Every Day Is Small Business Saturday at The Seattle Public Library

Library to Business programsComing up just after Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, Small Business Saturday is a day to support local businesses and entrepreneurs and celebrate what they do for communities while (possibly) getting some holiday shopping done.

If you’re interested in not just supporting small businesses but starting one of your own, it’s also a good time to learn about and start using the Library’s many free business programs and services, which are available all year long.

We offer our business programs in partnership with dozens of community-based organizations and all are free and open to the public. Check them out, and if you have any questions, you can email the Library’s business team using this Ask a Librarian form. Here are some highlights. 

One-on-one help with business, law, credit

  • Ask a Business QuestionBusiness and nonprofit help: As a core service, we offer virtual one-on-one help sessions with business librarians. Sign up for a 60-minute appointment and we can help you access the information, resources, and skills you need to succeed, from market research to developing a business plan.  
  • Legal consults: The Library also partners with the UW Entrepreneurial Law Clinic to offer free legal consults with professionals specializing in intellectual property and corporate law. Sign up for a 30-minute virtual appointment and you can ask a lawyer about issues related to incorporation, contract issues, patents, copyright and more. (Let’s repeat that: A 30-minute business consult with a lawyer, for free.)

Workshops, trainings and open houses

Business of CommunityIn collaboration with our community partners, the Library also holds more than 100 virtual workshops, training events and open houses every year. You can find upcoming events listed at www.spl.org/BusinessCalendar.

Programs through the end of 2022 include workshops on personal credit, creating a business website, and writing a nonprofit proposal. We are also partnering with the Muslim Community Finance Coalition to hold a virtual Business Resource Open House on Saturday, Dec. 10 on creative finance, which will be live interpreted into five languages.

And on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Columbia Branch, we are finishing up a new “Business of Books” series aimed at supporting BIPOC literary entrepreneurs.

Research services

The Library has a robust print and e-book collection of business books, and with your library card, you can also get access to business research tools, such as market research reports that would normally be quite expensive. Find online tools to research customers, identify funding, build a business plan, learn a new job skill and much more. (Need help identifying what you need? Reach out to www.spl.org/Ask.)

We also offer other many other services at our 27 locations, such as free wi-fi, charging stations, computers and printers and, of course, physical space to work. You can also book meeting rooms and study rooms for free.

Worth (literally) millions

It’s hard to put a price tag on these kinds of services, but the Library recently attempted to do just that. Using the Urban Libraries Council’s new Business Value Calculator, we tallied the market value of our business services at $4.9 million in 2021, including $253,000 in training and education, $2.3 million in research services, $2 million in physical space, and $332,000 in technology and equipment. You can see the full breakdown of how services were valued in this  press release.

Business librarian Jay Lyman has noted that the Business Calculator is just one tool. It does not measure, for example, the value of our community partnerships. In 2021, the Library to Business team worked with more than 28 partner organizations — including Beacon Business Alliance, Black Owned Business Excellence, Essential Southeast Seattle Collective, to name a few — to create programs and services that respond to community needs.  
There’s also nothing like hearing from entrepreneurs who share their experience. In a recent article on the Substack newsletter Higher Purpose, Walter Terry, President & Founder of Nat Turner Revolution (NTR) shared his perspective. “The Seattle Public Library’s entrepreneurs’ program is the only reason (NTR) exists. The professional expertise provided is critical for a small business to get started on the right foot.”

– Elisa M., Communications



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