How I Boosted my Business Using Expensive, Copyrighted Material I Obtained for Free

The "mall" is the foyer of the Centr...

Vancouver Public Library. Things have changed just a little.

Like any other business owner, I spend a lot of time reading and searching for tools. I’m always on the lookout for tactics, tutorials, and strategies that I can use to improve my bottom line.

But because I’m a business owner, I’m also a cheapskate and a skeptic. I really don’t like shelling out money if I don’t have to, especially if I’m not sure the latest pro tip being marketed as a silver bullet will be any good.

So I’ve found a way to check out all of the latest and greatest business advice for free. And no, I’m not talking Pirate Bay. It’s all completely legal.

It’s at my local library.

Oh yeah, that place.

In this era of Google and ubiquitous computing devices like the iPad, when information is always just a click away, it is perhaps all too easy to forget about the library system. And maybe you imagine your library as it once was … a quiet, possibly fusty place, full of ‘dead tree’ media.

But like everything else, libraries around the world have transformed themselves, or are in the midst of doing so. They are now places where you can grab a decent cappuccino, test-drive a Kindle, and download a digital copy of George R. R. Martin’s latest. You can take out movies, or get training on how to use the latest version of Windows. More to the point, they’re also a place where trained experts can help you actually make sense of Google’s 34,087,748 results for a search on nutrition advice.

And in the raging debate about content, intellectual property, and copyright, libraries are the answer that has always been there. It’s a place where knowledge and information is free – free as in beer – and where the creators are still being compensated for their efforts.

They are also increasingly becoming community hubs, places where we can address that other issue of the 21st century: the lack of connection with real people in real time. You can take a class, join a book club, or just hang out in the café and people-watch.

So the next time you need advice for any aspect of your life, business or otherwise, you might want to check out what your local library has to offer. You may be surprised.


  1. Loved this! Thank you for the reminder… it HAS been a while since I’ve been to mine.

  2. This is so obvious but so under utilized. They even have a library dedicated to small business owners in Manhattan and I don’t visit as much as I’d like. Great reminder.

  3. I must admit that this article really jolted me back to the good old days when I used to go to the library for info. It’s really refreshing to have people appreciate the old way of obtaining valuable data. I for one had more of my creativity stimulated in a library back then. I will definitely find time to do it again. Thank you so much!

  4. True! I think if more of us went to the library, we might be able to clean up the blogosphere a little. Everyone seems to try to write their own opinions and ideas in blog posts, but why not recycle a few from the archives! :P As long as you cite your sources/paraphrase, you’re good to go.

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