Libraries Build Business report highlights impact of small business programs on local communities and library field
For Immediate Release
Deputy Director, Communications
Public Policy & Advocacy Office
American Library Association
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Library Association has released a new report that showcases the impact of the Libraries Build Business initiative on small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, as well as the library profession. Libraries Build Business, a $2 million national initiative supported by Google.org, launched in early 2020 and culminated with the release of the Libraries Build Business Playbook in February 2022. The insights, lessons, and outcomes from this initiative can be leveraged for further impact on economic opportunity and advancement in communities across the United States.
"Nearly 15,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs attended programs and events offered by one of the cohort libraries, in diverse urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities. Despite launching in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries provided responsive and inclusive programming to advance small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said project manager Megan Janicki. “The Libraries Build Business initiative was an opportunity to build models and promising practices to scale in libraries all over the country.”
The Libraries Build Business Initiative Highlights report demonstrates the critical role of libraries in the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem while providing specific examples of impact in urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities across the country. Because of their reach, information and resources, and strategic and flexible collaboration, libraries are uniquely positions to be partners, leaders, and connectors in thriving local economies.
In Gwinnett County (GA), the library supported formerly incarcerated aspiring and existing entrepreneurs as they navigated the business landscape with the New Start Entrepreneurship Incubator (NSEI): offering wraparound services, monthly classes, and business mentors. Through partnerships, the library was also able to host prospective funders to speak with and provide feedback for the entrepreneurs. Across two cohorts, 22 participants graduated from the NSEI program in its first year. In Ferguson, Missouri, the library supported micropreneurs with business development resources, meeting space, computers and equipment, and reference support. One local entrepreneur needed assistance with marketing, social media, and computer basics; the library connected him with SCORE and helped him set up a Facebook page. From there, his barbeque sauce business quickly took off -- and is now available in grocery stores around the state. These examples illustrate the impact from around the country that libraries are making on local small business communities.
The Initiative Highlights report showcases these examples and impacts to outside audiences, who may not be familiar with the innovative and state-of-the-art resources that libraries provide. Partners can also leverage the community trust and rapport that libraries bring to the table while considering how to incorporate equitable and inclusive practices into their services and programming.
“Libraries advance small businesses and entrepreneurs every day, all across the country. This report facilitates conversations with partners, local stakeholders, decision makers, and potential funders about the value and resources libraries provide,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada.
For more information about Libraries Build Business, please visit our website to learn about the Libraries Build Business cohort programs and view other available resources, including the Libraries Build Business Playbook and Libraries That Build Business: Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Public Libraries from ALA Editions.