Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library as Small Business Incubator
The library’s 25 locations and various partnerships make it well-equipped to serve small businesses.
“Currently, the library is working to increase awareness of our library spaces as co-working spaces,” says Laura Doyle, Senior Librarian. “We are partnering with a very proactive community volunteer to develop a library co-working network that will allow participants to connect with one another both in person at libraries as well as through an online forum.”
Library staff also participate in business gatherings throughout the community to learn more about small business needs, connect with new users and share library resources. By continuously learning and participating in the small business community, the library is better equipped to develop, refine and market its resources.
To help entrepreneurs exercise their creativity and develop innovative ideas, the library provides free:
- Meeting rooms in a variety of locations, sizes and configurations
- Flexible seating
- Recording studios with equipment and green screens
Information and instruction
- Remote access to business-related research and instructional databases
- Business workshops provided through a partnership with the Hillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center
- In-person technology instruction (MS Office, QuickBooks, 3D modeling, coding, social media, Adobe Creative Cloud and more)
Tools and equipment
- High-speed Wi-Fi
- Access to Internet-connected computers
- Media:scape collaborative workstations
- SMART Boards
- LCD projector systems
THE HIVE is a public community innovation center located within the John F. Germany Public Library. Far from a traditional quiet library space, THE HIVE encourages creativity, collaboration and co-working by offering an array of equipment, programs, tools and more to help patrons develop and realize their goals.
- For fabricating electrical and mechanical items, the Makerspace provides 3D printers, component kits, a CNC milling machine and workstations featuring hand tools.
- The A/V Recording Studio includes sound and video equipment, such as a green screen, a video camera, an electronic keyboard, microphones, mixers and editing software.
- The Art Center is especially handy for fabric and paper arts, offering sewing machines, sergers, an embroidery machine, a paper/vinyl cutter and a variety of other art tools and supplies.
In the last year, the library has introduced two new programs about entrepreneurship geared toward children.
- AlligatorZone benefits patrons and entrepreneurs alike. Families learn from and interact with local startup founders, while presenters showcase their products and receive real feedback from the audience.
- Venture Club teaches children (grades 3-5) about entrepreneurial concepts and supports their ideas for business creation.
Kids can also get fun, hands-on engineering experience at THE HIVE’s Robotics Center.
Photographs courtesy of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.