Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Something More From Your Library

You know you can find a book at your public library, but did you know you might also find a job there?

The Westchester (NY) Library System (where I am a trustee) has been a pioneer in offering career and educational counseling through our WEBS program. Literally thousands of Westchester library patrons have gone through the eight-week programs and various other programs and received individual counseling on everything from career management to job search techniques.

Help with your career is just one more way your public library contributes to the quality of your life. In a study released earlier this year by the American Library Association, 73 percent of public libraries reported that they were the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities. Why does this matter? Aside from the public’s never-sated need to update their MySpace pages, thousands of job hang in the balance, too. Seventy of the top 100 U.S. retailers accept online applications for hourly positions, and 16 accept only online applications, according to a 2006 study from Taleo Research. If you want to apply for a job, but don’t have a computer or Internet access in your home, you’re at a distinct disadvantage. Your public library levels the playing field.

But the library can do even more than help you file an online job application. It’s also the place to go for technology training, workshops on writing résumés and cover letters and on filling out online job applications, not to mention tips on establishing email accounts to receive the responses to your applications.

This is just one of many services provided to America’s communities by their public libraries. The cost to the average taxpayer? About $31 per year—or about the price of one hardcover book.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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