Entrepreneur Engagement Group
Baltimore County Public Library, Md.
Last year Baltimore County Public Library began a collaborative project with Enoch Pratt Free Library to serve entrepreneurs. Staffing, however, was a unique challenge that had to be addressed internally. Without a business librarian on staff we identified a way to realign existing staff to create the Entrepreneur Engagement Group.
Librarians in Baltimore County Public Library are truly generalists; we do not employ subject matter experts. Additionally the county finds itself with an $81 million deficit; hiring a dedicated small business librarian was not an option. In order to become a more integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem we sought a way to leverage existing staff to support entrepreneurs. Creating a cohort of staff that are confident and competent in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs created a unique challenge.
Specialized knowledge is key when working with the small business community. To ensure staff were competent and confident in working entrepreneurs we created a curriculum which includes both partner-led classes and utilizes our e-resources focused on basics of building a small business. Additionally a clear mission was laid out, which includes providing one-on-one My Librarian for Small Business sessions, promoting resources, services and programs to business associations and identifying small business programming.
The creation of the Entrepreneur Engagement Group has strengthened the library’s work with the community. Staff promotion of library resources and services has resulted in increased use and entrepreneurs have made appointments for our My Librarian for Small Business sessions, where they get one-on-one assistance. Most importantly staff have identified additional small business training and are pursuing creative ways to learn and grow, exhibiting entrepreneurial characteristics as they continue to serve this community.