A call for joined-up services to help businesses out of recession

Sharing business information more effectively, particularly through colleges, universities and major reference libraries, could help recession-hit companies out of crisis and stimulate innovation, according to a JISC report undertaken by the British Library Research Service.

Libraries may not be an obvious source for all start-ups and small businesses but the business information they hold can help organisations plan their growth and development, make funding applications, get hold of up-to-date statistics and legal advice, as well as research new developments – essentially key information to help them thrive.

Now JISC and the British Library are calling for an integrated service model with universities, colleges and public libraries working in partnership to help businesses obtain the information and knowledge they need.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders of community, cultural and charity organisations could all benefit if a more coordinated approach was adopted, for example through an online hub, to enable small and medium sized services and others to access the full range of resources. Universities and colleges are ideally placed to help turn information into serviceable knowledge.

Simon Whittemore, programme manager at JISC, said:

“Higher and further education institutions have a uniquely rich range of knowledge and expertise resources. There is an opportunity for them to take a leading role in enabling improved access to this knowledge and expertise as well as the supporting information services, to enhance innovation. Working in partnership with public libraries and other agencies, institutions can play a key part in a structured service model which offers tailored support and guidance for business sustainability and development. JISC's recent report on Business Information Resources, undertaken by the British Library, will help open the dialogue.”

Nigel Spencer, Research and Business Development Manager, British Library said:

“It is clear from our research that entrepreneurs and SMEs are looking for business resources that are easy to use, informative and centralised. Creating a one-stop-shop is therefore absolutely crucial for improving speed of access to information, easing the development of concepts and ultimately supporting future profitability.

“At the moment, organisations can access business advice via a range of academic and public library services, direct from publishers and through publicly funded business support services such as Business Link, with feedback from the SME community highlighting the British Library's own Business & IP Centre as a prime example of best practice in providing business support.”

Building on good practice, and combining a mixture of online resources and physical support, the study calls on publishers to investigate the opportunity to sell packages of data through an online hub within the proposed integrated service model.

Licensing agreements may need to be honed to allow different access to information – as Lorraine Estelle of JISC Collections explains:

“This provides an opportunity for publishers to explore business and licensing models that will make their content available to small businesses that would not otherwise be able to afford subscriptions. This is a complex area, but a creative dialogue between the publishing and library community may result in solutions that enable publishers to extend access and develop new revenue streams."

JISC is to fund demonstrator projects exploring how universities can help facilitate the flow of information and knowledge resources to a much wider community, under a new call on access to resources.

Notes to Editors

JISC inspires UK colleges and universities in the innovative use of digital technologies, helping to maintain the UK's position as a global leader in education. www.jisc.ac.uk

JISC's business and community engagement programme supports UK institutions in their strategic management both of relationships with partners and clients external to the institution and of the associated services.

For further information on JISC's business and community engagement programme can be found at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/bce.aspx

Read the report and its recommendations at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/bce/stream4resfinalreport.pdf

Find out more about the access to resources funding call at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/futurecalls/grant.aspx

Contact - Nicola Yeeles, JISC Press Office, +44 (0)117 331 0667 / n.yeeles@jisc.ac.uk


The British Library
is the national library of the United Kingdom. It provides world-class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. Further information is available on the Library's website at www.bl.uk, which currently receives almost 2 million 'hits' or visits per month.

The British Library Business & IP Centre is supported by the London Development Agency (LDA) to provide a single access point to support entrepreneurs and SMEs in London to gain access to and exploit existing and new business and IP information, and other relevant content and data, guided by impartial Library information experts and associated partners. The Business & IP Centre has been used by over 150,000 people since it opened in March 2006. Access to the Centre is free, but users need a Reader Pass. For more information visit: www.bl.uk/bipc

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The British Library is the national library of the UK and one of the world’s greatest libraries. The Business & IP Centre, based at St Pancras in London, opened in March 2006 with the help of London Development Agency funding. Since then, it has welcomed over 350,000 people through the doors and has an excellent track record in supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs from all walks of life to start and grow businesses. The Centre provides free access to an unparalleled resource of business and intellectual property information (over £5 million worth), supplemented by one-to-one advice clinics, practical workshops and networking events, featuring ‘role model’ entrepreneurs.