Workforce Development Services in Your Library

Mantra Roy /

Applying for a Job Online, image via Newton Free Library on FlickrMany of your patrons seek information about job skills, ranging from new technologies that employers require to guidance with successful job searches and applications. You are addressing your community’s needs. But you want to do better. Have you wondered about new ideas, methods, strategies that can help you reach your patrons’ diverse needs more efficiently?

Several librarians from four New York State library systems, including Baldwinsville Public Library, Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library system, Mid-York Library system, and New Rochelle Public Library, shared the strategies they employed in order to help their patrons. Here is a list of their top suggestions:

  1. Ask your patrons what they need: what do they need from the library and what kind of sessions would they like, one-on-one or group, face-to-face or online.
  2. Be prepared to conduct one-on-one sessions because many patrons may feel embarrassed about admitting their lack of skills in front of a group.
  3. Collaborate with local businesses and organize panels where employers can discuss the skills job seekers should prepare.
  4. Encourage internet-using skills by helping patrons fill out applications and develop resumes via email.
  5. Publicize the classes and sessions you will conduct as widely as possible, through local newspapers, community calendars, by posting flyers at local stores.
  6. Be prepared to respond to layoffs in the community. Try to help the employees with resources to continue or rebuild their careers.
  7. Prepare to offer classes with different levels of difficulty and advertise accordingly such that people enroll in classes meant for them. However, prepare for people in mismatching classes as well.
  8. While assigning specific days and times for specific classes helps the staff to keep a check on their schedule, be prepared for walk-ins and requests for one-on-one assistance.
  9. Train librarians in various skills so that they can teach different classes. Effectively, librarians who teach English-speaking skills to immigrant populations can also conduct sessions in teaching resume writing. This set of multiple teaching skills helps staff members when there is a request for a class whose assigned teacher is off-duty.
  10. Teach your patrons the computer skills they need instead of doing the work for them. Assist them in becoming self-reliant technologically. Plan on conducting classes that will introduce them to use Microsoft Word, download Antivirus softwares, and create and use Gmail accounts.
  11. Frequently evaluate the classes you are conducting. Check for what else needs to be done, what needs to be changed, how many more sessions should be offered. This will help you provide optimal services most efficiently to meet the needs of your community.
  12. Research what other libraries are doing and “borrow with honor” because there is always something innovative and effective that others are doing and that can help you achieve your goals in your library.
  13. If your workforce services are funded by grants, ensure that you note all achievements, evaluations of classes, survey responses, among others, and keep the grant agencies or your library’s Board of Trustees or Directors informed about your progress. Regular updates will help you keep the funds flowing for you to continue serving your community.