A library in western Kentucky is one of three in the state chosen for a pilot program to increase access to jobs and human services.
The McLean County Public Library has only been in existence for six years. It was the last public library formed in Kentucky.
Now it’s among the first – that is, one of the first three libraries in the state to launch a statewide initiative called the Library Economic Advantage Forum, or LEAF. The program makes the local library a hub for collaboration among community colleges and Kentucky Career Centers, as well as offering Internet access to residents who may not have computers at home.
Aimee Newberry is Director of the McLean County Public Library. She says the library has 15 public computers often used by local residents to fill out required forms or search for jobs. She says the LEAF designation will likely increase that activity.
“Our main focus of this collaboration will be to help new employers in the area locate a workforce, if they need training, if they need interview space, those are also things that we offer here."
She says the state career center in Calhoun in McLean County closed three years ago, so the library has already become a resource for residents looking for jobs or services.
Newberry says the LEAF program is a natural expansion of library services in the rural community.
“We have approximately 4,100 card carrying members right now, which is pretty exciting, considering the population is 9,500. We’re kind of place to go in the community. We offer space for meetings. Adult education is located here. And I think people are hungry to read and check out movies, which is what we do most.”
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet said McLean County was chosen as one of the three initial LEAF sites to offer diversity in size and location. The other two sites are libraries in Kenton and Laurel counties.