THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

30 September 2018

Libraries Week: Celebrating our National Network

We are proud to have 13 libraries around the country as part of our National Network, including three pilot Centres (Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Glasgow and Nottingham), which joined this year. 

While libraries are more often associated with books than business, the National Network project is unlocking the potential of city and community libraries to support innovation and job creation in their local economies. Further, each library is sharing know-how and expertise in order to build the network’s services and keep abreast of developments.

National Network
To celebrate Libraries Week, we’re taking a look at the Centres and shining a light on their importance to their local communities and the businesses they have helped*.

Glasgow

The Business & IP Centre in Glasgow is one of three new pilots and part of the growing National Network of co-branded centres. It is also the first of its kind in Scotland. Housed in Glasgow’s famous landmark, The Mitchell Library (founded in 1877), it is now the hub of a city-wide information service. In partnership with the National Library of Scotland and the UK Intellectual Property Office, the Business & IP Centre in Glasgow allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of free intellectual property and business information and expertise.

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We asked Rosemary O’Hare, Principal Librarian at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, to tell us a bit more about the newly launched services:

"Our services are vital for the local community as they support employability. Those thinking about career options, preparing for a job interview or self-employment can find all the information they need as well as facilities, including PCs, wi-fi and quiet spaces to allow them to explore their options.

We also give entrepreneurs the chance to explore their business idea for free and at their own pace. Access to industry standard business information along with advice and support levels the playing field for those starting out with limited funds. Our events and networking opportunities allow individuals to make connections that can help them improve their business.

It’s also useful to call on local partners to contribute who may be active in the local area, and the connections between library and these organisations usually work well for both the library and partners; and of course we all share the same customers." 

Birmingham

Over 300 workshops and 1-to-1s took place with Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Birmingham

Devon

BIPC Devon with Duchess of Cornwall

65% of the Centre's users were women with Creative/Media/Publishing and Retail/Wholesale/Transport being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Devon

Hull

27% of users were aged 16 – 34, with 40% of users being employees, 27% self-employed and 6% owners of businesses.

40% of businesses were in the Creative/Media/Publishing sector.

Hull

We asked Michelle Alford, Library Services Director, Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd, why their services are vital for the local community, and she explained: 

"Public libraries are unique in communities in every locality, no other public, voluntary or private sector venue holds the trust of its communities as libraries do. The level of trust placed in public libraries is built on the knowledge and confidence that anyone can walk through the door (regardless of age, sex, religion, ethnicity, background, education or other characteristic), be met with a warm welcome and be able to spend time using the space and resources to achieve their purpose without having to purchase anything or justify their reason for being there.

Our activity isn’t confined to the walls of the library either, our brilliant staff spend time in communities to understand their needs, share information and encourage them to achieve their dreams using the support and resources of the library as and when they need to. We design services and activities to meet the needs of communities, provide opportunities and to connect people with one another.

A vital link to validated information resources, high quality activities and excellent customer care!”

Leeds

Over 400 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events, of which 35% of users were aged 16 – 34 and Creative/Media/Publishing, Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/Consulting being the highest % sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Leeds

Liverpool

BIPC Liverpool - launch Jan 2015

29% of Liverpool's Business & IP Centre's users were employees, 25% self-employed and 11% owners. The biggest sectors users operated in were Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing.

Liverpool

Manchester

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35% of users were aged between 16 – 34 and 38% of users were self-employed, 27% employees and 14% owners of businesses. Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/consulting were the sectors most of the users worked in.

  Manchester
 Newcastle

BIPC Newcastle

61% of users of the Business & IP Centre were female and more than 550 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events. 43% of users were employees and 33% were self-employed. Professional services/consulting was the sector most users operate in.

Newcastle

Norfolk

BIPC Norfolk

36% of the Centre's users were employees and 22% were self-employed. Creative/Media/Publishing was the sector most of the users operate in.

Norfolk

Northamptonshire

38% of Centre users were self-employed, 21% employees and 20% unemployed. Professional services/consulting and Creative/Media/Publishing were the sectors which used the Centre the most. Northamptonshire has a 98% satisfaction rate for the format, quality and relevance of their offerings. 

Northampton

Sheffield

34% of users were employees and 31% were self-employed.

Sheffield

* all data is from April - June 2018