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TEMPLATE DESIGN © Beyond the Core: Supporting Information Needs of Users Outside the Business School at the University of Michigan Nathan Rupp | Kresge Business Administration Library | University of Michigan EnvironmentSuccesses/Lessons LearnedOne Library Balancing Many User GroupsStrategic PartnershipsBusiness Information Needs of External Users Staying within Boundaries Datasets Financial Contributions Training for Other Librarians Business Information Expertise at Other Organizations Market Research Departments Accounting Business Economics & Public Policy Business Information Technology Finance Law, History, Communication Management & Organizations Marketing Operations and Management Science Strategy RSB Institutes Others: FacultyResearch/ResearchCenters/ Colleges, Departments, and Schools Non-Academic Units Other Universities Entrepreneurs A number of organizations on campus have partnered with Kresge in the purchase of library resources and databases; these include the following: PartnerDatabase Office of Tech TransferFrost & Sullivan University of Michigan Law School Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) RSB Center for International Business Education (CIBE) Global Markets Information Database (GMID) & ISI Emerging Markets In some cases, Kresge librarians aren’t really qualified to answer business related questions; for example, although the Library has a subscription to Gale’s Business Plans Handbook series so that entrepreneurs can see examples of business plans, the librarians do not have expertise in writing actual business plans, but the Kresge Library has identified other organizations in Washtenaw County that can assist entrepreneurs. These include:: The Library has also explored partnering with these organizations and other libraries in the county through an organization called “Washtenaw County Libraries Serving Small Business” to form a clearinghouse of resources to help provide owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs with the information they need to operate their businesses. External Training Efforts The Library has provided training to non-business librarians at the University in the use of business databases and recently partnered with librarians in the health science and engineering libraries to do a series of cross training sessions on the use of databases that contain information that will help researchers working at the intersection of business, engineering, and medicine. It is important to establish policies and priorities beforehand when considering the support of external groups. Kresge Library maintains an “open door” policy which has been communicated to library staff. The clearest example of this policy is the fact that the library maintains open stacks. At the same time, it can be difficult during hectic periods of activity to balance the needs of the Library’s primary clientele with the needs of users outside the business school. It is important to establish guidelines beforehand to prioritize the order in which users groups inside and outside the business school can be assisted. Location, Location, Location Library visitors seem to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to taking advantage of the library’s physical presence in downtown Ann Arbor. On one hand, it seems that entrepreneurs outside the university altogether often have little difficulty in identifying the library as a source for business information and come to the library first for assistance with their business ventures before approaching other organizations in the community specifically set up to assist them. On the other hand, patrons at the university but outside the business school may know where the business library is on campus but require that the Library’s services and resources are available to them via their desktop, and the library has attempted to do this for both business school and non-business school users on campus through its web site, online database user guides, its wiki, and other similar tools. Many external groups find market research useful. These include engineers and medical researchers developing new products that they hope to take to market; entrepreneurs creating a business plan for a new idea or invention; and professionals in non-academic units like the university’s Office of Technology Transfer. In some cases, librarians can recommend that users look at specific market research reports for their industry, while in other cases, such as very local or micro businesses, they can recommend that entrepreneurs take “a step back” and think about how they might want to approach an investigation of the local market. For example, no database the library licenses will have information about downtown office rental rates, but the librarians can recommend that these entrepreneurs interview owners of local businesses who are already operating businesses in the community. International Business Organizations, groups, and entrepreneurs looking to market their products overseas need market and demographic information pertaining Many PhD students, faculty members, and other researchers outside the business school utilize datasets in their projects; these include historical time series of a company’s financial statements and stock prices or even that could be leveraged by owners of small businesses looking to expand their businesses overseas for the first time. analyses of how the make up of a company’s board of directors has changed over time. Questions regarding these resources can be particularly problematic because datasets are one type of the library’s resources that is particularly “locked down” and unavailable to researchers outside the business school. In addition, the library finds it difficult to budget time to work on these projects as the researchers involved with them often wish to revisit the data many times to tease out new information and trends. Successes Lessons Learned Increased Partnerships. In serving these diverse user groups Kresge Library has had the opportunity to partner with other librarians on UM’s campus as well as librarians at other regional organizations to explore ways to work together to serve researchers on campus outside the business school and entrepreneurs throughout the local community. Kresge librarians have also had the opportunity to connect with non-library organizations like SPARK and SCORE that have been established to help serve some of these user groups. Communication of the Kresge Brand. These extracurricular activities have allowed Kresge Library to communicate its brand of excellent service across campus and across the region to other departments and organizations that aren’t necessarily connected with the business school. Broadened Expertise. In serving these various groups Kresge librarians have been able to broaden their own expertise in the use of the various resources and tools needs to assist multiple user groups. Creativity. Kresge librarians have also become quite creative in offering up freely available information solutions to non business school users who don’t always have access to the library’s licensed content. Consistency. The Library has found that it is important to be consistent in offering the same levels of service to user groups both within and outside the business school. Clarity. Yet at the same time, the Library has learned the importance of prioritizing its services, first to its core group of users at the business school and then to other groups within the community. This includes being up front with non business school users about what services and resources the Library can and cannot offer them. Non business school users must be aware that users associated with the business school take priority and that not all information resources will be available to them. Conspicuousness. The Library has learned that its name “Kresge Business Administration Library” draws the interest and attention of users across campus and town who are not associated with the business school but see the Library as having the answer to their business information questions; because of this it must be prepared to serve a wide range of user groups. to the foreign countries in which they plan to operate. For ex- ample, the library was recently invited by the U. S. Department of Commerce’s US Commercial Service through its ExportTech program to give an overview of international business content It is not enough for the Library to follow its own policies, procedures, and regulations when serving clientele outside the business school. It also needs to follow the guidelines its vendors establish for the electronic content it licenses. It can be difficult for the Library to explain that access to some resources is restricted to some users, especially when those users are from other departments on campus and don’t see any different between their department at UM and the UM business school. In some cases Kresge librarians have had to be very creative in assisting non-business school users with busi- ness-related questions, deploying strategies such as the utilization of free web-based resources to provide users with the information they are looking for.
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