Marketplace radio had a great piece yesterday on how public libraries have become a popular place to search for work, especially for low-income job seekers. Overall, use of libraries and their free services is up since the Great Recession began. As the Boston Globe puts it, "But historically, nothing boosts the profile of a public library like a nice, dreadful recession."
As the recession has worn on, libraries have had to cope with a surge in people using the library for job searches. It's had serious ramifications for library staff and resources. From the Marketplace story:
With at least 15 million Americans out of work, libraries across the country have seen their own transformations: An Illinois library installed a new reference desk beneath a sign saying "Your Job Search Starts Here." In North Carolina, public librarians from nearly every county came together to share ideas on helping the unemployed. And some big city libraries are renovating entire floors to make more space for job-hunters.
This isn't the only role libraries have played in helping job seekers. In early 2009, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development partnered with the state library to hold sessions at the libraries to help laid-off residents sign up for unemployment benefits.
This at a time when library budgets are being slashed. Another round of short-sighted cuts that hurt the people who need these services the most. If you haven't been in a library recently, you might not be aware just what a crucial role they play keeping Americans connected in the social media age. This recent report from the Gates Foundation is a real eye-opener.
You can read the Marketplace story on job seekers and libraries reported by Zachary Barr, or listen to the full show here:
Now I'm curious - have any workforce boards, One-Stops or nonprofits partnered with their local libraries to serve job seekers? If you know of any examples, please add comments below.
Do you have any ideas for how the workforce system can work with libraries to help job seekers?
Have you used the library to look for a job?