Investment & Personal Finance: Tales, Tips & Tools


RUSA BRASS Discussion Group
ALA Midwinter Conference
Sunday, January 21, 2007 10:30 - 12:30
Fairmont Olympic Hotel - Metropole Room
Seattle, WA
50 Attendees


 Meeting opened with Discussion Group Chair, Peter McKay, welcoming the attendees and introducing the program.  A handout entitled, "Investor Education @ Your Library" was distributed with a listing of various resources.  The American Library Association (ALA) and the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) along with the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine have teamed together to create the "Investor Education @ your library" initiative to promote investor education in America's public libraries.  The discussion was focused around four areas:  experience in providing personal finance / investment education classes in your library, individual investor experiences, specific investment sources, and what do you do personally.  There were about 50people in attendance.

1. What about advice/guidance to investors?  Patrons asking "is this a good stock?"  

  • Librarians are there to guide users to sources and how to use them
  • Librarians can educate the user as to how sources judge stocks (stars, ratings, etc.)
  • Showing the patron vendor's education section of publication, database, etc.
  • Pointing out to patrons that they need to keep in mind their personal level of risk when making their decisions.
  • Advising patrons to read the resources carefully and to go to a broker for investment advice (librarians can't give investment advice)

2. What about education on investing?  

  • Business information sources on the Internet include S&P NetAdvantage, Morningstar, Value Line, and Hoover's.
  • Brochures that interpret help screens can be useful.
  • The S&P rep commented that patrons need to read methodologies and track the records of investment providers...patrons should also be pointed to information on how to allocate resources based on the level of risk they are willing to take (what % to invest in U.S. equities, international equities, cash & bonds, etc.)
  • NetAdvantage (S&P) provides tear sheets, stock reports, investment newsletter "Outlook." "Outlook" helps people understand how to allocate assets and has model portfolios. 
  • Investors are graduating towards ETFs (exchange traded funds)
  • Chicago Public Library (Mark Anderson) stated that for a week each October, investment education programs are provided throughout Chicago.  This week is called "Money Smarts Week" and topics include opening an account, credit cards, etc. It is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank, as well as 200 other companies and consumer groups.  Part of the week is targeted at teens. The Public Library Foundation helps to support it.
  • N.Y.P.L.'s investor education program involves a certified financial analyst teaching about financial information, including financial databases.

3. How is database authentication monitored at universities?  What about investment clubs?  What about the use for internships?  

  • Usually database licenses allow for the educational use of the database only.  Some mentioned that walk-ins are also specified as part of licensing agreement (make sure vendor license allows for walk-ins).  
  • It is important to have something on your web site indicating what the rules are for use of materials.
  • Investment clubs on campus are perceived as an academic purpose since they're teaching students in classes to be investors.
  • Emory has a pledge form that students sign during orientation stating they will not use library databases for paid internships or for their job, only for coursework or career research.
  • Use of databases by students that have an unpaid internship and are getting course credit seems okay.
  • It was noted that community users wanting classes on investment sources go to public libraries. 

4. Does anyone buy advisory services other than Value Line?

  • The Hulbert Financial Digest and Standard & Poor’s Outlook were stated as other possibilities.  
  • Thomson/Gale's Business & Company Resource Center was cited as a good source to show patrons items from numerous sources....It also contains analyst reports via Investext. 
  • Surveys or questionnaires were mentioned as methods of determining what newsletters users want and what to deselect.
  • Cost was also given as a factor when deciding on which advisory services to subscribe. 
  • In North Carolina (Rita Moss), Business Source Premier (which includes Kiplinger's), Morningstar and RefUSA are available throughout the state.

5. What about international companies and foreign stock?  

  • It was stated that it is difficult to trade foreign stocks unless they trade as ADRs on U.S. exchange, through ETFs (AMEX lists all ETFs), or a U.S. multinational company.
  • Bobray mentioned that Morningstar is developing a new web-based product that will cover international markets called Morningstar Direct.  Pricing is being developed for libraries.  This product provides information on open-ended mutual funds, ETFs, variable annuities and hedge funds.  This product is "survivor biased" - it does not contain information about "dead" or delisted companies.

Other discussion:

Todd Hines ( University of Alabama) recommended the following investment books:

  • Andrew Tobias, The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need
  • Dave Swenson, Unconventional Success (He managed the Yale Endowment Fund)

It was stated that perhaps it is a good idea to know what our public libraries have and their licensing agreement.  Mark Anderson from the Chicago Public Library stated that this is a good idea.  CPL has a broad definition of user community.

6. What about personal investments?  How do you, personally, choose your investments or an investment advisor?   

  • Ask your friends
  • Chris Lebeau from the University of Missouri stated that investment advisors tend to be awful.  NetAdvantage and Morningstar are two good databases to show patrons.
  • Jan Lewis - "invest in what you know" doesn't always work well.
  • Someone mentioned taking a "financial decisions for women" class where attorneys, CPAs, etc. talked about numerous topics.
  • Someone discussed forming investment clubs on campuses - one named Educated and Motivated does well
  • Financial education offered through university's Human Resources office

What about Motley Fool's Social Networking offering?  What does everyone think?

  • Jennifer Boettcher mentioned that she was concerned about the wisdom of the crowd.
  • Greg Fleming (Univ of Chicago) worries about that and spam emails...mentioned that we already experienced this with Yahoo! Finance and their message boards about stocks...did not work out very well
  • Lee Pasackow (Emory)  - if you got it in an email, don't do it

Other comments:

  • Gary Klein ( Willamette University) mentioned that he has invested in bank stocks since the 1970s and has done well.  Look for small banks with unknown names and stick to a philosophy.  Look at SEC filings and the footnotes in statements.
  • S&P Rep - indexed funds work well over the years.  He noted that the NetAdvantage investment policy committee (IPC) meets every Wednesday.  They report on what happened last week, make predictions, and provide scorecard for sector performance prospects.  This is a good opportunity for investors to get a feel for the market. The committee's notes are available on NetAdvantage.
  • U of Cal, Palm Desert investment club has done well by following a man's career as he traveled from bank to bank.  He had a reputation for turning things around and they made money on six of the seven banks he was involved with.
  • Doreen - investor said buy Blue Chip and then use dividends to reinvest
  • Rita - moved investments to indexed funds because takes less time to track and does well.
  • Lee Pasackow - 120 minus your age is the percentage you should have invested in stocks.

7. Favorite websites? Websites for personal finance education?


Jennifer - BRASS web site: Best of the Best Business websites

Investor's Clearinghouse - but no annotations

Money Magazine's 101 Education section is good

Los Angeles Time 101 websites

Smart Money


Consumer Reports

Clark Howard Radio Show website

Peter McKay:

Announcements & Further Discussion

Judith - passed out her business card and asked people to contact her if they were interested in volunteering, also noted the volunteer form on the BRASS web page

Chris - publishers forum tomorrow on International trade

Stacey- thanked Gale for the refreshments this morning.

Job announcements:

Louise Feldmann, Colorado State University Libraries:  Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communication and Vet Met Librarian

Ryan Womack, Rutgers University:  Social Sciences Data Librarian

University of Mississippi :  Electronic Resources Librarian

Rita Moss, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Social Science Reference Librarian

Further discussion:

Visit "moonjar" exhibit - teaching investment to children

S&P enhancements to NetAdvantage - see booth

Euromonitor's GMID has a new platform - visit booth

Jim Rettig of RUSA plans to run for president of ALA

Anyone know of mapping demographic data for academic market?

Use the BRASS form to ask questions about publishers.

Investment Clubs of America for education...there are two NAII and NAIC 

Simmons Choices III for psychographics - discussion about what the cutesy titles for cohort groups mean?  Maude?  Low income? -- Last three years are available as a standing order through EBSCO  - Anyone have luck communicating with them?  Some have reported having a hard time getting in touch with them.

Mintel is good (has very recent Simmons data that has already been crunched)

Lifestyle Market Analysis (SRDS) will go electronic eventually

Mediamark is now web-based, but has had a restrictive license.

10-K Wizard

  • Vendor didn't understand usage of the product at an academic institution - price went up by 1000% after one year so be aware of this as it might come up in the future if you use this product
  • LiveEdgar (formerly owned by GSI - now owned by Thomson) is a good alternative with numerous search strenths for limiting - have SEDAR data and a lot of international corporate filings as well - will soon be adding Form 8b (related to hedge funds) - previously only available on the SEC site