Libraries Build Business

Overview & Objectives

Libraries Build Business (LBB) is a national initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), supported by, intended to build capacity in libraries offering programming or services to local entrepreneurs and the small business community, prioritizing low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs. During the course of the LBB project, which launched in 2020, the ALA team and a cohort of 13 public libraries have worked together to answer questions, pilot projects, develop resources, and share these learnings with the wider library community. The initiative is diverse in terms of both library participants and entrepreneurs. The LBB cohort libraries represent 12 states and include urban, suburban, rural, and Tribal libraries of all sizes. Additionally, LBB projects have impacted more than 15,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs across the United States, serving a range of entrepreneurs including individuals re-entering the workforce from jail or prison, primarily Spanish-speaking sidewalk vendors, rural entrepreneurs, tribal members, and minority-owned tech startups. Learn more about each of the LBB cohort libraries and their projects in the About the Cohort section below. 

LBB cohort libraries are offering programs and services such as: business incubators, co-working and maker spaces; classes and workshops including Business 101, ESL for Business Owners, Web Design and Marketing, and Accounting; mentorship and one-to-one training with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and local partners; specialized equipment and technology; promotion and marketing assistance; as well as research and reference services, including assistance navigating legal and business licensures and requirements. Libraries Build Business projects are thoughtfully designed with consideration of local business and industry demands, based on community-specific market research and needs assessments. 

About the Cohort

The Libraries Build Business Playbook 

The Libraries Build Business Playbook is a resource collaboratively developed by LBB cohort members to share practical resources and advice, promising strategies and models, and inspiration for programming and services for any library, no matter their size or budget, to adapt in their context. It will guide your library to a local program fit with resources including monitoring and evaluation tools that your library can use to track progress and drive impact; specific strategies to prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion; and accessible suggestions for getting started, building partnerships, and more. We hope that you will benefit from what we’ve learned and explored – adapting the resources, ideas, and experiences in this playbook while adding your own library’s voice and expertise to the conversation.  

Read the Libraries Build Business Playbook!

Join Our Libraries Build Business Community

Are you developing or implementing a small business or entrepreneur program or service at your library? Join our Slack discussion board and get connected with the Libraries Build Business cohort and other library workers! Come ask questions, share resources and advice, learn about events, and get connected with other library workers interested in small business and entrepreneur development!

For more information about Libraries Build Business, please contact Megan Janicki, project manager ( 

Tools & Resources

    Meet the Libraries Build Business Peer Coaches

    Starting in summer 2021, we will be offering Libraries Build Business coaching! Whether you are new to small business programming, or looking to try something new, connect with a coach and receive peer support, resources, and feedback. No library is too big or small to receive coaching and our coaching pool represents a diverse group of program types, locales, and stakeholders. Sign up now and we will be in touch!

    Our Libraries Build Business coaches are valued leaders in our Community and demonstrate expertise in small business and entrepreneurship development. We are pleased they we will be serving in the role of coach and ALA Fellow in 2021-2022. Look out for more more information coming soon about the coaches and the small business programming at their library!

    • Adriana McCleer

      Adriana McCleer
      Appleton Public Library, WI

    • Karly Feinberg

      Karly Feinberg
      Baltimore County Public Library, MD

    • Christopher Bourret

      Beatrice Pulliam
      Providence Public Library, RI

    • Dianne Luccy

      Diane Luccy
      Richland Library, SC
    • Danielle Milton

      Danielle Milton
      Spokane County Library District, WA
    • Yee Lee Vue

      Yee Lee Vue
      Appleton Public Library, WI
    • Rachael Svoboda

      Rachael Svoboda
      Laramie County Library System, WY
    • Ann Poulous

      Ann Poulos
      Providence Public Library, RI
    • Stacey Goddard

      Stacey Goddard
      Spokane County Library District, WA













    Libraries Build Business in the News

    • November 17, 2023: An initiative of the American Library Association allows local libraries to 'empower diverse entrepreneurs to reach their potential' (WorkingNation)
    • January 28, 2022: As Entrepreneurship Grows, Libraries Fill the Gap (Bloomberg CityLab)
    • January 12, 2022: Laramie County Library System's Rachael Svoboda Receives Wyoming Library Association's Outstanding Librarian Award (Cheyenne Post)
    • November 1, 2021: Big Ideas for Small Business (American Libraries)
    • March 16, 2021: From business idea to business plan: Baltimore library 'Entrepreneur Academy' can help you get there (Baltimore Sun)
    • September 16, 2021: Work in Progress: Workforce development in public libraries (Library Journal)
    • July 24, 2020: Broward Library wins Google grant to spur businesses (Miami Herald)

    Check out our LBB Q&As on Instagram!

    Libraries that Build Business: Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Public Libraries

    Check it out on the ALA Store!

    "Libraries that Build Business: Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Public Libraries," published by ALA Editions in collaboration with ALA's Public Policy & Advocacy Office, details programs ranging from one-on-one business consultations, classes, and workshops to networking and equipment lending. Serving as powerful models of how libraries and their staff can advance innovation and economic growth on any budget and scale, the examples in this collection edited by Megan Janicki will inspire public libraries to plug into their own communities while guiding them through the nuts-and-bolts of making it happen. 


    With support from