Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2019

Currently: 80° — Complete forecast

Guest column:

Nevada’s libraries help lead the way into the future

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.

Tod Colegrove is Nevada’s state librarian.