Nearly 44,000 job-seekers visited one of NCWorks’ CARE3 (Community Access to Resources that Engage, Empower and Employ) sites during the 2014-15 program year. More than half of those visits were to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Main, Sugar Creek and Steele Creek branches.
The library partnership began in 2011 and was a natural fit.
“There was already a mindset within the community that the library was a place to go for resources,” says James Merrick, community partnerships program coordinator at Charlotte Works.
Visitors learn about job postings and use job-help centers equipped with computers, copiers, fax machines and more. The partnership provides a connection to the local workforce development board’s programs such as Working Smart: Soft Skills for Workplace Success and training for site coordinators on how to use NCWorks Online to help register job-seekers.
One of the latest offerings are Zoom webinars, where job-seekers participate in interactive workshops led by trained Charlotte Works volunteers.
“The libraries are the vehicle we use for piloting new ideas. The staff is always on-board when we’re trying new and exciting things,” Merrick says.
For the past three years, representatives from the Main branch have received special recognition awards at Charlotte Works’ former Share Network Access Point (SNAP) annual luncheon for their outstanding contributions to getting people back to work.
As a former librarian at Main, new manager Anne Masters is bringing her experience to help increase opportunities for job-seekers at the Sugar Creek branch. Alongside fellow librarian Jo Henry, she’s expanding workforce programming to include onsite workshops for resume writing, interviewing strategies and more.
Eight of the 25 computers located at this small branch are designated for job-search activities, and visitors are allowed to use them for three hours instead of the one-hour time limit. Approximately 30 job-seekers visit the Sugar Creek library daily.
Masters shares that she knew about CARE3 resources from her own job search but didn’t piece together that they were offered by NCWorks Career Centers. Now, as library staff, she says she needs to keep refreshing her knowledge to benefit other job-seekers.
“There’s a constant need to educate our staff because there are so many resources available through NCWorks Career Centers,” Masters explains. “Managers throughout the system also may not be aware of the connections, but we want to offer as many options to help people get back to work.”