Staff and space are strong existing assets that libraries can leverage to enhance their capacity to support and nurture emerging entrepreneurs and raise the library’s profile in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Although library staff have many strong skills, they may be hesitant to take on a new project area due to the demands of existing obligations. It is critical to actively help staff recognize how they can apply their existing capacity and skills to support the library’s entrepreneurship work. Additionally, libraries should consider if modifications to their staffing models could boost the entire team’s capacity to support entrepreneurial services.
- Ensure strong executive leadership by setting the context for the work as both a library and community priority, finding internal champions to ensure progress and giving staff the freedom to thrive.2
- Engage staff in the work early and often to gain buy-in and build knowledge.
- Train desk staff to serve as ambassadors for the library’s entrepreneurship services.
- Define clearly the necessary skills for staff to provide entrepreneurial services. Not all of these skills require business expertise. Many will include the library staff’s existing skills such as giving presentations, building interpersonal relationships and networking.4
- Adopt a “just in time” vs. “just in case” model for customer service. The former is a model where library staff are able to direct patrons to information in a timely manner whereas the latter involves ensuring library staff themselves can provide information for every possible inquiry.
- Incorporate entrepreneurial service expectations into annual staff goals.
In addition to staff, libraries have valuable physical assets that support entrepreneurs, including meeting spaces, learning tools and high-tech devices. Identifying the most valuable ways to leverage these resources can help the library demonstrate its unique capacity as an entrepreneurial hub.
- Position the library’s makerspaces as areas for entrepreneurs to connect and create.1, 6
- Establish co-working spaces where individuals can connect with other entrepreneurs, use vital technology resources, conduct research and meetings and carry out business as permitted by library policies.5
- Review library policies to identify potential obstacles to desired entrepreneurial activity within the library and update policies as needed.
- ULC MakerSpaces in Libraries
- ULC Role of the Library CEO
- Library Assets as Entrepreneurial Hubs
- Entrepreneurial Services Position Description Examples
- St. Louis County Public Library Research on Library Co-Working Spaces
- Broward County Creation Station Business and Creation Station Lab