comm kentuckyKENTUCKY (1/10/18) — Pilot programs in three Kentucky counties have recently begun, marking the official launch of the Library Economic Advantage Forum – or LEAF – initiative, a partnership between the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Kentucky Adult Education Skills U and the Kentucky Career Center system. The LEAF initiative has been created to address the needs of Kentucky’s families, through human services, education and training, and a streamlined, seamless workforce services system.

In each of the three pilot programs — in Kenton, Laurel and McLean counties — local public libraries are providing free space and working with their local KYAE Skills U programs and Kentucky Career Centers to offer on-site educational and employment services.

“Providing services at local public libraries offers a multitude of advantages for adults,” said State Librarian and Commissioner of KDLA Terry Manuel. “Many libraries have longer and more convenient hours than most workforce and education offices, and they often offer programming for children while parents are busy. Libraries generally have good technology and a fast, reliable Internet connection, which allows patrons to access a vast collection of digital information in conjunction with the library’s print materials. A collaboration between local libraries and local workforce and educational entities allows us to pool our resources to provide essential services to our communities.”

Each LEAF pilot program is different, accounting for its local partners’ and communities’ needs. The Laurel County LEAF initiative will be launching a series of workshops, which will cover topics like e-communication, resume writing and interviewing skills, while the Kenton County initiative will feature library-located KYAE Skills U orientation and assessment testing sessions and access to online essential skills courseware. In McLean County, the local library provides free classroom space to KYAE Skills U, and LEAF partners will be collaborating to prepare local residents for new employment opportunities.

“As we move forward with our workforce transformation in the Commonwealth, this opportunity allows for the Kentucky Career Centers to expand the reach and explore a new service delivery model with the library system,” said Beth Kuhn, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Investment. “We recognize that workforce needs vary in each community, so the locally driven programming is crucial to make this a statewide model.”

“Our LEAF pilot programs demonstrate the benefits of intentional collaboration among local libraries, KYAE Skills U programs and Kentucky Career Centers,” said Reecie Stagnolia, vice president for KYAE Skills U, Council on Postsecondary Education. “We look forward to tracking the success of these programs and expanding the LEAF initiative across the state.”

This project is supported in part by federal Institute of Museum and Library Services funds, granted through the KDLA.

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