Stories from Siouxland Libraries



Siouxland Libraries -- Changing with the times


Things have changed at Siouxland Libraries since the 1950s. Ask Justine Watson (right), former assistant librarian for the Sioux Falls Public Library, and Pauline Striemer (left) who started the bookmobile.

The library once boasted four bookmobiles. "I got hired," Striemer laughs, "because I'd driven tractors on the farm!"

Watson began at the Carnegie Library (10th and Dakota). Demand eventually pushed the children's department to a building at 13th and Phillips Avenue until the 1972 completion of the Downtown Library, which "brought everything together again," she says.

Things have continued to change. Today there's just one bookmobile -- but 13 city and rural branch libraries to serve the areas's ever-growing population.

As for Justine and Pauline, they're retired -- and Siouxland Libraries customers.

A cool way to show history


If memories of history class make your eyes glaze over and you don't want that for your kids, Crooks Branch Library customer Matthew Orstad recommends Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. "True history is better than any crazy fiction."

His 9-year-old daughter Elizabeth is also a fan of Hale's six books that present historic events graphically. "Words can be consuming," she says, "with pictures you see what's going on. It's a cool way to show history."

Matthew acknowledges that people can be dismissive of comics. "But, he points out,"drawings -- cave art -- are the oldest form of storytelling."

In due course, sons Christopher, 6 (left), and Alexander, 4, will be introduced to the past graphically. Hale's books are available through any Siouxland Libraries Branch. 

A passion for learning and Siouxland Libraries

"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." That's David Johnson channeling the late newsman Walter Cronkite.

His passion for Siouxland Libraries put the DAKOTACARE Administrative Services sales manager front and center at the grand reopening of the Caille Branch Library.

An Ambassador with the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Johnson says, "When they were looking for representatives at the ribbon-cutting, I raised my hand pretty quickly."

A card-carrying (and using -- mystery thrillers rank high) library customer, Johnson's home base is the Ronning Branch. He's a regular because -- again like Cronkite -- "I always want to be learning new things."


Siouxland Libraries offers refuge, engagement for teens

An after-school regular at the Caille Branch during the 2015-16 school year, Tom Redetzke says, "Sitting in a leather chair reading whatever I wanted was a highlight of my day."

When Caille's BLT (Board of Library Teens) met, Tom swapped the easy chair for one in a meeting room -- and discovered the power of teamwork. "Someone offers an idea. Someone else adds something and the original idea changes, generally for the better."

Now a freshman at Roosevelt High School, Tom no longer visits every day, though BLT meetings remain a priority. And with its recent renovation, Caille has changed too. "I miss the old Caille, but the new Caille is pretty darn good!"

Most Siouxland Libraries branches have teen groups. Ask a librarian.


We all have our priorities

When moving to Sioux Falls, what were the top of the to-do-list items for the Comptons -- Lisa and Allen? "When you go to a new city, signing up for a library card is right next to getting your driver's license changed," he says.

Siouxland Libraries card-holders for nine years now, the couple (she's an art instructor at Children's Home Society, he's with Chase IH Agriculture) gravitate to the Downtown Library, but she says they like to check out the other branches for books, magazines, music CDs and movies.

"Since the video stores have gone," Allen says, "the library has the best movie selection around."


Wandering with purpose

Danica Waybright and daughters Riley, 1, and Sawyer, 3, call the Prairie West Branch Library home. "The kids love it," Danica says. "We go there, get a pile of books, then go home and read for an hour." Once she knows the story, Sawyer uses the pictures as a prompt to retell the tale.

The three are regulars at library events for children. "Storytime is important for education," Danica says. Pictured here at Caille, she adds, "We kind of follow the programs around." Siouxland Libraries makes it easy to track what's happening where for all ages. Go to the library home page and click on Across Siouxland Libraries at the top right. Or stop by any branch to pick up a paper copy, and wander with purpose!


How do you know they'll like it?

Thanks to Siouxland Libraries, Evie Brouwer can road-test stories for her twice-weekly Breakfast Books storytime. A reading specialist at Children's Home Society, she welcomes the opportunity to share "the very old practice of an adult reading to a child."

Hearing stories, she notes, increases a child's vocabulary. But, "Books have to fit you and the population you're reading to." If it isn't one you're comfortable reading or that kids enjoy, "I take it back and there's no money lost."

What author tops Evie's read-aloud list? No. 1 is Amy Krouse Rosenthal, with Mo Willems also coming in at No. 1. 


Great programs for kids across Siouxland Libraries

Sisters Sydney (left) and Victoria Kissell are regulars at Art Adventures (4 p.m. Thursdays throughout the school year) at the Downtown Library. The adventures begin with stories about well-known artists, their varied techniques and mediums -- then kids get to experiment with tempera paint, water colors, ink pens and more to a background of recorded classical music.

"Crafting is my favorite thing to do," Victoria enthused as a recent program began. "I'm excited!" Additional cause for excitement for the girls are the weekly (4 p.m. Tuesdays) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs. All are free for youngsters in grades K-5. For a complete listing of programs, click on "Events and Classes."


Libraries are for learning!

Chance ushered Marian Nilsson (left) through the door of Siouxland Libraries' Colton Branch that Wednesday during storytime. She'd come to return a CD, then settled in to listen as library associate Genice Rodne (right) read to a small group of youngsters. And Nilsson keeps coming. "You can't outdo kids!"

A bobbin lace-making expert, the energetic Colton woman has taught classes all over the United States. Making lace by hand is complicated, but she insists, "Preschoolers are the ideal age for lace-making. It teaches them to count." She's willing to give it a whirl. "If kids are interested, I'll show them how to do it." So ... could Nilsson's regular attendance at storytime be the prelude to passing along her passion for bobbin lace-making?


"I used to live at the library ..."

"I used to live at the library," says 85-year-old Eva Bechler. She pauses, "Lah-bury. I say it different, don't I? That's because I grew up in Texas." Now a longtime Sioux Falls resident, Eva relies on Siouxland Libraries' Homebound Delivery to bring books she enjoys. "Westerns -- not shoot-'em-ups -- but the good ones." Like Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. Mysteries are another favorite genre -- authors Dean Koontz, James Patterson and Robin Cook.

The library makes it easy for anyone to find similar reads. Go to, scroll down to click on "Search the Library Catalog." Enter a book title or author's name, click "Go!" and then the book title. Scroll down to "You Might Also Like These...."