Top Ten Business Resources You Can Access Anywhere with Your Free Library Card

By Gillian R. RSS Tue, May 12, 2020

Check out some of our favorite business resources, accessible from anywhere with your library card number and PIN. Most of BRIC’s business resources are also available from anywhere.

10. Gale ebooks
Do you find yourself wishing you could check out those big fancy hard-backed reference books? Here’s your chance to read them at your leisure, plus they are fully searchable! If you’re looking for classic business research, Gale ebooks should be your first stop. Explore over 70 fully-searchable reference titles. Our favorite text is Business Plans Handbook which includes 47 volumes of actual business plans compiled by, and aimed at, entrepreneurs seeking funding for small businesses. You can download, email, or listen to business plans across many different industries. Other highlights in Gale ebooks include Principles of Business: Marketing (2017) and The Sage Handbook of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (2018).

9. Business Insights: Global 
Can’t decide if you want to start a cafe or a pet grooming business? Start here if you’re searching for information on different industries. Search Business Insights: Global for information on companies, brands, market rankings, investment reports, corporate histories, industry studies, and business news from a variety of reference sources, directories, and periodicals. Flexible searching allows you to search by keyword or industry classification code for current and historical information to power your market research and industry knowledge. 

8. Mergent Intellect: First Research
You caught me, another market research database! But, hear me out, after using Business Insights: Global, you can narrow your search using Mergent Intellect: First Research to really hone in your market research and industry knowledge. This database resource lets you take a quick and efficient deep dive into a ton of research without the cumbersome search process. This database has it all in one place, it even recommends closely related industries for a more intuitive look at your market. Finally, a tool that makes it simple to monitor industries, news, trends, opportunities, and issues. Pro tip: Mergent Intellect is a collection of databases. From Business and Entrepreneurs database collection, click on Mergent Intellect and then select First Research from the Mergent Intellect homepage.  

7. SimplyAnalytics 
Do you love all things data? Looking for robust demographic information? Can’t live without maps and downloadable spreadsheets? Well, my number seven pick is for you! Now available remotely, SimplyAnalytics is a mapping, analytics, and data visualization application that makes it easy to create interactive maps, charts, and reports using powerful demographic, business, and marketing data. Search or browse over 70,000 datasets. This is a great tool for doing your demographic research. You can generate and download reports for both demographic and spending in the area where you intend to locate your business. Thematic maps are useful for viewing concentrations of businesses like yours or people you may want to market to in a given area. Don’t love maps? That’s okay, Simply Analytics has multiple views available including comparison charts and rankings. Create a free account to save your work and favorite data sets. 

6. RBdigital Magazines
Need a break from the hardcore research? Why not browse a magazine? Read and download your favorite business magazines online. Hop on over to our Digital Media portal to access current and back issues of top business magazines via RBdigital Magazines. Some of our favorite business magazines include AdWeek, The Economist, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Forbes. Learn how to register and login to your account today!

5. ebooks and Audiobooks on Overdrive
Number five is a two-for-one from Overdrive! You can still check out books even though the library is physically closed by downloading ebooks and audiobooks to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Pro tip: search by "Available Now" titles for a quick fix and place holds in the meantime. Search or browse by subject or collection. There are over 800 business titles and almost 600 are available to check out right now! Sign in to place holds, create a wishlist (I’m always building a to-read list!), access your history, and view your loans. I know one librarian who’s read 24 ebooks since the library’s closure!

4. Libby
Libby is an app that works with public libraries using Overdrive (like the Free Library!). You can download the free Libby app (available for iOS and Android devices) to borrow Overdrive ebooks and audiobooks on the go. Watch this short video to learn more about your new BFF, Libby. Bonus: You can connect library cards from other library systems to borrow books. (Hi to our friends throughout Pennsylvania!)

3. Universal Class
In the mood to brush up on or learn a new skill? Take online continuing education courses via Universal Class in a wide variety of subjects at your own pace from real instructors. Take courses in business, finance, entrepreneurship, accounting, office skills, and computer training/web development. Looking to shake it up after your Quickbooks class? Take classes in candle making, bread making, weightlifting, depression management, and more. 

Number two is another online learning platform! offers intermediate to advanced professional development courses. Learn the basics from Universal Class and then dive into If you’re looking to build on more advanced skills, you can start with this resource first. Enjoy free access to thousands of courses on business, design, marketing, technology, project management, bookkeeping, and more, taught by industry experts.

1. Reference USA
We made it to number one! Reference USA is a powerhouse and, full disclosure, this librarian is a fangirl! This collection of databases contains detailed information on over 57 million companies, 320 million individuals, and 1.2 million physicians. Use Reference USA to build a list of competitors large and small, create sales lists of individuals and/or businesses, and discover demographic details to help find your target audience. Searches are fully customizable by location, business type, income, and other categories. Download lists and view heat maps of your data. Plus, create a free account so you can save your work!


You can find all of the above resources and more via our Business Databases.

Looking for a little guidance on leveraging these resources? Make a virtual appointment with a business librarian today!

How do you use the Free Library’s business resources? Tweet @flpbusiness your experiences and photos-you might make our June newsletter!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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