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National Library Week Highlights SD Libraries' New Services

Dozens of South Dakota libraries are holding events to celebrate National Library Week. (iStockphoto)
Dozens of South Dakota libraries are holding events to celebrate National Library Week. (iStockphoto)
April 13, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - It's National Library Week and libraries across South Dakota are celebrating in several ways, including forgiving fines for overdue books.

South Dakota is home to about 115 libraries, many of which now are providing a lot more services than loaning books. State Librarian Daria Bossman said state and federal investments help the majority of local libraries offer e-books, technology classes and even materials for people who are learning English as a second language. For immigrants and low-income residents, Bossman said, libraries can be a great equalizer.

"One of the most rewarding things I ever saw: a Hispanic mother sitting down having her little child read to her a children's book," Bossman said, "and it was obvious that the mother was learning English while the child was reading to her."

Many state libraries also are holding events for National Library Week. In Custer County, the library is working with the local high school to help students create masks for their masquerade-themed prom.

In addition to offering free public access to books and computers, Bossman said libraries also provide economic benefits for local communities. She pointed to the South Dakota state library website, which has a return-on-investment calculator.

"For every $1 that's invested in a public library, the community gets back $4.50," she said. "Of course, individually, if you use the library a lot, your personal ROI could be much higher."

Nationally, the theme of this year's Library Week is "Libraries Transform," to showcase how local branches are delivering new services for small businesses and new Americans.

The South Dakota Library ROI calculator is online at library.sd.gov.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD