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Archive for the ‘Research Services’ Category

Elizabeth Price works as the Business Librarian at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. She is always eager to embrace opportunities that involve travel and is up to 30 states and 17 countries. She’s an active member with the Special Libraries Association and the Capital Area Business Academic Libraries group (CABAL).

The Municipal Library of Prague features Matej Kren’s Idiom, a tower of books that seems infinite because of the mirrors inside - perfect for a librarian selfie.

The Municipal Library of Prague features Matej Kren’s Idiom, a tower of books that seems infinite because of the mirrors inside – perfect for a librarian selfie on our side-trip.

Embedded librarians, by definition, take their information expertise out of the library. 1 In spring 2019, I stretched the bounds of embeddedness across the Atlantic Ocean by accompanying a group of 30 business majors on a semester-long study abroad in Antwerp, Belgium.

I ended up learning so much from this experience that will affect my work as a business librarian and as a supervisor of student employees. It helped me understand much more about what students know, what they don’t, and what they most need — beyond basic help in citing sources (which they really need). While this experience might be atypical or even impossible for some business liaisons, I think there are applicable lessons to share.

First, a little background about the program. My institution, James Madison University, offers the Semester in Antwerp program three times a year. Between 30-35 students take part each term. The cohort takes four business fundamentals courses — finance, management, marketing, and operations — that are taught by faculty from the University of Antwerp or Antwerp Management School. The fifth course is a business elective, European Business Environment (COB 301), that is jointly taught by a European-based lecturer and an instructor from my home institution called the Faculty Member in Residence (FMIR). That was me. 

JMU students toward the Port of Antwerp, which is the second largest container port in Europe.

JMU students at the Port of Antwerp, the second largest container port in Europe.

All full-time faculty and administrative personnel with teaching designation can apply to serve as an FMIR. The FMIR’s role is to lead, advise and support our students living and studying in the city abroad. FMIRs handle administrative coordination between local faculty, the program coordinator in the host country, and the program directors back home. Unlike other study abroad programs, Antwerp FMIRs aren’t required to propose/teach/recruit for a course of their own design. Instead, they are responsible for grading 50% of student work in COB 301, largely projects related to our field trips and a weekly reflective journal.

That’s the role I signed up for, though it didn’t begin to describe all of the work I had to do during my 13 weeks abroad. Among the “other duties as assigned”: 

  • Carry a program phone with me at all times; answer student texts at — seemingly — all hours. (At one point, this led to a discussion of the inappropriateness of texting your FMIR at 5 a.m. with the question: “What time do I need to be up?”)
  • Attend all field trips to ensure students represent our institution appropriately and to help them connect those experiences to course content.
  • Mentor students about how to network and conduct themselves in professional settings. (Highlights of lessons imparted: Don’t write or draw immature things in swag notebooks and leave them at the firm; Don’t converge en mass on complimentary snacks like a pack of ravenous dogs; Don’t show up to morning field trips smelling like what you did last night.)
  • Lead weekly program meetings and organize weekly dinners with rotating group leaders.
  • Discipline students for unprofessional, unsafe, or academically unethical behavior.
  • Navigate student welfare issues such as homesickness, roommate feuds, dealing with a foreign healthcare system, group dynamic difficulties, alcohol misuse, and travel woes such as stolen phones (8 in total) and misplaced debit cards (4).
  • Keep financial records and program receipts; withdraw and disperse weekly stipends to 30 students; oversee two student assistants.
Antwerp Central Station is frequently ranked among the most beautiful in the world

Antwerp Central Station is frequently ranked among the most beautiful in the world

Does it sound like a ton of work? It was. But there were perks. I had the opportunity to audit the COB 301 lectures to learn the history of the European Union and how that government body impacts the business landscape. I also got a peek into a fantastic array of organizations through field trips to NATO headquarters, the European parliament and commission, a London-based asset management firm, the Antwerp diamond district, a fashion house, a major pharmaceutical company, and a family-owned chocolatier and craft brewery. (The latter had a great library-related origin story about how the founders searched through libraries and archives for a recipe thought permanently lost.) I was able to ask questions at these visits about the information skills the organizations need in new hires and how they manage their corporate research centers and/or archives. (The asset management firm had a fabulous presentation from the corporate archivist about the company’s history that really surprised the students.) 

I was able to read the students’ weekly reflective journals and witness what they were learning, even if sometimes they didn’t realize the full implications. And mentoring students — especially in the informal conversations we’d have about leadership roles, career opportunities and measuring success — was incredibly rewarding. 

Being embedded with a group of 20-year-olds for four months revealed tons about their communication patterns, technology gaps, and research skills. I struggled to get them all to utilize the program’s Facebook group — they definitely prefer information via text. They AirDrop one another constantly and memes are their common language. A few students bristled when faced with a LockDown Browser that wouldn’t let them use CTRL+F to search their lecture notes for an open-book exam (Quote: “We’ve never had to find information another way!”) 

JMU student attempts to make the signature Antwerp Chocolate Hand at a local chocolatier.

JMU student attempts to make the signature Antwerp Chocolate Hand at a local chocolatier.

Yet for being constantly connected to their phones, several had no idea they could register for classes using a mobile device instead of their laptops. Only a handful had used our institution’s library resources to do research during their college careers. I took for granted that they’d understand that “current” information meant articles published in the last two to three years. Only one group presentation among the five I observed in their marketing class did APA citations or appeared to have gathered data from scholarly journals. And the laziness of some students’ information gathering could be astonishing at times. I eventually enacted a zero tolerance policy for misspelling the name of an organization we visited in their learning journals.

But the research trend that concerned me the most? Students’ expectation that all of the information they need will be given to them. Early in the semester, they rarely conducted research before a field trip. I think of how often I perform pre-research in my work-life and wonder about how to instill its value. I know they eventually will learn that walking into a client meeting blind is a major no-no. But I think we can do more as librarians to urge students to pre-research and to encourage faculty to value it. 

Students were able to tour Bloomberg’s London headquarters thanks to a JMU alumnus who works there.

Students were able to tour Bloomberg’s London headquarters thanks to a JMU alumnus who works there.

Yet for every perceived #researchfail, I found plenty to celebrate. I began rewarding students who asked thoughtful questions on field trips and was impressed by their astuteness by semester’s end. I think assigning each student team to curate five internet sources about each field trip and share them to a Wakelet helped them become more engaged. One night, a group texted me about getting free dessert in Budapest after writing TripAdvisor reviews of the restaurant (we had done an exercise scrutinizing reviews for their usefulness before writing our own about an Antwerp museum). I urged them to use LinkedIn to research the professional guests at our etiquette lunch and arrive with at least two questions to ask. Lastly, I had the students collaborate on annotated bibliographies to prepare for their fashion district and Port of Antwerp tours and the subsequent case study presentations. Although students often groaned about these assignments, a few ultimately recognized their value. They might have only said that in hopes of a better grade, but I still plan on counting it as evidence that I taught these 30 students that Information has Value

My experience abroad was exhausting, enlightening and edifying. I gained significant insight into the corporate world through field trips and the courses I audited, learned more about the unique challenges of the Gen Z student experience in a culture that is Permanently Online, Permanently Connected (POPC), and gained empathy for people in new surroundings and the culture shock that ensues. It was tough to be away from family, in a place where I didn’t speak the primary language, and where even everyday tasks like grocery shopping or banking had a learning curve. Sometimes it was difficult to know whether the students were learning anything from me or from their academic experience. Even after being back for a few months, those doubts emerge. So I read through a few of the students’ reflection essays from the end of the trip and I always come back to my favorite one:

“My view of America changed a little because of this experience. I learned that two big arguments against American politics are that we have to pay a ton for our education, and ‘if you get cancer in American you will die if you don’t have a lot of money.’” (Belgian guy, De Prof, 2019).

The citation wasn’t perfect, and according to APA guidelines about in-person interviews, not even technically required. But the fact that the student attributed a conversation from a bar to support his point encapsulates our semester together. I truly couldn’t be prouder of how much we learned from one another.

  1.  Shumaker, D. (2012). Embedded librarian: Innovative strategies for taking knowledge where it’s needed. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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Wrapping up the semester

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s topic

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

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

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

We agreed to this discussion agenda:

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

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

Measuring faculty research impact

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

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programming for business students in the library

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

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

Instruction

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

Old Salem scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Salem scene

Old Salem scene

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

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

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

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

What do you do in the summer?

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

Some answers:

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

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

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Nancy Lovas is the entrepreneurship librarian at UNC Chapel Hill, where she does all things business research. Instruction features heavily in her professional interests, as well as learning the ins-and-outs of business information and databases. Nancy’s best days include a walk outside, a strong cup of tea, and anything related to teaching. She holds a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Summer Krstevska is the business, economics & data access librarian at Wake Forest University, where she supports biz u-grads as well as entrepreneurship minors, and the economics programs. She is currently exploring her curiosities surrounding data visualization and developing her first for-credit business research course for entrepreneurs. She holds a M.L.I.S in Library and Information Science from Simmons University.

Athens GA street scene

Athens GA street scene. From Alan Sandercock, http://tinyurl.com/y2d4hqc7

Spring had come to Athens, Georgia when around 30 intrepid business librarians convened for the first-ever Southern Academic Business Librarians Conference (SOUCABL, pronounced “sociable”) on the last weekend in March. We braved pollen, a hilly UGA campus, and some friendly March Madness rivalry for a day of great conversations, connections, and development of business reference skills.

SOUCABL is the brainchild of Sheila Devaney at the University of Georgia, Rahn Huber of Vanderbilt, and Trip Wyckoff at Florida State. Intended to be “an affordable opportunity for librarians to discuss business librarianship and to network with other librarians in the region,” it is the opinion of this author (Nancy) that the conference accomplished its purpose.

Pre-Conference

We both attended the great pre-conference workshop on Friday afternoon with Celia Ross, author of the book Making Sense of Business Reference (new edition coming out this year!). It was a condensed version of her popular RUSA course. I (Nancy) enjoyed how Celia asked us to rate ourselves: “how ‘spicy’ can you handle bizref? (Mild, Medium, Hot, or On Fire)” Given the naturally humble natures of librarians, most of us labeled ourselves a variation on medium. However, after several hours together working through some tough ‘bizref stumpers’, I suspect we underrated ourselves. Also of interest was the opportunity to play around in a lot of databases.

The Conference

After the pre-conference, the conference officially opened with a reception sponsored by RKMA Publishers. Downtown Athens is hopping on a Friday night, and the librarians were no exception. Afterwards, a few of us found a place to watch the UNC vs. Auburn game.

It was a jam-packed Saturday.

The conference had a great start with the keynote presentation by Susan Klopper, the Executive Director of Goizueta Business Library at Emory University. She went over the qualities and competencies she looks for when hiring business librarians. Though we both have somewhat recently just made it out of the hunger games of the librarian job search, this keynote’s content was still useful.

Klopper cut straight to the point about what makes business librarians unique and how one can continue to grow these competencies, whether new in your position or more seasoned (sticking with Celia’s spicy metaphor here). Her suggestion to consider yourself as a business was key to her main point of ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ of a true business librarian. In this sense, Klopper stated that a business librarian should:

  • consider their competitors and customers,
  • differentiate their services,
  • negotiate their time strategically,
  • and build clients for life.

Klopper highlighted the importance of knowing your value proposition, as well as figuring out what you love and then putting yourself out there. Kopper challenged us: “what kind of librarian do you want to be?” Her talk emphasized that we all can develop, define, and refine who we are today and grow into who we want to be tomorrow.

With Klopper’s motivation, it was easy for the group to transition into a competency brainstorming session after the keynote. During this session, we partnered up and discussed what competencies we were already strong with and of those competencies, which one would we want to develop. We then considered how we would develop that competency.

This realistic approach to improving our strengths was practical and felt achievable. I (Summer) felt like I could go back to my office immediately and get to work! The encouragement from Trip Wyckoff to actually pursue our development plan by keeping our partner accountable with the end goal of presenting together next year at SOUCABL was priceless. His suggestion helped collaborators move past just temporarily collaboration and instead paved the way to building lasting partnerships with each other.

After a delicious lunch from Statista, it was time for poster sessions. The poster sessions touched on topics of flipping the entrepreneurial classroom, building partnerships with career services, what students think of discipline specific information literacy, and OER usage of accounting faculty. All of these posters were relevant, intriguing and (in my/Summer’s opinion) would make amazing full presentation sessions in their own right. I hope to hear more from the presenters next year.

When it came time for the full presentations, the presentations covered topics such as the challenges of engaging business students early on in First-Year Seminar & First-Year Experience courses, entrepreneurship-related events hosted by the library, and the growing popularity of fintech and its impact on biz ref, just to name a few. I (Nancy) liked the structure of presentation time. Presenters were allotted twenty minutes, which allowed for more depth than a lightning talk yet was a good length for our dwindling attention spans.

We took a few minutes at the end of the day to share our “roses, thorns, and crowns” (what we liked, didn’t like, what should stay the same). Everyone agreed the conference should happen again!

The day ended with lively chat and laughter on a sunny rooftop bar in downtown Athens courtesy of PrivCo.

Conclusion

Summer

Overall the conference was a great experience for me. The content really hit the spot and networking-wise it could not have been a better, more enjoyable group of people to get on with. Aside from BLINC workshops, I’ve never attended a full conference where every session felt so directly related to my work. I left SOUCABL feeling inspired and satisfied. This conference was more than worth its price tag and was only a short distance from North Carolina. I look forward to going back and hopefully presenting with librarians I made connections with this past year.

Nancy

I am so glad I went to SOUCABL. I echo Summer’s comment about meeting great people and benefiting from the excellent content. I also appreciated how many vendors were in attendance. As an early-career business librarian, the whole collections-thing can be rather daunting. Susan Klopper specifically mentioned the vendor community in her keynote and working with vendors is often brought up at BLINC workshops. This conference was a low-key opportunity to meet vendors for many of the databases and products I currently manage and start building relationships with those vendors.

Thank you, Sheila, Rahn, and Trip, for your hard work in organizing, and to the vendors who generously sponsored the conference.

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Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

Food truck lunch time at the BLINC workshop

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

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

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

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

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

Agenda:

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

Introducing the topic

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

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

Dan Maynard

Dan Maynard on lessons learned as a Sullivan Fellow

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned:

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

Measuring outcomes: assessment or story telling?

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

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

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

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

From the Q&A with Dan on academic implications:

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

We moved the IRS 990 discussion for after lunch.

Food truck lunch

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

Nonprofit financial research and benchmarking

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

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

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

Librarian support of the UNC-Chapel Hill Makerthon

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

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

Nancy Lovas on the Makerthon

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

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

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

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

Small Business and Technology Development Center & social entrepreneurship

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

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

Deanna Day on SBTDC consulting

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

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

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

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

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

Social data

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

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

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

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

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WFU building in the Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter

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

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

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

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

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

Ash Faulkner

Ash Faulkner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

John Raynor and Kassie Ettefagh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other conference notes

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

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

lunch outdoors at the conference

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

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

Epilogue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enterprising Liaisons: Evolving Engagement
Jennifer Natale—Appalachian State University

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

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

Hometown summer beach scene

Hometown summer beach scene

1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe related to all that, Danya continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently, the survey didn’t cover social entrepreneurship.

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

5.

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

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

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

Similar results regarding the words used to describe relevant programming.

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

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

6.

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

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

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

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

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

7.

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

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

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

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

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

8.

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

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

9.

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

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

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

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

10 & 11.

Two educational and interesting blogs:

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

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

SearchReSearch
http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/

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

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

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Home stretch of the spring semester — getting into the peak weeks of research consultations, as the student teams prepare their final reports and presentations. Good luck to all the academic librarians facing the same time demands!

BLINC had a well-attended March workshop in the Durham County Library MakerLab. We had 25 folks present, half of whom were first-time attendees to a BLINC workshop. I wrote last winter about the apparent decline of business librarian positions in North Carolina. That situation is unchanged, but demand for programming on community engagement and economic development remains strong. Perhaps that should be the focus of BLINC, not pure business librarianship. Something to think about.

Meanwhile, BLINC has collaborations coming up with the Government Resources Section of NCLA in May as well as CABAL up in Richmond, VA in July. We are looking forward to those events.

And a bunch of librarians are working on proposals for business content programs at the Charleston Conference this fall. We had at least four such programs last year, plus a dinner, and also a happy hour sponsored by InfoUSA. So we hope to have even more programming in 2018. We will email BUSLIB about that soon. Proposals can be submitted between mid-April and July.

Today’s topic

UNCG’s Professor Latasha Valez is teaching two sections of LIS 620: Information Sources and Services: a hybrid class and a synchronous online class. The hybrid class meets on Monday mornings, the purely online class Wednesday evening. Professor Valez asked if I could introduce business information sources and services to these first-year LIS students.

Years ago, I taught a 3-credit “Business Information Sources & Services” class for the UNCG LIS program. For LIS 620, I dug up my old slides from the first day of that old LIS class to see what I could reuse. Not much! I basically retained two slides (I’ll point those out below). The rest of the slides were too out of date, or I no longer liked the content. My current research class is cross-listed with LIS, but it doesn’t attract many LIS students, and that class isn’t an “introduction to business librarianship”-type class. So there wasn’t much from my current class to apply to LIS 620.

No, I normally don’t use slides when I teach. I have (quietly) enjoyed the sometimes fierce debates between librarians regarding using slides in research instruction. This debate sometimes comes up in our search committee discussions, when we need to critique the mock class a candidate provided. Strong feelings are sometimes expressed and the committee chair might have to assert “we are not going to reject this candidate because he/she used slides and you don’t” (or the reverse). (Yes, a little exaggeration there.)

But for online classes, I wanted the students to be able to see content and review it later. Otherwise, all they could do to review would be to watch the recording of me speaking and using a LibGuide. I also embedded links in the slides and included some content I didn’t cover during my time with the two sections (mainly, examples of real research questions from business students, nonprofit managers, entrepreneurs, but with vital details removed of course).

What happened

As part of the classes, I had the students explore three NC LIVE databases: SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, and Morningstar. These are available state-wide. Most of the students had not used any of those products yet. That hands-on work was the final third of my class.

Before that, we discussed the nature of business sources and the nature of business information services. I had discussion questions for those two topics. If I talk to this class again, though, it might be interesting to start with some database exploration and then discuss sources and services.

Each section had around 25 students. I began by asking then to introduce themselves, describing any specialization in library science or archives they are interested in, and describing any experience they already have with business information. None of them expressed a goal at this early stage of their library studies in business librarianship. But some already work at a library service desk supporting general questions, including business research and job seeking. At the beginning of the Wednesday evening class, some participated via their phones while driving home from work. Yikes!

It was not hard getting the students to participate, either verbally or via text. There some strong personalities in the class! That was fun to hear.

Here is what I talked to the students about, including my discussion questions and database searches. I preached a few times. My comments on slide content are in italics.

My content and active learning

 Agenda:

  • About me, about you
  • Nature of business services
  • Nature of business sources
  • Hands-on exploration of research questions using NC LIVE business databases

About you:

  • Your background
  • Plans after graduation?
  • Business research experience?

See above for a quick summary of this.

Part 1: Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What are the types of patrons (users/clients)?

The students did of a good job of thinking beyond just business owners.

Patron base [my answers to that question]

  • Nonprofits
  • Small (& large) businesses
  • Entrepreneurs (& social entrepreneurs)
  • Governments & economic development agencies
  • Personal investors
  • Students, faculty, teachers

No one had heard of “social entrepreneurs”. When I asked what they thought that means, the responses were “social media companies”. I hadn’t expected that. Maybe I’m in an entrepreneurship bubble.

Nature of business services

  • Discussion: What do you think?
  • Or, how is business information service different from other kinds of service?

Some students mentioned statistical data and more specialized sources that take more time to learn or figure out.

Nature of services [my answers]

  • Strong need for subject skills, to understand and apply the sources
  • High demand for library instruction, training, and research consultations
  • Promotion of the library’s services and collections is vital, given…
  • The many types of patrons
  • The availability of free web sources for basic-level business information
  • The historic impression of libraries being merely book warehouses

Nature of services: within the library

  • Business librarians tend to be among the busiest subject librarians
  • Other library staff often not comfortable with business research (opportunity?)
  • A library that can’t analyze its own changing community (demographics, psychographics, industry mix & employment) is a weak library.

I preached a bit here. (The students said they enjoyed hearing me get more passionate for this topic.) I did briefly discuss how business librarians often have to be the hardest working librarians in their departments or libraries. I also emphasized not being afraid of business research can get you noticed. But I focused more on the last point. I still sometimes hear librarians at conferences saying “oh, we are a public good, we don’t need to do marketing – that’s something icky corporations do.” Um no. Are you patron-centered or not? It’s not all about you the librarian and your preconceived notions. Get over yourself, understand your community, and then serve your community. Can’t do that without market research.

Nature of services: embedded

  • Discussion: What does embedded librarianship mean to you?

Nature of services: embedded [my answers]

  • Proactive engagement with the community
  • Get out of the library!
  • Get invited (or crash) board meetings, entrepreneurship or nonprofit forums, etc.
  • Sell yourself and the library’s resources
  • Experiential learning (classes working with local businesses, nonprofits, & agencies)
Export Odyssey homepage story

Export Odyssey homepage story

At the risk of being self-centered, I showed a screen capture of when I was on the campus homepage with Professor Williamson and Jenny from Ms. Jenny’s Pickles, as example of the community engaged, economic development Export Odyssey project. I also showed a picture of me working with an Economics graduate student in the business school that was on the Economics Department homepage for a while.

Nature of services: job titles

  • “Business Librarian” is one.
  • What else can MLS graduates with these skills be called?

Trying to get the students to think beyond academic and public library work.

Nature of services: job titles [my answers]

  • Information Specialist
  • Competitive Intelligence Specialist
  • Knowledge Manager
  • Research Consultant
  • Corporate & Special Librarian

The students did come up with some of these.

Part 2: Nature of business sources

  • What do you think?
  • Or, how is business research different from humanities research?

A suite of topics

  • Industries
  • Competitive intelligence (CI) (company research)
  • Public company financials
  • Private company financial benchmarking
  • Nonprofit financials
  • Investments

More:

  • Consumer/B2C marketing (demographics, psychographics)
  • B2B marketing
  • Real estate
  • Economic data
  • Trade data
  • Management (best practices, trends)

I was trying to show that “business” is a broad discipline, like the “humanities”, not just one topic or one academic degree program. This information and the “Nature of sources” section below are all I saved from my old slides.

One library guide example: http://uncg.libguides.com/mba

  • Note use of subtopics to organize these links
  • Also the opportunities for intro videos
  • And the need for specialized APA help

Nature of sources

  • Usually specialized tools
  • Often very expensive
  • Libraries usually not the primary market
  • Numeric data is vital
  • Local data often needed
  • Functionality can be as important as content
  • Example: sorting or ranking companies or data; exporting to a spreadsheet; mapping data

Emphasis on the functionality point, and the “not just libraries use these” point. Those factors make our content much more challenging (and interesting too) than content for most other disciplines, I suggested.

More on sources

  • Changes in vendors, publishers, and products are routine and should be expected.
  • There are many choices in vendors and publishers, making evaluation and re-evaluation of products very important.
  • Government datasets also vital
  • Census / American FactFinder
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • State-level data, like state data centers or http://accessnc.nccommerce.com/

Part 3: Hands on time using NC LIVE business sources

  • https://www.nclive.org/
  • 3-part mission: “helps member libraries to better support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.”
  • Funding state-wide access to SimplyAnalytics, ReferenceUSA, ABI-INFORM, & Morningstar
  • BLINC & NC LIVE work closely together

The students already working in libraries knew about NC LIVE.

ReferenceUSA

  • URL was here
  • Covers every business, nonprofit, & government location in the U.S.
  • But often called a “marketing database” due to its B2B applications
  • Google, Microsoft, & Yahoo buy this company data for their mapping tools
  • Has nine other modules

Scenario: Export Odyssey example:

  • Find all the SME (small-medium size establishments) chemical manufacturers in the Triad

I had created two scenario/practice questions per database, but decided to only use one for each. The students had to use the custom search to figure out how to find these companies. They didn’t have much problem. I also demonstrated searching for very specific industries, using “yoga” as a keyword. Students were impressed by the scope of this database and curious about the other modules.

SimplyAnalytics

  • Called SimplyMap before Aug. ‘17
  • 30,000+ demographic & psychographic variables
  • Create maps & tables from U.S. states to Census block groups (neighborhoods)
  • Fun and popular!
  • UNCG pays for the Simmons data module

The first scenario was a real entrepreneurship example:

  • “I’m working on a business plan for a K-8 private school in Philadelphia. I would like to know about the expected tuition costs, what neighborhoods have above-average income, and what neighborhoods are spending the most on education.”

But I had the students do scenario 2 instead:

  • Look up one of our hobbies or interests.
  • Map interest or participation in that hobby in a city of your choice.
  • What neighborhoods (use Census tracts or block groups) are more interested?

In the process, I had the students discuss the meaning of “psychographics”. (This was before the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.) I also had the students discuss how the market research companies like MRI and Nielsen/Simmons get their data. The students started to express privacy concerns, but then I ask how many have location services enabled on their smart phones. They had some good insights about how citizens/consumers (including library students) willingly give away their own behavioral data to companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Morningstar Investment Research Center

  • Investment data and analysis for stocks and mutual funds
  • Also a public company research database
  • Used by students and also local investment clubs
  • Look up individual stocks or funds, or use the screener to create lists that match your criteria

Scenario

  • Is Netflix a good company to invest in?
  • Why or why not?

At the time, Morningstar assigned 2 stars to Netflix. I tried to find a famous, new company that the analyst wasn’t gushing over. That made the “why or why not” discussion more interesting.

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