How Las Vegas libraries are staying vital in the digital age

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Library Services

Yasmina Chavez

Visitors are seen at West Charleston Library, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District serves as a community hub for not only free internet access and books, but also education programs and job training.

Sunday, July 28, 2019 | 2 a.m.

Roie Evans is a library regular.

Beyond books and magazines, the library is a place where Evans can jump on a computer or check out a movie or do some research — “unlimited knowledge at my fingertips,” as he says.

But this day, he’s looking for something else — a job.

Evans was at the West Charleston Library on Tuesday for a job training workshop put on by Workforce Connections and the One-Stop Career Center.

Evans, who heard about the program at his home library in Henderson, said he’s hoping to get connected with the training he needs to obtain a commercial driver’s license. The workshop, held every Tuesday, helps match patrons with employment opportunities and teaches them how to strengthen their resumes and job interview skills.

Wendy Penning was at the workshop, too. “I’m trying to get connected to funding assistance so I can take accounting classes. The services are especially helpful because they’re free,” she said.

The job training workshop is another example of how libraries have expanded their services to remain relevant in the digital age.

Shana Harrington, youth services manager for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, said libraries are community hubs, providing an array of services such as early childhood and adult education, homework help and tutoring, even 3-D printing.

“I have seen it go from traditional services of matching people with books to us really growing into this resource to help people find their passion,” she said. “I don’t see where anyone else can offer what we do for free.”

Library District Director Ronald Hezeen said many people still think of just books when they think about the library. “Our goal is to get people to understand that libraries are so much more,” he said.

The district plans to launch a rebranding and marketing effort next year to highlight what the library has to offer — everything from knitting groups to financial counseling and job training.

And, of course, books.

Notwithstanding its other offerings, the Library District still circulates some 12 million books a year, Hezeen said.

According to a 2018 Pew Research study, printed books are still more popular than e-books, with 67% of people having read a printed book last year. The study also found those between 18 and 29 are more likely than older people to prefer printed books.

“We will always have books, and I think we will always have a market for them,” Hezeen said.

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