Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TOP STORY >> Job seekers swarming libraries

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

Local libraries are seeing an upswing in patrons using public computers as a resource for job searches and résumé writing.

Head librarian Christine Williams of the Arlene Cherry Memorial Library in Cabot said, “We have noticed an upsurge of computer usage to make résumés, run job searches and to complete online applications for available jobs.

“We are glad to have so many public computers available for their use in their job search,” Williams said.

There are 15 computers available at the Cabot library. Besides computers, the library has a section of books available for job seekers. The books have information on how to write a résumé, how to compose a cover letter and tips on interviewing.

Joshua Brown, 21, of Cabot was using the computers at the library to connect to the Internet and search for job openings.

“It is really helpful to see what is available. I have been going around business to business. A lot of them tell me they are not hiring or they are on a hiring freeze,” Brown said.

A library user from Austin said she has been looking for new job for about a month. She is trying to find a job to satisfy her family needs and that uses her qualifications in a business administration or accounting position.

She said she does not want to settle for less.

“Using the library has helped, especially the Internet. I have had three to six interviews a week, especially in the Little Rock area. It is hard to find a job locally in the suburban towns,” she said.

The Cabot library is open 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays the library is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Venessa Ford, librarian of the Ward Public Library, said the computer usage at the library has increased. Some of the increase is due to patrons filling out job applications online.

Ford said the library has books on how to develop a résumé.

“We have pulled books for patrons to look at,” she said.

The Ward Public Library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, the library is open an hour later until 6 p.m. Thursday the library is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The library is closed from noon to 1 p.m. every day for lunch.

There has been an increase in the number of visitors to the Beebe Public Library, a branch of the White County Regional Library System.

Branch manager Kathy Rodgers said library usage has increased due in part to job searching. Visitors to the library can also check out books about résumé writing

“There are résumé programs on our public-access computers,” Rodgers said.

The Beebe Public Library is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. The library is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Fridays.

Jacksonville’s Esther D. Nixon branch has seen an increase in job-hunting Internet use.

“Quite often people will ask for assistance filling out applications or ask questions about résumés. These sorts of questions seem to have increased in recent months,” branch manager Kathy Seymour said.

“We’ve also seen more people viewing the classifieds in the newspapers along with faxing applications and résumés within the past three months or so,” Seymour said.

In March, the library held a job-search program focused on tactics for getting a job in the tough economy. However, no such program is currently in place.

Kim Hackett, the assistant manager of Sherwood’s Amy Sanders Library, says that the branch has also seen increased computer use.

“Since the spring, there have been quite a few more people coming in to use computers. I don’t know for a fact what specifically people use the computers for because Internet use is privacy protected, but I assume most Internet use is job-related.

“A lot more people have been asking for help with Word Wizard, a program that has résumé formatting capabilities, in recent months. Job hunting books have also been checked out more frequently,” Hackett said.

Though the Sherwood branch does not host job search programs, the Central Arkansas Library System’s main branch, located at 100 Rock St. in Little Rock, regularly hosts computer classes and recently held a class specific to résumé formatting. Contact the main library at 501-918-3000.

(Julia Hofheimer contributed to this report.)