Original article published in the Mower County Independent, Thursday, January 26, 2023. Reprinted with permission and gratitude.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
SV Library Board of Trustees meets to map out 2023 Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy Spring Valley’s public library board of trustees met Thursday evening, Jan. 19, to begin 2023 with an election of officers. The board now includes Kristina Rader, Joel Huebner, Nancy Stender, Trisha Montgomery, Pam Phillips, City Council representative Justin Mlinar, and Alex Merkel. Rader was nominated and reelected president, Stender as treasurer, and Merkel as secretary. The board bade an in-absentia farewell to member Janelle Mosher Rowe, who submitted her resignation to library director Jenny Simon the previous afternoon, and Rader and Simon announced that work would begin to help identify persons who might be engaged to become the board’s newest Spring Valley city member, someone who could choose to simply fill out the remainder of her term or remain for a full two-year term.
The board entertained the presence of two visitors–Sarah and Jason Hansen of rural Spring Valley–who attended so that Sarah could update the board on the formation of a library friends’ group to help bolster fundraising, operations and programming. She shared that she is working on details related to the group’s organization and that musings and discussions had led to the group potentially planning to host classes at the library in exchange for donations once it is formed. She is seeking more people to join the entity and make a difference for Spring Valley Public Library (SVPL) patrons and staff and stated, “Once it’s established, we have all kinds of options.”
Simon had plenty of good news for the board’s consideration, beginning with that she had applied for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Region 4 Science Kits for Public Libraries Grant that would allot the library funding to purchase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) kits to be lent out to patrons locally. She informed the board that the kits are meant to be borrowed within the SVPL’s circulation radius because of logistics of keeping track of borrowers and items lent and the higher costs of transporting them to other libraries through interlibrary loan services.
“There are 20-some STEM kits I pulled together–with books and activities–and they’ll be available by local request only, but they can be checked out like books.”
The board then authorized library staff to use funds from the Southeast Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) Foundation account to “add more large print books to our collection, as we’re finding more of our patrons are looking for large print books.”
Simon highlighted the very full calendar that will keep library patrons edutained throughout the late winter, spring and summer. “We have a pile of programs…including three Minnesota Pollution Control Agency exhibits – ‘Fix a Leak,’ ‘Save Your Food,’ and ‘Climate Change in Minnesota.’ Storytime is still happening, and we’ll be part of the Minnesota author tour this spring; we have to pick a date or time and see who we can get. I want to get William Kent Kruger,” she said, adding, “We will have lots of really good things coming to the library. We have a program about a snake for the summer reading program. We have a program with Brandon Scheevel on Monday, Feb. 13 at 5:30. We’re not endorsing Brandon Scheevel, but he’s just bringing his talents in. We’ll have programs about leaving a legacy, how to set up charitable giving, and we’re going to be working on booking more life skills and interests programs. There are lots of really good things that are coming, lots of really good programs.”
Old business on the agenda encompassed the director reporting that the State library construction grant for which she had applied is “on hold” and awaiting funding approval in the State legislature, leaving libraries across the state that depend upon the monies for accessibility and building repairs with uncertainty as to when they will be able to complete their projects. While it may be unrelated, SVPL’s structure has long needed repair to its exterior because the material that was used to “stucco” the library upon its renovation from the SuperValu grocery store in 2002 to the public center it is today is no longer available and has suffered weathering and other damage. Locating a contractor who could make the necessary repairs has taken well over two years, and Simon remarked that the building will eventually have its exterior repaired and painted as planned.
Indoors, she’s pleased to “have heat in the fireside room again…we like to make sure that it’s warm for programs… we supposedly need a new thermostat to heat and cool it,” but finding that new thermostat was difficult, apparently due to supply chain issues. Additionally, she pointed out to the board the new young adult section furniture stacked along the wall behind her, explaining that it is courtesy of the Osterud-Winter Trust Foundation and meant to replace the existing futon and high-top table and barstools that stand in that section. SVPL has been the beneficiary of so very many generous donations within the past months, as Simon and the board observed. Simon read the list of donations, memorials and community helpers that have sustained the library’s operations, citing appreciation to Kristina Rader for her donation to the SELCO Foundation through employer giving at Think Bank; to JoEllen Isenberg, Cliff and Ruth Franke, Jerry and Karen Cleveland.
Anonymous “in loving memory of Hope Gross, who loved to read but died too young,” Larry and Mary Grems, VFW Post 4114 and Auxiliary, Wayne Isenberg, and the sons of Annette and Buster Johnson for their monetary gifts to the library through the SELCO Foundation, and to those who donated during Give to the Max Day 2022 – Gene and Jeanette Ramaker and Trisha Montgomery for their donations to the SELCO Foundation. Also, to the SELCO Foundation came gifts from the Osterud-Winter Foundation for young adult section furniture; Tara Breitbarth and Between the Pines Design from proceeds raised during the T-shirt fundraiser for the library; and Lemon Drop Photography and Alyx Koster.
Simon expressed the library’s appreciation to the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club for its SELCO Foundation picnic table contribution, and she went on to cite that the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, Brave Community Theatre and the Christmas on Historic Broadway committee had given SVPL funds raised through Supper with Santa and the wreath auction held during the annual Christmas on Historic Broadway celebration at the beginning of December. “We thank them for choosing us for that,” she pointed out.
Furthermore, Lyle Kruegel, the Fillmore Township Board, Brad and Ann Ihrke, Sue Kolling, Lee and Carol Himle, and Linda Niemeyer all gave monetary donations to the library, as did the Osterud-Winter Foundation through its bi-annual donation. Joe and Rita Bezdicek gave a memorial honoring Herb Gross, brother of Stu Gross. She concluded by thanking John Simon for his help removing snow and ice from the library’s sidewalks, doing plumbing, and heaving furniture around the library, and sharing gratitude for Gene Ramaker’s willingness to vacuum the library, and lastly, expressed gratitude as noted in the agenda, “to the many patrons who remembered us this holiday season with treats, cards and more…”
The SVPL Board of Trustees meets the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the library’s large meeting room just off the main entrance. The public is welcome to attend meetings. The library’s hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed Saturdays at present. For more information, log onto the Library’s website at https://springvalley.lib.mn.us, or call 507-346-2100.
Courtesy of the Mower County Independent, 135 E Main St. LeRoy, MN 55951, (507)-324-5325