Sno-Isle Libraries business librarian headed in the right direction

In March of 2016, Kassy Rodeheaver was attending her first SXSW conference.

In March of 2017, Rodeheaver will be presenting at the iconically cool, global gathering in Austin, Texas.

Photo Kassy Rodeheaver
Kassy Rodeheaver, Sno-Isle Libraries'
Lead Librarian for Business

“I couldn’t be more excited or honored,” said Rodeheaver, who is Sno-Isle Libraries’ Lead Librarian for Business. Rodeheaver and Jay Lyman from the Seattle Public Library received notice this week that SXSW (pronounced “south by southwest”) wants their presentation on how public libraries can help entrepreneurs for the event’s Interactive Festival in the “Startup Village.”

According the SXSW website, the Startup Village “brings together startups, entrepreneurs, investors and innovative tastemakers. Topics range from B2B, B2C, Bootstrapping, Business Strategy, Future of Money, Startups and anything in-between.”

Rodeheaver is familiar with the needs of entrepreneurs because she is one in the world of public libraries.

“Kassy is in a position that perhaps only a few libraries across the country have,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Deputy Director Kendra Trachta. “Our strategic focus says ‘We will build economically sound communities (through) entrepreneur and small business support and workforce readiness.’ The position of Lead Librarian for Business is dedicated to those outcomes.”

Rodeheaver started two years ago with those marching orders, but she was going to have to draw her own roadmap.

“I started learning about the market I wanted to serve, reaching out to potential partners, shaking hands, saying ‘hello’ and building a network,” Rodeheaver said. ”Many of the same things entrepreneurs do, or should do.”

In collaboration with business experts and other agencies, Rodeheaver launched a series of business classes this fall that cover a range of skills needed for startup businesses. “We’re offering ‘Steps to Starting a New Business’ and subjects such as ‘SEO and Getting Your Business to Rank on Google,’” Rodeheaver said.

The no-charge classes introduce attendees to the free resources available through Sno-Isle Libraries, which is also the subject of the SXSW conference presentation.

“Our presentation is called ‘Validate Market Share Without Breaking the Bank,’” Rodeheaver said. “Entrepreneurs may have a great idea, but it takes finding a market to make it a great business.”

The trick is that regardless of need, market research can be financially out of reach for a startup business. Rodeheaver is introducing local startups to what she says is a forgotten secret to business success: market research help from the public library.

“This region ranks near the top in the U.S. for entrepreneurship and business startups,” Rodeheaver said. “Library customers can access amazing market research databases and other resources related to business as a part of our regular services.”

Next March, Rodeheaver and Lyman will be letting that little secret out of the bag at SXSW.