Q&A With VCU Business School Librarians
October 9, 2014
For the School of Business, Bettina Peacemaker and Pattie Sobczak collaborate and also act independently in developing the collection, consulting on faculty and student research and teaching course-specific materials.
Both bring business expertise to their roles.
Before becoming a librarian, Sobczak worked in sales, manufacturing and marketing, providing her with industry experience that helps connect students to the world outside the classroom. Leadership is a key research interest. She holds a doctorate in organizational systems, an M.B.A. and a bachelor’s degree in business management.
Peacemaker has worked with the School of Business for more than 10 years as a business research librarian, and also serves as the Assistant Head of Academic Outreach. She has a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a Master's in Library Science. She was introduced to management research during a graduate assistantship and has since worked in all areas of business to provide information literacy instruction and library support committed to engaging students with lifelong learning tools and strategies.
What challenges do research and collections librarians face when responding to today’s business curriculum and research needs?
Peacemaker: With more than 3,000 students in undergraduate, graduate and professional part-time programs, VCU’s School of Business is one of the university’s largest and most diverse academic communities. The business research and teaching needs are just as diverse. Communication and conversations with faculty and leadership are critical in my continuing education so that I can make the right decisions for business educators and their students. I actively seek and welcome opportunities to help me gain insight into the research experience including recommended readings, copies of syllabi, and even invitations to work with classes and groups. All of this helps me understand what information resources and strategies students and researchers need to be successful in business both inside the classroom and beyond.
Sobczak: Keeping track of the real-world, fast-moving reality of business and economic information is crucial for a current and relevant collection. I am constantly reading key resources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist, etc. as well as book reviews and mainstream publications to stay up on the new books, journals, articles, and databases that might be appropriate for the School of Business. Ongoing communication with faculty and students is key to making sure we have the right resources. I like to hear directly from faculty with ideas about possible additions to our business collection.
Can you share an example of how VCU Libraries develops custom content for specific courses or groups?
Peacemaker: With so much information available, it’s important to create content that it is immediately applicable to coursework and research projects, and that’s how I approach my role in instruction and research. When I work with classes, I create online guides that specifically address the information goals of that course. I have examples from almost every area of the business curriculum. I also try to address broader needs based on my work with faculty and students, so I have developed guides that address common areas like marketing and management as well as guides on finding case studies, using business databases for career research and finding sources to help prepare for promotion and tenure.
Sobczak: One way we develop custom collections is when a new course is proposed, I do a detailed analysis of the existing collection pertaining to that discipline to determine if the current collection can support the new course and if not, I purchase materials needed to fully support the new course.
How are priorities for the collection determined?
Sobczak: In the School of Business all of the programs are tied to what is happening in the real world. This means that the collection not only has to have the requisite theoretical resources but also resources about the practice and application of theory. This makes the business collection unique in that we need to find the right balance of resources to support the current and/or future research needs of the school at both the scholar and practitioner level. Also, I am working with faculty to create “Collections of Distinction” as a way to better support specific aspects of the school and to utilize these collections as a way to bring attention to its programs.
Priorities are based on the current and anticipated curriculum and research needs of the faculty and students. Collection development is not done in a vacuum. It happens through ongoing communication and collaboration with me, Bettina, faculty, program chairs, the dean, and others. Also, specific requests for items are handled quickly and given top priority. Make your purchase suggestion at https://apps.library.vcu.edu/forms/purchase
What do many students and faculty not know about the library?
Peacemaker: That they have their own research consultants, librarians who are willing to work one-on-one on projects. VCU Libraries also offers incredible research support for research data management, innovative media production, interlibrary loan, and almost any area of scholarly communications.
Sobczak: The number of resources available to them through the library. Harvard Business Review, Value Line, WARC (World Advertising Research Center), WRDS (Wharton Research Data Services) and Hoover’s are examples of the many resources available online, 24/7.