Rawlins Municipal Library has once again reached the highest level of recognition a South Dakota library can achieve — its Exemplary Level accreditation was renewed for the next three years.

The recognition isn’t something that was handed to the library; the library and its Board of Trustees had to apply to receive the accreditation and meet “a lot” of standards, according to library Director Robin Schrupp.

The South Dakota State Library establishes the accreditation standards and incorporates national public library standards. There are three levels of accreditation — Essential, Enhanced, and Exemplary — that are determined by a checklist. The highest level of accreditation requires libraries to meet more than 80 criteria in the following areas: governance, administration, access, collections and resources, funding, staffing, technology, and public relations. In order to be considered exemplary level, libraries must have long range plans and policies in place, publish an annual report, have a minimum of 45 hours of continuing education credits among staff, have an established Friends of the Library group, as well as host trainings and classes, to name a few qualifications.

This is no small feat — of the 106 public libraries in South Dakota, less than a dozen of them have exemplary accreditation, according to a press release.

“It holds everyone to a higher standard — the board has to be educated on library issues, the staff needs to provide what the community needs. The checklist shows the things you ‘ve accomplished and what you still need to work on. We’re always striving to provide the best service for our community,” Schrupp told the Capital Journal.

One of the ways the library is working toward this is by developing a comprehensive, four-phase long pandemic policy. Now, the library is in the third phase of the plan, so physical access to the library is still partially limited. Under the pandemic plan, children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to enter the library.

“We’ve worked hard to update our policies to fit today’s world, which is an ongoing process,” Schrupp said.

On a typical day in a non-pandemic year, the library sees 400-450 people walk through its doors, which Schrupp said is “pretty good.”

“That doesn’t happen without dedicated, professional staff who continue to evolve the role of the library to meet the needs of the community,” Pierre Mayor Steve Harding said in the press release.

Schrupp agreed. “We have a great staff that provides a wonderful service to the public. We get many compliments on our staff — they are on the spot to deliver and people appreciate that.”

Schrupp also acknowledged Rawlins’ board and commissioner representative as being “excellent” and “supportive.”

“We have a great board. They’re very involved and always willing to go the extra mile for us. They’re good advocates,” she said.

Programming at the library has been limited due to the pandemic, but the children’s library has continued to do virtual storytimes that have been popular. Schrupp said she hopes the library will be able to resume regular programming soon and that hopefully the library can host its summer reading program.

In 2021 the library will move into phase two of a project that will add more parking spaces outside the building. Phase one was completed last year and now construction has been approved for a parking lot on the north side of the library.

“There will be a little more onsite parking, so we’re excited about that,” Schrupp said.

For more information about Rawlins library, visit rawlinslibrary.org.

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