A library is food for thought

Librarian Alison Kattelmann … “More than just a library – a community center.”

Special to The Pioneer Review

Two roads open up in my "working" vacations and I take the one less traveled by - which has always made all the difference. I am, you see, a traditionalist when it comes to vacations. I bring a few books I've been meaning to read for years, but, as it turns out, never get time to read them.

I wander into libraries and used book stores … the ones less traveled are more helpful and friendly; but for me, and Philip, the journey remains unfinished.

As a writer, I am against censorship; I want to get people reading - especially the young. Words by themselves don't have power. It's the symbolism we invest in them that gives words meaning. That's why libraries are so important, again, for the young whose minds are being conditioned by an exploding electronic media.

Cable television, with its hundreds of channels, makes it too easy to just drop out and never have the need to read again. We have a tough job to keep options open for our children so they can develop into useful, well-rounded citizens. And, yes, newspapers share in this responsibility. There is more to life than visual entertainment; there really IS joy in reading.

You can't regulate stupidity. It's a free country, but governments can facilitate opportunity through good schools and libraries. Haakon County certainly has great schools that offer much more than those in larger cities. The new librarian, Alison Kattelmann, 25, is a bright, capable administrator eager to share her enthusiasm with a supportive community. But she will have to get the attention of teenagers, which will not be easy given all the distractions in their lives. It will take unusual motivation - some say we must "make it fun" to get young folks to read.

Enter "Captain Underpants", a series of books for kids by Dav Pilkey (a man who undoubtedly performed armpit farts in grade school), who thinks these books will be the gateway, especially for the reluctant boy reader, to go on to stuff like "Harry Potter" or even Charles Dickens. (I'm someone who can barely say the word "fart" without blushing.) I don't think the Haakon County Library has these yet. Denise Hamilton reads them to her class and now asks librarians to consider these to create an interest in reading. It seems to be working.

Alison Kattelmann is a native of the Brookings, SD, area; an English major and graduate of the University of Denver; currently living in Wall, SD. Philip is lucky to have such a talented librarian at this critical time in the library's history. She has put new programs into place and is knowledgeable in methods to attract outside funding. She said, "This is more than just a library - but a community center and it's my hope that this one will evolve into a better, more complete resource."

Diane Fitch has been coming to the library since age six. She now serves as president of the Friends of the Haakon County Public Library. She said, "Children get an opportunity to dream and there's a world of this opportunity at a library."

Philip has everything needed: good churches - food for the soul; a library that deals in food for the mind; and Corky's provides food for the body. Who could want for more??