When asked what does a library provide, the most common answer will be books. In terms of marketing this is what would normally be called the library's image or "brand". While librarians should not complain about the brand, which has served libraries well over the years, something more should be added to give it depth. What are in books? Entertainment in the way of stories and poetry. Education in the form of information. Both of these elements bring positive changes to a person's life. In this last post of this series, the biggest surprise for readers to find out how libraries not only change lives but also change to the local economy. How? Public libraries across the country have formed specialized collection to serve businesses and entrepreneurs.
It is a natural fit that libraries fill this need. After all most small businesses don't have the time or the money to invest in costly business resource. This is where libraries fill in the gap quite well. From everything from stock performances to forms for filing for a new business. Established businesses can find a valuable asset in a business librarian who can guide the research process or provide the services where information is gathered for the business patron. Entrepreneurs will find that the business collections have databases, journals, and forms that every new business should be aware of in the planning stages of opening a business. Most libraries will provide free meeting rooms, providing a private and professional place to meet with clients. (Some libraries will charge a small fee for using the meeting space, but most often it is cheaper than what is available from hotels or other conference venues.)
In addition to that, libraries offer networking and informative workshops to bring leaders of local business together to share expertise, success stories of opening a business or the pitfalls of business ownership. It is a positive outreach that directly impacts the local economy. Chamber of commerce have taken notice of these types of library services, and will often promote them on their websites. City halls have followed suit to promote the gems in their libraries, as an incentive to lure businesses to open their doors in within the city. This can be quite enticing to perspective homeowners as they see a city growing with new businesses.
Books, databases and workshops are all wonderful but once in awhile some libraries get creative. Social media has taken communications and marketing to a whole new level. The need to get the message out quickly has become the norm of modern business. With that business owners need tools to create web content that will capture the attention of the intended audience. One tool that they may need but do not have the funds for is video equipment or perhaps a green screen. For a mere $80.00 libraries can purchase a green screen which allows users to place any background behind the subjects before the camera. Think of the local weatherman. Everyone sees the map behind him, but in reality if the weatherman were to turn and face the screen all he would see is "green". This provides a polished look to the video, that can be uploaded to a webpage or YouTube in minutes.
Libraries are relevant, now more than ever. If the last three posts have not convinced library deniers, then nothing will. From tracing family roots to bridging the generational gap with teens to providing tools for business development there is indeed something for everyone. It just may be that the deniers don't need services at that this time but eventually there will be something that draws them in and they'll get hooked. Just like everyone else does.