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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.