Cabinets of Curiosity

With some recent archival projects on our plate an article from MPR News caught the attention of Lindsey Dyer our Director of Library Services. “File this under nostalgia: New book pays tribute to the library card catalog shares information about a new book from the Library of Congress entitled,  “The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures.”  It celebrates catalogs “as the analog ancestor of the search engine.” Library of Congress author, Peter Deveraux, states that “There’s tens of millions of cards here.  It’s a city block long.” This was a very timely article considering some of the historic catalog items we recently found here at the James J. Hill Center.  Lindsey recently took some time to dig up and share a few iconic treats from the vault.

Lindsey: Card catalogs are indeed “cabinets of curiosities” as are the ways we have kept track of information over time. Librarians worked tirelessly to create calm in the chaos of information, cutting and pasting any relevant facts and tid-bits. Take these snapshots in time from the 1980s – gems of nostalgia for Gen Xers and older millennials. What research paper would be complete without the help of the card catalog?

At the Hill, business librarians had a special task of identifying and capturing industry trends – like how Nike is taking over the sneaker industry, or the rise in fax machine sales. While the methods have certainly changed (we aren’t cutting out and taping facts to cards, though I have to admit that sounds cathartic), we still aim to find the best industry information there is, combing databases (paid and free), and translating that information.

We have been, and always will be, an entrepreneur’s best resource!

Visit the James J. Hill Center and it’s reference library Monday through Thursday 10AM to 5PM and check out all of the current resources.  Also, ask one of our business librarians for some assistance with a database and see what gems of knowledge you can find to build you business success.


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Reference Transformation & Relevance

We can’t officially wrap up National Library Week without reflecting on the week’s theme of transformation, and what that means to reference libraries like ours at the Hill Center.

When the value of a cultural institution is in question, it’s really the relevance of the institution that’s at stake. For reference libraries many times their relevance is translated into the number of visitors, number of clicks, and number of positive survey results – but even with this data, the impression of relevance can often times be missed. In order to truly understand relevancy, we need to understand our impact on a case-by-case basis and this is often times qualitative.  We need to ask questions like – have we transformed to meet the real needs of our community? Are we providing an inclusive space to think differently, share ideas and take risks? These questions are hard to measure but at the Hill Center we have begun to see the results.

James J. Hill has played a pivotal role in introducing me to the start-up culture. From presenting at 1 Million Cups and attending its many thought-leader panels, I have richly benefited from the proactive resources and seemingly infinite networking opportunities”  Entrepreneur

“The fact that I have this resource available to me, both the facility and research staff, is an absolute relief.”
Business Owner

According to IBISWorld, the Library industry forecasts a slow and steady growth in the next five years – whereas the online database and print book industries are forecasting a decline. This tells us that the nature of the traditional reference library is already transforming into new arenas. At the Hill, this means that beyond offering key business information, we don’t just rely on what we have – we rely on who we know – and what we can do.

At the Hill Center, we meet our community at every point in their entrepreneurial journey. Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or find yourself needing data to branch out into a new market – we have the “secret sauce” that will get you to the next level. What’s the recipe? We like to think our people make all the difference.

Being relevant isn’t just about having relevant information – it’s about having a welcoming space for ideas to fly. The Hill Center creates a space for meaningful engagement in our business community – and it shows. Come to a 1 Million Cups presentation on a Wednesday morning, and you will see the space transformed into a conduit for idea and talent sharing, and just sometimes that right connection to take your idea to the next level.

What I appreciate most about the Hill Center, is the continued commitment from staff to uphold the entrepreneurial spirit of our “founding father,” James J. Hill. The original entrepreneur, Hill didn’t take hard work for granted, and neither do we. We’re here to make that hard work a little easier for you, forging a path that will make a difference – and hard work is always relevant.

“Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then more work.” – James J. Hill

Composed by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. 
It you have more questions about the Reference Library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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The Hill Reference Roundup

From Georgia to NOVA…


October at the Hill was buzzing with visitors from as far as Georgia to our own Nova Classical Academy.  They stopped in to build lists, research start ups or just catch a glimpse of history. Another prefect example of the vast array of people our Reference Specialists visit with day to day.

Here are some of the examples of who, what and why people stopped in…  

  • Our reference library staff assisted over 130 researchers in October.
  • Most researchers were from Minnesota, though one researcher this month was visiting all the way from Savannah, Georgia.
  • Several researchers this month came to use our resources to build a list of businesses.
  • It was a great month to build a list of businesses, as we began a subscription to A to Z Databases this month. Come check out this new resource, with the most up-to-date data and a user-friendly interface.
  • The majority of our visitors in October are in the start-up or growth stage of their businesses.
  • One researcher investigated digital strategy and digital disruption using our journal subscriptions to titles like Harvard Business Review, McKinnsey Quarterly and Sloan Management Review.
  • Another researcher explored demographic data related to recreation trends to help develop a marketing plan.
  • A group of about 30 students from Nova Classical Academy stopped in to view our space. As one girl gazed at the second level of the building in awe, she asked our librarians, “What do the people in those offices do?!”

 We look forward to seeing you at the Hill.  Contact a Reference Specialist today!

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The Hill Reference Round-Up

Blue Prints to Business Plans…

September at the Hill was buzzing with visitors from students to entrepreneurs researching blue prints to business plans.  It is a prefect example of the vast amount of resources our Reference Specialists have at their fingertips.

Here are some examples of who, what and why people visited us! 

  • Over 110 researchers welcomed in September.
  • Most researchers were from Minnesota, and a few traveled from Wisconsin.
  • Several researchers this month came to use our resources to help them develop their business plans.
  • The majority of our visitors in September self-identify as entrepreneurs.
  • A student from the U of M studying architecture viewed historic building blueprints for a course project.
  • One researcher explored sales data and patent information related to exercise equipment.
  • We often welcome job seekers, but had one unique researcher this month, who works to support individuals with severe mental illness and conducted job searches on behalf of those individuals to locate potential workplaces near their homes to accommodate transportation limitations.

We look forward to seeing you at the Hill.  Contact a Reference Specialist today!

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There Are No Stupid Questions!

Many sticky notes with questions like who, what, when, where, how and why, and a question mark, all posted on an office noteboard to represent confusion in communincation

You can imagine the vast array of questions a resource library gets asked in one day.  In my brief time sitting at the JJ Hill Centers front desk on a Wednesday afternoon I was asked, “Can I look up every address I ever lived at?” and “Do you have a book that would show me where to find all the award emblems that can be given to student in school?” Our reference librarians can almost always find an answer and if not, they can point you in the right direction.  We are a business reference library and we cover every business imaginable, which leaves us with a vast database of facts and details that people quickly discover can connect them to more information than they may have thought.

But, is there ever a question that is too off the chart to answer?  In short, no. In December 2014 the Gothamist reported on a discovery found at the New York City Library.  A reference librarian was cleaning house and found a large box of old reference questions from the 1940s and 50s.  Questions varied from “What is a life span of an eyelash?” to “What percentage of bathtubs in the world are in the US?” to “Where can I rent a beagle for hunting?” Amazingly enough the system back then was the same as today and a reference librarian called them back with an answer.  There were of course question where answers could not be found, but the fact that people asked gives a wonderful nod to the trusted resource a reference library held then and still does today.

Here at the Hill we believe there are no stupid questions.  So, if you can’t find it when you search online and you want to dig deeper, contact us.  As the esteemed and highly respected Carl Sagan once said “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every questions is a cry to understand the world.” Come learn with us!

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The Hill’s Guide for Job Searchers

By Leah Kodner, Business Reference Librarian


Are you looking for a new job or even thinking about switching careers entirely? At the James J. Hill Center, our librarians help people every day with the job search and career exploration process. We have a number of databases that can help you make the transition much easier and help you find your next job sooner.

Selecting an Industry

If you’re thinking of switching careers, you’ll want to do a little research first. You want to make sure that, whatever industry you choose to work in, there are going to be job opportunities. Looking up potential industries in our IBISWorld database is a good place to start. IBIS can tell you about the industry’s performance over the past few years and can give you its outlook for the coming years.

Another source for industry research is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. The Business Journal publishes articles about industries every week. After learning about the state of your industry across the entire country in IBISWorld, you can use the Business Journal to learn how the industry is performing locally.

current performance

 The “Current Performance” section of IBISWorld’s report on Libraries and Archives in the U.S.


Performing Industry Research

When you’re researching your new industry, there are a few things you’ll want to know. You’ll want to know what products or services the industry provides, what trends it’s been experiencing, and who it serves. IBISWorld, again, is a good place to go for that information.

To learn about all the recent developments within your industry, EBSCO is a useful tool. The EBSCO database is an article conglomerator, gathering articles from industry journals, news sources, and trade publications. It can keep you up to date on all the latest news within your industry.

Finally, you will want to learn what companies operate in your industry. It will be especially important to discover which companies are located near where you live, so you can begin to look for jobs within the industry. Luckily, we have some great sources for finding companies!

ebsco articles

EBSCO articles about trends in the library industry


Finding Companies in Your Industry

The best way to find companies in your industry is to use Gale DemographicsNow. Gale allows users to build targeted lists of companies based on either the SIC or NAICS code for your industry. You can search for companies in any area of the country, choosing from states, counties, cities, Zip codes, or even a mileage radius from a specific address. Gale can also help you limit the size of companies you search for, using number of employees or annual revenue. You can narrow your search to companies with minority ownership, search for only company headquarters, and more. Clearly, Gale DemographicsNow is the most comprehensive way to build lists of companies.

Another way to find companies in your industry is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s Book of Lists. The Book of Lists contains “best of” lists that have been published in the Business Journal over the past year. These lists provide the top players in a given industry within the Twin Cities metro area. If you are looking to find a list of the local big players in your industry, this is the place to go.

We have a number of other databases that can find companies in your industry. PrivCo can find large private companies, Guidestar can find nonprofits, and Uniworld can find companies with branches in foreign countries. Between all these sources, you can find all the companies you want in your industry.

gale list

Gale DemographicsNow list of libraries in St. Paul


Company Research

If you are interested in working for a specific company, it’s important to research them in-depth. Good sources for individual company research include EBSCO, Gale DemographicsNow, and PrivCo. EBSCO can give you all the latest news updates about the company. Gale DemographicsNow can tell you its size, year established, the number of branches, and its competitors. If the company is private, PrivCo can provide more information than you’ll find anywhere else. With our databases, you’ll learn all there is to know about the company you’re researching.

 privco profile

Part of PrivCo’s profile of The Library Corporation, a private company in the U.S.


Stop by The Hill today and let our librarians help you with your research! The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday from 10-5.



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4 Tips for Finding Startup Funding

We’ve all heard you need to spend money to make money, but when you’re starting a new business you might not have that luxury. Entrepreneurs need to promote themselves and their ideas any which way they can. Here are 4 free things you can do to find startup funding.

1. Do a grant search – Grants are extremely competitive, but the rewards are great. Many grants are available specifically for women and minority business owners. SBA.gov and The Foundation Directory Online (available at the James J. Hill Center – see description here, along with a list of our other databases) are good places to start.

2. Network and pitch – There are many business networking groups in which you can share your ideas and get feedback from peers. Practice pitching your business so that you’ll be great at it when the time comes to pitch to an investor! 1 Million Cups St. Paul at the James J. Hill Center is a good opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs, hear pitches, and pitch your own business.

3. Take out a loan – We know, we know, you might be paying off student loans and the idea of owing even more in the future isn’t appealing. But a small business loan can be a great help, as many of these loans are low-interest or designed for disaster recovery. Check out some opportunities at SBA.gov.

4. Buddy up – Having a great business partner can be key to funding your startup. Work with people whose strengths complement yours – maybe you’re more of an “ideas” person but don’t have impressive sales skills when it comes to pitching those idea to potential investors. This is where a business partnership can be beneficial. In entrepreneurship, you may feel like a pioneer, but it may not be best to go it alone.

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Database Showcase: Uniworld Online – Directory of Multinational Company Information

By Sehri Strom, Business Reference Librarian


  • Are you looking for sales leads for multinational firms?
  • Are you looking for jobs in the US and abroad?
  • Are you interested in expanding your business abroad?
  • Are you looking for product sourcing opportunities?
  • Are you researching a company and want to know where they operate and who owns whom?

Available in the James J. Hill Center’s library, you’ll find contact information for companies in 200 countries and 20,000 industries. Use Uniworld Online to find American firms with offices in other countries and foreign firms with offices in the United States.


Companies can be searched by country, region, state, keyword, postal code/zip code, radius, industry code, revenue range, and number of employees.




Company information available includes headquarters, branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates of multinational firms.

A company record typically includes address, CEO name, company telephone number, fax number, number of employees, annual sales, website, company email, product description, NAICS classification, division information, affiliate name, affiliate address, affiliate contact name, affiliate fax, and affiliate phone. Results can be downloaded in an Excel format. Uniworld Online updates their data daily and each record is reviewed at least once per year.


If you’re searching for information on global companies, Uniworld Online is a great place to start. Come to The Hill and a librarian will be available to assist you in using Uniworld Online. The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday, 10 am – 5 pm.


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Tips and Tricks for the American Hospital Directory

By Leah Kodner, Business Reference Librarian 


One of the lesser-known databases at The Hill is the American Hospital Directory. The American Hospital Directory contains over six thousand records for domestic hospitals. Hospital profiles include contact information and statistical information regarding hospital costs, Medicare claims data, and more. It’s a very useful resource for anyone researching hospitals and the healthcare industry. So, how does it work?

Searching for an Individual Hospital

The American Hospital Directory can easily be searched for individual hospitals, using the search box in the upper right-hand corner. Hospital profiles are very complete and accurate and are updated regularly. The profile of the Hennepin County Medical Center, our example hospital from the photograph below, was in fact updated less than a week before this blog was written!

Hospital profiles begin by providing address, telephone number, website, and a map of the hospital’s location. Next, the type of hospital is listed. In the case of the Hennepin County Medical Center, this is listed as short-term acute care. We learn the number of employees, the number of patient discharges, total revenue, and number of Medicare-certified beds. Following this is the executive directory, providing the names of contacts such as the CEO, Director of Nursing, and Chief of Staff.

Next, we are given extensive statistics about the hospital. We learn the number of beds in each unit of the hospital (intensive care unit, nursery, etc.). We learn the revenue of each unit and get information about Medicare and Medicaid use in each unit. We get statistics about the number of discharges, the average length of patient stay, and the average number of patients seen in a day. We also get the total hospital revenue. We get statistics about the number of surgeries, the number of births, and the number of outpatients seen.

Next, we are given a list of all services provided in the various units, services such as sleep studies, spine surgery, kidney transplants, and physical and speech therapy. We are also given a list of accreditations held by the hospital and are told whether or not these accreditations are current. Finally, we learn the teaching status of the hospital. If it is a teaching hospital, we are provided with the total number of residents and interns. Between all of this information, we get a very complete picture of the hospital, its size, its specialties, and its accreditations.



HCMC’s statistics in the American Hospital Directory


The Advanced Search Feature

The American Hospital Directory can also be used to build a list of hospitals that meet certain criteria. Searches can be narrowed by geographic variables including city, state, zip code, or area code. You can search by the type of facility, including children’s hospitals, psychiatric wards, rehabilitation centers, etc. You can search by services provided, such as cancer treatment, heart transplant, hospice care, etc. You can search specifically for teaching hospitals. You can also limit your search by the number of beds, the number of discharges, and patient revenue. In all, your search can return a very specific list of hospitals.


American Hospital Directory’s Advanced Search


Who Uses the American Hospital Directory?

Here are some examples of the many possible applications of the American Hospital Directory:

  • Job seekers in the medical industry use it to find lists of potential hospitals to work for;
  • People researching the medical industry use the statistics to determine which parts of the country have strong medical markets;
  • People with medical conditions research hospitals to find out their certifications and accreditations, and also to find out which hospitals are qualified to perform the procedures and services in question; and
  • Medical students and potential medical students use it to search for nearby teaching hospitals.


These are just some of the potential applications of the American Hospital Directory! Stop by The Hill today and let our librarians show you how it works. The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday from 10-5.

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Industry Information at Your Fingertips with EBSCO Business Source Corporate

By Sehri Strom, Business Reference Librarian


What Can EBSCO Business Source Corporate Do For You?

Are you starting a small business, growing your current business, developing a new product, or looking for a job? EBSCO Business Source Corporate has the company information, industry trends, industry profiles, and best practices information to strengthen your business, refine your product, or improve your job search.

Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

A recent Sage survey showed that successful small business owners were 78% more likely than less successful business owners to have created a formal business plan. Recommendations from the same survey included, “Do your research. Conduct a thorough market analysis of target customers, competitors and current trends”.1 EBSCO Business Source Corporate provides accurate and timely information about current industry trends, best business practices, industry research, and company research, which can be used to craft a mindful and strategic business plan.

Job Seekers

Industry and company profiles contain information to help job seekers explore industries and companies, which can help you target specific companies that match your values, interests, and skills. They also provide you with information on industry trends and company performance that can help you speak knowledgeably about your potential employer and their industry during an interview. In today’s highly competitive job market, thoroughly researching a company and its industry provides you with a competitive edge when you can demonstrate your knowledge, interest, and commitment to the position.

Searching EBSCO

EBSCO contains abstracts and full-text articles from more than 2700 magazines, academic journals, trade journals, and newspapers. Also included are company profiles, industry profiles, company SWOT analyses, and country reports. Publications include Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, Bloomberg Businessweek, Inc., MarketLine Reports, and more.

The Business Searching Interface seen below makes it easy to browse company profiles, SWOT analysis, industry reports, and country reports.

For general articles and news on industries and countries, the EBSCOhost Web option seen below searches magazines, academic journals, industry profiles, and trade journals for current information on industry trends, best practices, and more. For example, a search using the keywords, small business best practices, finds article titles such as these:

  • “Customer Service as Growth Strategy: CRM Best Practices for Small and Medium Businesses”
  • “The Importance of Digital Asset Succession Planning for Small Businesses”
  • “New Crowdfunding Infographic Shows How It Has Made a Big Impact for Small Businesses, Offers Best Practices”



 Another way to search publications is by using the Publications tab, which allows you to browse magazines, journals, and newspapers by publication title.



EBSCO Business Source Corporate provides entrepreneurs, small business owners, and job seekers valuable information to support their business plans, refine or implement new processes, and strengthen job search and interviewing skills. Whether you are starting a business, growing your business, want to improve your business processes, or searching for your next position, EBSCO can help you find the information you need. Come to The Hill and a librarian will be available to assist you in using EBSCO Business Source Corporate to your advantage. The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday 10-5.


[1] Marketwired. (2015, May 7). 2015 Sage State of the Startup Survey Discovers Women and Generation X Most Likely to Found New Businesses. Marketwire (English).


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We are pleased to announce the completion of our elevator renovation at the James J. Hill Center. This project was financed in part with funds provided by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society and the F. R. Bigelow Foundation. It will greatly increase our ability to serve patrons with accessibility needs.

Please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit our brand new elevator!