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Heather Howard, Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies

Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies Assistant Professor and Business Information Specialist Heather Howard speaking at the Midwest Business Librarian Summit 2019.

Many marketing instructors demonstrate how professional marketers incorporate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in their approaches to product or service development for their target customer segments. So it’s not surprising that Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Assistant Professor and Business Information Specialist Heather Howard developed the Midwest Business Librarian Summit to meet her fellow business librarians’ needs — belonging, esteem, and self-actualization — shown in the upper area of the famous pyramid hierarchy.

“Currently there are no national conferences that are business librarian focused, and the ones many go to, such as the American Library Association or Special Library Association, have limited content for business librarians or are prohibitively expensive for many librarians,” Howard explained.

Although she’s not a marketing instructor, at Purdue Howard teaches courses that incorporate business information concepts (marketing being an extremely important one), and she helps Purdue students and faculty navigate the complex web of information and data fundamental to business success. In 2018, she organized the Indiana Business Librarian Summit (held at Purdue), which about 25 individuals attended.

David Hummels, Purdue University Krannert School of Management

Dean of the Krannert School of Management and Distinguished Professor of Economics David Hummels welcomed the nearly 70 attendees of the Midwest Business Librarian Summit July 24 at Purdue University.

This year, she rebranded the July 24 event as the “Midwest Business Librarian Summit” (or MBLS) and featured David Hummels, the Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean of the Krannert School of Management and Distinguished Professor of Economics, who welcomed those who attended. The new Dean of Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies and Professor Beth McNeil gave the keynote presentation. Both addressed the nearly 70 business librarians and information professionals who attended from areas across the region — a significant increase in attendees in only one year.

Clearly, Howard is on to something.

Below, she provides more detail about MBLS… and her plans for its future.

Q: Tell me about the Midwest Business Librarian Summit: how and why did you start it?

Howard: The Midwest Business Librarian Summit started in 2018 as the Indiana Business Librarian Summit. After attendees came from all over the area, it was rebranded in 2019 as MBLS to better represent the interest in the event.

Beth McNeil, Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies

Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Professor Beth McNeil presents the keynote at MBLS 2019, held in the Hicks Undergraduate Library at Purdue.

I started the event because I saw a need for business librarians in the area to get together to talk about projects they are working on, databases and resources, and all things business librarian. This year I also organized the event, but I had the help of a committee of business librarians.

Q: Is this summit affiliated with other summit events for those business librarians who work, for example, in different geographic areas?

Howard: Nope, this is a standalone event. There are a few other groups of business librarians who also have meetings, including The Southern Academic Business Librarians Conference (SOUCABL) and the Michigan Area Business Librarians (who attended MBLS as their 2019 meeting), and there are rumors of one starting up in Colorado.

Q: Who is eligible to attend this summit/conference?

Howard: There is no limit on who can attend. We are open to anyone who is practicing business librarianship or is otherwise interested, including public, academic, and corporate librarians. Though we are called “midwest,” anyone who wants to make the trip to West Lafayette is welcome to attend.

Q: What do you hope that attendees were able to take away from the summit this year?

Teresa Williams, Butler University Libraries

Teresa Williams from Butler University Libraries presented her lightning talk, “When Databases Are No Longer an Option: Teaching Resources for Business Information” at the 2019 Midwest Business Librarian Summit held at Purdue.

Howard: I hope that attendees had great conversations with one another, are inspired by work our colleagues are doing, and form new partnerships and collaborations.

Much of the content of MBLS is provided by those who are attending in the form of lightning talks, interest group conversations, and open forum talks, so the key takeaways are determined by what people discussed.

Q: Will there be an MBLS 2020? If so, will you follow the same format next year? change it up? or will that be up to you and your committee based on feedback from this year?

Howard: There will definitely be an MBLS 2020! We received quite a bit of positive verbal feedback at the event, and the committee and I will be sending out a survey to assess what people liked and what people would like to change in future years.

I can say that many people told me they appreciated how easy it is to get to Purdue and how nice our event space was, which was great to hear.


Follow the Midwest Business Librarian Summit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/midwestbuslib/ and on Twitter at twitter.com/MidwestBusLib.