On July 31, The Financial Times reported that an increasing number of people are venturing out to libraries in order to seek out job counseling, career expertise, and Internet access in order to find jobs in our tough economic climate.
I was in the Oakland Public Library's main branch last week and the place was packed. I love seeing a bustling library, but the majority of the people I saw were standing in line to use one of the free public access computers. The branch has imposed a 20-minute time restriction on the regular Internet computers due to high demand. Computers can also be reserved online ahead of time to ensure that there's little to no wait, but how do you reserve a spot if you don't have a computer or access to the Internet?
I know many libraries struggle with managing public access computers and the Cookbooks and other resources here have tried to offer advice and tips. Are you experiencing a huge influx of traffic specifically looking for job-hunting resources? Or people just needing computer and Internet access around creating resumes and finding job listings? Do you have any staff trained and dedicated to career coaching or other specialties in that area? If so, do you have any tips to share with other libraries?
In the case of Oakland's library system, even with the growing demand, they've had to cut most branch schedules down to only open five days per week and ALL branches are closed one Friday per month due to both the city and state's budget crisis. They've even had to stop their bookmobile service until further notice. For Californians, one hope is that with a grant from the California Emerging Technology Fund, we can help get more computers and some Internet and training services into the hands of lower-income families to help alleviate the burden being placed on libraries.
Doing more with less seems to be the modus operandi for many these days... and libraries are no exception.
Tell us about your daily routine maintaining public computers, or a moment when you were particularly proud. Don't forget that what might be "that's nothing" to you may be an "aha!" to someone else!