Librarians from two states — joined by volunteers across the country — spent the day Thursday cataloging virtual reality en masse as part of the XRCatalog Hack-a-thon.
Nevada participants gathered at the Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records to input the first virtual reality content into WorldCat – OCLC, the world’s largest library catalog.
“As a state library, part of our job is to drive continuing education,” said Deputy State Librarian Tammy Westergard. “We’ve convened a group of motivated workers to catalog our virtual reality content, which gives access to libraries around the world.”
Libraries across the state have adopted virtual reality programs over the past two years, using one-time funding allocated by the 2017 Nevada Legislature.
“That funding has kick-started a powerful opportunity for Nevada libraries,” Westergard said.
The $500,000 was used over the last biennium for collection development, bookmobile services, statewide databases and emerging technology.
The Nevada Library Association asked this year’s Legislature for $1.5 million in permanent funding to continue the programs put in place over the past two years.
Lawmakers approved $450,000 in permanent funding during this year’s session, which concluded earlier this month.
While it was less than what the association asked for, libraries will be served.
“It’s so important for all the libraries throughout Nevada to have a permanent funding source,” said Cyndi O, director of the Nevada Library Cooperative, which represents many of the libraries participating in XR educational initiatives locally and who participated in the Hack-a-thon. “This reinforces and validates the value of the information services that libraries deliver on a daily basis.”
“Hackers” cataloged virtual reality content created by Lifeliqe, the nation’s leader in 3D STEM education, which has been implemented in Nevada libraries and classrooms.
Once cataloged, the content will be discoverable to libraries worldwide and accessible to those who wish to subscribe.
“This is huge for us,” said Mark Andersen, co-founder and president of Lifeliqe. “This is the most efficient way for libraries around the world to learn about the content we have.”
The Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records partnered with the Marin County Free Library, with stations at both locations dedicating the entire day to cataloging. Volunteers across the country also joined in virtually.
Sara Jones, former Nevada state librarian and former director of the Carson City Library, has led the initiative to adopt virtual reality in library systems.
“We’re really trying to close the digital divide and get marketable, high-value skills for folks,” said Jones, director of the Marin County Free Library and president of Califa, California’s consortium of libraries. “We think the library is the natural place to do that because it’s free and open to everyone.”
Westergard said the Hack-a-thon is changing the landscape of library services.
“Library materials have continued to change over the last 100 years,” she said. “If this new information format is not put into the WorldCat catalog, it does not exist for librarians. To say that we are making library history is an understatement.”
Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series of articles to highlight library programs funded by the Nevada Legislature. The Nevada Library Association sought permanent funding in this year’s legislative session.
When many outsiders think of Nevada, our booming tourism economy is likely the first thought that comes to mind. However, in recent years, our state has become home to so much more — growing manufacturing and logistics industries, with large companies that include Tesla, Google, Amazon and Apple moving part of their business operations to our state.
With this exciting movement comes a demand for workers. That’s where libraries come in: Across America, libraries are a place where visitors can expand their learning and continue their education. In today’s increasingly technological age, their help is even more important as people learn to master the digital skills they need to succeed.
According to the American Library Association, nearly three-quarters of public libraries assist their community members with job applications and interviewing skills, 90% help their patrons learn basic digital skills, and just under half provide access and assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.
From Henderson to Elko, Nevada’s public libraries are doing their part — connecting people young and old with the technology access, training and support they need to participate in today’s workforce.
Our libraries are nimble in the way they are training children, students and adults, and their work should not be downplayed, especially considering that countless homes and businesses in Nevada lack sufficient internet service. For example, people can learn how to code in Churchill and Washoe counties, while families with preschool-aged children in Las Vegas can participate in a STEM class.
As the state librarian, I’m committed to continuing these efforts. I know that having tech skills will ensure members of our communities have more opportunities in both their personal and professional lives. This week, Nevada is welcoming Google to present workshops in both Carson City and Las Vegas. The “Grow with Google” nationwide tour is the tech company’s initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans through digital skills training.
Each day will consist of workshops and one-on-one trainings for small businesses, job seekers and anyone else who wants to build on their skills. Google trainers will work with Nevada librarians from all over the state to make the tools and resources from these trainings available on an ongoing basis.
Following Nevada’s Google workshops, the American Library Association will open applications through “Libraries Lead with Digital Skills” for micro-funding to libraries throughout the state to provide programming, outreach and education in their own communities. Libraries can select one of the Google resources to integrate into a new or existing workshop, class or event, and submit the idea using a simple application.
Nevada libraries are poised to help fill the digital skills gap with technology access, training and support in their communities. In turn, libraries can play an important role in continuing to help Nevada become future ready. The people of Nevada are what make our battle-born state special, and they deserve the opportunities and resources they need to be lifelong learners. As more people discover the library as more than a place to check out a book, they’ll find a place to learn and develop valuable skills for the jobs of today and the challenges of tomorrow. We hope to see you soon.
Some students either learn by the book, or they learn with hands-on training. The Nevada State Library has released new technology that helps out with both kinds of learners.
In over fifteen libraries across Nevada, the Nevada XR Libraries Project features new virtual reality technology that focuses on school subjects which include biology, medical assistance and eco-hydrology landscapes.
Back in 2017, the Nevada legislature passed Senate Bill 549, which provided over $500,000 to the Nevada State Library's collection development, databases, rural Bookmobiles, and emerging V-R technology. Specifically, $22,000 went to launching the first-ever pilot technology in libraries in nine Nevada counties.
"I just like the aspect of you actually being able to build stuff and think of it with a group," says Evan, a Churchill County Middle School student.
Evan's school is located in Fallon, NV, where Churchill County does not have the most accessible resources for new advancements in academics. However, since this V-R technology has been located in both the county's high school and public library, students fill up the V-R room to get a first-hand look at this new way of learning.
"The program really makes it available for everyone. It shouldn't just be for 'well-to-do' schools, libraries or communities that have access to this and so when we put it in the library, i'ts available and accessible for everyone," says State Deputy Librarian, Tammy Westergard.
Westergard, with the help of her team of state librarians, says with 360 immersive video, prospective students, and interested parties, can 'literally' see if the career pathway programs through the V-R database is a good for them.
It has been 10 years since the North Las Vegas Library District opened the Alexander Library to create a central location for residents.
The opening was the beginning of an innovative change, according to Forrest Lewis, director of the Library District. He was the manager when it opened and witnessed the library survive the city’s recession after library hours were reduced and half of the library staff was cut around 2011.
On Aug. 1, a crowd of residents, library personnel and city officials joined to celebrate the library’s 10th year.
“Before we opened up here, the closest library we had around was the West Las Vegas Library,” Lewis said. “This particular library is important to us because it’s central in comparison to the greater North Las Vegas area. Because of that we can offer different programs — programs specific to the demographic we serve. Today was about celebrating how far we’ve come.”
Garett Dacay of Summerlin began working at the library in 2015 as a children’s librarian. He has been the branch manager for two years. He started his career in the library by accident, he said, but has since developed a passion for helping people who come in.
“It’s one of the most exciting experiences I ever had,” said Dacay, 45. “I started from the bottom as a circulation assistant and worked my way to associate librarian at City Hall. This library has a diverse socioeconomic culture, so we get a little bit of all cultures. I feel at home. I think the biggest thing for me is the satisfaction of seeing the kids in story time and they’re learning their alphabet, learning their numbers and colors. That hits home because I have three kids.”
Cindy Garcia of North Las Vegas said she has visited the library since it opened.
“I was born and raised here,” said Garcia, 34. “I’ve been coming to this library for the past 10 years. I love that they have classes for the kids and people of all ages. Having this library here is important. Kids have so much free time when they’re not in school, and this allows them to keep learning — practicing their reading.”
Lewis said the branch is set to extend its hours at the end of October — allowing the library to stay open six days a week instead of three.
“This just really shows how far the city has come,” Lewis said. “We have support from city officials, our community. We just want to continue extending services that help them. We have classes for children, teens and adults — virtual reality, 3D printing, our one stop career center and CSN does a few classes for us. We want to continue to be of service to the community.”