08/01/2016

Three Reasons to Connect with Your Public Library

By Meagan Kittrick

In an effort to stay up-to-date with technology and trends, many public libraries are adding services available to patrons electronically (e-books, newspapers and magazines, resources like Lynda.com, etc.), maker spaces for entrepreneurs (3D printing, embroidery machines, audio and video recording studios, self e-publishing, etc.), and technology training.


“Every day 300,000 Americans get job-seeking help at their public library,” according to the University of Maryland’s Digital Inclusion Survey. To review how public libraries are providing essential career support services for job seekers, please read another Career Convergence article, “Public Libraries Providing Essential Support Services for Job Seekers” (Kittrick, 2014).


This past year, I had the opportunity to survey senior leaders in Ohio public libraries through my Action Learning Project for the NCDA Leadership Academy. This project sought to strengthen the relationship with the American Library Association (ALA), Public Library Association (PLA) division, assess how career development is incorporated in public libraries across the state of Ohio and share opportunities to support career development in local communities. (View the full report here).


Listed below are three reasons to connect with your public library, followed by supporting (anonymous) comments from survey participants.


1. Learn About Career Services, Resources and Programs Offered.
Many public libraries in Ohio are adding new career books and resources to their existing collection every couple of months. An estimated 42%, of survey participants, are not offering career services (i.e., career advice, career programming, career author presentations, hosting community events, etc.) to teen or adult patrons.

  • “We include career development materials as part of our regular collection development and assist patrons with things like resume and job applications, but that’s about the extent of it.”
  • “We offer computer classes to job seekers.”
  • “We don’t do hands-on career help yet but our reference department wants to hold a career fair next year.”
  • “We also provide a job listing board in the local library for businesses and employers.”

2. Share Your Knowledge.
Could there be an opportunity to partner with your local public library for career programming or offering career advice? In Ohio, 82% reported their public library does not utilize a career coach or counselor* as an employee, contractor or volunteer. (*A career counselor has a master’s degree in counseling and career development experience.)

  • “We often have people who want help with resumes and applying online for jobs. The best we can do is set them up with a resume template on Word and guide them through the basics of using the web.”
  • “Staff will help patrons locate websites and resource for resumes, etc. and we have a flyer of resources, and will help with uploading files for applications, but we don’t help write resumes.”
  • “We are a small library in a small town with a small budget, limited open hours and small staff or part-time workers. We have offered to do some job seeking training, but like other programs and services, it takes a lot of time and effort to get the word to those might be interested in using such services.”

3. Advocate and Link Career Development Initiatives.

Library staff provide a wealth of knowledge, and may be interested in learning about career development resources (i.e., regional or state one-stops, AARP Foundation – Senior Community Service Employment Program for patrons 50+ years old, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WIOA). State CDA’s could introduce their organization, as a resource, to provide referrals for career related activities and market NCD Month Poster and Poetry Contest to library patrons.

  • “People looking for work are helped at the library as much as we can and are always referred to the One Stop which has many services for them to use. They are close by and do a great job.”
  • “The past two years we have in-house an AmeriCorps Guiding Ohio Online worker whose primary goal is to assist adult patrons with all things digital including job searching, resume building, etc. this has been a huge asset to our ability to provide essential job assistance services to our community.”
  • “We host the county Job and Family Services office every quarter or so. They have access to our PCs and review Ohio Means Jobs, help craft resumes, and discuss interviewing tips with library users.”

 

Please leave a comment to share additional ways you connect with your public library!

References
Kittrick, M. (2014, November). Public libraries: Providing essential support services for job seekers. Career Convergence. Retrieved from http://careerconvergence.org/aws/NCDA/pt/sd/news_article/98753/_self/layout_details/true

University of Maryland. (2014). Digital inclusion builds communities today (and tomorrow). Retrieved from http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/

 


 

Meagan Kittrick, LPCC-S, NCC is a Career Counselor at the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Ohio: “Since 1976 - celebrating 40 years of providing Job and Career Services to the community”. Meagan holds a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a state Licensed Professional Counselor with Supervision designation and National Certified Counselor; she also holds a certification in executive coaching. She is a Past-President for the Ohio Career Development Association (OCDA) and continues to serve on the board as Membership Committee Chair. In addition, she’s a committee member for the NCDA Ethics Committee. She can be contacted at meagan.kittrick@gmail.com.

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6 Comments

Janet Wall on Monday 08/01/2016 at 08:20PM wrote:

People forget that libraries are a VERY important source of career information and assistance. One of my CDF students became the career and business librarian for the local Arlington, VA library.

Niel Carey on Tuesday 08/02/2016 at 04:19PM wrote:

Your timely article provides a strong rationale and specific steps to strengthen the relationship between career development and library professionals. That stronger relationship could result in increased career services in a familiar community facility.

Meagan Kittrick on Thursday 08/04/2016 at 01:51PM wrote:

Thank you for your comments Janet and Niel!

Excellent points on how career development professionals can partner with public libraries.

Rebecca Dedmond on Sunday 08/07/2016 at 01:14PM wrote:

Thank you Meagan! Your article is a reminder that libraries are among our most welcoming partners as we career counselors and GCDFs seek ways to reach more citizens! Our local librarian invited our GCDF cohort to conduct a workshop that focused on providing parents a tool and strategies to use at home to help their child with career awareness and exploration! It is now a yearly "event" with a growing number of parents attending. Keep up the good work!

Deb Cozy on Sunday 08/21/2016 at 08:51PM wrote:

When I was unemployed, I found that the public library was one of my greatest resources.I feel that there should be a greater collaborative effort by Workforce Development entities to partner with their local public libraries to help expand career resources and services for job seekers.

Meagan Kittrick on Wednesday 08/24/2016 at 02:12PM wrote:

Thanks Rebecca and Deb!

Here's a quick YouTube Video about one client's experience working with the public library and his job search: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgJvUtbJlNU

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the opinions of this organization.