Libraries promoting economic development through collaboration


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This presentation was created by Victoria Bennett and Bethany Kennedy of Washtenaw Community College and Sara Wedell of the Chelsea District Library. It recounts the establishment of an organization connecting libraries and business service organizations to help promote economic development and details the experiences of the Chelsea District Library as it introduces small business support programs into the Chelsea, MI community.

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  • Individual introductions:
    The original subtitle of this presentation was Libraries Serving Small Business, but since the submission our group has decided to solidify itself into a brand. That brand is LibraryBiz Connect.
  • As part of the process we have clearly defined what we would like to do.
    Paradigm Shift – dare I say it?
    Currently, we know that business owners are NOT looking to the library as the their portal to business resources.
  • We’ll get to specific roles and responsibilities later, but this slide is to introduce you to who we are as a collaborative.
    Maybe more importantly, you need to know who we are NOT.
    we are not every public library in our geographic area
    we are not every business service organization in our geographic area
    That’s OK there are a lot of reasons why this group is not right for everyone right now.
    - We deal with that by always telling them, “We’ll save a seat for you.”
    Strive to cut across the artificial boundaries between these organizations
    - Integration of the cultures has been a year long process
    Trust and understanding
    - Quarterly meetings have been organic – fluid membership, fluid numbers, solid core
    Guns blazing, mission statement, strategic plan, work groups/ committees no good
    - Keep It Simple Silly
  • Most everyone in our community wants to help the high growth, venture fundable, technology focused business.
    This collaborative was formed to meet the needs of the small business community. CC college students fit into that very well.
    This collaborative has helped WCC focus it’s small business efforts on skill-based self employment as a means to entrepreneurship.
  • This image shows how the loss of information can happen on a computer network due to low quality switches being used. This loss of value is what I saw when I looked at what was happening in our community. We currently all the right pieces, but we just needed better switches so the value of what we have doesn’t get lost before it reaches the small business owner.
    Libraries are the switches.
    have lots of resources
    Know how to access information
  • The middle circle is filled with the business support organizations in our area. It’s likely that your community has many of the same organizations.
    <<detail what each one is>>
    Middle Circle
    Compete with each other for resources and clients
    Often have overlapping services
    In many communities are realizing they need to work together --- everyone has dwindling resources.
    Spend a lot of time routing businesses to the right resource
    Therefore, don’t always have time to do what they do REALLY well
    Outside of circle – invisible to the business community
    Where does this leave the small business owner?
    Determined to do it on their own without help
    The groups in the circle don’t feel threatened by us. Actually, we’ve found that some of them outright have ignored us until they started seeing results.
  • This was not necessarily what I had in my head when we had the first meeting in July of 2009. As we explored where the resources were and how we could work together it became very clear that the public library should be the traffic cop – the central clearinghouse for businesses resources -- in this equation.
    Vibrant Public Libraries ALREADY have relationships with the business community. They just don’t tell the business community that they are available to serve them.
    The organizations at the bottom DO NOT have the capacity to build meaningful relationships with every organization on the top in every local community they serve. But they do have capacity to build meaningful relationships with all of the public libraries.
    Please notice, we didn’t create anything new. This is just reorganizing what was in front of us the whole time. This model will:
    Spread out the burden of maintaining the resources
    Provide business service organizations more time to do what they do REALLY well
  • HOW is the library to know where to send small business owners. We developed a resource grid (point to it on the wall), which is an audit of the resources available in our community. To get a grid like this, you’ll have to do the same.
    This is one way.
    Jargon Free, don’t need an MBA to figure it out
    NOT a laundry list!!! Routing mechanism – only provide PDF!
    NOT all resources are listed. Some organizations opted out – didn’t want to serve our target market.
    Used by SCORE and SBTDC counselors
    At end caps in business book section of library
    At library reference desk
    Business Reference Skills Workshops: TRAINING to librarians by librarians….
    This is where the trained business librarians from the Universities can be very valuable
    Free to participants
    Travel around the county to local libraries, no one library would host workshops
    Explore the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners
    Educate librarians on the best resources to help entrepreneurs and small business owners
    Gain understanding of the roles of local Small Business Service Organizations such as SCORE and SBTDC
  • This slide is about Collaboration – but don’t you just love the logo and tagline?
    Media Kit – an example of how this collaboration works
    Branding legwork – Arts Meets Business
    Logo Design – Chelsea District Library
    Brochure Design – Washtenaw Community College
    Press Release and Media Kit Structure – Howell District Library
    FREE – Collaboration is Powerful!
    This can be done in your community too!
    Just need a kicker---you can use our platform
    How did we get started? BRC Reception at WCC a public librarian said to me, we should really get to know each other better. Meaning our libraries.
  • This was a lot of work, why on earth would you want to take that on?
    There are Benefits! Lots of Them!
    Benefits to the Community College:
    Serve our mission to our students and the community
    Builds relationships that end up in the classroom
    Economic development – healthy community, healthy community college
    Show the business community that we can give back, not just ask them for stuff (money)
    Show off
    librarians know how to get information, that’s powerful!
    Lower or maintain operating costs by leveraging shared resources
    FREE resources (BRC)
    Recommendations for collection development
    Deepen community relationships
    More patrons and new audiences for programming
    Reduce risk of trying something new - learn from each other’s mistakes and success
    Education about resources
    Relationships to access those resources
    More patrons and new audiences for their programming
    Show off
    you know how to get information, that’s powerful!
    Business Service Organizations
    Free marketing!!! Public Libraries are required to do mailings to their service area. You can be featured in their mailing!
    Free space for workshops and one-on-one counseling
    Larger geographic reach
    Identify new markets
    Can focus on what you do REALLY well
    To Businesses:
    One-on-one business counseling at libraries around the region
    Workshops on a variety of business topics at libraries around the region
    One-on-one meeting with reference librarians
    Free classes on how to use databases for market research and customer segmentation
    Benefits that all members receive:
    Quarterly Meetings (yes, we’ve done all of this in 5 quarterly meetings) – will evolve from organizing to more networking
    Coordinated marketing effort and materials
    Support from trained business librarians (that the public wouldn’t otherwise be able to access)
    Access to experts
    Plans for a speakers bureau
    This is how it benefits the partners…
  • Isn’t it great that this collaboration benefits the partners? But HOW does it benefit the business owner?
    We have around 9 Public Library Partners in and around Washtenaw County who will offer some combination of the following:
    one-on-one business counseling with SCORE
    Taking Care of Business Workshop Series
    Growing collections of print and media resources
    Study rooms that can be used by businesses
    Understanding of where to send patrons for services and resources they don’t have
    Washtenaw Community College also offers the following services that any of the libraries can refer patrons to:
    one-on-one meeting with a reference librarian
    Market Research and Customer Segmentation Workshops
    Let’s look for a minute at what that might look like…
  • This map does not show ALL of our libraries. It shows the libraries that house Biz Resource Centers which are designated through the Small Business Administration.
    This is a direct result of the LibraryBiz Connect collaboration.
    What this means for our community:
    Foundation collections of small business resources (databases & print)
    Internet-connected computers for business patrons
    In our community small businesses and entrepreneur’s don’t have to drive far to figure out how to get what they need!
    - SBA designates these out anyway. Now our region has the highest concentration of BRC’s in the State of Michigan.
  • Now that we know how everyone benefits, what do they have to do to get the benefits?
    University/Research Librarians
    Top level of support. Support the librarians (that would otherwise not be available to the public)
    Community college –
    - marketing
    Resources (administration, grant writing, grant accountant)– does not have to be a cc, but for us it works
    Development of librarian trainings
    Facilities for librarian trainings
    Service hub for surrounding public libraries
    Higher cost resources (databases, print)
    Public Libraries
    Program offerings = workshops on business topics
    Facilities for workshops and business counseling
    Share information openly with each other
    Refer patrons to appropriate resource
    Stay up to date on what resources are available
    Internally educate staff so all staff know about the collaborative
    Small Business Support Organization
    Marketing – yes, everyone must market!
    Business counselors
    Presenters for business workshops
    Doing what they do REALLY well, working with business owners
  • I’m going to cover how this collaboration has worked for my public library in practice. We initially got involved because we were looking for a way to advance our role in our local business community and wanted to learn what we could do that would be useful to our business owners and potential business owners. As a result, we functioned as a pilot program or a test case for how the collaboration works at the individual community level.
    One of the first things we did was use our network of business service organizations, like the Chamber, to schedule workshops starting in Sept. 2009. Since then, we’ve offered a range of business-related events at various times of year and found that there is good demand and this is an area where there is interest. Event attendance averages at about 18 per event. We’ve had highs and lows – some events only get 8, some get 48.
  • Through our active involvement with LibraryBiz Connect, we’ve experienced direct benefits that we are able to pass on to our patrons and our community.
    We have access to and relationships with business service organizations like SCORE and SBTDC
    - These result in ready and willing speakers for easy program planning.
    - Guidance in collection development and in-house training – these are the folks recommending the items, it’s useful to know what materials they suggest so we can have them on hand and ready for the people receiving counseling
    - A better sense of who we are trying to reach and insight in how to do that more effectively
  • This email is an example of what a flexible, willing, easy-going partnership I have here. Here I am inconveniencing the SCORE representative by cancelling an agreed-upon event date, and his simple response is, “sure, anytime.”
    Our relationship with SCORE is a good example of two organizations in a mutually beneficial partnership because we wanted to offer business counseling and the Ann Arbor chapter of the SCORE office, unbeknownst to us, was looking for some avenue to do more outreach in western Washtenaw county. We provide the space and marketing, they provide the expertise, and more marketing.
  • Libraries are not yet where people look for business support. The SBTDC is a place entrepreneurs look to, so having them market for us is a huge benefit.
    I’m excited to get 18 people. My SBTDC cohort just keeps them coming. Entrepreneurs and the business community in general look to these service organizations for things they would never think to look to the public for. Getting these organizations to spread your message or getting in on their message broadens your audience immensely. We ultimately had over 25 for the event, which was facilitated entirely by SBTDC and required only a projector and some chairs from the library. Oh, and coffee.
    Library offered:
    I feel like I’m getting by far the better end of the deal by having it so easy to schedule workshops, but I’ve discovered that they also love the arrangement because presentation space outside of their office or immediate area is hard to come by. Another mutually beneficial match.
  • The value committing my precious, limited time to this endeavor and this group. I’ve gotten good resources and good programming to bring to home to my community. It so happens that by participating as a part of a group that I’m helping other communities benefit as well, but I have a lot to show for community and my taxpayers as well.
    If you want to serve business better, go to where businesses are. Chamber mixers, SCORE receptions, etc. Network with your local business service organizations, and you will meet business owners. This starts of chain of informing the library to what this audience wants/needs and letting them know that you are actively working on their behalf.
    ASK TO BE ASKED. If you build it, they will come. Talk up what you are doing so that you get on the radar of the people who direct entrepreneurs to local resources.
  • In October, Chelsea was among 28 cities in the state to be designated a 5-star city by the University of Michigan Dearborn Center for Innovation Research. They examine community level factors that affect economic development and job growth.
    The Library was very proud to be listed alongside strong organizations like the DDA and the Chamber of Commerce because unlike those organizations, we are less expected to play a role in our community’s economic development. This is evidence to us, alongside the good attendance and feedback from our workshops, that we are on the right track with our focus.
  • These suggestions come from the Public Library Vantage Point.1 – Look at your resources and compare it to our recommended book list. Take our workshop ideas and schedule one. Call SCORE. Decide if you feel a group would be beneficial in you region. Get all potential partners in a room. Talk. Find who is willing to put in time and effort to move the effort ahead. Instigate. Get a broad audience and have a discussion. Move forward with the go-getters.
    2 - Naysayers – they’ll join when they see momentum because their communities will see the value of the connections your organization is making.
    3 – Use your local connections – talk to your chamber, contact your local SCORE agency, connect with your local community college, network with your neighboring libraries every partner on that first slide is a potential contact – and you may already have some.
    4 – Not always books. People, organizations and connections are resources and it pays to be familiar with them. Outreach and in-reach. Reach out to the community, market yourself to the business people, advertise that you have something to offer and resources to put to use. IN-REACH as well. Train your librarians, communicate with your supervisors, keep them engaged, get them on board, ask for their input.
    5 – Go out and seek interactions with your business community. Present to rotary or the chamber. Share what you can do and invite them to come use your resources. Go outside your comfort zone. You have to. Ask them what they need, deliver what they need by finding what they could use.
  • Or more accurately, where do you go from here?
    This map shows regions of economic activity, drawing broad geographic lines of how growth occurs. We’ve found that geography in a group like this can be tricky, because for us, it didn’t work to cooperate within a one city, or one county or one library network. We grew organically based on factors like location, size, reach of business organizations and interest.
    Because of the focus on community relationships, this group functions on a local level. If you go too far out, it loses it’s impact. If you develop a regional network, even something informal, just allowing your libraries/business service organizations/etc to communicate, that’s progress.
    Use our toolkit available on the MLA site to start your own dialogue.
  • Libraries promoting economic development through collaboration

    1. 1. Library Partnerships: Promoting Economic Development through Collaboration
    2. 2. Mission statement: To provide access to a network of business information and support services for new and existing small businesses. We aim to: Position public libraries as the local portal for economic development. Connect average businesses to knowledge, data, training, and business counseling in an approachable environment. Pool regional resources to benefit our local communities. LibraryBiz ConnectLibraryBiz Connect
    3. 3. Who are we?Who are we? Libraries Public Libraries ◦ In and around Washtenaw County Academic Libraries ◦ Washtenaw Community College ◦ University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University Michigan eLibrary Small Business Service Organizations  National Organizations ◦ SBTDC ◦ SCORE  Local Chambers ◦ Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti ◦ Milan ◦ Chelsea  Local Organizations ◦ Arts Meets Business ◦ Business Consultants ◦ SPARK Ann Arbor ◦ Food System Economic Partnership
    4. 4. Who We ServeWho We Serve
    5. 5. A view from the outside:A view from the outside: Loss of value
    6. 6. Public Libraries Community College Library University Libraries Local Newspapers SBTDC Local Banks DDA Local First Movements Chambers of Commerce Business District Associations Rotary SCORE A view from the outside:A view from the outside:
    7. 7. National and/or Regional Business Service Organizations Local Public Library Washtenaw Community College University Libraries Rotary Local Banks Chambers of Commerce Main StreetBusinessAssociationsLocal First Movements LocalNewspapers DDA Local Entities that exist in most communities Entities that serve large geographic areas. Small Business Owners Entrepreneurs
    8. 8. Small Business Resources Databases with industry and market data: Academic Libraries: WCC,, Public Libraries: Ann Arbor , Chelsea, Ypsilanti Market Research Services: SBTDC (for clients) Revenue from Business Activities Business & Entrepreneurial Degree Programs: Cleary, Concordia, EMU, U of M, WCC Information Workshops are offered regularly by SBTDC, Ann Arbor SPARK, and NEF on a variety of business topics. Check the organizations websites for schedules, topics, and cost. Check your Public library schedule for workshops offered in partnership with business service organizations. SCORE Counseling Workshops Academics Funding Books, Periodicals, & Reference Materials on Business: Academic & Public Libraries, Book Stores Bank Loans SBTDC / SCORE Research Consultation with Librarian: WCC Market Research & Customer Profile: WCC © 2009 Victoria Bennett Washtenaw Community College Market Research & Customer Profile: WCC Food and Agriculture: FSEP, MSU Product Center Savings, Personal Credit, Friends & Family Government Backed Loans through local banks, Micro Loan Programs SBTDC: Small Business& Technology Development Center WCC: Washtenaw Community College FSEP: Food System Economic Partnership NEF: New Enterprise Forum Stages of Business Development Resources
    9. 9. What We OfferWhat We Offer
    10. 10. Biz Resource CentersBiz Resource Centers Spring 2009 Fall 2010 WCC’s Bailey Library  Ypsilanti District Library  Chelsea District Library  Dexter District Library  Jackson District Library & Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP)  Brighton District Library 48 miles 32miles 57 miles
    11. 11. Roles & ResponsibilitiesRoles & Responsibilities
    12. 12. Results So Far…one public libraryResults So Far…one public library Putting it to Use in a Public Library Grow Your Business 1:1 Consulting monthly Taking Care of Business Workshops ◦ Fundamentals of Starting Your Own Business ◦ Writing a Business Plan ◦ Finance: What Your Small Business Must Know ◦ Marketing Your Business Online ◦ Borrow A Business Expert ◦ Food, Farming and Business
    13. 13. Results So Far…one public libraryResults So Far…one public library It’s all about who you know! Speakers found through contacts with organizations serving business These contacts are crucial for successful marketing as well Expanding your own contacts Outreach to your audience
    14. 14. Results So Far…one public libraryResults So Far…one public library Partnerships
    15. 15. Results So Far…one public libraryResults So Far…one public library Directed Marketing
    16. 16. Results So Far…one public libraryResults So Far…one public library What I’ve Learned Don’t do it by yourself because you don’t have to The business world is about networking, and by networking libraries can better meet the needs of business owners Ask to be asked
    17. 17. Local RecognitionLocal Recognition Visible Asset to the Community  Chelsea named 5-Star City for entrepreneurial climate for our “work to foster economic development.”  Library’s partnership with SBTDC recognized alongside tax incentives and the Downtown Development Authority.
    18. 18. Action StepsAction Steps Start somewhere. Ignore the naysayers. Utilize your local connections. Know your resources. Outreach. Don’t wait to be asked. Public Library Point of View
    19. 19. Where do we go from here?Where do we go from here? Image courtesy of the MSU Land Policy Institute New Economy Initiative
    20. 20. Thank You!Thank You! Contact us if you need a Cheerleader!Contact us if you need a Cheerleader! Bethany Kennedy Washtenaw Community College Bailey Library (734) 477.8723 Sara Wedell Chelsea District Library (734) 475.8732 ext. 218 Victoria Bennett Washtenaw Community College (734) 973.3364