By Teri Vance for the Nevada Appeal
Librarians and library supporters gathered Wednesday at the Nevada Legislature to promote the programs instituted with last session’s dollars and advocate for continued funding.
“We are such a critical part of every lawmaker’s community,” said Diane Baker, interim director of the Carson City library and co-chairwoman of the government relations committee for the Nevada Library Association. “Nevada Library Day at the Legislature is a touchstone for the individuals from each community to connect with legislators and emphasize the great things the state’s funding has done in their communities.”
Participants met Wednesday morning at the Adams Hub for Innovation for informational workshops pertaining to current and proposed legislation, as well as a presentation on effective lobbying.
“After the opening workshops, participants came to the Legislature to speak with legislators and sat on the Senate floor,” Baker said.
Lawmakers and staff were invited to the Nevada Library Association luncheon at the State Library & Archives. Exhibits and educational tables were displayed highlighting projects that were instituted with the $500,000 funding from the 2017 Legislature.
“The one-shot funding that was supported unanimously in 2017 was the ability to show what could be done in local communities with additional funding,” Baker said. “From emerging technologies, workforce development, databases, bookmobiles and collection development, we were able to make a difference in communities across the state.”
Library workers are asking the Legislature to create $1.5 million in permanent funding.
“Through these pilot programs, local libraries were able to demonstrate the impact on the community,” Baker said. “Permanent funding would keep that high level of involvement in the communities and ensure it is available statewide.”
Joan Dalusung, assistant library director for the Washoe County Library System and co-chairwoman of the government relations committee for the Nevada Library Association, said libraries working together makes them each stronger.
“This funding supports statewide databases that we all benefit from,” she said. “None of us would be able to afford databases if we had to pay for them individually.”
The permanent funding, she said, would allow programs — such as the workforce development being piloted in Southern Nevada — to expand across the state.
Carol Lloyd, director of the Churchill County Library, said Nevada Legislature Day is a way to join forces across the state.
“It gives us an opportunity to do face-to-face and to present a united voice with a united ask,” she said. “I try to invite my legislators to events at my library, but this is a way we can all do it together.”
Senate Education Chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, attended the luncheon and experienced the virtual reality station.
Libraries are the one equalizer for our communities where kids and adults have access to information and it’s not based on how much money they have,” Denis said. “Information is critical for success in our society.”
Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of articles to highlight library programs funded by the Nevada Legislature. The Nevada Library Association is asking for permanent funding in this year’s legislative session
By Teri Vance for the Nevada Appeal
Deciding what to do with the rest of your life can be daunting. Walking into a library isn’t.
That’s the premise behind a new initiative, “Libraries Equal Education,” where Nevada libraries are harnessing resources to help people match with suitable career paths.
“Libraries are accessible to everyone,” said Tammy Westergard, assistant administrator of the Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records. “We’re a force multiplier in the learning journey. A library is a community knowledge place. If you’re looking for information, the first institution you’ll go to is the library.”
As part of the program, Workforce Connections — Southern Nevada’s local workforce development board — partnered with eight libraries to host One-Stop Career Centers in the libraries.
“Embedding access to the One-Stop Delivery System in the public libraries helps us bring employment and training services closer to where businesses are located and where job seekers live,” said Jaime Cruz, Workforce Connections executive director.
Job seekers can research in-demand jobs through the Nevada Career Explorer database, which shares information between the library and workforce centers.
“By aligning all parties with the same information source, that helps librarians and patrons understand the broad industry mix of the regional and statewide economy,” Westergard said. “Librarians can talk knowledgeably about the skills, assessments, certifications and education required to launch a career along various occupations and pathways.”
The libraries are then connected to learning institutions to help job seekers take the next step in pursuing a career.
The program was partly funded through the 2017 Legislature. The Nevada Library Association will be asking this year’s legislators for a permanent $1.5 million line item to keep collections relevant and vital programs operating.
The Nevada State Library is partnering with the College of Southern Nevada to create a pilot program where patrons can virtually test out a career before investing the money in an education.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself in this new economy,” Westergard said. “We have a hard time seeing the day-to-day tasks of a 21st century STEM job — which understandably can seem rather abstract. The idea is to give people the opportunity to explore the job in a 3D environment. We live in 3D; being able to see how things work is very helpful in considering options. Think of it as being able to take a very immersive virtual field trip.”
Working with virtual and augmented reality content publishers like Lifeliqe and with subject matter experts like the leaders from XR Libraries, the program is developing content to allow patrons to spend a virtual day in the life of a dialysis technician — over the course of a few minutes. Immersive, 3D experiences are being created to augment textbook learning in training future technicians.
“It’s the first pilot program of its kind in America,” said Mark Andersen, Lifeliqe’s co-founder and president. “Nevada is leading the way on this.”
The implications could be life changing.
For instance, a person making minimum wage could walk into a library and experience the work of a dialysis technician through virtual reality. If the person were interested, a librarian could connect him or her to the college to enroll in a 15-week course.
Upon completion, the person would be certified to work as a technician, making up to $22 an hour.
“That’s a career,” Westergard said. “We’re no longer talking about a better job, we’re talking about a career. And it’s just the beginning.”
For a list of all One-Stop Career Center locations and free services, visit www.nv.headed2.com.
By Teri Vance for the Nevada Appeal
More than an hour from the nearest city and a population fewer than 3,000 people, Hawthorne is typical of the dozens of remote towns that make up much of Nevada’s landscape.
“We don’t have a theater, and we are very limited in restaurants and shopping,” explained Courtney Oberhansli, director of the Mineral County Library. “We have kids who are maybe going to go to Reno two or three times in their lives.”
The library has found a way to give residents a window into the outside world — virtual reality.
“It’s a game changer,” Oberhansli said.
Funding for the technology came through the 2017 Legislature, which allocated $500,000 to Nevada libraries. The one-time allocation of money was used over the last biennium for collection development, bookmobile services, statewide databases and emerging technology.
“The way the libraries have been able to leverage that funding has been incredible,” said Cyndi O, director of the Nevada Library Cooperative. “We want to be able to keep up that amazing work. We want to keep these programs going into the future to be able to help patrons of the library and the community.”
In his State of the State address, Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed $420,000 in permanent funding. The Nevada Library Association will be asking to make that $1.5 million in the first budget hearing March 6.
O said many of the priorities laid out in the governor’s speech — including economic recovery, STEM education and preparing students for the workforce — can be accomplished through programming throughout the state’s libraries.
“Libraries are working to help Nevada achieve these goals,” O said. “Libraries are the engineers driving the governor’s priorities.”
Oberhansli said the library’s virtual reality club meets every Friday and consistently draws a handful of members — a success for the library that struggles with a community reluctant to engage with technology. The minimum age was dropped to middle-school age to draw the younger crowd.
“If we get them now, the hope is they will stick with us through high school,” Oberhansli said. “Maybe they’ll take a coding class and go to college for computer programming. We’d be beyond thrilled. We’re always looking for ways to keep the kids coming and looking out for what’s next.”
A consistent funding source would make that possibility more real.
“The digital divide is real,” O said. “Libraries make it possible to access and experience things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. That means we can literally change lives. To be a part of that is exciting and it’s humbling.”
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles to highlight library programs funded by the Nevada Legislature. The Nevada Library Association is asking for permanent funding in this year’s legislative session.