Program puts job resources in libraries

DOVER — Help wanted, help provided.

Job searches, unemployment and career questions are inherently stressful.

A pilot program partnering the Delaware Department of Labor and Division of Libraries is designed to assist those in need.

Four days a week inside libraries in Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties DOL’s Employment and Training staff will set up to assist career needs including, among others:

• Search for jobs, exploring career paths

• Help jobseekers develop resumes that meets employer needs

• Learn about federal and state funded employment and training programs

• Assist residents as they navigate the online unemployment insurance claims application

• Discover apprenticeship programs and other services

The library-based program provides online access to those who may not have Internet services at home, along with direction on how to navigate. Individuals lacking the ability to visit DOL offices (and perhaps already regular library visitors) now have added options nearby to meet employment needs.

The public’s response has been palpable, Division of Libraries Statewide Social Innovator Alta M. Porterfield said.

“We get hugs and tears from people every day,” she said.

“People go out of their way to tell us how they are grateful — we have stories of people walking seven and eight miles to tell us in person. We have had townspeople make sandwiches and cookies for people to eat when they were looking for work (especially in the earlier years).

“I can go on and on with examples.”

A human connection enhances the experience, Ms. Porterfield said.

“It is not just helping them with a resume or job application or helping with other needs — it really is the fact that we are sitting with them and listening to them about what the need and want now and in the future.

“You cannot put a price tag on this.”

Finding new ways

An earlier Job Center program at libraries began during the recession of 2008 and referred people to the DOL and vice versa. The new program provides a single location to address more needs at once.

“We can’t have an old way of thinking that those needing assistance will walk through our door,” DOL Secretary Cerron Cade said. “We need to deliver our sources to the masses through direct and engaging outreach.

“Libraries are magnets in communities for youth and families, they are already familiar to many and well suited to provide a variety of community services such as these.”

According to State Librarian Dr. Annie Norman, “Job seekers use the libraries’ wireless access and high speed internet to complete job applications online.

“We find that job seekers may need additional assistance, such as computer skills training, or literacy skills, to complete applications or to be eligible for jobs.

“Job seekers may be experiencing economic hardship and need assistance with bills, housing, food, and so on.

“Or individuals may simply seek career advice and some professional development to achieve the next level position.”

The program is part of an overall push by Delaware Libraries and more than 200 agencies and nonprofits to increase various services to patrons statewide.

Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock said, “Our libraries have evolved into force-multipliers for community outreach, and adding Department of Labor to the compliment of resources available through our libraries is a perfect fit.”

Current scheduling and locations are available online at lib.de.us/jobassistance/.

Schedule, locations
The current schedule and locations of Employment and Training Staff availability
• Bear Library, Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Seaford Library, Mondays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Del. 9/New Castle Library, Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Milton Library, Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
• Appoquinimink Library, Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Newark Library, Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Dover Public Library, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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