Refer Summer 2015

Refer cover Summer cilipisg Table of Contents  

New Members, their Induction and Information Needs Chris Sear, House of Commons Library  

Full Fact: Live Fact-checking and the General Election Will Moy, Full Fact  

Archiving the UK Government: a Perspective from a New Official Publications Librarian Daniel Payne, LSE Library  

How Can You Have Them Hear You When They Won’t Listen: the Challenge of Business Skills Training within MBA Programmes. Chris Flegg, Bodleian Business Librarian, Said Business School, University of Oxford  

Preparing Students for Global Immersion: Partnering for Success Meghan Dolan, Shelby Ikeda and Linda Rosen, Harvard Business School Library  

Business Support in Public Libraries Jonathan Cowley, Haringey Libraries  

Services for Business at City Business Library Esther Greenwood and Wendy Foster  

Extending and Enriching the Official Publications Collection at the UCL Institute of Education: Developing, Maintaining and Enhancing the Digital Education Resource Archive. Daniel O’Connor, UCL Institute of Education Library  

Government Information Sources Provided by The Stationery Office Gareth Vaughan, TSO Bibliographic Services, Williams Lea Parliamentary Press London  

Collecting and Access to Government Information: the Scottish Perspective. Fiona Laing, National Library of Scotland  

Digital Developments: the Scottish Perspective Helen Costello, Scottish Parliament  

Consultations on the GOV.UK Website Ruth Hayes  

The Ongoing Need for Print Versions of Official Publications Donna Ravenhill, Dandy Booksellers  

Copyright Images in Teaching and Research Gillian Dwyer, University of Surrey  

Obituary: John Ouston

Refer, the journal of the Information Services Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), is published three times a year and distributed free to members of the Group.

Editor: Helen Edwards

Editorial team: Lynsey Blandford, Ruth Hayes

Cover layout: Jonas Herriot

Contact: Helen Edwards 07989 565739;

Copyright © The contributors and the ISG 2015

Online edition

ISG Reference Awards Nominations ISG Reference Award for best reference work 2014 and ISG Special Award for the best information resource for young people. Closing date for nominations 30 June 2015

ISG Walford Award for outstanding contribution to the world of reference and information services Closing date for nominations 31 July 2015

Awards Judging Day: 11 September 2015 at CILIP HQ

Awards Ceremony: 11 November 2015 at CILIP HQ from 5:30 All welcome! Free! Wine and Nibbles.  

New Members, their Induction and Information Needs

Chris Sear

Head of Front of House, House of Commons Library, and member of the General Election Planning Group


After the last election, there were 182 new Members of Parliament, all of whom needed to get to Westminster, be inducted, receive their pass, sign up for their pay and expenses, and pick up their IT; and all of this needed to take place within a few hours of them arriving at Westminster. On top of this all new Members were to be given a ‘buddy’ from the House staff, as we knew from interviews with Members that the first few days in Westminster are really difficult; it takes time for Members to be allocated their offices and appoint their staff but nonetheless they are expected to get on with their new job almost as soon as they arrive.

We already had a good idea that a system of buddies would work as it have been used successfully – though on a smaller scale – after the last National Assembly for Wales elections. Although there were some misgivings about using the word ‘buddy’, ultimately none of the other possible names – mentor, adviser, guide – really summed up what we were trying to do; which was to give new MPs someone from the House staff who would take the pressure off during their first few days in the job, who would help them find their feet and most importantly, start work on behalf of their new constituents as soon as they could. And, also, the Member’s ‘buddy’ had to be in front of the Member when they arrived, so there would be no waiting around.

I worked on the coordinating group that was given the task of making this work. We decided early on that buddies would be drawn from across the House service, from all grades and all directorates; that we would not pre-assign buddies but provide a taxi-rank of buddies that would meet the next Member through the door (pre-assigning would be too complicated given the uncertainty over the time Members might turn up); and that we would call all Members over the weekend after the election so we could find out their travel plans and be prepared.

Overall we recruited 120 buddies, and subjected them to a rigorous training programme. Everyone involved was keen (they were all volunteers and did it for no extra pay) but many of them were not that aware of what people in other part of the organisation did. So we set up sessions for them covering all aspects of the House’s business and work; we gave them a ‘getting off to a good start’ training course and tours of the building and areas where, normally, Members only can go. There was a big launch event with Members speaking and a clear focus on customer service, led by Martin Phillips, the head of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew who, again, gave his services for free.

The first floor of one of our main buildings – Portcullis House – was given over to a reception area for new Members. Here they would do all the things they needed to do to get set up for work, as well as meet their buddy. We didn’t have enough volunteers for every buddy to have only one Member, but each buddy expected to have two Members each and we hoped the timing of their arrival would make this reasonably straightforward. So, to determine this, once the election was over and we knew we had 182 new Members to induct, we started calling our new Members.

Most were exhausted having had little or no sleep for weeks; many had not expected to be MPs and now had to get themselves down to Westminster as quickly as they could; and all were grateful for the help we could supply and the travel bookings we were able to make. However, the main benefit of calling each Member was that it quickly became clear that they were all planning to come down to Westminster early on the Monday morning. Buddies were called in as early as possible, but as Members started arriving just after 7.30 we had several moments when we thought we weren’t going to have enough buddies. Luckily, despite at times being down to our last couple of buddies, more and more arrived as the morning went on and we were able to ensure that every Member had a buddy in front of them when they arrived. There was no time to breathe as each Member went off to get signed up with IPSA (pay and expenses), to get their pass and IT, and register with the Travel Office, before getting their locker keys and tour of the building, but by mid-afternoon most MPs had arrived and been inducted. The final few came on Tuesday and the very last one on Wednesday.


We also set up an induction day for New Members, starting with a briefing in the Chamber on Wednesday morning, followed by a ‘new Member’ photograph and induction sessions on setting up an office and complying with expected standards of behaviour. Members’ buddies had a vital in making sure that all Members knew about these sessions and help their Members find their way to the events.   Members do not get offices when they first arrive because these are allocated not by the House but by each Party, so we were supporting people having, in effect, to handle all the workload of being an MP while needing to hot-desk for the first few weeks.

Even though all MPs were inducted by the Wednesday, our buddies found their training to be worthwhile, as they have received a variety of requests from Members since. One extremely popular request was for help with their maiden speeches. The Commons Library (where I am Head of Front of House) drafted 182 emails giving links to each MP’s most recent three predecessors; links to statistics and profiles about their constituency; and various other pieces of information that MPs would want to use for their speech. We managed to do this by the beginning of the week after their induction, in plenty of time for the Queen’s Speech on 27 May when they could start making their maiden speeches.

Also in the Library we have spent the past few weeks giving tours to Members and introducing them to our service, and have started receiving their requests for research or information. (The Library service as a whole received 30,000 enquiries in the year before the election, all of which received a confidential reply.) We received requests for new newspapers (the National, Scotland’s new national – and nationalist – newspaper, – is now in our stock); and all the evidence points to a similarly busy year as new Members settle down, start working at full speed, and, more importantly, use the services they were introduced to in their first week.

The key point of course of any service is that it meets the needs of the customer. In this case we received considerable amount of positive feedback from Members, many of whom took to the press or social media to comment on their induction. Despite the hard work we honestly feel that the efforts of the past year were worthwhile, as they have enabled Members to get up and running in their new roles more quickly than ever before.


Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015

Full Fact: Live Fact-checking and the General Election

Will Moy

Director, Full Fact

On the 31st March Ed Miliband declared there was an “explosion” of zero hours contracts. “There are now three times as many people on zero hours contracts as there were when this government came to power.”

Independent factcheckers Full Fact sprang into action. We knew — thanks to thorough preparation before the election — that the statistics cannot and do not show an ‘explosion’ because comparisons of zero hours contracts over time aren’t reliable (as the ONS has made clear).

We sent out a press release and soon journalists were tweeting their favourite facts, for example that 66% of people on zero hours contracts don’t want more hours.


We went on Sky News, BBC 5 Live and Good Morning Wales to set the record straight, and our research was quoted in the Mirror, The Sun, Daily Mail, Guardian and Independent.

Labour continued to make their case about employment insecurity, but stopped using the flawed claims about zero hours contracts. Our job was done: the political argument could still happen, but now it was routed in reality.

The Election Centre

That was day three of our election project. Based in King’s College London’s Anatomy Theatre, we monitored claims from the parties in press releases, social media, broadcast, newspapers, interviews and speeches.

The project was conceived as a two-election venture: experimenting in 2015, and scaling up what works for the EU referendum and 2020 general election. Over the 18 months leading up to the election, a set of expert research partners came together including the Health Foundation, the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, the National Foundation for Educational Research, the Migration Observatory and NatCen Social Research. They reviewed and wrote briefings on topics ranging from immigrants and welfare benefits to job options for young people.

Expert organisations and volunteers from the Government Statistical Service, ONS and Ipsos MORI enabled us to respond to new claims faster. For example, during one leaders’ debate, a claim came up that we hadn’t seen before: “We need to build a house every 7 minutes just to cope with immigration into this country”. At 9pm we consulted the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. That night our response was published on Buzzfeed, reaching 28,000 people.

As well as connections to outside experts, live factchecking relies on thorough preparation. One of our biggest challenges was keeping our database of factchecks up to date (and therefore useable). Previously preparation for live-factchecking consisted of putting potential tweets and blog posts into one shared Google document – but often these were lengthy and it was difficult to find the relevant content.

For the last year we’ve been developing a new system: a database of claims and factchecks, and prepared tweets or posts that can be published straight away. As well as storing claims and factchecks, the current database also tracks claims: when they were first made, and where they’ve appeared over the years in House of Commons debates or on Twitter. There’s still a lot of work to do: we’d like the database to track when claims appear in the media, and automatically flag up ‘out of date’ content: sometimes inaccurate claims become accurate when the statistics show changes – for example claims about employment or the deficit.

How did it actually work?

The three main teams were Monitoring, Analysis and Communications. Monitoring produced the raw material for factchecking, trawling through the papers at 6am and listening to hours of radio shows. The election centre could not have functioned without our volunteers, who altogether donated 3192 hours of their time.

Analysis was staffed by experienced factcheckers and volunteers from the Office for National Statistics, the Government Statistical Service and Ipsos MORI. We were able to lean across a desk while investigating a claim and say, “You helped compile these statistics, can you help me find this fact?”

Communications made sure our findings were on the right channels, so that they’d be seen by large and varied audiences or prevent inaccurate claims being repeated in future.

What difference did it make?

We have only just begun to take stock and will spend the next few months analysing the project and digesting the results of an independent evaluation being carried out by NatCen.

That said, we could see the results of the election centre in full swing: the Labour party changing the way they made their argument so it was based on the facts; the Trussell Trust altering their press release and agreeing to work with us in future on how they present their figures; hundreds of positive and thoughtful tweets from people following our live-factchecking of debates; and a correction live on Newsnight for a claim made at the start of the programme.

There is still a huge amount to learn about factchecking future elections in a way that makes an impact on the quality of debate. Despite an expanded team and 1300 individual donations, we didn’t get time to explore everything we wanted to.

But we can see a change in the wind. More and more it looks like live-factchecking is an expected part of serious political discussion. Whether on Twitter, live blogs, instant video clips, or eyeball to eyeball on the BBC, we made sure politicians knew that what they said would be checked. Those 1300 backers show how much people care about whether they’re fed truth or spin: the wind is in our sails.


Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015

Archiving the UK Government: a Perspective from a New Official Publications Librarian

Daniel Payne

Official Publications Librarian, LSE Library


Over the past few months I’ve been attempting to familiarise myself with the extensive collection of UK government material we hold here at LSE Library. One of the founding principles of the school was to train social scientists for the betterment of society, and official publications remain a primary source of information to support that aim.

I’ve drawn two conclusions from my explorations thus far:

  1. a) Students enjoy sleeping on beanbags and eating Pringles in dark corners wedged between the rolling stacks of the official publications collection.
  2. b) The Internet has happened.

What’s been changing over the past decade or so is the UK government’s use of the web to distribute its information. Whilst some information continues to be produced in print, a lot of it is now exclusively online, with some publications existing both in print and online. The format of the information that is found online is also wide – from PDFs, Word documents, multiple Excel spreadsheets, to (increasingly) standalone HTML publications; some but not all of which are available deep within the government’s moderately un-wonderful publications portal.

You sometimes hear rumours that there’s a straightforward vector working its way from the print world to the online world, where in the near future all will be available in a digitally pure environment powered by the heat of a billion printed books burning behind us. The truth is that online and print are going to be existing alongside each other for quite some time yet – and indeed, should be, until and if some problems are solved.

Irrespective of whatever future awaits us in the publishing world, what we have right now is a complex hybrid of information: both in the way it exists (print, HTML, PDF, etc.) and the way it is discovered and accessed (library discovery systems/catalogues, Google etc.). The print formats are susceptible to libraries’ increasing need for space, with many looking to get rid of parts of their collections (and if you’re thinking about doing this, head to SCOOP’s Print Still Matters).

The online formats, on the other hand, suffer from the web’s greatest double-edged sword: its largely unmediated transience. An online government document can be here one second and gone the next. How do we, as librarians, ensure the official documentation produced on the web is available and accessible for as long as it needs to be, when the medium it is conveyed in so easily allows for the opposite?

From my perspective at LSE Library, I think this raises three key questions for our official publications collection:

  1. How do we maintain the integrity of our existing print collection?
    At the moment, an information-seeker wandering around our printed collection (side stepping Pringle debris and the unconscious) or perusing the library catalogue will find a series of reports randomly stop at some point in the 2000’s. The integrity is lost. What do they assume at this point – that the collection is missing after that date? That we simply don’t hold them? Is it enough to say “now go off to the web”?
  1. How do we ensure the discoverability of official publications produced exclusively on the web?

If an integral part of our collection-interests now exist somewhere on the web, how should our information-seekers discover it? Should we catalogue bits of the web? Should we harvest the documents and make them available in some way on our own systems? Or should we send the enquirer off to the Internet armed with a bit of advice? (“Try and good luck”).

  1. How do we preserve our collection in perpetuity?

Can we rely on pointing to documentation held on external websites when we know this information is difficult to find, can disappear, can reappear with changes, or move to a different URL? As a library that collects strongly in the area of government publications, is it our role to preserve this information, or do we let the National Archives and the legal deposit libraries worry about this on our behalf?

What are the answers to all these questions?

One possible option for us is to produce a repository of our own, along the lines of the excellent and well-used Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA), which collects government documents published online in the areas of education. Our aim, similar to DERA’s, would be to permanently preserve government documents produced within the remit of our existing collections and to make these available open access in a way that integrates with our own collections and discovery system. I’m very interested to hear from anyone that has thoughts on this, and particularly alternative answers to the questions raised.

Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015

How Can You Have Them Hear You When They Won’t Listen: the Challenge of Business Skills Training within MBA Programmes

Chris Flegg,

Bodleian Business Librarian, Said Business School, University of Oxford


Academic journals, magazines and trade publications; economic, market and financial flow data; global and regional statistics; earnings estimates; industry and analysts reports; country and business analyses and forecasts; political risk services; and up to date corporate news – compared to other subject fields, the array and quality of the high-cost, high-value information resources that knowledgeable and skilled business school librarians have artfully amassed for the benefit of their users is nothing short of staggering.

But as valuable and extraordinary as these collections might be, they will, most likely, fall victim to a long-standing paradox of business school library information provision: that, for the most part, the MBAs, who sit Golden Buddha-like at the epicentre of the average business school, cannot, and will not, derive from those resources the level of benefit that is commensurate with their inherent value.

This is because most of the world’s MBA programmes appear to be predicated on two things: a crammed teaching schedule which aims to squeeze the maximum quality content into a short space of time, thus validating the eye-watering cost of an MBA programme, and the very high calibre of the teaching faculty who, quite rightly, equate their academic credentials with their strictures on how their subject will be taught – including what readings will shape and map the optimal territory for exploration, discussion and consumption.

If this then begets – as it usually does – a tightly scripted learning experience, the time-pressured MBA will gladly acquiesce by keeping well within the prescribed texts, with the most predictable and monotonous request being for librarians to devise ever faster and slicker ways of leading students directly to the full-text of the stipulated readings (two URL clicks on a reading list being just one click too many). Within this controlled learning environment, the role of the business school librarian can feel reduced to that of water bottle dispenser running trackside of elite athletes competing in an Olympic marathon. Over my years in business school libraries, the bizarrely earnest requests for us to somehow “make this process easier”, has often made me ponder on what trick we are missing here: some clever way of injecting information directly into the effort-adverse brain could surely be the next hot Silicon Valley wonder.

For those working outside the business school library environment, this scenario may seem far-fetched, but it is indeed quite the norm for highly conscientious, dedicated and otherwise sane and rational business school academics to expend inordinate time and effort trimming their reading lists in order not to overwhelm students who would – naturally – regard a long reading list as a “waste of time and effort” and likely to create antagonism with too much material to be processed and absorbed: this challenge being at least equal to the fashioning of a learning platform in such a way as to protect students from straying from the prescribed path, lest they wander, through a gate left carelessly and dangerously ajar, into unchartered and un-sanctioned territory. And for their part, most MBA students would rather be asked to clutch a red-hot poker than move away from the prescribed texts, an act described succinctly by one ex-MBA as “academic suicide”.

Of course there are reasons why this is so, and why it has been this way for decades: for the schools, for the faculty and for the students, it works. But as often happens in situations that are tightly controlled, it works at a cost. Talk to careers centre managers and you will note not a small whiff of despondency: despondency at MBAs being little informed of the market place, little informed about their target industries and employers, and little informed about how to impress at interviews, while librarians bemoan the end of year “I wish I had known before that you had…”.

So where within this constricted information environment can the business school librarian who feels it his or her duty to impart business information finding skills deliver on this key role? Well, most will continue to offer training, even if sporadically, and even if – despite expressions of interest – the actuality typically is of uninspiring rates of attendance on training days. And most will accept training opportunities anywhere they can, which most often will be in the unthreatening and non-disruptive areas for which faculty are prepared to hand over territory: typically, plagiarism, referencing or social media tools, about which Generation X, Y and Z, are already well versed and the new Millennials don’t even consider an area of inquiry.

It was with this sober view of business school life that in 2014 the library team sat down to thrash out how it might “do” induction for the incoming MBA cohort, in a way that was neither boring nor a seemingly waste of effort. Having persuaded the programme director that there was something amiss when our MBAs ended their year unable to use even the library catalogue, we were allowed three 1 ½ hour sessions in the School’s intensive, high-profile and much publicised, 3-week MBA induction programme, in which to tell our story in whatever way we chose.

It was time for us to champion what we believed in, which we determined was as follows:

  1. Our resources are not just phenomenal – they are of real and outstanding value and relevance to our MBAs.
  2. The library’s value proposition is robust and valid notwithstanding the grip on MBA student time exerted by the prescribed readings regime.
  3. Our MBAs are clever enough to master the mechanics of how to use most of our information sources without us having to train them.
  4. What they don’t know is what we have and where to find it.
  5. But for the MBAs to invest their attention for 1 ½ hours and play ball with the above, we had to find their “sweet spot” – that part of their hearts and minds that said “Yes I want to know that” (and you librarians are not boring).

Basic assump

From these basic assumptions we determined that a) we shouldn’t and wouldn’t bore them with one way conversation; b) we would make them want to find the information because that information related to their “sweet spot”; c) we would fire up their energy levels through their natural competitiveness; and d) we would trust them to rise to the challenge of being left to their own information-seeking devices.


Of course the “sweet spot” here was key, and, based on the motivation for the vast investment of time and money these students make to enhance or advance their careers, we devised a set of career enhancement scenarios, wrapped into a comic strip story, which contained a fact finding competition, ending with a prize of a dinner at one of Oxford’s best restaurants.

The evolution of the comic strip and the multiple job interview scenarios involved considerable buy-in from the team and their active engagement with the concept, with diligent follow-through to make it all come together and work as we wished: a lot of clever work by some outstanding staff included researching 7 company profiles, scripting the text, crafting and building the comic strip images, and working out the logistics for running an event involving 237 students in groups of 4-5 students sent off in all directions to work independently through the questions.


What we learned is that in the time allocated, we didn’t need to speak for more than 5 minutes to explain the deal, give out the paperwork, and point them to the website and information guides. We learned also that students love competitions and will, when in competition mode, take the questions we set to a whole new level we had not required or anticipated, digging out far more detail than we needed to merely establish that they had uncovered the right sources: clearly a case of “build it and they will not only come, but they will commence to build another floor, a pool and some outhouses to boot”.

But what of the outcomes, and did they produce the results we hoped for? Although we have yet to collect the hard data, we can see from the use of the resources and the type of questions that have since come our way – questions that would only come up if acquainted with the databases – that this year’s cohort is comfortable and fluent with our resources. Further, the careers department staff report that, unlike past years, they have not had a single question about how and where to find financial, company, industry or other information when preparing for job interviews – a first for this school. Instead they now appear to be aware that the riches come via the library, and that they are riches indeed.



Most  importantly, we have learned that if we trust in our ability to provide the information tools that can enhance and enrich the way a business education programme is experienced, and if we trust our students to recognise the intrinsic value of our resources when offered, we don’t need to confine our role to water dispenser in someone else’s race – we can support the programmes in the way our faculty and administrators want, but also more powerfully in ways they are not able to envisage: with our convictions, our obstinacy, our cleverness and our experience.


The i-Challenge team comprised of Andrew Kernot who researched the companies, John Pilbeam who produced the artwork and Kornelia O’Leary who worked out the logistics – I am indebted to their energy, their enthusiasm and their outstanding skills in turning the concept into an admirable reality.

Images modified from ‘ANC Exposed: Cases in the Crusade Against Crime’, Vol. 1 No. 9

(Copyright free, public domain)

‘the toast’, by johnny_automatic

(Creative Commons License (CC0 1.0 Universal, Public Domain Dedication):

Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015

Preparing Students for Global Immersion: Partnering for Success

Meghan Dolan, Shelby Ikeda and Linda Rosen Harvard Business School Library 

The questions usually start trickling in early in October- “Where can I find reports on snack food consumers in China?”, “How do I learn about the mobile application market in Cambodia?”, “What immunizations do I need for Ghana?” or “Do I need a visa to travel to Vietnam?”. At this point we know that the FIELD 2 module, which requires international travel and project work for first year MBA students, is in full swing and we are about to enter one of our busiest times of the year. The Curriculum and Learning Services (CLS) team at Baker Library and the Global Experience Office (GEO) team within the MBA Program have partnered to develop many products and services to support students with their FIELD 2 course work- everything from research support to targeted news updates to curation of an international video library. This opportunity to partner across departmental units has not only provided each group with new ways to enhance the student experience during FIELD 2, but has also provided insight into each other’s day-to-day processes and challenges. It also has created a strong working relationship that encourages the freedom to suggest, implement, and improve services for the students. CLS is a team of 10 Information Research Specialists (IRS) all with professional degrees in Library and Information Science.  Many staff members have additional degrees and backgrounds in business and education.  CLS provides support to the Harvard Business School and Harvard University community through on-site and remote research assistance, consultations, and access to resources covering a wide range of business, industry, financial, and market related topics. We also:

  • Work with HBS faculty to provide course support to MBA and Executive Education programs at HBS in the form of presentations, web-based resources, research assignment drop-in hours (specific to course assignments) and research consultations.
  • Provide research support to HBS alumni to support their career and professional development information needs via consultations and an online research portal (eBaker).
  • Curate several news products to keep HBS students and staff up-to-date on important news and events in technology, finance, executive development and number of industries.

GEO was founded in 2010 to enable the logistical delivery of the FIELD 2 module. Comprised of experts from the travel industry and higher education, the office has grown over the years from seven to 15 staff members to support the scale of this new, ambitious program and ensure high-quality execution. FIELD 2 is only one component of the GEO team’s immersion planning. GEO also organizes and coordinates travel immersions for second year students as part of their January coursework. Among the primary responsibilities of the office are:

  • Oversee location evaluation and risk management;
  • Create relationships with local companies and source projects for student teams;
  • Facilitate student, staff, and faculty travel;
  • Arrange all in-country logistics required during the Immersion week;
  • Work closely with faculty to achieve the academic goals of the course;
  • And collaborate with other departments to further enhance the student experience.

The Harvard Business School (HBS) Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is a two year, residential degree program. During the first year of the program, students are assigned to a specific section (typically 90 students per section) and follow the required curriculum (RC), taking 6 courses per semester within their sections. In their second year, students select their courses from a wide range of elective curriculum (EC) offerings. Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD) is a year-long, three-part, required course for all first year (MBA) students at HBS. Many components of the FIELD course address the unmet needs[1] in MBA education that were identified in recent research by David Garvin, Srikant Datar and Patrick Cullen. The FIELD course consists of three modules that each embodies a continuum of thinking, doing, and reflecting[2].

FIELD 1: Leadership Intelligence Working in small teams, students participate in interactive activities and exercises designed to help them to deepen their emotional intelligence and develop an awareness of their own leadership style. Self-reflection and peer feedback play a key role in this module.

FIELD 2: Global Intelligence After weeks of on-campus preparation, over 900 students are sent to locations around the globe during the month of January to learn about business processes, practices and customers in emerging markets. Student teams are paired with a local company for whom they develop a new product or service concept. Recent FIELD 2 locations have included India, China, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ghana and Morocco.

FIELD 3: Integrative Intelligence The final module challenges students to develop a microbusiness. This isn’t a business plan on paper, but rather a real business that students build- from ideation to launch. It provides students with the opportunity to synthesize everything that they have learned in their first year courses.

Since FIELD launched in 2010, over 3,720 students have traveled to 25 cities in 17 countries worldwide on FIELD 2 Global Immersions supported by GEO. Both CLS and GEO staff have had the opportunity to travel with and support students on location as Program Managers. Between the three authors, we have traveled with students to Vietnam, South Africa, Indonesia, India, China, and Turkey.

The opportunity to be embedded into the program at this level has provided a unique way for us to connect with students and better understand their work in the field. It has allowed us to design services and products (see chart below for an overview) that are closely aligned with and will have the greatest impact on their team projects. Having had a positive experience with library resources and services during FIELD 2, students return to CLS for assistance with their FIELD 3 projects, support for their job search and in their second year, for guidance for course research papers and projects.

As Program Managers, Information Research Specialists have an opportunity to be active participants in FIELD 2, positioning us to work closely with both students and faculty while in the field.  Prior to the actual trip, Program Managers are required to attend an in-depth training program and to participate in several FIELD 2 events (all organized and coordinated by the GEO team).  Highlights of the Program Manager position include attending a country-specific case discussion and joining the faculty for a pre-departure briefing.  We are able to leverage what we learn through these experiences to enrich our student research support pre-travel, in the field and upon our return to campus when we identify additional ways to work with students and faculty in the coming year. The CLS / GEO partnership has strengthened with each new year of the course. In the early years of the program, both teams worked independently to support the students as we tried to figure out the best way to contribute our expertise to the course delivery, but we soon realized that partnering would greatly benefit both the students and our teams. The more we work together, the more we find that we can collaborate, cooperate and contribute to valuable student services, communications and resources.  Meeting regularly and coordinating the timing of communications from GEO and CLS enhances the student experience and ensures that important information isn’t lost or overlooked.  As GEO adds locations and identifies new student projects each year, CLS will have even more opportunities to contribute research assistance, recommend resources and identify new ways to work with students and faculty. The chart below highlights many of the student facing activities or exercises where the CLS and GEO teams partnered to provide academic and logistical support for FIELD 2:

Student activity/exercise CLS support GEO support
Site selection /Company research Country Infographic: identified data sources and pulled the data; recommended additional/alternate variables to maintain data consistency across countries; Company Research: provided company descriptions and data specific to the FIELD 2 partner companies Country Infographic: worked with faculty to identify economic and demographic data points to highlight and coordinated the design and publishing of the ; Company Research: Identified and selected partner companies for student projects; Panel w/ second-year students: Organized an event in which students could interact with peers who had experience living or working in FIELD 2 country locations
Global dinner (also known as the “Reveal”, when students learn where they will travel in January) Trivia activity: fact-checked trivia data points Trivia activity: sourced content from local trivia company, created student materials, provided guidebook prizes
Cultural/business environment knowledge building Country cases: identified books and films for each “Doing Business in…” country case; Country Postcards: created a postcard that featured an historical image from our library collection on front of the postcard and database recommendations on the back; Fast Answers: created an FAQ type source that highlighted database recommendations specific to each location; Video collection: curated and hosted a selection of videos that cover the range of FIELD 2 locations Country case experts: Identified and recruited academic and industry experts to present during the country case class session; Video collection: identified a vendor and curated a selection of videos that cover the range of FIELD 2 locations
Academic Support Situation Analysis exercise: helped students to identify and use library resources during three research drop-in sessions. The drop-in hours were coordinated to align with assignment deadlines Situation Analysis exercise: publicized research drop-in hours via weekly emails to students
Pre-Immersion & In-country Research Support: provided research support to student teams as they work on their projects; Program Manager: participated in pre-immersion training, presented to students at pre-departure session Weekly news updates + news archive: curated a weekly news email for each FIELD 2 location Logistics Support: provided round-the-clock logistical support for faculty students and staff; Program Manager: organized training for all program managers, coordinated all pre-immersion planning, presented to students at GEO overview and pre-departure sessions Weekly GEO emails: sent weekly reminders to students highlighting deadlines and tasks to be completed pre-departure

[1]Datar, Srikant M., Garvin, David A, and Cullen, Patrick G. Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press, 2010. [2] Harvard Business School, “The FIELD Method- Bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap”, accessed June 2015.

Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015

Business Support in Public Libraries

 Jonathan Cowley, Haringey Libraries


Public libraries are free, neutral shared spaces – inclusive and open to all. They are vital for sharing information and gaining knowledge – and can be ideal spaces for providing business advice and training.

The British Library’s Business and IP (Intellectual Property) Centre was launched in London in 2006 and has since been used by more than 350,000 people, helping to create 2,775 businesses. The success of the Centre has highlighted the valuable role libraries can play as free and accessible venues to consult business resources, attend workshops, receive business advice and network with other entrepreneurs. To build on this success, the Enterprising Libraries programme was established – a partnership between Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The programme funded a number of projects where libraries used their role as community hubs to enhance local economic growth and improve social mobility.

The initial stage of the project involved the establishment of a network of Business and IP Centres in six core cities across England – Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. The second stage of the project involved a grant programme for ten public library authorities, aiming to spread business and IP expertise into wider communities. These authorities were supported by the British Library and the network of six Business and IP Centres across England.

After two weeks of frantic work preparing a proposal document, Haringey Libraries submitted a bid in the summer of 2013. Our bid focused on Wood Green Library in north London – one of the top 20 busiest public libraries in the country, welcoming over 50,000 visitors a month. We were fortunate to already have a space in the library devoted to business support – The Business Lounge. This had opened in 2006, funded by a European Regional Development Fund grant. We already offered business advice sessions, networking space and dedicated business PCs. Our bid aimed to enhance the service offer, using the additional funding to provide:

  • A regular programme of free business workshops, with particular areas of focus including women in business, social media, creative industries and business marketing
  • Improved technology including a projector screen for presentations and a SMART board for business workshops
  • Improved publicity and the development of a “Business: The Basics” guide for start-up businesses
  • An extensive programme of business events for Black History Month in October 2014
  • Refurbishment of the Business Lounge including new seating
  • An up-to-date collection of practical business books
  • An enhanced business advice service, offering additional sessions
  • Regular networking events
  • Strong local partnerships with business support services and a closer relationship with the British Library

Ten projects were awarded an equal share of the £450,000 fund, and we were thrilled to discover that Haringey Libraries had been successful. Each project supported business in a variety of imaginative ways – for example the project Devon Libraries involved the first “Fab Lab” ( to open in a UK public library – a low-cost digital workshop equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers and scanners, where “just about anybody can make just about anything”. The bid from Cultural Community Solutions involved the creation of the London Business Portal website ( which brings the business resources of Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow library authorities together in one place.

Putting our proposal into practice was a challenging and rewarding process. The staff at the British Library were extremely supportive throughout. One of the most rewarding aspects of the programme was to be able to meet with representatives of the other projects – this not only provided inspiration and ideas, but also reassurance that every project faced similar challenges. The British Library Business and IP Centre are experts at delivering relevant, excellent quality business support, and at measuring the impact of that support. We were provided with modified versions of their customer feedback forms, which could then be returned for analysis. The results of this feedback were invaluable in order to highlight to stakeholders the positive impact our sessions were having on the local business community.

One of the core aims of the Enterprising Libraries project was to promote social inclusion and participation of diverse and disadvantaged groups. We aimed to help ethnic minorities and women (groups traditionally under-represented in business) to branch out into entrepreneurship. The results of the analysis of our feedback forms showed:

  • The beneficiaries were almost three quarters female (74%)
  • 71% of attendees described themselves as Black, Asian or other minority ethnic (BAME) compared with 40% in the general London population

The most popular industry sectors attending Haringey Library events were creative/media (25%) followed by education (18%). Feedback on the quality of our events was extremely positive:

  • 94% of workshop attendees returned positive ratings
  • 68% on average returned a “very satisfied” rating

Our most satisfying result was the near universal recommendation of the service to others – 99% of attendees stated they would recommend the workshops and clinics to others, the highest rating of all Enterprising Libraries projects. Feedback received included:

  • “Extremely tailored to my needs – very clear – comprehensive content – thanks!”
  • “It was fantastic to have an expert give her moral support as well as sound business advice.”
  • “I enjoyed the session as it was relevant and exactly what I was looking for.”

Our programme of events for Black History Month was a particular highlight, with packed audiences attending our series of inspirational talks by entrepreneurs such as shoe designer Marc Hare and ethical beauty innovator Clare Eluka. We also found there was a “snowball effect” – as more people attended our events, more people volunteered to hold their own workshops covering subjects such as accounting and marketing.


The next stage of the process is to analyse the economic impact of the Enterprising Libraries programme, a project currently being undertaken by consultants Adroit Economics. At Haringey we have created a sustainable model which can continue to offer valuable business advice and training beyond the formal end of the project. Public libraries bring communities together and provide free space for information and knowledge exchange. The success of this project has also demonstrated their important role as drivers of business growth.


Refer 31 (2) Summer 2015