is really useful for explaining strategies for local business research (example: Ch. 7, “Estimating the Size and Growth of the Market.”) Wenzel’s book does discuss sources (emphasizing free ones, but listing pay-sources too) but her focus is much more on strategies. I would rather the students develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills using strategic applications of market data. This book really helps with that goal.


A new book in this series, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Statements by David Worrell, came out in 2014. The book is organized into 5 sections:

  1. Income Statement
  2. Balance Sheet
  3. Cash Flow Statement
  4. Ratios & Analysis
  5. Managing by the Numbers [dashboards, forecasts, etc.]

Given that I don’t feel especially comfortable with financials, I look forward to reading this.


Finally, also on my to-read pile are these two new books, which serve as a (self-promotional) conclusion to this post.

Dianne Welsh’s new book Creative Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship: A Practical Guide for a Campus-Wide Program came out in December. Dianne’s book provides a theoretical introduction to cross-campus entrepreneurship programs, but also serves as a practical handbook for starting such programs. In that regard she discusses the vital role of business librarians. There’s also a detailed summary of my ENT/GEO/LIS (and now MKT) 530 research class on page 53 (really).

The new 2nd edition of Case Studies in Global Entrepreneurship includes a chapter on “Exporting for Entrepreneurs” by  Nicholas Williamson and me. In it you’ll find a description of the curious job title my friend Nick likes to use for people like us: the “Electronic Business Reference Librarian” (p.108). This case comes out of our Export Odyssey class as well as an entrepreneurship venture we have been working on.

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The latest addition to the ALA Fundamentals book series is “Fundamentals for the Academic Liaison” (2014), written by Richard Moniz, Jo Henry, and Joe Eshleman:

We wrote this book because we believe that library liaisons are at the forefront with regard to the future of library services in this technological age. (preface, page vii)

(Admission: Richard, Jo, and Joe are friends of mine, and we have presented together a few times.)

Sometimes you hear laments that liaison work is generally not covered in library schools. Yet consider the list of liaison roles and responsibilities covered in this book:

1          Faculty/Staff Orientation Meetings
2          Subject Expertise
3          Communication with Faculty
4          Online Tutorials
5          Faculty Assistance
6          Collection Development
7          Teaching Information Literacy
8          Embedded Librarianship
9          Library Guides
10        Accreditation and New Courses
11        Evaluation

All that would be really difficult to cover in one 3-credit class! It would take a suite of classes. But for any attempt to cover liaison work in a class, this book would serve as a valuable and practical introductory textbook.

It was perhaps a daunting task to summarize topics like “teaching information literacy” in a 20 page chapter. The authors do often suggest core books and other sources for details. Each chapter includes checklists and concludes with a list of references.

I like how the chapter on embedded librarianship segments out different distinctive examples of such work: online, the physical classroom, and the academic department.

The chapter on evaluation was particularly interesting. Evaluating all aspects of a library’s liaison program remains a new frontier in many libraries. My library has had a detailed collections survey for academic departments for years, and a while ago added a question or two about liaison service; we also collect usage statistics on teaching, consultations, LibGuide and web page access, and e-resource click- through. I collect all the thank-you notes received each year.

But then what? Is there a holistic application of that data and feedback? What about a gap analysis (identifying absent data or feedback from a certain department)? What do I as the X liaison need to try differently next year? Ending the book on this subject really emphasizes how important evaluation should be. What to do with the evaluation would be another useful chapter.

This is a very useful book for liaison newbies but is also useful for experienced liaisons to step back and review the all the possibilities of serving as an academic liaison.

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