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Librarians in the LaunchPad

Monday, January 3rd, 2022
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Blackstone LaunchPad, the University at Buffalo’s entrepreneurial hub, supports our students in developing their ideas, pursuing their passions and commercializing their research. UB’s subject librarians play a key role in supporting the LaunchPad by helping students learn to manage and evaluate information beyond the classroom. “We think of them as mentors or ‘experts in residence,’” explains Hadar Borden, Director of UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad. “When a student is pursuing an entrepreneurial journey, they need many people to walk alongside them. Our partnership with UB Libraries expands the support that we give our students, providing them with a holistic approach to developing their venture.”

For the past two years, social sciences librarian Carolyn Klotzbach-Russell and engineering services librarian Erin Rowley have collaborated with Blackstone LaunchPad, leading interactive workshops, mentorship programs, and specialized research consultations designed to introduce students to information beyond the traditional book or journal article. “Much of the information that entrepreneurs need can be difficult to locate and obtain,” says Rowley. “Referred to as “grey literature,” it usually involves finding resources that include market research reports, competitive intelligence, patents and technical standards.”

Working as a team, Rowley and Klotzbach-Russell teach students how to search for these esoteric resources, providing the necessary context as to why would-be entrepreneurs should care about this type of information, and when it might be applicable to their ideas or products.

Rowley and Klotzbach-Russell have also participated in many Blackstone LaunchPad events, including the FinTech Design Challenge, the Inclusive Autonomous Vehicle Design Challenge, and the iiMak Innovation Sprint. At these events, both Rowley and Klotzbach-Russell demonstrate resources available to current UB students, as well as resources that are publicly accessible after one begins working in the business world. Additional information on supporting venture development is included in the UB Libraries’ research guide: . Created by subject librarians, the guide features resources and information applicable to student entrepreneurs, as well specific information related to any current Design Challenge or Innovation Sprint that Blackstone is leading. The collaborative partnership between the Libraries and Blackstone Launchpad is continuing to evolve, helping students to embrace their inner entrepreneurial spirit to achieve future success.