IMLS staff interviewed state librarians to discuss how their new five-year plans for LSTA Grants to States funds (2013-2017) differ from their past plans (2008-2012), and how they see the needs of library users in their states changing and evolving. This post is part of a series and features IMLS Senior Library Program Officer Michele Farrell interviewing State Library and Archives Administrator/State Librarian Daphne DeLeon, Deputy State Librarian Karen Starr and LSTA Coordinator Diane Baker. Read more about the Nevada State Library and Archives’ priorities in IMLS’ state profile for Nevada.
Michele: What were the three most important community needs you sought to address through library services between 2008 and 2012?
Daphne: One was access to electronic content, which encapsulated access to electronic databases for the public schools and public libraries. The statewide digital initiative also looked to create a collaborative infrastructure within Nevada to allow our libraries and any holders of historical materials to be able to make them available online.
Karen: We have land patents and Supreme Court case files and verdicts. Those land patents are really useful, because during the housing retrenchment in Las Vegas we were the holders of information that people needed in order to support their house titles.
View of the top of the Hoover Dam wall with concrete pouring forms on top. Construction on two of the intake towers is seen behind the wall (mid-1930s). Part of the UNLV Lied Library’s Water in the West project, one several LSTA-funded projects that highlighted Nevada history.
Diane: Some of the other individual projects that we funded included several out of UNLV that were related to Nevada historical issues. One was the art of menus specific to Las Vegas and its culinary development; another was related to the unique architecture styles that go with resort communities and Water in the West.
Karen: Then, in terms of literacy needs, we have a statewide reading program where we fund summer reading, El Día de los Niños [Children’s Day], adult reading programs, and year-round reading programs. We partnered with others in the state to create Nevada Reads, and we’ve also implemented Letters About Literature out of the Center for the Book and the Library of Congress.
An afterschool program developed as part of the Carson City Library’s Digital Learning project.
Diane: For the third need, which is teens homework afterschool programs, our electronic databases are a foundation for a lot of the homework projects that had been funded as subgrants in Henderson, Las Vegas-Clark County, Carson City, and Washoe County.
Michele: How did the evaluation of the 2008-2012 programs and initiatives affect your state’s plan for the new 2013-2017 five-year cycle?
Daphne: We seem to have felt the national recession early on in Nevada, and we continue to lag in the recovery. Throughout the evaluation of programs from the last five-year cycle, where we hadn’t seen that type of economic environment before, it really brought to light a lot of things that we were able to bring to our focus groups. One was the ability to reexamine our plans and decide if things are changing. We are appointing a steering group of statewide representatives to work with the Nevada State Library and Archives and myself to annually review the plan and make sure it’s still in sync. We found that in 2008-2012 our plan was still very useful, but, at a certain point, needs were beginning to emerge, and they weren’t directly reflected in the plan. It made it difficult for some of our libraries and our community to respond.
Michele: What are the three most important community needs for the next five-year plan?
Daphne: The three most important needs as we move forward into this new five-year cycle are assessment and planning, information literacy, and workforce development. Overarching all three needs is developing strategies to either strengthen a library’s collaborations or to help it establish new ones.
Diane: One of the things that came out of our steering committee and focus groups is that things change so much in the communities, and they wanted to make sure they were being responsive. Our first goal reflects assessment and planning, in order to best use local, state, and federal resources to serve the community needs. A previous LSTA project at Las Vegas-Clark County developed assessment tools, and we’re looking at taking them statewide.