Public Libraries Providing Essential Support Services for Job Seekers

By Meagan Kittrick

Estimates show that as many as 30 million Americans rely on public libraries for career search assistance each year”, reported in The Digital Inclusion Survey, managed by the Information Policy and Access Center at the University of Maryland and the American Library Association (2013). Public libraries are community hubs, providing essential job seeking support services and resources which include:

  • Access to computers and free Internet (days, evenings and weekends)

  • Employment and career information databases and tools

  • Testing and certification materials

  • Assistance with online job applications

  • Training opportunities in technology, academics and career to improve a wide range of skills, knowledge and abilities

  • At some public libraries, integrated career centers or contracts with career development professionals to provide career expertise and training to community job seekers

On July 22, 2014 President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill that will open access to federal funding support to public libraries for effective job training and job search programs. WIOA will become effective on July 1, 2015 although several provisions will become effective on other dates. Watch the recorded event from the White House.


How can your public library assist you and your career clients? Are there opportunities to partner with your public library to offer career development services to potential clients?


Listed below are current career-related resources and services, offered by many public libraries, to encourage exploration into available resources for career practitioners and their clients. In addition, to stimulate partnership ideas or brainstorm innovative career programs to share career expertise with job seekers:


Is reading a part of your career practice? Stay up-to-date and refer clients to relevant career reading.

  • Career and business reading collection to include print, audio and/or electronic books (ebooks) on career exploration, job searching and social media, test preparation and certification study guides, resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, entrepreneurship and small business books.

    • CREATE A SERVICE: Check out, “Blueprint for a Job Center at Your Library” by Bernice Kao and Megan Pittsley-Fox to learn about how to set up a career center at a library.


  • Access to free and premium online career databases including but not limited to:

    • Reference USA

    • Dun & Bradstreet

    • O’Net Online

    • Occupational Outlook Handbook

    • Vault

    • Learning Express Library

    • Magazines and Newspapers



Are career services offered at a public library near you? Plus, possible additional referral options for clients seeking to enhance their learning as a part of their career development.

  • Career Counseling Appointments (for individuals and groups) entail free, 60-minute appointments and may include the following: career assessment and planning, resume and cover letter review, job search strategies and interview preparation. Clients may select to attend one appointment or regularly scheduled sessions during their career search process. Cuyahoga Works offer two locations for career counseling appointments: the main facility is on Cleveland’s eastside and a satellite office is located on the west side of Cleveland. Career Counselors also travel to other library branches throughout Cuyahoga County to accommodate both the geographic and transportation needs of clients.

  • Career Workshops are intended to provide specialized information on career related topics and emerging trends, business and entrepreneurship information and social media, fostering interactive discussions while practicing new skills in a safe environment.

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Classes offer the opportunity to learn English or to sharpen language skills in partnership with local community organizations. Also, print materials are available to assist in preparation for the U.S. Citizenship Test and English proficiency tests.

  • GED Classes provide adults (ages 19+) with free GED preparation and skills enrichment offerings, in collaboration with local Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE).

  • Job Seekers Series consists of three 5-week segments Launch, Leap and Land providing free, short-term peer support with weekly career topics and networking opportunities with local community leaders and human resources representatives throughout Ohio.

  • Technology Training offers free classes for computer and Internet basics, Microsoft Office, Blogging, Digital Imaging and Cloud Computing.

  • Encore Entrepreneur Series is a free 6-week series that assists community members who are thinking of starting and growing a successful business with industry experts.


*Links provided are specific to Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Lifelong Learning opportunities.



Are there opportunities to give back and advocate for the field of career development?

  • Develop and maintain community, state and national collaborative partnerships with:

    • High schools, vocational training facilities, community colleges and universities

    • State Workforce Agency

    • Special Worker Groups: Disabilities, LGBT, Mature Workers, Military-to-Civilian, Minority, New Americans, Community Re-Entry, Teens and Women in the Workforce

    • United Way Information and Referral Services for assistance with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling services.


About Cuyahoga County Public Library

One of the first public libraries to implement a career center and is a nationally recognized Adult Career Planning and Resource Center is Cuyahoga Works: Job and Career Services, Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) in Ohio. First named InfoPlace, the department supports 29 library branches and has been in existence since 1976. The team consists of four Career Counselors (licensed or certified counselors) and a Career Assistant who provide career counseling, resources and services for teenagers through job seekers over 50.


Please leave a comment to share other public library resources and services with NCDA readers!



Meagan KittrickMeagan Kittrick, is a Career Counselor at the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Ohio. What she enjoys most about her job is the opportunity to offer free career counseling to teenagers through mature workers, to address the connection between personal and career development issues to facilitate successful job search strategies through various transitions and life events. She holds a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a state Licensed Professional Counselor – Clinical Resident and National Certified Counselor; she also holds a certification in executive coaching. Meagan has served on the Ohio Career Development Association (OCDA) board for the past 4 years and is currently Past-President and Nominations Chair. In addition, she’s a committee member for the NCDA Ethics Committee and Social Media sub-group. She can be contacted at meagan.kittrick@gmail.com.


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Elizabeth Craig    on Saturday 11/01/2014 at 11:58 PM

Excellent article Meagan! I highly recommend that everyone read it. There is a wealth of information in this article. Terrific suggestions for support services that libraries everywhere can provide for job seekers. Meagan has also provided terrific links to additional lifelong learning classes and civic engagement opportunities. Plus the links within many of the links give even more resources.

Niel Carey   on Sunday 11/02/2014 at 03:34 PM

Meagan, Thanks for a very interesting and informative article! While many libraries provide career information and related services, your article provides specific references and resources which can be used to add to their information and complement or strengthen their services. I will refer your article to the Director of Libraries in my home county (Howard County, MD).

Jim Peacock   on Thursday 11/06/2014 at 03:18 PM

Nicely done Meagan. We have a fairly robust career arm in our local library and I will be sharing this article with them for sure.

Lots of great resources!

Meagan Kittrick   on Monday 11/24/2014 at 03:32 PM

Hi Elizabeth, Niel and Jim,

Thank you for your comments and sharing this information with libraries near you!

It was exciting to write about and hope that more viewers will continue to read and/or comment on the growing partnership between career development professionals and libraries.

Bernice Kao   on Thursday 10/08/2015 at 06:22 AM

Thank you for including our book, "Blueprint to have a job center in your library" as essential reading about
providing job service in the library. The first 5 star review has just appeared online. I hope you and your colleagues may like to have some comments.
Though I have retired from job services in the public library, I am still active in volunteering job coaching with the Workforce Connection and California Employment Development Department. I conduct 2 job clinics monthly. One is about hidden job market (First Things First;) the other, "Interview Dynamics Workshop," trains job seekers how to communicate
with story telling about their matching skills. It stands for STARC -Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Connect. I had 15 students this afternoon; and we had a ball learning and laughing.
My first professional job was at Cuyahoga County Library way back. I earned my MLS degree from Case Western Reserve Library.

Meagan Kittrick   on Tuesday 10/20/2015 at 03:22 PM

Hi Bernice, Wow! Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your book review. What a small world! I'd love to talk with you more about your work at Cuyahoga County Public Library - we are preparing to celebrate 40 years, in 2016, of offering career services to the community! Thank you for continuing to provide career services.

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