Twenty-two years ago the summer youth job program was called the Job Training Program Act and was managed by the City of Corpus Christi.

It is now Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend. The City is working with the Work Experience Training program this summer.

The purpose of Work Experience training is to improve the employability of young people from 14 to 24 who have been unable to find employment due to limited work history, skills or education.

They have received some of the Federal Stimulus Funding this year to fund the program and work with a broader age range and more participants.

In May of 1987 I had finished my bachelor's degree at Corpus Christi State University, now TAMUCC, and was hired as a summer youth counselor. My assignment was to staff the City departments with youth workers, including the library.

During that summer, I was encouraged to apply for a new grant funded position of career information specialist at Central Library. Another JTPA counselor and I applied. The rest is history.

I was hired and had a very rewarding eight years helping people apply for jobs, take tests, write resumes and gain additional education. Toward the fifth or sixth year, I saw the handwriting on the wall and knew I needed to prepare for another job if I wanted to stay with the library. The job market had improved and there was a greater need for a reference librarian than for a career counselor.

I finished my master's in counseling in May of 1991 and in June, I was camping out in an efficiency apartment in Austin with a co-worker. We started our master's degree in library science at the University of Texas at Austin.

I moved into the business reference librarian position in 1995 and was promoted to branch manager in April 1997.

The new faces you will see are helping us as library aides and assisting Miss Jean with her many Summer Reading Club Programs. We are finding ourselves working harder to train and keep our new staff busy, but it should pay off in the next week or two when they can work independently and lighten the load of our busiest time of the year.

By the time the summer ends they will be well qualified to apply for library aide positions that are open system wide. We just had a resignation of one of our library aides. I hope the position will be released from the freeze with the new budget year in August so these young people can apply for it.

This program is a great boost to young people in providing work experience and hopefully exposure to jobs/careers they would like to do in the future. Of course they may also find out what they do not want to do, and that is a valuable lesson too.

Lynda Whitton is the children's librarian for the Northwest Branch Library in Corpus Christi. Readers may contact her at 241-9329.