Marysville Library has extended-use laptops for job seekers

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Library has five laptops ready for job hunters to use, but even though they've been available since February, the library is still looking to get the word out.

"We did a soft roll-out of the laptops last month, with not much publicity," said Mamie Custer, assistant librarian for the Marysville Library. "We've had some people come into the library specifically to use the laptops. For some of them, it may have been their first visit to our library. Still, we're hoping to see lots more."

What makes these laptops even more valuable to job seekers than regular Internet-equipped computers at the library is that there are no reservations required and no set time limit to use them, since they can be checked out when the library opens and turned in half an hour before it closes that same day.

Custer noted that a great deal of job searching and applying, as well as filing for unemployment benefits, now takes place online, and these laptops free up other Internet-connected computers while also allowing their users to prepare resumes and cover letters.

To that end, in addition to gaining these extended-use laptops, Custer estimated that the Marysville Library has acquired a number of thumb-drives to dispense, one per patron, and nearly doubled its collection of books on employment-related subjects, including job interviews and resume writing.

The laptops, thumb-drives and books all came courtesy of a $30,000 grant to the Sno-Isle Libraries, to purchase 30 laptops and 1,000 thumb-drives specifically for job hunters, as part of the Renew Washington Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is helping 17 public libraries across the state meet the needs of their surrounding communities.

"We live in a digital age," said Terry Beck, adult and teen services manager for the Sno-Isle Libraries. "In these tough economic times, we want to do as much as we can for our local job seekers."

The laptops are available for in-library checkouts to all adults with Sno-Isle library cards in good standing.

The Marysville Library is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

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