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Did you know your public library is the best free resource you have?  First and foremost, if you are a taxpaying citizen in any community, you have already paid for this fantastic resource through your tax dollars.  And thank you!  Your tax dollars not only assist people like you and I trying to create their own gig and keep learning, your tax dollars also pay for kids to access technology.  Libraries are one of few entities actively working to bridge the digital divide.  For that alone, libraries and all the amazing folk who work there should get a thank you note.

After 9 years as a public library professional, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “You have that at the library?” I’d be a very wealthy woman.  This is true not only in Kansas City but the entire metro area and frankly, the world.

When I was living in Copenhagen last summer, I desperately needed to brush up on my Danish language skills and sure, I had downloaded DuoLingo and was using the app every single day but that was not enough to keep up with the pace of conversation with family and friends.  First stop: local library where I found a treasure trove of language resources including workbooks that enabled me to “up the ante” on my language skills by progressing to a new level when I was ready and not when that annoying little owl on
DuoLingo determined I was ready.

“Yeah, libraries have that.” And so much more.  Sure, public libraries may seem to some like a relic from the past filled with dusty old books and dirty looks from cranky librarians. But let’s not sell librarians short—they work diligently to make sure the public has access to everything from free wifi (yes, even from the parking lot) to the best databases your tax dollars can buy.

Here is a short list of the resources marketers can access from anywhere (including the library itself of course) and all you need to do is get a dang library card:

  • DemographicsNow - (Library card required from home) Produce comprehensive business and residential lists as well as detailed demographic reports. Assess business viability, perform market and site location analysis, create sales leads and/or marketing mailing lists, find potential sponsors and donors to grow a non-profit, prepare a small business plan and much more.
  • Kansas City Business Journal - (Library card required from home) Get online access to the most recent issues of the Kansas City Business Journal, special publications, and the Book of Lists.
  • ProQuest - (Library card required from home) Read articles from newspapers, magazines, journals and trade publications.
  • Lynda.com - (Library card required from home) Lynda.com is a leading online learning company that helps anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Access their library of high-quality, current, and engaging video tutorials taught by recognized industry experts, thousands of courses you can take at your own pace on any device.
  • Project MUSE - (Library card required from home) Project MUSE – a development of Johns-Hopkins and other major U.S. Universities. E-books in the classics, history and literature, now totaling more than 10,000 titles.
  • Foundation Grants to Individuals Online - (Available only at Central and Plaza) This database is geared toward individuals and small organizations seeking grant money. You can read about specific grants, and learn how to increase your chances of success.

Kansas City Public Library has partnered with local tax giant H&R Block to develop and make public the H&R Block Business Center. My husband, a budding entrepreneur (he’s in plants so that’s funny-get it, budding?) is a proud graduate of the Kauffman FastTrac and I think it was during the third day of class that he was taken to the Kansas City Public Library and introduced to the wealth of resources the library offers.  He used the resources to complete his course work as well as to start his business and we both access online databases from our home PC on a weekly basis (at least).

Kansas City Public Library is most certainly not the only place to go in the metro area either.  Johnson County Library has thirteen locations throughout Johnson County and Mid-Continent Public Library has programs dedicated to assisting small business owners, even for us marketing folk.

Yes, all of the links above require a library card and if you clicked on any of the links, you saw that I took you to the source, save the last link which takes you to the login with your library card.  Maybe you even cursed me because you couldn’t get any further in your search but do not despair.  All you need to do is get on down to your public library and get a darn library card.  Don’t winge and say that’s too complicated, you’ve already paid for it and I know you will be pleasantly surprised.

And in case you need to be reminded, these resources are free.  Enjoy.

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