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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. REED. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce the Workforce Investments through Local Libraries Act or the WILL Act with Senator Cochran. During these challenging economic times, our one-stop system has been stretched to the limit. Stepping in to help have been our public libraries, which have always been a key access point for people looking for employment or looking to make a career change. According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 30 million Americans used a library computer to help address their career and employment needs in 2009.

The Employment and Training Administration and the Institute of Museum and Library Services have developed a partnership to highlight effective practices and encourage collaboration between the workforce investment system and public libraries, but more needs to be done. There are more than four times as many libraries as one-stop centers in high unemployment counties. We could greatly expand the reach of the workforce investment system by fully integrating public libraries into the delivery system and providing them with the resources they need to better assist Americans in finding work.

The Workforce Investments through Local Libraries, WILL, Act will strengthen the connection between the public library system and the one-stop system to better serve job seekers. The WILL Act will give library users access to workforce activities and information related to training services and employment opportunities, including resume development, job bank web searches, literacy services, and workshops on career information. The goal of the WILL Act is to enable libraries to access Workforce Investment Act resources to continue to provide job search support in communities all across America.

Specifically, the WILL Act amends the Workforce Investment Act, WIA, to: include library representation on state and local workforce investment boards; ensure the coordination of employment, training, and literacy services carried out by public libraries as part of the state workforce investment plan; recognize public libraries as an allowable ``One-Stop'' partner; authorize new demonstration and pilot projects to establish employment resources in public libraries; and encourage the Employment and Training Administration to collaborate with other federal agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to leverage and expand access to workforce development resources.

To get Americans back to work, we need to leverage all of our community assets. Public libraries play a vital role in providing access to information, technology, support, and other essential resources to help Americans find good jobs and build successful careers. I urge my colleagues to join Senator Cochran and me in cosponsoring the WILL Act and to support its inclusion in the effort to renew the Workforce Investment Act.

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