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Public libraries are not usually places where small businesses look for help – but they should be!

The-Public-LibraryWhether you are starting or growing a small business, your public library can be a great resource. Modern libraries are not just buildings full of books. They now have resources that you may not know about. Like other public libraries across North America, the Toronto Public Library offers free programs and seminars on everything you’ll need to run your small business. You just need to ask about them.

When you visit a local library branch, you can ask their expert library staff to help you find what you need. Yes, they have books on virtually everything, including financing, marketing, human resources and more. They will also have e-books, e-magazines, videos, directories, databases and more – in addition to a wide range of printed books. Some libraries even have online databases and e-publications that you can access 24/7 from the library’s website.

Did you also know that your public library will often have a place to work – or at least a work-friendly environment? Your local branch probably has all the basics such as free wifi, Internet and computer access, MS Office and even places to meet, small and large. Some libraries with also rent a room, theatre or an auditorium for seminars and presentations.

While some libraries may offer meeting rooms and workspaces, they might also be as professional as renting a meeting room or renting shared office space from an upscale business centre. Utilizing their resources may even help you gain the experience to eventually move into your own physical office space in a professional business centre.

If you are not tech-savvy, many public libraries offer free computer classes and technical help. Some will offer free or low-cost small business programs and lectures on a wide variety of topics. The Toronto Reference Library offers new digital learning workspaces with free access to technology and training – including learning how to design and print a 3D object from an existing design or from one you create on your own.

Want more out of your public library? Ask your librarian if they offer Digital Design Workstations. Libraries like the Toronto Public Library allow you to reserve a workstation for audio/video editing, document/photo (flatbed) and 3D scanning, analogue video conversion, web/graphic/3D design, or coding/programming. These are benefits that most small business owners and entrepreneurs may not be aware of at their public library.

 

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