Interview: South Dakota State Library

Daria Bossman, State Librarian, South Dakota State Library

Daria Bossman, State Librarian, South Dakota State Library

IMLS staff interviewed state librarians to discuss how their new five-year plans for LSTA Grants to States funds (2013-2017) differ from their past plans (2008-2012), and how they see the needs of library users in their states changing and evolving. This post is part of a series and features IMLS Senior Library Program Officer Michele Farrell interviewing State Librarian Daria Bossman. Read more about the South Dakota State Library’s priorities in IMLS’ state profile for South Dakota.


Michele: What were the three most important community needs you sought to address through library services between 2008 and 2012?

Daria: The three needs were stronger libraries, collections that support the mission of the libraries, and access for everyone through collaboration. We use a lot of our Grants to States LSTA funding to buy databases that are available to everyone throughout the state, and that enhances information literacy for our students as well as our citizens. We’ve used the LSTA funding to support interlibrary loan functions, and we’ve also used funds for the Braille and Talking Book section of our state library.


Michele: How did the evaluation of the programs and initiatives developed over the 2008-2012 cycle affect your state plans for the 2013-2017 cycle?

Daria: I think it confirmed that we were on the right road and we needed to continue many of those activities, such as strengthening libraries’ programming, training librarians, and purchasing the statewide databases. We really haven’t seen a dip in funding among our public libraries like we have in the schools, and I think it’s because we’ve had over five solid years of showing the value of the local library through our statewide databases, interlibrary loan, and the training that we’ve offered our librarians. It’s made a huge impact on a lot of small, rural public libraries in South Dakota.

Participants in a workshop talking to each other.

The state library supported South Dakota public libraries’ efforts to provide programs for children and young adults. Jump Start workshops were held in five locations in February to promote summer reading program planning, and 95 librarians attended statewide.

Michele: What are the three most important community needs your plan for library services will address in the next five years?

Daria: We’re discovering that there are still a lot of technology needs out there, in terms of libraries that don’t have an automated system or may have a small in-house system, but really need to be connected to the entire state. Connected systems will play a critical role in stepping up interlibrary loan to a different level. We’ll definitely use the LSTA funds to continue to enhance our database access, because that reaches citizens to the four corners of the state.

Training is also huge. The School Library Boot Camp is an example of the hunger among our school librarians. We planned for twelve participants for our first Boot Camp in 2012, and we had 36. A few school technologists who participated were so enthralled with the instruction around 21st century information literacy and learning commons, that they were ready to become elementary school librarians and pursue undergraduate certification. To me, that’s a real high; when you can get people so excited about learning that they’re not just pursuing education because they have to, it’s something that they really are passionate about.

A woman at a training event looks at children's books.

The state library offered a variety of continuing education and professional development opportunities to library staff throughout South Dakota. The School Library Boot Camp for teachers and school librarians is a four-day workshop organized around Common Core standards in collaboration with the University of South Dakota.

Then we provide a lot of conference training to get the word out about our databases. We’re getting to the place where we’re not having to pedal our wares, but other groups are coming to us to have us speak at their conferences. When we say we want to train you and show you our databases, it’s always that great little hook that gets people together and talking about other things. In the end, it’s people helping people, but the databases gives them a reason to work together and meet together.

Of course, we want to serve our disabled population through the Braille and Talking Book area, and that also serves the schools that have students with those specific needs.

We really want to make connections between the public library and the school library. We have Jump Start, which is training for the Collaborative Summer Library Program, and we’ve begun having the public librarians invite their school librarian to attend with them. We are also encouraging public libraries to work with their local school districts to strengthen year-round reading. Last year, the Department of Education, of which the State Library is a division, launched ReadSD!, a statewide initiative to encourage all citizens and particularly students to commit to read 20 minutes a day. Numbers are still coming in, but the initiative has been very successful and continues to grow. We see this as a win/win for local school districts and the communities’ public libraries, but especially for increasing student achievement and reading levels.

Posted in Accessibility, Afterschool/Out-of-School, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies, Information Infrastructure/Systems/Workflows, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy) | Leave a comment

“Growing” Up at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

By Melissa Heintz
Public Affairs Specialist, IMLS

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was one of 10 winners of the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums that are serving their communities in exceptional ways. Community member Chidi Duke traveled with Brooklyn Botanic Garden President Scot Medbury to Washington D.C.  this past May to accept the award.

Chidi Duke was only 11 years old when he first arrived at The Children’s Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Tending to his own plot in the garden brought a sense of responsibility to his life.  He started at the garden through Project Green Reach, a science enrichment program led by BBG in his Brooklyn elementary school. His teacher recommended him for the Children’s Garden program, where Chidi became captivated with the plant world. His role in the Children’s Garden grew progressively, and eventually he became a leader and mentor to younger participants. He enrolled in the Brooklyn Academy of Science and Environment (BASE), the public high school co-founded by Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park Alliance with the Department of Education, and is now a student of environmental law at The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He continues to be a part of BBG as an instructor with the Garden Apprentice Program for teens.

Do you know of a museum or library that has made a difference? Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 National Medal. Nomination Forms must be mailed and postmarked by October 15, 2014.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Education Support, Environment and Energy, Health, National Medal for Museum and Library Service | Leave a comment

Poets on Poets: Louis Lafair

Ed note: This is a cross-post from the AYAW Blog.  You can find the original blog post here

Photo of Louis Lafair

Inaugural National Student Poet and Northeast Representative, Claire Lee, returns to the AYAW blog to interview the 2013 Class of National Student Poets for her “Poets on Poets” series.

This week’s interview is with National Student Poet and Southwast Representative, Louis Lafair!

Claire Lee: Hey Louis! How’s your summer been? What have you been up to this summer, in terms of NSPP summer events?

Louis Lafair: Hi Claire! I’ve had a great summer! It’s been a nice transitional period between high school and college, a chance to hang out with friends before we head in different directions, and an awesome way to wrap up my NSPP year. It’s been full of poetry—I actually just released a website called that compiles all sorts of “new ways to experience poetry in the 21st century.” Coinciding with the site’s launch, I did a webinar with National Writing Project, along with Lisa New, Jeremy Dean, and Sarah Kay! And I recently returned from two workshops in Arizona.

CL: Wow, that sounds like a lot of cool things going on this summer! Speaking of which, what were some of the major NSPP events you participated in? Which was your favorite, and why?

LL: One of the many amazing elements of the program is the mix of local and national events. On the local level, we got to design our own service projects, reaching communities close to home. (I loved, for instance, speaking at the Texas Council for Teachers of English and Language Arts, where I was able to share how much teachers have meant to me on my own journey.) On top of that, we got to participate in events like the National Book Festival in D.C. and the Poets Forum in NYC, becoming part of a national poetry-loving and poetry-spreading community. Each event was so special in its own way, but I’ll go ahead and talk about the Aspen Ideas Festival, our last national event (in June). Along with Todd Breyfogle, Damian Woetzel, and some incredible slam poets from Young Chicago Authors, we read texts by a range of individuals (from Aristotle to Adichie to MLK) and participated in a series of seminars discussing what it means to be poets, what it means to be humans, and what our roles are as members of society. The conversations were fascinating, and in many ways were the perfect culmination of all of our events, workshops, and service projects up to that point. We delved into “the danger of a single story,” and into how part of poetry’s beauty is its ability to tell so many stories from so many different perspectives, helping people pause and consider the complex, varied nature of the stories of everyone they pass by on a given day.

CL: What was the highlight of your year as a National Student Poet?

LL: The highlight was definitely the people. Everyone from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers has been so supportive throughout the journey. Feels almost as though we’re one large family (can’t wait for the next class of poets to join!). And of course, Sojourner, Michaela, Nathan, and Aline are absolutely amazing—I love them all. Rarely have I seen such strong friendships establish so quickly from such a distance… But we’ve managed to keep our year-long conversations going from five corners of the country. I’m so lucky to know each of them.

CL: What was one way in which your year as a National Student Poet changed you? In other words, what was the biggest takeaway for you?

LL: At the beginning of the year, I spent a lot of time wondering how to reach as many people as possible, which this program definitely helps do with a poet from each region. I’ve also come to terms with the fact, though, that it’s impossible to reach everyone. I’ve realized that what matters is reaching individuals. If, over the course of the past year, I’ve helped at least one person fall in love with poetry, then I can call the year a success. That mindset has made me look at poetry itself differently. A given poem isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but hopefully each poem I write will mean a lot to at least one person out there who needs it, and that’s all that matters.

CL: That can definitely be a challenge, and speaking of challenges—what was the biggest challenge for you this year?

LL: Managing time was somewhat challenging (especially during April, National Poetry Month) since I wanted to do as much as possible, but also had to balance between school and other obligations. Then again, I like being busy, so the limited time was a nice challenge.

CL: If you could go back and change or do-over one thing about your year as a National Student Poet, what would it be and why?

LL: I don’t know if I would change anything. It was such an incredible experience. I like to think that it’s not actually over—I’m looking forward to seeing all of the ways poetry stays in my life in the years to come.

CL: Last, but not least—it’s summer! What are you currently reading? Do you have any fun summer recommendation books?

LL: I recently finished My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. I’m currently reading No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay. And I also just started S., a cool, metafictional book conceived by J.J. Abrams and written by Doug Dorst. (Check that one out!)

CL: Hmm, any last thoughts you want to share?

LL: Life takes you on crazy journeys. (I never expected a poetry submission would lead to all of this. Any high school student should definitely submit to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. You never know what will happen!) Ultimately, though, it’s the people that are the most important element of any journey, and that have made this one so special. I’d love to take a moment to thank them—fellow poets, partners, supporters, family members—one more time.


The President’s Committee on the Arts and the HumanitiesInstitute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partner to present the National Students Poets Program, the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Each year, five National Student Poets are selected through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for a year of service as poetry ambassadors, each representing a different region of the country.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Cultural Heritage/Sustainability, Education Support, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Meet the National Student Poets | Leave a comment