Small Business Resources from the Memphis Public Libraries

Whether you’re an established, new, or aspiring small business owner, there are heaps of resources available to you—for free—from the Memphis Public Libraries. MPL’s Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, at 3030 Poplar Avenue, is home to the immensely helpful Small Business Center. Located in the Business/ Sciences Department on the library’s third floor, it’s the Mid-South-small- business-support-hub lovechild of MPL and First Tennessee Bank, and, in MPL’s own words, it “serves as a resource, referral and distribution center” for local businesses.

The Small Business Center provides reference materials, data, tutorials, and examples (in a variety of formats) for nearly all aspects of starting, structuring, running and growing a business. These resources cover the subject areas of business law, research, and planning, demographics, financing, franchising, grant writing, importing and exporting, insurance, licenses and permits, marketing, procurement, and tax information. Additionally, MPL provides users with access to business databases, LinkedIn Learning—LinkedIn’s online professional development and training resource, special collections of business e-books and audiobooks through Libby, and more. Really.

It’s true that for some of the resources mentioned here, a library card is required. Library cards are free, and you can get one in person at any Memphis Public Library branch (ID and/or proof of residence are required) or you can apply for one online.

It’s true, too, that though libraries’ origins and histories are tied to capitalism, though libraries’ offerings rely on the profit-obsessed systems of information production, and though libraries have not always been the beacon of equal access and impartiality they are often now known to be, public libraries today do work against some of capitalism’s basic foundations: they are not driven by profit, and they do strive to remove barriers to entry and access. As local public institutions, the resources and services they provide and their commitment to providing them to all people exemplify “resistance to an unjust [business] model.”1

MPL’s Small Business Center, though operating on a mostly un-businesslike model, exists to meet the information and resource needs of current and future small business owners in the area. No doubt their own existence and operations models offer alternatives to the profit-above-all motives of free-market capitalism. No doubt their desires to serve, to assist, to be available and accessible are worthy of replicating in our own endeavors, business and otherwise. No doubt, too, they do want local entrepreneurs to find success.

To access Memphis Public Libraries’ abundance of resources for business owners, head over to The Small Business Center in person (Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, third floor) or visit This support hub is here for you.

1 Burnett, Caitlin (2019) “Libraries Against Capitalism,” Spectrum: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 4. Available at: