The Schreiner Memorial Library in Lancaster, Wisconsin, developed a Business Center to meet the needs of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and high school students studying entrepreneurship. Read on to learn how a library alert to the needs of local residents can make a big impact and foster important collaborative relationships.
Lancaster, the seat of Grant County, has a population of 3,736. The Schreiner Memorial library has a service population of about 11,000, and serves 70,500 visitors a year. There is no major metropolitan area or large city in the area and before the Center opened, community and business owners and entrepreneurs couldn’t easily identify or access business development resources.
Library Director Jennifer Bernetzke was aware that people in the area wanting to start or grow a business weren’t always sure where to turn. When the school library media specialist approached the library seeking a place for entrepreneurial students to work out in the community, Ms. Bernetzke saw the opportunity to develop a new service to meet multiple community needs.
The library began with an inventory of available resources and developed a website to make them more accessible. Connecting with the City Council and others in the community built support for the project, and led to the establishment of a workgroup. The workgroup has assessed needs, revised the project plan, and set long-term goals. The engagement of the community will be critical in providing funding to sustain the project, which was launched with support from the WiLS Ideas to Action Fund.
The Library reached out to collaborate with the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center. The project attracted the attention of People’s State Bank and other local organizations, and they now support the Center’s educational programming and offer access to resources and services for business owners. The Center continues to build its schedule of educational programs and has extended its marketing to encourage telecommuters to consider Lancaster when they choose a place to live.
Schreiner Memorial Library not only met the needs of local high school entrepreneurship students, they identified an opportunity to serve prospective and existing business owners and telecommuters, and built an innovative program that delivers a growing array of benefits.