Employment & Digital Literacy
17.0% percent of American households do not have broadband access, reaching up to 53% in rural communities. With major employers increasingly using online services as the primary means of listing open positions and only allowing applications to be completed online, library technologies are essential for many Americans to find employment.
Libraries go beyond bridging the digital inclusion gap by providing computer and Internet access to patrons who lack such employment necessities in their homes. Librarians strive to assist individuals who lack digital literacy, which includes the skills needed to search for jobs online, fill out online forms such as applications, and use software tools to create résumés:
- 73.1% of libraries provide programs that assist individuals apply for jobs, create resumes, and prepare for interviews; with access to jobs databases and job opportunity resources;
- 68.3% of libraries provide access to programs that assist individuals with accessing employment databases and job opportunity resources; and
- 62.3% of libraries provide access to online job/employment materials.
In addition, 36.1% of libraries provide work space(s) for mobile workers, and 59.0% of libraries provide assistance with starting a small business.
Career Coaching and Community Partnerships
State and local initiatives further highlight how libraries help connect individuals to skills, assistance, and other job-related services. Leveraging their resources and forging partnerships, libraries provide advanced career services such as:
- The New Jersey State Library used funding from the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program to develop NJWorks.org, a clearinghouse of career information for the unemployed and underemployed. This website also directs New Jersey residents to their local library for further assistance from trained public librarians.
- The New York Public Library provides one-on-one career coaching, including targeted programs for recent college graduates in their twenties and for job seekers over the age of fifty.
- The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Career Coach buses take career counselors and Internet enabled computers to target areas throughout the state, including public libraries.
Libraries offer millions of people access to employment and career information, certification and testing resources, assistance with online job applications, skills training and free public Internet and computing access. State and local partnerships and collaborations with employment and workforce agencies can provide stronger community employment services that not only get people back to work, but also allow patrons to achieve their full career potential or pursue new entrepreneurial opportunities.
More details on this topic are available in our Public Libraries & Employment issue brief.
 Federal Communications Commission. (2015). Broadband Availability in America: With Rural Americans Looking for High-Speed Services, Adequate Broadband Speeds Remain Out of Reach for Many. Washington, DC: FCC. Available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-331734A1.pdf.