Is “The Way Forward: Smart, Savvy, Sustainable”? – Joint Conference and Meeting of Business Librarian’s Report

(19 July 2016) From 16 to 19 May 2016, 83 delegates from 22 countries attended the Joint Conference and Meeting (JCM) representing the Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD), European Business Schools Librarians’ Group (EBSLG) and the Asia Pacific Business School Librarians’ Group (APBSLG) held at the Li Ka Shing Library, Singapore Management University. The conference theme was The Way Forward: Smart, Savvy, Sustainable.”

SMU President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer delivered the keynote address. Prof De Meyer urged delegates to rethink universities and their own roles, citing the 5 principles upon which universities have been founded.  They are:

1) That universities have to be organized by scientific discipline [Von Humboldt: principles formulated in 1798 by German philosopher Immanuel Kant];

2) That we take in students between 18 and 28 years of age;

3) That basic science is assumed to precede technology development and commercial application – science comes first and technology will follow naturally;

4) That information is scarce and concentrated in and almost monopolized by institutions of higher learning and research. Thus universities used to control power because of the information that lay with them;

5) That governments have given universities a monopoly on granting degrees and are the only ones that confer Bachelors, Masters and Doctors degrees.

In a co-authored article titled, Growing the impact of Management Education and Scholarship by Laurent Batsch et al in EFMD Global Focus Vol 10, they called for the need to differentiate pure business schools from evolving management schools where the latter needs to:

  • Embrace inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary curricula. Classical Business Schools’ disciplines should be enriched and cross-reinforced by the broader social sciences and humanities.
  • Have strong engagement with practitioners, public agencies, and civil society, and inform professionals, practitioners and policy makers of the latest research findings.
  • Management universities to integrate quantitative skills with a social science perspective. Corporate leaders want graduates to understand how business is a part of society and not apart from society.
  • Institutions to prepare students for innovation, entrepreneurial thinking or navigating business environment in a global world that is culturally diverse yet connected. The next generation of business leaders should discharge their duties to society responsibly.

The panel discussion “Thinking about work: what keeps you awake at night” was led by Gulcin Cribb, University Librarian, SMU Libraries and Bob Hebert, Chris Flegg and Chris Moselen from the ABLD, EBSLG and APBSLG groups respectively. Audience members were engaged and, despite the heavy topic, were encouraged by the positivity brought out during the discussion. As Bob put it, “Nothing keeps me awake at night. I sleep very well.” – Shouldn’t we be all doing that!

Over the three days of the conference, speakers presented on a variety of current and relevant topics, including text-mining and data, stakeholder engagement, learning programmes and space transformation. Some of the topics and issues presented were familiar to the audience of business librarians but it was worthwhile to learn how institutions adopted different approaches and creative solutions depending on their unique circumstances. There were three presentations by Asia Pacific Business School Librarians’ Group (APBSLG):

Professional Development and the Academic Business Librarian: A Knowledge-Competence Framework by Akbar Hakim Harun, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Chaos to Discovery: Engaging Academic Staff in the Use of a New Learning Tool by Chris Moselen, University of Auckland

Innovation in Library Spaces and Services – A Case of Learning Resource Centre, Indian School of Business by Venkadesan S., Indian School of Business

Also present at the event were 18 sponsors without whose generosity, the conference would not have been possible. Both delegates and local librarians had opportunities to interact with the respective representatives who shared product updates and answered questions.

Delegates had a choice of attending two different workshops on negotiation and mindfulness. SMU Professor Michael Benoliel shared his expertise on effective negotiation skills with participants where they got a feel of the back-and-forth processes involved which was something of great importance for librarians. The other workshop’s participants put their newly-acquired mindfulness techniques to practice using library related scenarios using drama and theatre techniques. The library-related skits had audiences in stitches which was cathartic and reminded participants to view matters in perspective.

Participants visited Nanyang Technological University Library and toured the new Hive, a flexible learning space and the Library Outpost which showcases three collections: Discovery Collection, Media Collection and Course Reserves Collection. They also learnt about the considerations and technology involved in the design and construction of the Hive. The book-borrowing machine for Course Reserves located outside the Library Outpost intrigued delegates. The final morning began with a presentation by Ms. Havovi Joshi from SMU’s Case Writing Initiative, where SMU’s business cases were introduced and the presenter shared how they collaborated with faculty and the library to write timely and relevant Asian cases. Delegates then attended their regional groups’ business meetings and discussed their respective agendas.

After lunch delegates indulged in a leisurely afternoon walk where they had an experiential learning experience exploring SMU Labs and SMU GROW’s urban gardening plots, in line with the theme of “The Way Forward: Smart, Savvy, Sustainable”  – a befitting way to conclude the conference and reflect on the way forward!

Remembering JCM 2016:

Social Media

Jiaxin on Storify: Pre-conference / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 2.5

Phanh Oudomlith on Storify: JCM16

Tweets with conference hashtag: #jcm16

Li Ka Shing Library Facebook: Event page

Photo Galleries

Corey Seeman:

Bob Hebert:


Raffles Dinner: 

Written by: Ms. Low Jiaxin, Research Librarian, Finance, Rajen Munoo, Head Learning Services & Research Librarian, and Redzuan bin Abdullah, Librarian, SMU Libraries.