BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina) got 2015 off to a fruitful start with a quarterly workshop on Monday, January 5.
We met at the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem – big old RJR Reynolds factories being converted to research, education, and entrepreneurship support spaces. We were kindly hosted by the Forsyth Technical Community College’s Business & Industry Services in the 525 @ Vine building [photos]. Across the courtyard is Flywheel co-working innovation space, which we toured later. The next building over is being gutted to become the new home of the WFU School of Medicine.
I walked to the workshop from our downtown condo. It’s exciting to see the continued revival of and reinvestment in downtowns across the country. I passed the Reynolds Tower (the little Empire State Building, designed by the same architect before its younger, taller brother was built in Manhattan), where workers were busy converting it to a boutique hotel that will retain the stunning art deco lobby. The historic county courthouse, a block away, was busy with workers converting it to apartments. The place we live was a 1900 textiles mill (women’s underwear) a few blocks from Old Salem, where some German-speaking Moravians settled in the 1750’s. Lots of history restored or reclaimed leading to economic development growth, tourism, and innovation.
Forsyth Tech’s Business & Industry Services includes the local Small Business Center. Every community college in North Carolina has one of these to support entrepreneurs and small business owners. BLINC colleagues Kathleen Wheeless and Jody Lohman of the Forsyth County Public Library regularly spend time here to provide training and do outreach. Kathleen serves on the SBC advisory board.
Mary Scanlon of WFU, our excellent BLINC chair, welcomed us and introduced Allan Younger, the SBC director. Allan, Kathleen, and Jody led us in a long and interesting discussion about supporting entrepreneurs and small business and nonprofit owners, making connections locally and state-wide, library marketing, and how academic and public libraries collaborate on this stuff.
My favorite quote from Allan, regarding the significant research needs of nonprofits: “A nonprofit is still a business, just with a different legal structure”.
I’m still struck by how few public library systems allow their business specialists to use the title “Business Librarian”. Maybe I’m being narrow-minded here (given the job title my department heads have allowed me to choose), but having a customer-centered job title seemed like an easy way to facilitate outreach and marketing efforts.
Nancy Tucker and Sharon Stack from the Kings Mountain Public library drove in from beyond Charlotte for the workshop. Like Natasha Francois of Wayne County Public Library (see a previous BLINC workshop post), Nancy’s focus is going door to door visiting businesses in King’s Mountain to provide business research support and promote library services. I hope Nancy and Sharon (perhaps with Natasha?) will write an article about their work or provide a conference presentation.
Later in the workshop we talked about new tools and apps, began discussing BLINC programming for the 2015 NCLA conference in October, and spent an hour evaluating the specialized reports provided by ABI-INFORM, now available statewide via NCLIVE. (BLINC members, look for Mary’s summary in Wiggio soon).
We ended with a tour of the SBC spaces as well as the neighboring Flywheel. I really liked its half-sized basketball court (cement floor) with its hung-from-the-ceiling projector (risky?), ample white boards, portable stackable chairs, and wooden raisers with cushions.
We ran out of time for Nina Exner (NC A&T) and Kathleen to discuss grant support for academics and nonprofits, respectively. Next time, Mary promises. Props to Nina for taking notes and taking care of our lunch orders.
I picked up some milk and OJ on the walk home at the little downtown grocery store.