A Year in the Life: Business Librarians Report on 2008-09

By Werner, Roye | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview
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A Year in the Life: Business Librarians Report on 2008-09


Werner, Roye, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD), an association consisting of the directors of libraries at the preeminent business schools in the United States and Canada, comes together each year to discuss issues of interest. Prior to the meeting, members are asked to respond to a questionnaire on what has happened in their libraries in the previous year. This survey results in the Annual Review, a collaborative report on new initiatives, organizational changes, space and collection issues, business school events, and the budget situations in their libraries. Roye Werner compiled this year's Annual Review. This article contains the highlights from that report, which were also presented at the latest ABLD meeting, held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, April 21-23, 2009. These trends will be of interest to many RUSQ readers because they relate to broad concerns that affect libraries of all types.--Editor

When I switched from being a public business librarian to an academic one three years ago, I thought I should get my collegiate bearings by studying some relevant journals. I spent some time perusing, among other publications, the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, which turned out to be right on target for that purpose--and it was there, through references in various articles and reports, that I learned about the Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD) association.

ABLD is a small, specialized association, consisting of the directors of libraries at the preeminent business schools in the United States and Canada. The first meeting--which was inspired by discussions at the College and Universities Business Libraries Roundtable at the Special Libraries Association-was held in May 1987 at the Columbia University's Watson Library at the invitation of their business librarian Jane Winland. It began with less than a dozen members; today, membership is limited to fifty. As described in the charter (www.abld.org/charter.html), ABLE) provides

   a forum for directors of academic business libraries
   to discuss mutual concerns and share information.
   Interests include: managerial and administrative issues
   and trends; cooperative initiatives to preserve and
   provide access to unique collections in business; opportunities
   to influence development of new products
   and services for the academic business library market
   and to influence contract development (vendor relations);
   and opportunities for informal collaboration
   and networking.

The organization has frequent contact and occasional meetings with sibling groups overseas, such as the European Business Schools Librarians' Group and the Asia Pacific Business School Librarians' Group, and recently has communicated with the newly formed Agrupacion de Directores de Centros de Informacion in Latin America.

Lucky for me, I soon became a member, and have since made good use of the group's accumulated wisdom and collegial support through their e-mail list, statistics compilations, conference sessions, website, and professional contacts. Perhaps the most extensive and revealing form of information gathering takes place a few months before the annual meeting, when the Annual Review is compiled. An editor sends a questionnaire to all members, who are asked to describe and record their reflections on what has happened in their libraries in the past year. The results are combined and distributed, and the editor then tries to make sense of the collected responses--finding common themes, shared concerns, and standout events and ideas--to report on at the conference.

This past year, I had the privilege of being that editor, and saw the process through, from distributing the questions to presenting the synthesis. For this latest Annual Review, we asked the members to report on the following:

* new and ongoing initiatives

* library organizational changes and new staff

* physical space

* collection and vendor issues

* business school issues, organizational changes, and new initiatives

* effects of the current economic situation

* other

Detailed and thoughtful reports came in from forty-three of our forty-nine members (an 88 percent response rate!

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