“Book a Librarian” Helps Small Business Owners Plan Next Chapter

“The right information for the situation”

Daniel Walker scheduled his reference consultation hoping the Library could help him develop a client list for paralegal services. An hour later, he had much more.

Daniel recently left his full-time job for a new opportunity…one that disappeared with COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order. Hoping to expand his part-time consulting business, he reached out to the Library. “I thought it would be as simple as searching a database. I came away rethinking my overall business strategy, and thinking about how Library resources can support my next steps.”

Librarian Mimi Curlee has helped customers with small businesses navigate the Library’s reference databases for years. For the first time, she’s providing these services over video conference, in a new program called Book a Librarian. Daniel’s appointment was her first booking. “We’ve all had to rethink the way we do things, and virtual programming is part of that. But it’s not just the format – the way we use our research databases is changing as well.” Curlee went on to explain that before the closure, customers were typically either starting a new business or seeking new clients for an existing one. “Everything is in flux now. Information in directories may not be accurate in a few months, so we help customers like Daniel who want to grow a business look at what other companies are doing, search industry profiles, identify the experts and follow them on social media to stay current. Now is also a great opportunity to learn – for example, if you know the basics of Excel, this is a time to explore more advanced functions. Resources like Lynda.com and Universal Class have been very popular.”

Daniel has been using the Library off and on since he was a child, but he’d never taken advantage of these resources before. “The experience opened my eyes to the value of the Library. There is so much information available, but I didn’t know how to use it. There’s no place like the Library – and a skilled librarian – for finding the right information for any situation.”

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