Business report

Libraries Build Business report highlights the impact of small business programs on local communities and the library field

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Library Association has released a new report that showcases the impact of the Libraries Build Business initiative on small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, as well as the library profession. Libraries Build Business, a $2 million nationwide initiative supported by, was launched in early 2020 and culminated in the release of the Libraries Build Business Playbook in February 2022. The ideas, lessons, and results of this initiative can be leveraged for additional impact. on economic opportunity and advancement in communities across the United States.

“Nearly 15,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs attended programs and events offered by one of the cohort libraries, in various urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities. Despite launching amid the COVID-19 pandemic , libraries provided responsive and inclusive programming to advance small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Project Manager Megan Janicki. “The Libraries Build Business initiative has been an opportunity to create models and promising practices at scale in libraries across the country.”

The Libraries Build Business Initiative Highlights report demonstrates the critical role of libraries in the small business and enterprise ecosystem while providing specific examples of impact in urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities across the country. Because of their reach, information and resources, as well as their strategic and flexible collaboration, libraries are in unique positions to be partners, leaders and connectors in thriving local economies.

In Gwinnett County (GA), the library supported aspiring and existing formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs as they navigated the business landscape with the New Start Entrepreneurship Incubator (NSEI): offering comprehensive services, monthly courses and business mentors. Through partnerships, the library has also been able to welcome potential funders to discuss with and provide feedback to contractors. In two cohorts, 22 participants graduated from the NSEI program in its first year. In Ferguson, Missouri, the library supported microentrepreneurs with business development resources, meeting space, computers and materials, and reference material. A local entrepreneur needed help with marketing, social media and computer basics; the library put him in touch with SCORE and helped him create a Facebook page. From there, his barbecue sauce business quickly took off — and is now available at grocery stores across the state. These examples illustrate the nationwide impact that libraries have on local small business communities.

The initiative’s highlights report showcases these examples and the impacts on outside audiences, who may not be familiar with the innovative, state-of-the-art resources provided by libraries. Partners can also leverage the trust and community relationships that libraries bring to the table while considering how to embed fair and inclusive practices into their services and programs.

“Libraries move small businesses and entrepreneurs forward every day, across the country. This report facilitates conversations with partners, local stakeholders, policy makers and potential funders about the value and resources provided by libraries,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada .

For more information about Libraries Build Business, please visit our website to learn more about Libraries Build Business Cohort Programs and view other resources available, including the Libraries Build Business Playbook and Libraries that create business: Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in ALA Publishing’s Public Libraries.