[Blog Readers: This is not an actual event; but an imagined one as part of a course assignment for #hyperlib/LIBR287]
The Vista Public Library in Collaboration with Mother Earth Brewery and the City of Vista Present:
What’s on Tap? An Evening of Craft Beer and Career Counseling
Join us to learn how to market yourself, conduct a strategic job search, and meet other 20-something job seekers. We’ll convene at the library to discuss job search strategies, and then board the party bus to partake in one of North County’s most beloved pastimes: craft beer tasting.
Where: The Vista Public Library, 700 Eucalyptus Ave Vista, CA 92084
When: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 5:30 – 7:30 PM
What: Ms. Ima Careerpro, professional career counselor and Miss Creant, library student, will provide some hands on instruction and advice and then we’ll all head over to Mother Earth Brewery for a complimentary taste flight and an open discussion in a supportive environment. The party bus will drop you back off at the library by 7:30 PM.
Why: 1) Being prepared is key to finding a good job; 2) The library has great resources for job seekers; 3) Your community cares about you!
First come, first serve. Sign up by June 15 [here] or in-person at the library: 700 Eucalyptus Ave. Vista, CA 92084 Bring your ID’s.
Questions? Direct them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Engagement Plan: Recent College Graduates Seeking Employment
The purpose of this plan is to develop a consensus on the need for, and the feasibility of, increasing the library’s engagement with recent college graduates who are looking for employment. Prior to discussing the community analysis and the details of the plan, let us look at the impetus for the idea:
Why Recent College Graduates?
It is widely known than an alarming number of college graduates in the United States are already in debt when they graduate and begin looking for jobs. Research shows that, amongst those graduates (bachelor’s) who are able to secure a full time job, about 30% end up mal-employed, or in unsuitable jobs that do not utilize their skills and education (Fogg & Harrington, 2011). In addition, these young, mal-employed college graduates fall way behind financially, compared to their their peers who are earning nearly twice as much (95% more) in more fitting jobs.(Fogg & Harrington, 2011).
The financial and emotional burden of watching our ‘best and brightest’ falter is something that our community should and can address. Workforce development is an ongoing concern that the city, the library, and numerous other community stakeholders have been working on. This community engagement plan suggests that those efforts could be bolstered and expanded by outreach strategies aimed specifically at recent college graduates. Given that nearly 10,000 college graduates joined the unemployed pool last year,with similar numbers in store this year, closer engagement with this demographic is warranted (SD Workforce Partnership, 2013).
The plan ties in well with the recent branding initiative that Vista and her sister cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside and San Marcos are collaborating on to make North County a regional hub for business and job creation (Yee, 2014). Having already identified the key advantages and quality of life assets that make North County appealing to businesses, the next stage of the initiative is to develop a marketing plan that focuses on job creation (North County, 2013). The timing seems ripe to engage the talent that will help fuel this growth.
Why the Library?
Public libraries are widely understood as trusted community assets. As Lee Rainie, Director of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project says, “Libraries have a mandate to intervene in community life” (Rainie, 2013, slide 30). As non-partisan, non-profit, and highly localized institutions, they are in a unique position of being able to help solve entrenched community problems as well as foster and celebrate community enrichment.
Increasingly, libraries are fulfilling this mandate by expanding their reach beyond being repositories of books, computers, databases and other resources, toward becoming facilitators of community development. In fact, recent research by OCLC found that: “the greatest areas for growth and success for libraries in the networked world occurred when libraries took their materials, services and expertise further away from the center of traditional library contexts” (Havens & Storey, 2013). When libraries move beyond traditional services within their own walls and out into the community, they are more in touch with the issues at hand and can then better align their programs with the individual aspirations of their patrons and with the collective goals of local government and business.
San Diego County Library (SDCL), winner of the 2012 Gale/Library Journal ‘Library of the Year’ award, understands this principle and has been working toward empowering the public with a strategic plan that identifies “educated and prosperous communities” as two new priority programming areas (Berry, 2012). Specifically, the Strategic Goals/Operational Objectives for Programs and Services in SDCL’s 2007-2012 strategic plan lists, “Create enriching experiences to engage youth and their families in activities that will help them reach their full potential as adults”, including “Review[ing] the adult program plan specific to community interests (computer classes/training)” (SDCL, 2012, p. 3). The strategic plan goes on to suggest partnerships and collaboration, “with the broadest possible spectrum of community organizations” (SDCL, 2012, p. 4). Partnering with local government, businesses and organizations to help recent college graduates land good jobs is squarely within the purview of SDCL’s plan.
Why Craft Beer?
Fighting for mindshare of 20-something job-seekers will take some ingenuity and a bit of pluck. We need to capture their attention by relating to this cohort in a familiar yet exciting way. Craft beer fits the bill on a number of levels:
It’s not just about alcohol. The craft beer community is a true community. It has social norms, a devoted following, and a philanthropic bent. As a counter-culture industry that rejects corporate conglomeration in favor small-scale production of inventive artisan brew, San Diego breweries maintain a tight knit community interested in “spread[ing] that mentality that the rising tide floats all boats” (Yu, 2014, loc. 5:40). Millennials respond well to these kinds of community-minded companies and activities, and are eager to be a part of them.
The library can piggyback its program on the momentum of the San Diego craft beer industry. As a $781.5 million a year local industry, it has a substantial and growing impact on San Diego County, according to a recent study by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR, 2013). As the Journal of San Diego History notes, “by [the year] 2000, everyone from starving college students to working professionals was interested in craft beer” (Liwag, 2007, p. 34). The enthusiasm continues to this day. Our fair city, Vista, has become the unofficial capital of the North County brewing community, with its numerous breweries enjoying the support of key leadership. Vista’s mayor, Judy Ritter, lists “Emerging distinction of Vista as the micro brewery capital of North County” as one of her “accomplishments” in her City Council biography (Vista, 2014).
Many library programs owe their success to meeting people where they are; not waiting for them to knock on the library’s door. If craft beer happens to be a hot spot in our local community- galvanizing residents, increasing business opportunities, and garnering the support of local government- then it may also be a wonderful partner for a library interested in community development. The library needs to be everywhere: it’s in the schools, in the clinics, at the farmer’s market. It should be in the breweries.
Community Analysis: Twenty-Something Recent-College-Graduates
Our target audience is where millennials intersect with the broader categories of job seekers and college graduates. Millennials, also known as “Generation Y”, are generally understood as the cohort born between 1980 and 2000. For our purposes, we will zero in on the mid-section of that range and call them “20-somethings”.
Characteristics of 20-Somethings
20-somethings are widely understood to be heavy users of social media who prize expediency (some would call this a need for instant gratification) and expect highly personalized services delivered on mobile platforms. These characteristics can be traced back to the cohort’s high rates of technology adoption and their deep immersion in the ‘hyperlinked’ world of the internet where everything is simply ‘a click away’. Beyond their technical savvy, members of this cohort are broadly recognized as adaptable team-players with a strong sense of community (Schewe et al. 2013).
Public Library Usage
While a recent Pew Research Center report found that Americans under age 30 are just as likely to visit a public library as older adults- with over half (56%) of the 18-24 year-olds having visited a public library within the last 12 months- there is a lingering sense amongst librarians that maintaining a connection with this cohort remains elusive (Pew Research Center, 2013). This finding frames my own observations of the local library wherein the majority of users seem to be young children accompanied by their parents, retirees, or teenagers biding their time between school and home. If there was a big group of 20-somethings, I surely didn’t recognize them. Perhaps it’s just that this cohort tends to use the library differently than those over the age of 30. Younger Americans are significantly more likely to access library services remotely than their older counterparts, and Americans aged 16-29 are particularly interested in apps to locate materials and/or access services on their phone, as well as library kiosks at different locations in the community (Pew Research Center, 2013). Nevertheless, these ‘digital natives’ still enjoy print media and their library preferences also reflect a desire to use the brick-and-mortar library as a ‘third space’ – not quite home, but not quite school or work either (Griffin, 2013).
College Grads May Underestimate Their Own Needs
Despite their comparatively healthy use of the public library and their reported assertion that librarians, research databases, and job/career resources are “very important”, young Americans do not perceive the public library as a “valuable asset” in their own lives (Pew Research Center, 2013, p. 5). Of that demographic, college graduates may be even less likely to view the library as a personal asset, placing all their trust in their own information-seeking skills and an internet connection. However, some research suggests that the digital prowess of millennials is overstated and that while they may be quite used to searching the internet for information, they are not adept at harnessing it for research (Becker, 2012). It is likely they could use some help to develop a more strategic job search.
Recent research shows that millennials are the most optimistic of any cohort about their employment prospects, despite the rather grim reality (Pew Research Center, 2012). According to the City of Vista’s 2012/2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the local economy has been experiencing a slow recovery with an unemployment rate of 8.2% in 2013, down from 10.6% in 2012 but still relatively high (Vista, 2013). Stronger job recovery as well as growth will be needed to return to 2006 levels of 4.4% unemployment or even to catch up to the county-wide (San Diego) unemployment rate of 7%.
Most grads are already armed with technology, particularly laptops and/or tablets and smart phones, but they do have instructional needs along the lines of information literacy and the development of a strategic approach to employment research, including the optimization of social networking sites like Google+ and LinkedIn. Extant resources in this domain are prolific on-line and through a variety of channels, including college career centers, alumni associations, the San Diego Workforce Development Partnership, and even the library. What’s missing is a centralized support network and personal involvement at the local level.
The emerging adulthood literature demonstrates that the college to career transition can be quite a challenging period and calls for further research into how the community can help. (Murphy, Blustein, Bohlig & Platt, 2010; Wendlandt & Rochlen, 2008). Indeed, being “in between” without a clear ending in site can be an unsettling, disorienting and lonely experience. With the public library as a hub for a diversified network of supporters including career counselors, librarians, business representatives, teachers and friends, a local support net can be created to inform, empower and embrace this educated yet vulnerable cohort.
How Do 20-something Recent-College-Graduates Look for Work?
While college career centers stress the importance of thoroughly researching companies and industries as part of the job seeking process, many students and recent graduates simply turn to on-line job boards and classified ads to look for jobs. A recent multi generational job search survey found that all generations (Gen X, Gen Y, and Baby Boomers) gravitate to on-line job boards as their top resource (Millennial Branding, 2012). According to Millennial Branding’s survey results, the use of social media for job seeking by Gen Y breaks down as follows:
35% use Google+
23% use LinkedIn
21% use Facebook
8% use Twitter
Although unscientific, a quick reality check with a local 20-something recent-college-graduate confirms some of these claims, if not the order of preference.
Text Message Dialog:
Me: “What resources do you think most new grads use to look for employment?”
Her: “I would have to say, Craigslist, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook”
Me “Awesome. Do you personally use any/all of these?”
Her: “I mainly use LinkedIn, [company] websites, and Craigslist”
We also discussed making use of college career centers and alumni associations, but she claims that she and her friends rely on their own search process rather than pay the fee to access alumni association/ college career center resources, which are no longer free after graduation.
This is a preliminary investigation that introduces the opportunities associated with a strengthened engagement with the local 20-something recent-college-graduate community. It is expected that a detailed action plan will follow if consensus for implementation emerges amongst library leadership, local government, and local business, based on input from the recent-college-graduate community itself and other stakeholders.
This proposal is limited geographically to Vista, California and capitalizes on the momentum of Vista as the up-and-coming ‘capital’ of the North County craft beer industry. The intention is to use local brewery visits to capture the attention of 20-somethings, but the program could certainly embrace other business verticals if deemed effective.
This plan introduces just one event (as described in the mock flyer at the beginning of the document), but it is expected that a series of similar events will follow in order to reach more target users, introduce a range of north county breweries / businesses and to leverage a variety of outreach channels, both virtual and physical, so that an ongoing relationship with the target market can be achieved.
Engagement Goals & Objectives
While the primary target audience of this engagement plan is 20-something recent-college-grads, the overall goal is to engage the wider community in a group effort to empower recent college grads in such a way that benefits the community as a whole. To this end, the proposed program aims to:
Convince recent college grads that by participating in the program they will have fun, learn vital skills and establish a network of support which will improve their chances for locating suitable employment because a strategic job search can make the difference between an okay job and a fantastic one.
Convince local breweries that by giving back to their community they are demonstrating the enormous value that the craft beer brewing industry has always placed on maintaining a culture of collaboration which will enhance their position as good neighbors because businesses do well by doing good.
Convince the library that by facilitating a community-wide effort to help recent college grads land suitable jobs it will be developing a greater connection with these young, educated, community-focused users while simultaneously positioning itself as a community development hub which will positively influence library advocacy and funding efforts because the value-add proposition of the library increases dramatically when when its programs are closely aligned with the pressing interests of the community.
The more specific objectives of the program can be broken down into short, medium and long-term time frames:
Short Term (Immediately – 1 year)
The target group will increase their information literacy skills, particularly in the areas of personal learning networks, database search and advanced use of social media for job searching.
More target group members will secure suitable employment.
The library (or group of SDCL libraries) will experience increased awareness and use by the target group.
A community of recent grads will be developed for continued peer-to-peer support beyond the program.
Local breweries and city governments have will have press-worthy news.
Medium Term (1-2 years)
Successful program participants will act as ‘evangelizers’ furthering the ‘buzz’ for the library in general and the program in particular.
As a result of the program, the library (or group of SDCL libraries) will increase their employment-related resources that can be applied to other users/populations.
The library will be recognized as a facilitator of community development and will experience an increase in community-based proposals/programs.
Long Term (3-5 years)
The library will collect a series of personal accounts and program statics that will enable it to tell a compelling story of the symbiotic relationship between the library, its patrons, local business and city government.
While not all participants will find jobs locally, many will, furthering the goal to lower unemployment and helping to position North County as a vital business hub. It will also directly support SDCL’s strategic goals / operational objectives for programs and services.
An ongoing relationship between the library and the 20-something demographic will help energize library services.
Assessment is tied to the program objectives (see above). The objectives are tied to the program goals, which are in turn tied to the library’s mission, goals and values, as well as the goals of local business and government. To evaluate the overall program strategy, all stated objectives must be measurable. As they are written now, the objectives are mostly measurable through pre-and post instructional evaluation, basic tallies/counts, and via survey and informational interviews. It is expected that this plan will go through a series of changes, large and small, as the document circulates and begins to gain consensus. At that point, assessment must be revisited and then built into the plan as an on-going exercise that informs the subsequent iterations of the program. It should be noted that a similar program by Bensenville Public Library attributes its success largely to a commitment to continuous engagement with participants, using routine personal check-ins and phone calls to follow up: “This ongoing dialogue has helped cement community trust in the library and created a meaningful feedback loop” (Tech Soup, 2014).
The proposed program relies largely on the complimentary beer tasting to encourage participation. We are optimistic that the program’s association with the craft brewery scene, combined with the underlying desire for assistance with securing a suitable job, will be enough to motivate our target audience to act.
The program must also encourage breweries and local volunteers to participate. For this, our message could reiterate the idea that these community stakeholders, together with the library, are both service provider and beneficiary. Breweries benefit from being good neighbors, and community ‘experts’ like career counselors are are always looking for extra positive exposure, while library students seek practical experience to bolster their own resume.
How Will We Get Our Message Out?
Our best bet may lie in mimicking the type of grassroots-style marketing that Stone Brewery does, relying on websites, social media and word of mouth, rather than more traditional print media and advertising to get the word out. This means promoting the event on the library website, it’s Facebook page and to it’s Twitter followers. Crucially, it also means getting the breweries, the volunteers, the city, and the program participants to do the same. Breweries themselves have recognized the payoff of social media marketing and many employ TapHunter to craft creative strategies for them. It might be worth putting a call into Tatiana Peavey, TapHunter’s Director of Business Development, to bounce some ideas around. In addition, it may prove worthwhile to approach the Vista Brewers Guild, an active and passionate group that reaches out to home brewers and craft beer enthusiasts- and the WestCoaster, a website that hosts a digital (and print) monthly brewing industry magazine, an informative blog, event calendar, and beer directory.
We will also take cues from the library discovery literature which concludes that overcoming barriers to discovery involves finding ways for the library to infiltrate the target market’s network of trusted resources (Gabridge, Gaskell & Stout, 2008). This means adding links to our program information on sites where our target market already frequents. According to the literature, this includes Google,Craigslist, JobBoards, and LinkedIn. Foursquare and Pinterest hold potential as well. Finally, for highly local programs like this one, old-school print flyers in cafes, on campus, in restaurants and other 20-something haunts is a potentially cost-effective effort.
The largest costs are associated with library staff hours to develop, negotiate, administer and evaluate the program. A number of resources are already in place at the library, such as databases, on-line resources, and extant instructional content, however, much of the highly personalized support will come from a network of community members volunteering their time, including career counselors and library students. Effective peer-to-peer support will be dependent on a healthy uptake of program participants.
Potential Limitations to Consider
We do not want to reinvent the wheel, or step on any toes. Many local organizations are involved in career development. The various college career centers and alumni associations, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, and the Vista Workforce Roundtable are good starting points for opening up the conversation for potential collaboration opportunities.
Some community members may take issue with associating themselves and/or the library with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Further, while the the program uses a bus to shuttle participants to and from the brewery, participants must drive themselves home after being dropped off at the library.
It may be difficult to procure complimentary party bus services.
Given the sizeable population of job seekers without a college degree, this program may be viewed as non-essential or as diverting efforts away from an even more vulnerable demographic.
How effective can this program be in the midst of the broader issue of needing to attract more businesses and jobs overall to the region?
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