By Carey Toane, UofT’s Entrepreneurship Librarian & Innovation Hub Ambassador
I hear a lot about innovation in my work. As entrepreneurship librarian at U of T, I work with startups on campus, whether they are taking a course, or enrolled in one of nine campus linked accelerators, or commercializing their graduate research, or working away in stealth mode in their dorms. These students are highly motivated, taking on the “drinking from a firehose” experience of starting a company on top of regular studies and other responsibilities. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about their ideas and help them find information to support their pitch decks.
One of the key ingredients for innovation is the intermingling of different opinions, skill sets, and perspectives. At library workshops and events like the Launchpad orientation for student startups, the audience is filled with students and faculty from a huge range of backgrounds. Everyone brings something a little different to the table, and you just never know who you’re sitting next to.
Another key to innovation is failure. The library is a safe space for students to fail, to learn without the pressure of evaluation or grades. When I meet with student founders for one-on-one or team research consultations, we focus on the search strategy as well as the results; research is a process of trial and error, of constant iteration, of taking paths previously untraveled. Funny, you could say the same thing about launching a startup.
I’ve had the pleasure of supporting Student Life via entrepreneurship events organized by the Career Centre. Now I’m looking forward to being an Innovation Hub Ambassador. The library’s entrepreneurship activities are a natural fit with the Integrated Learning Experiences and Future-Ready Students domains of innovation, as students integrate startup thinking into their education and head out into the world with a broader set of options for their careers: founding a company, working at a startup, challenging the status quo and changing the world. And even if their companies fail, entrepreneurs still make more money than their peers when they re-enter the workforce.
U of T is a diverse campus with countless opportunities for student growth, including those related to entrepreneurship, and it can be overwhelming for students to get a handle on everything that’s out there. As a librarian my MO is always to organize information, and so I’ve started collecting all of the entrepreneurship resources available through U of T Libraries and across campus. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a place to start. Please share it widely!
Carey Toane, MA, MLIS, joined the University of Toronto as Entrepreneurship Librarian at the Gerstein Science Information Centre in 2015, where she supports nine campus-linked accelerators and numerous entrepreneurship courses and programs. Her market research expertise is based on her experience as a business librarian at University of Western Ontario and York University, as well as over a decade as a marketing journalist and editor, copywriter, and content marketer at digital agencies and startups in Canada and the Nordic Region.