SJPL Works for job applicants and entrepreneurs

A guest blogpost by Rick Jensen, Communications Director, San Jose Downtown Association

SJPL Works is just one of the assets that makes San Jose Public Library one of the top libraries in the country.

San Jose librarians saw a need to provide dedicated support to job-seekers and those wanting to start a small business, which is music to the ears of the San Jose Downtown Association, a business membership organization.

“Through our daily customer interactions, we noticed that there was still a high number of customers who lacked basic skills and tools to gain employment,” said Elizabeth Castaneda, former SJDA intern and now marketing and communications manager for San Jose Public Library.  “Also, we found that small businesses account for nearly 38 percent of jobs in San Jose and we thought that the library could play an important role around supporting and educating small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.”

With seed money from California State Library, Sobrato Family Foundation and the Knight Foundation, SJPL gave their Works program a soft launch in fiscal 2016-17 and by 2017-18, they had put together 309 classes and 2,400 participants, an average of about eight people per class.

“We see customers from all education levels – no high school to PhDs – all income levels and various language speakers,” Castaneda said.

The February calendar of events includes courses in Careers in Manufacturing, Introduction to Selling, Creating a Strong Resume and Teen Entrepreneurs Club.  The most popular class is a six-week-long business incubator class.  All the classes and programs are free.

Works unites the expertise of the area’s top leaders in economic and workforce development to create an extensive network of resources for employment seekers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs,” says the SJPL Works web page.  “The business center features collaborative workspaces with technology and productivity tools, meeting spaces with videoconferencing, specialized collections and classes, and much more.”

Much more includes the services of two full-time librarians and a full-time support staff who help with resumes, job search, market research for business plans, interview prep, and applying to jobs online.

“Basically, they will help with any job or small business-related assistance a customer may need,” Castaneda said.  “Our staff also refers customers to local partners such as SCORE, SBDC, and BusinessOwnerSpace.”

  • When the Works Conference Room is not being used for programs or events, it is open as co-working space where customers can have meetings or work on their resume or small business plans.
  • Computers have a host of software programs including Quickbooks, MS Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and BusinessPlansPro software, which customers can use for free.
  • SJPL Works is also a PTRC (Patent & Trademark Resource Center) and its computers have access to USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) databases, PubEAST and PubWEST search databases that are only available at PTRC’s and USPTO offices.
  • In addition, users can browse or check out books about career and small business topics – some in Vietnamese and Spanish.

Go-getters looking to improve themselves can get a lift at SJPL Works, located on the third floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 150 E San Fernando St. More information is available at the program’s website.