St. Paul and Ramsey County have allocated $1.2 million in federal CARES Act money to open their libraries to job seekers who have become unemployed or are working fewer hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the county, six Community Career Labs will provide free support in-person, online and by phone, including resume help, virtual job fairs, referrals to training programs and access to computers, printers and other technology.
"This will pass — it will," Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter said at a Monday news conference in St. Paul announcing the Career Labs launch. "But in the meantime, we have got a lot of work that we have to do together to make certain that our communities are well."
The Career Labs are located at four St. Paul Public Libraries — Dayton's Bluff, Rice Street, Rondo and Sun Ray — and the Maplewood and Roseville Ramsey County libraries.
Paying library staff, buying personal protective equipment and covering other operational costs will use about $800,000 of the CARES money, said Ling Becker, Ramsey County Workforce Solutions director. The program could be expanded with the remaining $400,000, she said.
Career Lab resources are available by appointment, to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Library staff will meet visitors at the door, and those who do not have a face mask will be provided with one, according to Ramsey County spokesman John Siqveland. Once inside, he said, they'll check in, get a pump of hand sanitizer and be assigned a computer workstation.
To schedule an appointment online, visit www.ramseycounty.us/careerlabs. By phone, call 651-266-8500 for a Ramsey County branch or 651-793-1699 for a St. Paul branch.