As a kid growing up in New Jersey, I remember my local library looking like a big stone building with large columns in the front and not very inviting. I spent many hours inside doing homework, research, looking for books in the “stacks,” trying to figure out the card catalog, and also trying to be quiet.

As a kid growing up in New Jersey, I remember my local library looking like a big stone building with large columns in the front and not very inviting. I spent many hours inside doing homework, research, looking for books in the “stacks,” trying to figure out the card catalog, and also trying to be quiet.

Well, I’m glad to report that libraries have come a long way, especially for business owners.

All you need is a free library card, which is your gateway to online services. The Mid-Continent Public Library system subscribes to 275 resources, of which 268 are available on your computer remotely with a MCPL card. A card can be obtained at any of the 30 locations in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties.

Steven Potter, the library system’s new director, said there are many resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs, which can be found online at www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/reference. I was impressed when I clicked around the new website. And the nice thing is it never closes.

 

Online resources

Potter said the business section of the library appeals to several stages of business:

1) Those contemplating opening a new business but unsure of what type to open.

2) Those who have a better idea of what type of business they want to venture into.

3) Established businesses.

Available resources can help you create a business plan, identify potential customers, develop legal documents, research competitors and establish marketing campaigns.

Here’s a sample of what is available online.

Demographics Now supplies data to make sound business decisions based on market analysis, maps, comparison reports for any U.S. geography, five-year projection estimates, and Census data. Pro Quest Entrepreneurship is an easy-to-use database to access the latest information on business topics, quick links and recommendations from experts in Editor’s Picks. This database includes information from eClipsNet, John Wiley & Sons “For Dummies” book series, major market and industry reports, university publications and social science. Small Business Resource Center provides information that covers all major areas of starting and operating a business, including, finance, human resources, management, marketing, taxes and more. And it includes hundreds of sample business plans. Gale LegalForms provides access to thousands of legal documents. Interested in business and finance? Available is the ABI/Inform Dateline, ABI/Inform Global, and ABI/Inform Achieves. These databases deliver more than 190 journals, most in full text plus hard-to-find local and regional business publications with news about local companies, and information on local markets. The global market is also covered with information about business conditions, management techniques, trends, management, corporate strategy and competition.


Other resources

There is also access to many publications, The Kansas City Star, The New York Times and more than 240 newspapers worldwide. Worth a trip to the library, two selective data bases are available. One is HR.BLR.com, which is mostly for human resources with state HR compliance library, job description manager, salary data and more. The other is the Value Line Investment Survey, which includes reports and analyst commentaries for more than 1,700 stocks.

 

About Mid-Continent

The Mid-Continent Public Library system has 1,000 employees, and about 123 work at the administrative headquarters at 15616 E. U.S. 24, Independence.

According to director Steven Potter, the proposed budget for the upcoming year is about $41 million, which is down for the third year in a row. The 2010 budget is $42.1 million and the 2009 budget was $43.2 million. The percentage breakdown is about 58.6 percent for payroll/benefits; 18.8 percent for operations and 22.6 percent for library materials.

“It’s a lean budget compared to our peers,” said Potter. “I would like to see library materials at around 25 percent in order to better serve the community.

Potter said the library is committed to being community oriented and is proud of the latest achievements of the North Independence Library on Woodland and Maple (behind the old Independence Regional Health Center on Truman Road), which he hopes will be reopening in mid-October at its permanent home at U.S. 24 and Spring Street.

For further information, contact Potter at spotter@mymcpl.org or 816-836-5200.