Author Archives: Andrea Levandowski

About Andrea Levandowski

I am the Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology at the New Jersey State Library. Formerly, I worked as the Reference Librarian for Instruction and Fundraising Information.

Grow with Google Events in Libraries

Grow with Google logo

Grow with Google logoThis week, Google released more information about its Grow with Google initiative and opportunities for libraries to sign up as partners.  You can read the full press release from Google here and the one from the American Library Association here.

Google is planning to reach all 50 states to launch Grow with Google, and its first stops are scheduled for Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and New York.  You can see what is coming up here.

As you can imagine, a large company like Google, partnering with ALA and hosting events in libraries is huge news.  Everyone is talking about what it means, what Grow with Google will accomplish, and how individual libraries can participate.

The Basics

Grow with Google is essentially using existing Google products and services to promote economic development by supporting business owners, entrepreneurs, jobseekers, and others.  ALA is working with Google to launch in every state and then open up opportunities for libraries in those respective states to apply for the Public Library Association’s Libraries Lead with Digital Skills grant.  These small grants of $1,000 will help libraries to address the skills gap in their own communities through programming, outreach, and education.

As of 5/1/19, we do not know when Grow with Google will launch in New Jersey and when the grant opportunity will be available for New Jersey libraries.

What you can do right now is sign up on the partner page to receive updates about opportunities, upcoming events, and more.  You can also look at the Grow with Google website to see what would be useful for your patrons and what may work in tandem with your existing library resources and programs.

The Events

As Google launches Grow with Google, some libraries will host full-day workshops that include information not only for business owners and jobseekers, but also for library staff, nonprofits, and other groups.  Instructors are skilled on Google products and share how to leverage Google to enhance their work.

The large events are not the only way that libraries can utilize Google for programming.  As approved partners, libraries can host smaller events and workshops on their own.  While not every library will have the chance to host a “big splash” event, there will be material available for other libraries to take advantage of the materials and training.  The best way to learn more is by signing up.

Remember, You Don’t Need to Wait for Google

Working at the office

Yes, an initiative like Grow with Google can bring new people into the library.  Yes, lots of marketing and promotion provided by Google is amazing for libraries.

But, the ongoing, everyday work of reaching out to the business community, partnering with local organizations, and conducting outreach do not require the big splash from Google.  Any library can work  to better serve their patrons and share the value of the library for supporting their work.

Many different organizations at the local, state, and national level have the same goals and are working toward them in similar ways, libraries included.  We want economic prosperity for our communities, we want everyday, small business owners to succeed, we want to make sure people have the best information, and we want to live and work in places that are thriving.  Grow with Google identifies these organizations on their Partner page:

  • Libraries
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Downtown associations
  • Small business development centers
  • Workforce development organizations
  • State and local government
  • Schools and universities
  • Veteran-focused organizations

New Jersey libraries have the tools to support business owners and jobseekers at their fingertips, through the expertise of librarians, the statewide databases (including Reference USA and Job & Career Accelerator),  and the connections built each and every day through outreach and community engagement.

While we wait for more information from Google, don’t hesitate to make introductions to the organizations listed above, if you haven’t already done so.  Take stock of what is available for free from the Grow with Google website and see how other libraries resources complement or supplement them.  Lastly, do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need ideas (email me!).  In my mind, New Jersey won’t be lucky when Google arrives…Google will be lucky when it comes to New Jersey!



Gigged: A Book Review and Recommendations for Libraries

Book cover of Gigged: The end of the job and the future of work by Sarah Kessler

Book cover of Gigged: The end of the job and the future of work by Sarah KesslerEarlier this month, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University hosted an event with the authors of Gigged and Temp.  While I was not able to attend the event, I did start reading the books, both of which are fascinating.

In this post, I will take a closer look at Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work by Sarah Kessler, but this isn’t exactly a book review.  If you would like to read reviews, I recommend ones from the Washington Post and Fast Company.  Instead, I am going to consider how reading a book like Gigged can be helpful for librarians developing programs and services for the public.

It is no secret that the gig economy has changed the landscape of employment in the United States.  Gig workers (also known as freelancers, independent workers, and casual earners) are making up a larger percentage of the working population every year.  Consumers also benefit from the gig economy every time they use Lyft, Uber, Gigster, or numerous other services that cater to their needs for food delivery, transportation, home maintenance, and more.

Depending on where a person touches upon gig work (whether as the creator of a technology platform, an independent worker taking gigs, or using the service), their experiences and expectations vary greatly.  Gigged explores the promise and reality of the gig economy specifically for workers who rely on contingent work as their main source of income.  While there are benefits in terms of flexibility of work and autonomy, drawbacks include unpredictable wages and a lack of additional supports (benefits, retirement accounts, workers’ comp, etc.).

Should libraries support gig employers?

When thinking about the library’s place in the gig economy, my first inclination is to be helpful to business.  How can libraries better help businesses connect with gig employees?  How can the library help gig employees to do their work better?

To those ends, perhaps a library’s resource guide for jobseekers could include information about platforms that hire gig employees.  If there are local companies hiring freelancers, the library could host networking or career events to help individuals connect.  Even library resources such as (now LinkedIn Learning) can help gig employees “level up” the skills they may need to be hired for certain types of freelancing gigs.

But all of those “solutions” start with the assumption that the gig economy is on the same level as traditional employment or that all gig platforms and services are equal.  That a library is helping someone to find a job if they are connecting them with gig employers.  While those ideas are certainly not bad, and I would not discourage libraries from doing those things, there are many more considerations that should be part of this discussion.

Focusing on the worker in the gig economy

Gigged provides a view of the gig economy that is not rosy or aspirational for those working on the front lines.  Of the five or six individuals profiled as gig workers, only one comes out of the experience having gained anything (experience, skills, livable income, etc.), and even he winds up in a traditional job at the end.  Instead, those who work as part of the gig economy face serious struggles and hardships as they attempt to support themselves and their families.

Where does that leave the library?  In addition, how do librarians fighting for the public good address the gig economy?

Libraries cannot pretend that the gig economy does not exist or that it will not continue to be a large part of how Americans are employed over the coming decades.  However, librarians must be aware of the employment issues surrounding the gig economy in order to best assist patrons.

For instance, workers should be aware of the laws that define contractors and employees; if an individual is misclassified, he or she may not be receiving the compensation and benefits that are required by law.  Financial literacy is also an important skill for gig employees since they must budget for expenditures that are not handled by employers, such as health insurance and retirement savings.  Since their income may be variable at different parts of the year (and vacation, sick, days or jury duty may not be covered by an employer), workers should also be financially prepared to still cover their expenses when they are making less money.  Lastly, librarians may want to stay informed on initiatives to protect workers rights and advocate for laws that will force companies to better protect and compensate gig employees.

These steps allow libraries to have a more meaningful role in improving the lives of their community members who participate in the gig economy.  It is not enough to think about finding jobseekers work–librarians should be concerned with the overall value of the employment, including whether it will provide meaning, fulfillment, and livable wages.

What are your thoughts on the library’s role in the gig economy?  Share your thoughts with me!

Kessler, Sarah. Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018.






Upcoming and Updates: October 2018


Getting to know your Small Business Development Centers: NW-NJSBDC

The Northwest New Jersey Small Business Development Center has a couple of programs available statewide.  First, their webinars are free and open to the public.  You can find them in their Event and Training Calendar. (just double check whether they are in-person or webinars before sharing).  Some topics of note:

  • Tuesday, November 27: Independent Contractor or Employee? Understanding the Risk of Misclassification and How to Avoid It
  • Tuesday, December 11: 2018 Roundup of Labor Law Poster Changes: What the Latest Trends Mean for Your Business

Second, B-GAP is a service available to established businesses that meet certain criteria, including revenue of $1 million or more and/or 10 or more employees.  Participants complete an assessment tool which is then reviewed by trained staff (the only ones in New Jersey certified are in the Northwest SBDC) who make recommendations.  It is free consulting that can help businesses reach the next level, solve internal problems, and create a strategic plan (or other critical policies).

To find other SBDCs including one in your county, visit the NJ SBDC website.

New Jersey Business Action Center

When businesses in New Jersey don’t know where to turn, there is a hotline that will direct them to the appropriate contact: 866-534-7789.

Business Advocates are available Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm to answer questions about financial and incentive programs, permitting and regulatory assistance, site selection services, and more.

For more information, visit the Business Action Center’s website.  You can also share or print copies of their brochure for business owners visiting your library.

Taxation University Classes

Libraries across New Jersey are hosting Taxation University workshops for small business owners.  Please share the locations and dates with business owners in your library, even if you are not offering a session at your own location.

Workforce Development

New Start Career Network

On October 11, the New Start Career Network celebrated its 3rd anniversary with an event that featured New Jersey First Lady, Tammy Murphy.

The New Start Career Network is an organization that offers counseling, mentoring, and training for jobseekers who are over 45 years old and have been out of work for six months or longer.  This personalized service and support has helped over 4,000 individuals since its inception, leading to career opportunities for those struggling to find employment.

Libraries can easily refer jobseekers who meet the New Start Career Network’s criteria to their website.  From there, they can become members and take advantage of webinars, virtual coaching and more.

The New Jersey State Library is a proud partner of the New Start Career Network!


Construction Industry Career Day

Construction signs and front end loader in the background

Construction signs and front end loader in the backgroundConstruction Industry Career Day is an event for career seekers to learn about the rewarding opportunities in the construction industry.  This year, Construction Industry Career Day will be held on May 30 and 31 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison off the NJ Turnpike exit 10.  Tuesday night from 4-8pm, the program is open to the public, and Wednesday from 8am-1pm is for school groups of current students.  The event is free and will provide learning and networking opportunities as well as hands-on exhibits and craftworker demonstrations.  Seasoned professionals and new apprentices will be available to answer questions.

If you think this event will be of interest to your patrons, there is a flyer for you to print or share and a cover letter with details.  In addition, transportation assistance is available for Tuesday’s program for groups of 10 or more.  If you would like full-size posters for your facilities or more information about arranging transportation for groups, please contact me and I will assist you.

To learn more, visit the Construction Industry Career Day website.

Welcome to The Business Blog!

Andrea Levandowski - Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology
Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology

Welcome to The Business Blog!  This will be a spot for updates on business resources, events, and current topics librarians to share with their business patrons.  Occasionally, I will also share some tips or ideas for business programming and services.  We’ll see where this goes!

For existing website content about business, visit Small Business Services or Business Services for Librarians.

You can also follow @NJGrowsBiz for articles, library events, and more.

If you have suggestions for posts or anything you would like to share, email Andrea Levandowski.


The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs

“There are no clear norms for grieving the loss of a dream.”
–Marni Rosner

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs is a memoir of her personal struggle with infertility and her decision to pursue IVF.  It is also a selective history of motherhood and fertility in culture, a medical explanation of fertility treatments, and a policy analysis of how the financial expense of treatments affect how couples choose to build their families.

Boggs approaches her infertility with deep contemplation.  Through her writing and the organization of the book, with her personal experiences paired with medical, scientific, cultural, or literary topics, she takes the reader through her personal journey while also pointing out that the story is much bigger.  For instance, she pairs an explanation of her infertility and its effects on her marriage with a story about chaperoning a field trip to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Individuals facing certain medical conditions that are not clearly visible to others tread difficult paths.  “I may look fine, but I’m not well,” they may say to themselves.  Infertility is a physical medical condition, but many of side effects are psychological and emotional.  For infertile couples, these feelings are compounded by the fact that no one wants to talk about them.

As Boggs writes, “Fear of having one’s loss diminished and the desire not to offend or upset those with children reinforce the silence that is a manifestation of what writer and grief counseling expert Kenneth Doka called ‘disenfranchised grief’: ‘the grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported.’”

There are moments in The Art of Waiting where Boggs puts into words the truths that are part of infertility.  It may make the reader say, “Yes! I thought I was alone!”  For example, “It is not just the takeover of your body that makes IVF so challenging, but the takeover of your schedule, your life.  Every-other-morning appointments, waiting by the phone for news about the results of blood draws, timing injections precisely, ordering more medication or procuring discounted or free leftovers from women finished with their cycles: it all takes time.”

Sometimes it is therapeutic to simply hear that others have been through it and know those difficult feelings that accompany infertility.  She provides examples from other couples who have faced different journeys, and though their decisions and the outcomes vary, there many elements of their stories unify them.

The Art of Waiting is a fast read and may be a sort-of support book for individuals facing infertility, but it is worth noting that Boggs’ first IVF cycle resulted in the birth of her daughter.  It is a story told after coming out of the darkness of infertility and the result of the treatments was successful.  For individuals who are still in the midst of their own stories, it may not be as much of a comfort.  Portions may be difficult to read, and Boggs’ discussion of her pregnancy, though told with sensitivity, may dredge up painful feelings.  Additionally, Boggs never experienced a pregnancy loss, and so she does not offer as much on those experiences.

For those hoping to understand infertility or wishing to support friends or loved ones experiencing it, The Art of Waiting opens the window to a very private world.  One fascinating chapter, appropriately titled, “Just Adopt,” explores both domestic and international adoption (also adapted into an article for Slate).  Most infertile couples have heard at one time or another, “Why don’t you just adopt?” and this chapter tackles this topic adeptly and fairly.  Adoption has its own set of complications and ethical questions, which Boggs explores skillfully without passing judgement on the couples regardless of the choices they make.  For some infertile couples, there is a point in their journey when there are no easy answers—when all of the decisions may bring about their own unique joy or sorrow.

For those who are experiencing their own waiting or who wish to learn more about infertility, The Art of Waiting is an insightful memoir that also educates the reader.  The final pages include a resource list for finding infertility-related organizations and support groups as well.

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, by Boggs, Belle
Call # 362.19 Bog Browsing Collection-Level 3