ICfL Board Library Tour

photo of Commissioners at Madison District Library

The Idaho Board of Library Commissioners visited seven libraries in southeast Idaho in April. The Board tours libraries annually, choosing a different area of the state each year. This spring’s tour included Madison District Library, Rexburg; Sugar-Salem School/Community Library, Sugar City; Valley of the Tetons District Library, Driggs and Victor branches; Victor Elementary School; and Ririe Public Library on April 21; with a tour and a regularly scheduled board meeting at Blackfoot Public Library on April 22.

 At Madison District Library, director Valerie Lloyd led a tour through the additions to the library. The Commissioners enjoyed seeing how the tongue-and-groove redwood had been repurposed into a beautiful ceiling during the remodel. They were also impressed with the children’s area and how many children attend storytime. Lloyd “introduced” the Commissioners to the book sorter, fondly named Lucy because an incident with the speedy conveyor belt reminded them of the chocolate factory scene in the “I Love Lucy” TV show.

Sugar-Salem School/Community Library serves the community as well as 400 students in grades 9-12. Director Chantelle Green pointed out the Principal’s Choice artwork on the walls of the inviting library and showed the Commissioners the “Storyland Express” bookmobile, a converted school bus now bright blue with painted clouds and flowers inside. The bus makes weekly trips in the summer, bringing Summer Reading and requested books to the people of Newdale and Plano.

In Driggs, Valley of the Tetons branch manager Susie Blair described how the numbers are up 30% district-wide since the new branch opened in December 2014. She showed the many local touches in the library: a local furniture builder built shelving on wheels and a curved circulation desk, community members painted literary characters on the walls, and 1,003 origami cranes are strung from the ceiling. The library received an American Library Association StoryCorps training grant and is in the process of creating their own recording booth.

At Victor Elementary School, Principal Jannifer Cooke greeted the Commissioners and led the tour, as librarian Kenna Kersley was working in another area that day. The library is a modular building behind the school that doubles as a music room and uses repurposed church pews. All 200 students in K-3, can check out library books, and the PTO pays a stipend so the library can open one day per week during  the summer. This year’s allotted book budget of $2,000 was doubled when the library received a Read to Me Mini-Grant of $2,000 from the Idaho Commission for Libraries. 

In Victor, Valley of the Tetons District Library director Carla Sherman pointed out the original library, which is a modular building on a full basement. They added to the east side of the building in 2003 after raising $80,000 in donations, and the labor was largely donated. Working with partners, the library created a collection of indexed historical photos of the valley, and plans to build a local history room. The Commissioners were fascinated with the 3-D printing that was taking place in the basement and impressed with staff’s enthusiasm with STEM programming and technology.

At Ririe Public Library, director Debra Andersen described how staff is re-envisioning the Summer Reading program as more of a community event rather than being solely kid-focused. They developed a Community Summer Reading Challenge with a point system and community-wide prizes (community party and fine forgiveness) for meeting certain goals. The Commissioners enjoyed the tour and all the children coming into the library. They also enjoyed looking at the Vardis Fisher collection. Andersen recently attended Commission-sponsored leadership events and is pursuing ideas gleaned from them.

At Blackfoot Public Library, director Lisa Harral, several trustees, and several staff members each led portions of the library tour. Many stayed for the Board meeting that followed. They remodeled three rooms and went from 3,200 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft. The old computer room is now a reading room and the old reading room is now the projects room. There is also a lovely bistro-style computer room with a hot beverage maker. The library is working on becoming more of a community center, with more adult programming and more outreach.
The annual tour of libraries is a highlight for the Commissioners. They enjoy getting into libraries; meeting the librarians; and seeing first-hand the range of services, facilities, and challenges in Idaho. See tour photos at flickr.com/photos/icflphotos/albums/72157665902861164.

photo of Commssioner Sara Staub

At the Board meeting in Blackfoot, where she is also a trustee, Sara Staub was honored for 15 years of dedicated service as an ICfL Commissioner
Photo courtesy of Blackfoot Public Library