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Libraries helping job seekers

Published (5/20/2011)
By Nick Busse
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Out-of-work Minnesotans have increasingly turned to public libraries to look for job openings, post applications and build their resumes. On May 16, the House passed a bill designed to help libraries coordinate with state workforce centers to help the unemployed.

Sponsored by Rep. Carol McFarlane (R-White Bear Lake), HF844 would require Gov. Mark Dayton to appoint a representative from public libraries to the Governor’s Workforce Development Council. The individual would serve in an advisory role only.

The House passed the bill 128-6. It awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) is the Senate sponsor.

Minnesota has 52 workforce centers run by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. These centers help Minnesotans look for jobs and prepare for career changes. McFarlane said the bill would be “a good step” toward establishing close working relationships between workforce centers and libraries.

“While there have been some efforts toward cooperation between the public libraries and workforce centers, those efforts have been spotty. They’ve been largely dependent on individuals taking initiative at the local level,” she said.

Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) said libraries have “clearly become an information center” helping especially older workers who don’t have Internet at home and need assistance using computers.

“If you haven’t visited and talked to your local librarian lately … they are just overwhelmed with people who are unemployed and struggling to find a job in this new economy,” she said.

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