Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What my lived experience teach about how academic libraries can support post-secondary student entrepreneurs?

I have held very negative views about business for much of my youth, even at one time gravitating towards Marxism. However, my university years helped to bring me in touch with realities. After almost completing my Bachelors in Political Science, I started to be more conscious of the fact that I needed to be job ready. Further, I was not willing to walk into politics, which I had a new distaste for after encountering university student politics. It was only then within my university years, that I awakened to the possibility of being my own boss and starting my own company.

For throughout my education, I could not recalled being encouraged by teachers to pursue entrepreneurship. Career guidance was biased towards becoming professionals or getting jobs. I find that even children books published are biased towards getting children to think about traditional careers. This for me is why our librarians need to step into the gap and demand that our children publishers not only produce books for children on traditional careers, but also books on the life of entrepreneurs and consultants.

All this said, it is only within years of my transition from undergraduate to my Masters that I began to consider and even study entrepreneurship for myself. This led to my Master thesis and eventually my first book (Scale, 2012). Yet, the greater good that came out of this experience is that I realised by doing my Masters in Library and Information Science, how libraries could have played a more important role in shaping young persons into realizing the option of entrepreneurship as an alternative to career seeking and job search.

Well, it is with this new understanding, that I have resumed studies as a PhD student. And as such, I now attempt to operate as a potential student entrepreneur, interrogating the academic library system to see how it could support me in this endeavour. As such, I just want to share briefly some of my own findings/observations (which may or may not be peculiar to the university system that I am within:

1. Most of the resources for entrepreneurship and career development are located within the business library.

This is problematic, as the business libraries in both universities that I study at are usually separated from the general library collection that social science, science and even humanity students access. Hence, unless they actively browse the library catalogue for such resources, there is little way of serendipitously discovering these resources.

2. Only business students get adequate training in using and accessing business databases.
This is problematic because, only business students will have the competence of knowing when to check a business database to find information, the strength and weakness of each and knowledge of which database to search for particular information. 

To some extent, select library students are introduced to these databases (especially if they are undertaking a business resource course). Nonetheless, all the rest of university students are excluded from this insider knowledge that could help inform their business planning and research.

Conclusion:  The way that the business library resources are separated from other disciplines, excludes students from other disciplines that do not take business courses from exposure to business resources and even the knowledge in how to use these resources to assist them in researching and planning businesses. 

Alternately, there are business incubators on campus. However, in my experience, business incubators and librarians operate separately, and not in partnership.


  1. Academic librarians must do something to reduce this unequal access and exposure to business resources. We cannot just leave all business resources within the business faculty, and not permit other students from other disciplines to not gain exposure to these resources.
  2. Academic librarians must also approach business incubators with a partnership to train student entrepreneurs in business resources and the use of the library resources to support their business research.

When we have done this, we as librarians would ensure equal opportunities for all post-secondary students to not just seek jobs, but also to become entrepreneurs.


Scale, M. (2011). Written information and planning in Jamaican small businesses: A usability approach. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing


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