The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced that Madison County Library System (MCLS) has been selected to participate in Libraries Lead with Digital Skills, an initiative of ALA and the Public Library Association (PLA), sponsored by Grow With Google, the tech company’s economic opportunity initiative.
This initiative will award MCLS funding in the amount of $2,000 to reach the community through applied digital skills, jobs on Google search and helping small businesses get adjusted to moving their business online.
Annual statistics from 2019 show over 55,000 public access computer sessions in MCLS libraries. Twenty-five percent report using the computers for job related purposes such as job searches and online job applications, while another 23 percent were using the computers for educational purposes such as online classes and research.
Nearly 70 percent of MCLS users reported no home internet access. The goal for MCLS will be to reach those with and without access to adequate online capabilities.
Grow with Google will allow the library system to provide free training tools and expertise. MCLS plans to do its part to bring this service to citizens by setting up a website specifically for job seekers and small businesses.
For some of the libraries’ patrons, the COVID-19 crisis has caused job loss and small businesses are facing unprecedented times.
According to MCLS, they will actively keep their social media and website updated with links to all major job boards including the Win Job Center. There will be links to learning sites and specific tech courses for a particular job path.
MCLA will also hold training sessions for local business owners to effectively operate their business remotely.
Since some individuals will need access to computer hardware and Wi-Fi while learning digital skills, conversations are being had with local internet service providers and other tech companies about discounted Wi-Fi and ways to get laptops that can be loaned out to those committed.