HOW ACADEMIC LIBRARIES CAN SUPPORT INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library has become an unexpected hub and catalyst for university and community innovation and entrepreneurship. By integrating a makerspace and lending technology collection, the library was actively seeking to support active learning and discovery outside the classroom. As the whiteboard walls became filled with collaborative work and the makerspace equipment ran non-stop, innovative prototyping became an everyday event. Naturally, some of those innovators began looking to monetize their work. The library began providing some services and resources directed specifically to these entrepreneurs, not otherwise freely available in the community. While libraries have long been intellectual property experts in the field of copyright, the University of Nevada, Reno is also a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) as established by the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). Each year the engineering librarian attends weeklong training at the USPTO and has conducted workshops and numerous individual consultations on what patents and trademarks are, what can be protected by IP laws, how to find existing patents and trademarks, and how to acquire protection via a patent or trademarks for students, faculty, and members of the greater community.
The library also sought out campus and community partners already supporting entrepreneurship in order to create a network which would mutually benefit library innovators and the local business community. Partnerships and communication channels were created with the business and research departments on campus, the local economic development authority, makerspaces, startup incubators, funding organizations, small business and legal experts, and existing small businesses. These connections have resulted in several prototypes going into production, the acquisition of several patents and trademarks, startup businesses, and channels where current students and existing small businesses can work together to further both their agendas and success. The library believes it is uniquely positioned to provide resources, services, and referrals to the increasing number of innovators both in it’s academic and business communities.