Stories from Siouxland Libraries



A reader needs Siouxland Libraries

Maurice Wallner is an avid reader.

He wasn't always, though. "As a young person, I didn't read that much." With the exception of the Hardy Boys series ... "very exciting."

In 1970, "I began reading seriously." And for pleasure. A fan of legal thrillers, Wallner lists Jonathan Kellerman, Stephen White and Robert Parker among his favorite authors.

A regular (four to six times a week) Downtown Library customer, he says he checked out 400 or so books last year and "probably read 250. With a lot of books costing $39-$40, it'd just be impossible."

"Aside from family and health," Wallner reflects, "the library is most important for me!"

What would he do without it? Long silence. Ironic smile. "Die maybe?"

What would Nancy Drew do?

Three years ago, says, Josephine Spencer (right), the Touchmark at All Saints’ library was a mess.

“Books behind books, books on top of books.” She shakes her head, “We just started pulling.” 

She and others filled 38 boxes for donation to Augustana University’s book sale, then organized the keepers by category.  

Now, every two months she and fellow volunteer librarian Kay Bickford (left) receive 40 books from Siouxland Libraries to refresh the permanent collection. Bickford smiles, “We’re thankful for the books.”

The checkout system involves signing a ledger ― a step that residents have been known to overlook. Then, Spencer says, “We become detectives.”

Sleuths every bit as effective as Nancy Drew. “We are square with the library,” Bickford reports. “All books are turned in.”

Who'd ever have thought SpongeBob could teach!

Five-year-old Jonah Aadland glances up from a computer in the children's area at Siouxland Libraries Ronning Branch, "I like games."

His mom Jody is also a fan of the ones Jonah plays at the library. He's learning letters, shapes, colors, and more. And some of that vital ready-for-school knowledge is delivered by one of Jonah's favorites -- SpongeBob (slight eye-roll by Mom).

As for Jody, being able to reserve books online is a major convenience. And when there's a long hold list for ones she wants, "That's OK. There are plenty of others to read till it comes."

In and out of love ... Zach is back 

“I fell in love with the library as a little kid.” That’s Zachary Koball ― whose affection faded after moving to Seattle.  

Then, back in Sioux Falls at age 23, “Grandma suggested I go to the library and I fell in love all over again.” 

That part of his heart, Koball says, belongs to the Ronning Branch Library. “It’s the best! I’m there four days a week.” Most likely studying.

Now 35, Koball is enrolled in a respiratory therapy program. “The slightest flare of interest in anything and you can find a whole shelf of information at the library.”

He adds, “You can Google all you want, but when you need something in depth, and a place to absorb it, you can’t beat the library!”

Good times at the library ... from checkout to return

Natalie Eisenberg is clickrain's vice president for client strategy. She, husband Troy, Murphy, 7, and Halle, 4, call Ronning their home branch, but "we love to pop into all." Spring, summer, fall and winter, "The library is season-less.

"It's free, entertaining, good wholesome entertainment." And, she smiles, "It's healthy for kids to detach from technology and dive into books."

Another highlight of library visits? "The kids love the process of checking out and returning materials."

It is kinda fun. Get a library card ... see for yourself!

Ambitious goal: 50 in 2017

Executive director of Stockyards Ag Experience, Jennifer Smith Hoesing's office in the former Horse Barn at Falls Park is a three-mile round trip from the Downtown Library. "When skies are blue," she says, "I walk over during my lunch break."

Hoesing has set a goal of reading 50 books this year.

On her must-read list: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, The Girls by Lori Lansens and The Next by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. She shrugs laughing, "I guess I read a lot about dysfunctional families!"

Whatever the genre, "At the end of a day, there's othing like sitting down with a book."

Reading at home gets kids ready for school

Chris Zdorovtsov says Storytimes at the Ronning Branch began as a "preschool prep" for shy Ella (left), now 4. "She got used to being around excited, rambunctious kids." Like her two-years-younger sister, Brie (at right).

The family (that includes dad Vitaliy and 9-year-old Karyne) checks out books weekly. "We read three or so every night," Chris says. That's put them well on their way to Siouxland Libraries 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

The free program encourages reading to children daily to ensure a solid foundation for learning in school. It takes about 20 minutes to read three picture books. Do it every night and in less than a year -- you're at 1,000!

To give your preschoolers that head start (and prizes, too), click here:

Let's meet at the library!

Sometimes, says Brienne Maner, you need a little space.

Other times, more.

Large or small, there's likely a meeting room at a Siouxland Libraries branch for area nonprofits. At no charge.

Vice president of Downtown Sioux Falls, Maner has attended public input sessions with the City of Sioux Falls and gatherings of the Center for Equality in library meeting rooms.

"I think of the library as a gathering space," Maner says. "There's low to no cost in an ideal location with lots of amenities and rooms of different sizes. Most importantly -- the library is a safe place for all walks of life to congregate."

Meeting room space is available at all Sioux Falls branches, Brandon and Colton. Click here for details.

Read to your children -- and they'll become readers

Olimpia Justice, husband Jason and daughters, Pia, 6, Luciana, 5, and Emilia, 3, have been regulars at the Downtown Library since the girls were babies.

"We're geeks," Olimpia smiles. "I was always the kid who sat with the encyclopedia and dictionary. I love reading."

As for the girls, mom can attest to the benefits of regular storytimes at home and the library. "I really didn't know how great an impact reading to them every day would have."

At 1 1/2, Pia read picture books to the cat. By 4, she was reading words.

Now, says Olimpia, a substitute teacher, "Pia's checking out books I see in 4th and 5th grade classrooms."

Not surprising when you learn how the kindergartner describes herself, "I'm a bookworm!"

Bookmobile advocacy launched civic career

It was a bookmobile that transported Cindy Heiberger from stay-at-home mom to Minnehaha County Commissioner.

Devastated, when in 2001, the Minnehaha County Commission cut funding for the library on wheels, now-Commissioner Heiberger attended a meeting to say so. "My heart was pounding."

But she lobbied so eloquently for children's access to books that she was appointed to head a committee to raise $88,375 and save the bookmobile. With five months to deadline, Heiberger took action. "I called people, went on TV and radio ..."

"Then 911 happened and the funds stopped."

At 4 p.m. deadline day, $18,000 short of goal, Bob Correa of Sioux Falls called then-Commissioner Carol Twedt with a question, "Did you raise the money?"

And an answer, "We're going to fund it."