Library Director Visits Washington

MaryEllen Firestone spoke to Congress on Thursday about the tools libraries have to help small businesses and job seekers position themselves for success.

MaryEllen Firestone, director of the East Brunswick Public Library, discussed the work being done through the Library’s groundbreaking Business Resource Center, which was developed to support small businesses in Middlesex County, during a presentation to the U.S. Congress, Thursday.

The Library recognizes that small businesses are the engines that drive workforce development. For the past two years, the Business Resource Center has offered Middlesex County small business owners services and programs that support their success and growth. Specialized computer training, social media courses, how to start a small business, how to value a family owned business and databases that can help grow an existing small business are just some of the courses that have been offered.

In addition, the BRC has been a catalyst to better market library services to job seekers. Public libraries have always assisted residents who were looking to start a new career, turn a hobby into a business, change jobs or get their first job. By combining traditional library services with new, value added services, like resume review and interviewing skills, the library has emphasized its value as the initial comprehensive resource for job seekers.

The congressional staff briefing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13, from 8:30 a.m.to 9:30 a.m. on the House of Representatives side of the Capital and again on the Senate side of the building at 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. that same day.

The briefing was hosted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in support of educating congressional staff on how libraries support the workforce.  U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and IMLS Director Susan Hildreth will make brief opening remarks and introduce the panelists.

In 2009 alone, 30 million Americans used a library computer to help address career and employment needs, including submitting online applications and searching for job opportunities and working on their resumes.

Firestone was part of a panel that included Jane Brady, Director of the Middlesex County Office of Workforce Development & Workforce Investment Board, Linda Carlisle, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and Cal Shepard, State Librarian of North Carolina. The briefing also focused on how WIB’s, America’s Job Centers/One-Stops, can partner more closely with libraries to aid job seekers; How museums support workforce development; and sharing with congressional staff successful models, best practices and success stories from New Jersey and North Carolina.

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