Nurturing our community’s economic vitality is, according to our community, a big part of our role as a library. We take that role seriously. Here are some of the ways the library is making an impact on the business community and helping boost economic mobility in Topeka and Shawnee County.
Resources at the library
We employ a full-time business librarian, Terry Miller, who has an MBA and an MLS. Customers can email Terry with their questions or schedule a one-on-one session to discuss business needs, from market research to competitor analysis.
We’re that third place for entrepreneurs who rely on the library for a place to do market research and meet clients, WiFi-supported with a gigabit connection, and where they can order an energy-lifting latte, too.
We have a makerspace in the library for people who need access to digital tools like cameras, video equipment, editing software and a 3D printer. We also offer equipment for checkout.
In partnership with the Washburn Small Business Development Center, we host classes and events tailored directly to current or prospective business owners.
Resources in the community
At the Dream Center, Hi-Crest residents get connected to employment resources. They can find access to ESL training, take online classes, get help writing a resume and cover letter and get connected to job providers. The library provides four computers and software and a team of five librarians staffs the Dream Center one day per week.
712 Innovations is a membership-based makerspace and shared workspace housing equipment and technologies that startups and entrepreneurs usually don’t have access to. Library staff are there three days a week to connect people with resources that will help them in their pursuits as inventors, experimenters and entrepreneurs. The library offers a free pass to 712 for checkout.
Deer Creek Training Center
The library provides 12 computers, an IT technician and two computer trainers at the Deer Creek Training Center in the East End neighborhood, where the Deer Creek Apartment complex houses families who typically don’t have easy access to the internet. The library’s two professional trainers offer digital literacy classes in the center. The initiative is a partnership with the Topeka Housing Authority.
The library has a cohort of 42 trained facilitators who work within the library and in the community to help groups of smart people achieve great things together. Our facilitators plan, guide and manage a group’s event to ensure that the objectives are met effectively, with good participation and buy-in from everyone who is involved.
Increased Broadband Access
Library representatives participate in the Topeka City and Shawnee County Local Community Technology Plan, which seeks to extend high-speed and gigabit speed broadband access to all of Shawnee County. Our goals are to close the digital divide, to expand digital literacy and to promote 21st Century work skills and digital entrepreneurship.