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As San Francisco strives to bounce back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco Public Library is helping residents with their economic recovery.  

When the city’s unemployment rate hit 12.5% in the fall of 2020, we launched “Work It: Jobs, Business & Finance,” an ongoing series of virtual programs focused on supporting job and career seekers, personal finance needs and small businesses. 

Highlights of “Work It” programs include: Resume Writing Essentials, How to Get a California State Job, How to Ace a Job Interview, LinkedIn Profile Tips and Job Searches, Introduction to Senior Community Service Employment, 50+ Job Search Strategies and Taxes: How to Stay Out of Trouble.  

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In partnership with California Employment Development, patrons can also participate in CalJOBS for Beginners in English, Spanish and Cantonese. Our robust jobs and careers portal offers a multitude of options for job seekers, such as live, one-on-one resume assistance, interview and career coaching with JobNow and the California Employment Development Department.  

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more free programs and resources with (the best part) friendly librarians ready to help people take steps to regain their economic footing. 

Since the launch of “Work It,” we’ve seen a dramatic increase in participation. In fiscal 2020-2021, attendance at job and career programs jumped 520%, personal finance class attendance grew by 119% and people attending small business classes went up more than 127%. One participant in our Interview Essentials class said, “Thanks for all the ways you are endeavoring to help people in this vulnerable time. I have always appreciated libraries.” 

San Francisco Public Library’s “Work It” program offers classes to help laid-off workers find new jobs including Resume Writing Essentials and How to Ace a Job Interview. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Public Library)

Recognizing digital literacy has become a prerequisite for most careers, the library offers Tech Time — a free series designed to help patrons gain basic computer and internet skills with which they can confidently enter the job market. Tech Time helps people build practical and fundamental digital skills for the workplace. No topic is too basic: We cover Google searches, online shopping, emailing, Microsoft Office Suite, HTML coding and digital meeting platforms such as Zoom, to name a few.  

Similar to the “Work It” programs, our Tech Time classes also saw a big jump in attendance during COVID, underscoring the need for these programs and resources continues to be great. One patron wrote us to say “I have been using Google Drive for years but without any formal exposure … and was happy to come away with some new ways to utilize the tool and increase my productivity.” 

The new year is always a good time to hit restart and embark on a new path to success. Interested in starting a small business? SFPL’s Small Business Center strives to meet the needs of the budding entrepreneur by providing materials on how to plan, finance, organize, operate and market a small business. Need to brush up on your reading skills? Our Project Read tutors are on standby, ready to assist you in a safe, welcoming environment.

SFPL’s Michael Lambert hands a Career Online High School diploma to Oubah Ibrahim Awaleh. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Public Library)

Need a high school diploma or a professional certificate to pursue a job in retail, security, customer service, food and hospitality, childcare or office management? Check out Career Online High School available for free with your library card. More than 60 people have graduated from this program and are on to bigger and better things. On graduate wrote, “I wanted to give my kids an example by finishing my education … I want to be a healthcare interpreter, along with being able to help children as a social worker as my new career path.” 

Stop by your neighborhood branch library to get going on your 2022 goals. We have restored 91% of our pre-COVID operating hours. All our libraries offer full in-person service at 21 locations, including the Main Library, open seven days a week. You can also visit us online at on.sfpl.org/get-there-now. Whatever your destination is on your path to success, SFPL is here to get you there. 

Michael Lambert, San Francisco City Librarian (Photo courtesy San Francisco Public Library)

Michael Lambert is the City Librarian for the City and County of San Francisco. He was appointed to the position in March 2019 by Mayor London Breed, after serving as the Acting Librarian since February 2018. During his tenure as Acting Librarian, the San Francisco Public Library was named the 2018 National Library of the Year by Library Journal. Lambert has championed increased and equitable access to libraries through expanded hours and a fine-free library system.

Prior to his employment with the City and County of San Francisco, Lambert managed library operations at San Mateo County Libraries and at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. He began his career in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, at the Richland Library. He is a proud alumnus of the University of South Carolina, with a degree in history, and he earned his Master of Library and Information Science degree from the university’s College of Library & Information Science.

Lambert was born in Seoul, Korea, and is the first Asian American to lead the San Francisco Public Library.