Library a Resource for Community in Crisis

Jul 18, 2019

The day after the mines closed, Campbell County Public Library saw a steep increase in the use of its Technology Center.

Campbell County Public Library System (CCPLS) and its employees joined the ranks of the shocked on July 1 as Blackjewel Holdings, LLC, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and abruptly shuttered the operation of Campbell County’s Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines, immediately putting 580 people out of work. As members of the community, and by their very nature as librarians, CCPL staff began to make plans to reach out to local miners.

The first step when they heard the stunning, unexpected news, was to communicate support through social media: “Our hearts go out to all employees of Blackjewel Mines and others affected by mine closures. We stand ready, willing and able to assist with any and all with resume writing, computer services interned access, job search assistance, etc.”

As soon as July 2, CCPL saw a steep increase in patron use of the Technology Center and reference services. Displaced workers came to the library to work on new job prospects, to file for and seek out relief, and to use the library as a hub for information on what to do next. Compared with Reference Department statistics from July 2018, average use increased 64% over two weeks, with a bulk of those statistics coming from job search related questions.

Since the mine closure, CCPL Reference Department staff worked to coordinate with the local Wyoming Workforce Services branch and attended informational sessions for displaced workers to be able to provide patrons with the most up to date and accurate information. Two Saturday resume writing open sessions were held July 6 and 13, and community-sponsored free Technology Center services (printing, copies, faxing, etc.) are being provided to library patrons affected by the mine closures.

CCPL Youth Services continues to provide regular programs and services for children and teens, including free summer reading programs and access to computers within the Children’s Department for parents who need computer access but have children with them.

Through the recent turbulent times for their friends at the coal mines, Campbell County Public Library has been, and continues to be, a community meeting space and resource for access to technology, assistance with online forms, technology skills training, and more.

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