Helping local businesses get started and grow is a priority for Sno-Isle Libraries.
So much so that there is a team of librarians on the job.
“We have amazing business resources available through our community libraries,” said Emily Felt, the recently appointed lead librarian for business services. “We also provide direct connections to business experts who are ready to help.”
Felt has been part of the business-services team for the past several years and is now leading the effort. Felt has worked at several community libraries, most recently in Monroe where, among other duties, she helped local business owners find resources and services.
“A person who has an idea to start a business or wants to grow an existing business may not think about going to their community library for help,” Felt said. “But they should.”
Felt enjoys talking with people and showing how the library has something that can address a need they may have. “I love seeing those, ‘Ah-ha!’ moments,” she said.
Felt is focusing on three areas that can generate those moments, including:
- Market research
- Business planning
- Business classes
Of the three, the databases available for market research area are often most surprising to library customers, she said.
“We have AtoZDatabases and DemographicsNow,” Felt said. “With those two, you can research potential customers and the market, then generate a targeted mailing list. We can show you how to use them and it’s all no-charge.”
Among the areas the library can help are:
- Business Pros classes
- Business bookshelf
- Write a business plan
- Find financial and legal resources
- Find customers
- Competitor information
- One-on-one with a business-services team member
- Online skills training
- Find a job
- Business-related monthly emailed newsletter.
Felt said she sees her job and that of the business-services team as raising the visibility of the business resources available through the library and connecting those resources with the people who need them.
“The library is part of the support network for people who want to start or grow a business,” Felt said. While using library resources, Felt said she and her team also refer customers to other organizations the business-development continuum such as the Washington Small Business Development Center, Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, Economic Development Council for Island County and local chambers of commerce.
Felt has experienced the thrill of helping a business grow.
“I was able to help several businesses when I was at the Monroe Library and I know what a difference it can make,” Felt said. “I’m very excited about the opportunity I have now to help even more people, businesses and our communities.”