Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Plugged in for Communities: Modern Libraries Provide Business Services

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Plugged in for Communities: Modern Libraries Provide Business Services

Article excerpt

Gone are the days when a library was a quiet, musty place with a librarian ready to reprimand.

Today's libraries are increasingly connecting with the business community and job seekers with training materials, resource kits, book discussion groups and databases that, in most cases, are free.

That effort has been in such demand for Oklahoma's Pioneer Library System that it has added another business resource librarian to its ranks.

"Those two librarians have been very good about outreach and delivering information to the businesses themselves," said Gary Kramer, public information officer for Pioneer Library System, which has libraries in Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. "Instead of opening up our doors and saying, 'Here is what we're going to teach today,' we respond to requests and needs and go to them."

Kramer said he began noticing Pioneer's relevance to the business world when the Transportation Security Administration was formed about a decade ago. The agency was hiring a lot of people, but many didn't have computers to fill out the online application. That began a growth of library resources for job seekers, he said.

Since then, its services have grown, more recently with business resources. The libraries offer Business Training Kits that employers can use to educate their employees on a multitude of topics. Another offering, the Business Book Discussion Kit, includes several copies of a business-related book for employees to read and discuss.

Pioneer also customizes computer training for business applications. If a business needs training on how to use Excel spreadsheets, the library staff will put together the training, then the employees will come to the library to learn it.

Launching and maintaining a small business isn't easy, but a library is well-suited to provide resources that otherwise would be too costly or too cumbersome to sort through via an Internet search, said Phil Clark, Pioneer's newest business outreach coordinator.

"People who are creating their own business plans often need help," said Clark, adding that Pioneer also collaborates with others like Moore Norman Technology Center and REI Women's Business Center to offer services. …

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