I was very happy to be in Wolfforth, Texas, outside Lubbock this week for the dedication of their new Job Resource Center created in part with a grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Present at the dedication ceremony was not just the library director, Kimberly Brown, and staff and library supporters, but also the city manager, Darrell Newsome, the entire city council, and the director of the area workforce solutions board, Danny Soliz.
These community leaders were present because they have the vision to understand–along with an increasing number of cities across Texas–the powerful impact that libraries can have in the area of workforce and economic development. A reporter from the Lubbock Avalanche Journal asked me if we had any idea how many people could get jobs through the program. I responded that we knew of a library branch in the Fort Worth Public Library System that has documented a 70% success rate in helping users get jobs or get better jobs. 70%!
Libraries are natural players in this effort and in fact, every day thousands of people visit their local libraries to seek jobs, fill out job applications, attend literacy and life-skills classes, find materials to help them in their professional lives, and utilize test-taking and other resources using such programs as Learning Express via the TexShare database program.
We are seeking an exceptional funding item in our current budget request to provide training and technical assistance to Texas libraries in creating jobs programs. For this effort, Wolfforth and other cities are pointing the way with their innovative and visionary commitment to this service.