05 March 2012

Business & IP Centre, Newcastle


Last week, I was in Newcastle briefly and had the opportunity to visit Newcastle Central Library. It's a very impressive new public library which opened in 2009 - you can read more about it here. I found the library every bit as wonderful in design, facilities and scale as the description suggests.

The major point of interest for me here is the Business & IP Centre, Newcastle - a very innovative collaborative project between the public library, local university libraries and the British Library. There's more information on the project here. It seems to be quite a significant attempt to deliver focused business support resources using a cross-sectoral approach. In particular, it may address some of the issues raised in the report:
British Library (2009). Business Information Resources: Landscape & Feasibility Study [Online]. London: British Library. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/bce/stream4resfinalreport.pdf

Although social enterprise is in some ways very different to other types of business - or to voluntary sector organisations - the issues about how libraries can support all these types of organisations can be quite similar. There are also similarities to questions about how libraries can support independent researchers - people working on research projects but who don't happen to belong to any academic libraries or to have easy access to a research library or a national library.

The mixture of resources (print and electronic), events, training sessions and one to one support sessions with advisors offered by the Business and IP Centre, Newcastle, mirror the approach taken by the British Library's Business & IP Centre in London (which you can find information about here). At a time when regional support for small and medium enterprises is being significantly reduced (Business Link advice centres closed last year, and funding for other smaller support organisations seems increasingly scarce) there does seem to be a real opportunity for libraries to provide vital information and support to these types of organisations - especially if they can work across sectoral divides. That's not to deny the very significant barriers in the way of such initatives, such as declining library funding and license conditions which prevent libraries from opening access up to electronic resources for business. But the Newcastle initiative seems to me to offer a really exciting example of what libraries could do - I hope it is successful!

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the link - looks like an interesting Australian management consultancy firm.

      Angharad

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  2. It would be great if libraries could become a source of information and support for business.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gemma,

      Thanks very much for your comment. I agree with you - libraries have a huge amount to offer in terms of providing information and support for business.

      There already is a lot of business information available in libraries, but I think it's not always promoted and marketed as much as it could be. The British Library's Business and IP Centre and the Newcastle Central Library Business and IP Centre have particularly useful business resources, which I think are promoted more effectively. They also offer very helpful additional services - like one-to-one consultation sessions, workshops and other events.

      Thank you very much again for your comment,

      Angharad

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