Big businesses have access to full-scale research departments to keep them up to date with the latest information and resources. And small businesses do too―at the public library.
Meet Ed Mertz, business librarian at Mid-Continent Public Library. Below, we discuss the business resources entrepreneurs can access to help them start a business or expand their company.
Stephanie: I refer clients every day to The Mid-Continent Public Library. What kinds of free business resources are available to help them start or grow their small businesses?
Ed: The library has a variety of online databases, print resources including books and reference guides as well as eBooks.
Stephanie: Completing business research can be very expensive. Which online databases does Mid-Continent Public Library subscribe to?
Ed: We subscribe to Demographics Now, Entrepreneurship, Plunkett Research Online, ReferenceUSA, Safari Business Books, Small Business Resource Center, Gale Virtual Reference Library as well as a few others.
Stephanie: Do you have to be at a library to access theses databases?
Ed: Almost all of our online business related databases can be accessed directly from your home computer with a valid library card.
Stephanie: How accurate is the information?
Ed: The information in these databases is updated on a regular basis.
Stephanie: Do you have any search tips for business owners using databases to access information?
Ed: One simple thing you can do to get better search results is to experiment with different searching techniques. Sometimes you may need to narrow your search. Other times you may need to expand your search. Often it’s only a matter of finding the right search terms to use. For instance, different search terms can be used that broadly relate to starting a small business such as “New business enterprises” or “Entrepreneurship.”
Stephanie: What kinds of books and eBooks are available through Mid-Continent?
Ed: We have an enormous amount of traditional print resources in our collection involving small business. These include books available for checkout as well as reference books. You can learn how to start specific types of business, sell products online, develop a marketing plan, write a blog and so much more. If you need to learn a new skill to overcome a challenge or take advantage of a new opportunity, there may be a book that will tell you how to get it done.
Stephanie: With the development of low cost eReaders, more and more people are interested in reading eBooks. Do you have any tips for clients that might be interested in finding eBooks through the library?
Ed: When searching the online catalogue, use the “Item Format” drop down menu and then select the eResources option.
Stephanie: There are so many business resources available through the library. Is there anyone available to help people find the information they need?
Ed: Reference librarians are familiar with the library’s best small business resources. If you don’t find what you are looking for, do not hesitate to contact a librarian. We can direct you to the best database or help determine the best search terms.
Stephanie: Do you have any favorite resources you feel might be overlooked?
Ed: Absolutely. Some of my favorites are as follows:
The Small Business Start-Up Kit by Peri Pakroo.
How to Set Up Your Own Small Business by Max Fallek.
Ultimate Homebased Business Handbook: How to start, run and grow your own profitable businessby James Stephenson.
Small Business Sourcebooked. by Sonya Hill.
(This six volume set lists the major informational resources such as associations, trade shows, etc. for a multitude of different types of small businesses).
The Directory of Business Information Resources Published by Grey House.
(This book lists informational resources for almost a hundred different industries)
Market Profile Analysis. Kansas City, MO-KS SMSA : MPA Nielsen Claritas product.
(MPA gives demographic trends for the Kansas City area)
Social Media For Business: 101 Ways to Grow Your Business without Wasting Your Time by Susan Sweeney.
The Facebook Marketing Bookby Dan Zarrella.
There is also a great series called Series Title: 101 For Small Business.Some of my favorites out of the series are 19 Ways to Survive: Small-Business Strategies for a Tough Economy by Lynn Spry and Marketing Your Product by Donald Cyr.