Carson City Library talk focuses on ‘leading edges of innovation’

Milton Chen

Milton Chen

April 8-14, the Nevada State Library joined libraries across the nation with schools, campuses and communities in celebrating the many ways libraries are leading opportunities for community members to learn new skills, explore emerging technology, and connect face to face and face to book.

Thursday, the Carson City Library hosted a Knowledge Summit at the Brewery Arts Center Black Box Theater. The moderated discussion, among six local and statewide leaders, was facilitated by Milton Chen, senior fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the Bay Area. Chen’s book, Education Nation, the six leading edges of innovation, framed the discussion about what he has termed the “leading edges” regarding education as seen in the region.

“Innovation and transformation seem to be two words to describe what is currently taking place in Nevada libraries. It is so satisfying to see librarians taking a full-fledged seat at the table with technology and workforce development leaders throughout the state,” said Nancy Cummings Schmidt, chairwoman of the Nevada State Council on Libraries and Literacy.

One of the discussion panelists was Assistant Administrator for the Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records, Tammy Westergard, who at the last minute filled in for Patrick Cates, director of the Nevada Department of Administration. She spoke with the audience about the vision to transform the current Nevada State Library into a Knowledge and Innovation Center. The redesign will provide a new environment for state employees which will strengthen their work skills in technology and problem-solving, develop synergistic approaches to challenges, and will create efficiencies that cross state agency lines.

“As we strive to provide efficient and responsive public service in state government, I envision a facility such as the Knowledge and Innovation Center to be an integral capstone in our approach to take customer service, business processes and employee enrichment capabilities to the next level,” said Westergard.

With the help of a reimagined state library, Westergard believes state employees can be increasingly self-directed in 21st century skill development.

Another panelist, Karsten Heise, technology commercialization director with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and member of the State Council on Libraries and Literacy, spoke on the “Youth Edge” portion of Chen’s book, spotlighting the vital role of learning pathways driven by science, technology engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) to support Nevada’s economy.

John MacLeod, executive director of XRLibraries, whose team is leading the deployment of virtual reality in libraries across the country, explained the “Technology Edge” of current education.

“Immersive Xtended Reality is transforming how we learn, communicate and work in the 21st century. Putting virtual, augmented and mixed reality systems in Nevada libraries makes this technology available and accessible to all members of the community. Nevada youth and adults can now start making their future realities come true. Hats off to the library leadership for having the vision and focus to make this happen,” said MacLeod.

Tricia Wentz, Western Nevada College’s Jump Start Coordinator, discussed the “Time/Place Edge” and Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell focused on the “Thinking Edge,” and reflected on how Carson City’s library achievements have been driven from a long view of success and multi-jurisdictional coordination.

Ron Swirczek of the Carson City School Board spoke about the “Curriculum & Assessment Edge,” distinguishing today’s learning trends are being driven by expectations. Students are demonstrating key skills through project-based learning, and less from test scores and assessment.

“It’s very exciting to see how Nevada’s libraries, at the local and state levels, and in universities, are partnering with schools and industry to invent the future of the state,” said Chen. “The world of work is changing rapidly, and these partnerships offer the best chance for Nevada’s youth and adults for success and for communities to thrive.”

Also recognized at the discussion was that the Carson City Library is one of 29 finalists for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities, for 24 years the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to service and making a difference for individuals, families and communities. The five 2018 library medalists will be announced in mid-May.


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