Posted on September 2, 2015 at 6:00 am
Friends and family often use me as their personal librarian. I have personalized reading lists, found materials in the right Lexile for a friend’s precocious 8-year-old, got my mom set up to use the eBooks from the library on her new eReader, and researched the market for a friend starting a new business. They all say the same thing when they ask, “I know it’s not your job, but could you help me…?” I’ll let you all in on my little secret—these are all things we do at the library on a regular basis. While we don’t usually do it while simultaneously cooking dinner for our families, every day our staff offer face-to-face help, on a variety of different topics through our Book a Librarian service.
Think of Book a Librarian like meeting with a personal trainer, shopper, or tutor. We spend about 30-45 minutes going over the issue or question you have, and then match you up with some available resources and options.
For example, if you are a high school junior starting to look seriously at colleges, preparing to take admissions tests, and looking for scholarships and other financial aid, you might want to schedule an appointment to review what the library has to offer you as you prepare. We would spend some time looking at resources like the Testing and Education Resource Center. When you walked away from the appointment, you’d be set up with an account to take practice tests, have identified some resources to help you study, and probably have a preliminary list of potential scholarships. It works the same way, whether you are planning to start your own business, setting up your first email account, learning how to use the online catalog, or just looking for a new favorite author.
Or say you’re an entrepreneur looking for a location for your new specialty coffee shop. Our business librarians can help you utilize ReferenceUSA or DemographicsNow to map out where your competitors are located, and even determine how residents of a given community like to spend their discretionary income.
In the planning stages, ProQuest is a great place to start looking for complete market breakdowns to better understand the climate and trends for your fledging enterprise. Searching for “Coffee Shops” in First Research Industry Profiles (a publication available with full text in ProQuest) yielded a comprehensive quarterly report, with a ton of information on everything from products and operations to regulations and international and regional highlights. The publication includes industry indicators and forecasts, as well as challenges and issues of running a particular type of business.