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Public libraries help write the book on regional workforce development 

August 16, 2023

By Rebekah Akers, Head of Adult Services at the Hardin County Public Library

Anyone who has ever owned a library card knows the important role public libraries play in improving literacy and opening minds to new perspectives, possibilities and insights. But the archetypical public library is much more than a building that houses a large collection of bound pages. Public libraries serve as valuable community hubs where dedicated professionals stand ready to help visitors in a variety of areas through specialized programming, abundant resources and personalized assistance. 

Work Matters Column by Rebekah Akers

Libraries are particularly adept at offering valuable assistance when it comes to addressing workforce issues. In the realm of workforce development, public libraries often act as essential pieces of the intricate puzzle.

At the Hardin County Public Library (HCPL) in Elizabethtown, where I serve as Head of Adult Services, we help foster a thriving workforce by offering comprehensive support and by empowering individuals in their career endeavors.      

One of the library's core offerings is its range of classes, tech assistance and staff/volunteer tutorial sessions, tailored to address the specific needs of patrons. By providing individualized support, the library ensures that job seekers receive personalized attention and guidance. With 10 public computer stations available for free use, library visitors can access online job-seeker databases and receive in-depth tutorials for each stage of the job-search process. Additionally, free WiFi access further facilitates their search for employment opportunities.

HCPL offers a comprehensive suite of programs and services, including resume building, job search assistance and skills training. Tech Tutorials, conducted in one-on-one sessions, cater to a wide range of needs, from basic software application usage to resume-building and applying for jobs. Moreover, the library's subscription to the Learning Express database provides free adult education skills building in areas such as career preparation, computer skills, GED test preparation and job and career acceleration.

In our pursuit to help address workforce development issues, we proudly work with a variety of community partners, including the Kentucky Career Center - Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT). Working in collaboration with KCC-LT, the library serves as an access point for the organization’s twice-monthly Let’s Talk Tuesdays Virtual Job Fair event series, which connects job seekers with regional employers through a virtual online platform. Our work with KCC-LT in this endeavor is now part of a large-scale collaboration between the organization and public libraries throughout the Lincoln Trail area that offer support for participating job seekers. 

To ensure seamless participation, individuals interested in Let’s Talk Tuesdays events can request a Tech Tutorial session at HCPL. Our dedicated staff members are readily available to assist them in creating and uploading their resumes to the virtual job fair portal, and we also guide them through the registration process. On the day of the event, we provide complimentary Wi-Fi access for those with personal devices, while those without can utilize our computers or laptops free of charge. For those seeking a more private space, we even offer pre-registered individuals the opportunity to reserve a study room for the virtual job fair events.

In addition to our partnership with KCC-LT, we have also partnered with several other community organizations that have offered financial programs at the library, including United Way of Central Kentucky, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center and the Hardin  County Cooperative Extension Office. Local financial services business the Wright Legacy Group also provides monthly Focus on Finance classes for library visitors. In addition, our dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers provide tremendous support by providing individualized tutorial sessions at times that are most convenient for patrons. 

In April, the library participated in a state-wide job fair initiative alongside the Lexington Public Library and the Kentucky Department of Libraries & Archives. Through a unified effort, libraries across the state provided classes, free materials and resources to empower job seekers.

To further promote financial literacy, the library also offers a reference table that includes a wide assortment of resources provided by the Consumer & Financial Protection Bureau, including financial literacy brochures, workbooks, worksheets and packets, many of which are also available in Spanish. 

By offering a range of programs, services and resources, public libraries can empower individuals with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of the job market. Through continuous collaboration with community partners and fellow regional libraries, we seek to help foster a resilient and thriving workforce in the Lincoln Trail area.

To learn more about programming and resources available for adults through the Hardin County Public Library, visit www.hcpl.info/adults.asp. To learn more about resources available through KCC-LT, visit https://ltcareercenter.org

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.

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Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.