Southern Oregon Makes a First Impression
By Marta Tarantsey
Roslyn Donald, Jackson County Library Services Business Librarian, reminded me yet again that the library card is the smartest card in my wallet, when we sat down for a chat about her role and work in Southern Oregon.
Month Four on the job sounded like a good time to check in with Roslyn to memorialize the similarities and differences between her last role and her work at JCLS, before the Rogue Valley becomes her baseline frame of reference. Roslyn relocated to the area to serve as the Business Librarian in June, building on her ten years of experience of serving as one for the San Mateo City Library.
What was your first thought when you saw the JCLS Business Librarian opportunity?
I was interested in working with a larger countywide system and in going back to being a Business Librarian.
What stood out to you about Southern Oregon?
The area has some logistical challenges to it – one needs a car for meetings, to conduct business, Medford has a direct flight to Portland and some other key cities but the service is not as frequent as in some larger areas.
What were some similarities between the Rogue Valley and the Bay Area? We don’t discuss those often?
While there is a prevalence of tech companies there, it was not reflected in the pool of information seekers with whom I interacted most. Sure, there were quite a few tech entrepreneurs, they were plugged into a separate venture capital ecosystem and library was not at the top of their list. I spent more time with the ‘mom and pop’ business crowd, those who wanted to start restaurants and landscaping businesses, as well as home healthcare agencies. In that, my work here is similar: I work with those who may have an interest in becoming a realtor, starting a food truck, and having an engraving or a landscaping business.
What are key characteristics of the business landscape in Southern Oregon?
The agricultural sector has a larger presence here, so I faced a steep learning curve when learning about the ag economy here but local connections such as the partnership with A Greater Applegate proved helpful in navigating it. This area is also less populated and therefore has a different feel in terms of amount of traffic that comes through. There are also fewer festivals and community events for outreach, but at the same time I appreciate the slower pace here. Business owners are visibly invested in making this area more economically viable and it shows. There are also many smaller companies here, as opposed to a strong but few large corporations. There is much potential in integrating how the agricultural, heavy industrial, and transportation sectors, which are strong here, can continue to integrate and grow.
What is your Outreach approach?
When it comes to planning outreach, I continue to build on the amazing groundwork that Elanna Earhardt, who previously served as the Business Librarian, has accomplished. I looked at the existing entrepreneurial support organizations, such as the Chambers and Downtown Medford Association and started attending their events. My next step was to connect with organizations that support underrepresented groups. I look forward to connecting with Únete and BASE next, to collaborate with their members who are interested in entrepreneurial support. Women Entrepreneurs of Southern Oregon is also very active now and I will attend their Expo in Ashland on November 5th.
What are some of your goals?
The Library newsletter is one of the best resources for anyone out there, including business owners. There is a separate newsletter for them, as well. Sign up at https://jcls.org/newsletter/. I look forward to growing the subscription base for the newsletters via outreach and more connections this Fall and Winter. I will also continue to inform business owners of how they can access resources such as the Udemy learning platform through the library, which provides free training modules on topics ranging from OSHA compliance to ISO 9001 standards. Connecting with me through the JCLS “Book a Librarian” page is a great way to start the conversation.
By Marta Tarantsey