Library project brought communities together

On a quiet Wednesday afternoon, librarian Amy Doyle has a trace of a smile as she looks over the newly refurbished Colman Library.

“It was quite a project,” Doyle said, explaining that it all started at the end of May as the library got ready for a paint job and new carpet.

Anyone who has ever tried this at home knows that if a room is going to be painted, furniture can just be covered up. For the installation of new carpet, though, everything has to move out.

“The first step was to move all 6,000 items to the community center down the hall,” Doyle said. “So we pulled everything out of here. We had a lot of great help to do that.”

The library is a joint effort of the city and the county. The building is owned by the city of Colman while Moody County operates the library. Colman paid for the paint and new carpet with Colman’s Kari Wittrock doing the painting.

The city’s community center is a hub for local gatherings. For all of June and part of July it served as a library.

Flandreau Librarian Erica Rorvik brought over two large wheeled carts to help with the move.

“We must have made 25 to 30 trips back and forth with those things loaded with books,” Doyle said. “We had all but one of their folding tables set up and every one of them was covered with three or four rows of books.”

Once the books were out of the library, the project literally went to pieces.

As they tried to maneuver the decades-old shelves out the door, it became apparent that they had been put together inside the library. There was no way to get them through the door.

“As we were taking it apart, it basically disintegrated,” Doyle said.
It’s hard to imagine a library without shelves. Rorvik put the word out to other South Dakota libraries: Did anyone have any extra shelving? She came back with good news and bad news.

The good news was that there were used metal shelves available.

The bad news was that they were 267 miles away in Kadoka.

Moody County Commissioner Tom Ehrich drove his truck to Kadoka with courthouse maintenance man Lloyd Gundvaldson along to help. Bob Landis let the county use one of his trailers at no charge.

Commission assistant Marty Skroch volunteered to help, figuring it would take an afternoon to get things straightened out. He worked in Colman for three days. Skroch credits Gundvaldson and county maintenance man Scott Lewis for all their work tearing out old shelves and cleaning and putting together the new metal shelves.

“It wouldn’t have gotten done without their help,” Skroch said. “It was real good teamwork between the county and the city of Colman.”

With the library put back together, it was time to raise some money.

“Every year we have a book sale during Colman’s Loony Days in August,” Doyle said. “This year our focus was to get money to buy chairs so people would actually have a place to come and sit and read at the library.”

Doyle estimated that 122 people came through the library during Loony Days. They bought enough books for the library to buy four comfortable chairs.

With a place for people to sit, the library has started its first book club. Five people have signed up to read and discuss “The Orphan Train.”

“I’m not sure everybody in Moody County knows Colman has a library,” Doyle said. “I know I didn’t until I saw an ad in the paper for the job.”

The library is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to 6,000 titles of books and DVDs, the library offers the use of free Wi-Fi, two computers and a printer. There’s no charge for Moody County residents to check out books.

“We have a pretty extensive children’s section that we’ve spent a lot of time on,” Doyle said. “We’ve been focusing on it, buying more children’s books, to get the kids in here, especially during the summer to give them something to do.”

With the library’s big project behind her, Doyle is moving on. The county is advertising for her replacement.

Doyle has mixed feelings about leaving, but she knows that it will be a long time before the next librarian has to worry about paint, carpet or shelving.

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