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Mission & History of SDLA
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The SD Library Association strives to promote library service of the highest quality for present and potential SD library users; to provide opportunities for professional involvement of all persons engaged in any phase of librarianship within the state; and to further the professional development of SD librarians, trustees, and library employees. SDLA is a chapter of the American Library Association and is a state member of the Mountain Plains Library Association.

Mission Statement

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.


The South Dakota Library Association began as a sponsored section of the South Dakota Federated Women’s Club (SDFWC) in 1904. SDLA 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, v.33 no. 2 Apr.-June 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 six section chairs and nine Offices: President, Vice President/President Elect, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Past President, ALA Councilor, MPLA Representative, Book Marks editor and Historian. 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, Bookmarks 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 the North Dakota Library Association (NDLA) and the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA). SDLA has held a convention almost every year since 1904, with the exception of 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.

Taken from the SDLA archives at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion

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