Technology, diversity programs at Nevada libraries face loss of funding
April 25, 2017
At libraries throughout the state, students can learn programming language to write and execute code that controls digital technology through the NCLabs online coding course.
"It's super important in terms of 21st century literacy," said Tammy Westergard, assistant administrator of the Nevada State Library and Archives. "Those are marketable skills, and the fact that people can learn that at the library is so valuable."
However, the program is among many that are in danger of being eliminated under proposed federal cuts.
"It will have a huge impact on us," said Carol Lloyd, director of the Churchill County Library. "To my little library, it would be huge."
In Fallon, 3,775 people participate in the programs funded through grants.
"That's pretty big for a town with a population of 25,000," Lloyd said.
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President Trump's plan calls for the elimination of the $230 million budget for the Institute of Museum and Library Services along with three other cultural agencies — the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Nevada would lose $3.5 million over the next two years.
Some of the programs funded through federal grants include the Summer Reading Programs, electronic databases, interlibrary loans, NCLab Coding courses, Diversity in Action and Nevada Reads.
"It's a critical issue for us," said Nancy Cummings-Schmidt, the vice chairwoman of the State Council on Libraries and Literacy. "It touches every single county in this state, it touches every nook and cranny. Libraries have made a big difference for families, children and seniors throughout the state."
Libraries across Nevada receive $258,900 in federal grants for Summer Reading and Diversity in Action programs.
The Carson City Library is hosting several programs this month to celebrate Diversity in Action, a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for children from all backgrounds.
"DIA, and programs like it, encourages reading and literacy for everybody in the community," said Natalie Wood, creative learning manager for the Carson City Library. "We have a rich history here in Carson City with Native American, Chinese and Hispanic heritages that I'm not sure everybody knows about. It's important to showcase all cultures to promote understanding and acceptance."
Summer learning and reading programs across the state offer courses to enrich learning and help in student retention during the months away from school.
"We're an integral part of the education system in this county," said Cyndi O, director of the Humboldt County Library. "We offer lifelong education."
Statewide, libraries receive about $4 million in federal funds, matched by nearly $5.5 million in state and local funds.
"Libraries are very good at doing a whole lot with a little," Lloyd said. "Relatively speaking, you get a big bang for your buck. If we don't have this, oh my heavens, it's going to be a huge hit."
Editor's note: This is the final story in a series of articles to run in honor or National Library Week to draw attention to the services provided by libraries across the state. The articles highlight programs in danger of being eliminated under proposed federal cuts.