Wednesday, August 18, 2010

in praise of the local library - could it save us all?

With the cuts and reductions in the amounts of resource available to local enterprise agencies, community group networks, other local infrastructure bodies, etc; we’re seeing the amount of support available to start-up groups, enterprises (both social and private), charities and so on rapidly diminishing...

But this is at a time when there’s universal recognition of the increasing need for them to be supported, and for them to gain the knowledge that they need to not only be sustainable, but also prosper...

I wonder then if I can suggest that rather than bemoan the state of things, that instead we go to our local library.

Take my local library in Todmorden – it has shelves of books and CD-ROMs on different aspects of setting up and managing an enterprise or other group (covering everything from import/export to employment law, marketing to book-keeping and everything in-between), a copy of the Grant Making Trusts Directory (reference only) and the national Voluntary Sector Agencies Directory, free internet access, a coffee machine, late night opening... its surely therefore also an obvious focal point for groups seeking support – they could maybe make use of the big tables to meet together around? (And just to ‘complete this virtuous circle’, Todmorden library was originally gifted to the town by a social enterprise – the local Co-operative Society).

Of course, some of you may be unsure how to navigate these vast unchartered shelves of knowledge and tools where everything is logged using secret coded numbers – fear not, for there are always librarians on hand: kind souls who take pity on the uninitiated and will help you to find what you most need.

Our cousins over the pond in the US are already starting to think in these terms, looking at libraries afresh as to the role they can play in supporting not only how we aquire the skills we need in the 21st century, but also the business community.

So... when was the last time you visited your local library?


  1. it seems the wider public share my sentiments on this - the findings of a nationl survey into what people want from their local libaries:

  2. When I set up JobTrials the last place I thought of going to was the library. This was mainly due to my lack of confidence in my own business idea. Perhaps business mentors should have the paid opportunity to provide drop in sessions at libraries rather than jobcentres.
    Since JobTrials has been established we have tried to liaise with libraries to support out if work adults use the computers to gain basic IT skills and job search but to no avail.