Using the Public Library as a Key Small Business Resource

Guest blog post by Alexandra Fox of  Arlington Public Libraries

Today’s public library is much more than just books. Arlington Public Library has become a vital resource for local entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“There’s often an assumption that if you don’t find something via Google, it doesn't exist. Not true,” said Alexandra Fox, Business Services Librarian. “There is a wealth of high-quality business data and information published outside the easy and not-always-dependable reach of the Internet.”

The Library offers a wide array of specialized business directories and business databases, such as ReferenceUSA and BusinessDecision. Access them for free anywhere there is Internet, 24/7, with an Arlington Public Library card.  Anyone who works, studies or lives in Arlington or even in the surrounding metro area can sign up for an Arlington Public Library card.

Because of a close partnership, BizLaunch’s small business consultants and SCORE counselors refer many of their clients to the Library for start-up business research.  Lourdes Morales, BizLaunch Consultant said, “It is important for entrepreneurs to understand their industry – the challenges, trends, as well as their competition and where they are located.  It is also important to determine their target audience or market. Arlington Public Library has just the right resources to help people get started.”

Small business owners also take advantage of the Library's business databases to access free customized mailing lists and get consumer demographic and lifestyle data for specific zip codes and neighborhoods. “We’ve had strong interest in finding potential sales leads for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C),” Alexandra said.  “People still check out business books on all topics such as; how to value a company, provide value to customers, or hire effectively.”

In her role as Business Librarian, Alexandra offers free confidential appointments to provide the right answers to business information questions and help owners master the use of the Library's resources.

“The feedback on the 1-on-1 business research appointments has been positive. People tell me they wished they had started with our business resources before they spent time online or paid for content.” Alexandra said.

Tara Palacios, Director of BizLaunch, has nothing but praise for Arlington Public Library. "The market research and staff expertise is part of the Arlington County’s unyielding commitment to fostering success in the small business community.”

Got questions? Learn more about Arlington Public Library’s free business resources at BizLaunch's next tweetup on Thursday, February 19 at 2:00 p.m.. Follow #BizLaunChat on Twitter for all of the information.

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