The Library as a Creative Hub: Exploring New Roles in the Age of Broadband Access

Public libraries have been a staple of communities for generations, serving as a place for individuals to access knowledge, literature, and resources they may not have had access to otherwise. However, with the rapid rise of technology, public libraries have become much more than a simple repository of books. In many small communities, public libraries now serve as co-working spaces, offering access to broadband internet, meeting rooms, and other resources supporting economic development and entrepreneurship.

In today’s knowledge-based economy, access to broadband internet is critical for businesses and individuals alike. Unfortunately, many small communities lack the necessary infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access to their residents. This lack of access can be a significant barrier to economic development. Businesses and entrepreneurs may hesitate to establish themselves in areas without reliable internet access. Public libraries can help level the playing field by providing broadband access to the community, making it easier for businesses to flourish in small communities. In addition to providing broadband access, public libraries are well-suited to serve as co-working spaces. These spaces offer entrepreneurs and freelancers an affordable and flexible alternative to traditional office spaces, which can be prohibitively expensive. Public libraries can foster collaboration, networking, and knowledge sharing among small business owners by providing a communal workspace, creating a more supportive and connected business community.

Furthermore, public libraries offer resources and programming that can support entrepreneurship and economic development. Libraries often offer free access to business resources like databases, market research tools, and business planning resources. They also frequently host workshops, training sessions, and networking events to help entrepreneurs develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed. By providing these resources, public libraries can play a vital role in supporting the growth and development of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, public libraries with broadband access are essential to economic development in small communities. As small communities face economic challenges, public libraries can be critical in fostering a more prosperous and connected community. Libraries can help level the playing field and support entrepreneurship and small business development by providing access to high-speed internet, co-working spaces, and other resources.

Interested in a business paradigm based on the common good?

Structures of Grace: The Business Practices of the Economy of CommunionStructures of Grace: The Business Practices of the Economy of Communion by John Gallagher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have long been interested in a business model based on The Golden Rule. This book presents a case study approach to ten such businesses who are members of the Economy of Communion which is a world wide organization dedicated to the common good. If you are looking for a refreshing paradigm for business then this book is a must read for you.

Feeding yourself while feeding others

Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the DeadJesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead by Sara Miles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Couldn’t put it down. It’s an incredibly well written book. I read her first book and was familiar with her. I also volunteer in a soup kitchen and a food pantry and have lived some of the same journey that she shared. I too see Jesus in the people we serve. Like Sara both the pantry and the soup kitchen are like church. They are definitely a community and they are a huge part of my life. I like Sara too because she is unorthodox and she brings a welcome freshness to holiness and what it means to be holy while remaining wholly human.

Peace of the City

A few months back I purchased some surplus iPads from a local school district. I had intended to use them in an after-school program where I am a volunteer. When I discovered that I didn’t need them because we already had enough computers I laid them off to the side. A little over a month ago a young woman I had met at Mass at Mount Irenaeus announced on social media that she had been hired to teach at Peace of the City in Buffalo, New York. I asked if she could use these extra iPads. She thanked me and said, “Yes.” Soon thereafter I received a call from their business official who told me where I could bring the tablet computers. I drove to the city and followed the directions of my GPS. I took a reluctant tour of a neighborhood on the west side of Buffalo that not too many non-residents have seen. Eventually I got to the site which is the site of a former Catholic school. I knocked at the door and soon a staff member came to let me in. I dropped off the iPads and a Chromebook and had a short visit with the business manager and quickly left the neighborhood. As I drove away I thought of the children and how each day they came to this school and what an oasis of learning it must be in one of Buffalo’s less lovely neighborhoods. I thought of how little choice they had of their lot in life. Soon after my visit I got a nice thank you from their teacher, Emma on Facebook and then a note from the school too. What I didn’t expect to happen was the lovely note that came in today’s mail from Emma and a few of the students who had gone out of their way to craft lovely cards of their own creation. That really touched my heart and made me want to do more. Thank you to Emma and the children of Peace of the City who are truly a blessing in my life. Peace.

Please Help Us!

I’m walking to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  in Olean, New York next month. Suicide has touched the lives of many. Perhaps someone you know has struggled with depression. I’m walking because my life has been touched by members of our community who have been affected. Please help us to raise awareness and funding for this cause. Peace and all good.

Follow this link to donate

Compassion is the fuel for a new economy

Chade-Meng Tan’s talk gave renewed hope to an idea I had for a model economic development and empowerment for youth that promotes the greater good. Last summer I  participated in a course at St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan Institute. It was called, “Retrieving a Franciscan Philosophy for Social Engagement.” As part of the course I was required to come up with a timely application of the principles which we were studying. The following is taken from a paper I wrote this summer.

“Life reduced to its simplest equation is about relationships. Implicit in these relationships is contract. Most of the time the contracts are implied and at other times in the are complex legal agreements governing business transactions. We live at a time and in a culture that is desperately looking for  a response to life that is grounded in principles that respect both the buyer and the seller. Principles that invite not only common property but value for what we can call the common good? Some might argue that such ideas are too idealistic and that nowhere is there any evidence that anyone has successfully applied such an approach.”

Chade-Meng Tan’s talk provides evidence that such principles are used very successfully at Google. Glad to have found this talk and thank you to TED for publishing it.

[ted id=1113]

Open Source – A model for Social Enterprise

I first became acquainted with open source software in the mid-1990s. My brother James asked me if I had heard of Linux. I had not heard of it up until that time. A few weeks later I bought Red Hat 5.0 at the nearby Staples. Now, the open source model applies to more than software, but then even the thought of working for the common good appealed to me. There was after all a higher calling in this work. It reminded me of the early Apple II days when people shared their work and their code.

In the years that followed I became sold on the utility of open source software and the concept of working for the greater good. I believe it’s possible to sustain oneself while at the same time providing a valuable service to the customer. It’s a win-win proposition. Open source software really fueled the development of the internet. Platforms like WordPress, Twitter and Google itself run on open source. But what does the future hold and can the open source model be applied to other ventures too. This summer I came across an open source eye ware manufacturer in the United Kingdom called Botho. This quote taken from their “Why Botho” page really sums it up.

Open Source is about listening to our community, understanding our needs, developing solutions and facilitating our growth in a selfless way.

“Facilitating growth in a selfless way”. That’s really the heart of open source and social enterprise. That’s appealing to me.

Fully Human

Earlier today I was reading Joan Chittister’s book, “Becoming Fully Human.” It’s a great read and filled with bite sized quotes from Sr. Joan and others. One of those morsels resonated with me.

The purpose of life is to let God work through us to make the world a better place for every living creature. Anything less than that which calls itself sanctity is a sham

I’ve been thinking a lot about social enterprise and how well this desire to make the world a better place for every living creature fits in that paradigm. Are there ways to earn a livelihood that make the world a better place for every living creature? What does such an enterprise look like? When I think of social enterprise I think of Grameen Foundation and Kiva which allow micro finance that empowers entrepreneurs and others looking for financial assistance. In a time when greed seems pervasive it is ennobling to see businesses designed to help the neediest among us.