Career Catalyst Mandel Public Library of west palm beach • Funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant • from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, • administered by the Florida Department of State, • Division of Library and Information Services
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach is an urban library serving a population of approximately 100,000. • When the grant was applied for, the unemployment rate in Palm Beach County was 11.5%. • In a survey of library patrons, 48% reported they were using the library’s resources to find a job. • 46 percent said they had no internet access at home.
It all started with making that first connection at our local Workforce Alliance.
Workforce Alliance had the expertise to assist the unemployed but did not have the time, staff or space to offer the scope of computer classes needed. People who arrived there with no computer experience struggled as they needed a basic knowledge of computers before participating in job-search classes or even to apply for many jobs.
Our patrons either did not know about Workforce Alliance or for one reason or another left there discouraged. Workforce Alliance required business attire, the lines were often long and there was no place for children. We began to look at ways we could help each other.
The library applied for small LSTA grant of $9,999 with Workforce Alliance as a partner. Funds were used for: • Subscription to Learning Express Job and Career Accelerator. • Collection of 35 career and technology books for our technology lab. • Bus passes to be handed out at Life Support seminars. • Flash drives loaded with resources. • Instructors for Life Support Seminars.
We created new computer classes and workshops teaching basic computer and online skills related to the job search process which we hoped would prepare people to go to Workforce Alliance and take part in their activities…resulting in finding a job! Staff at Workforce Alliance felt that this would allow them to streamline the experience of many of their participants saving valuable staff time and resources. So, together we worked to address this pressing need in our community.
Activities of the Grant: • In-service training at Workforce Alliance for all of our reference, Youth Services, and Technology Staff as well as our volunteers who helped in computer classes. • Workforce Alliance career counselors also came to the library twice during the year to provide seminars for the public.
Two new classes: Basic Computer Skills for the Jobseeker: Basics of computer use including mousing, getting an email address and internet searching.Job Search 101: Taught how to use the Employ Florida website including many resources available online.
Six seminars Topics included stress management, budget planning, and public speaking. • Life Support Workshop: one-on-one assistance from a librarian, offered once a week for two hours.
Four Life Support Seminars. • The morning was spent on career aptitude and development. • The afternoon was spent on working on individual resumes and learning and practicing interviewing skills. • Bus passes were given to those who needed them for transportation to Workforce Alliance or job interviews.
So what have we learned? What do we plan in the future? How can this be replicated by other libraries?
What we have continued… • Life Support Workshop: still once a week for two hours, staffed by a librarian. We changed the day to Monday because so many people came in to file unemployment then. We are looking for a volunteer so we can have another each Tuesday. • Life Support Seminar was effective with great feedback from participants. We plan two more this year…one for adults and one for teens.
Basic Computer Skills class: We decided to go back to having two separate classes, one to teach basic computer skills and one to teach basic internet skills directed toward the jobseeker. This will enable the students to have more exposure in a class setting where they can get assistance.
Public libraries – help veterans get jobs • November 2011 • National Unemployment 9% • Post 9/11 Veterans 12.1%
How can you do what we did? • Take advantage of the talent in your own organization. Is there someone in your HR department who would teach interviewing skills for example? • Make friends at your local workforce organization, SCORE, etc. If the first contact doesn’t work, keep trying, someone will be interested!
There are organizations and individuals who would love to do programs at your library…do the research…Credability is a great example. All of our seminars were provided for free. • Make finding time for one-on-one assistance a priority. Even with our current staff limitations, we are able to staff our Life Support Workshop 2 hours/weekbecause we rotate departments responsible for staffing.
Contact the library schools in your state; there might be students or new graduates who need intern hoursor experience. • Would your Friends group be willing to fund lunch for an all-day workshop? Ours now regularly provides lunch for our Life Support Seminars. For about $100, we provide pizza, soda, water and snacks.
Borrow from others! We would be happy to share our materials. Just give me a call or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What did we learn? Bottom line: We need to be able to provide support at point of service. People do not want, or in many cases, can’t wait until a class or workshop. They want help immediately!
The Future • We applied for another LSTA grant partnering with Workforce Alliance and U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Wet Palm Beach to provide expanded career services for the public. We didn’t get it, but we’ll persevere. • Staff a 12-person Career Lab with a career counselor from Workforce Alliance for 32 hours/week. • Provide computer and job skills for veterans in the VA’s Transition to Work program.
2012 City Livability Award Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhVhcYWhhFk&list=UUIFRE52KDzhHFxla3igyRQg&index=0&feature=plcp
Janice Collins Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach 561-868-7798 email@example.com