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Action Team: Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

About This Page

This web page highlights the latest developments from ULC's Entrepreneurs and Small Businessess action team, which is one of six member-led teams spearheading ULC's Going Forward from the Pandemic initiative.

This page receives ongoing updates. Please contact crogers@urbanlibraries.org with questions or feedback.

Learn more about ULC's action teams

A Message from the Team

    Economic development is top of mind for nearly every North American city and county. This was true even before COVID-19's devastating impact, which has disrupted industries, shuttered businesses and put millions of workers out of jobs.

    As drivers of local innovation, job creation and economic resilience, entrepreneurs and small businesses must have deep support in order to help communities recover and move forward from the pandemic. Public libraries have an essential part to play in strengthening the local support network for entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly for professionals from traditionally underserved backgrounds such as women, people of color, justice-involved citizens, immigrants and veterans.

    Representing diverse perspectives from communities across North America, our team is dedicated to elevating the role of libraries as hubs for small business and entrepreneurial ecosystems. To achieve that goal, we are working together to build blueprints for activities, partnerships and success metrics that can help all libraries confidently own their critical role in supporting the equity and health of the local economy.


    Current Guiding Questions

      Unique Audiences

      What target audiences of entrepreneurs and small businesses are libraries uniquely positioned to serve?

      Where Data Fits In

      How can libraries effectively find, collect and apply data to enhance and measure entrepreneur and business support?

      Key Partners

      How can community partners extend and reinforce the library's role as a hub for local business and entrepreneurship?


      Meet the Team Members

        330 At Jeremy

        Jeremy Andrykowski

        Oak Park Public Library

        Director of Operations

        Jeremy Andrykowski is the director of operations at the Oak Park Public Library in Illinois. Prior to working in public libraries, he held sales and management roles in industries such as retail, printing and hospitality. Over the past 18 years he has worked in various leadership roles in public libraries and believes libraries can play a key role in the economic development in communities through strategic support of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

        Jen Byrnes Profile

        Jennifer Byrnes

        Rochester Public Library

        Business Insight Center Director - Central Library

        Jennifer Byrnes is the director of the Business Insight Center at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and also oversees the Carlson Center for Intellectual Property, a USPTO Patent and Trademark Resource Center. Her expertise is in start-ups, market research, and business outreach.

        At Jan Dawson

        Jan Dawson

        Toronto Public Library

        Library Service Manager, Toronto Reference Library

        Jan Dawson is a library service manager at the Toronto Reference Library, a Research & Reference library within the Toronto Public Library system. She is the Co-Chair of the Small Business Services Committee, a TPL system-wide committee with a mandate of planning, developing and coordinating services, programs and collections relating to small business and entrepreneurship. Prior to working at TPL, Jan worked at the Ontario Colleges Library Service developing and managing collaborative services and resources for Ontario’s 24 publicly funded colleges.

        At Amy Fisher 330

        Amy Fisher

        Mid-Continent Public Library

        Information & Reader Services Manager

        Amy Fisher is the information and reader services manager for the Mid-Continent Public Library. Amy was instrumental in launching the innovative Square One Small Business Services in 2014. Through this program, she works with chambers, EDCs and other resource partners to provide educational opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the library's service area. With 24 years of library experience under her belt, Amy has given presentations at MALA, MLA, PLA and the Missouri State Library. She holds a Master of Library Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

        Jg Headshot 1

        ​Jennifer Gibson

        St. Louis County Library

        Reference Manager

        Jennifer Gibson has been with St. Louis County Library since 2016. She leads a team of reference librarians who focus on collaborative outreach efforts and innovative methods to engage the community and assess the impact of research resources and services. Jennifer is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, especially those from marginalized and underserved populations, to increase equity and inclusion in the St. Louis business ecosystem. She is a 2011 American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a 2011 Association of Research Libraries Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce Scholar and an active participant in the Urban Libraries Council Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs Cohort.

        Lunden Gillespie

        Lunden Gillespie

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        Central Area Manager

        An alumna of Frostburg State University and Catholic University, Lunden Gillespie currently serves as the Central Area Manager of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System in Maryland. Passionate about community development, specifically workforce and small business development, she co-chairs the Maryland State Library Workforce and Business Development Workgroup which seeks to create a standard of service across libraries in the state of Maryland.

        Xenia Hernandez

        Xenia Hernández

        Saint Paul Public Library

        Library Community Services Coordinator

        Xenia Hernández is a library community services coordinator at Saint Paul Public Library and oversees the Nicholson Workforce and Innovation Center. Her work is focused on partnership development and executing community-led workforce, business and digital literacy initiatives. She is co-chair of the systemwide WorkPLACE committee and sits on the Metro Public Libraries Jobs and Small Business interest group. Currently, she is the project manager for Career Labs, opening late July 2020 in partnership with Ramsey County and funded by the CARES Act. The Labs will connect jobseekers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to necessary services and information.

        330 At Heather Jackson

        ​Heather Jackson

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        Area Manager - West Area Branches

        Heather Jackson is an area manager for the West Area Branches in the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. She is currently working on the IMLS sponsored KNEXT project focusing on data and information access for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She has interests in equity in information access, services for immigrants and refugees and community development.

        Scott Kinney 330

        Scott Kinney

        Evansville Vanderburgh Public Libray

        CEO-Director

        Scott Kinney is the CEO-director of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library located in Evansville, Ind. With more than 30 years in libraries, Kinney has previously served as director of Mobile Public Library in Mobile, Ala. and as director of the Sweetwater County Library System in Green River, Wyo. Kinney is passionate about public libraries and about his community, continually collaborating with his staff and those they serve to discover what the library means to them and exploring how he and the library continue supporting the community as it grows and thrives.

        Hilda Loh Guan

        Hilda LohGuan

        Santa Clarita Public Library

        Library Administrator

        As an administrator for Santa Clarita Public Library, Hilda works on a variety of projects in collaboration with city and community partners. Hilda's team is currently focusing on programs and services that will aid the community in its economic recovery and enhance the roles the library plays in community stability.

        Mark Pond

        Mark Pond

        Spokane Public Library

        Business Research Librarian

        Since 2006, Mark Pond has been the business research librarian with the Spokane Public Library. Prior to that, Mark worked in a similar capacity for the Seattle Public Library as well as the University of Washington Libraries. Mark has been instrumental in creating a strong partnership between the Spokane Public Library and the regional business ecosystem. Having curated a unique set of business research tools at spokanebusiness.org over the past decade, the library has been well positioned to play a strong supporting role in the Spokane region’s business response to COVID-19.

        Hadiza Sa Aadu

        Hadiza Sa-Aadu

        Kansas City Public Library

        Small Business Engagement Specialist

        Hadiza Sa-Aadu holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and French from Emory University and an MBA with a specialization in data analytics from the University of Iowa. Her career has spanned marketing, sales and data analytics in both the public and private sectors.

        Pam Sandlian Smith Bio

        Pam Sandlian Smith

        Anythink Libraries

        Executive Director

        Pam Sandlian Smith is the executive director of Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colo., just north of Denver. Through her leadership, the public library system went from being the worst-funded system in the state to one of the most recognized library brands nationwide by creating an entirely new service model focusing on the information needs of people. Through her speaking and writing, Sandlian Smith stimulates discussions on innovation, creativity and participation in libraries worldwide.

        Megan Sutherland

        Megan Sutherland

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        East Area Manager

        Megan Sutherland manages operations at the Largo-Kettering, South Bowie, Upper Marlboro and County Correctional Center libraries. Through her involvement with the Maryland Library Association, Megan trains and mentors library workers from across the state on political advocacy. She is interested in best practices for communicating and engaging key stakeholders in the transformational workforce development work libraries are doing.

        At 330 Cynthia

        Cynthia Toniolo

        Toronto Public Library

        Manager of Adult Services & Program Development

        Cynthia Toniolo is passionate about public libraries and has worked in the field for over 30 years. She began as a librarian specializing in community information and referral, connecting people in need with local service. Throughout her career, Cynthia has guided the development of service and policy to meet the needs of diverse communities including people of all ages and abilities, always with a focus on reducing barriers. Her past work includes: Canada’s first online community information database, digitization of newcomer stories, engagement opportunities and supports for volunteers and membership policy changes promoting inclusion and access. Her current work includes: partnership development, service and program design, project resourcing and building staff capacity.

        Ken Zambos

        Ken Zambos

        Pima County Public Library

        Workforce and Economic Development Manager

        Ken Zambos is the workforce and economic development manager for Pima County Public Library. In this capacity, he creates strategic community partnerships and manages systemwide coordination and implementation of programming and services designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in starting and growing successful businesses. He also oversees Career Online High School, GED programming, English Language Acquisition for Adults and career readiness services such as job assistance and digital literacy trainings.

        Deep Dive Resources

          All resources in this section have been recommended by members of this action team.

          Business and Economic Data

          Business and Economic Data (web page)
          U.S. Census Bureau

          Supporting Small Businesses

          Find Your Small Business Development Center (web page)
          America's Small Business Development Center Network

          Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources (web page)
          Small Business Administration

          Understanding the Needs of Entrepreneurs

          Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Focus Areas (web pages)
          Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

          R&D for your Entrepreneurial Community (web pages)
          U.S.SourceLink


          More from ULC on Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

            Use the links below to learn more about how ULC and our members are elevating the role of libraries as key drivers for local entrepreneurs, small businesses and economic resilience.

            From ULC's Website

            From ULC's Member Knowledge Center (🔒 ULC members only)