Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Las Vegas’ libraries offer more than books

Green Valley Library

Leila Navidi

Matt Dakuginow, 23, reads a copy of Las Vegas Weekly at Green Valley Library in Henderson on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

For those among us who idolized Hermione Granger, of Harry Potter fame, libraries contain magic. There’s the smell of musty paper, the sight of waves of shelves lined with books, and the warmth of quiet nooks tucked beneath windows. For others, libraries can be a scary place, associated with test cramming and long, stressful days of research. What many don’t know is that the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District offers services for the community that extend far beyond books. “People are coming to us every day for story times and for computers,” said Shana Harrington, Youth Services Manager at Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. “We are always going to be the place where you don’t have to pay or buy a cup of coffee. We are free and open to the public. We’re unique, so how do we stay unique and offer the services that we need to?” Here’s a look at how they use dynamic programming to do just that.

Addressing accessibility with digital options

LVCCLD works with many apps to help those who can’t get to the library have access to information, free ebooks, audiobooks and music. Take classes through Learn a new language with Rosetta Stone. Download music using Freegal. Access audiobooks on Hoopla.

1. Community partnerships

The LVCCLD partners with multiple agencies throughout the community to provide services, enrichment programs and more.

• Three Square provides after-school snacks through a Kids Cafe program, and parents and guardians can take a Cooking Matters class to learn healthy recipes. Both offerings are free.

• The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension operates a four-week child welfare parenting class geared toward guardians of newborns and kids up to age 5. The organization also co-operates a program called Little Books and Little Cooks, helping parents prepare meals with their children and incorporate healthy eating habits.

“This is one of the newer programs where we’re hoping better educate parents so that they know what to look out for … for their children to be safe,” Harrington said.

• Library locations across the Valley often partner with the Southern Nevada Health District to offer flu shots to patrons.

“We want it to be the bedrock of the community partners. With 25 locations, we have a really good reach to get to more people than one organization can on its own,” Harrington said.

1. Early education programming

From babies to toddlers, the LVCCLD has several early-childhood education resources, including VROOM, a platform that helps parents turn everyday activities into educational experiences, and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, with children receiving prizes for reading a certain number of books. There are also programs throughout the year that teach math concepts, motor skills and more to children preparing for kindergarten. “We are very passionate about early literacy and a foundation that builds school success later in life,” Harrington said.

3. Toy-Lending Program

LVCCLD launched its toy-lending program two years ago and expanded it this summer to include the American Girl doll collection. “The toy-lending program is one of our newer incentives, which gives kids access to educational and developmentally appropriate toys that they may not be able to purchase on their own,” Harrington said.

In addition to the dolls, there are blocks, STEM materials and more that kids can borrow from the library with a library card.

4. Adult learning

LVCCLD has a Community Adult Learning in Libraries program that includes basic education and career online high school classes. Resources are free for adults who do not have a high school diploma, read below an eighth-grade level or who speak English as their second language.

5. Job training

If you’re looking for a new job or career, the library system offers job readiness and education workshops, training, skills assessments and more. Many locations are One-Stop Career Centers established through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and help with interview preparations and computers. In addition, “there’s the Nevada Career Explorer, which is online, and if you don’t have time to come in or if you work odd hours, you can use our online resources 24/7,” Harrington said.

6. Teen programming

Teens can expand their education beyond the classroom with STEM training events and a Best Buy Teen Tech Center, which helps those in underserved areas learn the skills needed for tech jobs via project-based and production-based learning.

7. Homebound services

If you’re homebound because of a medical condition, you can still reap the benefits of a library. To be eligible for services, submit a letter from a physician (on the physician’s letterhead) that states the length of time you’ll be homebound. “In a lot of cases, the homebound are the senior population,” Harrington said. “This gives them the opportunity to get the large-print books and the DVDs. It really gives them the chance to experience the library when they cannot get here. We’re meeting their needs as far as learning and as far as entertainment, and we’re keeping them connected to the community, because sometimes we’re going to be the only people they see.” To learn more, call 702-507-6334 or visit

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.