Community Partner Spotlight: St. Louis County Library

November 25, 2019 – Did you know that there is a wealth of fabulous, free resources for entrepreneurs and business owners at the St. Louis County Library? We are delighted to spotlight our partner so that you can get a glimpse of the many tools they have to offer and how to access them! We talked with Jennifer Gibson, Reference Manager & Mel Lambert, Reference Librarian, at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters to learn more.

ITEN:  “What is the purpose/mission of the St. Louis County Library?”

SLCL: “Regarding business matters, our mission is to ensure that anyone in the area who wants to start a business knows that the library has tools (for free) and librarians to help with starting or growing a business or nonprofit organization.  We aim to support the community and economy by helping level the playing field for entrepreneurs throughout the St. Louis area.”

ITEN: “Who do you serve?”

SLCL: “Any entrepreneur or business owner or person starting a nonprofit.  As a public library, we are open to any and all people.”

ITEN: “What offerings/programs/services do you offer (to entrepreneurs/small business owners)?”

SLCL: “We provide access to resources that business owners can use to gather demographics for their business plan, conduct market research, learn about an industry, research competitors and your target market, create customized lists for marketing purposes, find grant opportunities, and much more.  Not to mention print and digital access to most major business newspapers and magazines!  We also have online classes on business and marketing principles through Gale Courses and Lynda.com.


Last but not least, we have librarians with research expertise who can teach one-on-one or in groups, inside and outside of the library, how to leverage these resources for maximum effect.  These sessions with librarians are highly valuable because you’ll walk away with customized instructions for conducting research for your specific business needs.  And you can meet with the librarians over and over again as your business evolves.  Altogether, savvy business people who use the library could save up to $13,800.00 or more each year!

ITEN: “Are there requirements to apply to participate in the above?”

SLCL: “All you need is a library card, and you can get one for free if you live anywhere in St. Louis city, St. Louis County, or St. Charles County.  If you’re outside of those areas there may still be ways that you qualify for a free card.  If not, we offer library cards to other counties for $50/year.”

ITEN: “One of our most recent ITEN Companies that joined us shared some insight from a new business owner’s perspective on what the SLCL can assist you with. Natalie King, CEO/Founder of Bloom Beauty Brand, LLC,  who’s aim is to provide AI-powered customizable beauty/personal care products for women of color, had this to say.”

 NK: “I am a total fan! I know it seems like a slightly outdated idea to go to the library nowadays but I would strongly advocate for new business owners to take a trip there to save money and find valuable resources that may aid in the formation of their businesses (especially if you’re a business just starting out and you’re trying to bootstrap your way to your first round of official funding!). I first learned about the library’s small business resources through a St. Louis Score Business Workshop on “How to write a business plan” and I decided to book a librarian right away to learn about what they had to offer. Up until that point, I was truly struggling with trying to put together the market trend analysis portion of my business plan and gathering of key insights for my pitch deck. Online, you can pay to access top reports from agencies like Mintel and Nielsen but many of those can run anywhere between ~$3000-$4500/report so its easy to see how that could be a rate-limiting step for any new business.”

“After visiting with the librarian, she not only shared with me the FREE resources to be able to pull this type of information from their databases, but she also pointed out that the Olin Business School library (Washington University) had additional access that would allow for me to pull the EXACT reports I referenced above. After heading over there immediately, I indeed was able to find the most updated Mintel Reports for my specific business industry and even had access to all the previous years reports as well, should I want to reference how trends have changed over the years!!! Like I said, all I had to do was get a free library card and I ultimately saved $20,000 in the space of 1 hr of work . I plan to go back and pull other reports and utilize other resources they have available in the coming weeks. (Note: I also shared how grateful I was with the librarian that had helped me and she was really happy to hear how she had personally impacted my business so far. This is a key part of the story that I do not want to get missed in my excitement. The reality is, these people (at our pubic libraries, local workshops etc.) are truly here to help us and it’s up to us to really act on the information we learn from them and utilize the free resources at our fingertips so that others who come behind us will have the same opportunities as well.”

To learn more about the St. Louis County Library go to :
www.slcl.org  and https://www.slcl.org/content/small-business-resources

Jennifer Gibson, Reference Manager jgibson@slcl.org

Mel Lambert, Reference Librarian mlambert@slcl.org