Library Story

A Library Story: Library and Dumpsters

Jim Nyland is a teacher, counselor, tech coordinator, high school assistant principle and a JRVLS board member.

It started with a dumpster.  Well, actually, it started in a dumpster, but more on that in a minute.

My start in the world of literature was not an encouraging one.  I grew up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. I don’t recall a single book ever entering our home, with the exception of the children’s books smuggled in by Dot, a wonderful Southern woman who, with her boyfriend, rented a room upstairs at our home.  Dot secured cheaper rent by agreeing to babysit us while my parents worked and she loved to read to us aloud before tucking us in to bed.  To this day, I cannot think of Pinocchio without “hearing” it recited in my head in a gentle Georgia drawl.

While I enjoyed the library at Northrup Elementary School, there was nothing in my upbringing or back ground that would lead one to believe I would grow up to be anything other than apathetic to reading. Which brings us back to the dumpster.

I grew up terribly bored and often explored on my Schwinn banana seat bike, frantically searching for something to break the monotony.   I was a regular male child with lots of time on my hands and a limited sense of appropriate behavior or hygiene, I was attracted to the only thing that seemed even half interesting – garbage, and not just any garbage, business garbage.  The stuff stores threw out.

My future life as a flea market and yard sale picker was forged digging through the trash at all of the downtown businesses.  My room was filled with half reams of unused carbon paper, miscellaneous office supplies, and bizarre combinations of shelving, all acquired through dumpster diving.  If you came across me, feet waving in the air, half submerged, you knew I had found something really good.  Each trip I would expand my range, a dumpster at a time, until I was hitting nearly all of them.  And then, one day, I opened the lid for the first time on the dumpster behind Ekren Drug.  And my life changed.

I still have dreams about it as a grown man.  The lid slams noisily back, and there, covering the bottom of the dumpster, are boxes and boxes of books and magazines.   Ekren Drug was the closest thing to a book store in my hometown.  It had an entire wall tucked in the back covered with book shelves and every month, the proprietor would, basically, weed, pulling books and magazines that had not sold, ripping off the covers, tossing neatly packed boxes of them into their dumpster.

All free.  All for me.

The sight of them made my heart jump. I took as many as I could carry home.

I began to read.

It was a mixed bag of car and hunting magazines, dime store detective novels, racy romances, and pulp sci-fi, and I gobbled it all up.  I was intellectually ravenous. Then month after month I went back for more, and I continued to go back until, for reasons I never understood, the books simply stopped appearing.  My stash had run dry.  So I was left with a dilemma – finding this supply of books opened up my mind and made my love of reading blossom, but now my source of reading material was gone.  What to do?

Which brings me to the Pennington County Library.

I had always been well aware of the Pennington County Library.  Up until that point, I just never had had a reason to go there.  It was just a large, one story building with a decidedly 70’s look to it that I passed as I perused nearby dumpsters.   So one day, sometime after my book supply had run out and while I was feeling particularly mentally starved, I went in, and was instantly overwhelmed.  Stacks and stacks of books.  Thousands of them.  It was almost intimidating.  Just the smell made my head swirl just a bit.

I was in awe.  Over the rest of my life in Thief River Falls, the Pennington County Library was practically my second home.  I would stay there until closing, reading, and often simply walking the aisles, taking it all in.  I went on to become a librarian largely because of that place and although my path was a little unorthodox, it did teach me something about literature and the discovery of the love of reading.  How you were raised and what you read early on is nowhere near as important as getting literature into people’s hands and letting them find their love for reading.  I try very hard to follow that today as an elementary librarian, and I continue to believe the lifetime love of reading can start anywhere.

Even in a dumpster.

Adult Programming


Dan Buchanan 16x9



6:00 pm TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2016

What species come to Jamestown in the spring? How long will they stay? Is that a crow or a starling on the top my garage? How can I attract birds? What tools do I need? field guides, binoculars, spotting scopes. What plantings attract birds?  Dan will answer these questions and he will have lists from the Birding Drives Dakota website, Christmas bird counts, URLs for other sites to learn about birds, including the ND listserv. He will  have magazines that offer help to attract birds, such as Birds & Blooms.

Over the years Dan has mastered the art and science of birdwatching by watching out his kitchen window and travelling around the country looking for as many species as he can to put in his bird diary.

The library has author Jan Dunlap’s series The Bob White Birder Murder Mystery Series that feature that famous bird detective, Bob White.

Dan’s class will be held in the lower level conference room at Alfred Dickey Library, 105 3rd St. SE, Jamestown, ND, 58401

Register Here for Birding Class

Adult Programming

November Adult Programs at the Library


                                      TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2015 , 6 pm                                     LEARN 2 EMAIL JUSTIN BATZ

Justin Batz16 x 9

The second adult program of the Modern Computing Series takes place on November 17th. Justin Batz will walk those who sign up through the process of establishing their very first email accounts and show them the basics of using Email. For the first time in the Modern Computing Series, Justin will deviate from providing content mainly for the auditory learner and provide some hands-on time for those who are visual or must do it themselves. The expectation for this class is that if you do not currently have an email before attending you will when the Adult Program is over and will be able to access your email, add contacts and reply to those who have emailed you.

Modern Computing classes are held at the Stutsman County Library, 910 5th St. SE. Park behind the library and enter through the south door.

Adult Programming, Library

Read Local at the University of Jamestown, October 20, 2015



The University of Jamestown hosted a Read Local event in the Sheldon-Unruh lobby at the University of Jamestown on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:00 pm.  Read Local authors Bruce Berg, Keith Norman, Bill Kennedy, Laurel Woiwode, and Nancy Kuykendall were joined by UJ professors Larry Woiwode and Glauco Ortolano and read from published work and work in progress. The readings ranged from poetry, memoirs, local history and adult novels.

Read Local is an initiative that focus’s attention on local authors, books, literacy  in the community, and reinforces the importance of learning among all age groups.

Thanks to the English Deprtment Chair, David Godfrey, Dr. Badal’s assistant, Erin Klein and the rest of the UJ staff that helped make the evening rewarding to the authors and the fans of literature and learning that attended.

More readings will be scheduled in the spring.

Glauco Ortolano reads from his collection of poems.   L-R Larry Woiwode, Laurel Woiwode Pfau, Glauco, Keith Norman, Nancy Kuykendall, Bill Kennedy, out of the photo to Bill’s left is Bruce Berg.

Author Table. Larry Woiwode, Laurel Woiwode Pfau, Glauco Ortolano, Keith Norman, Nancy Kuykendall, Bill Kennedy. Bruce Berg cut off.

Audience 10.20.15

Libraries, Library

Tourism’s Summer Jamestown Calendar

For a quick look at all the great activities scheduled for the Library, and in Jamestown, this summer, take a look at Tourism’s Jamestown Calendar

 Adult programs to learn something new and great kids programs to  to keep them reading all summer.                       

Dina Laskowski teaches Memoir Writing, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Worlds

Dina Laskowski teaches Memoir Writing, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Worlds

Aaron & Ryon Love Reading In The Summer

Aaron & Ryon Love to Read During  The Summer





The Latest JLG Architect Rendering Is Now Our Header


Above is architect JLG’s rendering of the new James River Valley Library. The view is looking east across 1st Ave. at the corner of 3rd St.  The main entrance is on grade, no steps. Parking is on the north side of the addition.  

Comments are Encouraged

The new library combines an approximate 17,000 sf state of the art addition to the renovated 11,000 sf Alfred Dickey facility. It takes advantage of today’s electronic innovations while preserving the beauty and heritage of the 1919 design.

The estimated cost of the new facility is $9,000,000. An initiative for a ¼% sales tax will be on the November 4th, 2014 ballot for city and county approval.  The ¼% sales tax will cost the average Stutsman County family $33.75 a year according to the state tax office.

The target date for the grand opening is September 1, 2016.

The primary service that the public library provides is as the center of a community’s learning network, a learning network that serves pre-school through high school, college through seniors. The library provides the tools for every Stutsman County child, teen, adult and senior to acquire new skills. The library helps people connect to commerce, government and each other, with new devices and technologies while providing printed materials and access to research archives.

The key word is “ALL.” Not every child or adult has access to the internet, a smart phone or tablet. The library is crucial to those who do not have access to the latest electronic device. The library provides a balance of traditional materials, printed books, and internet access for learning.

Think about Louis L’Amour at the beginning of his life as a constant visitor to the Alfred Dickey Library. He credits AD in Education of a Wandering Man with giving him the learning tools he needed to become one of America’s greatest writers.

The next Louis L’Amour could be the first person to walk into the new James River Valley Library.

The new library will act as a catalyst for revitalizing downtown Jamestown. Studies show that whenever a new library is opened, patronage goes up, circulation goes up and the rest of the neighborhood and the community become more attractive to new talent and investment dollars.

Bookmobiles, Libraries, Library

FAQ’s or What Do We Want To Know About A New Library?

These are the questions that arise most often about the need for a new library, and the answers to those questions.

If your question is not on the list, please send it to us as a comment. 

Q. How much will the new library cost?

A. The new library is currently projected to cost $8,250,000. We have raised $1,025,000 in donations. More donations through foundation grants and personal gifts are expected following the November 4th election. It will cost the average Stutsman County family$33.75 a year in sales tax to pay for the new library.  Property owners in Stutsman County now pay 3.5% of their property tax for the library. This will not change.

Q. How big will the new library be?

A. The new library will be 28,000 sq. ft. The current Alfred Dickey and Stutsman County buildings are a combined 14,000 sq. ft. The State Library’s standard for populations over 25,000 requires a minimum of 25,000 sq. ft. for new construction. Jamestown and Stutsman County are projected to reach that population figure by 2025.

Q. Why do we even need a library? Doesn’t everyone have a tablet, a pad or a smartphone that gives them access to whatever they want or need?

A. The Pew Institute conducts extensive surveys on our use of the internet. In a recent survey of young adults, 18-29, 35% do not own a smartphone, 66% do not own a tablet, 72% do not own an e-reader. 76% of these young adults say that it is “Very Important” for libraries to offer free access to computers and the internet.

The role of the library is changing. It is a place where people go to learn. It is a place where people who do not have access to the latest electronic devices go to do research on jobs, health, education. It is a place where people go to share ideas and learn.

The advent of e-publication has opened another avenue for reading and learning. However, not everyone has access to or can afford a laptop, tablet or smart-phone. A book feels better to many people than an electronic device. The key is to have a balance of traditional materials with e-materials and be able to adapt quickly.

Q. Why not remodel the current building, buy the building next door, and expand?

A.  JRVL’s architect Joel Davy says, “The Current Alfred Dickey Library has inadequate space, even with the building next door, for the 28,000 sq. ft. that are needed to fulfill the role of the library today.  Even if there were space, three problems remain unsolved.

1. Garage for the bookmobile

2. Parking for patrons

3. The library would be closed for a year during construction.”

Q. What will happen to the 1919 Alfred Dickey building?

A. The library board is committed to finding an appropriate use for the building in the tradition of re-use for the old Trinity Hospital, Post Office, and Jamestown Hospital.

Q. Do people actually use the library? What will happen when the new library opens?

A. In 2013, 90,000 patron visits were made to the two facilities. Circulation was 180,000.

The 2017 forecast is for145,000 visits. Total circulation will be 250,000.

Q. How important is a new library to Jamestown and Stutsman County?

A.  A modern, efficient, flexible, library, is as important to the community as a modern, efficient, flexible, sewer system. Studies show that when a new library is opened, entire neighborhoods are revitalized. The new library would be a catalyst to keep current businesses alive and draw new businesses to downtown.

Q. Why now?

A. Alfred Dickey Free Library was opened in 1919 with 7,000 books for a population of 6,627 in a 13,000 sq. ft. building. The Stutsman County Library moved into its current 7.000 sq. ft. in 1973 with an inventory of 25,000 books. In 2008 voters said to combine the two libraries into one system

Today, the two libraries house 70,000 books for 20,934 people. They are one system, but under two roofs. The buildings, especially Alfred Dickey (AD) are overcrowded and inefficient offering no flexibility for staff or collections. AD cannot be retrofitted to meet the challenges that libraries face today. The library of tomorrow must offer the appropriate space for traditional collections and the flexibility to react to changes in the e-universe.

Q. Why are more public spaces necessary?

A. There is growing demand for community gathering places where ideas can be shared between individuals and within small groups. Some are quiet spaces, others are appropriate for group discussion. Patrons use the library to pay bills, write resumes, get health care information, read, and meet with other people to share ideas. The key is flexibility to meet the needs of the community.

These spaces are free and do not compete with commercial enterprises. They give every resident a chance to meet, share, and learn.

Q. Do we still need a Bookmobile?

A. Yes. The Bookmobile is more important than ever. It is an essential part of the library service to the community. On the 9 days a month that the bookmobile travels to 23 county and city locations, it accounts for almost 40% of the total circulation.  The bookmobile is an efficient, flexible branch of the library that caters to individual requests and needs.


Book Mobile, Bookmobile, Libraries, Library

Why A Bookmobile?

The bookmobile serves over 2,000 square miles of Stutsman County. It provides over 35% of the circulation for the James River Valley Library on the days it travels. Early readers, elementary students, high school students through seniors are given an opportunity to read and learn.  This opportunity would not exist without the bookmobile. Bags of requested materials are included with the typical shelves of books and magazines to choose from. These are books that seniors, parents, teachers and students have asked to be delivered. Couldn’t they just go pick up what they wanted at Alfred Dickey or the Stutsman County Library?  No. If the bookmobile did not exist, these early readers, 3rd graders, high school students, parents, teachers, seniors, would go without.

It is one thing to say that the bookmobile is important to the county as I sit at my desk in the Stutsman County Library. It is a totally different experience after I have had the opportunity to visit a few of the 23 locations that  the bookmobile serves. The importance of the bookmobile to the kids in Medina and Cleveland, Ypsilanti, Montpelier and Adrian can only be shown by the expressions on their faces as they find the book they were looking for.

It can only be understood after personally delivering bags of books to the James House after Bookmobile travel was cancelled because of weather. Thanks to Maybelle and Virgina for being patient as their bags of books were delivered. Maybelle says that she is “so happy that the bookmobile comes. I’m not driving anymore.”  Virginia says that the “Bookmobile is my lifeline.”

Maybelle & Virginia At the James House

Often, the love for books makes new friends. Maybelle told Alethea about the Bookmobile and Althea’s first words were, “Get me a schedule!” She went on to explain that “I get great joy out of reading. I am one with the characters.”

Maybelle Tells Alethea About the Bookmobile

The importance of the Bookmobile can only be understood after seeing the smiles and hearing the thank you’s from students and parents. Those thank you’s and smiles deliver the truth about the importance of the bookmobile.Thanks to Bryce, Lane and Jason in Montpelier for their excitement. Thanks to Megan, Makenna, Alexis and Chloee in Medina for their love of books.

Bryce, Lane & Jason

Megan, Makenna, Alexis & Chloee

If you have any doubt about the importance of the bookmobile, make a visit to one of the many locations the bookmobile visits.

For more information, give us a call at 701-252-1531. For a schedule of the days and locations visited, click on this link:   Bookmobile Schedule