Maine State Library is demonstrating that public computer centers are sources of opportunity for state residents, particularly in a weak economy. The state has experienced its highest increase in unemployment in recent years among residents with the least education, and many job seekers do not have the experience or educational prerequisites to enter occupations with the largest share of openings. To help address some of these challenges, Maine State Library’s Information Commons Project is providing free broadband access, career development tools, and job search resources.
As of December 2011, the Information Commons Project delivered 565 new workstations to computer centers at 107 public libraries statewide. The project also established 11 video-conferencing regional hubs and three mobile computer labs to enable training for librarians and patrons in remote areas. Along with these new computer resources, the project created a web portal that brings together resources to help visitors learn new skills and get jobs. The portal, which can be accessed from home or at a public library, offers more than 80 free career and digital literacy courses, webinars, and resources. Additionally, the portal offers free access to the LearningExpress Library, a platform featuring more than 770 practice tests, tutorials, and e-books on job searches, workplace skills enhancement, GED exam preparation, certification and licensing exam preparation, and college and graduate school admissions exam preparation. The LearningExpress Library includes popular video-based tutorials on Microsoft® Office, Adobe® products, and other software used in the workplace today.
Maine State Library also provides on-site training for job seekers, in partnership with the Maine Department of Labor’s Rapid Response Team. For example, on Dec. 14, 2011, McArthur Public Library in Biddeford hosted a training session for unemployed workers, including a group laid off by a local branch of a home improvement chain. The session gave an overview of the online resources available to job seekers, and covered topics such as interviewing skills, preparing for job fairs, and the use of social media during job searches. More sessions in libraries statewide are scheduled as the Maine State Library works with career centers, workforce investment boards, and public libraries to help residents develop practical skills to rejoin the workforce.
Last updated: January 10, 2012