He was laid off from his job as a driver for Honey Bucket in February, a few months after he returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Army National Guard.
He started looking for a new job online, using the public computers at the Lynnwood branch of the Sno-Isle Libraries, but was limited to two hours a day on the machines. He had to hurry through online applications, always keeping one eye on the clock.
A new program changed that. Seven libraries in the Sno-Isle system are now dedicating computers to job-seekers like Wright, giving them unlimited hours to find employment.
“It's a lot easier,” said Wright, 30. “I can take my time. I don't have to rush.”
The new program began a gradual roll-out in February, and already has caught on in Marysville, Lynnwood and other Sno-Isle branches. The computers also are available on a first-come, first-served basis in Darrington, Granite Falls, Oak Harbor, Stanwood and Sultan.
The program allows library card holders to check out a laptop after signing a borrower agreement. Users promise to pay for the $600 notebook computer if it goes missing and leave a government ID at the front desk.
The computers can be used for unlimited hours while the library is open, so long as the person is looking for work. The computers have to stay in the building, and cannot be sent to other branches.
Librarians said the program, funded with a $30,000 state grant, gives job-seekers a little breathing room as they hunt for employment in a competitive market.
Some of those people may not be used to applying for jobs online. Others may need to tailor numerous resumes and cover letters to different employers.
“This way, they can kind of do it at their own pace,” said Jackie Parker, a Lynnwood librarian.
The grant money wasn't limited to computers. It also let the library system purchase 1,000 jump drives, which are given away to job-seekers for free, so they can save their documents.
About $5,000 also was dedicated to restocking the library system's selection of books on employment, which cover topics such as interview skills and resume preparation.
“They were just getting used to death,” said Terry Beck, adult and teen services manager for the library system.
The new resources have made regulars out of people such as Wright.
The south Everett resident wants to eventually get into law enforcement. He now spends about five hours a day at the Lynnwood Library, trolling job sites such as Monster.com and responding to people who saw his resume posted online.
“I'd never seen him before this,” Parker said. “But now I see him almost every day.”
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org
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