Stories from Siouxland Libraries



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."

Sharks at Siouxland Libraries!

Jen Rothenbuehler and sons Micah, 7, and Ryker, 4, call the Brandon library their home branch. "The boys each have a library card and they check out their own books, she says. By actual count, 21 items (books CDs, toys) at their last visit!

The three are also regulars at Brandon's 7 p.m. Thursdays Family Storytime.

Stories and books have expanded Micah's interest in sharks. A quick cruise through Siouxland Libraries' catalog reveals nearly 300 books (kids through adults) featuring the dorsal-finned denizens of the deep.

That should keep Micah learning for years!

Libraries are for learning

Jack Knutson's Granny gives Siouxland Libraries' Prairie West Branch five stars. "It's quiet, safe, up-to-date and the staff -- oh my word! -- they're so patient, so kind!" While that matters to every customer, it's especially important to the family of 14-year-old Jack, who is non-verbal. Homeschooled, with Granny as teacher, Prairie West is his classroom three days or so each week.

He communicates through a speech-generating tablet device. When he needs help from staff, Granny insists that jack do the asking. He's learning with the library's "educational and entertaining" computer programs. he's becoming comfortable around strangers.

Prairie West is an ideal classroom for Jack, says his proud Granny. "He's learning life, academic and social skills here."

Home away from home

New to town?

Head directly to a Siouxland Libraries branch, advises Doris Graeber. After moving from Aberdeen to Sioux Falls in 2017, "The Caille Branch was my refuge."

It was, she says, "my home away from home. The people there are wonderful. They made me feel part of the community."

A longtime fan of public libraries, Graeber credits her parents for instilling a love of reading. "There were always books at home and all kinds of choices to be made at the library."

And staff -- including branch librarian Carin Schleicher -- are ready to help customers discover new favorite reads. "The staff at Caille were immediate friends," she says. "They always go above and beyond the call of duty."

That's true at every Siouxland Libraries branch!

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' ever-growing population.

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