Lynchburg Library Helping the Jobless Get Back on Their Feet

LYNCHBURG, VA - When the American economy crumbled, some turned to the public library for support.

Classes offered at the library are just what Cheri Wood says she needs. Ten months ago, she lost her job as a special education teacher.

It's a job she prays she'll have again.

"I just loved it. But there were some budget cuts and it just didn't work out for me," Wood said.

Now, Wood reports to a different classroom. The class is a service the library offers for people out of work, helping them dust off the resume and cover letter and enter the job market again.

The class is free, and the students are eternally grateful.

"There's a lot of people that don't have any money, and they need the knowledge and the empathy and the caring," Wood said.

Lynn Dodge has run Lynchburg's library for nearly four decades.

"We had a card catalog when I started working. You probably don't even know what that is," Dodge said.

Over the years, the people who use the library have changed. Dodge says the library's importance in the community has as well.

"Yeah, I like to think we are a community center," said Dodge.

While many of us take for granted having a computer to pay our bills, connect with friends, and even fill out a job application, some people couldn't do those things without the library's help.

"If you're a Middle Class person or a person of means, you don't readily think about what would happen if I didn't have this thing. I'm connecting with the world via email, Facebook. If I'm not on that every day, I'm disconnected from American life," Dodge said.

Elisha Rollins is the young blood on staff in the library.

"People need us to be there for them," Rollins said.

Rollins says she's eager to take the library in a new direction, offering more classes.

Jon Harris from ProtechMyPC teaches computer skills, including online safety.

"Without a class like this, I think my computer would be hacked everyday," said Jacqueline Reeves, who uses the library.

"We really enjoy helping people. It's very satisfying I think to feel like you made somebody's day when they're frustrated and feel they can't do it on their own," Rollins said.

After nearly 40 years, Lynn Dodge will retire in a few weeks, leaving behind a strong and healthy library ready for the future... whatever it brings.