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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Community - April 2010

The Benefits of Public Libraries Go Beyond the Books
Have You Been to a Public Library Lately?

If the last time you were in a public library, you were shushed by a librarian with gray hair in a bun - you haven't been to one lately. And, you really should go. Ohio's public libraries are temples to the electronic age and gateways to many job search and civic engagement resources within your community and beyond.

To be competitive in today's employment marketplace, job seekers need to be online. Many employment postings are listed only online and some employers require candidates to apply via the Internet. Most employers assume they can contact prospective employees via e-mail.

If the last time you were in a public library, you were shushed by a librarian with gray hair in a bun - you haven't been to one lately.Ohio's libraries have approximately 11,100 public access computers in more than 720 locations. Computer use and Internet access are free of charge and can be used to update résumés, search for jobs, send e-mails and much more. Library staff can help both the tech-savvy and not-so-savvy user and most libraries have free computer classes on common office software to help you get up to speed quickly. Many libraries also conduct career development programs and help job seekers select from the enormous collection of materials available about getting a job.

For the entrepreneur, small business resource centers in libraries provide information on every aspect of management, planning, finance and legal requirements for starting and operating a small business. Libraries provide information on industry and market analysis, access to computers to do everything from drawing up budgets to filling out tax forms and 24/7 access to databases that would be prohibitively expensive to use on their own, such as Reference USA, DemographicsNow and Business NewsBank.

Libraries also can be a great access point for assistance. Because it is fast and convenient, government agencies are increasingly moving their benefits applications and processes online. Public libraries' computers are a convenient way for many people to learn about social services and to sign up for emergency relief, food stamps, Medicaid and other essential government services.

Through library resource sharing, Ohioans can access databases that provide tools for test preparation and course work to help them succeed. Genealogists can trace their family trees for free, using online tools and databases that would be costly for a non-library user. Public libraries also can recommend accurate, reliable Web sites related to health care. KnowItNow, a collaboration of Ohio's public libraries and universities, allows any Ohioan to connect "live" online to a trained reference librarian to ask for help with research or for answers to all types of questions.

Yes, libraries still have books, but print is just one of the formats available. There are audio books you can listen to in the car and books you can download and read from your hand-held device or computer. There are newspapers, magazines, movies and music in various formats. You can even preview videogames before you buy.

If you don't have the time or the inclination to go to your library, you still can benefit from what they offer. Just visit your library on the Web. Most libraries have Web pages that essentially function as an electronic branch of the main library. Library cardholders can check out books, search databases and download materials, including e-books and audiobooks. Many libraries also use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to connect to patrons and help them stay connected to the world.