By Harmony Faust
Samantha Cole, an editorial intern for Fast Company magazine, just gave your library a present—did you accept it graciously and immediately put it to good use? If not, you might be missing out on an opportunity to leverage the gift of free advertising. Keep reading; it’s not too late.
Cole’s article, “Who Needs Business School? The Hidden Startup Resources at your Local Library,” perfectly tells the value story of public libraries and specifically, how you support local entrepreneurs and foster economic growth. Do you ever read or hear something and think to yourself, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”? This is one of those moments. What Cole has explained about libraries—and how she has explained it—is evidence-based and right on point.
Cole may be right—these may be hidden secrets—but with a monthly online readership 6.3 million entrepreneurs, opinion leaders and business professionals, this gem of an article goes a long way toward exposing what we’ve known all along:“Libraries are an indispensable resource for communities—especially for people looking to start a business.”
I encourage you to read and share the article yourself, but here are some of the “hidden secrets” highlighted by the author:
- Libraries provide entrepreneurs a number of resources to support business plan development including tools which offer detailed demographic and ethnographic information. Do your patrons know that these resources, like DemographicsNow: Business and People from Gale, typically cost larger companies tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that your library can deliver it to them for free?
- Libraries stimulate economic growth not just by enabling business to succeed, but by attracting them to a particular geography in the first place.
- Libraries are a perfect venue for businesses looking for a meeting or networking space.
So there you have it. Now is a fantastic time to make sure your library all of the resources today’s entrepreneurs need the most, and then shout it from the rooftops, with some additional reach and street-cred compliments of Fast Company.
To get you started, Gale created a guide to the stages of business development—exploration, startup, growth, management and even maturation—which can help you identify the library resources that can deliver the most impact to your local business community and economy.
About the Author
Harmony Faust is Gale’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications. She channels her passion for libraries into her volunteer work, serving as a member of the steering committee for the Corporate Committee for Library Investment and on the Board of Directors for EveryLibrary, the only national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries. Harmony lives in Plymouth, Michigan, with her husband, dog and two young children. Her opinions are her own.