There is a lot of criticism of the Houses of Parliament these days judging by the newspaper headlines but the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Enterprise have just issued a report that says “there is a national decline in the traditional use of libraries”, but the “unique reach and accessibility” of the buildings can attract a more diverse audience and host business support services.
Craig Tracey, Conservative MP for North Warwickshire who has led this report is a keen advocate that libraries should support female entrepreneurs. The British Library has an excellent Business and IP Centre headed up by Isabel Oswell and this service gave face-to-face support to over 5,000 people last year of which 62% were women.
I often use the British Library near St Pancras for meetings and have often used the Business Centre service myself. I use it as a space amidst the hustle and bustle of the capital where I know I can think without interruption and focus on an issue with a wealth of information readily to hand.
British Library’s Business & IP Centre
The British Library have launched a new facility for entrepreneurs which includes a dedicated space on site where start-up founders can access support through workshops, mentoring and events https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre. In an era when library space is often at a premium it is encouraging for the British Library to take this stance.
I recall the former chairman of British Gas, Cedric Brown, was a self-made man who learned his way up. The library was an important place for him, allowed access to knowledge and gave him space. We need that space and knowledge more than ever, especially if more women are to become business owners.
Libraries are the engine of economic growth and we should welcome this new report.