Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

NC summer flowers

NC summer flowers say hi

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

This week’s selections:

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

Here we go.


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

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

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

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

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

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

This article includes a detailed and useful lit review. 


Networking, not a four letter word
Nancy Lovas
Biz Libratory

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

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


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

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

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

Regarding licensed business content, Silver writes:

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

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

The article ends with negotiation tips:

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


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

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


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

What could the librarians do about this problem? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the conclusion:

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


A reference librarian working from home
Iris Jastram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Krstevska visiting Steve's workstation

Summer Krstevska visiting Steve’s home workstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Cramer visiting Summer's home workstation

Steve Cramer visiting Summer’s home workstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Final dinner at SOUCABL (pre-social distancing)

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

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

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

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

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

My roundtable submission:

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

These were the questions I submitted with the proposal:

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

What the librarians said

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

My handout:

Study your target market:

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

How to talk to faculty:

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

Leveraging your successes / telling your stories:

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

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

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

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

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

Allison Cruse

Allison Cruse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allison Gallaspy

Allison Gallaspy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Kraft

Amanda Kraft

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Wilhelm

Jennifer Wilhelm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ernie Evangelista

Ernie Evangelista

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

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

We volunteered major data repositories from St. Louis:

Fed sites new to me:

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

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Last week was busy for me, with 12 class sessions plus a few early research consultations. (Two of those sessions were for my own for-credit class, but I had to prep for those too — accessing Census industry data using the new data.census.gov interface, which I’m not a big fan of yet. At least it didn’t freeze up in class this time.)

My first class last week was the only new one — Retail & Consumer Studies 355: Retail Consumer Research: 

An introduction to reading and evaluating retail consumer data to make key merchandise buying and planning decisions. Analysis of retail consumer data as applied to the development of business strategy.

The instructor, Professor Wood, talked to me about this class last fall when she was creating the syllabus. The industry advisory board for this department (CARS) reported that data analysis had become a vital need but that few new hires had skills in that area. CARS Faculty had additional anecdotal feedback about analytics becoming a big deal, even for a mere internships in the Wal-Mart HQ (which makes a lot of sense for that company).

One of the four student learning outcomes in RCS 355 is “demonstrate how to use retail data to develop customer insights and business strategy through hands-on experience.” One of the textbooks is the new Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice.

The workshop set-up

We met in the smaller computer classroom in the library. This was a small class, so I asked all the students to introduce themselves and wrote their names down in their seating order. I told them that their instructor and I decided that the goals for this workshop include:

  • Developing some familiarity with professional databases for retailing data;
  • Improving their statistical literacy skills;
  • Getting experience with telling stories and making decisions with data.

I shared my agenda with the class:

  1. Introductions
  2. Warm up with Euromonitor: Discussion — what country drinks the most beer?
  3. Euromonitor Passport data and analytics: explaining a country’s sales forecast for womenswear
  4. Mintel market data and research: making decisions based on a table in a market report
  5. SimplyAnalytics for mapping U.S. demographic & psychographics: map a variable of your choice in a favorite city, block group level

Spoiler: we ran out of time before getting to data mapping. More on that below. That happens sometimes with a new lesson plan focusing on active learning and discussion. Those lesson plans usually take more time than you first predict. 

What happened

Warm-up discussion: what country drinks the most beer?

Box of markers

Box of markers (I used to have more colors — need to replenish)

I asked each student to pick their favorite color from my box of white-board markers. We got up and gathered around one of the big whiteboards. I asked the students to start writing down their guesses to the above question. Lots of ideas. Then I asked:

 “Ok, but how do we define “most beer”? How do we measure that?” 

The students started talking about volume, per person/capita, total money spent, etc. 

After discussing their guesses, we returned to the computers and opened up Euromonitor Passport. Using the “search statistics” box on the Passport homepage, it’s easy to get beer consumption by country on screen. Then I asked the students to start manipulating the data, for example, showing the data for total spending.

  • My question: What is wrong with using this data to compare countries?
  • A: Well, the data is in the native currency for each county. 
  • Q: Yes, good! See if you can figure out how to fix that….
  • A: Ah, you can change to one currency here…
  • Q: Ok, with all country data reported in U.S. dollars now, which country spends the most?
  • A: China. 
  • Another student: But it has the most people too.
  • Q: Ok, earlier, student X wrote “per person” on the board — can you make that change?
  • A: Umm yes, you do that here…wow, none of us guessed that country!

And so on. The students were using different versions of the Euromonitor data to tell stories, each story highlighting a different country that drinks the most beer according to different measurements.

After that warm-up, we focused on apparel for the rest of the workshop.

Second activity: interpreting sales forecasting (more story-telling)

I provided a short introduction to Euromonitor as a research company famous for global consumer data. Retail companies also buy their data, as I demonstrated using marketrearch.com (and noting the prices for a report).

I asked the students to pair up, pick a county, and then look up that country’s “Womenswear” report. 

“Look at the 5-year sales forecast. Summarize the forecast for your country (high growth, low growth, flat, or decline?)” 

“Ok, now please spend 5 minutes looking at both the industry trends and data as well as the macro-environment trends and data in this womenswear report. Based on what you learn, explain that sales forecast. Why does Euromonitor predict growth or decline in their forecast? What’s the story?”

We had an interesting discussion about Canada v. Italy, including the role of birth rates and immigration but also fashion trends and more general consumer trends.

Third (and final) activity: making a strategic decision using retail data

I briefly introduced Mintel as a research company, again showing the per-report prices in marketresearch.com. Professor Wood mentioned that early in her professional career, her company purchased Mintel reports. Back then the reports arrived on paper.

The students opened the recently-updated Luxury Fashion–US report. I asked each pair of students to find one table in that report that interested them. 

“What does that data mean? If you owned a luxury brand or a luxury fashion store, what decision might you make based on this data?”

Student answers (among others):

  • Gotta offer sales and discounts, even for luxury products.
  • Omni-channel is vital. Sell using both online and bricks ‘n mortar.
  • Younger women have less disposable income, so create a separate retailing brand with cheaper luxury goods for that market.

End of workshop feedback

One student said “it was useful to learn how to navigate these databases.” Another volunteered “I don’t like numbers but this workshop was fun.” Professor Wood told me that the workshop was “exactly what they needed.”

Two days later, after their next class session, Professor Wood emailed me to report that the students “felt it was a very valuable session and really liked learning how to find data in the Euromonitor and Mintel. They liked it so much that we discussed having one more session late this semester if you could be persuaded to do so?” 

She suggested we begin the second workshop with data mapping via SimplyAnalytics and end with prepared questions from the students regarding their final projects. Looking forward to that. Hopefully the students will sit in the same seats so that I’ll get their names right.

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sunrise in New Orleans

sunset in New Orleans (hotel room view over Canal Street — tiny bit of river at center-right)

Carol and I returned from visiting my snowbirding parents in Florida on December 31. We enjoyed New Year’s Day at home, went back to work for two days, and then I flew to New Orleans for three nights at USASBE 2020. I’ve never been to a conference so early in the year. A bit of shock.

Alyson Vaaler (in 2018) and I (2017) have written about the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference before. Six librarians attended this year with four of us providing programs. We managed to all get together for drinks in a cozy, literary-themed hole-in-the-wall in the French Quarter. I also encountered two Coleman Fellow director friends (cross-campus entrepreneurship program heads) and got caught up with them. This time though I was the only UNC Greensboro person at USASBE.

As both Alyson and I wrote, USASBE features an interesting mix of programming types [see scan] – not mostly panel discussions. I really like the programming diversity. The ELC 2020 conference will follow their example.

types of programs

types of programs

The “Emerging Teaching Exercises” program Genifer Snipes (U. of Oregon) and I provided ended up scheduled for the final hour of the conference, mid-morning on the Tuesday. Before the full conference schedule was released in late Fall 2019, I had already booked my flights with a convenient direct flight Tuesday morning, with a Tuesday evening church meeting at home in mind. So for the second conference in a row, I abandoned Genifer to the wolves err asked her to speak without me despite planning the program together. And yet she still talks to me and replies to my emails — a generous and forgiving soul.

USASBE 2020 was my last professional travel sponsored by our Coleman Fellows grant. We’ll see if I get back to an entrepreneurship education conference like USASBE, SBI, or GCEC again soon.

USASBE remains an excellent conference for learning about entrepreneurship education, classroom trends, pedagogical research, and (to a lesser extent) campus programming (centers and incubators — but GCEC is better for those topics). It remains useful to me to learn how entrepreneurship professors require (or not) primary and secondary research and how they talk about what we librarians call information literacy. Then I can better talk to my own UNCG profs using their own language — much more effective than using language cultivated in the librarian echo chamber. That’s a big reason I go to these conferences.

Krewe of Joan of Arc Mardi Gras parade

Krewe of Joan of Arc Mardi Gras parade

On the final night of the conference, Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) and I walked over toward Jackson Square for the first Mardi Gras parade of the year. It was sponsored by the Krewe of Joan of Arc and told the story of Joan from birth through her canonization in 1920. It was so much fun and I thanked Nancy for inviting me along.

Here are my highlights from my two full days at USASBE.


The librarians congratulated Karen MacDonald (Kent State U) for attaining tenure this school year. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know Sara Ness (Penn State); Sara and I sat together for all the morning and lunch keynotes.

Kerry Schrader and Ashlee Ammons

Kerry Schrader and Ashlee Ammons

The opening keynote speakers were Kerry Schrader and Ashlee Ammons, Founders of Mixtroz. They are African-American female tech entrepreneurs (also mother and daughter), not “techies” but “tech founders” and outsiders in multiple ways in this industry (although upper-income). Their app fosters face to face communication and helps develop communication skills. Schrader and Ammons emphasized the vital role of networking while discussing their experiences developing this company, positive and negative.

“Leveraging entrepreneurship as a tool of empowerment”

Mike Morris (Notre Dame) is well known in entrepreneurship education for running the Experiential Classroom for entrepreneurship instructors in Florida where he used to work. I last heard him speak about entrepreneurship as an anti-poverty strategy at GCEC in Chicago two years ago. He has a new book on this topic focusing on entrepreneurship as empowerment and transformation.

Morris talked about how poverty is a characteristic of one’s situation, not the person. That situation often involves education, diet, housing, single parenting, transportation, and work stresses and scarcities. Needs are often immediate and short-term. A long-term focus is more likely in situations of privilege, and therefore the lean startup and business canvas models don’t work well in the poverty context, he asserted.  So don’t force middle and upper-class attitudes and entrepreneurship techniques. Listen to and support the people on their terms. It’s not unlike what we learned about supporting refugee families resettled into North Carolina.

Performance and success are better measured by growth of skills and competencies plus progress along an entrepreneurial journey. Don’t emphasize the “number of start-ups” and other metrics better applied to entrepreneurs with a lot of time and capital.

Morris talked about the community engagement program in South Bend. Students are involved at every stage and provide lots of consulting. Less than half of the students are business majors — other skill sets are also needed, such as communication, design, and social work.

Reginald Tucker (Louisiana State University) discussed launching the same program in Baton Rouge. He has found the local churches to be effective to build relationships with people in poverty interested in entrepreneurship. That was apparently not the case in South Bend. LSU has not historically been part of the local African-American community, Tucker reported, so working with local trusted partners has been essential for buy-in and engagement.


Martin Atkins

Martin Atkins

The morning keynote made sure we were all awake and excited. Martin Atkins is an arts administration and entrepreneurship faculty member at Millikin University. My friend Julie Shields, the director of the Millikin entrepreneurship program (and one of those Coleman directors at the conference) introduced him. Atkins was a drummer for Public Image Ltd (Johnny Rotten’s post-punk band), Nine Inch Nails (he’s in the “Head in a Hole” video), and more recently Pigface. He bought Steve Albini’s studio. For the Pigface tour last summer, he created a 3-credit class for a group of students joining the tour on their own bus. Atkins was effective at challenging teaching norms. He also dropped lots of f-bombs and threw muffins out into the USASBE crowd. (Hey, he also provided a chart from Statista on the sales growth of vinyl records. Library database!)

“The Power of Defining the Problem: A New Model for Teaching Critical Thinking Skills”

Summer Krstevska and Nancy Lovas

Summer Krstevska and Nancy Lovas

Entrepreneurship Librarians Summer Krstevska (Wake Forest U) and Nancy Lovas (UNC Chapel Hill) presented “The Power of Defining the Problem: A New Model for Teaching Critical Thinking Skills” in an Emerging Teaching Exercises group session. Good attendance for this one, and many questions for the two librarians from the professors in the room. One comment: critical thinking in the classroom is very much like due diligence in industry. Another: too often students jump to the solution without first exploring the problem. I bet Summer and Nancy post something about their exercise at their blog later this year. Keep your eyes open for that.

(At another conference, one prof described their “understanding the problem competition” — instead of pitching solutions, the students are judged by how well they have researched and understood the problem. What an amazing opportunity to teach both primary and secondary research, as well as empathy, active listening, etc.)

Quick takes

From a program on interdisciplinary, cross-campus programs: Penn State’s preferred measure of success is not the number of on-campus startups but rather the number of students who have taken at least one entrepreneurship class.

Another cross-campus program, Eastern Washington University, has an emphasis on telling stories using data — entrepreneurial analytics, they call it. First in their curriculum is a startup research class. Library/database instruction is a core concept and competency for their program among 13 others. Post-Great Recession, the Communications and Music programs at EWU suffered steep declines in enrollment until entrepreneurship classes were added to their curricula. Now enrollments are increasing. Causation? But now students can respond to their parents “See, this is how I can make a living with this degree.”

I attended an experiential education program in which we played with Play-Doh err explored entrepreneurial mindset educational techniques using Play-Doh and play money.

Tuesday morning

“Measuring the Market: Developing Data Driven Estimates of Market Size and Value”

Genifer Snipes (with me in absentia) spoke on “Measuring the Market: Developing Data Driven Estimates of Market Size and Value.” Our issue:

Entrepreneurship students often lack the skills and situational awareness needed to effectively determine the potential market size for their product or service proposals. This is particularly the case when making forecasts for new or niche products & services. Consequently, students often target markets too large to cover or too small to be lucrative, or end up predicting unrealistically optimistic sales, while failing to use & cite authoritative data that can justify their projections.

Snipes & Cramer decision tree

Snipes & Cramer decision tree

After providing some examples (“Market size of the cannabis extraction equipment manufacturing industry”; “Market size for green formal wear (incl. wedding) for women”), we presented our decision tree, covering both B2B and B2C scenarios. Genifer then asked for feedback. One of the best comments was that we really have two separate objectives covered in that flowchart: customer profile (what is the nature of your customer? Your best customer?) and market size. So maybe we need to use a two-chart approach instead.

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NCLA 2019

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

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

Mary Scanlon and Summer Krstevska

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, Oct. 16

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

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

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

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

Make it Stick: Active Learning Techniques for Programming and Instruction

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

Mary Abernathy and Betty Garrison

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

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

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

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

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

Slides at http://Bit.ly/ncla19comics

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

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

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner

BLINC dinner at Spring House

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

Thursday, Oct. 17

2020 Census: Counting on Libraries

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

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

No Bob picture so here is the BLINC dinner menu

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

MSAs will get redefined in 2023.

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

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

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

Lots of concern and energy in the room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

John Raynor, Sara Thynne, and Nancy Lovas

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

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

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

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

BLINC Happy Hour

BLINC happy hour

BLINC happy hour at Small Batch (first wave)

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

Friday, Oct. 18

Developing your personal brand as a librarian

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

Angel Truesdale and Ingrid Hayes visiting the small groups

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

Slides and resources.

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

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

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

Summer Krstevska and Morgan Ritchie-Baum

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

Slides and a handout with tips and resources.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday lunch

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

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