Libraries that Build Business: Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Public Libraries

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Exploring key considerations while offering both inspiration and practical solutions, this resource supports public libraries of all sizes in starting or growing a program for small businesses and entrepreneurs with an eye toward equity and inclusion.

Libraries have a distinctive role to play in the small business ecosystem and can effectively partner to complement existing business services in the community. A nationwide initiative that launched in 2020, Libraries Build Business (LBB) aims to build capacity in libraries offering programming or services to local entrepreneurs and the small business community, prioritizing low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs. And libraries have already begun to transform communities, with programs ranging from one-on-one business consultations, classes, and workshops to networking and equipment lending, as the many initiatives spotlighted in this book demonstrate. Serving as powerful models of how libraries and their staff can advance innovation and economic growth on any budget and scale, these examples will inspire you to plug into your own community while guiding you through the nuts-and-bolts of making it happen. You’ll learn

  • the value to libraries of getting involved in entrepreneurship development;
  • how libraries are integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into their efforts, working to create more inclusive business communities and, in turn, cultivate a vision for justice in communities across the country;
  • vivid case studies of more than two dozen programs representing a cross-section of urban, suburban, and rural libraries, such as Entrepreneurship Academy, a training program; a 6-month business incubator targeting the formerly incarcerated; empowering street vendors, a consulting service with local business experts; and a makerspace for business;
  • best practices related to budgeting, partnerships, staff, outreach, evaluation, sustainability, and other core components; and
  • information about additional resources to support your work.

Introduction: How Libraries Build Business
    Megan Janicki and Marijke Visser

Part I: Strategies and Considerations to Get Started
Chapter 1: Considerations for Small and Rural Libraries
Brandon West, Susan M. Preece, Rachael Svoboda, Michael Sekaquaptewa, and Taneesa R. Hall

Chapter 2: Identifying Stakeholders, Building Partnerships, Finding Funding, and Sustaining It All
Julie M. Brophy, Lori Hench, Karly Feinberg, Diane Luccy, Sheldon Burke, Danielle Milton, Stacey Goddard, Atlas Logan, Adam Pitts, and Christopher Bourret

Chapter 3: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Library Business Programs
Adriana McCleer, Madeleine Ildefonso, LaKesha Kimbrough, and Michael Sekaquaptewa

Chapter 4: Specialized Library Supports for Entrepreneurs
Ryan Metheny, Andrea Levandowski, Sara Brown, Tony Orengo, Nathaniel Burnard, Marra Honeywell, Julie Brophy, Rachael Svoboda, and Brandon West

Part II: Case Studies from the Field: Small Business and Entrepreneurship Programs in Public Libraries
Program 1    Supporting the Local Economy: Developing Business and Job Seeker Services from Scratch
Lesley Cyrier and Emily Glimco, Addison (IL) Public Library

Program 2    BIPOC Business Community and Connections: Small Business—Big Impact
Adriana McCleer and Yee Lee Vue, Appleton (WI) Public Library

Program 3    Taking Budding Entrepreneurs from Business Idea to Business Plan: The Entrepreneur Academy
Julie M. Brophy, Baltimore County (MD) Public Library

Program 4    Empowering New Businesses with a Business Plan Competition: PowerUP!
Maud Andrew and Arcola Robinson, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library

Program 5    Built to Last: Built in Broward
Sheldon Burke, Broward County (FL)Library

Program 6    Rochester: Innovation Was Born Here
Jennifer Byrnes, Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (NY)

Program 7    The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Encore Entrepreneurs and Key Advanced Entrepreneurs
William Kelly, Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library

Program 8    Becoming a Resource Hub: The Dallas B.R.A.I.N
Heather Lowe, Dallas (TX) Public Library

Program 9    Pathway to Entrepreneurial Success: The Stamford Small Business Resource Center
Elizabeth Joseph, Ferguson Library (Stamford, CT)

Program 10    One-to-One Support for Micro-Entrepreneurs: Business Help at Your Library
Taneesa R. Hall, Ferguson (MO) Municipal Public Library

Program 11    A New Start: Entrepreneurship for the Formerly Incarcerated
Adam Pitts, Atlas Logan, Ronald M. Gauthier, Ann Serrie, and Andrea Devereux, Gwinnett County (GA) Public Library

Program 12    Cultivate Small Business with BeanStack: Cultivate Indy
Brandon West, Independence (KS) Public Library

Program 13    Build Your Business Brand through Community Engagement: Invest in Yourself
Audrey Barbakoff, King County (WA) Library System

Program 14    Building Support for Rural Entrepreneurs: A Statewide Initiative
Rachael Svoboda, Laramie County (WY) Library System

Program 15    Connect with Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Sea un Vendedor Ambulante Exitoso/Successful Street Vending
Madeleine Ildefonso, Los Angeles (CA) Public Library

Program 16    Taking a Shot with SCORE: Entrepreneur Workshop Series
Stacey Wicksall, Macedon (NY) Public Library

Program 17    Opening the Doors to Economic Success: The Miller Business Center
Sophia Serlis-McPhillips and Elizabeth Malafi, Middle Country (NY) Public Library

Program 18    The MAGIC Touch: Management and Government Information Center 
Katherine LaVallee and Eva Gunia, Prince William Public Library (Woodbridge, VA)

Program 19    Develop an ESOL for Business Owners Class
Christopher Bourret, Providence (RI) Public Library

Program 20    Entrepreneurs Launch and Grow
Diane Luccy and Mary Kate Quillivan, Richland Library (Columbia, SC)

Program 21    Biz.ability Workshops: Tools to Empower You
Geeta Halley, Round Rock (TX) Public Library

Program 22    Business Networking through Community-Building
Ahmad Merza and Molly Wetta, Santa Barbara (CA) Public Library

Program 23    Be a Neighborhood Champion: Small Business Boot Camp
Danielle Milton, Stacey Goddard, Crystal Miller, and Sarah O’Hare, Spokane County (WA) Library District 

Program 24    Meet Them Where They Are: Small Business Outreach
Jennifer Hyun-Lynn Gibson, St. Louis County (MO) Library

Program 25    Untethered and on the Move
Meg Delaney, Miramelinda Arribas-Douglas, Linda L. Fayerweather, and Zachary W. Huber, Toledo Lucas County (OH) Public Library

Program 26    Support Rural Business
Susan M. Preece, Topsham (ME) Public Library


Megan Janicki

Megan Janicki is the project manager of the Libraries Build Business initiative with the Public Policy and Advocacy office at the American Library Association. Prior to her work with ALA, Megan worked in a variety of adult education, workforce development, and social service roles in Washington, DC. She holds a master of education degree in learning, diversity, and urban studies.

"A clear, practical, proven guide with many resources and experts to consult."
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