Pat Stuart

Newspaper Columns

RETOOLING for Our New World

Powell Tribune, 14 December 2019


Grim news from the local employment front …

The closing of Shopko and Cody Labs, not to mention the layoffs and position reductions at Northwest College, focuses my attention on our library system.

What’s the connection, you ask?

Jobs.  That’s the short answer.  People wanting to stay here, will be or are looking for new employment, maybe facing the need to retrain their skills or develop new ones, possibly thinking of starting their own businesses.

Help in all of these areas is available from the library’s resources and its librarians.

Let’s begin with the job hunt.  Check out the long list of job-related services offered through our library system, first with guidance in where to look for jobs and moving right along to filling out job applications (some now can only be submitted online) and writing resumes.  The library is there to help with the internet service and computers while our librarians can steer you toward guides and assist with advice, as needed.  What they don’t know about filling out applications and writing resumes is minuscule.

Help From Your Library is Online

What if you need to acquire new skills?  Thanks to the generous funding of subscriptions by the state of Wyoming plus contributions from the local Friends of the Library, our libraries and their on-line resources provide access to hundreds of internet services, programs, and classes.  You can learn new skills, hone old ones, become literate in more computer programs, attend on-line university programs, read about what skills you might need, and much more.  Best of all, you can do all of this on your own schedule and without leaving your home, if you have internet access, or by using the internet at the library on your computer or theirs.

If you are thinking of becoming a Bent (or other) Street entrepreneur, you’re going to need help.

How do you start?  Where does a prospective business owner go to learn the elements of a solid business plan, to figure out the steps he or she must take, to get financing information?  (Current business owners sometimes ask these questions, too).

Resources …

We’re lucky.  We have town and business community leaders actively engaged in providing advice and assistance.  They are there to help.

We’re really lucky.  We have a group of dedicated librarians and a state library system that invests in exactly the kind of information services you need in order to be successful at each stage of the entrepreneurial process.

But wait, as the infomercials say, there’s more!  It’s all free.

What about the rest of us just looking to get ahead by improving our earning power or staying abreast of new developments in our fields.

We’re caught in a strange new world where the old norm of twelve to fourteen years of school followed by a lifetime in one profession has disappeared.  Learning and continuing education has already become a lifelong obligation whether you’re a Walmart cashier or a bank executive.

This means being nimble on our feet; taking advantage of new technologies just to keep our jobs or stay in business.

Per above, library-provided programs and courses are there to help, are good, and are free.

On-Line Learning

My personal experience with this began with computer software starting years ago when I invested in a Photoshop Elements program and signed up for a Universal Class (which offers more than 500 courses in a huge range of subjects and which is paid for by the Friends of the Library).

To be honest, I only mastered the first ten lessons, but that proved to be enough.  Over the years, being forced to abandon my original Elements program, other library-offered tutorials have kept me a tiny bit this thin side of frustration … which is my ‘de facto’ relationship with computer software.

Recognizing that my current vehicle needs to last, I recently consulted the Chilton Library.  It provides maintenance and repair information on thousands of the most popular cars of the last thirty years.  I just needed to know about maintenance, but if I had a small automotive repair business, I’d be using those online manuals—free, compliments of the Wyoming Library System.

Saving and Keeping Up

Keeping up on developments in our fields can be difficult and expensive.  To that end, I once spent a significant amount of money on magazine subscriptions.  No more.  Over a decade ago, I bought an iPad for the cost of just one annual journal subscription and signed up for the (now) RB digital service.  All you need is a Wyoming library card!

You may not want lighter reading but, whatever your interest, you’ll probably find a magazine to match.  Digital books, both audio and print, are also available.

Which is just scratching the surface of the many services offered by our libraries.  In fact, there are so many that, while the websites are user friendly, I’d recommend calling or visiting with a librarian to get started.  They are definitely “user friendly.”

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