When’s the last time you visited a library?

If the answer is “not recently,” Google is looking to change that — especially for job seekers. It turns out the internet search behemoth might be on to something. Libraries are a key pillar for those on the job hunt.

We caught up with Stephen Brokaw, community engagement manager for Grow with Google to look under the hood of Google latest public-private partnership.

Brokaw and team.

What is Google’s latest news regarding libraries?

Grow with Google, our initiative to help create economic opportunity for all Americans, is announcing its commitment to help libraries train more patrons in digital skills. Starting in January, Grow with Google will visit libraries in every state, partnering with them to deliver digital skills training directly to job seekers and small businesses in their community. We will also train library staff and nonprofit leaders on a range of Grow with Google’s free tools and curriculum they can use on a daily basis.

We also launched a new Libraries Ready to Code website, an online collection for libraries who want to teach coding and computational thinking to youth. The new toolkit distills strategies and resources into an online “by libraries, for libraries” hub, so that the 120,000 libraries across the country can choose the programs that are most relevant to their communities. We are also providing the American Library Association (ALA) with an additional $1M to help libraries implement free digital skills training.

Why focus on libraries? Haven’t people “forgotten” them?

For the past year, Grow with Google has toured the country hosting digital skills trainings for job seekers and small businesses. Local libraries have been critical partners at every point, and we learned that libraries are transitioning into centers for digital learning. Our focus is born out of our recognition of their evolving role as education and community centers.

What is the relationship between libraries and careers, job seeking, and career development?

According to the American Library Association, nearly three-quarters of public libraries assist their patrons with job applications and interviewing skills, 90% help their patrons learn basic digital skills, and just under half provide access and assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own.

Digging more, how does Google prioritize and identify projects like these? Google appears to analyze return-on-investment a bit more than other companies when it comes to quasi-philanthropic projects. Is that an overstatement?

Creating opportunities is core to our mission as a company. When we launched Grow with Google last year, our goal was to find ways to apply our expertise creating products and programs to helping Americans find a job, grow their business, or learn new skills. In the year since, we’ve partnered with over 300 organizations and have learned a ton from them.  In 2019, we can’t wait to keep working to help create economic opportunity.

How can communities get involved in your program?

Libraries and other organizations can sign up here.

How are you measuring results?

We work with our partner organizations to determine how we’re having an impact.