Libraries Transforming Lives: The Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley, CO

At R-Squared, I was lucky enough to cross paths with Janine Reid, director of the High Plains Library District in Greeley, CO. She shared a bit with me about the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) lab at the Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley, Colorado.

Janine put me in touch with Erin Kirchoefer, who is the Public Computer Center Supervisor for the High Plains Library District in Greeley, Colorado. Erin generously shared the following information with me.

"The Guadalupe Community Center (GCC) is the only emergency center in our county (Weld County). They moved into a new construction in 2011 that allowed them to expand services significantly.  The timing of the BTOP grant and the GCC construction lined up and we were able to partner with them to create a two-part public computer center in their new facility.  The lower level of the facility houses the men’s dorms as well as a common room, where we were able to set up a lab of 10 computers that mimic the setup of our branch computers.  Patrons have access to our subscription databases, Microsoft Office products, broadband internet, and printing.  On the third floor, which is the women’s and families floor, we’ve created an additional mini lab of 2 computers and another printer to allow the residents there to use the computers in a non-threatening atmosphere, which is especially helpful for victims of domestic violence.

 As part of staying at the GCC shelter, most residents are required to be involved in their job search program.  This involves filling out a job log to track where and when they have applied to positions, and checking in with their case manager.  The GCC shelter manager called together a meeting between GCC, the High Plains Library District, and the Weld County Workforce Center to see how we could work together to streamline job resources for residents, and avoid the overlap of duplicating services.

 As a result of that meeting, GCC job searchers now have a new program in place that involves an updated job log and search process (draft). This document is part of the resident’s file with the GCC, and will be reviewed with their case manager.  Now, in addition to simply filling out a job search log, residents have an identified group of resources to take advantage of as part of their job search process.

The library’s role in this process is an initial “Book a Librarian” appointment with the resident, which is a service we offer at all of our locations to allow more individual attention and instruction for users.  As part of the intake process for new residents, shelter staff will now immediately schedule a “Book a Librarian” appointment for the resident.  We will come to the GCC lab and use this appointment to identify needs and create a personal action plan.  As an example, many residents don’t have a personal phone number to receive phone calls from employers.  We’ll ask the resident if they have one, and if not we’ll schedule a time to set up a Google Voice account for them so they have a way to receive calls.   We have created a Job Search Action plan that is used during the initial Book a Librarian appointment.  The idea is that they walk away from the appointment with us not only with specific needs identified, but with an action plan to follow (ie Email Class next Thursday at 3pm).

 The other item of note is that our library board has approved a plan to waive pre-existing fines/fees for these residents in an effort to help them get back on their feet and start fresh.  We will waive up to $50 during our initial appointment with them and if their charges are above that they can earn points through the GCC Chore Points program, and work off additional fines at the equivalent of minimum wage."

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story!

Comments

Thanks, Brenda, for inviting Erin to share this inspiring partnership. This particular story spotlights the creativity and impact community partnerships can have. I've re-read this several times and am telling everyone I know about it.

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