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Funding Boost Aims To Turn Libraries Into Startup Incubators

WIRED: Libraries might conventionally be seen as non-happening places, but a £650,000 funding boost is set to add a further two UK libraries to the ten already taking part in a scheme aiming to disrupt conventional libraries. The Enterprising Libraries grant, which launched in 2013 as a £1.2 million project in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England and the British Library, aims to support budding entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.

The scheme supports local libraries, by encouraging them to provide a place where people can exchange ideas and learn new skills. By drawing on the community networks fostered by local libraries, the scheme aims to transform libraries into places where entrepreneurial talent can be fostered.

“The formal business environment can be an intimidating place, but it needn’t be,” says Community Secretary Eric Pickles of the British Library. “Enterprising libraries give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to go and get free expert advice from their library, and receive the support they need to make the most of their great ideas”.

Under the Enterprising Library scheme, people interested in setting up their own businesses receive advice, coaching and help on how to develop a business proposal and pitch their idea to the market place.

“Local communities are untapped business resources — filled with capable and bright individuals who just need a helping hand,” says Pickles. “By extending the Enterprising Libraries funding today, we can help grow Britain’s ever expanding pool of entrepreneurial talent and ensure that local economicgrowth is supported across the country”.

“Public libraries are of huge value to local communities,” says Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library. “As familiar and trusted public places, and access points to vast amounts of free information, libraries also have powerful potential as engines of innovation and growth”.

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