For many Americans, the storms that may come along with extended periods of unemployment are real and quite threatening.
Imperial Beach is no exception.
According to the California Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate in IB as of February 2011 was 16 percent, well above San Diego County’s average unemployment rate of 10.1 percent, a state average of 12.3 and national average of 8.9 percent.
Despite difficult times, there are ways for job seekers to beef up their chances of finding employment; the Imperial Beach Library offers several tools and programs to aid job searchers in their efforts.
Surrounded by scrap paper and in the shadow of the regal, almost altar-like dictionary stand, lies a notebook simply labeled “Job Binder” that contains hundreds of detailed job listings from nearly every region of San Diego and in almost any field.
From entry level fast food openings to engineering positions at biotech research companies, the Job Binder, updated weekly, is a treasure trove for the job hunter. As with everything in the library, the binder is free to use so long as one possesses a library card.
Since the start of the recession, libraries nationwide have been put to use for many Americans in search of a job.
According to the American Library Association's 2010 State of American Libraries report, usage jumped 10 to 30 percent on average nationwide. In Imperial Beach, library use has gone up 70 percent in the last year.
A 2009 study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that of the 77 million Americans who use library computers, 30 million reported using them for employment or career purposes.
Librarian June Engel often calls the IB library "small but mighty," and there's more to offer the unemployed than the Job Binder.
Accessible, for free, on each library computer is a powerful Web tool that combines job resources, tools and various academic websites into one cohesive program.
Job Now, the employment-centric aspect of the larger Brain Fuse program offered at the library, offers those looking to strengthen their resume (or learn to write one for the first time) a helpful template for resume and cover letter writing.
For job seekers looking for advice on fine tuning their resumes, Job Now also offers live, 24-hour online resume and interview coaches, as well as resume labs where tools and suggestions are available.
For those looking to stay local, the program contains local job resources, not unlike the library’s Job Binder or Craigslist, and for those contemplating a career change, Job Now also offers live advice from career analysts.
One of the most useful aspects of Job Now isn't its resume templates or job coaches, however. It's the fact that users can access the program on their own computers, in their own homes, simply by using their library card number as a login.
Job Now is made possible through grants and donations and is free to all library patrons.
High technology aside, the Imperial Beach Library also allows members to print up to 10 free copies of their resume, as well as access San Diego newspapers and their classified sections. The Bonita Sunnyside Branch library actually boasts a career center, where participants are given in-person resume coaching, interview tips and even interview dress tips from staff.
The Spring Valley Library offers a similar center.
The libraries of San Diego, in Imperial Beach and throughout the county, have set themselves up to be armories for those looking to enter the battle for lasting employment. Free of charge and useful to any level of job seeker, the local library is a wise first stop to any hoping to return to a regular paycheck.