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NEW Resource for Library Workers: The Libraries Build Business Communications Toolkit 

by Jim Takeshita, Policy Associate, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office on May 25, 2023

Does your library offer programs, services, and resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs? If your library is taking action to support local entrepreneurship, then being able to communicate and convey these services to the community around you is a critical step to grow and sustain your work. 

In support of this goal, the American Library Association’s Public Policy & Advocacy office (PPA), in partnership with Audrey Barbakoff from Co/lab Capacity, released the Libraries Build Business Communications Toolkit. The toolkit offers advice and materials for library workers to promote their small business support services, engage with policymakers and local government officials, and form and strengthen ties with local businesses and existing entrepreneur support structures. 

The Communications Toolkit identifies four major audiences to work with: small business support organizations, small business owners and entrepreneurs, policymakers and elected officials, and fellow library professionals. With effective communication with these key stakeholders, libraries may find opportunities to collaborate, grow the capacity of the business services the library can offer, build recognition among community members and institutions, and help the library obtain financial and social support. 

Addressing each of these four groups, the toolkit helps users with developing pitches, presentations, and talking points for meetings, in addition to resources that help library workers to take internal inventory and assess the impact of their programs. All materials in the toolkit, including presentations, flyers, and outreach guidelines, are easily customizable to fit the branding and messaging of the library. For smaller libraries especially, this toolkit helps to build capacity with ready-to-use materials that facilitate conversations and outreach.  

“All libraries, no matter their size or budget, can support aspiring and existing small business owners and entrepreneurs. Public libraries have a long history of fostering equitable economic development, small businesses, and entrepreneurship in their community.” 

The Communications Toolkit can be used by library professionals to broaden community perceptions on libraries and increase general awareness of what their library offers to prospective entrepreneurs. It can also be used to build upon and improve ties and relationships with other parts of their communities. Public libraries are uniquely positioned to fill this role as trusted and accessible institutions in every community. With many libraries already involved in supporting their local economy, the Communications Toolkit is a valuable resource for public libraries in any stage of developing small business support services. 

“This toolkit takes the best practices from libraries and their outreach programs and makes them available for every community to try,” stated Co/lab Capacity CEO Audrey Barbakoff. “We want to support library workers in communicating their amazing value, making new connections, and expanding relationships.” 

The Libraries Build Business Communications Toolkit is freely available for download here. Learn more about Libraries Build Business here: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/workforce/grant