The American Library Association (ALA) today released the Libraries Build Business Playbook, which showcases emerging models for small business programming in public libraries. Created by library professionals, the Playbook aims to support libraries in starting or growing small business and entrepreneurship programs, especially focusing on those in underserved communities.
“All libraries, no matter the size of their staff or budget have a role to play in their community’s small business ecosystem,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “The Libraries Build Business initiative is a powerful example of how today’s libraries and seasoned library professionals are advancing innovation and economic growth, especially in libraries serving entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups.
“The entrepreneurship services described in this compendium reflect some of the best and brightest programming of public libraries across the nation,” said Wong.
The Libraries Build Business Playbook is the culmination of ALA’s Libraries Build Business initiative, which began in 2020. With support from Google.org, in 2020 ALA selected 13 public libraries to receive grants to start or grow small business programming. The Playbook documents the cohort’s entrepreneurship programs in communities of all sizes and with a diverse range of resources and variety of populations, including urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities. Designed to be as practical as possible for libraries seeking to start up or expand their own small business offerings, the Playbook covers promising practices and ideas for developing programs, from initial planning to reaching target audiences and sustaining services in the long term. The Libraries Build Business cohort libraries are:
- Appleton (Wis.) Public Library: Small Business—Big Impact
- Baltimore County Public Library: Entrepreneur Academy
- Broward County (Fla.) Public Library: Built in Broward
- Ferguson (Mo.) Municipal Public Library:Business Help at Your Library
- Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library: New Start Entrepreneurship Incubator
- Independence (Kan.) Public Library: Cultivate Indy
- Laramie County (Wyo.) Library System: Wyoming Libraries to Business
- Los Angeles Public Library: Successful Street Vending/ Sea un Vendedor Ambulante Exitoso
- Providence (R.I.) Public Library: Small Business Hub
- Richland (S.C.) Library: Entrepreneurial Launch Pad
- Spokane County (Wash.) Library District: Small Business Boot Camp
- Topsham (Maine) Public Library: Employment and Business Entrepreneur Center
- Yakama Nation (Wash.) Library: Business Maker Space
“This Playbook demonstrates that any library, no matter the size or budget, can support small businesses and entrepreneurs in their communities,” said Megan Janicki, who oversees the Libraries Build Business project. “It offers practical strategies to start, grow, and evaluate impactful programs, and it champions libraries’ crucial role in the small business ecosystem. We are thrilled to showcase the accomplishments of the Libraries Build Business cohort and support our growing community with this outstanding resource.”
ALA is inviting library professionals to engage with Libraries Build Business cohort members and others in the Libraries Build Business Community, a growing network designed to offer support, advice, and networking opportunities about small business and entrepreneurship programming.
“The Community, along with the Playbook, serves a vital role in grounding library workers in the practical strategies and inspiration available from peers across the country,” said Janicke.
Direct to Full Text: Libraries Build Business Playbook
82 pages; PDF.
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