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Partnership with Workforce Central Florida
Orange County Library System
In these challenging economic times we, as a library system, were faced with shrinking budgets and increased use. As staff left through natural attrition and early retirement offerings, we found ourselves having to do more with less. We have had no layoffs, but we were left with vacancies of approximately 100 positions throughout the system. Last summer we geared up for our most impressive Summer Reading Program ever with the knowledge we would have fewer staff on board. How could we meet the demand with such diminished staff resources?
Sometimes help can be just around the corner, in our own backyard. We found that our friends at Workforce Central Florida (WCF) were recipients of $13.8 million in funds through the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act designed to put Central Floridians back to work. WCF developed an application process for allowing those out of work to have an opportunity to work and learn about new industries while acquiring new skills. The salaries for interns assigned through the projects were paid from the ARRA funds. OCLS applied to partner with WCF for 2 programs: Youth Summer Interns and the Re-Employment Program. We applied for 48 Youth Summer Interns in the hope we would get at least 15. Much to our excitement 48 interns were hired during that first project. After the summer program ended a new program called the Re-Employment Program. This program was designed to put out of work adults into temporary employment. We were allotted 60 interns work 12 week sessions throughout this year in a variety of introductory level roles.
Our Workforce Summer Interns helped us meet the unprecedented demand that resulted from an 18% increase in attendance for our Summer Read Program. Interns assisted in a variety of duties from shelving materials and helping with summer reading crowd control to participating in and assisting staff in the presentation of programs for the children. 48 interns learned about the library and library resources. In addition all students submitted portfolios of their experiences and what they learned about jobs, goals and work ethics. From all the submissions, one OCLS intern was awarded a grand prize, a brand new laptop. So far, 37 of the 60 Re-Employment interns have come to work at the library. They have learned about the library and have continued to help the library meet public demand during a time of diminishing resources. All told, both programs contributed over 20,000 hours worth of work to OCLS while not impacting our personnel budget. We were given an opportunity to teach unemployed members of our community about OCLS and its resources, public service, job skills, and work ethics all while helping to rebuild our community