Just listened to this IMLS podcast series (also available for download or you can read the transcripts). Four state librarians from North Carolina, New York, Washington and Connecticut as well as state library staff from Michigan and Washington discuss what libraries in their states are doing to help residents during these difficult economic times.
In NC, the state library gave a series of job search workshops to teach library staff how to help job seekers. They brought in government employment agency personnel to help, which in turn has led to a number of partnerships between libraries and these agencies. Community colleges were included as so many people are now attending them to train for new careers. A wiki was set up to exchange ideas, and their electronic resources collaborative, NC Live, updated their job resources so every Tar Heel now has access to the latest e-books on resumes, interviews and the job search process. Mary Boone also mentioned how many job seekers are in need of computer skills training.
NY brought another perspective as Bernie Margolis felt that creating jobs was of prime importance, so he spoke about how libraries help entrepreneurs and cited Lojack and Duck Boat tours as two companies that were started solely by using resources from public libraries. He also mentioned the free entertainment options we offer. NY is trying to increase broadband internet access, but they haven’t forgotten about the unemployed and are trying to get Department of Labor personnel stationed in public libraries.
Sheryl Mase spoke about the resources available on the Michigan eLibrary which can be accessed with your driver’s license number – a great idea! MI wants broadband access everywhere too and they are partnering with their department of education to realize this goal. A number of their libraries have career centers and/or small business support centers. But MI has been hit harder by the economy than most places and has long been suffering from budget cuts so they are supplementing funding by partnering with private enterprise – see their museum pass and parks pass.
I’ve blogged about WA’s efforts previously, but I’m still impressed by their Hard Times site as besides providing employment and financial help, it links to local resources for basic needs. They are advocating for libraries by keeping the media informed about exploding library use.
Ken Wiggin from CT had similar comments, but mentioned how many small businesses use the library as their office – which we’d noticed savvy entrepreneurs starting to do several years ago.
IMLS has posted a link to various states’ resource pages for helping patrons during tough economic times.
What programs have you added to deal with the onslaught of unemployed patrons? Do you feel like more of a career counselor than a librarian these days? Are you helping a lot of people who really need to brush up on their computer skills?