Job Seekers Flock To Public Libraries

By Staff

March 26, 2009

Public libraries throughout the country are reporting a marked increase in patrons utilizing library resources to conduct job searches, write resumes, gather information about careers and apply for unemployment benefits.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, people often line up at the doors before the library opens at 8:00, and the computers are in use all day-mostly by people creating resumes and searching for jobs.

"I've been at the library for 13 years, and I've never seen the number of people who are coming in now and asking for online help," noted Maria Joseph, library director at the Moon Township Public Library in Pennsylvania, which has also seen a surge in visitors. "Our staff is helping many more people with job site searches, updating resumes and doing online searches. We are just trying to keep up with the amazing increase."

The scene is the same in many public libraries nationwide, as patrons take advantage of free books, computers and even career advice. The New York Times reports that 700 people attended a career preparedness fair in January at the Science, Industry and Business Library, and the Bronx Library Center recently doubled the number of computer classes being offered to the elderly due to increased demand.

"We've been in the job-search business for decades," noted Paul LeClerc, the president of the New York Public Library. "This is a continuation."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that many people applying for jobs online seek out the public library for assistance navigating the Internet-a daunting task for anyone unfamiliar with the Web. Library staff said that since the process overwhelms many people, even those with computers at home often come to the library to receive help and advice from librarians.

Some patrons are even bringing flash drives to the library to print out resumes, explaining that they can no longer afford ink cartridges for their printers at home. During these tough economic times, many reason that 15 cents per printed page at the library is a bargain.

Yet the increased library usage comes at precisely the same time that many library budgets are being slashed. The Times reports that in Brooklyn, libraries have closed their branches on Sundays and are considering reducing more hours. King 5 News [from an article originally located at] in Seattle reports that libraries are being asked to trim their budgets by 3 percent.

"It's really hard," said Susan Hildreth, a librarian who was quoted by King 5 News. "It's very challenging, and we really hope we can continue services as it is."

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