Economic Development

Public Library Opens Job and Career Center

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Individuals seeking information and resources related to finding and preparing for jobs have a new space dedicated to accommodating their needs.

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County Tuesday presented its new Career and Job Center on the second floor of Main Library downtown, within its information services department.

“We’ve been talking about expanding or doing something with career and job services for a while,” librarian Judith Jones said.

“We had been providing business and job and career services, but this takes us one step farther, and creates a center that we hope will be very well used,” added Sue Merriman, interim executive director of the library.

The library system’s former executive director, Heidi Daniel, initiated work on the center earlier this year, Jones said. Daniel capitalized on Gov. John Kasich’s call in February for public libraries to become more active in helping people in their search for employment.

“We met with her and started brainstorming and thinking of ideas [about] where we could put the space and who would be willing to do the career development facilitation, which I volunteered for,” Jones said.

Jones is training to become a certified career development facilitator through the National Career Development Association.

During an open house Tuesday, Jones outlined the array of resources the new center offers. Sara Churchill is the other librarian specifically dedicated to the center.

The 860-square-foot space is split into two rooms. The main area is equipped with nine workstations for job searching and training, while the smaller room is a conference room.

The library’s building and grounds staff constructed the space, library spokeswoman Janet Loew said. The cost of building materials, equipment and furnishings was just under $18,000, she noted.

“It didn’t take long” to complete the project, Loew said. “We first started working on the concept in February.”

At the center, people can access various online resources to find job openings and use tools to research and explore various careers, prepare (and even grade) resumes, and prepare for interviews and the questions employers are likely to ask.

“Many times people don’t know what kinds of questions they should ask in an interview,” Jones said.

Among the other offerings are adult education resources, preparation for college entrance exams and financial literacy tools.

The center will offer a combination copier/fax/scanner, interactive whiteboard and overhead projector, and dry erase board.

Staff can guide library patrons through the resources the center offers and patrons can call ahead to book a librarian to help them.

The designated space offers more room for a librarian to work with a patron who wants to use the resources within the center rather than the stations elsewhere in the library, Jones said. “It’s more quiet, too, so you can work with someone on a more personal level,” she said.

As a career development facilitator, Jones is being trained not only to help patrons with the technical tools the center has but how to work with this set of patrons.

“It helps me to become more in tune with how to interact with people when they’re searching for jobs,” she said.

“Sometimes when people come in they may have been laid off, and they’re depressed,” she continued. “It teaches you how to be sensitive and how to deal with people in that respect, and what you should say and shouldn’t say.”

The center is open for individual use, but as the library assesses demand and use, it will open the space for use by businesses and nonprofits, Loew said.

“It’s a new center. We’re not sure how all the needs of the community are going to be filled so we’re starting slow,” she said.

Librarians will use the center to do programming in specialized areas such as the Business & Investment Center and the Grant Center, and for computer training.
Among those checking out the center during the open house was Keshia Bales, support services director for Beatitude House, which provides housing to support women and children in need.

“A lot of the women come to us are in need of employment or have barriers to obtaining employment, so a center like this can be really beneficial,” she said. “It’s definitely something we’d like to connect them with.”

Library patrons can schedule an appointment for the center by visiting any branch library, calling Main Library at 330 744 8636 or going online at the library website.

Pictured at top: Librarian Judith Jones.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.