Stories from Siouxland Libraries




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...."


Float a penny, float a bear

Jacqueline Ericson, a third-grader at Robert Frost School, is a regular at the Downtown Library's Science Technology Engineering Math sessions (4 p.m. Tuesdays). "I like STEM stuff," she says.

Jackie created a boat of aluminum foil with confidence as the result of a similar challenge in school. While the cargo then was plastic bears, the vessels made by kids at the library carried pennies. How many did Jackis's boat float in a water-filled plastic tub? One hundred twenty copper coins! Siouxland Libraries offers a range of free programs for all ages.


Sue Carlson has a following

Sue Carlson has a following -- a group of fans she's won as a result of staffing Siouxland Libraries' Bookmobile. She covers  Baltic Elementary, Tri-Valley School (Colton, Lyon, Crooks), Valley Springs and the afterschool program at East Side Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls.

"Some locations are miles away from a library," she says. "We take books to kids who might not otherwise have that opportunity."

That outreach has made her a recognizable figure -- sometimes after a puzzled moment -- to many. "It's like running into a teacher in street clothes," she says, laughing. "Kids think teachers live in their schools." A boy she encountered in a store quickly rebounded from a double-take, "I know you! Be sure to have books on robotics and Vikings -- both Minnesota and the old ones."

During her 22 years with Siouxland Libraries, Sue's learned, "When a kid starts smiling at me like they know me, I know it's from the Bookmobile!"


The library is awesome! 

Awesome! That's Siouxland Libraries as described on a sign (above) created by a regular Oak View Branch customer. Providing awesome service is the goal of everyone at every branch! Come see for yourself.


Librarians love to help 

Librarians love to help. "That's why we're here," says Jane Huwe (right), who was at Siouxland Libraries Downtown Branch when Michiya Yoshida (left) of Saitama, Japan, returned to Sioux Falls seeking information about his longtime friend, Sam Sechser. The Sioux Falls lawyer had been vice president of the library board when they met during the Yoshida's first visit to the city in 1973.

Two subsequent trips strengthened their friendship and the two exchanged yearly holiday updates. In 2001, Yoshida's letter to Sechser was returned. After an inconclusive, decade-long online quest for information, the traveler from Japan returned to Sioux Falls.

It was Huwe who delivered the sad news in the form of Sechser's obituary. "It was my sad trip," Yoshida wrote on his return to Japan. "But I was so happy to meet you and all of your wonderful staff."


Reading to kids matters

Janelle Songstad and grandchildren

It was crushing, Janelle Songstad recalls, to hear her story-loving grandson Isaac say, "I don't like books anymore." Then, "I LOVE them!" Research shows that reading to young children (like Isaac, 6, and Jayda, 1) lays the foundation for school success.

Siouxland Libraries supports early learning through a variety of programs for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Check out all the options for all ages by clicking on the "Across Siouxland Libraries" program link on the home page.