Demand for coworking space has continued to rise dramatically in 2017 and is forecast to do so again in 2018. An online search for trends in coworking will return dozens of articles expounding on the subject, all indicating that in many places around the world, the number of facilities and the amount of office space devoted to coworking has doubled in 2017 and the expectation is that such facilities will continue to expand in number and size in 2018.
One trend that remains somewhat unique is finding coworking space in a public library. While there are examples of this public space increasing as well, there are still only a small percentage of public libraries offering a space that is rich in amenities and conducive to the support of startup entrepreneurs.
Free Work Space
At Naperville Public Library, a coworking space was opened in 2015 as part of NaperLaunch, a business startup services center at the library’s downtown location, the Nichols Library. Over the past 2.5 years, the space has served thousands of “coworkers”, new entrepreneurs and local workers who have found an office space to meet their needs. At NPL, this facility is connected to an impressive array of supporting services and programs that have helped quite a few business startups in Naperville and surrounding communities.
Since using this space is free of charge, it is a welcome solution for many startups facing the challenge of earmarking their already thinly stretched capital for office space instead of growing a customer base that generates needed revenue.
Networking and Collaboration
Additionally, the space at NPL offers opportunities for networking and collaboration between the various users of the space. A new entrepreneur’s visibility is thus increased just as new business operations are starting up and market awareness is perhaps the greatest need.
The program offering at NaperLaunch is a rich mix of presentation, instruction and participatory events. Meetups, roundtables and small business workshops are available every week and cover all aspects of starting up and running a business in Illinois. Mentoring services are also available.
Through these events, NaperLaunch members meet and associate with other entrepreneurial-minded individuals and build a strong startup community.
Office Equipment and Technology
The library’s Tech Buffet that is located nearby also offers access to state of the art technologies that can be used to create marketing videos and other marketing materials such as buttons, fliers and etched glass give-aways (as examples), and 3D-printed prototypes of products. Access to standard office equipment is also available, such as printers, fax transmissions (outbound), copiers and scanners. The use of only some of these services incurs any costs, and when it does, it is minimal.
With free Wi-Fi and in-table access to power and USB charging capabilities, the coworking space accommodates the use of portable electronic devices, such as tablets, laptops and telephones. Coworkers are in a pooled office environment, so telephones may be used in the room. Otherwise, most workers are tuned into their own music sources, heads down and working privately.
The coworking space at NaperLaunch has proven to be a good solution for many coworkers in the area. Come on by and take advantage the convenient location!