By Erika Webb
Deltona-area job hunters and others now have more opportunities to connect. Nine new laptop computers and a securable charging cabinet are in use at the Deltona Library, courtesy of Friends of Deltona Library who aim to satisfy needs determined by the library staff.
Friends president Christy Jefferson said the organization has approved the purchase of three additional laptops that will be in place soon. She said she hopes the addition of those laptops will enhance the eLab program for Spanish-speaking members of the community.
"They're going to expand the eLab program in Spanish," Ms. Jefferson said. "They (librarians) have been teaching the basics -- job applications and resumes. They just feel like this is something that needs to be more of a focus for them."
Volusia County Library Services Director Lucinda Colee said four of the county's libraries -- Deltona, Daytona Beach, Port Orange and Edgewater -- offer eLab services, including computer classes and one-on-one assistance with online job applications, resumes and public assistance in addition to providing extra help with various computer programs, such as Excel.
She said the laptops provided by Friends for use in the eLabs have been "invaluable" to the library.
Always thinking of ways to improve conditions for library patrons and all members of the community, Ms. Jefferson said the free computer classes and tutoring already provided by the library are beneficial to the community but may stretch the librarians' limited time.
"My observation has been if there are enough requests for certain services and enough time they'll do it," she said. "But if you're going to have one of the librarians teach a computer class, then they're not doing something else."
Recently, she said, she and another volunteer were talking. Her co-volunteer, who has a background in accounting, wondered if Friends would consider sponsoring a class in QuickBooks accounting software, used for invoicing, billing and reporting.
"That could make people more marketable and we thought perhaps that would be something we (Friends) could pay for," Ms. Jefferson said. "We're always trying to find ways to improve things."
Last year, she said, Friends co-sponsored a course with SCORE, a volunteer organization of retired business executives who advise small business owners and those looking to start a business. The well-attended class solidified Ms. Jefferson's belief that more community education opportunities would be welcomed in Deltona.
She and other Friends volunteers have expressed willingness to seek out and pay people who are able to teach classes having the potential to help people become more employable.
"We were just talking today about whether there would ever be something about teaching job and resume skills to teens," she said.
Ms. Jefferson said the idea for the new laptops originated with the librarians. Friends gladly donated the $9,000 needed to buy them.
"They were thrilled. It was their idea, but we paid for it," she said. "They were purchased through the county purchasing program because they have the purchasing power and knowledge base. And they have certain programs that must be used on all of their computers, so we couldn't just go down and buy any $400 computer."
Last year Friends of the Deltona Library donated around $20,000 to cover items requested by staff.
"That's how much they asked for," Ms. Jefferson said. "Had they requested more, we probably could have done more."
The group raises funds for the library through memberships and from sales at their on-site bookstore, which opened in 2009 after the library expanded, doubling in size. Books for the store are donated by Deltona and other county libraries as well as by individuals and area businesses.
"We run it as close to a retail bookstore as possible," Ms. Jefferson said. "We have close to 30 volunteers and we try to keep the bookstore open whenever the library is open."
West Volusia's One-Stop Employment Center relocated from DeLand to Orange City last summer. It was housed in a temporary location until late December. The center, now at 846 Saxon Blvd. in the Marketplace Shopping Center, is 60-percent utilized by residents of Deltona, Debary and Orange City, according to the center's manager, Joe Hancock.
One-Stop offers use of computers and internet service to job-seeking clients. "We just moved into our new facility and with 24 computers there is no wait time," Mr. Hancock said.
Ms. Jefferson and Friends will continue to pursue avenues to supplement provisions for the unemployed.
"The (Deltona) librarians envisioned job hunting being one of the primary uses (for the computers)," Ms. Jefferson said. "There's such a demand for job services."