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Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Below is a link to my slides from the lightning round session of the Academic Libraries Supporting Entrepreneurship online symposium (March 2, 2017).

What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Teaching a Three-Credit Entrepreneurship Research Class (PDF)

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Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

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

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

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

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

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

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

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

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

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

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

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

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

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

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

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

Philly moth from a social event

Philly moth from a social event

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

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

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

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New space for the plenary sessions

New space for the plenary sessions — I liked it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The USF liaisons identified areas of emphasis on campus:

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

So action items taken or planned:

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

Going forward, the questions for the liaisons include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Developing Liaison Librarians for Data-Intensive Research Engagement”

Hilary Davis, NCSU

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

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

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

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

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

The objectives included:

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

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

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

Honora Eskridge, NCSU

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

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

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

Hilary and Honora suggest three top take-aways:

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

“The Future of Subject Specialists in Academic Libraries”

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

Mary Scanlon (WFU) and Betty Garrison (Elon)

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

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

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

They planned this program to delve into those possibilities.

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

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

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

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

Comments from the audience at this point:

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

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

Conference proceedings will be published soon.

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Ilana Stonebraker is Assistant Professor of Library Science and Business Information Specialist in the Parrish Library of Management & Economics, Division of Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Business, Purdue University Libraries. She also serves on the BRASS Executive Committee and co-founded the New Business Librarians Group.

Steve asked me to share on his blog the impetus and beginning stages of my new course: HONR 299: Greater Lafayette Greater. HONR 299 came out of a themed version of MGMT 175: Information Strategies for MGMT Students, a class I have been teaching for nearly four years. MGMT 175 is a flipped course focused on information literacy that makes heavy use of problem-based learning. The aims of MGMT 175 are simple, yet deceptively challenging for students: “solve problems using information”. Students are given information-rich situations aided by library databases, and must find ways to generate insights.

First, some background. Purdue University is situated in West Lafayette, Indiana, which is bordered  by Lafayette, Indiana. The whole area is called “Greater Lafayette” or Greater Lala, if you must. West Lafayette is a college town, specifically a college town filled with engineers. Lafayette is a manufacturing town. The big employers are Subaru, Caterpillar, Tate and Lyle’s corn syrup plant, and Evonik. Greater Lafayette is surrounded by corn and soybean fields. The Wabash River runs through both cities, somewhat the boundary between the two of them.

In Fall 2015, I had started meeting regularly with a particularly excellent group of business librarians on Google Hangouts: Kenny Garcia, Caitlan Maxwell and Jessica Jerrit. This group, formed loosely at ACRL 2015, was focused on practicing what it called critical business information literacy (CBIL), defined as the application of social justice to business information literacy. What does it mean to be an ethical business person, and how does an ethical business person find, evaluate and use information?

Figure 1 Making Greater Lafayette Greater installation

Figure 1 Making Greater Lafayette Greater installation

The work I did in MGMT 175 was affected by CBIL thinking. More specifically the cases I used in class were affected. Many of the cases were focused on individual aims: more profits for one company, stakeholder or investor. Why was business information always about increasingly the success of the individual and not the community? After all, business people often work for communities, often think of themselves as being grounded in civic responsibility. What if students weren’t trying to solve the problems of a company, but rather the problems of a whole community?

Thus, the course theme “Making Greater Lafayette Greater” was shamelessly stolen from an art installation in Lafayette. Jason Tennenhouse, known locally for founding Greyhouse Coffee, created a website where people could submit ideas and they would be scrolling at the old gas station at 6th and State in Lafayette. It should be noted that at the time there were no political connotations to making something great.

I switched the four cases used in the class to be more civically focused.  Student investigated demographics, learned about best practices and considered local competitive strengths. They went on field trips to startup incubators, coworking spaces, and city beautification projects. As a final project, students were given a hypothetical 4 million dollar budget (the budget of the state street project, which had a call for proposals at the time) to fix something in the community. The problem they focused on had to affect not just students. In the final project, students proposed art filled bus stop shelters, day care centers, community gardens and ambitious development plans.

I liked teaching the course and I think the course had value. It led to me getting the “Exceptional Event Planner” award from Purdue’s Learning Community Office. But I felt rushed. MGMT 175 was a one-credit- eight week course. I had to balance multiple content needs of other things I felt I need to cover in the class (evaluation of sources, citation) with my more civically-minded approach. More specifically, my students, all lovely people, had not signed up for this adventure I had thrust upon them. It was the common teaching trap: teaching things which had had value in the abstract, but weren’t always valuable to my students in their lived experiences.

At Purdue, the Honors College is in an ambitious and new undertaking. Their mission to create “well rounded, global leaders” through four pillars: interdisciplinary academics, leadership development, undergraduate research, and community/global experiences (website). In Spring 2016, they put out a call for new courses. Teaching the Greater Lafayette class within the Honors College appealed to me because I could teach it as a three credit course, was given professional development funding, and also was guaranteed a class half the size (20 v. 40). It seemed to me to be the best place for further development of the Greater Lafayette course.

As it was once explained to the Von Trapp family, starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start. What do I want students to gain from the class? What’s the meaning of it all?

  • Student will articulate and empathize with the diverse group of struggles the Greater Lafayette area faces at a local and global level across economic, cultural, and administrative dimensions.
    • Students will find, organize, and evaluate information about the Greater Lafayette area.
    • Students will identify sources to learn more about problems that are important to them.
  • Students will apply concepts of economic development to create an action plan for either the Lafayette or West Lafayette city governments to implement change in the community.

The course is a triple challenge for me: I have not taught a three credit course, I have never taught in the Honors College, and I am also not an economic development expert, though I have had a personal lifelong fascination with its messy science. However, this is not the first time as a librarian I have had to do something I’ve never done before, and I doubt it will be the last.

My concern is whether my desire to teaching economic development will envelope my information literacy roots. I believe that a course is not information literacy just because a librarian teaches it. My roots are always in how students use information to inform their decisions, and that includes frank discussions of bias as well as moments for students to show empathy. My colleague Megan Sapp Nelson defends our role in data management by highlighting the unique group of skills that librarians bring to the table. Librarians, by the nature of their work and perspective, are system thinkers. Librarians think of things in terms of inputs and outputs in a larger scholarly communication cycle. I would characterize system thinking information literacy as how I approach HONR 299: from a high level. I hope students can solve problems by thinking in information literate ways.

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Catching up

As Cynthia Cronin-Kardon from the University of Pennsylvania announced on BUSLIB recently, a group of librarians are working on creating business librarian programming every year at the Charleston Conference. This year, Cynthia, Betsy Clementson from Tulane, Corey Seeman from the University of Michigan, and I are facilitating a “lively lunch” on the topic of “Why business content subscriptions can drive us crazy, and what to do about it: A dialogue with business librarians, business vendors, and the audience on best practices and solutions”.

Also joining us will be John Quealy from S&P and Dan Gingert from PrivCo. As I’ve posted before, this is the best conference for discussion of trends in collections, publishing, licensing, and open access. Publishers and vendors participate in many panels and discussions, as opposed to being banished to the exhibit hall all conference long. And Charleston is a wonderful city for history, art, strolls along the rivers, and enjoying fancy food and drink. So we encourage business librarians, business vendors, and anyone else who has to work with business content as part of their job to join us.

Congrats to Orolando Duffus for being named ACRL member of the week!

Segue to today’s topic

For so many of us, search committees are a year-round concern. My department (Research Outreach and Instruction) recently hired a new department head, the amazing Amy Harris, who was our internal candidate and so there will be another search next year to replace her old position. But first we will have a search for an Online Learning Librarian based here in ROI. This is great news. After budget cuts a few years ago, we ended up with one of those dreaded Frankenstein positions — Electronic Resources & Distance Education Librarian — formerly two full time jobs.

Long-time readers know this blog don’t usually get into negative stuff (I’m not a very annoyed librarian I guess) but creating that kind of unsustainable position was pretty sad and probably reflected a momentary lack of leadership. When resources are scarce, we need to prioritize and consider making a difficult decision about staffing, or maybe consider if a team approach would work using existing staff. Anyway, Kate Hill, whom we hired for that Frankenstein position, is highly skilled and is working extra hard to try to keep up, but it’s simply not feasible for one person to handle that workload. Hence the new position. Kate is looking forward to “just” being an ER librarian (and pursuing tenure, etc.). I really like how the DE librarian will be based in our liaison department, emphasizing the public service focus of that kind of position and how this person will work with us liaisons supporting DE classes within our subject areas. My colleague and office neighbor Karen Grigg, Science Librarian, was asked to chair this search since she did such a good job chairing the Frankenstein search.

And one more bit of somewhat related news: I’ve been asked to serve on the search committee for the business school’s next professor of international marketing. My long time teaching partner Professor Nicholas Williamson is finishing his phased retirement this year. His department, Marketing Entrepreneurship Hospitality and Tourism (ok, yes, another Frankenstein thing! but MEHT is full of strong library supporters) wasn’t slated to get another position to replace Nick (not sure why). But the business school dean told the provost that the Export Odyssey project might be finished after this year, and the provost replied “We can’t have that.” So she gave MEHT an extra position. Since I co-lead that project, the MEHT department head asked me to serve on the committee. This is my first time serving on a search committee for a prof. I’ll write a post later about the experience and how it was different from librarian searches. Does anyone have experience with professor searches and would like to share?

Today’s topic (finally)

This is kind of a sequel to my “Confessions of a search committee chair” post from last winter. This spring, a librarian emailed me to ask for advice on interviewing for a business librarian position for the first time. She was particularly interested in how to make the mock research workshop stand out. I waited a while before sharing this here, removing any identifying information. Hopefully this is useful to others.

To make a mock class on business research information literacy stand out, I would suggest three areas of emphasis:

  1. Demonstration of specialized subject knowledge. Market research as a topic would certainly give you an opportunity to do this, especially if you demonstrate comfort with and knowledge of statistical data (ex. demographics, spending data, psychographic data). The Economic Census or other financial data benchmarking too. I guess trade data would be another example, although that’s maybe too specific/rare a research need for many campuses.
  1. Related to that, demonstrated familiarity with specialized business research tools. Most librarians are comfortable with the catalog and Ebsco and ProQuest databases. No big deal. But far fewer are comfortable with American FactFinder and the BLS.gov tools for finding statistical tables, let alone SimplyMap or DemographicsNow or Business Decisions or Euromonitor Passport (depending on what subscription tools for market data would be available). Lots of professors don’t know data tools well either. I see evidence of that at the business professor conferences I’ve started attending.
  1. Active learning exercises, tied to the needs of the research project/assignment of a particular class. So leading a discussion about how the Census is conducted (the decennial version as well as the American Community Survey — most students know something about the decennial census at least, which helps get the discussion going) as opposed to just lecturing, and then looking up some basic tables to highlight the main points (ex. “note the data from 2015 – so is that from the decennial Census or ACS? — also note the margins of error provided – why is that there? Yes, right, it’s a survey…”). Then later asking the students to find some information or data and then reporting back what they found and how they might be able to apply that to the project at hand (for example). So to do this you would really need to come up with a fake project to teach to. I would be happy to share one with you from UNCG if you would like (of course you could change details to fit your local situation).

[Follow-up suggestions:]

A few suggestions about SimplyMap (sorry if you are already aware of these issues!): most campuses have simultaneous user limits in their SimplyMap subscription (it’s 10 users here), so that may impact access to your mock students. I would suggest emailing Steven Swartz asking for more concurrent seats at that campus for your day there. I’m sure he would be happy to help. Also consider if you want everyone to create their own accounts (which requires checking their email to confirm) or using the S.M. guest access.

I agree that AFF, BLS (ex. the CEX data), and SimplyMap make an excellent progression of sources — if you have time for all three– for example using the much more detailed consumer spending data in SimplyMap, or ending with the psychographic data (if the MRI or SimmonsLocal modules are provided at that campus).

Good luck with the interview!

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As usual, not long after a long post summarizing summer readings, I learn about one other interesting article or presentation. This topic is too rarely covered in more general information literary/teaching librarian conferences. I mixed in a few observations of my own, but hopefully not too much.

Being ‘In The Room Where It Happens:’ Supporting Information Needs of Students in Experiential Learning Programs
https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/120937
By Angela Horne (UCLA) and Corey Seeman (Michigan)
Leaders of Experiential Project-Based Education Conference 2016 (June 22)

Outline:

  1. Introductions
  2. Information Needs of Business Students (Case Method vs. Experiential Learning Method)
  3. Library Support for Experiential Learning
  4. Working with teams (for librarians)
  5. Administrative Issues (for the library)
  6. Collection Issues
  7. Closing Thoughts

Angela and Corey provided mini-cases to the participants in order “to frame the discussion and get people thinking about information needs.” Interesting approach! — especially since this program compared students’ research needs for case study pedagogy versus experiential learning projects.

A case usually provides all the information a student team needs, and provide a controlled situation with an official “answer”.

In contrast to the passive information environment of cases, experiential learning requires active information gathering, the needs for which often evolve as the project develops. Both primary and secondary research is usually necessary. The complex research needs of these student teams can be challenging for business librarians to handle, especially for solo business librarians (like me).

Angela and Corey discussed how the librarians at their libraries consulted and communicated with their experiential learning student teams. Some observations:

  • “Information ambiguity is a common issue in most experiential learning projects we support”. [Also sometimes unanswerable questions!]
  • Since the research needs of teams in the same class can be very different, a one-shot instruction session isn’t really useful. Instead, librarians should provide an introduction session and then later have consultations with teams on their specific needs [my interpretation of slides 30-31].
  • In some classes [at Michigan, I think], the librarians get 30 minutes with each team at the beginning of the project. [This is a neat, very specific form of embeddedness, different from my co-teaching roles in which I’m in class most days but have to try to schedule team meetings outside of class, schedules permitting. Sometimes a team ends up with a “Cramer liaison” who becomes my official, solo in-person communication channel to a team].

Angela and Corey next provide interesting examples of research questions from teams. When a project needs to change direction is where the close connection with the librarian really pays off. Then the student teams really benefit from having the librarian “in the room where it happens.” Both UCLA and Michigan have surveyed student teams at the end of the semester and received student testimonials on the value of their librarian team member.

There’s a slide about potential licensing issues of using subscription databases on experiential projects.

And there is a short discussion about workloads and balancing time devoted to these experiential learning students versus those with more general, academic needs. This gets at the common and important topic of the sustainability of types of embedded work and also the value of that work. Corey notes:

“At Michigan, we have 440 students in MAP [Multidisciplinary Action Projects] (out of around 3000), but they take up the majority of time.”

Likewise, I spend much time with ENT 300 and MKT 426, both centered on experiential learning and required with their majors. That work leaves me with less time to be available in the library for random, walk-in questions from other classes. But I have always argued that the high value of my heavy involvement in those research-intensive classes justifies the time commitment, and my local library leaders have agreed. There have been a number of positive spin-offs and publicity resulting from that work (recent example).

Angela and Corey conclude that

“librarians always want to figure out how their work connects with students. This is the room where it happens – and is the best way to demonstrate and provide value to the enterprise.”

One of the PDF file provided at https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/120937 includes a short list of additional readings, including an upcoming book about experiential learning.

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