Economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on employment in virtually every community and industry in Michigan and has put an enormous strain on Michigan citizens who have been furloughed, let go, or are currently unemployed.
Searching and applying for jobs is hard even in the best of times. And for those who don’t have internet access or limited bandwidth, the digital divide has only become more apparent during the pandemic. An MLive article in 2018 reported that about 14 percent of Michigan households were not connected to the Internet according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
This is where our libraries can help.
Statistical reports show that 96% of Michigan libraries provide career and job search services including computer classes; resume writing and interviewing workshops; career and job testing; and resume preparation and critique services.
Did you know that Michigan Works Agencies regularly refer clients to their local libraries for career development services, that 78% of public libraries partner in some capacity with Michigan Works, and that 14 public libraries serve as access points and Service Centers?
Michigan citizens who are out of work for a long period of time, those who are computer illiterate, and those who cannot afford internet access at home, are all being helped to find jobs by our Michigan library workers. Staff at the local library can help patrons get on the computers with free computer access; show them job search websites; show them how to check email; locate resources through databases; direct them to online networking sites, virtual job fairs, and online classes; show them the ins and outs of video conferencing platforms like Zoom for interviews, and assist them with brushing up on skills necessary to complete online applications. They also help citizens file for unemployment and help reduce the stress of an online world.
Library staff are also helping small businesses and entrepreneurs by directing them to online market research, PPP loans, relief grants, and more. It is great to note that the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) recently added five databases specifically equipped to assist entrepreneurs and help small businesses improve the economy and create jobs in their communities.
While the pandemic will not be with us for much longer (fingers crossed), our libraries will continue to help Michigan citizens with vital resources to find and secure jobs.