SEABROOK — The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) wants county residents to go back to school but without the stuffy classrooms and droning lecturers this time around. Starting in February, the library system will have a brand new way for county residents to learn new skills, improve on old ones and even earn […]
SEABROOK — The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) wants county residents to go back to school but without the stuffy classrooms and droning lecturers this time around.
Starting in February, the library system will have a brand new way for county residents to learn new skills, improve on old ones and even earn certification to land a brand new job.
The PGCMLS Academy is set to launch in the coming week, and it brings with it four new tools to give library users a jumpstart on a new career.
Robin Jacobson, the director of community engagement at PGCMLS, is one of the leads on the rollout of the brand new online academy and said she is incredibly excited to introduce these new resources to the community.
“Between you and me, people think we go into library services because we love books, but it’s really because we like people,” she said. “We like to help people.”
The new services are part of the library’s mission to increase lifelong learning throughout Prince George’s County and include the Northstar digital literacy assessment. That allows users to gauge what type of computer skills they have and gain basic computer skills certificates, Microsoft Imagine Academy and Microsoft certifications, the American Library Association computer training, advanced technology training and Cisco certifications through the Cisco Academy.
All of this is in addition to the support the library already offers, Jacobsen said. Some of those programs include Rosetta Stone, the Career Online High School, partnerships with Lynda.com, and the jobs support such as resume writing workshops and online job boards.
The rollout of the new PGCMLS Academy has been in the works for some time now as the county library system continues to grow its online support system and works in collaboration with the county on job supports, Jacobson said. The introduction of other online resources in the previous years has built up to the induction of the new academy.
“The library is dedicated to the community having the access they need for life-long learning. It’s one of our big goals and has always been a mission for the library,” Jacobson said. “And one of those things that you need to know in this environment is how to get around on all of the electronic resources we have at our disposal now.”
That starts with the Northstar assessments and the Microsoft certifications, both of which can be added to a resume and put on LinkedIn.
These programs can help residents learn to navigate their computers and will train users on everything from how to work a mouse to conquering the ins and outs of Microsoft Office.
Northstar, which was created in part by a public library system, allows for “badging,” which is “a way to display and document skills learned both in and out of the classroom.”
“Once a task is completed, a test-taker is awarded a badge, which is then stored in his or her secure Badge Backpack, a webpage that serves as a transportable portfolio to be shared with employers or other stakeholders who need to know that person’s skills and experience,” according to the organization’s website.
Perhaps one of the most exciting rollouts, Jacobson said, is the partnership with Cisco to offer the Cisco Academy, which will provide online courses for county residents to earn certifications that will help them obtain entry-level IT jobs.
Cisco began offering certification classes in 1997 and since then has seen the enrollment of more than six million individuals. Jacobson said PGCMLS is one of the first in the state to partner with the company to offer online courses.
“If we’re not the first in Maryland, we’re one of the first to partner with Cisco. So, it’s really exciting,” she said.
Every aspect of the new academy and previous online job tools are free to library users. All county residents have to do is sign up for a library card.
Jacobson expects the rollout of the new programs to be a success and, based on the popularity of the other programs, and she expects the new tools to be heavily utilized.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “The online GED testing is heavily utilized and the high school diploma, while it is rigorous, we have seen people utilize it. So, yes, I think people will definitely use these programs.”