The Seattle Public Library's Free Business Services Valued at $4.9 Million Annually
release date: 10/11/2022
If you’re a Seattle-area entrepreneur or small business owner, you may know that The Seattle Public Library offers valuable business programs and services that are free for the public to access.
What you might not know is the value of those services: Using the Urban Libraries Council’s new Business Value Calculator, The Seattle Public Library recently tallied the market value of its 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.
“For years, patrons of the Library’s free business services, from legal consults to workshops and market research tools, have told us how valuable these tools and services are,” said Jay Lyman, business librarian at The Seattle Public Library. “Thanks to the Urban Libraries Council, we now we have a concrete way of sharing that value with our patrons and partners.”
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) created the Business Value Calculator to enable libraries to quantify their services provided to the business community and show the monetary value of their work to city/county leaders, community partners and other local stakeholders.
“Our local economies depend on the success of the entrepreneurs and small businesses in our communities, yet starting and growing a business is a major feat, particularly for those who do not have ready access to start-up networks and resources,” said Susan Benton, Urban Libraries Council president and CEO. “That’s where public libraries come in. Our new Business Value Calculator enables libraries to measure and evaluate their contributions to economic development.”
Here is a breakdown of how the Library’s business services offered in 2021 were valued by the ULC calculator.
• Training and education - $253,000. In 2021, The Seattle Public Library’s Library to Business program held more than 280 virtual one-on-one help sessions, a core service where business librarians meet with entrepreneurs to address their specific needs. The Library also partners with the UW Entrepreneurial Law Clinic to offer free legal consults with professionals specializing in intellectual property and corporate law (94 attendees at 24 consults in 2021). In collaboration with community partners, the Library also held more than 100 virtual workshops, training events and open houses.
• Research services - $2.3 million. This includes the Library’s print and e-book collection of business books, as well as a robust set of business research tools and resources. Individual market research reports can be quite expensive, but by subscribing to information databases that include them, the Library saves the community money by purchasing them in bulk at a far lower rate. Log in to spl.org and you’ll find online tools to research your customers, find funding for your non-profit, build a business plan, learn a language or new job skill and much more.
• Physical space - $2 million: Libraries are one of the few indoor public spaces where no purchase is required, and many savvy entrepreneurs use Library locations in the course of their work. The Library’s 27 locations offer desk space, device charging, information services and meeting room space.
• Technology and equipment - $332,000. You can’t start or run a business without access to the internet, a computer, and printers and copiers. All of the Library’s locations offer these amenities. Patrons can also check out Wi-Fi hot spots from the Library’s collection.
The Seattle Public Library’s Jay Lyman said that the Business Calculator is just one tool for measuring the value of the Library’s business services. It does not measure, for example, the value of the community partnerships the Library develops. In 2021, the Library worked with more than 28 partner organizations that support entrepreneurs in ways that complement library services and programs.
Entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Library’s services attest to their value. “I am so thankful to have services for entrepreneurs available. Oftentimes I don't even know where and how to start my search, especially with new ideas and demographics,” said Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman, Executive Director of Refugee Artisan Initiative.
In 2021, 69% of entrepreneurs who sought one-on-one help from The Seattle Public Library said their business was a woman-or-minority-certified business; 16% said their business was an LGBTQ+-certified business; and 2% said it was a veteran-owned business.
FALL 2022 BUSINESS PROGRAMS AT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
In addition to one-on-one business consultations and legal consults that are available on an ongoing basis (register here), the Library has planned a full slate of virtual business workshops, events and programs the fall 2022, including:
- The Business of Books: A four-part series for BIPOC entrepreneurs.
- Taxes for small businesses workshops, including tax basics and Washington taxes.
- Credit workshops with Tierra Bonds of Take Charge Credit Consulting.
- Workshops on patent and trademark law in partnership and USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
- Plus, workshops on marketing, passive income, the online marketplace and more.
Check the business calendar for more information and to register for free programs.
The Library gives everyone the opportunity to learn and excel. Entrepreneurs can get business support online, and in-person help is available at workshops and one-on-one appointments.
Contact the Library’s Ask Us service by phone at 206-386-4636 or by email or chat at www.spl.org/Ask. Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information.