Stumptown Startups Blog

Libraries becoming startup accelerators? It's happening.

Libraries becoming startup accelerators? It's happening.
Multnomah County Library.

We all know the public library can be a great resource and physical space for job seekers, but what about for job creators?  

A friend and co-worker sent me this recent article that got me thinking: maybe the Multnomah County Library could benefit from helping startups just as much as the startups it could help.

The Atlantic Cities article practically calls the marriage of libraries and entrepreneurs a match made in heaven:

"Would-be entrepreneurs everywhere are looking for business know-how and physical space to      incubate their start-ups. Libraries meanwhile may be associated today with an outmoded product in paper books. But they also happen to have just about everything a 21st century innovator could need: Internet access, work space, reference materials, professional guidance."

We’ve all seen new incubators and accelerators popping up around Portland (the city itself even created a new one), bringing new startups to the area, so it seems the library could be another host to consider. And hey, as the Atlantic Cities article tells us, someone else will try it out first.

"Arizona State is planning in the next few months to roll out a network of co-working business incubators inside public libraries, starting with a pilot in the downtown Civic Center Library in Scottsdale. The university is calling the plan, ambitiously, the Alexandria Network."

So could it happen here?

Jeremy Graybill, Marketing and Communications Director for the Multnomah County Library, isn’t aware of any ongoing partnerships, future plans or even ideas to provide something similar, and he points to the library’s efforts to help individuals find jobs instead, but he does call the ASU plan a “compelling” idea.

“It's an idea that solidly resonates with our mission and our goals of supporting the community and re-imagining ways the library can further achieve its mission,” he told me.

Ok – so local public libraries could become more relevant while helping local startups become successful? Sounds like a promising plan to me. Any takers?