Written by Peter Bour, Part-Time Library Services Assistant, Forest Park Branch
As you read this today, I am probably hard at work at either the Forest Park Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County or the Fairfield Branch of the Lane Libraries in Butler County.
Honestly, I never thought I'd be bragging about that. For more than 25 years, I was a dedicated, Emmy award-winning television producer, working seven days a week, 55 hours a week, discovering, investigating, and developing stories that enlightened and empowered my audience.
But in 2013, my life took a dramatic turn for the worse. The career I built from the ground up, in five cities, collapsed. Four months shy of my 50th birthday, the owners of my station downsized me. I was shattered, emotionally and financially, and the downward spiral that followed cost me almost everything I worked so tirelessly to build, not the least of which was my career, my marriage, and my home.
Trying to get back on track, I spent a few hours every day at my public library, creating and editing my resume. I planned to craft the "magic" words that would convince potential employers they couldn’t live without my vast skills and experience as a journalist. After three years of trying, I learned a very hard lesson. Countless failures convinced me I could not develop a new career. I bought into the corrosive idea that I was just another 50-something circling the drain.
In 2017, I hit "rock bottom". After three months in a homeless shelter, I moved to Fairfield for a job. Because I didn't have a car, I walked to work and everywhere else, including the Library. With tears in my eyes, I went there in my free time to make one last stab at creating the elusive perfect resume. It took me six months.
Remarkably, the more I tweaked my resume at the Library, with assistance from Library staff and friends at JobWorks, the better my resume became. Still, the farthest thing from my mind was a new career at the Library. But when a job opportunity opened up, I threw my hat into the ring. Much to my delight, the Lane Libraries hired me as a part-time, Library Services Assistant.
After a year at Lane, I discovered that the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County had a similar opportunity. I applied. Once again, I got hired. Why me, you ask? After all, I'm not a librarian. I don't have a master’s degree. I'm not a walking encyclopedia of books and authors (I wish I was), and I'm more likely to read non-fiction books and magazines than novels.
What I do have is an intense desire for lifelong learning, the ability to rapidly find useful information, and devotion to patrons who depend on me to discover resources that empower and enable them. Those interactions rejuvenate and energize me. The work is fun and rewarding, and I’m happiest when I help customers find answers in a book, a database, and court records, connect them to social services, or help them fine-tune their resume.
I'm challenged every day to learn new skills from my teammates, whose contagious intelligence and humor are molding me into a capable, versatile asset for anyone who comes through Library doors.
To paraphrase the late, great poet Dr. Maya Angelou, public libraries are "rainbows in the clouds.” I will always be indebted to our Libraries and plan to pay it forward by learning and using every Library asset there is to help our customers, because I know there are many more people like me who need inspiration and hope to transform their lives.
Each Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Main Library has a job coach on-site at the Tech Center's Workforce Development station to help job-seekers as part of our ongoing partnership with Cincinnati Works, opens a new window. Coaches provide job-seekers with application assistance, resume development and updates, interview practice, career exploration, managing barriers to employment, and more.