Recently, we announced that Topsham Public Library was awarded a Libraries Build Business grant, an initiative of the American Library Association funded by Google to build capacity and expand our programming to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
We are excited about this new endeavor, but you might be asking yourself what will this look like. I spoke with Susan Preece, Director of Topsham Public Library and Nicole Jakubowski, staff member and assistant on this project, about what this funding actually means for Topsham Public Library and for our community.
If you are not familiar with grants let me give you a brief overview. Grants are one of the tools available to organizations like ours to help support our services. Grants are usually sponsored by other charitable groups and individuals and sometimes by governments or businesses. There is an application process and deadlines to meet. At one time, grants were very broad in what an applicant could do with the money they received; however, grants have become more focused and competitive. Organizations who receive funds must use them in accordance with the guidelines of the grant and provide documentation and reports to the grantor.
Through the Libraries Build Business grant, we received $38,200.00 which will be used to support our ongoing outreach to small business, entrepreneurs and job-seekers. Some of the funds will be used to purchase new computers, train staff, cover space costs, and the like. Our goal is to help create a blue-print for our library and, hopefully others across the country to provide resources, help and tools to support our community’s economic vitality. Library staff will receive training to help them connect individuals with the right organizations and help as they move forward in their pursuits.
The focus is not on doing something new but in coordinating with proven organizations to reach the people who can benefit by their expertise. Organizations like Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, Topsham Development, Inc., New Ventures Maine, and Maine Career Center are established organizations that assist those looking for employment or who may want to start their own business.
Not only does this grant help us here in Topsham, but the 13 libraries that received this award are also working together to create a playbook for any library in the nation who would like to build business.
If you are interested in more information or want to stay up to date on the developments, we have a website: