“Even if you have a map, you need someone to interpret where you are and where you want to go,” Riegle-Crichtone said.
On the Main Library’s second floor sits the Launch Point center, with desks and chairs to huddle around and shelves of books for the small business entrepreneur, nonprofit fundraiser, or an individual considering career or college options.
At Launch Point, nonprofit resources librarian Susan Rodenberg provides assistance with grant writing, fundraising, board development, planning and other areas of nonprofit interest. Riegle-Crichton can help with writing polished business plans, connecting with research in the marketplace, identifying networking opportunities and getting the most from online and print resources.
People can schedule a one-on-one consultation to get personal help. There are also regular programs at the Main Library and other branches to learn about popular topics, such as Grants 101, college financial aid or "Grow with Google" classes on concepts like Google Analytics and search engine optimization.
Riegle-Crichton recalled a time when a business owner who recently bought power washing company with her husband was looking for ways they could grow their connections. After attending a market research class Riegle-Crichton teaches quarterly, she said the business owner learned how to get a booth at a trade show with other companies they wanted to attract and also learned how to create a mailing list to send advertising postcards.
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“And she was able to do that just through a few clicks in a library database called ReferenceUSA,” Riegle-Crichton said.
She said Dayton Metro Library years ago used to discourage businesses using the nonprofit library’s space. But now the new library branches feature conference rooms, white boards and huddle spaces built with the business user in mind.
Ann Riegle Crichton, Business Services Librarian at Dayton Metro Library, helps patrons with career development and with growing their small business. CONTRIBUTED
“We want businesses to talk to us. We want to have your sales meeting, we want to have your teacher in-service day here, because it’s an environment where you can learn and be comfortable, but away from your typical environment,” she said.
Scott Koorndyk, president of The Entrepreneurs Center, said the library is a place where people have access to materials, equipment, programming and a sense of place, which are all important to startup culture. He said his team often hears from business owners who get their start right at the library using the tools there.
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“We and our peer organizations partner with the library on almost every program we run,” Koorndyk said.
For patrons trying to pick up new skills, the library's website also provides a free login to Lynda.com, which is a platform with free step-by-step online classes to learn everything from computer programming languages, to Photoshop to presentation and management skills.
“You can take an hour once a week, or maybe an hour a day, and do a class that might include a video lesson, a tutorial, some templates, and maybe even some worksheets or performance testing ‘How did you learn?’ And you can backtrack and figure out ‘what did I grasp?’ versus ‘what do I need to maybe take again?’” she said.