May 2013, Volume 5, Issue 5
Check Your Calendars!!
Choose Privacy Week
National Library Legislative Day
Children's Book Week
May 30– June 1, Javits Center, New York City
ALA 2013 Annual Conference & Exhibition
June 27– July 2, Chicago, Illinois
SD Festival of Books
Sept. 20-22, Deadwood
Tri-Conference: NDLA, MPLA, SDLA 2013
The Library: All Travelers Welcome
Sept. 25-27, Sioux Falls
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Genealogy eResources—where history is new
The real facts
By Daria Bossman, State Librarian
I recently heard a leader in the educational field remark, "Well, the reality is most small communities don't really care about their public libraries anymore." I felt saddened that this was that person’s perception of small-town libraries. I called him on his unsubstantiated remark, but the damage had already been done. Just another negative remark that is certainly not true, not true in South Dakota, for sure!
However, I did admit to myself that there are a handful of small libraries in South Dakota and throughout the country who are just barely hanging on. Most likely they have a dedicated librarian and a caring library board, but they are stuck in the past. They have little interest in relevant programming, little if any knowledge of how to advocate for the library's informational services and no clue how to reconnect to their citizens and to their supporting governing bodies the library's vast online resources available to their citizens regardless of how poor or remote their community. Unfortunately for a few, they will not make it out of this decade. They will die, and the citizens in their communities will be poorer for the loss of their community's public library. Sadly for them, it will indeed look like they "didn't really care about their public library anymore."
The reality is that 99 percent of our SD public libraries have computer/Internet access. In straight numbers that means 111 of our 112 public libraries have computers with Internet access. Eighty-five percent of our public libraries offer summer reading programs, and many are partnering with their local schools to strengthen and promote summer reading for all age groups.
The State Library staff will come and provide workshops at no charge, and public librarians are only a phone call or email away from expert advice and practical, helpful consultation. Our State Library website is chock full of successful, tried-and-true ideas and active links to authoritative health and medical resources, news, legal and career information, job opportunities, genealogy and so much more. Our website and monthly e-newsletter offer free online workshops and grant opportunities as well. You have to work really hard to not be a full-service, actively engaged public library these days.
We make it easy for anyone to succeed, and succeeding is exactly what the majority of our public libraries, large and small, are doing! If you think they are biting the dust, then I challenge you to check out the websites, blogs and Facebook pages of such little places as Wall, Bison, Faith, Edgemont, Hot Springs, Piedmont Community or Custer County libraries in the Hills; go south to Gregory or Platte, north to Gettysburg, to the southeast corner, North Sioux City, Beresford, Canton, Scotland, Centerville, and on up I-29 to Lake Preston or Grant County libraries! Why not go for a drive to the North Dakota border to Mobridge and see their beautiful new $900,000 addition and a community that annually raises for their public library over $5,000 at a spring luncheon and auction. "Small communities don't care?!?" – that is far from reality! Public libraries are alive and well in South Dakota communities and getting stronger with the establishment of local Library Foundations and Friends of the Libraries groups sprouting up in the most unlikely places.
Last year South Dakota completed Round 3 of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Opportunity Online Hardware Grant challenge. Twenty-three libraries representing 24 locations applied and successfully raised over $77,000 to receive additional funds to purchase 130 new computers. This improved technology access to nearly 86,000 South Dakotans! Public libraries qualified if at least 3,000 people or 10 percent of the total population were in poverty, or they could qualify based on unemployment and school lunch rates. All but one of our initial qualifying libraries met their match and received funding for new computers. These libraries worked hard for their matching funds! They attended advocacy trainings online and in person at a two-day workshop in Sioux Falls. They raised local dollars; they committed their time, heart and energy. Simply put, they cared!
This is what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had to say about South Dakota's participating libraries:
"South Dakota program participants raised $77,000 in match funds, and 56% stated confidence to continue securing and maintaining public funds to support technology expenses beyond the Opportunity Online program…The Opportunity Online hardware program resulted in 85,900 people in South Dakota having improved access to technology. On average, SD program participants went from having one up-to-date computer per every 2,700 people to having twelve up-to-date computers available for the same population…South Dakota was one of the smallest states to participate in the Opportunity Online grant program, and contains one of the highest proportions of small libraries compared to the other grant participants." (1)
Could the Gates folks have said it any plainer? South Dakota small communities CARE about their public libraries!
1. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program: Round 3 Grant Closeout Summary [PDF], February 2013.