Job Seekers Take Public Libraries by Storm

Tough economy makes free resources look good

Early afternoon used to be a quiet time for elderly or retired folk to peruse bookshelves and the Internet in New York City’s public libraries, but now many have trouble even getting a seat at a computer.

Out-of-work professionals have usurped the city’s public libraries, according to The New York Times, turning the tranquil havens into temporary unemployment centers.

Circulation was up 16 percent at the New York Public Library in fourth quarter 2008 over the previous year, according to the paper – a climb that resembles the increase in circulation at some of the other major libraries across the city. Why the sudden jump?

Free stuff. Libraries are having trouble keeping resume writing and job advice handbooks on the shelves. Computer time has become a hot commodity, especially among those who have been forced – or whose parents have been forced – to cancel Internet connections at home amid the economic downtown.

It’s not just college students or entry-level workers seeking the library’s help in their job-seeking endeavors, however. Professionals have joined the bunch.

Nearly 1,000 job seekers showed up for a career fair at the Science, Industry and Business Library on 34th street earlier this year; the Bronx Library Center has doubled its computer class offerings to make room for the older people seeking new skills to impress employers as they try to re-enter the work force, The Times reported.  

“When the banks started going down, we saw some people who had been employed for a long time and had never taken the time to write résumés or work on interviewing skills,” Kerwin Pilgrim, division manager of the Brooklyn Public Library’s education and job information center, told The Times. “People got comfortable, and basically their résumés were never updated.”

How the times have changed.

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