Professional Development

Author Archive

Bob at ABLD in Singapore

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 2:30 pm

In May I attended an international joint meeting in Singapore of three groups of business school librarians. The group to which I belong is the North American-based Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD), which is a small group of librarians from most of the business schools that are generally ranked among the top 50 in North America. Our international counterparts are the European group (EBSLG) and the Asia-Pacific group (APBSLG). This meeting was the fifth time since 2000 that ABLD took part in such a joint meeting (previous meetings have taken place at INSEAD in France, the University of Virginia, Copenhagen and Stanford).

This meeting took place on the campus of Singapore Management University, which is situated in the heart of this crossroads city in Southeast Asia. Though it is a relatively new institution (founded in 2000), SMU has quickly matured into one of the leading universities in Asia. It has about 10,000 students and 370 faculty studying and teaching in the subjects of business, law, information science, economics and other social sciences. It grants degrees at the undergraduate, master’s and PhD levels.

The city-state of Singapore is the business center of Southeast Asia. As my photo below suggests, it is a large, prosperous and modern city. It is a former British colony whose residents are now made up of a majority of ethnic Chinese with significant minorities of ethnic Malay and Indian people. There is also a large contingent of British, European and American expatriates. English is widely spoken. As a travel destination, Singapore is known as a mecca for food and shopping and as a jumping off point for visitors to the other countries in Southeast Asia.

Our meeting began with a visit to the National Library of Singapore which is within walking distance of SMU. The National Library contains an impressive collection of colonial-era documents and maps documenting the founding of the colony of Singapore and its founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.

After the tour we boarded buses and traveled to the suburban location of another well-known business school, the Asia campus of INSEAD, a highly ranked international business school located near Paris in Fontainebleau, France. We enjoyed a tour of INSEAD Asia, a reception and music provided by an Indonesian gamelan group.

The main part of the conference started the next morning with a thought-provoking talk by the Belgian-born president of SMU, Prof. Arnoud de Meyer. Prof. de Meyer has extensive experience in teaching, research and administration in top business schools in several countries. His career is a good example of how the “industry” of business schools has evolved into a truly global industry during the last few decades.

During the first day of meetings I participated in a panel discussion on the topic of “Thinking about work: what issues keep you awake at night.” Though I noted that work issues don’t keep me awake at night I talked about a trend that does concern many of my ABLD colleagues, i.e. the downsizing or elimination of a significant number of business school library facilities in North America.

I pointed out that many business school libraries have coped with downsizing by eliminating print collections and evolving into business information centers similar to our own Business Information Commons in Farrell Hall. My advice to my fellow business school librarians who have not yet experienced a big change in their physical facilities was to embrace the downsizing trend and to become advocates of the information commons model of the business school library.

There were lots of individual presentations over the course of the meeting, most of which are listed and linked on an SMU site here. We also had time for visiting a room set aside for the 18 vendors who attended the conference. They were available to demonstrate their products and answer questions.

One of my favorite aspects of the meeting was the way the local organizers wove cultural activities into both the presentation schedule and the social events that took place during the evenings. For example, a group of Malay SMU students performed traditional Malay drumming during a meeting break one morning.

During the dinner at the famous Raffles Hotel on the last night of the conference a local group of Indian dancers provided a colorful Indian dance demonstration.

During our evening at Raffles we also enjoyed a talk about the history of the hotel by the hotel’s resident historian and a demonstration on how to make a Singapore Sling, a drink invented by a Raffles bartender.

Another highlight of the meeting was a workshop on negotiation led by SMU Professor Michael Benoliel.

The best part of a meeting like this is the opportunity to meet and get to know lots of people whose jobs resemble mine. Despite the fact that the members of the three groups work in a diverse group of institutions in lots of different countries, we have so much in common, including many of the same budget and space challenges, similar faculties performing similar tasks, similar students pursuing similar degrees and vendors whose information products are sold worldwide. Here are photos of everyone from the three groups and some of the attendees from North America.

The rest of my meeting photos can be seen here.


2015 ABLD at Vanderbilt

Friday, May 15, 2015 2:53 pm

In April I attended the annual meeting of the Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD) on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

ABLD members in front of Vanderbilt b-school

ABLD is a small association of librarians from most of the top 50 business schools in North America. During the past year, I served as chair of the board of directors of the group. The Vanderbilt meeting marked the end of my term as chair and I will now serve one more year on the board as past chair.

ABLD holds its meetings on the campus of a member school. Doing so allows the members of ABLD to become familiar with other business schools and the libraries that serve them. Among ABLD schools and their libraries, there are many organizational models and no two schools and libraries are exactly alike. Vanderbilt’s business school offers only graduate degrees and its library is a full-service branch of the main library.

The conference began on a Tuesday afternoon with a campus tour led by Vanderbilt’s landscape architect. He pointed out the many exotic species of trees found on the campus that allow the entire campus to be designated as the Vanderbilt arboretum. After the tour Vanderbilt’s Interim Dean of Libraries, Jody Combs, hosted a reception in the main library.

Most of Wednesday’s program consisted of a variety of presentations by ABLD members. I was interested in a presentation by Meg Trauner of Duke who described the experience of the Duke business school library with an e-book program from Overdrive. Overdrive allows library users to borrow e-books and audio books from libraries and access them via the Overdrive app on a smartphone or tablet. Meg reported that business school library users much prefer this means of access to accessing e-books on a computer.

After a lunch at Vanderbilt’s on-campus University Club, the members spent some time with the seven vendor representatives who had been invited to showcase their products at the meeting. I learned more about BCC Research, a company that provides full text market research reports on industrial (rather than consumer) products. It’s a database to which we would like to subscribe if the price is right.

Later Tuesday afternoon the group visited the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in downtown Nashville. Michael Burcham is a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt and he founded the Entrepreneur Center as an organization to foster entrepreneurs in the city. It’s an impressive facility that is home to many companies that are just starting out. It provides office space, training and opportunities for mentoring and networking.

Thursday’s program contained more presentations by ABLD members along with a couple others by faculty from the business school. Professor David Owens spoke about the topic of innovation and Professor Kimberly Pace spoke about communication skills.

Prof. David Owens

Prof. Kimberly Pace

Among the topics discussed in member presentations were library space, teaching classes for credit and library support for classes in entrepreneurship.

Two guests from abroad attended the meeting: Andy Priestner of Cambridge University and president of the European Business School Librarians’ Group (EBSLG) and Gina de Alwis of Singapore Institute of Management and representing the Asia Pacific Business School Library Group (APBSLG) both made presentations. Andy spoke about his experience using ethnographic techniques to study library users and Gina spoke about the plans for the 2016 joint meeting of ABLD, EBSLG and APBSLG in Singapore.

The meeting concluded with a Thursday night visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville and a dinner on the site. After dinner, some of the members continued the fun on Nashville’s famous Honky Tonk Row.

Robert’s Western World Bar

More photos from my trip to Vanderbilt and Nashville are located here.

Bob at EBSLG in St. Petersburg, Russia

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 2:16 pm

In my role as chair of the (North American) Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD) group, I was invited to attend the annual meeting of the European Business School Librarians Group (EBSLG), held at the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University in Russia. Thanks to ABLD funding of the rather expensive airfare, I was able to attend the meeting from June 15-19.

Both ABLD and EBSLG are rather small, informal organizations composed of business school librarians representing the top 50 business schools on each continent. The two organizations have held joint meetings on four occasions, twice in Europe and twice in the United States. The most recent joint meeting, which also included representatives from the Asia-Pacific Business School Librarians Group (APBSLG), was at Stanford Business School in May, 2012.

Several years ago, the two groups established the tradition of having the leader of each group attend the annual meeting of the other group. This practice helps maintain and strengthen the bond between the two groups and helps to facilitate the planning of future joint meetings.

Planning my trip to St. Petersburg was a little more complicated than usual, mainly because I had to obtain a visa to enter Russia. However, I used a private visa agency to expedite the process and that helped a lot. I received my visa in about three weeks. The trip to Russia was a long one, requiring a change of planes in Washington, DC and Frankfurt, Germany. About 20 hours after I left home, I landed in St. Petersburg, eight time zones and 5,000+ miles away.

Mid-June is an ideal time to visit St. Petersburg, because it is the time of the White Nights. During the four days I was there, the sun rose at about 4:30 AM and set at about 11:30 PM, though it never seemed to get completely dark at any time of night. For example, I took this photo at 10:25 PM during our group cruise on the Neva River

Neva River Cruise 10:25PM June 18

The conference began Monday evening, June 16 with a reception and buffet dinner at the Finnish-owned Sokos Hotel next door to the School of Business building. After dinner we went on a late-evening bus tour of the city. We stopped at some of the major sights around the city and got out of the bus for a better view. Our guide, Victoria, gave us a good introduction to the city, its history and some of its famous rulers including the city founder, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, one of Peter’s successors.

Statue of Peter the Great, commissioned by Catherine the Great.

Two days of formal meetings began Tuesday morning, June 17. The theme of the conference was “Library Redesign for the Next User Generation.” As the theme suggests, business school librarians in Europe are facing the same kind of challenges we have, i.e., how to reconfigure, redesign and/or repurpose library space in a time when the most important business information resources are online and many business schools are reluctant to devote much space to a traditional library with a substantial print collection. I gave an updated version of my presentation about the story of establishing the Business Information Commons.

We also had presentations from European representatives of business information vendors such as ProQuest, EBSCO and the Financial Times, and from a couple representatives of the library community of Russia. For me the most interesting presentation was by Ms. Irina Lynden, Deputy Director General for International Relations (retired), National Library of Russia. She gave a fascinating and frank overview of the history of libraries in the Soviet Union and Russia from the time of the beginning of the Russian Revolution (1917) to the present day.

Ms. Irina Lynden

The highlight of the conference was the final night when we enjoyed an excellent dinner (thanks to the generosity of the vendors) at the historic Astoria Hotel and a sightseeing cruise on the Neva River. A river cruise is the best way to see the city, because when Peter the Great chose the location for his new capital of Russia in 1703, it was the river and access to the Baltic Sea that determined the location of the city.

Neva River, St. Petersburg

In sum, my trip to St. Petersburg was rewarding both professionally and personally. I was impressed with the School of Management and the school’s library and its staff. I loved the city, its sights and its people, all of whom that I encountered were friendly and welcoming to foreign guests. If you have ever wanted to visit this part of the world but not yet done so, then I recommend it highly.

Here are a couple additional photos:

Graduate School of Management Library.

EBSLG meeting room.


Bob at ABLD 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013 3:27 pm

I attended the annual meeting of the Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD) group in Montreal, Canada May 12-15.

Part of the ABLD group in Montreal

Part of the ABLD group in Montreal

ABLD is a relatively small and informal association of business school librarians in the U.S. and Canada. The members serve as either the director of a separate library serving a graduate business school or work in a main library and have primary responsibility for serving the students and faculty of a graduate business school. It is made up of librarians from schools that rank among the top 50 graduate business schools in North America (as determined by Business Week, U.S. News or The Economist).

ABLD meets annually in the spring on the campus of a member school. This year’s meeting was hosted jointly by the McGill University School of Business and HEC Business School, a well-known francophone school in Montreal. Meetings usually consist of a few tours and social events along with presentations by ABLD members or invited speakers (often including a business school professor or library administrator from the host school). Sometimes we invite a limited number of vendors to the meeting, but this year’s meeting was vendor-free. At the end of each conference, ABLD holds its annual business meeting

The small size and scope of ABLD means that all the members know each other personally and we all have a lot in common. Even though there are differences in the size and nature of the libraries in which we work, we find that the challenges and issues we face are similar. For example, presentations on this year’s schedule included topics such as serving students in remote locations, e-books, the effects of social media on the research process, embedded librarianship and changes in business library spaces.

One of the benefits of holding each conference on the campus of a member school is that we get to see and experience the physical facilities available to each member library and business school. Over the years I have been fortunate to visit the business schools and the libraries that serve them at many schools, including Stanford, UCLA, Michigan, Alabama, Virginia, Babson, Vanderbilt, Duke, Dartmouth and Washington. We get to use the business school facilities such as classrooms and meeting rooms and sometimes we are able to stay in a hotel that serves a business school’s corporate education center. In 1997 I hosted the annual ABLD conference at Wake Forest in the Worrell Professional Center.

Another valuable aspect of ABLD is our relationship with two similar organizations in other parts of the world–the European Business School Librarians Group (EBSLG) and the Asia-Pacific Business School Librarians Group (APBSLG). Both groups are similar to ABLD in that they are small and informal and composed of librarians from business schools that are highly ranked both internationally and within their regions of the world. Every three to four years there is a joint international meeting of librarians from the three groups. These meetings have taken place in 2000 at INSEAD Business School in France, in 2004 at the University of Virginia, in 2007 at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and in 2012 at Stanford.

Not surprisingly, the members of ABLD find that we have much in common with our international colleagues. Graduate business education, like many industries these days, is a global endeavor. Our next international joint meeting is tentatively planned for Singapore in 2015. ABLD’s next annual meeting is at the University of Chicago in May, 2014.

I have been an active member of ABLD since coming to Wake Forest in 1992. This year I was elected by my colleagues as 2013 chair-elect of ABLD. I will be responsible along with next year’s host for planning the schedule for the 2014 meeting. I will become chair at the end of next year’s meeting. I also serve as the webmaster of ABLD and the unofficial photographer for the group.

HEC professor Christian Dussart talks to ABLD group in Montreal

HEC professor Christian Dussart talks to ABLD group in Montreal

While large professional associations such as ALA and SLA are important to the health and welling-being of the profession of librarianship, small informal groups like ABLD are equally important. Our annual meetings are a great way to share information, learn new things and maintain personal relationships among colleagues who have much in common.



ALA Annual
ALA Midwinter
Career Development for Women Leaders
Carolina Consortium
CASE Conference
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
Coalition for Networked Information
Digital Forsyth
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Elon Teaching and Learning Conference
Entrepreneurial Conference
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA)
First-Year Experience Conference
Handheld Librarian
ILLiad Conference
Innovative Library Classroom Conference
Journal reading group
Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
Library Assessment Conference
Lilly Conference
LITA National Forum
Mentoring Committee
Music Library Association
NCCU Conference on Digital Libraries
North Carolina Serials Conference
online course
Online Learning Summit
Open Repositories
Professional Development Center
Site Visits and Tours
Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
Southeast Music Library Association
Sun Webinar Series
TALA Conference
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
University Libraries Group
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

Powered by, protected by Akismet. Blog with