Stephanie Miller-Davis honored with reading party
Jones County Elementary Library’s reading celebration event, Stephanie Miller-Davis Day, recognized and honored a long-time supporter of children’s library services in Murdo on Thursday, April 13. Miller-Davis, a published author from Sioux Falls who grew up in Murdo, passed away after a short battle with cancer. In 1995, Miller-Davis expressed to then-librarian Carmen Miller her desire to provide for Jones County Elementary School students the kinds of library materials she herself had always longed for.
Over the years, Miller-Davis’s generosity enabled the library to purchase previously unaffordable hardcover copies of the newest Newbery and Caldecott winners. For a number of years, her donations meant the library could purchase books so students could participate in the annual Prairie Pasque Book Award contest. She often involved her own young daughters in her library collection development efforts, having them personally select for Murdo students titles they’d enjoyed reading themselves. When she learned that bookshelves in the elementary library were so tall that students had to stand on stools to browse, she and her husband, Dr. John Davis, arranged for the donation of shelves by a Sioux Falls bookstore scheduled to close. The two of them deconstructed the shelves in the still-open-for-business store, hauled them through Empire Mall, delivered them to Murdo, and set them up in the library where they remain to this day.
Because the library would not be what it is today without Miller-Davis’s support, current librarian Tammy Van Dam arranged the memorial recognition as an annual occurrence. The Murdo City Council also officially proclaimed the reading celebration as Stephanie Miller-Davis Day. The subsequent “reading party” featured students reading aloud to chosen listeners and costumed school staff members lip-synching a library-theme tune.
In her memory, a shadow box containing her picture, the cover of one of her favorite Dr. Seuss books, and a copy of the words to a song about reading—another favorite, is permanently displayed in the elementary library.