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Northwest Salmon




Ewalt is ‘New Librarian of the Year’

by Amanda Fanger

Teri Ewalt believes everything she does as head librarian at the Webster Public Library is just part of the job. She didn’t realize until about a month ago that so many think all the little extra things she does are special. At the South Dakota Library Association’s annual conference Sept. 29, Ewalt was surprised with an award for her service to the community. That’s where she was named the 2016 New Librarian of the Year.

“It’s very humbling. I broke down and cried,” she said last week when talking about receiving the award. “You just do your job and hope it’s making a difference, but until you’re recognized at a state level like this, you don’t realize the impact you are having. It was really overwhelming.”

The New Librarian of the Year Award was created in 1983 to recognize beginning librarians who are making an impact on the quality and role of library service. Candidates for this award have ten years or less service in the state.

Ewalt began working as an assistant librarian in Webster in March 2013. She took over the library as director a little over a year later.

Since she’s been at the library, the facility has undergone a remodel – complete with new furniture, new carpet and new paint – an expanded computer lab has been brought in and she has applied for grants to assist the library financially as well as has started a summer reading program.

But a true example of how Ewalt goes above and beyond is in her act of delivering books to shut-ins within the community.

“To me, it’s a small thing. But to them, it’s much greater,” Ewalt said. “To me, it’s a service, not a burden.”

A couple of the patrons she does this for gave quotes for the award application.

Erma Knutson’s quote reads, “I can’t say enough wonderful things about Teri. I am quite homebound, but I still like to read. Reading is my greatest enjoyment. Teri will call when new books come in that she knows I would enjoy. She makes countless visits to my home to bring me books. Her visits make my day and she is always eager to help me in any way with books.”

And Alice Simonsen’s quote was this: “Teri delivers books for me and is never too busy to talk to me about books. She checks in with me to see if I am ready for new books. I really appreciate what she does for me. When large print books are available, Teri makes sure I get to read those. Without Teri doing this for me, I wouldn’t be able to read books from the library.”

There was a quote from parent Robyn Dorsett in regards to the Reading Program: “I enjoy watching the children interact with Teri at the library. Teri has a kind, loving way of discipline which keeps the children coming back day after day. I was one of the chaperones for the Summer Reading program field trip and the children had a wonderful time because it was so well organized and planned out by Teri.”

Ewalt is a Roslyn High School graduate who grew up on a farm between the communities of Roslyn and Grenville. She pursued her associate degree from Northern State and is now a certified state librarian after attending three years of Library Institute; she has one more year to go.

“I just love it here. I’m always looking to improve, to expand and to make a difference,” she said. “There’s so many things I want to accomplish and there’s just not enough time.”

Ewalt said that a big part of the Webster library’s success is due to her assistant Mona Youell and the support of the library board.

“I feel I’m here to serve the public, serve my patrons. I always want to improve,” she said. “I was humbled. It meant a lot to me. You think you just do your job and do the best to your ability. But this, it makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”

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