LBPL 900
Photo courtesy Long Beach Public Library.

Last time, I wrote about a diamond-in-the-rough for small business owners: the Small Business Development Center. Today, I’m focused on an invaluable resource that many of us have all but forgotten about: the public library.

Guilty as charged.

I too had forgotten the power of the library card until recently. Luckily while writing my new book, Sell Local, Think Global—which aims to help small businesses with limited financial resources—I re-discovered one of the best free tools around.

Or, as it pertains to Long Beach, 12 of the best free resources around.

  • 101 Pacific Ave. (Main Branch)the studio image courtesy of Sarah Bennett
  • 1836 E. Third St.
  • 4055 Bellflower Blvd.
  • 195 Bay Shore Ave.
  • 4036 E. Anaheim St.
  • 560 E. Hill St.
  • 3680 Atlantic Ave.
  • 2900 Studebaker Rd. 
  • 1595 W. Willow St.
  • 5614 E. Britton Dr.
  • 1401 E. Anaheim St.
  • 5571 Orange Ave.

At these branches—in each of Long Beach’s nine districts—you can not only find a wealth of free media and small business resources, you can also use each location’s no-cost wi-fi and surprisingly advanced technology offerings.

The Main Library, for instance, houses “The Studio”, which boasts:

While other nearby firms, such as Purple Porcupine in Irvine, charge for printing 3D prototypes, with a little bit of elbow grease—and a proposal form—you could get it done for free at the library.

The library also offers the opportunity to attend community events (which can serve as great networking opportunities) and rent their public meeting rooms for your own events (for $200 and up).

In addition, the library offers downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, and movies. Instead of paying $22.63 for the privilege of listening to the excellent business book “Four Disciplines of Execution” last week, I could have (face palm) gotten it for free—and not even had to worry about returning it, since the download simply expires after the loan period ends.

Pro tip: install Overdrive, an app for your iphone or ipad that syncs the free downloads from the library (not just audiobooks, but movies and ebooks, too.) If you become addicted to the library’s free downloads and the title you are looking for is not available, add triple the inventory to your Overdrive by adding the resources of the OC and LA library. The nearest branches are just a short drive away in Lakewood, Los Alamios/Rossmoor, and Seal Beach.

Finally, the library provides incredible online business and career resources accessible from the comfort of your laptop like:

  • Databases of sales leads, mailing lists, and market research
  • Research and analysis of businesses around the world
  • Do-it-yourself legal resources and forms
  • Business planning handbooks
  • Business-focused newspapers and magazines.

The point is, the library should become one of your go-to resources, and the local librarian should become one of your best friends. Once you start discovering everything you can access for free, you’ll need a helping hand to steer you toward the information you really need.

300-SellLocal-Thinkglobal-OlgaMizrahi-CoverHave a question for me? Bring it on! Every question posted in the comments, below, will be answered thoughtfully and, if it’s useful to others, may even be featured in an upcoming column or blog post.

Want even more? Order my new small business book, Sell Local, Think Global, packed with 50 invaluable tips that will take your business to the next level in no time.

Oh, and just because you’re an awesome reader of this column, you’re also invited to a fabulous (and free) book launch party on Friday November 21!