November 17, 2017

Judy Sparzo | Movers & Shakers 2011 – Community Builders

Library Journal March 15, 2011: Judy Sparzo, Mover & Shaker

Career Booster

When the recession really became apparent, in late 2008, Connecticut’s Fairfield Public Library (FPL) encountered a wave of new patrons—unemployed professionals who hadn’t had to look for work in years. They had rusty job-hunting skills and little knowledge of social networking.

FPL reference associate Judy Sparzo first acquired a few new books on job hunting—and then pulled out all the stops: she launched Jobs 2009, initially a 13-week series of workshops emphasizing interviewing skills, networking, and other job-hunting strategies. No budget? No problem. Sparzo, a bank manager before she turned to librarianship, asked local professionals—HR experts, lawyers, bankers, career coaches—to lead the workshops for free. A resounding 100 percent of them said “yes.”

Now in its third year, with 60-plus workshop leaders still volunteering their time, the Jobs series has drawn nearly 3000 attendees from 39 towns—but its influence reaches much further.

In addition to creating and distributing promotional brochures and relying on word of mouth, Sparzo has used YouTube, a LinkedIn group (130-plus members and counting), and MP3 podcasts of the presentations (over 18,000 hits), available on the library web site), to aid job seekers. Local radio interviews also spread the word that the library is there for them.

Sparzo says this work, which began when she was getting her 2010 MLIS, is now a “passion” that is “the single most rewarding experience of my working life.”

Workshop topics from “Corporate HR Speaks” to “Using LinkedIn Like a Pro” help keep job hunters—many of them “displaced Wall Street employees” between the ages of 40 and 60 contemplating career changes, Sparzo says—stay positive and get back on their feet. Through an initiative by the Connecticut State Library, Sparzo and other Connecticut librarians are also building partnerships with the Connecticut Department of Labor to expand awareness of how both can assist those seeking positions.

“I don’t need to be convinced that their unemployment is strictly a function of our economy,” says Sparzo, whose dedication helped her library earn a 2010 Connecticut Award for Excellence in Public Library Service. “I see evidence of their talent, dedication, and energy every week,” says Sparzo. The unemployed in her area see evidence of a librarian truly working on their behalf.

Vitals

Judy Sparzo, Fairfield Public Library, CT

CURRENT POSITION Reference Associate

DEGREE MLIS, Southern Connecticut State University, 2010

PREVIOUS LIFE Bank Manager: “My philosophy when it comes to customer service is to listen first”

FOLLOW Finds LinkedIn best for her job focus: www.linkedin.com/in/judysparzo

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