Monday, January 20, 2014


“Business is like oil. It won’t mix with anything but business.”

-J. Graham.

“In business, when things aren’t working it’s time to mix it up.”

-Donald Trump, The Apprentice

“When you work your own business, you only have to work half a day. You can do anything you want with the other twelve hours.”


“Business administration and closely related disciplines probably generate more information sources than any other area in the social sciences.”

-Gary W. White. “Business.” in Herron, Nancy L. Social Sciences: A Cross-Disciplinary Guide to Selected Sources. 3d ed.

Considerable overlap between economics and business
Major functional areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Marketing
Business research concepts
  • Public company
    • Public(ly held) companies are companies whose ownership is publicly traded. These companies are legally required by government agencies to disclose certain financial information to their shareholders. In Canada, public companies are subject to federal and provincial laws.
  • Private company
    • is owned by one or a few owners. Share ownership is not traded on an open market. Some private companies may require approval of sale/purchase of shares by a board of directors.
    • not required to make their financial information public
  • Parent company, subsidiaries, affiliates
  • Industries
Types of business periodicals
  • Trade journals
    • Typically for practitioners in a specific industry, often published by professional trade associations, e.g. Foodservice and Hospitatlity.
  • Popular
    • Available at newsstands, e.g. Canadian Business, Forbes
  • Scholarly
    • Aimed at academic users, e.g. Business Quarterly
Characteristics of business reference
  • Rapid change
  • Complicated
  • Hidden information
  • Fragmentation
  • Bad information (important to use more than one source to confirm data)
  • Lack of analysis or interpretation of data
  • Poorly prepared users
Business information libraries
  • Some public libraries have provided services to the business community for many years, tend to be in major population centres, e.g. Vancouver Public Library
    • Divisions in businesses
  • Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre Library
    • Over country, co-operative between federal and provincial governments, focus on entrepreneurs
  • Local businesses
Business information specialist
  • Current awareness essential
    • Local, national, international
  • Need to network with others in the business library field
    • emails
    • listservs
  • Must keep up with current business terminology
  • Must be comfortable working with numbers
  • Online searching more important for business/economics than any other social science
    • Online sources typically more current and comprehensive
    • Average person will use Google to search, businesses may want money to provide information
Popular search topics
  • Company information
    • Competitive intelligence
    • Know the competition and what they are doing so one can incorporate and gain
  • Industry/trade information
    • NAICS or SICS codes
  • Management theory/best practice
    • e.g. TQM total quality management – associated with Japan, came out of US with a band wagon effect, varieties include team building
  • Business climate
    • Is it a good time to start? Is it a good time to expand?
  • Legal and regulatory
  • How to begin and maintain a small business
    • Popular product service
  • Career and jobs
    • Looking for positions instead of businesses to run
Business information sources and formats
  • Company product catalogs and price lists
    • e.g. Thomas Register
  • Annual reports, especially financial reports
  • House organs (internal magazines/newspapers)
  • Company and market studies by investment firms and banks
    • Weigh pros and cons
  • Working papers (discussion drafts of studies), especially regulatory agencies, financial and stock analysts, and trade associations (not all of these will be formally published). Finding aids include
  • Directories especially important
  • Local newspapers may have information not found elsewhere especially on smaller businesses
  • Standards
  • Business statics
    • Governments especially prone to releasing as pdf files which are harder to manipulate
Statistical sources
Information users
  • Business persons
    • Middle and senior management rarely use library personally, prefer personal networking
    • When library used often dealing with a proxy, e.g. admin assistant, secretary
      • Increased chance of miscommunication of actual want
  • Post secondary instructors
    • Current information about changing global business climate
    • Reference sources on variety of firms, industries, markets, e.g. annual reports
    • New approaches to management
  • Post secondary business students
    • Often work in groups or teams researching a particular company, product, or market
    • Trendy management literature popular
    • Preference for Internet sources
  • Non business post secondary students
    • Career and job market information
  • K-12 students and teachers
    • Current career information
  • Laypersons
    • Job material (hot, high paying, jobs of the future)
    • How to locate job listings
    • Resume writing, interviewing
    • Starting a small business
    • Financial management/planning
    • Retirement planning
    • “Suspect” titles abound, items should be popular yet authoritative
    • Beware of American (U.S.) titles in areas where Canadian legislation differs
    • Never give advice

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