Unemployment office to close; libraries try to fill gap

With the upcoming closing of the DeKalb office of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, wants the unemployed to know they can apply for benefits on the Internet. Most area libraries offer access to computers and the Internet, assistance in using the computer and resume coaching.

IDES announced in January that due to about $7 million in funding reductions, seven offices will close. In addition to the DeKalb office, facilities in Centralia, East St. Louis, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Mattoon and Murphysboro will close. In all, 190 positions will be lost.

When determining which facilities would close, IDES director Jay Rowell said each office was evaluated on several criteria, including workload and lease considerations.

At the DeKalb Public Library, patrons may use computers and free Internet service to submit claims through the IDES website, www. IDES.illinois.gov. According to library director Dee Coover, patrons who struggle with computer skills can also take advantage of computer classes.

In Sycamore, patrons may use the library’s computers and free Internet, as well as participate in a monthly program called “Career Works: Jump Start Your Job Search.” The program takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second Monday of each month.

“We are in the process of hiring a technology trainer who will be available for a few hours a week to assist patrons with their computer questions as well as provide mini classes on using computers, the Internet and Microsoft Office software,” library director Sarah Tobias said.

Recipients of unemployment benefits are also encouraged to use IDES’s job-matching site, www.IllinoisJobLink.com, to search and apply to more than 120,000 jobs. The local WorkNet office, which offers skills training and job-search services at 1701 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, will remain open, Pritchard said.

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