Public library is champion of middle class

Your library card is a passport to the middle class.

This is an era when working-class Americans are being squeezed by a sweeping economic transformation. In desperation, displaced workers are looking for lifelines in the wrong places. You won’t get the help you need – at least in a timely manner, if at all – waiting for politicians to deliver on empty rhetoric and promises.

But there is a place you can go to today – right now, wherever you happen to be, at no cost – to find comprehensive information on a career you want that is in demand in the new economy. At this place, you can find actual training and certification for many jobs. This place also offers complete tutorial training, plans and skills on how to research careers, seek jobs in specific careers and applying, interviewing for jobs and how to get hired for those jobs.

In this new economy that demands ongoing reinvention and adaptation, you can change your career life to make a living and continue to support your family by virtually or physically visiting the local public library.

Certain trends are emerging as the digital age progresses. One is growing polarization – shrinking of the middle section of the labor market – in which many traditional jobs are becoming obsolete and replaced by ones requiring postsecondary education and training, particularly in computer and digital technology skills.

For many skilled trades, it’s not enough to have pre-digital training. The equipment and machines used in traditional trades is different. There are also new career areas and jobs in health care, technology and high-end service and retail sectors requiring digital training.

Training and education pathways for all these new careers are found at the public library, nearly all of which are at no cost. Most are found online, but the library provides computer hardware and software, internet access and printing technology, so changing your career path requires nothing out-of-pocket to library cardholders.

Here is just a tiny sampling of career resources available at the public library:

LearningExpress Library: Licensing/certification practice tests, courses, academic skills building tools

Career Education: Michigan’s Guide to Better Education and Training

mySkills myFuture: Helps laid-off workers and other career changers find new occupations and identify occupations that require skills and knowledge similar to their current or previous job, learn more about these suggested matches, locate local training programs and apply for jobs

O*NET Online: Occupations that meet your skill sets or browse occupations in various job families, high growth areas, subject disciplines and interests

Pure Michigan Talent Connect Career Explorer: Contains a Career Matchmaker tool which matches jobs with individual abilities. Also, a Career Investment Calculator, training programs, skills assessment and development resources

Vocations and Careers Collection: Find appropriate institutions for learning, job searching, and maintaining a career, offers content from nearly 400 journals

Many more sites and other resources are available at your local public library that can literally change your career life at no cost. This and thousands of other resources offered by a public library makes the case for Chassell Township residents to remain in the Portage Lake District Library in Tuesday’s election by voting “no” on the referendum to disconnect from the district. Many Chassell families struggling to stay in the middle class desperately need those library resources.

A Daily Mining Gazette editorial