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Public library offers extensive free market-research options

By Vance Marriner


SYRACUSE — Market research is an essential process for businesses and nonprofits looking to start new ventures, secure financing, support grant requests, and understand their markets.

Traditionally, budgeting for research has been a challenge for small businesses with limited resources, but some resources available through the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) provide the tools to conduct sophisticated and in-depth market research analyses for free.

Peg Elliott, supervisor of the Nonprofit Resource Center at OCPL, recently delivered a presentation highlighting ways that small businesses could use the library as a market-research resource. An audience of 22 people gathered at The Tech Garden in Syracuse on May 23 to learn about a number of library services that can be used by market researchers. These services include:

  • ReferenceUSA — A database of over 25 million U.S. and Canadian businesses and 89 million U.S. residences. Users who want to compile lists of leads or competitors can search for records by address, industry, SIC or NAICS code, employee size, sales volume, and other variables.
  • Business Decision — A reporting and segmentation tool that allows users to assemble a comprehensive market analysis that could easily cost thousands of dollars if purchased from a private vendor. It provides demographic forecasts and consumer-spending data and thematic maps at a variety of geographic levels. The service also incorporates a psychographic segmentation system called Tapestry, which offers insights into consumer lifestyles, attitudes, and behavior patterns.
  • Ebooks — A wide variety of business ebooks are available. Among them is the “Business Plans Handbook,” a compilation of business plans from throughout North America.
  • Newspaper Databases — The library offers articles from “thousands of local, regional and national newspapers and newswire services.”
  • Business Insights: Essentials — A suite of tools that provides trade-journal articles, industry overviews, market share data, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses for various companies.
  • — This is not a market-research resource, specifically, but a training website that offers video courses in a wide range of business, software, professional skills, and personal-development topics. Courses in marketing and market research are available.

The Onondaga County Public Library’s market-research resources are available online to OCPL cardholders. 

Contact Marriner at

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