What do British business librarians talk about?

One of the blogs I follow is Libreaction – the blog of Andy Priestner (@Priestlib on twitter), who is Head Librarian at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. The first post of Andy’s I came across was about “the same old problem” of MBAs and library inductions (sounds very familiar!)

Andy has been reporting in his blog on the conference of the Business Librarians Association conference. The theme of the conference was ‘The Research Agenda’ – how we as librarians engage with researchers, how we meet their needs and how we can get more involved in research ourselves.

A lot of what has been reported is relevant to academic librarians as a whole, not just business librarians.

Some key ideas and themes have included:

  • information provision must be embedded, evangelical and evidence-based
  • in the future business librarians will move more towards promotion and dissemination of research and assistance with bibliometric impact
  • Libraries are truly and demonstrably important for research students, but that this value is still overlooked by stakeholders
  • Librarians don’t exploit published research enough – relying on experience and instincts
  • there are not enough librarians getting articles published in academic journals
  • Librarians are good at advocacy and measuring tangibles but less skilled at demonstrating value and impact to justify investment
  • we need to go to where researchers are and leave the library; engagement, outreach and empathy with researchers are all vital
  • staff at Newcastle University tweet new staff publications to demonstrate engagement with research community
  • impact is not just about marketing. We need to always be there in front of researchers. We should not be shy about library value
  • initiatives to engage with PhDs at one business  school (other than group inductions and the offer of research consultations – which weren’t utilised enough included:   a focus group, a PhD guide, a research seminar series (plagiarism, Refworks and getting published) and a poster campaign. Interesting to read that focus groups that offer payment and are facilitated by neutral (non-library) staff attract more participants. Engagement with research supervisors is key.  
  • focus groups offering food and vouchers attract more attendees
  • important to obtain feedback before and after implementing changes; that time investment in ‘extra’ work research projects pays off long-term.
  • Manchester business answers 24/7 which allows students to search for assistance on frequently asked questions and receive guidance on what resources and services to go to and how to use them. Apparently a BLA wide-project was mooted so that business librarians could offer the same resource without reinventing the wheel. A project team is already underway!
  • researchers are concerned that submitting research into digital repositories may impact on their chances for publication in academic journals – solution rebrand the repository as a “research tool” and better integrate it with internal information systems so researchers are engaged with it in terms of their workflow
  • repositories need champions at the highest level – Vice Chancellors need to be onside
  • technologically we are ready for repositories but culturally we aren’t (sounds like the perennial knowledge sharing dilemma)
  • repositories need to be Google Scholar compatible so hits soar
  • librarians need to build relationships with researchers based on openness and trust – and we need to get out of our libraries and go and talk to them in order to ensure their engagement
  • dissemination of research beyond journals and books is now required in order to prove research value and benefits –  Librarians should be involved in the process, ensuring researchers are briefed about where to publish their research in terms of journal rankings
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