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South Dakota Library Association (SDLA)

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Phone: 605-658-3363


Hours: The Reading Room is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. -  4:00 p.m. Appointments are strongly encouraged and staff are available to meet with you either in-person or virtually, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Holidays and other exceptions.

Location: Room 321, I.D. Weeks Library


Collection Summary

Title South Dakota Library Association (SDLA)
Span Dates 1905-1990
Bulk Dates (bulk dates, 1948-1990)
Quantity 15 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are located in Boxes 7, 8, and 9.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.

 “The South Dakota Library Association (SDLA) is a statewide organization representing libraries, library employees, library trustees, and library supporters. SDLA provides leadership and educational opportunities, and supports its members in meeting the challenges of providing quality library service to all South Dakotans.” (South Dakota Library Association 2008).

SDLA began as a sponsored section of the South Dakota Federated Women’s Club (SDFWC) in 1904.  This association was sponsored by the SDFWC for two years and then by the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) for eleven years.  There is some debate on the official beginnings of SDLA because of its association with these groups, but SDLA’s first official meeting was held in Sioux Falls on December 27, 1906.  Because of SDLA’s association with the SDFWC, it wasn’t until approximately 1905 that a change in the constitution admitted men to the membership.  Early members of SDLA were Julie Concannon, Anna M. Price, Helen E. Miner, William H. Powers, Doane Robinson, Alberta Caillie, Mabel Richardson, Alice Hughes, and Elva Schmidt. 

On September 5 and 6, 1917 SDLA held it’s first meeting separate from SDEA in Pierre, becoming an independent organization.  By-laws were added to the Constitution in 1919.  At the beginning, membership dues were 50 cents a year.  The cost for membership rose to one dollar in 1919 and stayed there for thirty-seven years until a graduating scale based on salary was introduced.

SDLA was created to promote libraries within the state and provide library service for the populace.  Through the years, it has been a force in library legislation and the creation of new libraries in South Dakota.  At the 1904 meeting, SDLA expressed the goal to form “a state library commission or state organizer and urging that the appointment of librarians be kept free of political consideration.” (South Dakota Library Bulletin 1947)  To achieve that goal, SDLA helped create the State Library Commission in 1913.  This organization brought about the State Library in Pierre and instituted a traveling library that brought library services to rural areas.  Headed by Lilly M. E. Barreson, the first field librarian, the traveling library also helped small towns establish their own libraries.  In more recent years, SDLA has worked to keep the State Library operating when State budget cuts threatened to close it.

SDLA is directed by an Executive Board made up of the five section chairs and the following officers: President, Vice-President/President-Elect, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Past President, ALA Councilor, MPLA Representative, Book Marks Editor, and Federal Relations Coordinator.  In 2005, the Treasurer was changed to Executive Secretary/Treasurer.  SDLA has many committees that carry out its work, as well as sections that act as advocates for issues from the different types of libraries in South Dakota.

SDLA has published its own newsletter since 1949.  The newsletter has gone through several format and name changes during that time.  The publication began as the News, then became the Catalyst in December 1971 and finally assumed the name, Book Marks in 1976.  The newsletter contains library news articles, officer reports, job announcements, and special columns.

SDLA holds an annual conference in various South Dakota cities.  Occasionally, the conference is held in conjunction with other organizations, such as the North Dakota Library Association (NDLA), the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA), and the Midcontinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MCMLA).  SDLA has held a convention almost every year since 1904, except for 1945, when wartime restrictions caused its cancellation.  At each convention, the organization holds a general meeting that presents officer, committee, and section reports.  Section and executive board meetings, speakers, presentations, and the annual awards banquet also take place at the annual convention.

SDLA became a chapter of the American Library Association in 1921, and it is a state member of the regional Mountain Plains Library Association.

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