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November 2009, Volume 1, Issue 11

Check your Calendars!

American Education Week
Nov. 15-21

Letters for Literature
Dec. 12 deadline

SDLA Legislative Day
Jan. 14, 2010

ALA MidWinter
Jan. 15-19, 2010

PLA National Conference
March 23-27, 2010

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School Libraries

Superintendent Willard is 2009 SDLA Friend of the Library

Superintendent Steve Willard of the Belle Fourche School District is the recipient of the 2009 South Dakota Library Association Friend of the Library Award. Willard was presented with this honor at the SDLA annual awards banquet held in Aberdeen on Oct. 8.

The Friend of the Library Award is designed to recognize a non-librarian who has made a significant contribution to library development in a South Dakota community. The Friend is someone who has shown initiative, support, and creativity on behalf of a South Dakota library to the betterment of the library and its services.

Willard recently served on the State Library’s School Library Study Group which revised procedures and recommendations for the annual school library data survey. Assistant State Librarian Daria Bossman stated, “The committee appreciated Mr. Willard’s input and service on this statewide committee. His insights and experience were invaluable.”

In her letter of nomination, Belle Fourche High School Librarian Kay Heck commented, “With his encouragement, sessions on the importance of reading, reading strategies, information literacy and the services available through the school library as well as the state library network were included in professional development schedules for the entire high school staff. Mr. Willard was always open to suggestions for the improvement of the library program in the high school and encouraged the use of the library by staff and students.”


What are classes reading at your school?

We know that individual students of all ages are reading for a variety of reasons and in a variety of formats. But what’s happening with class novels, literature circle titles and other classroom assigned reading? Are we “killing ‘em with classics” or creating lifelong readers and learners? Take a look at the way this teacher integrated the reading of the classic Treasure Island into a global project on digital piracy: “Putting the Nerdy Teacher Back in the Classroom - Let Project Based Learning Begin” Making Teachers Nerdy blog.

Others are teaching the power of story with a mix of the popular and the classic. Here are some of the more contemporary classroom sets that teachers are using at Brookings High School: Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Toni Morrison novels. These are worked into the curriculum, along with the usual classics, such as Shakespeare, Twain, Steinbeck, Dickens and Tolkien.

What are classes reading at your school? Send titles old and new, or project ideas, to Joan Upell at and we’ll compile a list to share.


Letters About Literature Contest needs student letters

Are you looking for an exciting way to encourage reading and teach proper letter writing format? Letters About Literature, a state and national writing contest for grades 4-12, is a fun way to do just that. Students are asked to write a personal letter to an author who has changed the way they think, pushed their imagination to new heights, or made them look at the world in a different way.

To enter, simply have your students write a letter to their favorite author. Then, submit these letters to the contest's national office for state and national judging. The deadline is Dec. 12. Judges in South Dakota include English professors, journalists, librarians and teachers. For more information, please contact Jay Willms at 605-688-6113 or

This contest is coordinated by the South Dakota Humanities Council, a non-profit organization in Brookings, that receives funding from the National Center for the Book within the Library of Congress.


Invite Picturing America scholars to your community

Bring a professional art historian to your school or library and learn more about American art and how it connects with our history and culture. The South Dakota Humanities Council is offering a Picturing America Speakers Bureau for communities that received the Picturing America grant from the National Endowment for Humanities. Three art historians are working with the Humanities to visit schools and libraries that have the Picturing America grant.

Dr. John Day (email) and Dr. Julie Schlarman (email), both art historians at the University of South Dakota, as well as Dr. Lindsay Twa (email), art historian at Augustana are available to give presentations about the artwork. Programs have already been conducted in Estelline, Roslyn and Hermosa. The scholars are paid directly from SDHC and are willing to work with schools and libraries in their scheduling. Application forms are available at South Dakota Humanities Council, or for more information, please call or write to Stephanie Horsley at 605-688-6113 or

The Roslyn High School newspaper, The Viking, reported about the visiting scholar in their school and granted permission to share the following:

USD’s Day speaks to students on art

By Christa Wik and Chelsea Kortleever

USD professor Dr. John A. Day spent a morning in our school recently to give a presentation about art. Mary Dunn [Roslyn librarian] arranged to have him speak through a grant from the South Dakota Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities program, after our school was presented with a series of American artworks, including paintings and photography.

Day split the students up into separate groups and let them find a painting that would express one of the many different themes of life. When he was walking around to the different groups of kids, listening to them discuss their paintings, Day said, "I was surprised to see how interested the students were in the art."

He showed us many different ways an artist can express his feelings. He told us about two specific South Dakota artists, Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe. Day is in charge of the Howe collection at the USD art galleries. (The main gallery in the Fine Arts Center is named in honor of Day.)

"He was very interesting to listen to. He also told us how a picture communicates just like a writer or a musician but through art work," Tierra Roper said.

"Many of our teachers would 'love' to take his class. He took hours of preparation before he came to Roslyn so he was ready to talk just to Roslyn School," Dunn said.

Day sent a thank you letter to the school. He said that he was "very impressed" with how the students acted. The kids seemed "very engaged" in the art. Day has been an art history teacher at USD for 40 years. He is a former chairperson of the Department of Art, and a former dean of the college of Fine Arts at USD. Day graduated from Notre Dame and is the head of the Oscar Howe collection and Native American Art. He has lectured and written on Howe for more than 30 years as well as organized several of his exhibits.


Belle Fourche, books, Brookings, contest, Roslyn, SDLA, SDHC, school library, USD, writing

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