In recent District Dispatch posts on National Start-Up Day Across America, the George Washington University Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference and National Small Business Week, I’ve made the case that libraries are indispensable contributors to the entrepreneurship ecosystem. These posts offer broad-brush descriptions of the library community’s value and potential in the entrepreneurship space. Nowhere, however – on the District Dispatch or elsewhere – has the multifaceted support libraries offer entrepreneurs been comprehensively surveyed and elucidated…Until now.
Today, OITP released “The People’s Incubator: Libraries Propel Entrepreneurship” (.pdf), a 21-page white paper that describes libraries as critical actors in the innovation economy and urges decision makers to work more closely with the library community to boost American enterprise. The paper is rife with examples of library programming, activities and collaborations from across the country, including:
- classes, mentoring and networking opportunities developed and hosted by libraries;
- dedicated spaces and tools (including 3D printers and digital media suites) for entrepreneurs;
- collaborations with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE and more;
- access to and assistance using specialized business databases;
- business plan competitions;
- guidance navigating copyright, patent and trademark resources; and
- programs that engage youth in coding and STEM activities.
One goal for this paper is to stimulate new opportunities for libraries, library professionals and library patrons to drive the innovation economy forward. Are you aware of exemplary entrepreneurial programs in libraries that were not captured in this report? If so, please let us know by commenting on this post or writing to me.
As part of our national public policy work, we want to raise awareness of the ways modern libraries are transforming their communities for the better through the technologies, collections and expertise they offer all comers.
This report also will be used as background research in our policy work in preparation for the new Presidential Administration. In fact, look for a shorter, policy-focused supplement to The People’s Incubator to be released this summer.
ALA and OITP thank all those who contributed to the report, and congratulate the many libraries across the country that provide robust entrepreneurship support services.