Small business start-ups begin @ your library

Lara Clark
Eric Katzman
For Immediate Release
May 31, 2006

Small business start-ups begin @ your library

CHICAGO - Every year, more than 500,000 entrepreneurs start new businesses in the United States. But how and where, with little money beyond what they can borrow on credit cards or from family and friends, do they do the market research, licensing, and all the rest of what it takes to succeed? The answer is @ your library.

As they work toward realizing their dreams, many aspiring small business owners turn to public libraries for help. In fact, a study in early 2006 conducted by the American Library Association (ALA), found that 61 percent of people living in the United States said libraries are important in helping to start small businesses.

Public libraries provide many crucial tools and resources to help small businesses launch and thrive in today’s competitive marketplace - often for free. They range from training on how to apply for business licenses, to seminars on securing bank financing to workshops on creating successful marketing campaigns. Many public libraries across the country employ trained staff who provide advice on how to use print and online business resources:

  • The Brooklyn Public Library hosts a discussion series called "You Can Do It, Too," where local business owners share stories about starting their company using the library’s small business resources. The library also conducts their annual "PowerUP!: Your Business Starts Here" competition, open to aspiring Brooklyn-based businesses that require start-up capital. The competition provided Farid Ali and George Constantinou with the knowledge and financial resources to open their successful restaurant, Bogota Café Bistro, in Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope neighborhood.

  • The San Diego Public Library proved helpful to Joy Lynn de la Rén, who successfully started a mail-order company, "Caring Products Inc.," by using the San Diego Central Library’s outreach program, "Business Resources & Technology Link" to learn about business essentials such as patents, trademark, copyrights, successful Internet marketing and e-commerce.

  • The Library System of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania’s "Biz Info to Grow: BIG," a series of seminars and access to print and online resources, helped Sam and Jo Farner start their concierge company, "Extra Time For You." The Farners visited the library for two years, attending workshops and poring through demographic and economic data to build their corporate client list. Sam and Jo continue to visit the library to look for new ways to further grow their thriving firm.

  • At the Johnson County (Kans.) Library, a series of small business seminars teaches the basics of starting and running a business, from obtaining start-up capital to managing finances. Denise Upah Mills absorbed valuable information on proper methods for networking by attending numerous seminars and was able to start her first company, "Invisiband," whose mission was to increase penetration of broadband Internet service to residents of rural cities. She sold the firm for a profit and started a second firm, "Six Degrees Solutions," which helps other business owners develop stronger business relationships and create strategic alliances through networking with other owners in their area.

Many public libraries, including those listed above, provide entrepreneurs with free one-on-one sessions with representatives from SCORE (Service Corps. of Retired Executives), for advice on business plan writing, tax preparation and financial planning.

"Many people around the country have realized their dream of starting their own businesses by using the wealth of information at their local libraries," said ALA President Michael Gorman. "Also, they return to further research ways to boost profits and scale up."

America’s libraries are paving the way for small business owners to be the engines that drive our economy. Since small businesses represent a large and increasing number of all U.S. employers, they employ a growing majority of the workforce. Many seeds of innovation are planted at libraries, and ideas and products blossom under the watchful eyes of small business owners.

For more about American Library Association (ALA) recommendations and resources created by business librarians, including the Best of the Best Business Web sites, visit