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Monday, May 16, 2022

Library offers free resources for job seekers

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Job searching is a difficult, long and ego-bruising experience. It doesn’t matter if you graduated summa cum laude or if you dropped out of high school. It’s especially rough on those without resources or counseling. Thankfully, the Indianapolis Public Library offers free job centers in library branches to help people improve their lot in life.  

The job centers feature important online resources. Not only do many who visit the center lack regular access to the internet but also the centers have access to two important databases: Career Transitions and Reference USA. Career Transitions allows users to create resumes and store them online. Reference USA, which is updated more frequently than websites such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter, allows people to search for jobs based on locations. 

“We really have some high-tech hidden treasures, we really do,” Shanika Heyward, branch manager of the library’s East 38th Street Branch, said.

One of Heyward’s favorite memories from when she worked at the job center involved a young professor who had recently lost his job.

“I was able to help him search for other opportunities in that particular field. … He ended up getting hired and is now doing very well,” she said.

However, you don’t need to be a professor to use the job center. Teonna Taylor, a library job center assistant at the East 38th Street Branch, said the average job center visitor might be age 25 to 35 and looking for a job in a warehouse or fast food restaurant, but she sees a wide variety of people. 

“I’ve been getting patrons who have criminal histories,” Taylor said. “While I’m not necessarily the most trained within that area, people have been able to come and say, ‘You know what? I might have a history, but I’ve learned from this or that mistake I’ve made in the past. Could you assist me?”

Job center specialists like Taylor provide visitors with different kinds of one-on-one instruction. Sometimes, the instruction involves conducting mock interviews and reviewing the results. Other times, Taylor helps guide job seekers through the application processes. Most often, Taylor assists in writing and formatting resumes. 

“When someone does come up here and says, ‘Hey, I worked in a warehouse, and I only did forklift,’ I say, ‘No, you did much more than forklift,’” Taylor said. “‘You organized pallets. You also maybe acted as a liaison between your team and then also incoming material.’” 

Taylor appreciates how the job center evolves people’s idea of what a library is, demonstrating it’s more than a building with books. Melissa Utten, resource manager for Indianapolis Public Library, said libraries are a great place for programs like the job center.  

“We’re trying to strengthen our neighborhood and businesses by creating a workforce that is ready to go out and fill the jobs that are needed,” Utten said. “We are trying to help connect our patrons with jobs in the community. … It goes right along with all the goals in our strategic plan and the library’s mission of meeting the information needs of our community.”


Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

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