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Library launches new initiative to help jobless in Mecklenburg County
Charlotte, NC – June 19, 2009 – In response to a growing need in Mecklenburg County, the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) is finding a new way to contribute to the economic health of the community. A new initiative aimed at helping people find jobs will include a Job Center in the Main Library, a system-wide emphasis on job-related training, a web page with job and business resources, and a partnership and community awareness plan.
“Every day, customers are using the Library to file for unemployment, search for jobs, create resumes, develop computer skills, and perform other tasks related to the workforce,” says Frank Blair, Director of Research, Innovation & Strategy for PLCMC. “In a survey last November, citizens told us that they wanted more computers, more educational opportunities, and more job support.”
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate in Mecklenburg County increased from 7.5% in November 2008 to 10.2% in April 2009. In addition, job sectors in Charlotte such as construction, financial activities, professional and business services, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities have lost 8-21% of jobs. Meanwhile, as 75% of job seekers now use the Internet to seek employment, 70% of people on computers in libraries hasve reported that the library is their only access to a computer. PLCMC has seen a corresponding 11% increase in computer use since this time last year, as well as double-digit increases in other services.
In response to these community needs, the Library has developed a strategic response to leverage its 24 locations, public computers, and knowledgeable staff. Funding for the initiative, which is estimated to cost $150,000, will come primarily from profit distributions from the Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which distributes a share of profits to PLCMC. Karen Beach, Director of Community Engagement for PLCMC, notes that the Library is also seeking matching private funding sources.
The Main Library site was chosen for the Job Center for several reasons, including availability of space, location (midway between the JobLink centers on North Tryon and South Boulevard), accessibility to public transit, and resources already available at that location. Work on all aspects of the initiative has already begun, but the public can expect to see actual changes on the following timeline:
- July – launch of job help web page at www.plcmc.org
- September – Expanded job-related training will debut at locations throughout the PLCMC system
- December – opening of new Job Center at Main Library
The audience for this new initiative is broad, and includes the newly unemployed and their families, industries & professions affected by the economic meltdown, job networking groups, first-time entrants to the job market, job seekers in need of language skills, and chronically unemployed/underemployed citizens – as well as small businesses and nonprofits in need of support.
Since its founding in 1903 as a Carnegie Free Library, PLCMC has provided community service and outreach to the citizens of the Charlotte area. One of the premier libraries in the country, PLCMC has been recognized as a “Five Star” library in a national index of public library service from Library Journal and was named winner of the 2006 National Award for Library Service. The library sponsors a variety of community-based programs, from computer and Internet workshops to the award-winning Novello Festival of Reading, a celebration of the joys of reading and learning. With 24 locations, 1.4 million volumes, 79,000 DVDs, CDs and audiobooks, and a vast selection of titles available to download from the library’s web site, PLCMC is dedicated to its mission of expanding minds, empowering individuals and enriching the community.