Until Brittany Lyons' now three-month search for a job ends, she said she will likely continue to be a daily visitor to the Greene Street library.
At least every other day, Ms. Lyons, 18, surfs Web sites such as snagajob.com hoping to find a customer-service job to help her support her 2-month-old daughter.
"I don't have a computer, but I really need a job," she said. "I think it's quicker to do it this way."
In 2008, Augusta's libraries saw an influx of patrons logging onto computers as part of their job search, said Gary Swint, the director of the East Central Georgia Library, which has branches in Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Warren and Lincoln counties. In November alone, more than 24,000 patrons logged on.
The library system saw computer usage increase almost 14 percent last year, climbing from 264,000 log-ins in 2007 to more than 300,000, Mr. Swint said. Circulation also grew 8 percent from 2007 to 2008.
About 30 percent of the Greene Street library's daily computer users are working on something job-related, said Nancy Carver, the head of public services for the headquarters library. Many of those who log on are first-time users who don't have access to the Internet or computers at home.
"They need help with resumes or filling out the applications, and a lot of them don't know how to get onto the computers," Mrs. Carver said. "That's how we know these are new people."
Some are old friends of the library. Anthony Hooker said he's no stranger there, but now he visits every other day to look for jobs. The Army veteran recently returned from Iraq and hopes to find a job in public affairs.
"If you don't have a computer at home, this is a cost-friendly and convenient way to take care of business," he said. "It's a computer age, so people are going to use this public access to information."
Staffs at branches across the area have stayed busy helping people access that information, Mr. Swint said.
The extra traffic will be positive for the library system, he said.
"When we're presenting these statistics to the (Augusta) commission, I hope this will give us some increased support," Mr. Swint said.
The packed computer labs and long wait times might continue into 2009, Mrs. Carver said.
"If the economy continues, it's going to stay the way it is," she said. "If the recession deepens, we're going to be even more busy."
Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIBRARY SYSTEMS GET A BOOST DURING 2008
Library systems in Georgia -- including East Central Georgia, Atlanta-Fulton and Live Oak (in Savannah) -- saw an increase in both computer use and in circulation during 2008 from 2007.
|Increase in computer use||Increase in circulation|
Source: East Central Georgia, Atlanta-Fulton and Live Oak library systems