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Last summer, our provost attended a library faculty meeting to discuss the rewrite of our evaluation guidelines for tenure and promotion and also our new proposal to offer librarians “research days” each year. 

The provost did support the proposal but expressed concern with how many research days we would offer each year. She emphasized how vital our work as librarians and archivists is to the campus and reminded us that “academia is a calling.” Meaning, we should be expected to pursue research and writing on evenings and weekends as well as during the workday.

After the meeting, out in the hallway, a group of librarians asked each other “Ok, but is academic librarianship a calling?”

Other interesting questions came up in the long process of adding rank to our faculty status and rewriting our evaluation guidelines, a project we finished with a faculty vote three weeks ago.

Background: part 1: rank

Today’s topic is perhaps out of scope for a blog about librarian liaisoning and business librarianship. (I did mention this project in Nov. 2018 in the context of professional travel budgets.) Yet liaison librarians do often struggle with providing unpaid labor to their institutions and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Last fall, my former colleague Kate Hill (until recently our Electronic Resources Librarian and now with EBSCO) and I wrote a book chapter titled “The status of librarians on campus: Challenging our own promotion and tenure tradition.” The chapter will be in Emerging Human Resource Trends in Academic Libraries from Roman & Littlefield, to be published this summer or fall. Let me attempt a concise summary here.

It began with a salary discussion with the provost in fall 2014. She reminded us that another standard strategy for getting raises was going up for promotion. We had to inform her that the library faculty didn’t actually have rank. She was very surprised to hear that and encouraged us to add rank to our faculty status. Later we learned that none of us knew why we didn’t have ranks. We also discovered there was only one other library system in the country that had faculty status with tenure but no ranks. While working on this change to our faculty status, the supportive head of the UNCG faculty senate asked “How could you all function without rank for all these years?” A good question. 

The library faculty later learned that the provost’s office assumed our ranks would be assistant librarian, associate librarian, and librarian. But we argued successfully that as faculty, we deserve to be called professors, the standard practice at other libraries with faculty status and rank. That was not the only time we pushed back a bit against politely worded suggestions from the provost’s office.

In spring 2018, the library faculty unanimously approved our revised faculty governance documents that incorporated ranks. As we wrote in the chapter, “On July 1, 2018 untenured librarians became assistant professors, and tenured librarians (a few of whom had been tenured for decades) became associate professors. Our library dean became our first (and so far, only) full professor.”

Background: part 2: what does it take?

Next step: what should it take for a librarian to get tenured and “associate”? What makes a librarian worthy of “full”? Our guidelines remained extremely vague about those things. And there were other problems. From the chapter: 

There is now consensus here that the lack of guidance has contributed to “accomplishment inflation” – every year, untenured librarians seem under pressure to write and speak more than past tenure candidates did. The lack of guidance in the evaluation guidelines has also resulted in occasionally contradictory messages in our annual peer review process. Not a good situation.

So the library faculty decided to add quantity and quality specifications to our guidelines. After another round of benchmarking (I’m sparing you patient readers a list of all the task forces created since 2014), we found a handful of libraries that do define quantity and quality specifications. Examples include Appalachian State University, Mississippi State University, and University of Southern Mississippi.

We spent much time discussing and drafting the specs for Associate (excerpts below). Defining what “Full” should entail took less time, since we built upon the draft for Associate. There was less stress in the Full discussion since applying to that rank is optional. 

Around this time we also proposed the “research days” policy. 

(This is about when our book chapter was finished.)

A few months later, our provost announced she was resigning at the end of the school year. We were a bit worried about that since she has been so supportive of our work. But she told us we hoped we could finish up our revision in spring 2020 before she left. Always good to have deadlines for big projects.

After a final round of questions and suggestions from the Provost’s office (see below), we shared the revised evaluations guidelines with the library faculty, letting them know that the Provost approved them. After our first-ever online faculty meeting in late April 2020, we voted in secret and the revised guidelines passed without dissent. Whew

One of the minor misfortunes of the campus shutdown that semester was that we couldn’t gather at the new brewery next to campus for much imbibing to celebrate the years of work all this took. Many librarians contributed to this long process.

There are some juicy details I left out of this summary in the interest of space. A lot of emotion and stress was involved, for example. At times we were debating the relative values of aspects of our professional personas — so our debates got a little personal. As Kate wrote, “everyone in the library feels their work is important and valuable, and not having it reflected correctly can cause feelings of not being appreciated.” 

If anyone wants to share ideas about faculty evaluation guidelines, please let me know.

Now let’s explore some questions and maybe get a little opinionated. These thoughts are largely not in the book chapter (and don’t represent Kate, it’s just me now).

Question 1: Is academic librarianship a calling?

First, a 3-item lit review:

Cultivating Civility: Practical Ways to Improve a Dysfunctional Library, a new book by Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, and Richard Moniz (ALA Editions, 2020).

In this new book, my friends Henry, Eshleman, and Moniz discuss how a “calling” is often associated with religion and the “higher good”. When applied to librarians, this association can serve “as a justification for job creep and for trying to live up to some sort of martyred status.” (emphasis mine). Does this remind you of the Twitter debates in March about librarians still serving patrons even as the pandemic was heating up? 

In her Teen Librarian Toolbox blog for School Library Journal, Karen Jensen wrote last fall about The Labor of Librarianship, a Reflection for Labor Day”. Her post begins:

One day last week I saw that someone had tweeted out about how we should not call librarianship a calling because it sets us up to be asked for unpaid labor. Although I understood the sentiment about what was being stated, I bristled a bit about being told how I can and can’t talk about my feelings about librarianship. You see for me, librarianship is a calling and something that I feel very passionately about. I come from a youth ministry background, so I’ve spent a great deal talking about calling. When I first started working in libraries I finally felt that I had found both my place and my calling in this world and it has continually brought me a sense of peace and direction.

But in her second paragraph, Jensen makes clear “Speaking about life in terms of a calling has nothing to do with outcomes or compensation and everything to do with the intrinsic motivation of the person performing that labor.” She later states that unpaid labor by youth librarians actually hurts their teenage patrons. So the calling for Jensen is personal, not operational. 

Finally, there’s also Michael Engle’sLibrarianship as Calling: The Philosophy of College Librarianship” from the Journal of Academic Librarianship in March 1986. This editorial did focus on philosophical aspects of the contributions of liberal arts librarians. But I can’t resist quoting this excellent sentence: “There are many paradoxes in our calling, but perhaps none is more basic than the necessity for us to develop a toleration for ambiguity in the midst of our desires for clarity.” Entrepreneurship research, anyone?

Key points:

  • Calling is usually applied to ministry. (Burn-out is very common among ministers and other religious leaders, by the way).
  • Calling = unpaid labor? Should we always be working? Should there be work/life balance?

According to our subsequent hallway and water cooler conversations, most of my librarian colleagues reject the “librarianship is a calling” notion. And there was a consensus in our discussions that librarians should be able to meet the librarianship, scholarship, and service requirements for tenure within our 40 hours work weeks as 12-month faculty (and taking vacations and enjoying state holidays). 

We learned that most libraries with faculty status do provide protected time for research, and the ACRL Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians state “Sabbatical and other research leaves should be available to librarians consistent with campus standards.”

These were factors in the library now having research days to be scheduled in close consultation with supervisors. “Communication and flexibility in scheduling are vital,” our short policy states. Librarians are held accountable for their use of any research days. 

Yes, some of my colleagues sometimes work on writing projects in their evenings and on weekends. (Me too, to be honest, but not too often — I’m more likely to be responding to reference emails from faculty and student teams with imminent research deadlines.) But that is their choice. One colleague told me “if I didn’t work on this writing project on the weekend, it wouldn’t get done.” And some librarians really like writing projects. 9- and 10-month library faculty might have a different set of expectations for their summer months. 

Another aspect of the “calling” discussion is how librarians support the research and writing needs of the other faculty across campus while also pursuing our own research needs. The provost alluded to our vital service in supporting the research of others. Is it always easy to find time to focus on our own needs? No.

Related issues: 

  • Many of the library faculty work out of cubicles. There’s usually background noise and there is no door to prevent unannounced visitors. (And here I feel guilty for all the times I walked into Kate’s space to ask her a question.) Harder to focus on writing in that environment. Even if you have an office with a door, we usually leave our doors open to make ourselves available to students, faculty, staff, and colleagues. That’s part of our librarian culture. In contrast, I think most of the business school professors work in their offices with their doors closed except during posted office hours.
  • Some librarians serve as units within a workflow. If a server goes down, we lose access to an e-resource, or a license needs to be moved along so that other colleagues can do their jobs, someone has to act on that. It doesn’t matter if you are busy writing. 
  • If UNCG librarians were paid a lot more (more like PhD faculty salaries), would it make a difference to the discussion? Sure.

Question 2: Can speaking be “scholarship”?

If so, how important is speaking compared to writing?

According to our benchmarking, most library faculty guidelines define scholarship as exclusively writing. Yet a few guidelines do include professional speaking as a form of scholarship. We are firmly in that latter camp. My colleagues have a strong consensus that professional speaking can have a greater impact than an article (or a book chapter):

  • Speaking can reach more people, between the audience members and views of the recording, slide deck, and online handouts.
  • Ideas can be disseminated much faster via speaking than peer-reviewed scholarship.
  • Conference speaking is often more prestigious and selective than many writing opportunities.
  • Speaking often focuses on practical outcomes that other librarians can adapt and adopt.

You can see in the below table how we compare different types of speaking to different types of writing. (Our untenured librarians are expected to accomplish a certain number of Category 1’s, while also accomplishing at least one “1” or “2” each year.) 

Scholarship table

Scholarship table

Yes, including speaking as scholarship is not the norm for other types of faculty too.* In the final month of our work on the guidelines, our Provost challenged us on this. Jenny Dale, current chair of our Promotion & Tenure committee, responded that while we certainly don’t consider writing and speaking to be equivalent, professional speaking can be high impact for our profession and therefore is worthy of representation in our Category A. The Provost accepted that response.

(*As many of you know, creative and performing arts faculty usually get to count their creative works toward tenure.)

If you are curious, here is our table for service. UNCG librarians place much value in working with NCLA and other state groups — believing the impact of that work can be as high (and sometimes higher) than that of committee work in a bureaucratic national organization.

Service table part 1

Service table part 2

Service table

Question 3: How can we support our anxious colleagues?

So much anxiety. Do you agree that this is a trend in librarianship? (No, not just because of COVID, this predates that.) 

Here is where I might get a little hypocritical. I really dislike the stereotyping of people by their arbitrarily designated “generations”. In libraryland and academia, for example, we try (for excellent reasons) not to stereotype people by race, sex and gender identity, etc. However, sweeping generalizations about age have seemed to be ok. “Millennials work like this” and “Gen Ys think like that” etc. So many conference keynotes, HR workshops, and blog posts with click-bait titles about such lazy generalizing.

(Carol and I have attended only one ALA conference together, the one in Toronto with CLA in 2003 (after the SARS virus outbreak), early in my time at UNCG. We both went to a program on managing the generations. A self-identified boomer manager spoke about the boomers being the “Summer of Love” generation and then told us that Generation X was the “crack cocaine” generation because crack was a defining aspect of our youth. Ok, good to know, thank you.)

But to dive in, yes, many younger librarians seem to be suffering from high anxiety about work performance, getting peer-reviewed on their annual reviews, and/or their movement toward getting tenure. We have had a number of faculty discussions (untenured and tenured folks) about this. This issue is certainly not confined to UNCG, based on some discussions I’ve had with early-career business librarians from around the country. 

No simple psychological or economic analysis from me to quickly explain this high anxiety.

We hope that rewriting our guidelines to include quantitative and qualitative specs will help reduce the stress of the tenure process. Our mentoring programming and talks with our supervisors and work friends helpfully help too. Yet we still see annual reports and tenure applications getting longer and longer compared to past years as our not-yet-tenured colleagues feel a need to describe in ever greater detail what they accomplished in the last year or the last six years. 

A few tenured librarians here (certainly not anxiety-free at all times ourselves!) continue talking about this issue but we aren’t sure what else we can do. Suggestions welcome of course.

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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.

Sunday

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.

Monday

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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GCEC met in Chicago last week. Librarians Carey Toney, Christina Kim, and I attended and spoken at GCEC last year in Halifax, Nova Scotia (longer review at Ticker) but it looked like I was the only librarian this year. That’s not a big deal, since USASBE is probably more useful for business librarians to attend (2017 and 2018 reviews).

But first, one last Coleman summit

West Loop view from my hotel room

West Loop view from my hotel room

Since the Coleman Foundation is based in Chicago, and many of the Coleman campus directors would attend GCEC, the foundation hosted a final Coleman Fellows summit a day before GCEC began. The UNC Greensboro Entrepreneur-in-Residence (my buddy Noah Reynolds) and I (as associate UNCG Coleman Fellow director) flew up Wednesday morning, joining our director Dianne Welsh in representing UNCG. Nine campuses total were represented, about 40 folks total; we mostly knew each other.

After over ten years of funding the growth of cross-campus entrepreneurship across the U.S., the Coleman board of directors has decided to focus future funding on supporting the local Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem. We knew this strategic change was coming. So this summit was also a celebration of what each campus has accomplished through its Coleman Fellows program.

We met in a Chicago West Loop hotel for lunch, two breakout sessions, cocktails, and a recognition dinner. In the breakouts, the directors discussed post-Coleman transition plans and met with an ethnographer leading a focus group discussion. Noah and I and others met with representatives from Chicago NGOs to discuss connecting campus experiences with community entrepreneurship organization. This event was a bridge between the past and future Coleman strategies.

Dinner was fun, with fancy certificates given to all the fellows present, and short (often funny) speeches. Dr. Welsh referred several times to the “old Coleman gong” (used at past summits to signal agenda transitions) but we all keep hearing “the Coleman bong.” Hilarity ensued. Poor Dianne.

Dr. Welsh with Coleman Foundation's Clark McCain

Dr. Welsh with Coleman Foundation’s Clark McCain

I owe a lot to Dianne (and the Coleman Foundation) for recruiting me to become a fellow and a year later the UNCG associate director. All of the entrepreneurship education conferences I’ve attended (and blogged about) — USASBE, GCEC, SBI, GW October, and CEO — were funded out of our Coleman grant, plus a few library conferences too. My friend and sometimes co-speaker Diane Campbell from Rider University has attended and spoke at SBI and USASBE for many years. I enjoyed following in her footsteps in promoting entrepreneurship librarians and the use of library business databases to the professors and entrepreneurship center directors at these conferences.  My official library travel budget isn’t big enough to cover attending one of these expensive conferences, so we will see if I can swing another visit to USASBE someday.

Also, I wouldn’t have created my ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530 class without the Coleman program, and made friends across UNCG’s campus with fellows in the arts, social sciences, etc. We still get together at the campus bar several times a semester.

Moving day

Look, you can see Navy Pier from my Hilton room! (if you lean over and look hard)

Look, you can see Navy Pier from my Hilton room! (if you leaned over and looked hard)

After breakfast with Noah on Thursday morning, I checked out of the West Loop hotel and walked 1.8 miles east and a little south to the huge and historic Hilton on Michigan Avenue, the official GCEC hotel. The conference didn’t begin until an evening dinner reception at a DePaul University building, so I had a free afternoon. I spent it at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my favorite museums since I was a teenager living across the lake in West Michigan. The last time Carol and I were here, we focused on the European galleries (a few of you know that I was a Medieval Studies major) so this time I focused on everything else. Such a great collection.

GCEC begins

Last year, I wrote about the unusual nature of this conference:

  • Your campus must be an institutional member for you to attend;
  • A different campus (or campuses) hosts it each year, and takes on all the planning responsibility;
  • Those hosts take on financial risk but can turn a profit on the conference if they recruit enough sponsors and vendors while controlling costs.

This year, DePaul and the Illinois Institute of Technology hosted GCEC. Keynotes, lunches, and the concurrent sessions were held at ITT. Fans of modern architecture know that ITT is closely associated with Mies van der Rohe, who led its architecture program and designed many buildings on campus. (We spent the most time in Hermann Hall, a Skidmore Owings & Merrill building.) I enjoyed the architecture and took lots of pictures. A change of pace from historical styles that dominate U.S. campuses.

Attendees visited one of three downtown innovation centers/accelerators/incubators on Friday evening (1871, mHUB, or Blue1647). I skipped this event — I was getting over a cold and was tired. The Saturday evening reception and conference wrap-up party were at the Shedd Aquarium. It was lovely to be there at night. (Yes, I was feeling better.)

There was ample time for networking and librarian advocacy. Around 600 folks from 250 campuses attended, more than in Halifax, not surprising given the more central location compared to Halifax last year. Next year GCEC will be in Stockholm.

Friday morning

Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall, the IIT architecture school

Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall, the IIT architecture school, with a class in session

As part of the opening session, Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel discussed the rise of innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. He said Chicago has the most diversified industrial base of all big cities in the country. (That would be interesting to research and prove using Census Business Patterns data.) City policies provide strong support of first-generation college students. High school grads with a “B” average or higher get to attend local community college for free. Those students are disproportionately Hispanic, and also include a large number of Dreamers.

Across the two days of the congress, we heard keynotes from four local entrepreneurs, three of whom are women:

I note the gender emphasis given the opening discussion at GCEC last year. But race and income were also common themes this year. These were all good speakers, telling us their stories, lessons learned, their ideas about the future. But the audience had to think about how the speakers’ words applied to running and growing entrepreneurship centers on their own. So a little bit of a disconnect in my opinion.

GCEC lunch in the Hermann Hall (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

GCEC lunch in Hermann Hall (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Our two lunches were buffets. Among the tables were facilitated theme tables. Topics included “Entrepreneurship in General Education and Liberal Arts Education,” “Knowledge Entrepreneurship and the Research Student,” and “Towns with gowns: the roles played by university entrepreneurship initiatives in community and economic development.” I attended the table with that first topic on Friday, but arrived at lunch after a morning talk too late on Saturday to get a seat at a special table that day (I hoped to sit at the second topic listed above.) Lots of good networking at both themed and un-themed tables, however. A friendly bunch of people at GCEC.

Conference tracks for concurrent programs included:

  • Entrepreneurship beyond the business school
  • Social impact and entrepreneurship
  • The center: how, what, where, why?
  • Engaging the community
  • Global entrepreneurship
  • among a few others.

Friday afternoon

Entrepreneurship and the Creative / Engaging the Community Through Performance Learning” 

Amy E. Rogers, North Central College
Brian Hanlon, North Central College
Julie Shields, Millikin University
Thomas Cavenagh, North Central College
Jessa Wilcoxen, Millikin University

This was a well-attended, two-topic program in an hour-long slot. My friend Julie Shields, Coleman Fellows Director for Millikin University, was one of the speakers. Part one focused on arts entrepreneurship (a big thing here at UNCG). According to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), graduates of arts programs rate “financial and business management skills” and “entrepreneurial skills” as very important, but rarely studied in college, despite artists bring 4 times more likely than the population as a whole to be self-employed or start a business. One presenter summarized that arts students have the ideas but no execution skills while the business students have no ideas but know how to execute!

Millikan has an 8-session certificate program for entrepreneurship as well as its full curriculum. It also has a number of arts-based student-run ventures with faculty mentors. Students get course credit for working with a venture. But the student owners assume the financial risk — “authentic risk and authentic reward.”

Part two focused on design thinking, a hot topic in entrepreneurship education. We were asked to identify an existing course, project, or venture that has interdisciplinary potential and then discuss our hopes, our fears, and the risk factors with neighbors.

“10 Years After: The Coleman Entrepreneurship Infusion Model”

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

Coleman campus directors Dianne Welsh (UNCG), Julie Shields (Millikin University), Gina Betti (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and I discussed our Coleman Fellows program, in which non-business faculty incorporate entrepreneurship topics and student learning outcomes into existing classes. The goal is to foster cross-campus entrepreneurship education. Each of us provided three best practices, three lessons learned, and three suggestions for further implementation.

Not surprisingly, one of my best practices was “Invite your entrepreneurship/business librarian to into your core class to provide research consultations and hands-on workshops.” I also advocated for “establishing desired student research competencies (ex. “identify, segment, and measure a consumer or B2B market”) and determine where in the curriculum your students will develop those competencies”.

Saturday morning:

I rode the bus from the hotel to ITT with an entrepreneurship coordinator from Denmark.

My favorite takeaway from the morning keynotes: entrepreneurship is moving past convenience into substance. So not just another app or service to speed up an existing business model, but new models of thinking, business, and community engagement. We’ll see.

“Has the lean startup failed us? If not, how not? If so, what are we doing about it? / Capturing the attention of the first-year student”

David Touve, University of Virginia (the lean startup discussion)
James Zebrowski, The University of Tampa
Wendy Plant, Florida State University
Mindy Walls, Waynesburg University

David, an energetic discussion leader, asked the full room “has the lean startup failed us?” He argued that there is no data indicating that the lean startup model is more successful than other models. Design thinking and effectuation (a UVA thing) are other models.

Why has the lean startup been popular?

  • Provides focus on customer.
  • Provides a grounding for an approach and common language
  • A business plan is not always accurate anyway (when, then you need to raise expectations for research, I would argue)

Solving a problem versus starting a business = two different approaches and things. (Identifying and describing a problem before beginning to develop a business or nonprofit idea came up a lot this weekend.)

Engineering students love the lean startup model; it matches their tech training mindset, someone asserted.

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

McCormick Tribune Campus Center (Rem Koolhaas)

We worked in small groups (it was really hard to hear each other — a downside of a glass-walled modernist classroom) discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the lean startup, reasons for using it, etc. I was paired with the Yale professor who last year in Halifax unexpectedly joined what had been an all-male panel discussing the state of entrepreneurship education in the opening plenary session.

Part two: Capturing the attention of the first-year student. I was able to take better notes here.

Waynesburg University, a small liberal arts college in rural Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, has a strong focus on service learning. Mindy, a new hire, is working to help incorporate an entrepreneurial mindset into that service tradition.

ENT mindset  —> creative problem solving –> forming a venture

She uses the Who Owns the Ice House book as a mindset tool. She has to avoid the b-word (business) and the e-word (entrepreneurship) since those words are unpopular among their liberal arts students. But they need an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed in 21st century, Mindy asserts.

FSU just started a new living-learning community of 36 entrepreneurship students. Wendy’s campus also hosts high school day camps in the summer. Her campus has a new ENT school that is independent of the b-school, thanks to a major donor. Students enroll in the school in their junior year.

James is a leader in CEO. He discussed encouraging campus clubs. Our EIR Noah Reynolds (see above) runs our CEO club and takes the officers to the national conference.

Question: why are some frosh not interesting in E?

  • Parental concerns (“you need to work at a real company!”)
  • Young students just don’t know yet what they want
  • Limited availability of curriculum sometimes (have to wait till their junior year?)

Saturday lunch discussion

Train tracks over the McCormick Tribune Campus Center

Train tracks over the McCormick Tribune Campus Center

I sat at a random table with several GCEC old timers. They noted the growth of the conference. They also noted that the same topics are being discussed this year as 20 years ago. A standard problem for growing conferences (like some focused library conferences?)

Saturday afternoon

“Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for New (and not so new) Non-Academics”

Steven Phelan, Fayetteville State University
Sara Cochran, University of Missouri System
II Luscri, Washington University in St. Louis
Gurpreet Jagpal, University of the West of England, Bristol

The panels discussed the motivations of professors, deans, chancellors, and the system president, and suggested strategies for working with those people.

The majority of the audience for this one was campus entrepreneurs-in-residence or entrepreneurship center directors — folks from “industry” mostly. PhDs and other folks with faculty status were in the minority. Attendance and the energy level were high.

This would have also have been an excellent program for a new academic liaison librarian! Maybe I will steal from it for a blog post sometime, ha.

Professor level:

Like a medieval craft guild:

  • 3 categories: master apprentice system (PhD students); journeyman (tenure track); masters (tenured), which requires a masterpiece
  • Self-governance (shared faculty governance)
  • Charter of rights (faculty governance and documentation; right to control process; representation on decision-making bodies)
brand new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (John Ronan)

Brand-new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (John Ronan)

Professor motivations: 40% teaching (impact measured by student evaluations of scheduled teaching), 40% research (impact measured by citations), 20% service

Q and A about changing positions and/or campuses after getting tenured: Would you retain that rank? What about non-PhDs with faculty rank? (I piped up here.) With whom do you negotiate with in these situations? Lots of questions from the non-academics.

It’s tough to finish a PhD, get hired, and then get tenured. There is about a 50% drop at each of those three stages.

There are now more non-faculty than faculty teaching classes at most schools. There is a subtrend toward hiring more “professors of practice” (typically non-tenure).

Professors don’t have much time for service, but have lots of options to meet service requirements (some do want to do practical service).

Trying to recruit faculty to work with your center? Start with a few willing volunteers and build from there.

Dean level:

Deans are typically academics. On U.S. campuses, fundraising is now their primary function. Turf wars and academic silos are common. For example, deans often don’t like sharing credit hours with other campus units, which can be problematic for cross-campus entrepreneurship programs (true at UNCG).

Things deans list in their annual reports:

  • Rankings
  • Awards
  • Accreditation renewals
  • New programs

Deans on the same campus will have different priorities: new buildings, more scholarships, more centers, etc.

Chancellor level (from a more UK perspective):

  • Income diversification.
  • Student recruitment.
  • Reputation and rankings
  • Awards

Strategies to influence deans and chancellors:

  • Help them climb the ladder;
  • Have a strategy that will make them look good;
  • Donors are easier to find for ENT (but then there is the silo problem);
  • New student demand;
  • Potential for licensing/commercialization income;
  • Metrics
Something with curves for a change

Something with curves for a change of pace (see below for context)

Audience comment: there is a lack of useful metrics for ENT centers. Also lack of consistency. [How to measure the success of ENT education and programs is a big topic at these conferences.]

Build allies in every academic department and unit. There will be meetings of academics on campus where you are discussed but you won’t be there. (True of librarians too!)

System president level:

Nature of:

  • Politicized environment
  • Boards of often political appointees
  • Change of government leads to different priorities
  • Patronage issues

Motivations:

  • Keep key legislators and the board happy
  • The need to balance the interests of multiple campuses and their resource allocation
  • Protect the brand of the system (PR issues)

Strategies:

  • Encourage system-wide collaboration [so much easier said than done!]
  • Link to economic development
  • Appeal to the residents of the state

Question: what about when alumni affairs targets the same funding sources as the center? Replies: can first just invite them to talk to your ENT students. Get to know the alumni affairs folks, help them connect to new potential donors, they love that. Keep alumni affairs informed.

“Designing and diversity and inclusion: why it matters and what to do about it”

Ji Mi Choi, Arizona State University
Rebecca Corbin, National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship
Ian Grant, University of New Hampshire
Isabelle Monlouis, Georgia State University

This event had the youngest crowd I’ve any I attended at GCEC this year. It was also majority female. Folks were passionate about these topics and stayed late (after this session was the final keynote and awards, see below).

The speakers provided some goals of their programs and best practice ideas for diversity and inclusion. Similar to discussions of diversity and inclusion in libraries.

Another IIT scene

Another IIT scene

Stereotypical VC-funded glamorous entrepreneurship is hard when a student has to work 20+ hours a week to support themselves, on top of classes and pursuing an entrepreneurial idea. Entrepreneurship incubators on campus usually assume economic privilege.

NACCE = National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, with 300-member colleges across the U.S.

The UNH center works hard to attract students from across campus. We are the “Switzerland of campus”, Ian joked.

Other best practices and examples:

  • Importance of role modeling
  • Providing peer and near-peer mentors
  • T-shirts given to students: “Entrepreneurs are everywhere, and I am one of them”
  • Recruit minority and female entrepreneurs to promote the program, and speak to younger and future students.
  • Partner with and design with underprivileged communities, as opposed to doing things for them or to them. (My church calls this a missional attitude.)
  • Importance of going to people, not waiting for them to come to you. For example, go to diversity centers and clubs.

“Entrepreneurship” as a term can turn some people off. Is there a good alternative word? Not really.

An entrepreneurial mindset is a “success mindset.”

Equality (treating everyone the same) versus equity (supporting under-represented or under-privileged groups).

Conference wrap-up

Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower

Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower

I stayed through the bitter end this year. A lot of folks did. One more talk by an entrepreneur. Thank yous to the sponsoring schools. Top nominations and then the winners of seven annual GCEC awards, plus a special legacy award for lifetime achievement in research and service, with pictures taken of each. The legacy award winner gave a speech, but it wasn’t very long. The managing director of NASDAQ announced the “NASDAQ Center Award for Entrepreneurship Excellence,” the top annual award.

I’ve learned from these entrepreneurship education conferences that giving awards is a common and major function of the sponsoring association. Awards seem to be more important to the professors and their departments than they are to librarians and libraries. Is this an aspect of our service (or servant) tradition? However, there are far more academic associations and conferences than we librarians have, providing more opportunities to win awards.

Finally, we had a few words from the University of Stockholm, next year’s hosts of GCEC. It’s only an 8-hour direct flight from Chicago, he said! The Swede told a number of short, bad jokes about Sweden and its culture. A fun way to end the afternoon.

Weedy Seadragons

Weedy Seadragons

The conference wrapped up with the Shedd Aquarium all to ourselves in the evening, sponsored by the Coleman Foundation. It was fun being there after dark.

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Carey Toane, MA, MLIS, joined the University of Toronto as Entrepreneurship Librarian at the Gerstein Science Information Centre in 2015, where she supports nine campus-linked accelerators and numerous entrepreneurship courses and programs across multiple disciplines. She is a co-founder of the North America-wide Academic Librarians Supporting Entrepreneurs (ALSE) online symposium. Her market research expertise is based on her past experience as an academic business librarian, as well as over a decade as a marketing journalist and editor, copywriter, and content marketer at digital agencies and startups in Canada and the Nordic Region. Her current research interests focus on the research habits and needs of various user communities, and on the core competencies for emerging and interdisciplinary areas of librarianship.

Conference review: VentureWell Open Conference, Washington, D.C., March 23-25, 2017

The Open Conference tagline is “Invent the future of innovation & entrepreneurship education” and the audience reflects that mandate. Aimed at post-secondary institutions, approximately 375 delegates attended and around half of those were speakers, making for a small and engaged group. I was one of two self-identified academic librarians who attended; the majority were faculty, entrepreneurship centre directors or administrators, as well as representatives from organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The conference was bookended with a welcome reception on Thursday night and a closing gala on Saturday evening. On both days an excellent lunch was accompanied by a keynote speaker: author Daniel Pink on Friday and Perkin Medal winner John Warner on Saturday, to align with the sustainability thread which ran through the conference.

VentureWell Open Conference banner

VentureWell Open Conference banner

Friday and Saturday programming was organized into five conference tracks: Assessment, Curriculum, Early-Stage Innovators, Global [international innovation], and Topics in I&E [innovation and entrepreneurship trends]. Formats ranged from lightning talks – dubbed Open Minis – and panels to group discussions and hands-on workshops. A Whova conference app helped me sort out where I wanted to be and how to get there, and I found myself using it to provide a little ready reference in the halls between sessions for my fellow attendees.

The fun started with an icebreaker-style conference kickoff in the ballroom. Tables were catalyzed into teams and presented with a random collection of costumes and props (think bubblewrap, Mardi Gras beads and pipe cleaners) that we used to create fantastic wearable devices and then present to the group for a fashion show/pitch competition. Sadly, our festival-focused protective device, the Party Crasher™ – inflatable helmet! crowd bumpers! parachute! – lost out to a somewhat impractical but well marketed gadget called the No-Network Network (patent pending). Honourable mention to the on-trend Fake News Filter. But I digress.

After trying out a few options early on Friday, I found the most value in the workshops. One of these, “Creative Problem Session for Identifying and Filling Gaps in Supporting Early Student Innovators,” walked participants through a creative problem solving process of divergent and convergent thinking to identify ways to better support student startups. Having a mix of perspectives in the room made this a rich and impressive conversation, aided by able facilitation.

Workshop post-it notes

Workshop post-it notes

Other active learning sessions that have stayed with me include “Failures, Flops and Frustrations: An Open Exchange on learning from our mistakes” that involved storyboarding a failed course or program initiative; “10 Hands-On Class Exercises to Build Student Teams and Spark Creativity,” for which one of the facilitators hauled a suitcase of oversized iPhone-shaped erasable poster boards in a suitcase; and “Activities to Create Space for Breakthroughs: Mindset, Neuroscience, Entrepreneurship and Worldview,” which started by establishing a safe space and focused on techniques to encourage empathy and creative thinking.

The poster session, scheduled for 5:30 – 7 pm on Friday night, doubled as a cocktail hour in the top floor lounge of the conference hotel. The audience response to my poster topic, “Research habits and needs of campus entrepreneurs,” ranged from interest to puzzlement to mild amusement (“You’re a librarian?”). In other words, it was a great opportunity to practice my elevator pitch on how libraries can and do support startups for our campus colleagues outside the library, with segues into Google Patents, Justin Trudeau, and the proximity of Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Poster: "Research habits and needs of campus entrepreneurs"

Poster: “Research habits and needs of campus entrepreneurs”

The registration fee alone was $884 USD for speakers and higher for attendees, and the DC location makes it one of the more expensive professional development opportunities I’ve come across. However, for content focus and quality of presentations it can’t be beat – and did I mention the food was amazing?

Case in point: The ticket price included admission to a somewhat lavish closing reception at the Smithsonian Museum of American History on the Saturday night. After all day inside a hotel basement, the stroll through cherry blossoms down the Mall was almost giddymaking, as were the risotto station and the dessert table inside. VentureWell E-teams presented their products and competed for a chunk of the $3 million of funny money each guest was given to spend, surrounded by artifacts from hundreds of years of American innovations. If you’re the competitive type, you might like to know that two of the three teams I invested in were ranked in the top four and received a cash prize!

The 2018 VentureWell Open Conference will take place March 22-24 in Austin, TX.

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Although officially a lone business librarian based in a general library, I have been privileged to have a business librarian partner for the last four years. This is thanks to the UNCG Diversity Resident Librarian program and residents Nataly Blas and Orolando Duffus. Nataly was my partner from 2012-14, and Orolando from 2014-16 (until last week actually). Both Nataly and Orolando have written about their work embedding into research-intensive business classes as co-teachers and research consultants.

Nataly Blas and Orolando Duffus at ACRL 2015 in Portland, OR

Nataly Blas & Orolando Duffus at ACRL 2015 in Portland.

After her residency*, Nataly became the business librarian at Loyola Marymount University. She is building a reputation for herself as an expert in information literacy and presented at ALA in Orlando on curriculum mapping strategies.

Orolando begins work next week as a business librarian at the University of Houston, working with fellow business librarian Lisa Martin. He has presented posters at several conferences already, with a poster at IFLA coming up next month. Good luck to Orolando!

I really enjoyed collaborating with both librarians on research instruction workshops, outreach opportunities, and interesting research questions. While the liaisons here at UNCG are a friendly and collaborative bunch, it was special to me to have a fellow business librarian to talk to about our specialized world. I haven’t enjoyed that situation at work since my first job at Davenport College of Business. Business librarians who work in business school libraries with multiple staff might enjoy that camaraderie all the time.

We have hired our 2016-18 resident. She wants to focus on public services and instruction, but at this point is very interested in international studies I think. So the streak of UNCG hiring diversity resident business librarians is probably over, sigh.

At least BLINC and BRASS are still here to provide networking opportunities for us soloists, and BUSLIB-L remains a supportive and friendly forum too. It’s really important for liaisons old and new not to feel isolated. Networking and mentoring (or peer-mentoring) are vital to liaison success and well-being, in my opinion.

 

* Nataly actually landed the LMU position early and moved out to L.A. in the spring!

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On Monday, six academic business librarians gathered at the Salem College Library in Winston-Salem, NC for a morning-long discussion of professional writing and speaking opportunities.

Salem College is oldest women’s college in the United States (13th oldest overall), having been founded by Moravians in colonial times. The campus is adjacent to Old Salem and near our condo, so I walked over to meet with friends for our chat. After our discussion we strolled over to what used to be the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway building for a bistro lunch.

Discussion at Salem College

Discussion at Salem College

A few of us have faculty status and so are required to write and speak; one of us is deep into a PhD program and very involved with research and publishing; and others are interested in doing more writing and speaking.

After sharing our summer news and vacation recaps, we decided on this simple agenda:

  1. How to identify topics that are publishable;
  2. Where to publish;
  3. The same but for speaking

I didn’t keep complete notes on my iPad, and some of our talk should be kept private, but here are some points that are hopefully interesting and useful. Sorry if these notes seem too brief. Maybe another general point to make here is the importance of building and using your professional network to explore opportunities.

1. How to identify topics that are publishable

Question: do you start pursuing a writing idea with the topic or the publishing venue? We discussed that it could be both, too. Sometimes we get solicitations or encouragement to write something from a publisher or editor. It can certainly by harder for a newer librarian to benefit like that from a professional network, but partnering with another librarian to write something can help.

There are a few blogs about library writing which often list opportunities:

As for topics? The first question in response is — what are you passionate about? What are you most interested in? Start from those topics. Don’t force yourself to write about something you find boring. If you get rejections on a topic you have passion for, you may need to tweak the main idea but don’t give up on it too quickly.

However, having a unique angle on your topic is pretty important, or having unique or better data of some sort. Look for gaps in the literature (like PhD students are encouraged to do when they are considering a dissertation topic).

Go with your comfort writing, which may be quantitative or qualitative. Consider partnering with a friend who has a writing strength you don’t have.

Offer to write a column (email a column editor about an idea you have) or consider writing a position piece (“Librarians need to start doing….”). It doesn’t have to be a research article every time.

Got a preliminary idea? Write a blog post about it (lots of them accept guest-writing). See if you find the writing interesting and would be interested to write more. You might get some useful preliminary feedback, too. (Just don’t publish your complete manuscript as a blog post – save some writing and ideas for the more traditional publication.)

Regarding rejections from editors, one librarian told of getting an article harshly rejected from a mid-quality journal, getting a no-feedback rejection from a low-quality journal, but later being told by editors of a high-quality journal that it was among the best papers they have ever received. So don’t give up.

We discussed that some editors are supportive and helpful (even when rejecting an article outright) while others are well, less so. The editors for ACRL’s College and Research Libraries have a reputation for being harsh, but they do receive a large number of mediocre submissions that don’t even try to follow its “instructions for authors.”

We discussed institutional review boards a bit. It’s good to make a friend on the board who can provide advice. Sometimes you will submit a proposal to the board and it will declare the research to be exempt from IRB requirements. So don’t fear the IRB. You can usually check with the IRB before running a survey, etc. to get feedback.

2. Where to publish

We talked about good and bad experiences with editors. One of us co-edited a book but received almost no support from the publisher. Two of us wrote a Q/A article but didn’t have our names listed as co-authors until six weeks after publication. Bogus!

I reported on writing a book chapter for an ABC-CLIO book edited by two librarians in Alabama and having an excellent experience.

And one of us wrote a book chapter for IGI and had to use their format, which really didn’t fit the content of the chapter, but otherwise had a good experience with IGI and would write for them again.

We emphasized the importance of researching what kind of articles (editorials, practical pieces, reviews, or research) a journal publishes, and of course what topics it tends to publish. So look at recent articles and table of contents, and read the journal’s scope/author instructions very carefully.

Except for occasional special issues in various journals, the main venues for business librarianship have been the Taylor & Francis Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship and the new Ticker open-access journal, created by some of the ABLD directors.

There’s nothing wrong with writing a short practical article for publications like College & Research Library News or Academic BRASS.

3. On speaking

There was a pretty free-wheeling discussion, since we all had stories to tell from various conferences. We considered ourselves lucky to have lots of high-quality small, annual conferences within a short drive of our homes.

We discussed ACRL a bit too. Alas it has no business section but many business librarians do attend and speak (and party) there. Key aspects when designing a panel proposal to ACRL: uniqueness, applicability to other libraries, and connection to hot trends.

You can submit an excellent proposal for an ACRL contributed paper and not be accepted if there aren’t other related submissions than can be combined with your own to form an hour-long series of papers.

Some conferences invite speakers to contribute to a conference proceedings, which is an easy way to get a peer-review article published as well as credit for your talk. LOEX, the Charleston Conference, and ACRL are examples. Your proceedings could be just a narrative write-up of your slides, or could provide deeper analysis or additional case studies.

Some international conferences can be less expensive than you might think (one of us recently spoke in Dublin). Two of us are now attending and speaking at business professor conferences, which our administrators really like. So don’t limit yourself.

We can’t say with certainty, but we assume that a proposed panel of librarians from different libraries is often more interesting to a conference programming committee than a panel of librarians from the same library. ACRL bears this out we think.

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Yesterday I finished writing another external review letter for a business librarian up for tenure. While reviewing the accomplishments of such a candidate, I usually experience one of these two emotional responses, or frequently both:

1. Hey, that’s a pretty good achievement, not quite the level of engagement I currently enjoy or the quantity I accomplish but still not bad good for you.

Or

2. Wow what a great idea why haven’t I ever thought of that or tried that, am I slacking off??

So either mild condescension or a bit of awe.

More seriously, given the amount of documentation provided to the external reviewer, it is always very interesting to examine such a thorough overview of a librarian’s work. The reviewer gets to read the candidate’s philosophy, goals, accomplishments, usage and assessment data (sometimes), scholarly communication, and testimonials from students, faculty, and other librarians.

Bloggers like the Hedgehog Librarian are writing about their experiences (and sometimes their concerns, frustrations, and pain) writing and assembling these large tenure applications over the course of a year. The Promotion and Tenure Committees and external reviewers do look very carefully at all the documentation. (I spent most of Monday reviewing the materials.) So these big portfolios do matter.

Often when experiencing emotional response #2, I come away with a list of new ideas and things to try here at UNCG. That happened yesterday too.

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