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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.