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Residents used to walk into the Piscataway Public Library and ask Kate Baker where they could find a particular book.
Now, they’re more likely to ask the 49-year-old librarian how to format a résumé and fill out a job application.
"Almost half my day is devoted to job seekers," said Baker, who has worked at the library for eight years. "We keep getting more and more computers, and they’re always filled."
As the jobless rate has climbed since the onset of the financial crisis three years ago, the role of the public library has changed dramatically. In New Jersey, where nearly one in every 10 people is unemployed, officials say the local library has become Job Search Central for many residents. The upshot for librarians like Baker: Instead of spending her workdays organizing and purchasing books, she has watched her job morph into one that is equal parts job counselor, computer trainer and life coach.