Last year my colleague Nigel Spencer (manager of the Research Service), ran a research project for JISC on the business information landscape for small business in the UK, including sort of information SME’s are looking for.
The results were recently published in pdf format, and one of the conclusions was a call for joined-up services to help businesses out of recession.
“Sharing business information more effectively, particularly through colleges, universities and major reference libraries, could help recession-hit companies out of crisis and stimulate innovation.
Libraries may not be an obvious source for all start-ups and small businesses but the business information they hold can help organisations plan their growth and development, make funding applications, get hold of up-to-date statistics and legal advice, as well as research new developments – essentially key information to help them thrive.
Now JISC and the British Library are calling for an integrated service model with universities, colleges and public libraries working in partnership to help businesses obtain the information and knowledge they need.
Entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders of community, cultural and charity organisations could all benefit if a more coordinated approach was adopted, for example through an online hub, to enable small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and others to access the full range of resources. Universities and colleges are ideally placed to help turn information into serviceable knowledge.
Simon Whittemore, programme manager at JISC, said: “Higher and further education institutions have a uniquely rich range of knowledge and expertise resources. There is an opportunity for them to take a leading role in enabling improved access to this knowledge and expertise as well as the supporting information services, to enhance innovation. Working in partnership with public libraries and other agencies, institutions can play a key part in a structured service model which offers tailored support and guidance for business sustainability and development. JISC’s recent report on Business Information Resources, undertaken by the British Library, will help open the dialogue.”
Nigel Spencer, research and business development manager, British Library said: “It is clear from our research that entrepreneurs and SMEs are looking for business resources that are easy to use, informative and centralised. Creating a one-stop-shop is therefore absolutely crucial for improving speed of access to information, easing the development of concepts and ultimately supporting future profitability.
“At the moment, organisations can access business advice via a range of academic and public library services, direct from publishers and through publicly funded business support services such as Business Link, with feedback from the SME community highlighting the British Library’s own Business & IP Centre as a prime example of best practice in providing business support.”