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Supporting the information needs of entrepreneurs in South Africa

Peter Underwood (Department of Information and Library Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 4 September 2009




The Library Business Corners (LBC) service for entrepreneurs in the Western Cape of South Africa uses public libraries as a channel for information and expertise. It is a “grass roots”, community‐driven, approach which has been adopted elsewhere in South Africa. Similar services have appeared addressing the same, or similar, groups of users, often concentrating on the use of information and communication technology.


Developing an effective service for entrepreneurs depends critically on the quality of staff and their contacts. The opportunities and problems of the LBCs’ approach are identified and a response to the emergence of similar services is considered. The “balanced score card” model is used to explore the vision and strategy of the present services and the potential contribution of information literacy.


Financial support for LBC work is scarce and unlikely to increase. The challenge is to create a sustainable service by the LBC team as points of presence, using the existing or reduced financial base. Concentration on increasing capacity at the point of delivery of information through knowledge of the business environment and information literacy is essential.


The paper describes the first application of the “balanced score card” technique to a public library business information service in South Africa.



Underwood, P. (2009), "Supporting the information needs of entrepreneurs in South Africa", Library Review, Vol. 58 No. 8, pp. 569-580.



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