Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comparing the Information Online for the Jamaican versus Canadian postsecondary student entrepreneur

After browsing the web and seeing how much youth entrepreneurship is encouraged in Canada, I am not surprised that a Canadian PhD student wins global graduate student entrepreneur title: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/881823/canadian-wins-global-graduate-student-entrepreneur-title.

Graduate Student Entrepreneur Title

What can Jamaica do in this regard? In my view, we spend so much time and money in developing talents in sports and music, when we should really be developing our youths' business and entrepreneurial skills.

In comparison to Jamaica, it is amazing how much help postsecondary students in Canada can get to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. Here is another organisation, Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) http://www.acecanada.ca/_bin/aboutUs/what.cfm

ACE » About ACE » What is ACE
What is ACE? Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship or ACE is a national, charitable organization dedicated to teaching and igniting young Canadians to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. Through a collaborative partnership between higher education and industry, ACE delivers pro...

Provincial governments also provide that service. Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation also provides information and opportunities for youth entrepreneurs to get information, assistance and services to help them enter into entrepreneurship: http://www.ontariocanada.com/ontcan/1medt/smallbiz/en/sb_ye_en.jsp

Students & Young Entrepreneurs - Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
The goal of the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation is to build a strong economy for all Ontarians. Thats why weve created a number of programs to support your efforts, including the Next Generation of Jobs Fund , the Advanced Manufacturing Investment Strategy and the Eastern Ontario D…

Additional provincial government provided information for Ontario Canadian youth to enter into entrepreneurship is also available on: http://www.cbo-eco.ca/en/index.cfm/guides/youth-entrepreneurship-info-guide/

The Ontario provincial government in Canada does provide a one stop shop or portal to help student and youth interested in entrepreneurship to get help and assistance.
Youth Entrepreneurship Info-Guide | Canada Business Ontario

This website provides information on federal and provincial business-related programs, services and regulations and includes such topics as starting a business, financing, marketing, management and planning, taxation, exporting/importing, and e-business. It is like a directory that directs the youth where they can go to for information, assistance and services that they need to get started.

My issue is that these are just some of the sources that exist online for the youth of say Ontario, if not all Canada, to access information regarding entrepreneurship. Where are those resources for Jamaican youth? Especially the postsecondary Jamaican student ?

Information Services available for Youth Entrepreneurs Part 1

I am still refining the idea for my Youth Entrepreneurship Information Behaviour research. I am though uncovering many resources that suggest where youth can go for information.While youth education in entrepreneurship is neglected in secondary education, despite having clear benefits (Kourilsky and Walstad 2007), I believe that entrepreneurship education is recently gaining importance in postsecondary education.
It seems to me that being young and a student is the best time to launch a business as:
  • one has opportuntiy to do courses in entrepreneurship at universities
  • many universities provide support to student entrepreneurs including career information services, business incubators and opportunities for internships and mentorship
  • there are also contests/competitions/organizations targetting student entrepreneurs
In Ontario, Canada, the provincial government does provide a one stop shop or information portal for youth interested in entrepreneurship to get help and assistance.

Through its Youth Entrepreneurship Info-Guide: Canada Business Ontario on its website: www.cbo-eco.ca

"This website provides information on federal and provincial business-related programs, services and regulations and includes such topics as starting a business, financing, marketing, management and planning, taxation, exporting/importing, and e-business."
The youth entrepreneurship info-guide specifically provides: 'information on a variety of resources for young entrepreneurs; including tax information, hiring, financing, as well as on various associations and online publications'. The webpage is like a directory that directs the youth entrepreneur where they can go for information, assistance and services that they need to get started and navigate the process of starting a business in Ontario, Canada.


Kourilsky,M. L., Walstad,W. B. & Thomas, A. (2007). The entrepreneur in youth :an untapped resource for economic growth, social entrepreneurship, and education. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Resource for the Young Entrepreneur's library

Here are is a book that I discovered in the UWO Ivey School Business library that may be a useful purchase for librarians who want to contribute to youth entrepreneurship:

Author Hawkins, Barrie.
Title How to start a business when you're young : get the right idea for success / Barrie Hawkins and Luke Wing.
Publisher London : A & C Black, 2009.

I have not yet read it, but just browsed it, so I am unable to provide a thorough review. But one could definitely see if there is any information on Amazon or Google Books or contact the publisher for more information.

On another matter, so far I found that my research will be citing a lot of periodicals from Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship. As such, I will be looking foward to perhaps preparing an article from my research for that publication.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entrepreneur and Small business information need: Open-source library of business documents

Interesting finds today as I surf the Web searching for information for my thesis proposal. Today I found a web forum where small business owners and entrepreneurs were discussing creating their own library of open source documents. The discussion began on March 2010
(See: http://www.convo.io/leanstartup/3410/open-source-why-not-develop-a-library-for-entrepreneurs)

From the wealth of information I find in this discussion forum, I am wondering if I can undertake a study that seeks to investigate the information needs of enrepreneurs and small businesses based on their posts on blogs, tweets and online fora.

For example, here is a post where the participant posted about the type of information needed and how it could be organised for access:

The A-Z of business development. For example; brainstorming, team building (finding collaborative tools), writing plan, looking for F&F, bank, state, angel, VC, PE funding, writing the presentations, honing the E-pitch, hiring lawyers to write NDAs, placement docs etc, getting offices (lease docs), hiring people (writing ads and designing remuneration packages), designing strategy for corporate, marketing, finding CRM tools, accounting packages, bureacracy etc etc.
That is a brain dump, it can be structured, but there is a huge list of the same tasks all entrepreneurs have to undertake!

However, the participant continues to post a revolutionary idea:

If you think about it there is actually a serious business in offering templates and advice on every aspect (sorry, can't help myself from thinking of the angles!) but can you imagine how cool it would be if we got the whole entrepreneur community to contribute snippets of their work and insight every step of the way, which would build up over time and anyone could access for free!
 The participant even goes on to make my case or point out the same business problem that I posed in my proposal:

Part of the problem is that to an extent a lot of good stuff is already out there, it is just so fragmented, and do people want it brought together? Also, people quite rightly want to profit from their work. Nivi and Naval at venture hacks have great tips, thefunded have term sheet database, y-com have some legal docs etc. To an extent bringing it together just means having connections and saying “hey buddy, got a great community idea, would you mind us aggregating your great stuff” and then filing it together in a smart manner. Ok, but largely venture hacks is a business per se, they have free stuff to sell interviews and the odd spreadsheet, but you get the idea, no need for me to spell everything out.
This is only a part of the potential database of information, most of information will come from non-celebrity entrepreneurs, though these guys would be great at getting the word out. It’s all about getting people to think of using it and them getting over perceived competition issues.
Find the best ip telephone (Someone on twitter was asking about this the other day) having spent days analysing who the best provider is for areas with bad cell signal, file the research and advice under “getting the office set up”! Business fails, upload a copy of useful docs. Why waste it all.

Readings this week in support of my thesis proposal idea

Universities are changing and academic libraries will need to change with them. That is my central idea, as I contemplate academic libraries as centres for supporting student entrepreneurship.

I was searching for a periodical that discussed academic libraries providing support to businesses:

Title:A library for entrepreneurs
Other Titles:Arkansas Small Business Development Center at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Personal Author:Cooper, Susan
Journal Name:Arkansas Libraries
Source:Arkansas Libraries v. 53 (April 1996) p. 3-6

This lead to me to Historic Little Rock: An Illustrated History  by C. Fred Williams and in particular page 138. In it, while reading about Arkansas Small Business Development Center at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock I discovered theconcept of metropolitian university. From what Iunderstood from the reading the concept speaks to universities engaging in outreach in its local community.

This concept of the metropolitan university I think I will need to read more about. Hence the book

Metropolitan universities: an emerging model in American higher education  by Daniel Milo Johnson and David Arnold Bell might be part of that reading.

However if this model of university extend its resources including its research for the benefit of the local community, then what are the implications for the academic library?

Academic libraries supporting Student Entrepreneurship (Part 1)

I was down last week, when my feedback returned where all the reviewers of my proposal doubted if it was feasible. I had plan to explore academic libraries as centres for supporting student entrepreneurship. However, my reviewers doubted if this was in the scope of what academic libraries do and also had doubts about the feasibility of my topic.

Well, I prayed and mini fasted. I repented and sought to pay what I owed. Today I found a link to a university library that did provide some library space to support student entrepreneurs. Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business website states:

Santa Clara’s new Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center and Orradre Library opened at the beginning of spring quarter, and the facility’s flexible spaces and state-of-the-art technology are already transforming the ways in which student entrepreneurs collaborate, study and strategize.


Thank G-d. However, I am still dependent on him to get me through the revision of the proposal in time for submission next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Libraries as solutions to current economic and social disequilibrium

I am revisiting my research proposal ideas, after readings and feedback. I decided to choose an epistemological standpoint, approaching my research from a functionalist/structural approach/paradigm.
My epistemological standpoint is that of  functionalism. I believe that evidently there is conflict in society, that can be mediated towards stability and order. For my particular research, there is conflict  among the youth and those who are in power.

Society has been structured to traditionally educate youth and the young to become labourers rather than entrepreneurs/capitalists. Middle class parents send their middle class kids to universities to get degrees to get professional jobs.However, the structure worked well in the past, but is now collapsing. As higher education has been liberalised as a service while the demand for university education has risen, more students are attending universities, leaving without jobs and are accumulating huge debts in doing so.

There is now a disequilibrium in society, with the need to find meaningful employment for university graduates as well as create jobs for the many workers displaced by global economic recession. Things are even more difficult with the growing world population, which will require more jobs and employment for the future.

Occupy movement has brought to surface some of the problems with the current model, and it is now up to the authorities to  respond appropriately to these issues and concerns. At this point there is need for social change.

Libraries and higher education need to be restructured as part of this social change. Libraries have traditionally been used to support education or to provide opportunities for the consumption of culture. I argue that libraries must move to a new level, bypassing the support of consumption of culture to places where youth can create culture and even be educated beyond employment, but to become part of the business and entrepreneurial classes. Libraries to move to place of becoming centres of innovation and entrepreneurship and incubators for youth entrepreneurs.

I therefore see libraries as part of the solution to the disequilibrium in current societal and economic trends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Facebook and libraries

One of my other interest is to write the book on Facebook for Librarians: A Conversational Librarian's Guide. We had a discussion in one of my classes about libraries on Facebook where it was discussed that libraries are not doing Facebook right.

My argument is that librarians and libraries that establish library pages do not do it right, because they approach it as they would traditional media. Facebook is not like a website. A website is a static publication, and as such formal language and editing is definitely important. However, Facebook is more for real time communication, and Facebook pages should aim to be more conversational and informal. It is about conversing with users and striking up conversation with them.

Conversation does not only have to be about library events or activities, but other things that the library may think that users may be interested in. For example, discussing items in the library's collection or current awareness issues that users may be willing to comment on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Young Adult-Owned Business Information Resources for Academic Librariesss

My vision is to see academic libraries provide support for student entrepreneurs to start new businesses. I strongly believe that academic libraries have the existing resources to do so.

Today I went to the Business Library at the Ivey School of Business building and in its reference collection used several resources of value to the small business owner or entrepreneur. There where directories about who buys what; sample business plans, business plan templates, industry profiles and other resources.

I am contemplating collecting a list of resources that academic librarians can use to provide information to students who want to start small businesses.

However, I may first want to make the case for young business owners:

Today, 'more young persons have abandoned traditional corporate career paths in favor of increased autonomy and financial rewards that are possible through entrepreneurship.' Hillstrom, updated by Magee ('Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO)' Encyclopedia of small business / Arsen J. Darnay, Monique D. Magee, editors.3rd ed. Detroit : Thomson Gale, c2007.)

This is evident from a number of articles:

  • Muhammad, Tariq K. 'From Buppie to Biz-Wiz: Forget Corporate America - Generation X is Choosing the Entrepreneurial Path to Success." Black Enterprise. January 1997.
  • "Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm" Black Enterprise. February 2004 vol 34 #7- p. 32
  • Smith. D. (2004, Nov). Students of enterprise. Entrepreneur vol 32 # 11 p. 108 Entrepreneur.com  http://app02.secondact.com/article/73166-3
  • "Turn classmates into customers" Black Enterprise vol 33 # 3 October 2002, p. S2.

Some resources that I saw as very useful include:

  • For Reference book - Small business sourcebook.(2008). Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co.,
  • For Periodicals - the Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur magazines.
  • For Book - Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Creating What Matters Most: Building Attitudes, Behaviors and an Action Plan for Success in Your Own Business. - Mary S. Moore (1994). Courage Press

However, as my problem is practically oriented, I have the great challenge of converting this into an academic research proposal.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My research to focus on Student Entrepreneurs

I have decided to narrow my studies to focus on student entrepreneurs and their information needs. This focus emerged from the challenge of studying small businesses, as there are many varieties and flavours of the term. There are competing definitions of small business, as well as the fact that current entrepreneurship recognises that there are various sub categories within small businesses that have special or unique needs and problems. There are Women owned businesses, Mompreneurs and Family businesses to name a few.

The literature of information seeking studies tend to focus on large firms, corporate executives and on managers. My study on the other hand want to zoom in on university or college students and their needs for information. I assume that  university students need information for undertaking entrepreneurship that may be different from other entrepreneurs.

I feel that students are different because they:
  1. usually work and study
  2. might be on student loan and may be more timid to take a risk to venture into entrepreneurship if they are not sure how they can pay back their student loan
  3. are expected by society's traditional norms to get jobs
  4. usually have less work/working experience to capitalise on, and 
  5. may not have the connections to social capital or other networks needed to establish business
I am going to also focus on how academic libraries can provide information services to help these students meet their information needs.

The first step however in my research proposal for my doctoral dissertation is to first find out what government information services exist online for these student entrepreneurs and potential student entrepreneurs. Does the government provide online information accessible to these students to assist them to launch their businesses and start-ups?

Student entrepreneurship is not new. Many high-tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Google were all start-ups launched by university students.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Writing a statement of intent/proposed research to get into graduate studies

A former student of mine, preparing for application to graduate studies, requested information about how to do a proposal for getting into a Thesis/Research based Masters. I know that when I was seeking to get into a PhD and MPhil programme, there was little documentation about how to produce such a document. However, I conducted my research through asking faculty and administrators for the particular programme that I was interested in and getting a basic outline of what I must put in such a document. Here I will generally share what I have done, which has been successful thus far in landing me into my current PhD programme.

You will definitely need to include the following in your document (statement of intent/research proposal/proposed research), whatever name or label it is called or referred to.

1.An interesting title: one that will appeal to the faculty that you are interested in. Usually something that is in line with what they already research but also something novel and kind of innovative/creative.

2. The problem - This is essentially your introduction/background to the topic that you are interested in studying; what it is and why is it significant and ought to be studied

3. A brief literature review to relate the issue you want to study in other literature/scholarship in the field.

4. A proposed method for discovering the data - who you are going to talk to/observe and/or what are some of the documents/sources that you will consult. Also make explicit some possible research objectives and questions.

5. References - sources you used throughout. the proposal/document.

Hope you will find this useful.

Edited: November 4, 2013

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Refining my research proposal idea

With some of my minor assignments out of the way, I have now returned to my dissertation topic and proposal. Based on feedback in class and learning about ethics review at FIMS, I am totally scaling down the topic. One of the issues that I am deciding to do is to study documents rather than people in order to escape Ethics board. However today, I became much more closer to identifying who I would study after reading a newspaper article. This I will elaborate on some more in this post.

One of the issues that came up with my research topic was that the definition of small business is very wide, and within contemporary studies of small business owners, there are several typologies and niche groups. I have heard of Women-owned businesses, family-owned businesses, and as of lately - mompreneurs. For the latter, I actuall saw this term in an issue of the Western News here at UWO entitled:  "Exploring the motivations of 'Mompreneurs'" by Paul Mayne published on October 13, 2011. See the link for the article: http://communications.uwo.ca/western_news/stories/2011/October/exploring_the_motivations_of_mompreneurs.html

Today, another newspaper kind of helped me to pick a niche group of small businesses that I think I want to study. This is the group of college students and/or college graduate entrepreneurs. I am not sure what is the right term for them yet and the type of business that they would be classified as. But I do know that I want to narrow my focus these as a user group in need of online business information/library services.

In an article in the London Metro, entitled: "It’s been a pleasure doing business", Vered Ben gives her experience of how she has started 2 businesses during her studies (page 14).  You can also read her story via the link: http://www.metronews.ca/london/learn/article/1019449--it-s-been-a-pleasure-doing-business. In the closing paragraph of her article, Ben states that:

"Most career centres and schools focus a lot on grades, career options and resumes, and usually do not let students think outside the box when it comes to job searching. I think schools should help students see that working for yourself can be a great option."
I believe than more universities are doing exactly that, and will in another post collect some of those articles to demonstrate that point.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Caribbean Libraries need to lead in Digital Publishing

I spent some time looking at some multimedia that some library students created and their documentation regarding the assignment. As I did so, my thoughts turned to the ways in which Caribbean librarians can lead the Caribbean in presenting and publishing  information digitally.

Caribbean libraries need to publish digitally because, much of our own information is not yet published either in print or digitally. A lot of our information is also published by outsiders, who are not familiar with our own interests and unique perspective. Further, being published outside, the cost of libraries owning materials published on our own cultures becomes expensive, requiring foreign exchange for acquisitions.

Due to this situation, our most important and affordable local sources of information are easily found in the vertical files, where we have collected, brochures, newspaper clippings and other ephemeral publications.  Vertical files are important because not all of Caribbean material will be published in books, but more so in ephemeral newspapers or magazines. Sometimes our newspapers and magazine publishers decide to convert their published information compiled over the years into books. However, for the most part, our publishers cannot afford to undertake the cost of publishing information that is locally needed, but expensive to produce and the publishers are not certain of getting sales to recover the costs.

As such, libraries should move from just producing print based vertical files to more digital libraries or editions of these vertical files. Doing this, they can publish these to their own internal computers for users to access, or on their websites, if they can clear copyright restrictions. An in house multimedia information retrieval system, digital library or electronic vertical file will allow for digital preservation of our materials. We can utilise multimedia to compile various articles and items in our vertical file into a digital format that  can help preserve the information found.

Further, many libraries compile and create displays that last for a month and are then removed, without being put in a permanent storage medium so that future generations can access the information from the display. We can rethink this through the creation of digital exhibitions, using multimedia.

We also need to make our online resources easy, simple, convenient and available, when our users/audience need it. Currently, our publishers and those who produce publications or documents make them so difficult to identify and locate.

Advice for those seeking to pursue a PhD

A former student of my Department, interested in doing a PhD immediately after graduation, asked me about the programme at FIMS, UWO in London Ontario, Canada. The student wanted to know if it offers a scholarship for PhD, how I found the school thus far and if I am loving the programme. Here are some of the answers that I gave the student.

The faculty is lovely so far. Professors very good. You should continue following my Facebook + Twitter (mscale) posts and the Small Island Librarian blog to see what I am learning, doing and how I am finding PhD studies.

You however may want to consider your future after PhD. I think that is the most central question to ask: do I want to be in academia? What do you want to do with the PhD? Do you want to be a lecturer/professor? Can you handle the responsibilities of being a lecturer or an academic professor? It means no holidays and many times, no week ends.

When you have fully sought answers on that question or on the question of why I want to do a PhD, then I think we can better discuss the matter. Also, after you have written your Masters Thesis, that will tell you if you really like research enough to undertake a Thesis.

I think you are jumping the gun by asking the wrong questions first and seeking the wrong information at this time.
What is your take on my answers?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

iPad experiment reflections: Part 2

So I took another shot at the iPad. Hence I borrowed it from my library to play with and get a feel of the technology and its applications. I recognise the need to take the time to learn and seize learning opportunities that I may not have in Jamaica, due to prohibition of price or opportunity.

From my first experiment, I realised after problem shooting with the library staff, that the strength of the iPad depends upon a reliable Internet connection. Hence wireless connectivity is the first issue for those who seek to implement it.

However, today, I saw that the iPad is not perfect for user generated textual content, except in the case of micro-blogging. The experience is a bit like text messaging, but an improvement. I have a virtual keyboard, but it is not as comprehensive as the PC or mobile with everything that I need in one place. I begin with the letters, and to access numbers, I have to click an additional button before the numbers come up. For capitalisation, there is no CAPLOCKS key. Hence, there is some readjustment required as the familiar keyboard interface is not the same.
Secondly, my experience reminded me of my dislike for touch pad mouses. Even with my laptop, I prefer to use a mouse to navigate the screen and to click and select options.

Finally, I recognised a truth that was not readily apparent. Because tablets are based on the cloud computing concept, unlike with PCs, where your software are with you on CDs, with tablets, it is like subscribing to cable tv. Hence you get what you subscribe for and cannot transfer other software from CDs or other storage devices to the new hardware device. 

As such, personally, I would not yet purchase a tablet, as  it does not yet meet my personal computing needs. If only I needed to use it to view slide presentations or YouTube videos, but it is not for me in terms of creating textual content, for which I rely heavily on a familiar keyboard interface and a mouse that gives me more control.