ALA Releases Libraries Build Business Communications Toolkit for Library Workers

For Immediate Release
Fri, 05/19/2023


Jim Takeshita

Public Policy Associate

Public Policy & Advocacy Office

American Library Association

WASHINGTON, DC—Today the American Library Association’s (ALA) Public Policy & Advocacy office (PPA), in partnership with Co/lab Capacity, released the Libraries Build Business Communications Toolkit. The toolkit provides tools and resources for library workers to promote their small business support services, grow and maintain relationships with local partners, and advocate to policymakers on the important role libraries play in the small business ecosystem.  

“Libraries are important leaders and stakeholders in the small business ecosystem. Their work is most effective if community members are aware of it. This new communications toolkit is designed to help libraries get the word out about the great work they're doing, building engagement with current and prospective participants and partners,” said PPA Deputy Director Megan Janicki. 

The Communications Toolkit includes outreach plans targeting four key audiences: small business owners, small business support organizations, elected officials and decision makers, and library staff. Library workers looking to broaden their community’s perception of the library, learn more about the small business community, encourage support, and create partnerships will find materials pertinent and adaptable to their needs. The toolkit also helps its users prepare for meetings, presentations to community members, and events—as well as help library workers build confidence in discussing their small business offerings. 

“This toolkit takes the best practices from libraries and their outreach programs and makes them available for every community to try,” stated Co/lab Capacity CEO Audrey Barbakoff. “We want to support library workers in communicating their amazing value, making new connections, and expanding relationships.”  

The toolkit is freely available to download for all library workers on the Libraries Build Business webpage and includes templates for presentations, flyers, and outreach materials, as well as talking points to adapt and customize.  

Libraries Build Business is a national initiative of the American Library Association to build capacity in libraries offering programming, services, and resources to local entrepreneurs and the small business community, prioritizing low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs. Supported by, the cohort of 13 public libraries in 12 states worked with the ALA team to develop resources, pilot projects, and share findings with the wider librarian audience. LBB projects served nearly 15,000 small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs during the initial grant period, offering community-specific programs and services such as marketing assistance, specialized equipment, workshops, and mentoring opportunities. 

Co/lab Capacity is a consulting practice that supports libraries and social good organizations. Founded by Dr. Audrey Barbakoff, EdD, MLIS, Co/lab Capacity helps libraries with equitable, sustainable, and community-led planning, evaluation, facilitation, and training.