In honor of the passing of former Minnesota Governor (and long time library lover) Elmer Anderson, I am going to talk about libraries today. I know it’s not really technology – but they can be such as asset that I like to bring them up periodically.
For business owners, libraries can be the best free consultant in the world. Next time you need a quick answer to a question – call (or email) your local library. As a former reference librarian I can tell you – we live for the fun and interesting questions!
Next time you need help with a business plan or major research, try visiting your library. Libraries have the books and electronic resources you need to look up information that will help you make good business decisions. The librarians can help you through the research process. (Again, we live for that stuff!)
If you live near a college, you might be able to access their collection too. Even if you can’t check items out – it can be a great place to get answers and do research. The University of Minnesota will let you access some pretty fancy databases if you visit them. And if you ever need technical or scientific information, it can be well worth the trip.
I have found when traveling that often academic libraries will let you use their computers to check email. Assuming that you aren’t there during finals weeks, don’t seem too menacing, and ask nicely.
Special libraries focus in a niche area. They are open to the public in varying degrees. One example is the James J Hill Library. They have a business collection. You can access most of their items for free on site. Their web site has access to many free resources. But to get to the really good stuff online, you have to be a paying member. I mention them because the director said I could give you their phone number to call for a free trial. Their number is 651-265-5458; just ask about a HillSearch Trial and they will give you a password to try for a week.
I have focused on the business uses of the library – but I can tell you that the libraries are equal opportunity helpers. I know that some of the best (most fun) reference questions I got while a librarian stemmed from a bet among friends. So, next time you’re about to come to blows about who has won the most Oscars – call a librarian to settle the score.