Whether you're a lawyer, a business person, or a student, one of the most important resources you can possibly have is information, which makes a well-stocked library a valuable asset no matter what topic you're researching. The Pleasanton Library has been undergoing a transformation over the past few years, primarily based on community feedback and information gained from focus groups. Many of these changes are targeted specifically toward making it more valuable to Pleasanton's business community.
"We updated some of the business materials in terms of books and also offer a lot of information online," says Yu Tao, senior librarian and head of the reference division at the Pleasanton library. "We now have a business web page that includes business directories, business opportunities, statistics, business law, news, business planning, company information, and industrial information, along with links to investment information such as financial news sites." Other links on the Pleasanton library web site at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/library.html include information about how to start a business and even how to secure a business loan.
"If somebody wants to write a business plan," Tao says, "we certainly have a lot of books in our library collection, but you can also go online and get help. You can find out how to start a business in Pleasanton, Alameda county, or California. We have links that lead you to these areas and help you to find the person or the money or the information to start a business."
Another interesting feature of the web site is much more interactive and potentially very helpful to those used to walking up to the librarian's desk to ask for help. It's called the Q and A Cafe and it's a place where you can interact directly with a librarian while you're online. "Whenever you have a reference question or even a homework question, you can click on the Q and A Cafe link and then type in your zip code and ask your question," Tao says. The service basically works like a chat box that links to someone who can help you find the information you're looking for. The day after using the service, you receive a transcript of the whole dialog and a list of the web pages that the librarian searched via email. The service is sponsored by over 200 librarians in the Bay Area, and Pleasanton is one of the first ten libraries to join the program. All the librarians in the Pleasanton library are trained to work on the service.
Yet more information can be gleaned from the more than 3,000 electronic reference books available for reading online on the Pleasanton Library web site. The catalogue is actually a collective work from the Golden Gate Library Network, of which the Pleasanton Library is a member. Being a member of the network is especially advantageous when it come to business reference books, which are very expensive for individual libraries to purchase. By offering the books online, the Golden Gate Library Network can purchase one book and give the whole Bay Area access to it.
Overall, the changes to the library should give the business community access to information they may not have been able to obtain before in a manner that's inherently convenient. "With this web page," Tao says, "you don't need library card or anything. You just go in and the information is right there." The business section of the Pleasanton Library web site can be found at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/library.html .
For more information about library business resources, contact Yu Tao at (925) 931-3410.
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