Every day, libraries across the state work with their communities to bridge technology gaps, assist people with finding their next job, and generally contribute to a vibrant, informed society. In building back stronger from the pandemic, Nevada libraries play a key role.
As a child, my mother enrolled me and my siblings every June in a library summer reading program. This program provided entry to new horizons. Each book I opened was a door to a different world that would leap off the pages, engage my imagination and spur me to wonder what could be. It gave me insight into opportunities and an eagerness to learn.
As a board member of the United Way of Northern Nevada, I have been directly involved in its initiative to promote early learning and development. This work ensures that our youngest children establish a sound learning foundation before they enter kindergarten. There is no better partner in that goal than our public libraries.
Librarians provide engaging and responsive storytimes to help our little ones learn to talk, sing, read, write and play, while providing valuable socialization opportunities. By participating, young children arrive at kindergarten ready to excel in learning. In 2019 alone, public libraries across Nevada hosted more than 25,000 youth and children’s programs. Libraries in every corner of the state deliver early literacy programming, such as Henderson’s Born to READ and Churchill County’s Books for Babies programs. More than 43,000 Nevada children participated in library-hosted summer reading programs that year, and more than a quarter of them were younger than age 5. The lazy days of summer were filled with time well spent!
We all felt the effects of the lack of human interaction during the pandemic, when contact with friends and family was often limited to a screen. When library visits suddenly became impossible, our libraries responded immediately, implementing instant digital library cards to deliver access to materials and online programming in record time. Nevadans were able to continue to check out materials from their library through remote reservations and safe curbside pickup and drop off.
When many Nevadans found themselves without computer or network access to perform vital tasks during the pandemic, our libraries responded again with lendable laptops and wireless hotspots. At a time when internet access was truly essential, Nevada’s libraries filled this critical need for those who lacked access.
Nevada’s public libraries are also directly involved with workforce development innovations and are a vital means of access to those filing for unemployment. Library staff spend countless hours assisting patrons in navigating unemployment applications.
For those contemplating a change to their career path, our libraries also play a vital role. Through the efforts of the Nevada State Library and Archives, working directly with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, everyone in Nevada has access to the Nevada Career Explorer, a database that matches a person’s skills and abilities with educational opportunities and information — connecting them with openings in fields that are experiencing the most growth in Nevada. Libraries in Southern Nevada also provide One Stop Workforce Development consultation services.
Throughout our communities, libraries connect Nevadans to the resources they need to support and achieve their plans and dreams. They provide services and programs to everyone free of charge — along with support by dedicated and skilled library staff. The information and opportunities gained through library services for all ages, from early literacy efforts to technology and creative skills development to workforce resources, honor the spirit of lifelong learning — and help provide equal access to the world of learning for many. Our libraries are vital keys to Nevada educational gains as well as our continued economic recovery and expansion.
Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall took office in 2019, and previously served as state treasurer.