As unemployment in Rhode Island continues to be one of the highest in the country, libraries across the state are stepping up in an effort to assist those in need of finding a job. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has teamed up with the Office of Library and Information Services, as well as the Providence Public Library system, in a movement that will provide libraries across the state with improved technological resources in order to increase job search efficiency. The program provides up to 30 “specially-formatted” computers that connect to the state’s online Unemployment Insurance claims-filing system, as well as the state’s EmployRI.org virtual career center. The computers, which are funded by $30,000 in U.S. Department of Labor grant funds, are intended primarily for those who do not have computers in their own homes. They will provide free and convenient access to those who come to use them.
The Warwick Public Library is one of 15 libraries that have taken on this project. There is currently one computer available for anyone who wishes to use it, with the assistance of the library staff on hand. The Warwick Public Library is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Diane Greenwald, director of the Warwick Library, is a strong advocate of the program and believes it will continue to grow as more people become aware of its availability.
“We are interested primarily in emphasizing the computer as a source for work development,” she said. “Nearly all job applications require a résumé to be submitted online.”
While the computer is available to anyone in search of employment opportunities, Greenwald cites older generations as ones who could learn to benefit from it the most.
“People in the 50 [years old] and over category are especially unfamiliar with computers,” she said, noting that assistance for those who need it is widely available.
Governor Lincoln Chafee is another proponent of the movement, as he sees improvements in technology as a crucial step toward improving government relations and communication with its public.
“Improving access to both unemployment insurance and job matching services is an important undertaking,” he said in a statement. “It is part of my administration’s push to modernize government communication through Internet-based tools and social media.”