Whatcom County Library System - Job Shops

Organization Name
Whatcom County Library System
Mission Statement

In partnership with our communities, WCLS brings the joy of reading and access to the world of ideas to every resident in an open and enriching environment.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: To address job search needs of our rural communities, with both federal and state funding, WCLS has developed “job shops” in all locations. The job shops feature computers fitted with Microsoft tools (Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office and others) that job seekers are often expected to be able to use in a competitive job market. There are books and binders with local employment information and planned training sessions. Individual help with software such as Office and Internet Explorer is available. Job-related links are assembled as a focus on the library’s website (www.wcls.org). Group events focus upon on all of these topics. Individuals who began resumes and other projects were given USB thumb drives for storing their work for use at a later time including future library sessions.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)
Other: Windows 7, Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: WCLS increased community awareness of the service it provides not only amongst its own regular patrons, but amongst communities it has (in the past) had the most trouble reaching: non-English speaking communities. The demand for job help, and specifically for training on the basics of computing, was certainly made more attractive to many people because of the commitment we’ve made to use Microsoft products in these sessions. We brought many new patrons into the library with this new programming. Not only did these new patrons take advantage of our job skills training, they also found out more about the other services we provide.These services include public access to online practice for civil service exams, online learning programs, etc.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: In our communities, use of Microsoft products is nearly ubiquitous. It’s commonly used by business, government and schools. Our region of Washington is dominated by small business, and I think many small businesses see the value in using tools that require the least training. A small business who is hiring is much more likely to find employees well versed in the Microsoft set of tools. We knew that before we started our outreach program, and decided that it was a better idea to provide training to the community on the use of Microsoft tools, as opposed to providing training on other platforms (open source office suites or operating systems, for example).

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer:  New Programming and Services: o Computer Basics Classes o Computer Basics classes in Spanish o Classes on Use of Library Resources in Job Search o Classes on Creating a Resume in Microsoft Word  List of some new partnerships created during this program: o Whatcom County Opportunity Council o Everson School District o Lummi Nation o Washington WorkSource o Whatcom Volunteer Center

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