In a first for public libraries in the United States, the Carson City Library in Carson City, Nevada, has created a training environment that adheres to the guidelines of the Manufacturing Skills Institute. The Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI) is based in Richmond, Virginia, and is an affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. Manufacturing Technician Level 1 (MT1) certification programs are accepted industry wide as technical skills assessment for production and production support occupations in all sectors of manufacturing. The certification consists of two levels: MT1 and Manufacturing Specialist (MS). Those who earn this documentation are able to demonstrate their expertise in manufacturing industry practical skills. These skills are Manufacturing Technology, Math and Measurement, Quality and Business Acumen, and Spatial Reasoning. The Nevada Manufacturers Association recognizes the importance of this training, and was an integral factor in the partnership that has been created between the library and other organizations in order to provide this training.
Carson City Library is paying for the first year of this technology training through a Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant that runs through June 30, 2016. Students who complete the training will be prepared to enter the skilled workforce. The idea to create this unique learning environment developed through meetings with community leaders, the Governor’s office, and Nevada’s Working Capital initiative. The grant will cover the salary of two instructors at Western Nevada College (which is also partnering in this endeavor) along with a trainer at the library, Director Sena Loyd. Tammy Westergard, the library’s business manager, was very active in the creation of this project. She stated, “As a free and public institution, the library is uniquely accessible and can complement workforce training happening in the formal classroom. Fundamentally the library is delivering on the American promise of helping folks gain marketable skills.” Katherine DeRosear, executive director of the Manufacturing Skills Institute, was fundamental in the development of this initiative also, along with Ray Bacon of the Nevada Manufacturers Association.
The MT1 certification will cost $300, but the LSTA grant will cover this cost for some students through scholarships that the library will offer. Carson City Library’s venture will help the area fill the need for trained workers, as Tesla is building their battery plant nearby. Some of the skills that will be attained through the MT1 certificate program include valuable STEM skills. The complete partnership includes Carson City School District along with previously mentioned Carson City Library, WNC, MSI, and Carson City itself. This partnership, formally named Nevada’s Working Capitol, includes 3 powerful components:
- The public library as a central location that leverages its technology and special programs to expose patrons to design and experimentation, fostering focused but informal STEM learning and exposure to 3D printing.
- The public library as an access point for patrons to gain additional practice with specialized engineering software (SolidWorks), particularly helpful to existing manufacturers who want more educational opportunities for employees that are not necessarily for college credit, but rather practice-based and off the clock.
- The public library as a learning forum for patrons to participate in formal training opportunities at the library, linked from the library to WNC, that directly lead to MT1 certification.
This program as stated is the first of its kind in the United States, and illustrates the power of collaboration. Multiple organizations came together to recognize that if Tesla was coming to Carson City then Carson City needed to find ways to train workers for the battery factory. Setting egos aside, the city library, local college, library board of trustees, and governor’s office set in motion a commitment to their citizens to provide necessary training when it was needed. Their goal was to be able to provide middle-class jobs – not service jobs – and the education essential to perform these jobs. The hope is that this will demonstrate that positive partnerships and the learning environment of the library can create vital resources for the community. Carson City Library is confident that if they are successful in the first year of this program that funding in future years will be easier to come by. The potential for success will ideally prompt other libraries around the United States to create similar training programs for their communities.