JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers and Airmen looking to brush up on their military occupational specialties have a place to do so thanks to the Army Continuing Education System.

Personnel from ACES celebrated the grand opening of an MOS Library Aug. 2, at Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Lewis-Main.

Colonel Thomas Brittain, JBLM garrison commander, remembered a time in his career when going to the library meant spending hours searching through stacks of books before finding material related to his MOS. With the military's focus being on war for nearly a decade, Brittain said the new digital MOS Library will help ensure service members don't waste valuable time and instead receive training in the most efficient manner.

"We've got to be able to get back in touch with our roots as a military where we can do full spectrum operations, which means that we can do anything that our nation asks us to do," Brittain said.

As thousands of troops continue to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, most will remain stateside for 18 to 24 months, versus the 12 months many of them were previously given. Being home for longer periods of time will afford service members more time to brush up on MOS-related skills and other training, which is where the library will be instrumental.

"Resources like the MOS Library and everything we do with the Army education system - whether it's supplemental to our professional military education system or it's supplemental to our unit education - is going to be critical," Brittain said.

Prior to the MOS Library, JBLM had three others; two were density libraries and the third was a consolidated one. Vernon Ward, education services specialist, said the libraries eventually closed, leaving the base without an MOS library.

"As technology evolved and paper became less, DVD usage grew and the Internet became more available, the hardcopies started diminishing," Ward said.

The new MOS library is equipped with individual work stations and 15 computers. It's a reflection of the current technological era, said Rocio Estrada, who oversees the MOS Library.

"It really serves a purpose," Estrada said. "Using an electronic form, it's actually easier than flipping through pages to search for information."

Each computer is programmed with the most current field and training manuals, making it easy for service members to retrieve information. They also have the capability to print, burn information to CDs and transfer information to thumb drives.

"Everything is electronic, so in just a few clicks, they can have the information they need and take it with them," said Julie Kelly, MOS specialist.
Although the MOS Library's main focus is service members, everyone is welcome to use it.
"If a spouse wants more information on a particular manual or wants to use the library for any reason, we're always going to be there to support them and help them get the information they want," Estrada said.

Laura M. Levering is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.