A group of six librarians and two interpreters from the country of Belarus are touring libraries in the United States, visiting the Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records on Friday.
The visit was a part of an international exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The International Visitor Leadership Program’s visit to the capital focused on familiarizing Belarusian librarians with the educational, social and economic impact of public libraries in American society.
Jeff Kintop, administrator of the state library, showcased the state’s archives and library with a personal walking tour. Kintop said it has been a few years since the library hosted foreign delegates, such as Colombia and Russia in the past.
“We were excited and honored to share our strategies with them,” he said. “It’s rare to host foreign delegates.”
Belarus is an eastern European country bordered by Russia to the northeast. The library contingent included the dean of Faculty Information and Document Communications from the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts, the National Library of Belarus, the Tavlay Central City Library, the Republican Scientific and Technical Library and the head of the Foreign Literature Department from the Regional Scientific Library.
Through translators, many delegates said they were interested in seeing Nevada because of the diversity and the technology in the area, such as Panasonic and Tesla.
Along with Kintop, Assistant Administrator Tammy Westergard and LSTA Coordinator Sulin Jones answered inquiries about municipal budgets, internships, funding and state programs, online education, and credited programs. The delegates also asked about the technical aspects of how public libraries serve community needs and various target groups, in particular adult education programs and initiatives that merge school and library projects.
In an age where economics, education, health and social opportunities and civic engagement rely on access to information and formal and informal learning opportunities, the delegation’s specific interests were addressed through Nevada library examples.
“Bottom line, libraries equal education,” said Westergard, who oversees library services and library development. “The pace of change is forcing everyone to stay current and to keep learning. The library is the last, best free place where we all can go to level up our skills, no matter our age. The library is the on ramp to education — formal and informal.”
Next stop on the list for the delegates is the Carson City Library later in the afternoon, followed by the Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, scheduled for next week.