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Job Help Centers

Columbus Metro Library
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Innovation Leader: Shaunessy Everett, Public Services Administrator, severett@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

Central Ohio was not spared the job loss carnage associated with the “Great Recession.” With unemployment in Franklin County growing from 4.9% in January, 2008 to 6.1% in December, 2008*, Columbus Metropolitan Library’s 21-locations saw a noticeable spike in customers needing help with the basics of beginning a job search. The volume of new job seekers coming to the library, many with minimal computer literacy, created an opportunity for the system to fill a need in our community by offering a new, targeted service for our customers.

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Innovation

In January, 2009 and with just a few weeks to plan, CML staff rolled out the Job Help Center service at all 21-system locations. The goal is simple: Help our Customers Get Jobs. Each location offers a combination of:
  • Hands on Help – staff and/or volunteers work one-on-one with a customer to help with research, resume writing and technology training.
  • Job Related Classes – e.g. resume writing, online applications, email, social networking as a job search tool, etc. Staff and specially qualified volunteers offer these classes. We work closely with related local and state agencies as well as national organizations such as AARP.
  • Special Events – Two countywide Job Help Days have been held in collaboration with the other library systems in Franklin County as well as other key community organizations.
  • Open PCs – Job seekers are allowed longer computer sessions than is standard for the public PCs and they receive limited, free printing.

In order to make room for the Job Help Centers, most of our locations repurpose their Homework Help Center during some or all of the hours before and after its primary use as an area of school kids to get help with their homework.

Progress

Over the course of 2009, unemployment in Franklin County grew to 8.9%* by December. In that same period, CML’s Job Help Centers assisted over 37,000 customers in-person and we had 35,349 visits and 97,932 page views to our companion Job Help Center webpage. We have no way of collecting hard data on the number of people who have been successful in their job hunt because of our Job Help Centers, but we hear regular stories such as this from one of our urban branches: “I had my second patron of the last few days come in just to say that they got a job utilizing our resources - the JHC, public PCs and one-on-one training - and wanted to make sure I knew about it.” We know we are making a difference in our community.