IMLS Grant Will Help Libraries Help the Unemployed

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Job seekers have packed libraries around the country during recent months, searching online job sites, building resumes, taking interview classes, and making use of a wide range of other employment services and resources. More help is on the way. Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), WebJunction, the online learning community for library staff created by OCLC, a nonprofit library service and research organization; and the State Library of North Carolina (SLNC) have launched a one-year initiative to gather and share best practices for providing library-based employment services and programs to the unemployed.

"We know that libraries are making important contributions to the nation's economic recovery, and IMLS is committed to helping those libraries help their communities get back to work," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, IMLS Director. "We admire this grant because of the educational opportunities it will provide and the relationships between libraries and economic and workforce development agencies that it will foster."

"In North Carolina, we have established real collaborations in communities across the state between public libraries and local workforce development organizations, which together support job seekers in everything from basic computer skills to applying for jobs online," said Mary L. Boone, State Librarian of North Carolina. "We are delighted to partner with IMLS and WebJunction to share what we have learned with our colleagues around the country." The State Library of North Carolina was one of the state library agencies that stepped forward earlier this year to coordinate a highly successful statewide library education program in response to the economic downturn. Members of SLNC's staff who were instrumental in that state's success will contribute significantly to the national project.

The partners will develop and host an online training module - available to everyone -- that adapts the workshop curriculum and experience. A core feature of the program will be online conversations at webjunction.org for state library administrators to explore new ideas for supporting local public library staff to deliver workforce services. All regional workshops and the online training module will be supported by follow-on programming. This will provide participants with the resources and support they need to assist local public libraries as they respond to urgent patron demands.

"Severe unemployment strikes at the core of any community, and libraries work hard to respond to these community needs," said Cathy De Rosa, Vice President, Marketing, OCLC. "We are pleased to work with IMLS and the State Library of North Carolina to help respond to those needs. This program allows us to support communities and individuals working to cope with unemployment and to support libraries as they work to provide essential infrastructure and services for national economic recovery."

Project goals include dissemination of services, programs, and partnerships to support the unemployed; greater capacity in state library agencies to support their local public libraries; and broader understanding and support outside the library field for the workforce development role that libraries have in responding to the crisis.

Additional IMLS resource: Libraries to the Rescue is a set of five podcasts, including one by Mary L. Boone, State Librarian of North Carolina, that focuses on how libraries are helping citizens access all types of employment assistance. See a list of Online Resources for Libraries and Jobseekers.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.

About WebJunction

Since 2003, WebJunction has helped more nearly 50,000 library staff build their job skills by partnering with state library agencies and other library service organizations to deliver cost-effective staff training and development programs. WebJunction's vision is to be the place where the worldwide library profession gathers to build the knowledge, skills, and support it needs to power relevant, vibrant libraries. Based in Seattle, Washington, and Dublin, Ohio, WebJunction is supported in part by OCLC, grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the library community. More information is available at www.webjunction.org.

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