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One of the benefits of April as Financial Literacy month are the many terrific educational events offered for free throughout the United States.

As you recall, I’ve been attending a number of these events this month. One you need to know about was held at the Naperville Public Library (NPL) in Naperville, Illinois.

Naperville Public Library

by Melissa Newton

One of the benefits of April as Financial Literacy month are the many terrific educational events offered for free throughout the United States.

As you recall, I’ve been attending a number of these events this month. One you need to know about was held at the Naperville Public Library (NPL) in Naperville, Illinois. Kent Palmer, the Business Librarian for the NPL, was the behind the scenes organizer of this particular event. (Laura LaBelle, a Certified Instructor with the LFE Institute, presented “Bridge the Retirement Gap”. We will provide an interview with Laura in another Post.)

I had the opportunity to speak with Kent after the event. I was so excited to hear about the work he does with the NPL and the extensive resources available for job seekers in particular, that I had to share his story.

As Kent states below, “Libraries are about information.” In an ever changing business environment, money smart consumers know the power of accessing and leveraging information. Libraries like the NPL play a key role in helping us navigate, self-educate, and problem-solve in today’s business world.

Whether you’re a reader next door or live thousands of miles away from Naperville, Illinois, Kent refreshes and reminds us of the key partnership that libraries perform in our lives. Kent, thanks for your time. Readers – I highly encourage you to take advantage of what your library has to offer. And if you’re a reader in the Naperville, Illinois neighborhood, stop by and re-energize your partnership with the Naperville Public Library!

Q: What are the responsibilities of a Business Librarian? What led you to become a Business Librarian?

A: Our business service plan at Naperville Public Library (NPL) is focused on responding to the business information needs of the community. We attempt to meet those needs through professional reference services (information transactions with customers), collection management (selection of library materials), one-to-one appointments (consulting customers on using library resources) and programming (specific subject educational workshops). I am responsible for selecting business-related library materials and resources that meet the needs of the community, which includes selecting print as well as electronic materials that assist customers in any business or finance related aspects of their lives, careers or businesses. I also arrange and conduct the business programming, which is focused on delivering educational workshops that support job search activities, financial literacy education, business development and innovation, and business student research.

I became a business librarian because I wanted to share expertise and knowledge gained through my employment in the corporate business environment that would help people who face similar situations that I have already experienced. After making the decision to work in a library, I soon realized that my experiences are unique among librarians and it seemed like this position would be the best way to take advantage of that background.

Q: What services and resources does a library provide to job seekers that offer a nice compliment to Internet resources? Are there any specific resources you can mention?

A: At NPL job seekers can access several online databases that provide authoritative, unbiased and detailed information that can’t be accessed on the Internet. One example is a database called Brainfuse JobNow!, which connects a job seeker via a live chat session with a professional career coach who can guide the job seeker through the cover letter and resume preparation process, or through the interview-preparation process. This database offers other professional career coaching services that are available free of charge. I don’t know of any other place where a job seeker can get that kind of top quality advice and guidance completely free. There are job centers and job clubs that give excellent advice and assistance, but this type of trustworthy professional level coaching is a step above.

Additionally, job seekers can access several other databases that focus on industry and company information, which prepares job candidates for networking and interviewing opportunities. Such qualified and authoritative data from third-party sources just aren’t available on the Internet in a central, easily searchable format.

Additionally, NPL offers regularly scheduled Job Search Workshops, one-to-one appointments (with a member of our reference staff), a wide ranging collection of career and job search print materials and in-depth reference assistance at any of our Adult Services Desks.

Q: What words of advice do you offer job seekers when you talk with them?

A: When we meet, I primarily try to learn from the job seeker what she wants to accomplish and then identify library resources that will help her reach her goals. My consultations are usually focused on the skills and information necessary for making career choices, developing job search skills and researching potential employers. I have conducted many full-scale job searches of my own, so I try to share some of that expertise and help people see that it is possible to go through the process and successfully land a good job. For some reason it seems that people come to see us when they are really discouraged. After spending some time with us here and getting exposed to all of the great tools and information available to them, they brighten up and the relief is visible in their faces as they leave the library.

Q: How are libraries, like the Naperville Public Library, changing to meet a new generation of users?

A: Many people have the misconception that libraries are about books. In reality libraries are about information. NPL is all about arming people with information, inspiring them with ideas and imagining with them the possibilities for their future. The information is available in various resources. The inspiration and imagination comes from interacting, whether in a one-to-one reference transaction or in a financial literacy workshop, etc.. We hope to educate the community about the great wealth of opportunity that is opened up by simply using library resources. The imagined future is really only limited by our ability to take advantage of what is available at the library.

The change that occurs at libraries is constant. Everything changes on a regular basis. The library is a full participant in the instant access mindset, so we have made it possible for customers to check out certain materials (e.g. eBooks, eAudiobooks, music streaming, videos, magazines, etc.) using mobile devices no matter where a person might be located. Among other changes, NPL has seen the need to support job seekers, people planning for retirement, new entrepreneurs starting a business and really anyone needing specific information. That causes us to create new realms of library programs, teen centers, the Idea Lab (new at The 95th Street Library), business innovation centers and other specialized services to fit specific needs.