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State Library Services Seeking Strategies for Helping Unemployed Patrons Find Work

Libraries across Minnesota are preparing to share and receive information on how to better assist job seekers. Two representatives from Minnesota’s State Library Services attended the Project Compass Summit this week in Denver. Project Compass is a national initiative to share strategies for helping unemployed patrons find work. Melinda Ludwiczak, a member of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) Jobs and Small Business Task Force, and Mary Van Cura, Library Development & Continuing Education Coordinator, represented Minnesota. Van Cura has promised a forthcoming statewide initiative to support libraries and patrons with workforce assistance.

Project Compass features four regional summits where state library officers are sharing best practices on meeting the workforce needs of their communities. Summits have already taken place in Atlanta, Portland, and Providence. The project is being funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a grant-making federal agency supporting museums and libraries of all types.

"In the last 12 months, approximately 30 million people used library resources to help address career and employment needs," said Marsha L. Semmel, acting director of IMLS, citing the new IMLS/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-supported report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries. "Project Compass is developing the tools libraries need to help patrons who are already using library resources."

Project Compass has the potential for national impact because states are coordinating their efforts and sharing information and resources. In addition to working together in person, Project Compass is facilitating development of a "community of practice" with an online hub to help librarians share ideas and resources designed to help get their communities fully employed.