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Public Libraries and the Workforce

Thirty million Americans used a library to help address career and employment needs in the last 12 months according to Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries (PDF, 2 MB), a study conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by IMLS and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

These job seekers reported using the library to submit on-line applications (68 percent), search for employment opportunities (76 percent), and work on their resumes (46 percent). Many of these employment users visit the library on a regular basis. Three-quarters of these people reported using the library at least once a week.

Working together libraries and the public workforce system can make it easier for job seekers to get employment and training services that can lead to better jobs, improved career pathways, and sustainable wages.

The Partnership

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and IMLS are working together to highlight effective practices and encourage additional collaboration between the workforce investment system and public libraries. Read the two-page summary of partnership activities (PDF, 173 KB).

Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) officially encouraged its state and local workforce investment boards, state workforce agencies, and One-Stop Career Centers to partner with public libraries to extend their career and employment services to job seekers and unemployed workers. The ETA’s(TEN) cements a partnership between the ETA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that was announced on June 25, 2010, at the American Library Association annual meeting.

Libraries offer Internet access, welcoming spaces, convenient hours and locations, and most importantly librarians, to serve as information navigators.

ETA funds and supports a network of nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers that address the employment needs of job seekers and businesses in every community across America. One-Stop Career Centers draw from a vast array of community resources to make a multitude of services available to address employment challenges including:

  • Job Search and Placement Assistance
  • Skills Assessments
  • Career Assistance and Counseling
  • Free Training Services for Eligible Individuals
  • English as a Second Language
  • Assistance with Pell Grants and Student Loans

Partnership Resources

Training and Employment Notice (TEN)
Issued by ETA to state and local workforce investment boards, state workforce agencies, and One-Stop Career Centers, the TEN encourages partnerships with public libraries to extend their career and employment services to job seekers and unemployed workers

Webinar: Helping Job Seekers: Using Electronic Tools and Federal Resources
ETA staff will join WebJunction for a 90-minute webinar to provide an overview of the public workforce system and present the electronic tools most helpful to library staff who assist unemployed workers. 8/11/2010, 2:00 pm ET

Webinar: mySkills, myFuture: A New Tool for Job Seekers
Webinar with ETA staffer, Allison Watts on the new free online tool for job seekers, mySkills, myFuture. 9/29/2010, 2:00 pm EDT

Webinar: $2.2 Billion Reasons to Pay Attention to WIOA
This interactive webinar explored ways that public and community college libraries can receive funding for employment skills training and job search. 10/27/14, 2:00 pm ET

View more Webinars from WebJunction

National tools from ETA

WorkforceGPS is ETA’s knowledge sharing, communication and e-learning platform used for sharing resources and delivering technical assistance to the workforce development community including educators, community-based organizations, social service agencies, and employers.

CareerOneStop provides a pathway to career success and includes tools to help job seekers. 

CareerOneStop Worker ReEmployment
The CareerOneStop ReEmployment Portal is designed to assist impacted workers following job loss, and to connect laid-off workers to the resources needed during the process of job transition.

America's Service Locator
America’s Service Locator (ASL) connects job-seekers to local offices providing employment and training services.

mySkills myFuture
mySkills myFuture can help you find new career options to explore. You'll find details about careers that may be a good match for your skills. You'll also find local schools and training programs that can help you move into a new career, and you can even view and apply for job listings in your local area.

Internet Links for State and Local Employment Projections
Employment projections are the most frequently-requested type of workforce statistic besides the unemployment rate.  Projections are used for career counseling; to plan employment, education and training programs; for economic development and other state or regional planning; as supporting documentation to apply for Federal grants; and for many other purposes.

1-877-US2-JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5627)
The Toll-Free Help Line provides a full range of information about workforce programs for workers and employers, locations to One-Stop Career Centers and other offices, and unemployment insurance assistance. Information is available in over 160 languages.

Project Compass

Project Compass is an innovative IMLS-funded project linking libraries nationwide to share strategies for helping unemployed patrons find work. Launched by OCLC WebJunction and the State Library of North Carolina, Proejct Compass features four regional summits where state library officers are sharing best practices on meeting the workforce needs of their communities.

In addition to working together in person, Project Compass is facilitating development of a "community of practice" with an online hub to help librarians share ideas and resources designed to help get their communities fully employed.

Project Compass was completed on September 30, 2010. See the Year Two Project Report: Project Compass Lights a Path to Workforce Recovery or the Final Project Summary, published in November 2012.