Starting one’s own business may soon become the most viable path to achieving the American dream. It is projected that by 2020 half of all workers will be independent freelancers, responsible for their own fortunes and well-being. Knowing this, Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) is partnering with 11 other public library systems from across the U.S. and Canada to explore ways libraries can reach and engage entrepreneurs in their communities — particularly people of color, women, immigrants and veterans. This effort is being led by the Urban Libraries Council, a membership organization of North America’s leading public library systems, as an extension of ULC’s collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to strengthen libraries’ capacity to support entrepreneurship.
“The library plays an important role in building businesses and our economy,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “This experience will shape current thinking about how libraries can support entrepreneurship and create new opportunities for all community members.”
Participating in this initiative, TLCPL is building on its strong business outreach efforts with FREE programs such as:
- One-to-one assistance with TLCPL Business Specialist
- Monthly Ask A Patent/Copyright/Trademark Attorney sessions and support from the Library’s official Patent and Trademark Resource Center of the United State Patent and Trademark Office
- Small Business Resource Days
- LinkedIn and Business Boost classes
- An array of professional-level databases such as Business Plan Pro and Marketing and Sales Plan Pro which provide resources otherwise beyond the grasp of most small business owners
A comprehensive list of all small business services may be found at toledolibrary.org/businessgrants.
The Business Team will also develop a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing aspiring women and immigrant entrepreneurs as well as how those obstacles differ for aspiring male entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in growing local economies as technology continues to transform the labor market. However, barriers to resources and information prevent many individuals from pursuing or achieving entrepreneurial success. Public libraries are uniquely equipped to reach populations who are underrepresented in today’s entrepreneurial economy and most in need of guidance. The Urban Libraries Council also released a Leadership Brief titled Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs, which you can read here.
To learn more about Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, contact David Topeleski at 419.259.5244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.