4 Ways Public Libraries Support New Business
Public Librarians have great skills in the curation of their collections and content for different audiences within their communities but often fail to apply these curation skills to other aspects of Public Library operations — specifically to their services as a whole. The ability to package Public Library services that meet specific audiences actually helps build an effective marketing strategy. It is not about marketing everything to everyone. Instead identify key audiences within your community and market just those services that meet their interests or need across a number of services. One of the key growing communities who would benefit from greater understanding of how Public Library services support their specific needs is those involved in new business and building the new economies — the gig economy, sharing economy, startups and entrepreneurs.
- Public Libraries Provide A Space to Work : The very nature of work is changing with many different opportunities to earn a wage being explored by millennials, Generation X and Y and even Baby Boomers who are deciding to finally invest in that business idea they have had for awhile. Libraries do provide a conducive, ambient work space to start, build & grow that new way of working and new business. If you travel while you work, libraries are present in most towns and cities for access to a desk, the Internet, power, photocopiers, fax machines and spaces for meetings and training.
2. Public Libraries Provide Free Access to Essential Information: It is not easy to bootstrap a startup, commercialize a product or even to navigate the morass of legislation across the different levels of government to be able to start a business. Knowledge and data is needed across an array of topics to give people the best chance of success. Public Libraries have that information and access to information professionals who can guide the way. Statistics, Demographics, Market Research, Business trend information, Government legislation are all held at the local public library. Especially local legislation. These are available for free. Access to print and multimedia resources on starting and running a business, sample business plans, marketing plans and access to video learning resources that will position those working in the new economies for the best chance of success are all available. Public Libraries who curate these resources into easy to navigate pieces will have an immediate uptake of use. This audience are big users of information and are hungry for resources that will support their journey. They are also often big readers as they investigate their idea and build their skill sets.
3. Public Libraries Provide Business Networking Opportunities : While not all public libraries provide regular networking opportunities for new entrepreneurs there is still a substantial number of libraries now providing regular meetup opportunities, learning opportunities and specific workshops for new business owners on a regular basis. The State Library of Queensland offers a range of opportunities for entrepreneurs and business to come together to learn, network and share their journeys. The Game Changers event is co-hosted with the Queensland University of Technology Business School and the Queensland Library Foundation. It is an annual series of 4 events that showcases innovative leaders from business, technology, and creative industries who share their insights with aspiring Queensland entrepreneurs. The Business Studio also organizes a fortnightly lunchbox forum where aspiring entrepreneurs share their journey so far, technology tips, social media marketing lessons and the lessons from their failures. The entrepreneur community is very generous and willing to share their time and the lessons learnt. The Edge at the State Library of Queensland also hosts regular meetups with hackers, makers and designers who network and problem solve. All Public libraries can work with their local Council’s Economic Development office to become the space for these networking opportunities and connect to this audience. Partnering is definitely an effective way to deliver this service.
4. Public Libraries Provide an Array of Maker Resources for Product Developers: Makerspaces are becoming more common in Public libraries. Digital Design Labs, 3D printers and access to tools are becoming more common place which allows those with a creative idea to develop product prototypes and sometimes, at materials cost, the ability to produce products for sale. At the State Library of Queensland The Edge’s Fabrication Lab is an open access community makerspace with equipment and tools available to anyone with a creative idea. With a focus on recycling, repairing and reusing The Edge is also tackling the big issue of waste and allows the community to explore innovative maker solutions.
So why not curate your resources for specific areas in your community like the startup community and then package it for ease of access and understanding and then market it to that audience.