My #Library Outreach Idea to Local Businesses

I read a great article about businesses starting their own libraries of business books in the office and it spurned a thought that I wanted to share with anyone in a community with a large number of businesses. It’s pretty simple and I’m not sure it requires an entire blog post dedicated to it, but I need to write something here anyway and I want to write this idea down before I forget it. Basically the idea is circulating business book bins. (Self-explanatory! That might be all you need to read here. But if you want more, please continue)

So, you know how libraries circulate those subject specific boxes for schools when the school is doing a big research topic on something like reptiles? Well… What if we did the same thing, but for local businesses? These bins, or boxes, or bags, would be filled with books and resources for businesses big and small to circulate to employees. Each bin could have a different subject in it such as marketing, leadership, management, etc… In fact, we could even have bins for folks who are starting up their own businesses that could be filled with books about start-ups that could include things like NOLO Guides and books on business plans and models. *Thus the library could be the source for renewed entrepreneurship in America, eventually saving the American Way and Dream, the American economy, and in fact, America itself!!

Anyway, I think it would work something like this. The library would put together these various bins and send letters to local businesses advertising this new service listing the various business topics. Each bin would have a collection of books on a specific topic, but only the bin would need to be barcoded because they’re checking out that subject collection in total. There would be a list of materials with a checklist included in the bin to ensure they all get returned. The business would call the library and request a specific topic bin and the library could drop it off. I would love to have the business determine the length of the checkout (which leads to another blog post on check-out lengths later) so they could ensure that they have enough time to have each of their employees read the material. This would be important because businesses of different sizes can have any number of employees and it would take differing amounts of time to circulate the materials throughout the business. At the pre-determined due-date the library would pick up the bin of books. And that’s it. Super easy.

Of course, we might have to make someone from the business come to the library to get the bin instead of going there. I understand those kinds of time constraints. But! I think that, by going to the business, we have the opportunity for a new kind of outreach like we do in schools where we can have a stronger presence in their organization. When we go to the business we can do a small presentation to the staff on other resources that the library has to help them with their jobs. This would almost be exactly the same thing as a school visit but for adults!

Ok… Here’s the part where you tell me what you think… And go!

*Alright, maybe I get a little carried away. But I still believe that libraries are one of the most important institutions in the United States and do actually have the power to vastly improve the state of the country.


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13 thoughts on “My #Library Outreach Idea to Local Businesses

  1. I think that’s a great idea. I think many progressive businesses would actually assign reading for their staff and managers to improve their performance. If you could make those connections (maybe through the Chamber of Commerce or a local Small Business Administration outlet), you could get the idea going in a very simple way. It’s good to mesh other concepts and create something new. For instance, we provide a book discussion kit of 5 books for book groups to check-out, could make it business books and target businesses. We have a book machine for patrons, we received a grant to put these machines in Unemployment Offices so job seekers can get library materials right there. It’s all good stuff, keep crackin’!

      1. We are mostly focusing on GED, Job Interviewing skills, Resume Writing, vocational testing, and more. We are working with the local Work Investment Board to fully develop a list that they also recommend to the unemployed who come in for help. I can send you the preliminary list if you like.

  2. “But I still believe that libraries are one of the most important institutions in the United States and do actually have the power to vastly improve the state of the country.”

    What are you talking about, man? The library is the most important institution in our communities. 😉

    As for your embedded collection idea, while it will only be mildly interesting for some businesses (the frame shop and soul food restaurant across the street from my library probably won’t have much need for a bin) but I can see some interest coming from businesses with sales force or a serious management team. Where I really see this taking off (in terms of generating grants, recognition for the library, and most importantly, public good) is where you talked about helping start-ups and entrepreneurs. I know a few patrons by name at my library who would find a bin with these books a very welcome treat.

    A problem that I do see with the latter application is in getting the books back. At my library, we have a number of subject areas and specific books that are always either lost or stolen, books about grant-writing and various entrepreneurial topics are among them. How can we be sure that a person or a group of start-uppers don’t just walk away with our expensive bin of brand-spankin’ new books? I suppose we can just trust people, but that would be so…ya know…un-library of us.

    Other specifics warrant more questions, but I have to get off the ref desk and go set up for the chess club now.

  3. Pat, you’re brilliant! This is a really good idea. You could have different themes to bin set (entrepreneur, marketing, morale, business ideas, etc). You may want to consider some time limits on the bins to start just so you have a recourse if a bin gets popular. Plus, businesses are in a ‘what can you do for me NOW?’ sort of cycle; waiting months for a bin could crimp the appeal of the bins.

    Or you could just do it and see how it goes and make it up from there. 😀

    1. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the bins were so popular that businesses were upset because they couldn’t get one soon enough? I would hope that was the way it went. We would just have to buy more 🙂

  4. I’m especially interested in this idea because we’re about to roll-out broadband Internet in my county for the first time. A lot of people are interested in starting web-based businesses or blogs (this is a farming community) but aren’t sure how to begin. It would be great if we had bins to lend out! Any ideas for a bibliography?

    1. That’s a good one too! A bin for internet business startups! Hmm…. I have no idea for a bibliography. I just had this idea the other day and wanted to write it down before I forgot it.

  5. Love this idea! Along the same lines, I’ve thought about starting a book discussion group for business & leadership books, maybe as a “lunch & learn” kind of thing.

    I really, really wish I had more leeway to do things like this in my system. This just has to stay in my “Things to Do When I Become Queen of the Library” folder for now…

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