Entrepreneurs come in all stripes. You might be a freelance editor, a social media consultant or an Uber driver, one more cog in the gig economy. Startups can be any type of business, from an ethnic food truck to the technology engineer who has a concept for the next generation of virtual reality apps. You might run a small business that is ready to take the leap by expanding operations to wholesale distribution or by creating franchise opportunities. No matter what type of business you are pursuing, your local public library can be your best ally.
Libraries are a gift to the business world. Books, newspapers, magazines, periodicals and abstracts can help you to understand your business landscape—that goes without saying. But your library offers much more. Your library is a great place to form relationships with people who can help you grow your business. Your local librarian knows the organizations, think tanks, meetups and events that could help you to grow your business. Your local librarian also knows many of the key influencers in your area who might even help you to grow your business.
Your library is a place where you can brainstorm exciting new ideas. Some libraries have a dedicated business librarian on staff who can take the time to offer you resources that you did not know were available. You can research demographics, economic patterns and the size of markets. Do you really want to start a business in a marketplace already crowded with competitors? On the other hand, if you have no competition at all, that might mean there is no market demand for your type of business. Your library can help you to develop a business plan by providing workshops or one-on-one expertise. Some libraries actually have an index to types of business plans, ranging from health and beauty products to computer software.
On a more sophisticated level, your library offers the latest information impacting intellectual property, patent research, and competitive intelligence by giving you access to expert resource databases. Some libraries offer digital media labs where you can create both audio (podcast recording) and video production. The biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs is gaining access to funding. Your library might have partnerships with organizations that sponsor competitions where you can obtain seed funding. Your library might also have strong partnerships with financial institutions, angel investors, and incubators.
Have I mentioned the word *free*? Many aspiring businesspeople share frugality as a common trait. Your library provides free access to databases; many are online and can be accessed from the convenience of your home or workspace. And some libraries offer co-working space and meeting rooms to support freelancers and independent contractors. Free! You only need to have a library card. If you don’t have a library card, get one today. It’s free and easy and you can do it online. The only requirement is that you must have a bonafide address in the area that is being served by your local public library.
The larger the library, the more business services are provided. Yet, with today’s technology, even the smallest or most rural library has a window to jump start new ideas in the marketplace, and will give you access to sophisticated databases. Get to know your local library! Here are a few libraries out of thousands across America who are open for business!
The Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library in Ankeny, Iowa offers programing for business owners and public meeting space. Resources include: Small Business Collection - Covers all major areas of starting and operating a business: financing, management, marketing, human resources, franchising, accounting, taxes and more. More sophisticated data can be gleaned from Business Economics & Theory (Instant access to full-text academic journals and magazines) and
Business Insights: Essentials (a wealth of real-world analytics and applications for business researchers.) An interesting note about this library is their newly built facility shares its space with the Ankeny City Council. The City of Ankeny's Economic Development Department works with Greater Des Moines Partnership to attract new businesses to Ankeny and to help existing businesses prosper and expand here. Talk about wonderful networking opportunities for business owners! You can reach the library via email Kirkendalllibrary@arkenyiowa.gov or phone +1-515-965-6460.
There are no non-stop commercial plane flights to Petersburg, Alaska but they have a huge library that serves as its community center. Small planes make milk runs from Ketchikan to Petersburg, first stopping in Wrangell. The Petersburg Public Library began as a small book shelf. Established by the American Legion Auxiliary in 1931, the library has evolved to become the center of the Petersburg community and now resides in a 10,000 square foot building. The library houses a trove of books, documents and artifacts borne of Alaska native history and its native cultures. The library boasts of having something for everyone and serves the business-minded and the business community by offering access to the sophisticated databased SLED. Developed by the Alaska State Library and the University of Alaska Libraries, the acronym SLED stands for the Statewide Library Electronic Doorway, and is described as an easy-to-use website that connects people to high quality Alaska information. SLED first launched in 1994 and became a full-fledged server in 1995. If you are an Alaskan resident and need to access SLED, then call the password hotline 800-440-2918. You can also reach the library via email: email@example.com or phone (907) 772-3349.
The Beauregard Parish Library is located in southeastern Louisiana. The Parish was named after the Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. The Beauregard Parish Library has five branches. Soon there will be six branches once the East Beauregard has been built. The Singer Branch Library looks like a double-wide mobile trailer home. Hours vary by each branch. No branch is ever open on Sunday. The Library is known for its Local History Collection about the people, places and events that shaped Beauregard’s cultural heritage. The library offers several databases that are valuable for those seeking business information: Business Source Complete (EBSCOhost) offers economic data, industry information and market research, and the Gale Business: Plan Builder, and a Small Business Reference Center. These three databasescan be accessed online or by downloading an app from Google or Apple. The library offers a mobile electronic library that is based on the bookmobile! The vehicle will take computers, electronic information and access to the internet to its users. If you can’t go to the library or can’t access the internet, the library will come to you! To reach the library by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-524-6239 (if you’re calling long distance) or local 337-463-6217.