Problem StatementThe 2008 recession hit the Memphis metropolitan area very hard. Memphis is a distribution hub, and the lack of consumer demand had a depressing effect on many of the area’s most significant employers. The unemployment rate exceeded 11% and the employment outlook for many area residents was bleak. In addition, Memphis has a large unskilled, labor, or blue collar workforce, with workers lacking many of the basic technology skills needed to conduct effective job searches or create professional résumés. The result was that our libraries were being inundated with job seekers who needed levels of support that were not practical or realistic given the staffing levels and number of computers available. Furthermore, the time limits necessary for ensuring equitable access to public computers often prevented these customers from completing the various steps necessary to apply for positions online.
In order to effectively meet job seekers’ needs and alleviate the inevitable frustrations Memphis Public Library & Information Center created JobLab. JobLab is an open-door, 12 station computer lab staffed with specialists (and a small collection of job and career resources) providing in-depth assistance to jobseekers, particularly with:
- Job-related searches • Résumé writing & formatting
- Completing online applications
- Establishing e-mail accounts
JobLab is held twice a month on the following days: 2nd Monday - 9-12 AM 4th Thursday - 5:30-8:30 PM Appointments are not necessary. However, we do ask that customers come prepared with storage media and any pertinent employment information that will be useful in searching or creating a résumé.
One of the most desirable aspects of JobLab is the ability to replicate it easily. With a few modifications regarding the number of computer stations and staffing, the program can be conducted in branches or as an outreach program in a variety of settings. The only budget requirements involve dedicating a small job and career collection and allocating sufficient man hours to ensure adequate staffing.
ProgressIn 2010, we provided in-depth service for 152 customers in 22 sessions:
Résumés created: 121
Cover letters created: 18
Online Job Search Assists: 57
Online applications completed: 16