Adventures in Dataland: Business Data Sources

Article excerpt

The Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) 2012 Program, "Adventures in Dataland: Business Data Sources," presented a panel of four speakers representing academia, government, and the commercial sectors. Three of the speakers focused on the scope and capabilities of particular data products-Esri, RAND State Statistics, and American Factfinder-while Princeton's Bobray Bordelon covered a cross-section of valuable data sources. Resources covered are mostly free; some carry a modest fee.

The BRASS panel featured the following speakers:

* Bobray Bordelon is the Princeton University Pliny Fisk Librarian of Economics and Finance. He also heads Data and Statistical Services, directs the Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive, and is an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University. He has a BS in Finance, an MLIS from Louisiana State University, and an MBA from New Mexico State University. Bordelon chaired BRASS from 2000 to 2001, and he is its 2006 recipient of the Thomson Gale Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship.

* Angela Lee represents Esri, where she is the libraries and museums industry manager. Esri is the world's largest GIS (geographic information system) software provider. Lee has fifteen years' experience coordinating Esri's outreach and marketing activities to libraries, museums, and related educational organizations. Currently, she is working to help these institutions enhance the educational experience, advance scientific research, and operate more efficiently by leveraging the power of GIS and geographic analysis. Before coming to Esri, Lee was a GIS consultant at Technical Associates in Geographic Analysis, and worked as a library assistant in the Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota. Lee holds an MA in Geography with an emphasis on GIS from the University of Minnesota.

* Joe Nation is a professor of the Practice of Public Policy at Stanford University. He directs the graduate student practicum in public policy and teaches policy courses on climate change, health care, and California state issues. His current research is focused on public finance and public employee pensions. Nation is principal at his own consulting firm, California Data and Analysis, where his clients include the RAND Corporation. He directs RAND State Statistics, a collection of databases from the nation's leading think tank. This association led, in 1997/98, to his participation in the creation of the RAND California database. (1) Nation earned a BA in Economics, German, and French from the University of Colorado, and later, a master's in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, Nation worked for both Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. (He diplomatically recalled that Secretary Albright "made a mean baloney sandwich"). Nation holds a PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He served in the California Assembly where he authored fifty bills that were enacted into law. He subsequently was named Legislator of the Year. Nation was the principal co-author of AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act.

* Jerry Wong currently serves as the information services specialist for the US Census Bureau, Los Angeles Region. Over the course of four decennial censuses in thirty-two years of service, Wong's experience has been extensive in the Census Bureau's twin missions of collecting and disseminating information. Wong has worked with numerous business groups, including the Small Business Administration, and various chambers of commerce to train entrepreneurs in the effective use of census information for site location and market analysis. Wong holds a BA in Political Science and a Master's degree in Social Welfare, both degrees from UCLA. Wong also has served as a Commissioner for the Los Angeles Unified School District and as an advisor to the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks.

The interest in data among librarians has picked up noticeably in the past ten years as data archives have grown, as more researchers generate and rely on data, and as data become more accessible to users who have lacked the sophisticated skill level to extract it from its source. …