Libraries Activating Workforce Development Skills (LAWDS) Project History
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) began intermittent meetings to discuss ways to collaboratively support public libraries working with patrons seeking help developing career skills or seeking employment. Topics included funding online resources, collaborative training of library and job center staff, and more. These meetings continue to the present.
Martha Berninger, then a Librarian Supervisor for DPI’s Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning (RL&LL) team, consulted with Jason Broughton, who developed the WorkSC website. The site was independent of the State Library and the South Carolina Workforce Development Board. Mr. Broughton, now Interim State Librarian for Vermont, drew on his experience as a Workforce Development Specialist to foster collaboration between workforce personnel and public library staff, and identified content for use by public library staff. The WorkSC website has undergone numerous revisions since 2017, and is now part of the South Carolina State Library website.
DPI worked with the Council on Libraries and Network Development (COLAND) and the Library Development and Legislation (LD&L) committee of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) to raise awareness of the workforce development opportunities for public libraries presented by the development of the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Wisconsin plan development.
RL&LL staff surveyed public library and public library system staff to ask which had been collaborating with their local Job Center and/or Workforce Development Board, and also solicited suggestions for workforce resources that have proven useful.
September 9: Martha Berninger, Director of the RL&LL team, presented the results of the workforce development resource survey to COLAND. Mark Mundl, Racine County Workforce Solutions Manager, gave a presentation explaining the WIOA funding sources and how the Racine County Workforce Board model of working with the public library could be adapted for use by other Workforce Development Boards and public libraries.
RL&LL launched the Wisconsin Public Library Jobseeker website, developed in collaboration with public libraries and public library systems in Wisconsin. The site is modeled on the WorkSC site, and is designed to offer one repository of content to support public library staff working with patrons seeking help developing career skills or seeking employment.
January: the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) was approached by Mark Mundl, representing the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association (WWDA) and Racine County Workforce Solutions. WWDA had been talking with DWD about grant opportunities to help fund a librarian training effort statewide. They became aware of the Laura Bush 21st Century Library grants, offered through the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS). They agreed to approach library-affiliated organizations to submit a grant application, as only library organizations are eligible to submit applications. DPI, WLA, DWD and WWDA agreed to work together to apply for the grant.
WLA proposed that DPI, not WLA, might be a better lead applicant for the grant because DPI has long been registered with Grants.gov and SAM.gov, the two sites the IMLS relies on for grant communication. WWDA staff worked on the development of a two-page preliminary proposal, which was reviewed, revised and approved by the four grant-submitting partner organizations.
January 31: The two-page program proposal was submitted.
April 30: DPI was invited to submit a full proposal. DPI convened the four grant-submitting partner organizations to develop a full program proposal including the narrative, timeline, budget and other required documentation. Public library systems and public libraries, along with COLAND and WLA’s LD&L committee were alerted that a full program proposal would be submitted.
June 8: The full program proposal was submitted.
August 24: DPI was awarded $249,999 by Laura Bush 21st Century Library Grant to fund the LAWDS project. DPI worked with COLAND, WLA’s LD&L and the System and Resource Library Administrator’s Association of Wisconsin (SRLAAW) to share word about the successful grant application and next steps.
December 20: Selection of Project Advisory Council (PAC) members was completed.