Small Business Idea for Teens from Their Public Library

Libraries are there to help teens discover and develop important skills that can help them become successful entrepreneurs in the future.

Libraries Help You Sell on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist

Those looking to step into the world of the gig economy can be reassured in knowing that there are helpful resources to walk them through this type of business. Libraries hold a wealth of information within their buildings. This knowledge comes in the form of print materials, internet and database resources, and well-trained librarians and the library’s connections to the communities. Libraries are here to serve the local public which means that these institutions are always looking for different materials to buy and classes to incorporate that may be of interest to patrons. Many are stepping into the roles of becoming their own businesses either through opening up a small business or through selling items on the internet. Platforms like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist are just a few of the many places where people head to begin their selling journey. The library is the perfect place for beginners to visit and in many cases will teach patrons how to sell on these platforms through step by step instruction. Here’s what you can look into at your local public library to start building your business acumen.

How Do Librarians Choose the Books?

Walking into a library, surrounding yourself with books, is a great comfort for many people. Ever stop to wonder how they get there? That task falls to the collection development librarian and/or department. They have the daunting task of deciding on what items will and will not mesh with their community, often areas with diverse populations and needs. Let us take a look behind the curtain at the process that fills those shelves.

“Sometimes Caring is Enough” and Other Library Wisdom to Enrich Your Life

It’s a cliché among library workers that books are part of the job but reading them hardly ever is. What is part of the job is working with people and technology to provide access to materials, including books. The things we do are often nuanced because people are complicated, and this nuance, along with the general nature of being information workers, is a ripe stage for developing wisdom for those that do their jobs in a mindful way (read: Those who pay attention!). I’d like to think that my two decades of work in various libraries have taught me some things. Here are nine pieces of wisdom I learned from working in libraries: Other people’s emotions are rarely about you “How do you stay so calm in these situations?” Asked one my regular customers after a particularly gnarly encounter at the reference desk, “I would’ve thrown a stapler at him!” Unfortunately, I’ve been asked variations of this question many times over the course of my career and the answer is simple: My job is to serve people and I can’t do that when I’m hollering back at them. Even if they insult me, threaten to get me fired, or tell me they pay my salary! (You wouldn’t believe how many times librarians get lambasted with that last one) Now, while there are limits to what I will stand, I remain acutely aware that people come into the library with all sorts of physical, emotional, financial, familial, difficulties — that guy wasn’t screaming at me because his hold hadn’t arrived; most people can wait a few extra days for the latest John Grisham, so he’s likely actually angry about, who knows, a fight with his brother. The real answer to how I stay calm is that I always keep in mind that bad behavior is rarely personal. It’s a lesson that I try to carry with me outside of library work, too. When I get poor customer service somewhere or the people around me are challenging in general, I remind myself that their emotions are their own and that I can only truly be responsible for how I act and react.

Library Makerspaces Spark Creativity

A makerspace may be something that has been on your radar lately. These innovative and collaborative environments are being incorporated into a variety of spaces. A makerspace can be big or small and hold any number of tools and materials for users to investigate and learn. The purpose of having a makerspace is to present people with an opportunity to explore their interests through hands-on, creative projects. Makerspaces create a culture of curiosity and creativity, encouraging its users to learn about a variety of technology as well as craft making. Creating a makerspace in a school library is especially beneficial for students. A makerspace placed in a library setting opens a whole new world of resources and exploration in students and can do plenty when it comes to their learning process. Because projects done in the makerspace are focused on student centered inquiry, this makes them ideal to implement in school environments.

Libraries Help Us Preserve Our COVID-Era Stories

Humans are natural storytellers. We know that history isn’t just the official accounts and what’s in the news. History, if properly told, is filled with stories passed down from people to people and through generations. Exploring stories throughout history teaches us a lot about how the world was. COVID-19 will make it in the history books as one of the largest public health crises the world has faced in the past century. But how did people living through it experience the events they witnessed, the emotions they felt, and how everything was affected by the shutdowns? Libraries are one of the key local organizations working to capture what life is like in pandemic times. Back in the early 1900s during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, there were not as many documented cases of personal experiences and ephemera. We do not know an extensive amount about what it was like for someone living through that time period. Institutions across the country and the globe recognize the importance of preserving these experiences this time through. That is why COVID-19 archives are popping up at institutions all over the world. By seeking the help of their local communities and historical societies, libraries across the nation and the world are creating digital and physical archives to document the effects of the pandemic on everyday life. These stories will all piece together to give insight to future generations on what this past year in lockdown has been like for different populations of people.

How Public Libraries Are Upping Their Audio Game Using Dial-A-Story

Audiobooks have been available in public libraries across America for years now and their popularity is only growing. However, checking out an audiobook from a library is not always the perfect solution for everyone. Many people do not have an audiobook-friendly device like a smartphone. There may be barriers for those developing digital literacy skills. There is also the issue of public libraries lacking funding to offer an extensive audiobook collection. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something libraries can do. The team at the Galecia Group has worked to develop a service that brings audio stories to everyone: LibraryCall, and the exciting Library Dial-A-Story service. “We developed LibraryCall for those trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide with no broadband connectivity, no computer at home, and no library computer to rely upon,” says Lori Ayre, Galecia Group’s founder and CEO. “Digital poverty has left these people hanging by a thread during this pandemic, and we wanted to find a way to keep them from being completely isolated. So we designed a service to deliver critical information by phone, to deliver stories by phone, and to deliver calendar information by phone.” The suite of services is called LibraryCall.

Libraries are the People’s Incubator

Businesses at every stage — from ideation to launch to scale — can benefit from the resources at the public library and the expertise of librarians. Libraries give companies access to data, market research, testing and opportunities to scale. Librarians also have an extensive knowledge base to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Libraries are mobile and forward-thinking. Libraries have innovative resources, such as 3D printers and tablets, which can be leveraged during the product development cycle. Many of the resources you need can be accessed remotely from your office.

Try Out That Cookbook Before You Buy It

Cooking is more than just putting food on the table. Cooking helps you explore cultures, it brings people together across generations, and help people relax. Whether people have been following their parents in the kitchen from a young age or learning how to cook on their own for the first time, the library is an unexpected — and delightful — kitchen helper made for all ages and skills. Libraries buy books on a wide array of topics. Cookbooks are commonly found in library stacks and can be checked out by library patrons at any time. Cookbook collections in libraries are diverse. People may be surprised to know that newly published cookbooks can be found just as easily as cookbooks published throughout the ages. Smart cooks know that the library is the first place to visit when looking to try out a cookbook. This section of the library offers convenient access to recipes from all over.

Libraries’ Role In Adulthood Preparedness

Children and young adults create and experience a variety of memories at their local public libraries. These are places where they grow their reading and communication skills, learn about their interests and hobbies, and develop important social skills as well as connections to their communities. The library is a space that prepares young adults to face the challenges and tasks that adults experience like job searching, research skills, etc. They play a key factor in teaching “adulting” skills. The role that libraries play in the lives of young Americans is greater than we believe. Those that grow up being supported by their local libraries have an easier transition into adult life.