Wednesday, March 24, 2021 Charleston County Library

CHARLESTON, S.C. - CCPL hired Staci Henderson a year ago, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Carolina, to specialize in the area of Workforce Development and helping library users realize their ability to grow their job skills and develop the tools they need for business and career success. 

Workforce Development offers strategies to improve an individual’s potential in the workplace and their career trajectory. It is one of the core focus areas in our Strategic Vision. CCPL sees the benefit in empowering, educating, and embracing our community at their skill levels and helping to build upon their abilities with the many job- seeking resources and programs that are offered at the library. 

We sat down with Staci to ask seven questions as she reflects on her first year at Charleston County Public Library.  It has been an eventful year of successes and challenges as she, like all of us, have had to navigate through the global pandemic.  

 

Define your role as the Workforce Librarian for Charleston County Public Library.

My job is to assist patrons who seek to enter, or re-enter, the workplace, as well as those currently employed wishing to improve or add to their current professional skill set. In addition to my traditional librarian duties (like helping with reference inquiries, creating displays, and shelving), I can offer guidance with resumes, cover letters, and interviews. I’m happy to navigate job-related websites and connect patrons to an array of services and resources both in and outside the library. My goal is to provide the tools and support for jobseekers to take the steps they need to confidently and comfortably progress in their professional life.

When did you start working at CCPL and what was happening in the world at that time?

My first day at CCPL was March 13, 2020. I was in the library for a total of six days before the library closed, and most of the world soon thereafter. While it was a bit unexpected, as someone who had been out of the workforce for several years raising children, being able to slowly dip my toes back into full-time employment was rather nice. This is also my first full-time position after obtaining my master’s degree. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to dedicate a lot of my time to learning as much as I could about the real-life world of libraries.

When I was hired, my vision for the Workforce Development initiative at CCPL was much more outreach oriented. I pictured a lot of in-person events, classes, and workshops. Unfortunately, COVID had other plans and everyone was forced to adjust accordingly, albeit urgently and creatively. Since our shut down and subsequent re-opening, CCPL has created an ever-growing online presence for jobseekers. Our Workforce Development Task Force produces blog and video content regularly. I have made some wonderful connections throughout the Lowcountry that have been nothing short of welcoming and generous with their knowledge. While our virtual material has proved valuable, I am looking forward to expanding our services as the world becomes safer.

What resources are available to jobseekers and small business owners at CCPL?

We have an expanding collection of materials at CCPL. Naturally, we have an assortment of books and print materials, but we also offer several incredible career and education-based databases online. These databases can be accessed with your library card and provide access to hundreds of tutorials (in both video and written formats) and test preparation guides. In fact, several resources award certificates of completion after the training is finished. Not only is this an excellent way to keep track of your achievements, it shows potential employers you are willing to go the extra mile to better yourself. A few of our databases also offer tips and templates for resumes and cover letters, as well as detailed information about specific industries and careers.

Small business owners have access to our database collection, digital and print books, periodicals, and a dedicated business librarian, Sarah Edwards Ferguson. Sarah is available to speak to those interested in starting a business, searching for grants, and more.

Are there any special projects catered towards job seekers that you were a part of during your first year at CCPL?

One of my first tasks as our Workforce Development Librarian was to collaborate with two of my CCPL colleagues regarding the creation and implementation of a Workforce Development Taskforce. Gerald Moore (Branch Manager, Dorchester Road Library) and Ray Turner (Branch Manager, Otranto Road Library) have led the charge in recruiting fellow staff and establishing our vision in order to be of utmost service to our patrons. They have an abundance of experience and are keenly aware of what job seekers in the Charleston area are in search of. They have also helped me cultivate an ever-growing network of community partners for our patrons. Our task force meets regularly (virtually, for now) to discuss current job opportunities, career-related community events, and potential content topics. They are an exceptional team with wonderful ideas.

In September 2020, CCPL launched its Career Connection Kit Program, in which patrons can check out a Chromebook and hotspot loaded with CCPL and community resources, videos, and more. These kits include one Google Chromebook and one hotspot. They are packaged together and come with chargers and quick-reference guides. Career Connection Kits are the dreamchild of our Chief Deputy Director, Darlene Jackson. Tech Team Manager Jennifer Lively and I worked together to create the substance and strategy behind the Career Connection Kits. Together, we led orientations educating patrons on the equipment and resources the kit holds. Recently, we had the chance to deliver kits to several of our other branches and train staff to conduct these orientations as well. We are thrilled to see this program expanding to other areas of the Lowcountry.

Tell us something that you want to make sure jobseekers know about the services and resources at CCPL

First and foremost, there are no dumb questions. We have a dynamic collection of both print and online items (and staff members!) rich with information which covers a wide span of work-related topics.

Second, if we are unable to answer your workforce question or if you need help finding current job openings, we can connect you to those who can. We have a growing list of community partner organizations that are as eager to serve the public as we are.

Workforce Development is one of the Core Focus Areas in the CCPL Strategic Vision. What will you do as Workforce Development Librarian to help CCPL achieve the action points in the Strategic Vision?

At CCPL, our Workforce Development goal is to build enduring and inclusive relationships through programming and services that empower, educate and embrace the community. We aim to do this for our patrons by:

  • Continuing to expand our knowledge of our region’s current and developing industries
  • Launching a young adult volunteer program, allowing teens to fulfill personal and/or academic community service goals as well as learn more about our profession
  • Creating a curriculum by which patrons can obtain certificates for credit hours earned by attending career-related library programs
  • Providing tools for the enhancement of career skills

Describe what a typical day at work is like for you as the Workforce Librarian

Each morning after I arrive, I assist my fellow librarians in collecting books which have been requested to be sent to other branches. From there, I will spend several hours throughout the day at the Reference Desk and our Phone Center answering patrons’ queries. As with many jobs, meetings are scattered throughout most days. I conduct email and phone communication with colleagues. As I mentioned previously, some days include a Career Connection Kit orientation or two as well. I follow up with patrons currently borrowing the kits to ensure the equipment continues to work properly and answer any job-related questions. Additionally, I correspond with our current community partner organizations and continue to seek out new workforce development contacts. Each day presents its own challenges and rewards. I have found this position has helped me cultivate new skills and creativity; it’s stimulating and fulfilling. I am grateful.

You can connect with Staci Henderson for more information on employer or jobseeker resources and tools via email at [email protected] or [email protected] or by phone at 843-805-6930. Be sure to visit the CCPL website, click on the Use Your Library tab, and select Let Us Help: Job Resources from the list of drop-down menu selections.  Visit this section to see the workforce development resources for job seekers and employers as well as the workforce development blog and video content from Henderson and her CCPL colleagues.

With a little bit of practice and self-patience, you will be ready to take on the next steps in your future career.  If you would like more information about how to apply for jobs online, assistance in finding resources, tips on how to get the job-hunting process started or more, please reach out to us at CCPL by email, chat, or text. Remember, you are not alone.