A message from Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director

In March we launched this blog with a post about our Facilities Master Plan process, which will lead into our 10 year “Building the Next Generation Library, opens a new window” initiative. It has been wonderful to see the passionate, enthusiastic response and feedback to questions about what our public libraries will look like in the future from our communities, our users, and our staff members. The future is bright!

Our Library is clearly deeply valued. That value comes both from the promise of tomorrow and from the essential, life-changing services we offer every day. You don’t have to look any further than the Atrium of our Main Library during this spring month of May to see the positive impact our Library has.  

First, a little background about what we have been doing in the Atrium during the first part of 2019. If you have not visited our downtown Main Library in a few months, you may not be aware that we have updated the flooring in that space and added furniture, including furniture that offers options for charging and using mobile devices. This has activated this expansive space which was originally designed for our massive card catalog.

These days, we are utilizing this airy, bright, accessible area to raise awareness of a variety of services we offer as well as services in our community to which we can connect our users looking for assistance and help by offering “pop-up” services. In March, we hosted various social service agencies from the greater Cincinnati area, and in April we featured our homework help assistance. 

With the first full week of May functioning as In-Demand Jobs Week, opens a new window in Ohio, we are building on the momentum of this annual event to provide information and activities about jobs, career and workforce development. Additionally, we have a variety of community partners that support us in providing job and career assistance including presenters from OhioMeansJobs, opens a new window and coaches and staff from Cincinnati Works, opens a new window.

People needing help researching jobs, preparing resumes, practicing for interviews, developing new skills to obtain better jobs, or conducting an online or Skype interview have always looked to the Library for assistance. During the Great Recession, public library staff and community members, opens a new window alike were reminded of just how essential libraries are to those who lose a job unexpectedly, opens a new window or suddenly find themselves under-employed. Public libraries are a comfortable, familiar place to come which offers access to caring experts ready to lend support and help job seekers regain confidence and build skills.

Our May Career Pop Up service focus at the Main Library offers a few glimpses into concrete positive results for those who turn to the Library for their work and job needs. Keith Armour, Education and Homework Support Manager, has been one of our staff members offering jobs assistance this month. He encountered a customer walking through the Atrium who came right up to the table at which Library staff members were assisting customers with resumes.

The customer asked Keith, “Do you remember me?”  After a short chat, she let staff know that we had helped her with a resume a few years ago in the Adult Learning Center. While the customer, Michelle, didn’t have the time to get help right then she was the first one in the door the next morning. Michelle needed to add information to her older resume (which we had helped her create in 2013) in order to secure a better opportunity. The Career Pop-Up came at the right time and place for Michelle!

Another story about the power of the Library in assisting people in finding new jobs and career opportunities comes from David Siders, the Library’s Civic Engagement Coordinator. Laurel, a customer looking for job and career assistance, planned her day at the Main Library so that she could take her toddler to storytime, attend our jobs workshop and see her son’s work on display in the Design Lab exhibit. Laurel was thrilled to learn about the eLearning resources, opens a new window, Lynda, opens a new windowTesting & Education Resources, opens a new windowJobNow, opens a new window, and Transparent Languages, opens a new window

She mentioned to David that she has been informed she needs Quick Books training to apply for higher level accounting jobs. She had been considering taking an entry-level job to develop her Quick Books skills, but once she learned that she can access Lynda.com, an e-learning resource offered for free via the Library, she will study those resources and feel confident applying for a higher level position.

Lynda.com, opens a new window offers online learning for a wide range of topics, including 58 different accounting courses, on topics like QuickBooks Pro Essential Training and Advanced Bookkeeping Techniques. These are all free with your Library card!

All through 2019 and in early 2020 we will be talking about our Building the Next Generation Library Initiative and looking for ideas about how we can best serve our community in the future. But ultimately Public Libraries of the future will offer foundational, essential services like those we have provided during our Career Pop Up in May, resulting in real help for real people that assist them in making their real lives what they want them to be.