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Getting To Know Our Library Director Tonya Olson-Ferrell, a native of west-central Minnesota, has been the director of the Yankton Community Library for the last year. During this time the library has continued to offer many free programs for all ages, and has made efforts to enhance service to the community by doing away with most fines and offering homework help after school. Given all that, it seemed appropriate to get to know our library’s director a little better. She came to South Dakota enrolling at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, “I was all set on Gustavus, which is in Minnesota, a very similar school, and then I got, as part of my scholarship to Augie, a trip to India. So that really solidified it for me and that was a great experience.” As far as developing an interest in librarianship, that didn’t begin until her junior year at Augie, “I did a semester in Minneapolis through the HECUA Program (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs). They do some study-abroad programs and they do some in-country programs … around a certain topic. Mine was looking at social justice through the lens of the Twin Cities.” Though there was never any single formative experience in the area of social justice for Olson-Ferrell, she says she’s always been drawn to such issues. As a youth, she went on a couple of mission trips to Jamaica, and then to India through Augustana, all in the span of about three years. Now, she believes that first-hand exposure to the poverty in those countries started her thinking about social justice here in her own country and in her education. “My grandfather was a principal in Minnesota his whole career and he always talked about, ‘There’s a lot of poverty here too.’ And ‘What can we do to help kids here?’ Not that it’s not great to help people in other countries, but there are things to look at in our own country.” Topics like these, she believes, discussed around the family dinner table while she and her sister were growing up, probably contributed to Olson-Ferrell’s personal desire to participate in the HECUA program. Through the program she got an internship with the City of St. Paul Dept. of Parks and Recreation. During that internship her boss sat her down one day and said: What do you want to do with your life? She replied: I have no idea! “I was freaking out about it. It was the typical college student getting-ready-to-be-a-senior thing. She asked me what I was interested in, and I honestly don’t even remember what I told her…, but she said, ‘I think you should look at being a librarian. Librarians are some of the most radical people I know.’ And that floored me. I had never heard anything like that. Our library growing up was pretty strict and what you think of stereotypically, and very small. So I thought, I will have to look into that,’ and just sort of filed it away.” Senior year she got in touch with Augustana’s Head Librarian Ronelle Thompson. She explained her interest and asked to shadow one of the library’s employees. Thompson replied, “We can do that, but if you’re really interested, you should work in a library. We can’t show you everything and you can’t get a really good glimpse into this — and if you want to do this — unless you’re doing it every day.” Adding, “And hey, by the way, I have a job opening.” Olson-Ferrell applied, but didn’t get the job. What she did get ecor • Home Dosed Furniture ments • Re-purpul Floral Arrange ng • Beautif Furniture Painti • Custom ita’s R alities rse–o–Nntown Yankton Pu t., Dow S es.com 219 W. 3rd w.ritaspurse-o-naliti 2 • ww 36 605-260-8 6vHERVOICEvMARCH/APRIL 2018

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