Stories from Siouxland Libraries



A-plus for 'new' Caille Branch Library

Jill Rallis, sons Alex, 9, and Robby, 5, are regulars at Siouxland Libraries' newly remodeled Caille Branch.

Jill: "I've been going to Caille since it opened." (1988).

Alex: "I like it."

Jill (reflecting on changes announced before renovation began): "My family was concerned about taking away the train in the children's area ..."

Robby: "How could they even lift it?!"

Jill: "I didn't really like the carpet and paint samples. Bright is not my favorite." But when she saw the new interior, "It really works!"

Some things are much the same ...

Alex: "I like the computers ... things about the human body and jigsaw puzzles."

Robby: Nods agreement at "jigsaw puzzles."

And the staff and programs at Caille? Jill, Alex, Robby: "We love them!"

Oak View Branch: A home away from home

When he was a youngster in Sudan, Yousef Konda dreamed of coming to the United States. Years later, as a refugee from that war-torn country, he did.

From first grade through high school, language learning had been part of his curriculum. "My first language is Nubian," Konda explains. "No. 2 is Arabic and No. 3, English." Here in Sioux Falls, that led to a career as an inrerpreter and occasional translator.

In his spare time, Konda often heads to the Oak View Branch Library to study, read or watch videos. "It's comfortable, smaller, people know who you are," he says. And the staff is "very knowledgeable."

"It's easy to get help from the ladies who work here." He pauses, then smiles, "They're a good team!"

What's for dinner? Siouxland Libraries can help!

When Billie Anderson and her husband moved to Sioux Falls in 1993, "Getting a library card is pretty much the first thing we did." These days the couple visits the Downtown Library about twice a week.

Anderson checks out cookbooks to "test drive" recipes (with a splatter shield to protect the pages). If there are a number of dishes that appeal, "I buy the book."

Funny thing, though. "I didn't notice the cookbooks as much, until I started following "What's New" online (, click the yellow box) that lists the library's latest books, movies, music and more. "It's addictive!" she smiles.

Give your child a love of reading

Everyone wants the best for their children.

That's why Nic Brokenleg wanted to instill his love of books in his son Miles. Dad began with comic books. "People scoffed," he says, "but Miles learned to love reading."

As Miles' choices became more complex, Nic told him, "There's a place we can go to check out all the books we want -- for free!"

Now 12, Miles drops his jaw to reenact that mind-blowing moment: "What?!"

How much does he enjoy reading? In competition with piano, tennis, and video games, "It's my No. 1 or No. 2 hobby."

His favorite books? Those "where a story feels so cool, it's a universe you want to live in."

As for Nic: "Reading lets you experience different worlds."


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 nothing like sitting down with a book."