Small Business Inc.: Designing and Promoting Small Business Programs for the Public


Business Reference in Public Libraries
June 21, 2003
Toronto, Ontario

Small Business Inc.: Part II

Barbara Birkas
Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County

Promotion = Success

  • What patrons want
  • Highlight your small business collection
  • Foster partnerships/network in the business community
  • Share information and resources
  • Develop a rapport with patrons so they will become repeat customers

PLCH Statistics

  • Population in serving area---1.75 million
  • Total circulation PLCH---14.4 million
  • Size of business collection---248,000 vols.
  • Library card holders---48%
  • G&B reference questions---140,000/year

Target Audience

  • Downtown residents
  • Downtown workers
  • Surrounding neighborhoods
  • Students
  • Area organizations
  • Business community

Need for Small Business Programs

  • Increased demand for small business info.
  • Job market shift
  • Availability of funding
  • More awareness of success in entrepreneurship
  • Prove your value--Take the risk!
  • Opportunity to promote your collection

What do patrons want?

  • Small business financing help
  • Write business plan
  • Market research
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Business forms & licenses
  • Management/Personnel issues

What we offer at PLCH

  • Small Business 'resource table'
  • Small Business brochure & Website handout
  • Entrepreneur Express workshop
  • Market Research workshop
  • Public display shelf
  • Rich collection of circulating materials
  • Community referrals/networking
  • Programs we partner with local agencies

How do we reach the right segment?

  • Promote at reference desk
  • Promote over the phone
  • Advertise with easels in dept. and at exits
  • Advertise on the elevators
  • Promote on PLCH web site and dept. links
  • Advertise on listserves
  • Pass out flyers to all small business patrons
  • Keep flyers in display racks around PLCH
  • Send flyers out to all branches to post
  • Send flyers to area organizations
  • Advertise in local Downtowner paper, local daily & weekend newspapers, Business papers, radio stations, local & cable tv stations, community press, Cincinnati Magazine
  • Create partnerships by networking with area groups & organizations to develop collaborative programming--- multiple promotion!!
  • Call or email personal contacts in your community to promote upcoming events
  • Maintain regular rapport—information sharing
  • Look for opportunities to blow your horn!
  • Train staff to be aware of new books added to collection, useful reference sources, and knowledge of upcoming small business programs
  • Encourage outside agencies to leave materials
  • Create an electronic newsletter to advertise events

Promote some more!!

  • Try to attend outside programs, and then promote your next event
  • Invite an organization to give a program at your library—an opportunity to display and promote
  • Offer to give your workshop at a branch library
  • Co-sponsor programs either at your library or another location in your community and promote
  • Tell patrons to spread the word, bring friends

Final thoughts...

  • Outreach is vital to library's future
  • Keep patrons coming back
  • Acquire new patrons through outreach and promotion
  • Get in the habit of reading materials about ‘marketing library services'

  • Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee

    bullet Small Business Inc.: Designing and Promoting Small Business Programs for the Public
    Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee, ALA Annual Conference, June 21, 2003

    Disclaimer : This publication has been placed on the web for the convenience of BRASS members. Information and links will not be updated. Posted 18 October 2004.