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Library space dedicated to entrepreneurs, via BLKTECHCLT
Assets at Sugar Creek branch
Published Thursday, May 16, 2019 1:28 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

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BLKTECHCLT created a space to study business, innovation and black entrepreneurship.

Sugar Creek branch of the Public Library is dedicating space to study business, innovation and black entrepreneurship.

Over 100 print titles comprise the BLKTECHCLT bookshelf at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Sugar Creek branch, 4045 North Tryon St. The books are available, with an official launch expected mid-May.

“We are still working on the details for the launch,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Ann Stawski: “We did want to announce that the books are available at the branch, because they did not want there to be a lag of time for people to be able to find and use them.”

All books in the collection were provided by BLKTECHCLT, which held a book drive in February. BLKTECHCLT’s former space included a monthly event for families to explore the stories of black innovators. Closing their physical space meant finding a permanent and accessible home for the books—what better place than a library?

“The biggest question was, how do we continue to make the resource library still available to the community, and how does it get managed well?” asked Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of BLKTECHCLT, a member-based hub dedicated to fostering black tech entrepreneurship as well as matching black technologists with respective careers.

BLKTECHCLT member Rosalind Moore, a Sugar Creek Library leader, provided a solution.

“She had reached out to us particularly around activating BLKTECHCLT events at the library,” Dorsey said. “We pitched her on, ‘hey, we have all of these great books that were donated to us. Is there a way for us to activate Sugar Creek as a location that BLKTECHCLT members can really volunteer?’ Sugar Creek is architecturally beautiful, and the community that it’s in is predominantly black and brown. It is also what we would consider a lower income community as well.”

Placing the BLKTECHCLT bookshelf there provides further assets in that space.

“Our goals really are to share this wealth of information that was donated, and to share the details of some prominent black and brown innovators and entrepreneurs,” Dorsey said. “The goal of the library when we first thought about it was to give people a strong sense of identity about what they are capable of, where they come from, who has come before them, and what they can do and create. That remains.”

Said Stawski: “It is a really great fit with our Sugar Creek Library branch to find that permanent home so that the community can use the books for years to come. We are really pleased to be able to offer that space to them for use in the community.”

Titles on the BLKTECHCLT bookshelf include management titles from the Harvard Business Review, “The Power of Broke” by Damond John, founder of FUBU and an ABC “Shark Tank” investor, “Expect to Win” by Carla Harris—vice chairman of wealth management at Morgan Stanley, as well as other titles.  

“In terms of the community, [the space] was really identified through the collaboration between Rosalind and through Sherrell that it really meets the needs of the local community,” Stawski said. “It’s just such a natural fit there.”

People can donate books to the resource library by dropping them off at the Sugar Creek branch, and noting that they are for the BLKTECHCLT bookshelf.
As BLKTECHCLT moves on from Camp North End, which opened in January 2018, creating community access to resources like the bookshelf remains a priority.

“We moved out of the space in December, and went over to Hygge [Coworking] temporarily,” Dorsey said. “We ultimately realized that we were spending a great deal of time managing space. Being in a shared situation didn’t work for us long term. We had to make that executive decision about what is our true asset that we bring to the table. It’s really around being in the community, doing special events in partnership with tech companies or professionals in the tech industry that we can expose our members to.”

For time being, BLKTECHCLT is not pursuing space.

“It frees up our ability to better serve our members and do partnerships like the one we are doing with the library.”


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