Oklahoma library workforce development programs captures interest of nation’s library leaders, Congressman Tom Cole

For Immediate Release
Fri, 07/31/2020


Shawnda Hines

ALA Media Relations

Communications & Marketing / Public Policy & Advocacy


CHICAGO – On Monday, Aug. 3, at 1 p.m. CT,  Congressman Tom Cole (OK – 04) and American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will pay a virtual visit to the Pioneer Library System in Norman, Oklahoma, to discuss how Oklahoma libraries play an invaluable role in supporting career and workforce development.

This town hall event entitled “Partnering to Advance Career and Workforce Development,” is one of the stops on Jefferson’s 12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries, to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries.

“Oklahoma libraries are improving lives every day, providing internet access to underserved communities, helping people find jobs and build careers, empowering students as they develop literacy skills that will lead to lifelong learning,” said Jefferson. “Many of these successes take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their professional organization and local community need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.”

Oklahoma has developed a comprehensive plan to increase points of access to career and workforce development programs for residents across the state. In this town hall event at Pioneer Library System, panelists from the library, school district, and agency partners will join Jefferson and U.S. Representative Tom Cole to discuss the state's focus on preparing all Oklahomans for successful transitions to careers, as well as policy efforts at the state and federal level that support and expand existing programs at this critical moment and into the future.

Along with Jefferson and Congressman Cole, conversation participants include:

  • Eddie Foreman, Chief Executive Officer, Central Oklahoma Innovation Workforce Board
  • Captain Brandi Garner, Cleveland County Sheriff's Office
  • Marissa Lightsey, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness/Oklahoma State DOE
  • Shannon Thompson, Dean of Academics, Moore Public Schools
  • Ashley Welke, Regional Coordinator, Pioneer Library System
  • Lisa Wells, Executive Director, Pioneer Library System

"It is our pleasure to host Congressman Cole and ALA President Julius Jefferson to highlight the great work happening in Oklahoma around career readiness and workforce development," said Lisa Wells, Executive Director, Pioneer Library System. "Libraries are key to creating solutions to the career readiness issues we face as a state. We are excited to shine a spotlight on the work libraries are doing by collaborating with amazing partners to create a stronger." 

Each Holding Space community discussion will explore local and national solutions to local and national issues and feature deep dives into an area of library service, including workforce development programs, children and family services, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for Tribal communities.

Jefferson will also invite tour participants to join ALA advocates, who are currently supporting the Library Stabilization Fund Act to provide federal resources to libraries during the COVID pandemic.

For more information on tour stops and how to join, visit ala.org/advocacy/holding-space.

To speak with ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., or other library leaders/advocates, contact:

  • Shawnda Hines, assistant director, communications, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, at (202) 628-8410 ext. 8208 or shines@alawash.org
  • Steve Zalusky, Communications Specialist, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-1546 or szalusky@ala.org 

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.