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Alumni Help Start New Library Program in South Dakota

June 16, 2017

Siouxland librarians have played key roles in bringing a master of library science degree program to the five-state area.

The School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University will open classes in the fall on Augustana University campus in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Helping to expedite the process were Daria Bossman, state librarian for the South Dakota State Library, South Dakota Department of Education; Jodi Flick, director of Siouxland Libraries; and Ann Smith, curriculum director for the South Dakota Department of Education. All received master’s degrees from Emporia State’s former program in Sioux City, Iowa.

The 36 credit-hour program will include online specialized classes and face-to-face core courses with Emporia State faculty, who will fly in for several weekend sessions. Students may add concentration in archive studies, informatics, youth services or leadership and administration during the first two semesters. 

The program, approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents, is expected to draw students from South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Bossman said South Dakota has no master’s programs for librarians and less than a handful are offered at private colleges in neighboring states. 

“There’s a need,” Bossman said, “and there’ll be a greater need in the next decade as a generation of librarians retire.”

SLIM Dean Dr. Wooseob Jeong said the South Dakota plan evolved quickly after a 25-year reunion of alumni of the Sioux City cohort in 2016.

Alumni had invited Jeong to attend, and conversation gravitated toward need for a master’s program in the area. He discussed it further with seven Sioux City program alumni during the South Dakota Library Association convention.

“It sounded to me like he was already thinking about it,” Bossman said, recalling the conversations.

Within four months, arrangements had been made to open enrollment for fall semester. 

Bossman said Emporia State’s Sioux City program had provided her a wonderful experience, using a philosophy that was decades ahead of its time.

“As a graduate, I can say that this is a quality program. I think Emporia has a unique perspective,” she said, saying the university emphasizes assessing needs of the community and its people. “Community engagement so permeated all of our courses. We talk a lot nowadays about assessment, yet those of us who went through in the 1990s were getting that level of perspective.”

Fick anticipates the program will provide a vital educational opportunity and benefit the area, too.

“Often, if (students) go off to schools in another state, they don’t come back,” Fick said. “I think the advantage of having the Emporia State program right here in Sioux Falls is huge for the Siouxland Libraries because we are growing our own. It helps us keep the quality here.”

Jeong said he was pleased and honored that Emporia State could help serve the needs of South Dakota and surrounding states.

“I believe it’s a win-win situation in a great cause,” Jeong said. “I emphasize without the help of the SLIM alumni there and also the community support, it would not happen easily.” 

Emporia State is the only Kansas school accredited by the American Library Association and is ranked as a top-tier regional university by U.S. News & World Report. It operates SLIM programs in Overland Park, Kansas; Portland, Salt Lake City and Denver, and also offers master’s and doctoral programs in Emporia. 

Career options extend across public and school libraries as well as medical, legal, government and corporate worlds. 

More information is available at https://www.emporia.edu/slim/regionallocations/sioux-falls-sd

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