Subscribe in a reader

February 2013, Volume 5, Issue 2

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

One Book SD

Take Your Child to the Library Day
Feb. 2

Digital Learning Day
Feb. 6

Read Across America Day
March 2

Teen Tech Week
March 10-16

PLA Virtual Spring Symposium
March 20

School Library Month

Month of the Military Child

National Library Week
April 14-20

World Book Night
April 23

El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros
April 30

Featured e-Resources of the Month
Power search with ProQuest

Board Talk


Rotunda celebration – 100 years and counting

By Daria Bossman, Interim State Librarian

Recently, we celebrated two events at the Capitol Rotunda. It was a windy, cold January day, but that didn’t keep 80 librarians, citizens and legislators from gathering at the Rotunda to see seven South Dakota libraries receive their Public Library Accreditation awards. Four of them were honored for reaching the Essential level, two at the Enhanced level and one at the Exemplary level. All of these public libraries set a goal to serve their communities and reach above and beyond the minimum standards for a public library in South Dakota. I spoke at this ceremony, and I took the occasion to review a bit of South Dakota State Library history in recognition of our 100th year anniversary.

In November of 1913, the State Legislature established the South Dakota Free Library Commission. Yes, do the math; the SD State Library (our modern name) is 100 years old this year! We will be doing more to commemorate our birthday closer to July 1, but for now I’d like to point out a few highlights of our past years of service.

In researching the formation of state libraries, I discovered that a few of the original 13 states disagree about who established the first state library. New Jersey's started in 1796, but they had a colony library of sorts as early as 1704; Pennsylvania got theirs started with the help of – who else, Ben Franklin, in 1745. But New Hampshire’s in 1717 is “generally considered to be the oldest (legislatively established) State Library institution.” So there you have it!

Well, the point is, as our country expanded and folks moved west, various groups of people sought legislative approval to establish a state library. South Dakota was no different. It was the South Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs which is credited with taking the initial steps to place before the legislative bodies the need for a state library so “that books and reference materials be made available to the people of the state.” Our state was established in 1889, and by 1909, the Women’s Club had begun their lobbying efforts. It took several years, but they got it done. In 1913 the State Library Commission was born with a $3,000 budget. It moved to new quarters in the new Capitol Annex in 1932; in 1940 Mercedes McKay was hired, the first State Librarian (then called a Director) to stay for more than a few years. In 1957 they moved to a warehouse downtown and federal funding began through the National Library Service Act.

In 1968 the federal Library Service and Construction Act further enhanced the State Library’s responsibilities and services to the local libraries. The year 1973 saw the creation of the SDIN—South Dakota Information Network (I assume that was a precursor to our SDLN today). And in 1976 the State Library moved into its own newly constructed building on Governor’s Drive. In 2009 we moved into our newly remodeled first floor of the McKay Building. And here we are – 2013! One hundred years of service to state government and our local libraries have passed.

Many things have changed dramatically over the years. Could our predecessors have even imagined computers, online systems, databases, wireless access, e-readers and e-books? However, despite all the changes, some things have stayed the same and sound strangely familiar. For instance, in the early years, "courses were given at county Institutes on 'library methods' and 'children's reading.'"

In a 1929 account the State Library reported an increased demand in their services because "public libraries and schools were requesting assistance in organization and reorganization problems." A 1966 report stated that among the purposes and function of the State Library was "preparation of reading lists for schools…granting of scholarships to promote professionally trained librarians, workshops for librarians and trustees and consultation services for public and school libraries." Then I found this great quote from former State Librarian Vincent Anderson: "The librarian who does nothing but sit behind a desk won’t last long. You have to be interested in people and in information." That was in 1974, nearly 40 years ago. Sound familiar? Some things change…other things stay the same, don't they?

In closing, as we kick off our 100th birthday year, I'd like to again quote our former State Librarian Vince Anderson: "We prod and we encourage, all without charge to the community." Has a truer word ever been spoken? We here at the State Library lovingly prod and encourage our libraries to be all they can be for their communities. We do research for them, we train their staffs, keeping them abreast and up-to-date on the latest trends. We do indeed prod but we mostly encourage!

This brings me to the seven public libraries which were recognized for their achievements this past week. They needed no prodding to strive toward excellence, and we commend them for that. Our SD Public Library Standards were rewritten, strengthened and revised in 2009 by a statewide taskforce of public librarians. We instituted a tiered system: Essential, Enhanced and Exemplary. This is a voluntary system administered by the State Library. Many states have a mandatory certification/accreditation system. We "encourage" (here is that word again) all of our libraries (large or small) to take a look at the standards – to use the standards as benchmarks in their goals and improvement plans. It is a great planning document for local library boards and a wonderful tool in communicating with their governing bodies what they need: 1) to remain legal and 2) to serve the 21st Century informational, archival and recreational needs of their individual communities.

We want to congratulate the seven public libraries and their boards as well as the other public libraries which have attained accreditation in the past several years. If you are interested in seeing how your library measures up, take a look at the standards. They are located on our website at

You can also contact our Development Staff if you have questions or need assistance with implementing your goals or a specific improvement plan. Call 1-800-423-6665.


  • "Librarians must be 'interested,'" The Brookings Register [Brookings] 19 Aug. 1974: n. pag. Print.
  • South Dakota State Library Commission. South Dakota Library Bulletin Anniversary [Pierre] Issue 49
    (1963): n. pag. Print.
  • "State Library Has Problems." Argus-Leader [Sioux Falls] 30 Jan. 1966: n. pag. Print.
  • "State Library Needs 'twice as Much Money'" Rapid City Journal [Rapid City] 16 Mar. 1975: n. pag. Print.





board, history, standards

prev: Library Development | next: School Libraries

Table of Contents

Share |   

The Cornerstone monthly e-newsletter is created by the South Dakota State Library. For more information on how to be a part of this newsletter, please contact us via e-mail with your questions and ideas.