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Public Libraries, American Job Centers, and Digital Literacy

July 18, 2012

Together America’s public libraries and American Job Centers are teaching digital skills that are essential for job searches and more.

By Susan Hildreth
Director, IMLS

Earlier this week, I joined U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Lee Davenport of Connect2Compete at the Arlington Employment Center in Arlington, VA. At this event, we heard from Frank O’Brien, a veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan. He described his job search and how the difficult transition was eased with the help of the Arlington Employment Center. Now, he is helping others by teaching the new digital skills required to conduct a 21st century job search.

During her remarks, Secretary Solis noted that “about 66 million U.S. residents have no computer skills,” diminishing the possibility of finding a position in today’s workforce. She called for “equality and justice” in access to digital training programs and spoke about the powerful partnerships that have resulted in collaborations between America’s Job Centers and public libraries.  And she announced that American Job Centers, a network of nearly 2,800 employment and training centers, will join America’s public libraries as a digital literacy provider and outreach partner for the national initiative Connect2Compete.

Part of Connect2Compete is an Ad Council campaign that will drive people to digital literacy training programs. To prepare for the campaign,  Chairman Genachowski announced the development of a new Digital Literacy Finder Tool that will help people find nearby locations for digital literacy training.  The Finder Tool will be populated with thousands of locations comprising the nation’s libraries, schools, public computing centers, non-profit training providers, and America’s Job Centers. IMLS is helping to develop that tool and recently announced a grant that will help the library community work effectively with Connect2Compete.

We know that 77 million people used a library computer in 2009 and our research shows a trend of increasing demand year after year. We want to make sure that when the Ad Council campaign is released, the Finder Tool is ready to go with accurate and current information about digital literacy training. The service will be accessible from the Internet, mobile broadband, or through a toll-free number.

If you would like to add your library’s program to the database, visit

American Job Centers and public libraries are full of people working hard to get the skills they need to succeed. These institutions have common cause in realizing Secretary Solis’s dream of equality and justice by providing broad access to digital skills training. Working together, we are very powerful partners.

Video: New Partnership to Address Digital Literacy and Job Skills Gap - July 16, 2012