A conversation with Technology Librarian Melissa Hatch
Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) created a Workforce Development Taskforce eighteen months ago. Initially, this group was assembled and tasked with creating a virtual curriculum of jobseeker services and resources on library social media platforms to meet the service needs of customers unable to use in-person library amenities due to COVID-19. Since re-opening our facilities, staff has continued to create virtual content while creatively envisioning a return to ways we can offer services inside our locations.
Melissa Hatch is a part of this aggregation of talented library specialists handpicked by CCPL District Associate Directors to develop initiatives for Workforce Development which is one of the core focus areas in our Strategic Vision. We sat down with Melissa to ask a few questions about the services she offers in Workforce Development. Adapting to presenting library services virtually has been interesting to say the least. Returning to in-person services looks a lot different. But with dedication and passion for the work she does, Melissa has successfully navigated a challenging terrain.
How long have you been employed with CCPL?
4.5 years – before coming to the St. Paul’s Hollywood Library I worked on the Tech Team at the Main library.
How long have you been in your current position?
1.5 years at the St. Paul’s Hollywood Library
How has your work been impacted by COVID-19?
The fact that I couldn’t teach classes in person has been a really big change. We started doing virtual programs, but I miss the in-person classes and helping people in person. When the library re-opened, we were able to help people in person more, but it’s difficult because we’ve had to limit our time and also social distance. I did get a cool pointing stick that has helped with social distancing.
Define your role as a Technology Librarian at CCPL.
As a technology librarian I assist the general public in the use of technology. This includes software, online tools, and mobile devices. I teach classes, help at the public computers, and hold one on one sessions with patrons.
Describe what a typical day at work is like for you as a Technology Librarian?
A large chunk of my day is spent helping patrons at the service desk. I help with everything from finding a book to aiding patrons in filing for unemployment. When I’m not out at the desk I am usually preparing for a class (or these days a virtual program) or learning about new technology. I also spend time making displays and the popular “Take and Make” crafts. Since I work at a small branch I also help in other areas of the library. I’ve had a lot of fun learning to use some of the machines in the Creative Studio.
What are some of the services you offer to jobseekers?
I highly recommend the classes that are taught on finding jobs. If you can’t make it to a class, you can check out some of the virtual content on Facebook or YouTube. We also have Career Connection Kits where jobseekers can borrow a Chromebook and Wi-Fi hotspot to take home.
Looking for work is a tech-heavy process. It’s difficult for a lot of jobseekers. I help with everything from how to use a mouse or get an email address, to formatting resumes or learning to use Zoom. Jobseekers come into the library with many different needs and we can give them a lot of assistance. I even teach classes on how to apply for jobs online and how to write a resume.
Tell us something that you want to make sure job seekers know about the resources and service at CCPL.
Sometimes people are embarrassed or apologetic if they don’t know how to use a computer. Don’t worry! We are happy to help you as you learn. We won’t do it for you, but we’ll stay by your side and help you along. It’s our job and we are happy to help.
Workforce Development is one of the Core Focus Areas in the CCPL Strategic Vision. What will you do as Technology Librarian to help CCPL achieve the action points in the Strategic Vision?
I will help patrons with the basic skills they need to find a job. Some may just need help applying. Others may need to learn new software. We teach classes on a variety of software, including Microsoft Office, which is required for a lot of jobs.
Clarify the difference between IT and Tech Team/Technology Librarian.
The IT Department works with hardware and networking and things I don’t pretend to understand. As a technology librarian I am more concerned with the software side of things; especially with teaching others to use the software and online tools to achieve their goals. My focus is education and the public. I don’t “fix” anyone’s computer, I just help them learn to use it.
What is a service or item at CCPL that patrons may not know about?
All the great content available through databases and apps like Libby, Hoopla, LinkedIn Learning, Mango Languages, the New York Times, etc.
If you had to work in a different department within the CCPL library system, which department would you choose and why?
I am exactly where I’d like to be.
For more information on the available jobseeker resources and services, be sure to visit the CCPL Website, click on the Use Your Library Tab, and then select Let Us Help: Job Resources from the list on the drop-down menu. Visit this section to see the workforce development resources for job seekers and employers as well as the Workforce Development blog and video content created by Hatch and her library 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.