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.


On March 15, seven business librarians from around the United States met online to talk about the for-credit business research classes we teach. We were frank in our sharing, so no names will be mentioned here! But they did give me permission to post a short summary of our main topics.

The classes range from one to three credits. Most are for undergraduates, but a couple include graduate students. The classes focus on entrepreneurship, economic development, competitive intelligence, or data visualization. Some are required; others are elective.

We intentionally didn’t record the WebEx session – it was intended to be an informal sharing session – but I tried to take some notes. Here are the core discussion topics that came up.

Lack of core textbooks

No one uses a comprehensive textbook. We aren’t aware of one. We agreed that the LIS business information textbooks aren’t useful outside of LIS classes. I mentioned I use the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Market Research by Wenzel (Praeger), which is really good for research strategies and how to make decisions based on the research. But it only covers consumer marketing for the most part.

Create an open textbook?

There was interest in working together to create a modular, flexible, free online textbook. That would certainly be a lot of work though. We’ll see.

The need to share the resources we use

Instead of relying on a textbook, we all use a mix of articles, web pages, and reports. We agreed to share examples from our classes as well as our syllabus, assignments, and other course documents via a private libguide. We’ll probably have to remind each other to add more to the guide after the spring semester wraps up.

Are you paid for your class?

A few are. Others do the work as part of their normal, expected librarian duties. I mentioned I get conference travel money through our Coleman Foundation grant. I think most of us would like to get paid extra for teaching, but as one of the librarians noted, adjunct instructors don’t usually get paid a fair wage for their time anyway.

Do you teach on your own time or as part of your normal librarian hours?

Both situations exist for us. Some teach as part of their normal duties, and others teach outside of their normal work hours. One of us hasn’t been sure what the expectations are and does grading at home.

What about the workload?

A big issue, certainly. There is some resentment about the workload demand, which some of our colleagues don’t have to deal with as much. Some of us are also very busy with research consultations and other teaching (such as one-shots). It’s not easy keeping up.

Some of us teach very large, required classes (80 or more students). Some of us (ex. me) teach little boutique classes in comparison.

What terminology for what we teach and who we are?

Some library terminology isn’t meaningful outside the librarianship bubble. “Information literacy” is an example. So we teach “business research”, “competitive intelligence”, “economic development,” etc. The ACRL frameworks seem to focus on first-year composition classes and use language appropriate for that type of teaching.

Likewise, business students, business faculty, and the business and nonprofit community recognize the value of “business research consultants” but have other notions of what “librarians” do or would teach. This is not a new observation, of course.

What we get from teaching these classes?

Increased recognition and respect from professors and others. Greater understanding of what teaching college students entails. Appreciation for having more time with our students and building long-term relationships with them. Teaching at a deeper level and witnessing students’ substantial growth (hopefully) as researchers and critical thinkers.

We hope to stay in touch. If you teach a for-credit business research class and we missed you, we are sorry. Let me know if you are interested in connecting with the group.

A group of business librarians and vendors are going to be working together to propose some programs at the Charleston Conference this fall. There will also be a vendor-funded social or two.

Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor

Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor

This is an annual conference on publishing, vendors, scholarly communication, open access, open education resources, and user behavior*. Like LOEX, Charleston is a mid-sized, high-quality conference providing three days of rich programming. Its schedule evolves a little each year, which keeps things fresh and librarian-centered. There is only one day of exhibiting, so for the rest of the conference, the publisher and vendor reps are freed to attend and even contribute to programs, which usually leads to deeper discussions of issues and opportunities.

Over the last few years, a small number of business librarians have started to get together for informal chats. Last year, there was a “lively lunch” discussion with four of us as well as vendor friends John Quealy (S&P Global) and Dan Gingert (PrivCo). Nora Wood also provided a lively lunch with a colleague on liaison issues. More business vendors have exhibited in the past few years.

For 2017, at least seven business librarians will probably be working together to submit a few programs:

  • Betsy Clementson (Tulane)
  • Cynthia Cronin-Kardon (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Heather Howard (Purdue)
  • Lauren Reiter (Penn State)
  • Corey Seeman (University of Michigan)
  • Nora Wood (University of South Florida)
  • And me

We might invite a few vendors to speak with us too, depending on the topics and formats we come up with. Three vendors have offered to host social gatherings in 2017. This is a wonderful historic and walkable city for food and drink.

So we encourage more business librarians, publishers, and vendors to attend, discuss, debate, and socialize. And submit programs!

Please contact any of us with questions about this conference.


*Yes, its official subtitle is “Issues in Book and Serial Acquisitions,” but that is a historical legacy and so you shouldn’t hold that subtitle against it. LOEX has a funny full name too!

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)

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…

For the first time, I was invited to serve on a search committee for a professor position.

Professor Williamson, creator of the Export Odyssey experiential learning and trade promotion project, is retiring after next semester. We have been co-teaching the Export Odyssey class (MKT 426, International Marketing) for many years. So he and I and three other marketing professors make up the search committee. The new hire will teach the Export Odyssey class and other classes to be determined later.

The search is still in the works, so this post will have to go easy on the illustrative details (as with my most recent post about search committee work). But I have enjoyed experiencing the differences between how librarians conduct their searches at UNCG and Duke versus how professors conduct a search. Of course, this is my only experience of the later type, so my sample size is small.

Local context: UNCG librarians are hired as tenure-track faculty so scholarship is also required for us. We require a MLS from an ALA-accredited school, while this professor search requires a PhD or DBA from a business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Recruiting candidates

In addition to posting the job announcement to general (ex. Chronicle of Higher Education) and specific (AACSB’s BizSchoolJobs) job posting services, the marketing faculty on the search committee also utilized their own professional networks to encourage individuals to apply. I got a sense of how small a world an academic specialization can be. Working as a team, the four marketing professors on the committee seemed to have contacts at most of the schools with PhD programs in marketing. Maybe this level of networking isn’t too different from how closely academic business librarians network with each other, but the connections of senior faculty to the PhD students they guide and publish with doesn’t really have a counterpart in the librarian world. Our mentoring programs tend to be informal, and we aren’t in graduate school for very specialized research training for more than two years.

For this search, there was also much effort into recruiting candidates at conferences. Sure, there is the Placement Center at ALA conferences (where a booth costs $625 plus a minimum spend of $250 on JobList— yikes!) but the marketing professors coordinated a proactive recruitment effort to targeted individuals attending the conference. So before we formally talked to our top nine candidates (see below), a few candidates had already informally talked to one or two of the search committee members at a conference.

Research expectations

UNCG librarians talk and ask about research, publishing, and speaking in our interviews. But not surprisingly, there is greater emphasis in the business professor search on research. Existing publications, current research projects, and potential to publish enough to get tenured are big concerns. So we spend as much time talking about research as we do teaching. The position posting includes a long list of top journals that professors in the Marketing department have published in. But the ad also mentions teaching export promotion using experiential learning.


Unlike librarian candidates, the majority of the professor candidates are male. Also unlike librarian candidates, the professor candidates represent many nationalities. This reflects how ALA accreditation only covers two countries (U.S. and Canada) while AACSB accreditation covers 52 and counting. So the candidates represent a more diverse pool than I’m used to with librarian searches, in which the majority of the candidates are usually white. The professor search committee can fly in candidates from outside the U.S, although many of the non-native candidates already live and work in the U.S.

Nature & quality of applications

As expected, the average application package is longer than a librarian’s. The package includes a longer list of published research, plus sometimes commentary on a candidate’s research agenda and works in progress. Teaching evaluations – both statistical summaries of student evaluations and peer observation reports – and statements of teaching philosophies are often included.

Many cover letters are well-written, customized to the position, and incorporate research into UNCG, the business school, and marketing department.

And some cover letters focus on why this position would be great for the candidate, with no words concerning what the candidate would offer UNCG. Others read like generic cover letters written for any kind of position. Some cover letters consist mostly of bullet lists that summarize bullet points from the CV.

So the same mistakes librarian candidates sometimes make.

 “Phone” interviews

We scheduled interviews with ten top candidates via WebEx, with video. One dropped out of the search, so we conducted nine video interviews. We allocated an hour each; they lasted between 25 and 55 minutes. All nine within three days – a busy stretch. No technical problems at either end.

I remain interested in the question of video interviews versus phone interviews. As a search chair, I’ve only conducted phone interviews. I feel that not seeing the candidate helps limit bias. It’s also easier to schedule and simple to execute. But certainly it was nice to see the candidates on screen and their facial expressions and body language, and the candidates probably appreciated seeing us.

Our questions to the candidates centered on their interest in the position and UNCG, their research experience and goals, and the same for teaching. I was charged with asking about their interest in community-engaged experiential learning.

The candidate’s questions to us mainly concerned the timeline of the search, research expectations, teaching loads, and rank considerations. A few asked additional questions regarding the nature of students body as well as faculty relationships within the business school.

Vetting candidates

We are vetting our top candidates more than we usually do for librarian searches. In addition to receiving letters from all the official references, we are also calling additional faculty who have advised, taught with, or published with the candidates.

Respect for librarians?

In our WebEx interviews, I introduced myself as the UNCG business librarian, tenured member of the faculty, and co-teacher of the Export Odyssey class with Professor Williamson. None of the WebEx candidates expressed surprise that I was a member of this search committee. However, they already had a list of the committee members from the committee chair, and given the power dynamic of searches, it would have been foolish for any candidate to react to my presence with surprise. But based on our discussions, I do think that most of the candidates have respect for librarians and were glad that the Export Odyssey class has one on board.


The candidates will have a 1.5 day interview. I was surprised to learn that the business school doesn’t use the fancy hotel near campus that the library uses for its candidates, due to the cost.

The schedule isn’t too different from a librarian candidate schedule. Meet with the dean, department head, search committee, and other stakeholders. Tour the campus. But three differences:

  1. For their presentation, the candidates discuss one of their current research projects.
  2. We have the candidate visit with the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development regarding research resources.
  3. We will also bring the candidates to a marketing class to provide a short (15 minute) lesson or presentation relevant to the class. These may be different classes, given the days each candidate will be on campus. Guest teaching will be interesting to see, and I’m curious to see what kind of feedback we collect. (I’ve heard of libraries who make their candidates teach a real workshop to real students. I’ve never liked that idea, but this short round of teaching is different I think.)

Conclusion and Lessons Learned

Serving on the search has been a new type of embedded work for me. I now have a better understanding of the research pressure that the professors face, the nature of their professional networks, and also what it’s like to be a freshly minted PhD in the job market.

I will be chairing another librarian search starting next month and will reconsider some of my usual practices, such as using only phones for the first round of interviews.

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.