Information Outlook: March-April 2018

Entrepreneurs and innovators typically are driven not by money, but by change—by a desire to create products and services that can do new things or do old things in new ways. And while librarianship historically has not been considered a profession on the cutting edge of change, libraries are a logical resource for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs. The March-April 2018 issue of Information Outlook offers several perspectives on entrepreneurship and innovation, including (1) a case study of a collaboration between a technical professional organization and a university that resulted in a seminar on innovation and entrepreneurship, (2) a discussion of why and how a library changed it service model to better engage and support local entrepreneurs, and (3) an interview with a husband-and-wife-team of librarians who recently wrote a book about intrapreneurship for librarians.

Planning and Staging an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Seminar
Ruth Wolfish, Sandra Avila, Buenaventura Basco, Athena Hoeppner, Rebecca Murphey, and Min Tong
“Once the University of Central Florida accepted [IEEE’s] offer to help plan, promote, and host the event, the first tasks were to identify potential stakeholders, determine who would most benefit from the seminar, and agree on the contacts that should be made to ensure the event’s success. Given the seminar’s combined emphasis on innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship, UCF assembled a planning team comprising five librarians. . . Together, these librarians possessed the contacts and subject knowledge needed to help plan the event and recruit panelists.”

Creating a New Service Model to Support Entrepreneurs
Lindsey Dyer
“To get to the core of our current user experience, we held a focus group and asked for ‘pie in the sky’ ideas of what a business library that supports entrepreneurs could look like. . . When the surveys, focus groups, assessments, and anecdotes were boiled down, there was a clear need to create a more accessible service model for reference services. In response, we created a new service model that focuses on outreach, multiple levels of information access points, and a paid membership option for one-on-one research support.”

Interview: 10 Questions
Arne and Sharon Almquist
“I think a lot of librarians tend to see entrepreneurship and even such concepts as marketing and sales techniques as tools of evil. They think, I’m not in this to make money; I’m pure in intent. We look at what we do as moral, and at what those other people do as immoral or amoral. But in fact they’re tools, and all of these tools can be used to advance our altruistic efforts as well as increase resources. And, by the way, as altruistic librarians, we have to be concerned with the resources we have.”

Everyday Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Scott Brown
“Experimentation can manifest itself in different ways. It might take the form of pulling together data from various resources to create a comprehensive picture of content use across our organizations. It might involve creating a new service aligned with the needs of our department heads or key stakeholder groups. It might mean creating a series of short videos to convey key information to our audiences. Can we make an effective video that’s under a minute in length? Under 30 seconds? What does that look like for us?”

Entrepreneurial Thinking is an Essential Skill for Everyone
Jane Dysart
“Take my granddaughter Logan, who is now a year and a half old. What will her life be like as a young adult? Consider that she may never learn to tie a shoelace (as there is now Velcro as well as new types of laces), she may never learn to drive (now that driverless cars are coming online), and she may never learn cursive writing (since everything is done with computers today, and more is being done by using our voices)! So, if these types of kids are our future clients, what should we be planning in terms of programs and services to stay relevant?”

A Rose by Any Other Name
Karen MacDonald
“Changing the words we use to describe ourselves and what we do is an easy way to start being entrepreneurial. A few years ago, when I started spending more time working with scientific inventors on campus to help them find commercialization information for their initial patent applications, I started calling myself a business information specialist. That was an entrepreneurial decision that worked—the scientists seemed to have a better understanding of what I did and how I could help them, and my interactions with them increased.”

Expertise Sharing: Which Database(s) Do We Use?
David Stern
“In our ever-more-complex world, you often need to identify and consult with people who possess higher and deeper levels of knowledge to maintain your competitive advantage. Networking is almost essential to your success. So, which tools should you use to build such connections? Are there preferred tools for sharing expertise?”

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