I attended a class this morning at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) office and the presenter (from an outside firm) mentioned Google several times, which kind of makes sense, as the class was about digital marketing and Google is huge in the digital spaces. Plus, Google does contribute to or partner with the Small Business Development Centers in several ways. Meanwhile, even though the presenter stated that analog marketing was still necessary, he did not mention the library at all, except to say that you could use your library card to gain access to online databases that would help you in your marketing.
Later the same day, I attended a class at the Memphis Public Library. The presenter was from the TSBDC itself and the class was on starting a small business. Even though the class was held in the library on the floor that is set aside for and dedicated to business and science with a wealth of resources in those subjects, the presenter did not mention the library at all. He was literally standing in the building within a stone’s throw of more information than the entire class could absorb in the rest of our collective lives and he failed to even mention this free resource! Yet, he did mention google several times!
When the subject of non-profits came up, he said the TSBDC does not help non-profits because they don’t pay taxes, which is where the funding comes from — and that was all he said.
Meanwhile, that same library has an extensive Non-Profit Resource Center on the same floor as the one where the class was given, and it was no more than a few yards from where the speaker was standing. He could have been so much more helpful to the person who asked about non-profits by pointing the questioner toward that collection of materials.
Perhaps what is needed is a class for presenters at the library to educate them about resources the library has available BEFORE they give classes to the public. That way, they can incorporate the wealth of materials already accumulated in the library into their presentation.
Even worse than all that is the frequent sight of people who post online that they did research when all they did was google one time or scroll through a group on Facebook for 5 minutes. That is barely the beginning of a drop in the bucket to actual research!
Genealogy provides an example of how real research is done. It is a multi-stage process.
1) Decide what specific question you want to answer.
2) Figure out what record(s) may contain answers to that question.
3) Figure out how to access the record(s).
4) Access the record(s).
5) Evaluate what you found.
6) If it provided the answer, decide what you want to know next.
7) If it did not provide the answer, go back to step 2) and repeat.
The absolute best way to handle the research process (whether in a specific area such as business or genealogy or in general) is to start with your local library. Librarians are trained experts on the books, magazines, databases, videos, brochures, and other resources that the modern library carries. Librarians can help you with steps 2) through 7) of the research process, including the important part of step 5) evaluating what the record shows to determine not only what it says but also how reliable it is.
Take advantage of the services that are waiting for you at your local library. Start your journey toward having a better life. Open your mind. Learn and grow!
P.S. None of the foregoing is meant to disparage or complain about the TSBDC or its programs or presenters. I have learned a great deal from their classes and look forward to attending more of them, as well as working with them on upcoming business plans. This is just a personal rant over how under-appreciated the public libraries often are and how people fail to realize how deep the wealth of knowledge is at the public library.