While many libraries around the country have special programs and services for job seekers, none can quite compare to the Memphis Public Library & Information Center’s mobile job search center.
Its JobLINC: Mobile Bus for Job Seekers and Employers gained the library the distinction as the 2014 Top Innovator in the economic and workforce development category, an award given by the Urban Libraries Council. And for good reason.
The library operates a 38-foot bus with 10 computer stations for job seekers and a station for recruiters who come on board. Patrons can work on resumes with help from librarians and take advantage of the online databases and computerized and hard copy reference materials.
“We go into the community to meet the people where they are,” says Robyn Stone, manager of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center’s JobLINC Services.
Although the program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, the current bus is only about two years old. The library received a grant of $300,000 from the Plough Foundation to build and sustain the vehicle, which along with the computer workstations, has solar panels to allow it to operate without the use of a loud generator.
“The grant covered everything – the bus, furniture, books and safety equipment. It also left us with sustaining funds for programming as well as money to purchase other books and materials,” Stone said.
JobLINC travels to a variety of places that range from homeless shelters and grocery stores to apartment complexes, churches and community agencies. One of its busiest sites is DeafConnect of the Mid-South, Inc., which it visits once a month. The bus even goes to elementary schools for career days.
It operates between three and five days per week, usually from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and last year served between 6,000 and 7,000 people. That number includes attendees at the annual job fair held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
JobLINC partners with organizations that include Tennessee Career Coach, a mobile career center operated by the Tennessee Department of Labor, which it did a joint session with this month at a men’s shelter.
Employers, who sometimes come onboard to recruit workers, have included the Veterans Administration, temporary employment agencies, Toys ‘R Us and Sears.
The bus also serves as a mobile classroom that can handle classes and workshops for up to 10 people.
The JobLINC program is an extension of the Library Information Center, a 211 agency that provides community and government information. The librarians who work in the program are Information & Referral Specialists, certified by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, a nonprofit professional membership association.
In addition to the bus, JobLINC produces a blog with job postings and also puts on a yearly well-attended job fair.
For more information, visit JobLINC.