Aaron Williams | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Digital Developers

Aaron Williams, who started out as a part-time clerk at the McCracken County Public Library (MCPL), has seen firsthand the positive effect libraries have when they provide people with access to otherwise unattainable resources and services. That’s why he’s devoted himself to helping others through his library work.

Aaron Williams

CURRENT POSITION

Adult & Digital Services Librarian, McCracken County Public Library, Paducah, KY

DEGREE

MLS, University of Kentucky, 2016

FOLLOW

@cybraaron

Photo by ©2019 Matt Lawrence Photography

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Direct Impact

Aaron Williams, who started out as a part-time clerk at the McCracken County Public Library (MCPL), has seen firsthand the positive effect libraries have when they provide people with access to otherwise unattainable resources and services. That’s why he’s devoted himself to helping others through his library work.

“Aaron has demonstrated a dedication to providing…responsive service to a diverse population…[conceptualizing] and [implementing] new initiatives that directly impact lives in our community,” says nominator Susan Baier, MCPL director. One of those initiatives is a workforce development program that he spearheaded, bringing together the library, the local community college, and the state career center. The program gives participants the training they need to get a job and build a career: how to obtain an email address, develop a résumé, earn a skills certification, and plan future goals, such as gaining a GED or signing up for college courses. Participants can also earn credit hours toward SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Medicare benefits. For formerly incarcerated patrons, Williams went a step further, says Baier, hosting a Reentry Job Fair at the library in conjunction with the West Kentucky Reentry Council and a slew of “second chance employers” open to hiring those with criminal records.

Lack of Internet access and computers at home are impediments for job hunters and others in the community, says Williams. That’s where the Digital Toolbox loan program makes a difference. Patrons can check out a kit that contains a laptop computer and wireless hot spot for three months. “A key goal of the initiative is to provide Internet access to those left behind by the digital divide and build their digital literacy skills,” says Williams.

According to Williams, over 80 percent of borrowers say they are now able to complete a digital task that they couldn’t before, such as search the web; 57 percent also borrowed a book, attended a program, or used another library resource. One personal story illustrates the toolbox’s success: “A nursing student who was using the computer and hot spot to finish [her] homework…eventually earned [her] degree and got promoted to a better-paying job at [her] workplace,” says Williams. “Stories [like these] are the reason I get up and go to work every day.”

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