LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Before East Texans hit the unemployment line, they are stopping off at the library. With an estimated eight-percent of Texans out of work, libraries are becoming a useful tool for folks trying to get back into the workforce.
"This has been the most I've used a library," said Latanya Gallager, who was laid off a couple of weeks ago.
Gallager uses the Longview Public Library computer lab to research jobs and send out resumes.
"Now, it really is hard just going somewhere saying, 'I need to fill out an application,'" said Gallager. "Whereas you can go online, and pull the different web sites and fill it out."
The library isn't just about free books anymore. More than 70-percent of public libraries across the country provide the only source of free computer and internet access in their communities, according to the American Library Association. Nearly 2/3s say their job-seeking services are, now, the most important.
"I think it's because people have been needing it," said Kim Cox, who teaches computer classes for the Longview Public Library.
He says over the past few months, interest has increased dramatically from people looking to get back into the workforce.
"They want to know how to use Excel, Word, and we have some who want to use Powerpoint," said Cox.
And, in today's job market, one more resource can be crucial.
"It's centrally located," said David Hamblin, with the Longview Public Library. "It's available. It's free."
From library to unemployment office. From librarian to career counselor.
"Probably half of our job is computer assistance now," said Hamblin.
Books aside, the library is now one more avenue to get East Texans back to work.
"[I'm just] praying and hoping something comes through," said Gallager.