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Economic Development

Adding Value through Inclusiveness


Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.

Libraries were built on a foundational principal: that everyone deserves equal access to information and opportunity, without regard for differences in age, ethnicity, income level, education level, physical or mental capacity, political affiliation, or any other demographic.

At JCPL, our core values include serving our patrons with care and creating a welcoming environment for all. We recently launched a system-wide diversity campaign for all employees, to ensure that we understand and value diversity, continue to enhance our cultural competencies and provide relevant resources to our diverse populations.

We're doing this because Jefferson County is a culturally rich community, with representatives from every segment of the population. Here are some recent stats*:

  • A third of Jeffco Schools' students are characterized as minorities: 25 percent are Hispanic; three percent are Asian Pacific; and the remaining five percent represent a number of other ethnic backgrounds.
  • Ten percent of our population speaks a language other than English at home.
  • Nearly 20 percent of our residents are 60 years or older, and that population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
  • Nearly 10 percent of Jeffco residents are living with a disability -- and that increases to 31 percent for those aged 65 or older.
  • Nearly eight percent of residents in the civilian labor force are unemployed.
  • A third of Jeffco Schools' students qualify for free and reduced lunch. This indicates that they are living near or below federal poverty guidelines.
  • Nearly 900 residents are homeless, or living on the brink of homelessness. 

The numbers tell one story. Our experience tells another, far more interesting one.

If you walk into our libraries, you'll see that story come to life, with all of the color and gravitas that it entails. You'll see every demographic represented, and staff who are dedicated to serving them. In addition, you'll find programs and resources that offer exciting insights into the amazing and vibrant character of our community.

Here's an example: 

This photo is of one of the members of Grupo Tlaloc, a danza Azteca group, who performed at four of our libraries during Hispanic Heritage Month. Grupo Tlaloc is the first and oldest group of its kind in the Denver area, promoting 35 years of educating, performing, and understanding of the native culture of Mexico and the Native American way of life to our community.

They were awesome! And they are just one example of the panoply of resources we have available. You should come check them out.

At JCPL, we value and embrace diversity because it's the right thing to do. And in doing so, we make our own lives incredibly richer.

* Sources: Jeffco Schools website, American Community Survey 2013, Jefferson County Aging Well Project, Point in Time Survey 2013 

JCPL: Changing Lives, One Person at a Time


Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.

It’s not every day someone says, “You changed my life!”  But that’s exactly what Charles Armstrong is saying about Jefferson County Public Library and the librarians at the Lakewood Library.

Charles moved to the Denver area about five years ago. When we met him, he was an out-of-work steelworker struggling to find employment. He came to the Lakewood Library seeking help with his job search.

The Library has dozens of resources available to job seekers, including online resources such as Job Now, programs offered in partnership with the American Job Center and others, and most important, personalized assistance from trained librarians. Library employees are skilled at helping Jeffco residents develop resumes, apply for jobs online, post their cover letters, resumes, training certificates and other materials on targeted job sites, and more.

One of the employees who helped Charles was patron experience associate Lindsay Masciotti. In an effort to get to know him better, she asked him to tell her about himself. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he hailed from Alabama and shared what he missed the most: “Grits! You just can’t find good grits in Colorado!”

Touched by his personal story, Lindsay suggested he insert some personal details into his cover letter. Charles followed her advice and shared his love of real grits, how steelworkers have grit, and how that grit makes him the perfect candidate for a steel working job. Over the next few days, Charles interacted with a number of other Lakewood Library employees who helped him navigate the job search process.

Shortly after posting his information on steelworker job sites, Charles began to capture employers’ attention.  The next day, he had an interview, and shortly thereafter, a job offer. He accepted! At this point, Charles has moved to Cincinnati to help build buildings and bridges.

Library employees help thousands of people every day, but we rarely get to see (or hear) the results of our efforts. In this case we did. Charles called to thank us for the help, and you can hear his message here.

This kind of direct personalized attention from trained professionals is one of the things that sets us apart from Google, Yahoo and other Internet resources. As they say in our business: "if you Google the word Librarian, you get 72,300,000 results in 0.78 seconds. When you speak to a Librarian, you get personalized attention from a trained professional who will help you find just the information you need!" 

JCPL: Jeffco's Secret Weapon


Most Jeffco residents appreciate the library's role in promoting literacy and learning, but few are aware of the library's impact on economic development. In fact, we're a valuable and often overlooked weapon in the economic development arsenal.

Jefferson County Public Library supports economic development by:

•    Supporting early literacy and education;
•    Contributing to a technologically literate workforce;
•    Providing critical resources for job seekers;
•    Supporting local businesses and startups;
•    Anchoring commercial developments and redevelopments; and
•    Contributing to a community’s quality of life.

We've just completed a white paper that documents our contributions. You can access it here.

If you'd like to be updated on economic development programs and resources, join our economic development mailing list.

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