Tuesday, September 07, 2010

September: Library Card Sign-Up Month

The humble library, a valuable resource
With the information available at your public library, there's no such thing as a "cold call."
Star Tribune: September 5, 2010 by HARVEY MACKAY

When Ben Franklin founded the first public lending library in America in 1731, he probably had no idea what he would inspire. There is no better bargain than a library card, and what better time to sign up for one than September, library card sign-up month.

Studies show that children who use the library tend to perform better in school. They are also more likely to continue learning and exploring throughout their lives.

If you don't use the library for business, now is a good time to start. We can obtain a high percentage of the information we need via search engines using our home or work computers. But there are a lot of hidden business jewels available at your local library, and many of them can be accessed online.

The average small business or job-seeker is penalized by having limited research capabilities. Big companies with big budgets pay for expensive databases. With a mouse click, they can instantly gain access to company data, sort through research reports, and locate newspaper and trade journal articles. Small companies and individuals who can't afford premium access are left out. Unless they have a local library card.

Most libraries pay for premium subscription databases that you can use for free. Want to use Dun & Bradstreet, ReferenceUSA or Hoovers to research companies, competitors and build lead lists? There's a good chance your library subscribes to a company search database. Want to see if the company where you're making your next sales call or job interview has been featured in an article? How about if the person you're meeting with has been cited as an expert in an industry trade journal? The library most likely has the information.

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And as you know, a library card is still great for checking out books! Haven't read any good books lately? There's no time like the present to start. I love the convenience of my Kindle, but the feel of a real book in my hands is unmatched. You can even check out an audio book for your commute.

Book-club guidance, computer classes, periodicals, story time for the kids -- all through the doors of your library. And one of the most amazing features I like best: live technical help when I need it. Your library card is your ticket to the past and to the future.

Mackay's Moral: The library is a truly amazing resource -- check it out. READ MORE !

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman and author.

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