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Entrepreneurship Begins at Your Library

Tulsa City-County Library
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Innovation Leader: Terri Combs , Business Librarian and Career Services Librarian, tcombs@tulsalibrary.org

Problem Statement

Tough economic times lead to more people being out of work, less money spent locally, and struggling businesses. Yet, an entrepreneurial spirit and small businesses are key to economic recovery for a community. Sometimes those who have been laid off even want to follow a lifelong dream of being self-employed. Unfortunately, people are often overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to start and how to access reliable information about being an entrepreneur.

Innovation

TCCL’s Research Center has long had amazing business resources, but a struggling local economy, opportunities for community collaboration, and our customers’ desire to learn about and use emerging technologies led our team to innovation. Our online TCCL Business Center, a site developed to provide detailed access to a premier public library collection of online and print business resources for the public, debuted. For programming, we offered “Improving Your Biz’s Search Engine Rankings: A Non- Geeks Guide to Search Engine Tactics and Marketing,” presented by local experts. We partnered with local organizations to provide events during Tulsa Global Entrepreneurship Week (TGEW). For example, StartUp Weekend—a boot camp for entrepreneurs that kick starts ideas and jump starts companies, designed to compress months of an entrepreneur’s life into just one weekend—opened the week, and our research librarians helped participants find the information they needed to support their ventures. At Tulsa Community College’s “Launch Your Entrepreneurial Journey,” TCCL provided customized, hands-on market research lessons to fledgling entrepreneurs and were an important stop during the TGEW Business Resource Center Crawl. We also presented ‘Beyond the Buzz: How to Really Use Social Media for Business.’

Progress

Our entrepreneurship and small business programming helped over 200 people total, plus those reached with our online Business Center. Library presenters for “Improving Your Biz’s Search Engine Rankings” demonstrated to 38 people how to optimize websites, how to build a search engine and social media marketing strategy, and do it all on a local level. At StartUp Weekend, we helped 25 participants find business information on everything from the music industry to fitness equipment. Sixteen entrepreneurs benefited from “Launch Your Entrepreneurial Journey.” During the Business Resource Center Crawl, we partnered with Tulsa Collaboratorium, Tulsa Metro Chamber, The Forge and i2E as part of a self-guided tour of some the entrepreneurial resource centers in downtown Tulsa. Beyond the ‘Buzz: How to Really Use Social Media for Business’ attracted 130 people.