Ya, the library. You know, the poster-festooned encyclopedia vault from school days past? You probably spent a lot of time there, researching for science projects and book reports. Remember reaching up on tiptoes to hand your library card to the librarian at the check-out desk?

This should bring you back – Encyclopedia Britannica! It’s never too late to join the "look it up club" whose motto was "we never guess, we look it up." Use the library’s valuable resources-even when you can see over the librarian’s desk. Today, make an appointment with your local business or reference librarian, and then do it again three years. If you move, do it again. This person is a wealth of information and can show you everything mentioned in this article.

Go visit your library. Why? Well, it’s like the story of our computers and brains – we don’t use all that we have at our disposal. And we don’t know all there is to learn from an institution that has been an institution and safe haven for many.

See generations of tax dollars at work-and work these twelve low-cost library strategies for business owners listed below. Make the phone call, set the appointment, get off your duff, and visit your local library. If you haven’t been to one in years, you might have to find it, too!

•The library card
An obvious benefit that allows you to borrow books, DVDs and CDs instead of buying them, saving you needless office clutter. Check and see whether you can reserve books online (tre convenient!) or whether your library has inter-loan agreements with other libraries, which gives you better access to what you’re looking for.
•Free classes
Find the calendar for the library system near you. You may have to do a little driving to attend the library’s free class offerings for anything that interests you. Usually you can find computer, writing, business, or career classes to assist you.
•Database goldmine
Each year, the library purchases databases worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (like Reference USA, census, Gayles Association listing, Morningstar, etc.). Ask the librarian to explain what each list is and how he/she suggests it might be used. Evaluate how each database can help you determine what networking groups to join, organizations to cold call for speaking engagements, or create your own cold calling or direct mailing database.
•Target market research
Survey newspapers and magazines to see if you would benefit from subscribing to them-checking them out before you spend the money is just plain smart! If you know that your target market subscribes to them, you should as well. Read it for a few months. Once you get a feel for the content, learn what the writer’s guidelines are and submit a query or article as a way to get in front of a large number of pre-qualified potential clients.
•Business development
Research back issues of local newspapers to find networking groups and create a list of potential business development partners. Provide others you meet locally with your list.
•Group work
Libraries are great places to meet other business owners. Many have plug-in areas for laptops. (If you ever visit Poulsbo, Washington, bring a cup of coffee and site in front of the fireplace!)
Learn what classes you can teach (they usually only allow free classes). This will help you brush up on your presentation skills and build your local visibility.
•Learn – duh?!?
Why spend hundreds of dollars per year on books, when you can order a book on the computer, receive a notice when "it’s in" and go pick it up? Libraries usually have a variety of books on CD that you can listen to in the car (and yes, even on audios). Remember you don’t have to listen to business CDs all the time; spice it up and get something different.
•Get on (the) board
Many libraries have "Friends of the Library" associations that can use board members with business experience.
See what volunteer opportunities are available in your community. Libraries hold many events for children. The library is a great place to give back to your community.
Books, books, and more books
Libraries take donations of books, especially those in good condition. Or they sell them for fundraising. Some libraries have a "used book store", an inexpensive way to find books to give away to clients and partners-and support the library at the same time!
•Rent out the library
or at least ask if they rent out rooms that you might use to have networking meetings, teach classes, etc. Some libraries only rent rooms out to non-profits, while others are happy to have the additional income when the conference rooms aren’t in use.
Once you meet your librarian, remember one of those other “old fashioned” feel-good gesters. Take out a pen, stamp, and write a thank you note. Pop it into the blue mailboxes before they, too, become a blast from our pasts.

Then get on the computer and use all you’ve learned to help you grow your business

Author's Bio: 

©2009 Maria Marsala, Profitability Specialist at Elevating Your Business. We provide kickass input to high-achieving women business owners looking for proven business results. We help you focus, take action and get better result$ — faster! Be next. In ten minutes you can assess your businesses strengths and weaknesses. Visit www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com today and take our free Business Checkup.