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I attended NCLA’s 59th Biennial Conference on Wednesday; my teaching schedule on Tuesday and Thursday limited my time at the conference, but it was valuable none-the-less. I attended a terrific panel discussion about LibGuides in which librarians from 7 different libraries shared their implementation processes, policies, and uses of this very useful tool. Most of the implementations were thoughtful and well-planned, but several were staged – class guides first, topical guides next, and so forth; and one library described a ‘shotgun wedding’ approach to implementation that was successful despite its rapidity. Like ZSR, most identified a person or small committee to plan and roll out their use. The main motivation for moving to LibGuides was the ease and speed with which guides can be created or revised. Several practices caught my attention: NC Central Law Library uses the LibGuide landing page as the home page for all of its public library computers. UNCG discovered that students don’t see the tabs along the top so they now place links to each tab in each guide’s welcome box. NCA& T adds a box in each LibGuide with links to related topics.

In the afternoon, I presented “Using the Economic Census to Support Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners”. I’ve long been a fan of this data-rich resource for business and economic research, having first discovered it when I was a business analyst with an investment firm. In its report “Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development” the Urban Institute describes how libraries support regional economic development by providing specialized resources and research services to entrepreneurs and small business people. In the current budget environment free, reliable resources are even more valuable and the Economic Census is one such resource. The interface to the data is challenging and, therefore, the Census remains an underutilized resource among non-specialists. In my talk, I tried to de-mystify the Census and demonstrate how librarians can turn data into information for their business patrons. The audience actively engaged with the topic and we had a lively conversation about using this and other government sources. We also mourned the loss of “Statistical Abstract of the United States” another valuable source of data, which will print its last edition in 2013, after which budget cuts will cause the GPO to cease its publication.

BLINC, Business Librarians in North Carolina, was actively involved in the conference. Mine was one of 8 sessions presented in part or entirely by BLINC members; in addition, BLINC librarians led several poster sessions. Following the vendor reception, BLINC held its post-conference dinner, hosted by two of our vendors. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and each other’s company at Carrabba’s.

The conference represented the close of Steve Cramer’s tenure as Chair of BLINC and the beginning of my two-year term. During the conference I held my first cabinet meeting with Vice-Chair Leslie Farison of Appalachian State and Secretary/Treasurer Sara Thynne of Alamance Regional Public Library. We developed ideas for future workshop topics and I laid out several initiatives that I plan to pursue during my term.

It was a full and productive day in Hickory; while I wish I could have heard other programs on other days, I appreciated the time I was able to spend at the conference. Kudos to Sarah Jeong for the great job she did organizing the conference store which was the busiest spot in the exhibit hall and to Steve Kelley for his very well laid-out exhibit hall.