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Business & Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian

Karen MacDonald
Consultations by appointment
Subjects:Business, Marketing

Business Outreach Welcome

Welcome to our Business Information Outreach Service

Kent State University Libraries (KSUL) is committed to the success of Northeast Ohio.

Entrepreneurs, businesses and economic development agencies that can use current and comprehensive business information are welcome to inquire about our extensive collection of information resources and our personal services.

The KSU Libraries can provide:

  • Individualized business plan or market research assistance
  • On-sight access to major business research databases
  • Individual or group training sessions on using business databases  

 For additional information, contact Karen MacDonald at

Entrepreneurs! Research Participants Needed

September 1, 2015

Entrepreneurs in NE Ohio are invited to participate in a research study.  The purpose of this qualitative study is to identify the information needs of entrepreneurs and determine the preferred mechanisms for providing the information needs. Your participation in this study will help us to better understand how libraries and business assistance agencies in Northeast Ohio can better provide awareness of and access to business information sources that will produce improvement in performance for entrepreneurs during product development, production and final marketing.  

To participate in the study, entrepreneurs:
1. Must be an original innovator or founder of a company that has operated less than 3 years
2. Must be an entrepreneur who is creating a new product or service
3. Must be an entrepreneur who has, or expects to develop, jobs for 20 or more employees

Selected entrepreneurs participate in a face-to-face interview. The interviews will take place at the entrepreneur’s facility or another mutually convenient place if the entrepreneur’s place does not provide the required privacy. Interviews will last from 45 to 90 minutes, based on length of the entrepreneur’s response to qualitative, semi-structured questions.  The interview will be recorded to allow for a verbatim transcription and the researcher will also take field notes.

There will be no compensation provided for your participation in this study. However, once the interview is completed, you are welcome to consult with the investigator regarding any current information needs.

To volunteer, or if you have any questions or concerns about this research, you may contact Karen MacDonald at 330-672-1683 or This project has been approved by the Kent State University Institutional Review Board.  

Kent State Business Librarian Awarded Research Grant from Knight Foundation

March 9, 2015

Karen I. MacDonald, MBA, MLIS


MacDonald Selected To Receive Knight Prototype Fund Award

Kent State University Libraries is proud to announce that Karen MacDonald, MBA, MLIS, Assistant Professor, Business & Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian, has been selected by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a Knight News Challenge on Libraries prototype winner.

MacDonald’s research project entitled Information for Innovation explores ways to provide information services to local entrepreneurs and business counselors, to see what services they might need to reach their goals. MacDonald will receive $35,000 through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps innovators take media and information projects from idea to demo. She will have six months to research, test core assumptions and iterate before building out an entire project.

“The grant will allow me to conduct focus groups and interviews with nascent and early-state entrepreneurs, as well as the counselors in various programs such as COSE, JumpStart, SBDC, Akron Global Business Accelerator, that support these new companies,” said MacDonald. She added, “I will be examining the information needs of local entrepreneurs and exploring ways to provide this information most effectively. It’s my hope that this research will result in clear outreach and instruction models for helping entrepreneurs meet their goals.”

Launching a new business requires strategic planning. “Strategic planning requires access to information that describes how a start-up business would interact with the external environment: industry profiles and trends, trade news, competitor information, market research reports, consumer lifestyle reports, local and regional demographic data,” said MacDonald. This type of information is not readily available on the Worldwide Web.  It is proprietary and generally quite expensive. An academic research library, especially a library that supports a business school, offers a variety of specialized business information resources, and the expertise to use them.

“We are very proud of the fact that Kent State University Libraries has aligned itself with the strategic goals of the University which include fostering economic development of NE Ohio,” said MacDonald. “The Libraries are committed to meeting the information needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners in this region, and the Knight Prototype Fund grant and the Information for Innovation research project will help to achieve that goal.” Kent State University Libraries is an active member of the Kent Area, Stow-Munroe Falls, Streetsboro Area and Twinsburg Chambers of Commerce, illustrating their commitment to strengthening relationships with the business community.


About Karen L. MacDonald, MBA, MLIS

Primary Investigator:  Karen I. MacDonald, MBA, MLIS
Assistant Professor, Business & Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian
Karen has 12+ years of experience as academic business information specialist. She co-edited the book, Business Librarianship & Entrepreneurship Outreach, 2011, Routledge.

Karen MacDonald is the Business & Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian at Kent State University where her reference librarian persona, Karen the Librarian, is well on the way to becoming an established figure in the Business School. However, her approach to “outreach” means promoting the use of the Library’s business information resources to any potential users outside of the business school.  This includes academic departments, University offices and of course, the local and regional business community. Her research interests include business information literacy, the information needs of entrepreneurs, marketing library services and the expanding role of the subject-specialist librarian.  Her work has been published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship and Reference & User Services Quarterly. Karen co-edited the book, Business Librarianship & Entrepreneurship Outreach (2010), which profiles programs at colleges and universities that provide information research assistance to entrepreneurs.  She is an active member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and recently served as Chair of the Business & Finance Division. She received her BBA from Eastern Michigan University and her MBA and MLIS from Wayne State University.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, please visit

University Libraries recognized for outreach to local businesses

 On Nov. 16, the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2011 Tree City Awards and recognized Kent State University Libraries with an IMMY award for its contributions to local businesses. IMMYs are given to recognize quality businesses and individuals in the Kent area in support of economic retention, reinvestment and new facilities development.

Ken Burhanna and Christine Ughrin, both of University Libraries, and Joe Salem, formerly of University Libraries, contributed their time and expertise toward these successes. Burhanna, associate professor and head of instructional services at University Libraries, accepted the IMMY award at the event. 

Recognizing the importance of entrepreneurial success and economic development in the Kent area, Jim Bracken, dean of Kent State University Libraries, and his business librarians have been reaching out to local businesses, development agencies and entrepreneurs to create partnerships for success. 

“Remaining consistent with President Lefton’s strategic goals, we are connecting with the world beyond our campus as we continue to look for ways to help the community,” Bracken said.

University Libraries has been providing local community members, business owners and entrepreneurs with community borrower access to, and assistance with, the vast information resources available within the libraries. These resources can be accessed through training sessions and one-on-one research consultations.

University Libraries’ business librarians have worked with the Small Business Development Center in Kent. This partnership has enabled business owners to find valuable market research for their business plans, which has lead to stronger applications to fund the launching of new ventures or expanding growing businesses. Recently, University Libraries played a role in the successes of Anderson Aerospace, a local satellite communications firm.