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South Dakota Library Association (SDLA) records

Identifier: MS-291

Content Description

These are the records of The South Dakota Library Association (SDLA), a statewide organization representing libraries, library employees, library trustees, and library supporters.

New materials are added to the collection on a regular basis. In order to reflect the hierarchy of the association, the processor has tried to create a structure that mirrors the organization of SDLA. Dates in the finding aid are inclusive and do not necessarily contain materials from every year within the span. Materials are described at the folder level, except for a few areas that require item description. There are nine series in the SDLA Collection: Photographs, Correspondence, Administration, Printed Materials, Subject Files, Typescripts, Audio/Visual/Films, and Ephemera.

The Photographs series contains photos taken at SDLA Conventions. These photos are of groups of people at the convention dinner and during the conference. There are also pictures of 1997-1999 award winners and keynote speakers. Many of the photos are unidentified. The color prints, black and white prints, and negatives are filed in boxes separate from each other in accordance with preventive conservation best practices for photographs.

The Correspondence series consists of letters from 1948-1998. These are primarily letters that could not be identified with any subject or areas of the collection, but have to do with the general business of SDLA. They are organized chronologically. Included in this series are letters from SDLA Presidents, Officers, Section Chairs, Committee members, and the membership, dealing with topics such as conventions, officer interaction, and committee activities. Please note that, where appropriate, correspondence has been kept with the material it is related to. Therefore, correspondence may also be held in many of the series and sub-series throughout the collection.

The Administration Series contains three sub–series, Conference and Convention, Executive Board, and Officers. The Conference and Convention section includes correspondence and reports from the conference planning committee and local arrangements committee. Also included in this sub-series are all annual officer, committee, and section reports, along with conference and convention programs and handouts. When possible, the annual reports are organized into categories of Officers, Committees, and Sections and are then arranged alphabetically in each category. Each conference year is held in one folder unless otherwise noted. The Executive Board meets three times a year, and also holds a meeting at the annual convention. Occasionally, the board also holds a pre-conference and post-conference meeting. The Executive Board sub-series includes correspondence, executive board minutes, and the strategic plan. The minutes of meetings held at conventions are filed with the appropriate year’s materials in the Conference and Convention files.

The Officers sub-series contains material from SDLA’s elected and appointed offices: President, ALA Councilor, Book Marks Editor, Federal Relations Coordinator, Historian, MPLA Representative, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-President/President-Elect. In 2005, the Executive Secretary and the Treasurer positions were combined into the Executive Secretary/Treasurer. The officer files contain correspondence, reports, and officer materials. The President files cover the tenures of presidents from 1970-2008 and are filed chronologically. Most of the Presidents files contain only correspondence, with the exception of the files of President Joseph Edelen. His materials are more extensive and include topical files from his tenure. The original order of Edelen’s files has been preserved. The Treasurer materials include six ledger books containing the accounts of SDLA. The 1906-1926 Cash Book also contains the registration rosters for the 1918-1925 Conventions, with holograph signatures of convention attendees. Materials from the Secretary include meeting minutes in several hand-written notebooks covering the years 1906-1941. The Printed Materials series contains a SDLA history and SDLA newsletters from 1949 to the present. Also included are membership lists and directories dating back to 1910. The newspaper clippings in this series cover various topics such as SDLA conventions and Intellectual Freedom issues. The clippings are organized by newspaper title. Also included in Printed Materials are the Intellectual Freedom Manual 1988, early State Library Commission Reports, and South Dakota Library Bulletins. Copies of the Changing, Changeless Bibliographies are located in this series.

The largest series in the collection is the Subject Files. This series includes sub-series for Committees, Sections, and Topical Files. For information about each individual committee and section, see the Procedural Manual, which gives a description of the duties and history of each committee and section.

Committees generally meet twice a year and report to the Executive Board at the annual conference. The president of the association appoints a committee chair. Committee materials are filed alphabetically in the Subject Files series by the committee’s current name. Former committee names are included in parenthesis. The Centennial Committees is the only exception to the alphabetical filing system. Because of the volume of its materials, they are placed at the beginning of all committee materials.

The Centennial Committee sub-series documents the Changing, Changeless, 1889-1989 project and the Centennial Committee itself, and includes 1.5 linear ft. of material. The Changing, Changeless, 1889-1989 project was a state-wide effort, supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities and South Dakota Humanities Council, plus gifts from South Dakota businesses and organizations. The project resulted in three products: three films, a traveling exhibit, and an Annotated Bibliography that was distributed to every Public and Academic Library in the State. Printed copies of the bibliography are filed in the Printed Materials series. The Centennial Committee was an ad-hoc committee that is no longer functioning. Included in this section are correspondence, minutes, and reports of the Advisory Board and Fiscal Officer, Gift and Matching correspondence, news clippings concerning the project, and correspondence about the films, exhibit and bibliography. The Public Education Program files contain materials that document the project’s travels around the state. These files are organized by town and contain correspondence and evaluation reports about the exhibition. There are also typescripts of the Bibliography, Project Leaders Manuals, and NEH Grant Proposals included in this sub-series.

The materials of the By-Laws and Procedure Committee, formerly known as the Constitution Committee, contain committee correspondence, Constitutions dating from 1919 – 1980, by laws, and constitution changes.

The Intellectual Freedom Committee files contain correspondence, censorship complaints, and printed materials on intellectual freedom topics. Also included in this sub series are drafts of the Intellectual Freedom Manual. The 1988 printed version is available in the Printed Materials.

The Professional Development Committee is responsible for giving way monetary grants for library education or travel to professional meetings. This sub-series contains committee correspondence, reports, grant applications, and evaluative reports.

The Public Relations Committee creates all press releases and selects the winners for the Awards Banquet. This sub-series contains correspondence, award nominations and winners, press releases, and reports. The nominations are organized by award, by year, and then alphabetically by the name of each nominee.

SDLA Sections have their own budgets and can create committees that report directly to the section. The Academic Library Section contains correspondence, minutes, reports, and materials from ARCL (Academic, Research and College Libraries).

The Health Sciences Libraries Section, was formed in 1984 when the South Dakota Hospital Library Association (SDHLA) and the South Dakota Council of Health Science Librarians (SDCHCL) became part of SDLA. Included in this sub-series are correspondence, minutes, and newsletters from the South Dakota Hospital Library Association before it’s affiliation with SDLA. These materials date from1980 to 1984.

The Academic Library Section and the Health Sciences Libraries Section have combined to form the Academic/Health/Special Libraries Section.

The Trustees Section was formed in 1970 and merged with Public Library Section in 1983, creating The Public Library/Trustees Section. The Public Library/Trustees Section contains correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, and Prairie Pasque Committee materials. All materials dating prior to 1983 are filed in the Trustees section.

The School Library Media Section contains correspondence and items from the School Library Media Association. The SDACT (Association for Communications and Technology) Section contains correspondence, the section constitution, and miscellaneous materials. The Support Staff Section contains correspondence and reports.

Also included in the Subject Files series are materials from the South Dakota State Library. These files contain reports from the State Library and two issues of their newsletter. Topical Files contain materials from various organizations that have connections with SDLA but do not fall under any division of SDLA such as Friends of South Dakota Libraries, South Dakota Student Library Association, and the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. Included in this sub-series are materials from two Roundtables: Junior Librarians and Public Library. Also included in this sub-series are materials from various task forces.

The Typescripts series contains copies of Edith Siegrist’s Book Marks columns and a paper by Selma Dunham on early South Dakota Libraries. Also included in this series is the 1910 report Libraries of South Dakota: A Report on their condition with tables of Statistics and SDLA History Supplements 1961-1984. These supplements were written by various people, recording the history of SDLA.

The Ephemera series includes miscellaneous invitations, award certificates, stamps from the South Dakota Library Hospital Association and Trustees section, a reading club badge, a gavel, and convention bags. The Audio/Visual/Films series includes several videotapes of programs presented at the SDLA Conference. A copy of Prairie Politicians film is also available on a professional VHS tape. It also contains 16 mm copies of the films produced for the Changing, Changeless, 1889-1989 project.


  • Creation: 1905 - 2020


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restriction. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections. Copyright is held by the South Dakota Library Association. Permission to reprint material from the papers must be obtained from that association.

Biographical / Historical

“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 web site 2020).

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.


Mission statement from the South Dakota Library Association web site (, accessed February 14, 2020).

South Dakota Library Bulletin, 33:2, (April-June 1947)


19 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 15 record cartons, and 1 oversize folder in a map case drawer)

Language of Materials



These are the records of The South Dakota Library Association (SDLA), a statewide organization representing libraries, library employees, library trustees, and library supporters.


This collection is arranged into eight series: Photographs, Correspondence, Administration, Printed Materials, Subject Files, Typescripts, Audio/Visual/, Films, and Ephemera.

Related Materials

There are VHS versions of some of the films in this collection and publications by SDLA located in other areas of the our library (University Libraries at the University of South Dakota).

South Dakota Library Association (SDLA) records
Anne Hinseth
2001, 2002, and 2005. Plus more recent updates due to frequent donations.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository