The South Dakota State Library is running “Libraries — the Future” open forums across the state. The discussion meetings are to gather information to be used toward improving local libraries as well as the State Library. This summer the State Library is writing its next five-year strategic plan, which will take it through 2023.
Earlier forums were held in March — three in Aberdeen and three in Sioux Falls. Winter storms postponed the other forums until now.
Three were held in Pierre, Sept. 5, two at the State Library and one at the Rawlins Library. Three more are being done in Rapid City, Sept. 6-7.
The State Library itself hosted two of the citizen-based conversation meetings Sept. 5, then that evening Pierre’s Rawlins Library hosted its forum.
General citizens — specifically teachers, school administrators, city leaders, librarians, library trustees — discussed the future of library services in South Dakota.
“Pat Wagner can make a mundane subject interesting. She has a way about her,” said Robin Schrupp, Rawlins librarian.
Wagner, from Research Patterns, Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the facilitator for these discussions. Wagner covers the importance of the State Library, what it and other libraries do, and the results of the ongoing statewide survey. “Pat’s main job is as a trainer and consultant for libraries, covering such things such as project and conflict management,” said Schrupp.
During the meetings, Daria Bossman, state librarian, said South Dakota has a “mixed bag” of how much certified training various librarians have, depending on the size and funding of their library, and if they work in public schools or community libraries. Some librarians have master’s degrees, while others are working through state training just to be certified.
Bossman discussed the “prairie mentality,” which for libraries is not a good thing. Never getting rid of anything, such as books, is not always the way to go.
South Dakota was, and could still be, one of the top five states in the nation with the highest number of books in libraries per capita. Older, unused books should be “weeded out” to make room for newer books, for computers, for even multi-use conference/community rooms.
Wagner and Bossman led a group discussion on how modern libraries serve all generations, including those that require silent as well as noisy/busy areas in their library.
“Followers of local libraries, such as Pierre’s own Rawlins Library, are impacted by the State Library,” said Schrupp. “Basically, the State Library is working on its long-term plan and wants public input. Local libraries have very solid partnerships with the State Library, In particular, the State Library provides access to databases, grant opportunities and training opportunities you’ll find at local libraries. Local libraries are very much encouraging public engagement.”
The forum is looking for input. The start-up questions include:
What are the challenges that South Dakota libraries face?
What are the immediate needs of your library?
If everything was perfect in 10 years for libraries, what would be different? Services? Programs? Staff? Buildings? Collections?
What do you need to reach that ‘perfect’ future?
What technology tools would you like our libraries to have?
“The result will hopefully be a new Five-Year State Library Strategic Plan for the State Library (not to be confused with the Library Services and Technology Act five-Year Plan which was just approved by the Institute of Museum and Library Services),” said Schrupp.