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Library Links Up With Business Service

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Imagine you are in the vending machine business and your best shot at extending your customer base is by contacting companies of more than 30 employees, all of whom take coffee breaks throughout the work day. How do you find them?

Maybe you manage a computer parts company that is manufacturing a new product and want to make sure the name you’ve chosen for it hasn’t already received a trademark? Where do you go for the information?

The Oxnard Public Library may be a good place to begin.

The library recently linked up with Metro Business Services, a private business in Pasadena that, for a fee, digs up business profiles, searches patents and copyrights and provides other services useful to business people.

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Metro Business Services has a staff of librarians who offer their research skills to individual clients and businesses. They also offer their services to members of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System, which helps subsidize the program.

The Oxnard library and the Thousand Oaks Library are the only Ventura County members of the Cooperative system, but the Thousand Oaks Library does not subscribe to Metro Business Services.

Cost for Metro Business’ assistance ranges from about $5 to find the address of a business, to $430 to determine whether a business logo has already been used. Library cardholders receive discounts of about 20% on all research. Metro Business also helps people prepare resumes and offers a person locater service.

Doug McLaughlin, an Oxnard Public Library reference librarian, said that much of the information for which Metro Business charges can actually be researched in the library’s own business reference section--providing the researcher isn’t in much of a rush.

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“It just depends what you have more of, time or money,” he said. “We have things that you can research by brute force [manually], or you can just talk to them on the phone and get the information quickly. [Metro Business] works well for businesses that are used to paying a lot of money for services. It depends on the nature of your business and how prosperous you are.”

The library’s own reference shelves contain such titles as the “International Directory of Importers,” “The Directory of Executive Recruiting,” and “SBA Loans,” as well as about 130 phone books from throughout the United States and abroad.

Though gathering information through Metro Business Services may be more expensive than researching on one’s own, there are even more expensive alternatives.

“I probably spent $1,200 on trademark searches for our new pet product,” said Steve Hartmann, marketing manager for Oxnard’s Green Foods Corp., a health supplement manufacturer, who did the search through the privately owned Government Liaison Services Inc., a document research business in Virginia.

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“We went through eight false starts with names for the product [eventually named Barley Dog], and each time we paid $185 to $300,” he said.


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