Library card wields more power after $2M deal

Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 5:47 PM EDT
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A library card in Ohio now gives jobseekers the ability to take more than 12,000 courses for free, thanks to a new multimillion dollar agreement.

Ohio is the first state in the country to make this happen.

Crystal Hensley is excited about what this could mean for her life.

She was working on her GED Monday at the Lawrence County Community Action Organization’s One-Stop Shop.

"My oldest son, he's so proud of me," she said. "I'm a recovering addict. I've been going at it for 21 years. I’ve got two kids."

But after overdosing in October, things have changed.

"It's time for me to grow up."

That’s when the high school dropout started her road to recovery.

She was glad when we told her more resources are now available, thanks to a state partnership with, with course offerings in hot career markets like business and web development. It all comes free with a valid Ohio library card.

"I'm willing to give it a shot," she said.

Stormi Fiolek is also working on her GED, having losing most of her grades in a move and losing her home after her dad died from cancer.

"We lost our home and everything else,” Fiolek said. “Everything fell apart."

She hopes to open her own business and use her creative talents to make clothes and accessories, but only after she becomes one of the first in her family to go to college.

"That's a real big goal I want to obtain," she said.

Lynda's offerings may help her, giving for free a subscription that's worth $30 a month.

"I have a belief that no one stops learning,” Fiolek said. “They can always find something to help better what they are already doing."

About 2,000 people come through Lawrence County's one-stop shop a month, often looking for basic training and skills. But Youth Coordinator Jonathan Abner said the new partnership will provide more in depth course offerings in career fields like information technology which aren’t as readily accessible now.

"Just think the amount of individuals who don't know about the center or are they looking for something they can do from their own home," Abner said.

It will be there for people like Hensley willing to work hard to turn their dream into reality, one keystroke at a time.

"My dream is to get into recovering and to get back to helping my community,” she said.

The cost for the program is $710,000 per year for the next three years, thanks to a partnership involving the Ohio Library Council and the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN).

OPLIN Executive Director Don Yarman said most of the state’s 251 library systems should already have access. The last 90 or so will be complete by Sept. 1.

He said the state will get feedback for how many people use the service, but he does not have goals for its use at this time.

He said he’s most excited about the internet and cybersecurity options because it's one of the most in-demand career fields.