Library Stories -- Libraries -- Transforming Lives
People remember stories long after they have forgotten statistics. When doing your advocacy for libraries, tell how libraries have made a difference for your users. Here are some examples.
Teaching Online Skills
Since I began teaching computer classes to the public here at Central in 2007, I have repeatedly been struck by the vital necessity of this service. Local employers now frequently require online submission of applications, yet many people seeking these jobs are unable to apply without our assistance. One was a guy who wanted a dishwashing job at the Hyatt; another who wanted to work at the new Price Right grocery store. Other students come seeking to improve their skills at using office applications. Most cannot afford the continuing education classes offered at other facilities.
I hope we can continue to teach and train those struggling to remain viable in today’s job market.
--- Jackie (Public Librarian)
Help for a Child with Eating Disorder
Just this afternoon we had a call from one of our BOCES employees working with Exceptional Children. A mother had contacted her with her concerns about her child not eating. She had found an article on the subject in a professional journal but did not know how she could get that article. We were able to find the article, request it from SUNY Brockport, and she will have it in a few days. That is why we have libraries, to help patron who need information and don’t know where or how to get it. If I wasn’t here, if the School Library System wasn’t here, would she have been able to get the information she needs quickly and for free?
--- Carol (School Library System Assistant)
Business Resources Help with Job Search
To make the very best impression on prospective employers in this challenging job market, it’s more important than ever for applicants to have done their homework. Often, this research is best accomplished at the local public library that frequently has up-to-date, in-depth business resources, such as subscription databases, that average citizens would otherwise not be able to access nor afford.
As a job and career transition coach and professional résumé writer, I’ve sent many of my clients to their local public libraries to access such resources. They have been amazed and delighted with the information available to them. For countless clients, this preparation – made possible by public libraries - has set them apart from the competition, and resulted in job offers, which I’m convinced, would not have otherwise been extended.
--- Arnold (Professional Career Coach)
Disabled Vietnam Vet Got Benefits Because of Library
I was working in the Rochester Public Library History Division. A gentleman approached, asking what I might find out about a campaign during the Vietnam War, in which he had been injured. He said he had applied for disability benefits, but was denied, because there was no authenticated documentation on this particular campaign. Through some rather involved Internet searching, I was able to track down writings from some other person involved in the campaign, who described what kind of attacks had taken place. With this corroborating anecdotal evidence, the patron was able to reapply for benefits and this time was awarded them. He was so happy about getting help that he tracked me down (by then I had transferred out to branches [because of budget cuts]) to send me this thank you Christmas card. I'm sure he's never forgotten the Library. Being able to provide this kind of service is what makes our work truly rewarding.
--- Gabe (Public Librarian)
Historical Stock Quotes for Tax Purposes
Here at the Business & Social Science Division of the Central library, we often provide patrons with historical stock quotes. Historical Stock quotes for companies whose stock is no longer actively traded can not be found on free Internet sites such as Yahoo finance. Customers’ call us because they have searched hours trying to locate the quotes. We have the material in print and provide this information to tax firms, certified public accountants and attorneys’ offices and they are very grateful for this.
---Darlene (Public Librarian)
Helping the Unemployed; Lending an Sympathetic Ear
We are getting more unemployed patrons seeking help using the computers to search the internet for employment, complete online applications, and establish e-mail accounts necessary for their job search. Most who seek help have no basic computer literacy, and one-on-one instruction on that level requires temporarily abandoning other core services, such as reference or reader's advisory. We offer regular formal training in computer fundamentals, but many are unwilling to take advantage, through embarrassment, or the mistaken belief that they will not need these skills beyond the task-at-hand.
Currently, the reference staff and I have been steadily working with a middle-aged man who lost his manufacturing job, unfortunately only a few days after he purchased a new car. He does not know how to search the Internet, and his use of the keyboard is painstakingly slow. He does not understand why companies will not provide phone numbers or paper applications, and is extremely frustrated. We helped him find job websites, got him a free e-mail account, and helped him fill out some applications. However, I had to ask him to wait for assistance, until a staff member was free, and his training is perpetually being interrupted by phone calls and reference requests, and this only increases his frustration.
I have provided him with a schedule of free library computer classes and talked to him about how useful these skills would be and how necessary for his job search. But he only wants to get through the process, and says he will be getting a job “real soon”. Despite his frustration, he is very patient, and very appreciative of what we do for him, and inquired about other libraries in the area, because he said he didn't want to bother us all the time. This is also very frustrating for us, as his need seems so great, and vital. … These patrons also seem to want a counselor as much as an instructor, and often just want to vent about a world of technology that has left them behind.
--- Matt (Public Librarian)