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Mind Your Business

St. Louis County Library, MO

Innovation Summary

St. Louis County Library (SLCL) developed new programming in 2012 to engage small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals thinking about starting a small business in the St. Louis area.

Innovation Leader: Christina Pryor, Reference Manager, cpryor@slcl.org

Problem Statement

St. Louis County Library saw an opportunity to help small businesses foster economic stability and create jobs for the region by supporting individuals in their efforts to launch and grow a business. The library has a wealth of information that is useful to those starting a business. When the library combines its resources and research know-how with local business organizations knowledge, the combination is a powerful tool for new business owners and those wishing to start a business.

Innovation

We began this program with, “Mind Your Business: A Small Business Lecture Series,” a monthly program held at the SLCL Headquarters location. St. Louis County Library partnered with the University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Small Business Technology & Development Centers to develop curriculum and coordinate speakers for the program. The 2012 presentations targeted new business owners or startups and the 2013 topics appeal to both new and existing business owners. Each session also includes time for networking in addition to the workshop. The library has created awareness of the lecture series and small business-related resources by reaching out to local small business support organizations, using social media, and attending local events. In addition to the lecture series, SLCL held a Small Business Expo in December 2012 where local support organizations such as Small Business Administration (SBA) were able to educate public attendees in an informal exhibit hall environment. In addition to hosting the Mind Your Business: Small Business Lecture series at the library, the SLCL Reference Manager and Government Documents Librarian attended several expos, seminars, and meetings targeted to small business owners and entrepreneurs. These events allowed the library to present/showcase our small business resources and in other cases these were networking and educational opportunities for the SLCL staff.

Progress

The Mind Your Business lecture series saw strong attendance overall with an average of 28.4 attendees per session. In addition to the attendance numbers, the library has received favorable feedback and suggestions from event attendees about future topics, feedback about the speakers, and venue. St. Louis County Library has learned that offering programs in January and February may not be the best time for attendees due to weather conditions and scheduling. As the library has reached out to small business and entrepreneur support organizations across the St. Louis County area, the library has found that these groups are pleased that the library is making its resources known and getting the word out to the small business community. We anticipate that as the small business initiative continues to prosper and grow, the library will play an integral role in supporting the local economy through our educational programs and through further promotion of the library’s small business resources. St. Louis County Library has learned that, by collaborating with the local small business and entrepreneurial groups, there is a need for information about library resources. This project has led to additional outreach opportunities for SLCL. Many of these local groups have asked SLCL Reference staff to come speak at a meeting, attend events as an exhibitor, or provide informational handouts to their members. These opportunities have led to greater use of the library's resources and services.