The virtual programming initiatives of the Washoe County Library System have been recognized with a 2021 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The 2021 awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents. 

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, library services, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement, and many more.

The outstanding achievement award is for Virtual Literacy Plus. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, state-mandated restrictions and shutdowns led the Washoe County Library System to develop innovative solutions to the lack of in-person library programming. In an effort to foster an optimal learning environment they expanded their regular interactive events, launching a virtual component with the goal of connecting online with pre-K and K-12 age groups.

The Virtual Story Time program was developed by Washoe County Library’s Youth Services and Virtual Services teams. Remote, video-based story times combine print motivation and pre-literacy skills with the Library’s targeted vision to connect people with information, ideas, and experiences. Additionally, the Break with Baby and Early Reader Feature virtual programs served children ages 0-7 and their caregivers. The interactive activities and early literacy tips offered via these programs have given families an opportunity to focus on learning and literacy in the absence of in-person story time experiences.

Reaching the community with virtual programs has had a positive and lasting impact on the Library’s vision of library programming. Hundreds of Virtual Story Time videos have been viewed over 40,000 times, offering broad exposure to families who have not had the opportunity to visit a library in person.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.