Check it out: Libraries encourage businesses to tap resources

Bob Kretschman, public information manager at the Mesa County Libraries, demonstrates the use of the some of the free online resources available to business owners and managers. Through a new initiative called Business Connect, the library also offers workshops and individual assistance in using resources and conducting research.
Bob Kretschman, public information manager at the Mesa County Libraries, demonstrates the use of the some of the free online resources available to business owners and managers. Through a new initiative called Business Connect, the library also offers workshops and individual assistance in using resources and conducting research.

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Dick Kandiko wanted to conduct some research on the millennial generation, the members of which constitute the target market for the birthing center he helps manage in Grand Junction.

Kandiko tapped the free resources offered at the Mesa County Libraries, including the personal assistance of a librarian who showed him how to access online market research data, pulled two books on millennials and compiled other information for him on a portable computer drive.

“It was extremely helpful,” says Kandiko, who operates the Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center along with his wife, Patty, a certified nurse midwife.

Kandiko expects to use the library services again and recommends them to others. “They can really help.”

While those services have long been offered, Mesa County Libraries has intensified its outreach efforts to make more business owners and managers aware of what’s available, says Bob Kretschman, public information manager. “We are making a real effort to get out to businesses to make greater use of these.”

The ultimate goal, Kretschman says, is to help businesses succeed. While there are many reasons a venture might struggle or even fail, a lack of information shouldn’t be one, he says.

Mesa County Libraries has joined with the Business Incubator Center and Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to offer workshops and individual assistance on a regular basis, Kretschman says.

The outreach initiative, called Business Connect, is funded in part by a $4,600 grant from the Colorado State Library matched with local in-kind services, he says.

While there might be a perception among some a library offers little more than a collection of dusty books on shelves, the role of Mesa County Libraries has evolved along with technology to become a place to access knowledge, Kretschman says. And knowledge empowers businesses owners and managers to more capably lead their operations, he adds.

One of the most powerful resources Mesa County Libraries offers businesses is access to ReferenceUSA market research, Kretschman says. ReferenceUSA offers detailed information on more than 20 million businesses and 220 million consumers.

ReferenceUSA can be used to conduct a competitive analysis in determining the number and location of similar businesses in a given area, develop and implement marketing plans and even compile lists of potential customers, Kretschman says. “It’s a pretty amazing tool, and we can help show you how to use that tool.”

Mesa County Libraries also provides access to Business Source Premier offering company profiles and market reports, legal forms and sample letters covering a variety of situations that come up in business and a variety of business-related courses that can be completed online, Kretschman says.

Access to those and other online resources is free and requires only a library card, he says.

For those who might need help accessing library resources or conducting research, Mesa County Libraries offers a free service called “Book a Librarian,” Kretschman says. People can schedule a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who can offer assistance and answer questions.

As part of its outreach efforts, Mesa County Libraries offers workshops and individualized assistance on a regular basis at the Business Incubator Center and Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Workshops and walk-up assistance at the center offer assistance on using library research resources as well as cover the basics of good Web site design and social media strategies.

Events at the chamber office offer the assistance of a chamber marketing representative and librarian to help participants develop and refine their marketing efforts and use ReferenceUSA to conduct research and compile lists of potential customers.

The goal of the resources and outreach efforts, Kretschman says, is to help businesses and in turn promote economic development. Businesses can use library resources in a variety of ways to improve operations and profitability, he adds. “They’re much more ahead of the game.”

Thanks in part to free resources from the Mesa County Libraries, Kandiko says business has increased at the Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center. The center has provided services and facilities for 10 births, and more than 20 additional births are planned for the next eight months, he says.

For more information about available business resources from the Mesa County Libraries, call 243-4442 or log on to www.mesacountylibraries.org, click “eResources,” select “Research & Learning A-Z” and scroll down to select a database.