Job seekers often do not know what resources are available to them. Your local library is an invaluable resource in the job search, and job seekers would be remiss not to discover the treasures it contains for them.
One reason the job search can be overwhelming is because job seekers often do not know what resources are available to them. Furthermore, it is difficult to know just where to start when looking for a job. As we will discover in this month's feature, your local library is an invaluable resource in the job search, and job seekers would be remiss not to discover the treasures it contains for them.
This month we are featuring Donald Crews, a Reference Librarian for the Washington-Centerville Public Library (WCPL). Donald's personal and professional mission is to "Transform Information into Knowledge". He defines this as helping people not only find facts, stories and high quality sources but then adding value by helping them learn to continue the search and evaluate the usefulness of the material to use in their own lives.
Donald's background is described in more detail on his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/donaldicrews/.
The following is Donald's insightful introduction and response to some questions I posed to him recently:
While my answers are specific to the WCPL, the same or similar services are available at public libraries throughout the Dayton area. Please note that anyone who is a resident of the state of Ohio can walk into ANY library in the state, with proof of state residency and get a library card.
1. Can you give us an idea of the materials and services today's public library provides for adults?
The Mission of the Washington Centerville Public Library (WCPL) is to be our community's connection to diverse opportunities for education, enrichment, and entertainment. The almost 9000 public libraries and more than 130,000 library employees in the United States proudly operate under similar principles and visions.
Many things about the public library are the same as they were 50 or more years ago. Public libraries provide access to books and other materials, allowing card holders to borrow them free of charge. Reference librarians continue to help patrons find answers to almost any question. The library provides programs in which the staff or authorities on various topics share knowledge in lectures or classes.
However, public libraries have undergone many changes. Technology has been the greatest driver of these changes. Libraries provide publicly accessible computers for searching the internet, sending and receiving email, using word processing and spreadsheet software.
The types of items loaned have expanded from just books and magazines to include video material and sound recordings. Now almost all types of items can be accessed in digital format. (We have e-books, e-magazines, e-music and some libraries have e-videos).
Public libraries have always had reference collections full of books with statistics, scholarly articles and data on almost everything. The digital versions of these, the online databases, provide patrons with excellent, high quality, frequently updated information.
The revolution in digital formats has also meant that the library is available to people far outside of the boundaries of its buildings and the hours that the doors are open. The library has become truly ubiquitous. It is everywhere and all the time.
2. Why would the library be a good resource for today's job seeker?
Quality, convenience and cost.
The size and scope of WCPL's digital and print collection allows us to provide patrons with high quality information. At WCPL, professional librarians (all possessing a Masters degree) are a value added feature, guiding patrons to resources and helping them use those resources.
Our two locations make us convenient and the substantial number of public computer terminals and work spaces are conveniences. The digital resources of the library can now be reached from almost anywhere that there is internet access making the resources of the library as convenient as your local coffee shop or your kitchen table.
The public library is a community resource for the good of all citizens and generously provides its services and resources to anyone who needs them. The cost to the user is free.
3. Is there a particular database or resource that you think is especially helpful for today's job seeker? Why is it so helpful?
The library databases are computer based collections of high quality and attributable information. Many of them replicate data that is or was in the reference section of the library, but is more easily stored, accessed and updated in digital format.
Some of the databases that I recommend to job seekers include:
Databases to help with the job search process and provide information about various career fields include Job & Career Accelerator and Career Cruising.
The library's databases are all accessible using the public computers in the library and from the library's website at http://www.wclibrary.info, under the "Research" tab along the top of the page or directly at http://www.wclibrary.info/research/index.asp
Most public libraries, including WCPL, continue to have extensive collections of books on how to do almost anything in the job search process including topics like creating a LinkedIn profile, writing a resume, answering interview questions or how to start a business.
4. How does a job seeker utilize the services your library offers?
Anyone is welcome to walk through our doors and use items, print or digital. Classes are also open, after registration, to the general public. A library card increases the scope and reach of the library's collections and services by providing the patron or "member" with the ability to borrow items and access databases from outside the library building.
5. Does your library system offer workshops for today's job seeker?
WCPL offers programs, classes or workshops that geared to the job seeker and even more that could assist someone who wants to increase knowledge and improve skills.
Two offerings of particular value to anyone in job search are LinkedIn (demo) and Data Mining @ the Library: Library Databases for Job Search and Beyond.
The LinkedIn class is an introduction to this indispensable social media tool which everyone who is developing a career, looking for a job, or who may need to in the future, needs to know how to use effectively. This popular class is taught on an almost monthly basis, so frequent opportunities exist to attend. The next LinkedIn class will be on October 21, at the Woodbourne Library.
Data Mining @ the Library introduces the digital resources (databases) that job seekers and business people in general should know about. This presentation will be given on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 6:30pm at the Centerville Library.
We also have classes in several programs from the Microsoft Office Suite, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, that could be of help in updating or expanding on the skills of job seekers.
NOTE: ALL classes have limited space and REQUIRE reservations. Please reserve your place at http://wclibrary.info/classes/index.asp or call (937) 433-8091, Ext 2. Check the schedule frequently as new sessions are added on a bimonthly basis.
6. What can you share about your career background that makes you so passionate to help job seekers?
First, librarianship is a helping profession. Aiding people to find information that touches them at as basic a level as career and work is a vital part of my work.
On a more personal note, during 2011, I found myself in need of the services of several job seeking groups in Cincinnati, including the Job Search Focus Group and the Job Search Learning Lab. I found great satisfaction and comfort in the mutual assistance and support that these groups offered. I was privileged to meet many intelligent, talented and interesting people with great experience and vital skills, who were un- or under employed. While many of these people were masters in their own fields, they were not in job search. To keep my skills current and offer some kind of help to others, I developed the first version of Data Mining @ the Library, while being involved with these groups. I also took on leadership roles in those organizations. The skills I honed while in transition were very helpful to me. The success of my search was influenced by my association with the several job search groups and numerous skills and techniques I learned through the presentations I attended through these groups. When my situation improved, I committed myself to be of service to those still in job search - paying it forward, as it were.
Thank you, Donald, for investing your time and knowledge to provide such helpful resources we can have right at our fingertips!
Now…go visit your library today!
Next month's topic: Helpful books for today's job seeker
Amy Hartman is an ombudsman at Sinclair Community College.