Sierra Frazier-Riggs remembers one of the first projects she took on for the Sturgis Public Library. She placed excerpts from Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There” along a trail to merge the acts of reading and hiking.
“Aldo Leopold’s book really brings thoughts about nature,” she said, noting that the excerpts “open up the imagination a bit more and give people thoughts they might not have. not had by themselves”.
Frazier-Riggs is the Youth and Adult Services Librarian at the Sturgis Public Library.
The trail project, which Frazier-Riggs worked on in May 2020, tapped into his signature approach to library work. Frazier-Riggs graduated from Black Hills State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in outdoor education and completed an internship at South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, where she was immersed in the natural world. She also helped design and direct a variety of programs.
Her background in curriculum development helped her land a job at the Sturgis Public Library in October 2019. The job was in adult programming, opening the door to opportunities to create reading activities that take more visceral forms. Sometimes the forms lean towards nature, and sometimes they lean towards physical hands-on activities – such as, in his current role, assembling a zine from the remains of nearby magazines.
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Frazier-Riggs’ position at the library expanded in August to include youth as well as adults, and she strives to bring the same hands-on reading approach to younger patrons. One project she’s been trying to get started is to create zines, and she denies digital methods and asks participants to dive into paper and pulp. She tried a session earlier this year, and she plans to incorporate more such sessions in the coming year.
“To me, a zine is a form of self-expression through hand-crafted comics,” she said. “It’s created by the reader himself, so that’s exactly what he’s looking for. Each page is personal.
The focus on hard copy, she said, is an important part — at least for her — of creating zines.
“It creates a bit more of a challenge,” she said. “You have to use what’s in front of you or find what you’re looking for. It takes a bit more effort. »
She described how the students worked on a zine session about two months ago, cutting up magazines in ways they found surprising as they put together their own little zines.
“It was almost weird for them to be able to cut out these magazines,” she said.
Frazier-Riggs stressed the importance of self-expression for young people, and she described the library as a “safe place” for them to unleash such expression. But she also thought about methods.
“I try to do very practical (activities) and don’t use technology if I don’t need it,” she said. “It creates a different kind of connection.”
Frazier-Riggs was talking one quiet day in the library. Freezing temperatures during the holidays seemed to keep customers away, so Frazier-Riggs looked forward to after-school hours in the coming weeks once students resumed more familiar routines to revive the zine project.
She leads a youth group called CAW, which stands for Creative Art and Writing, which meets once a month. This is the group that worked on the zine about two months ago.
“I’m so glad they’re back and we’re trying again,” she said. “Then once we’ve finished a few, I want to photocopy them and display them in the library – kind of like an art exhibit.”
Kathy Dykstra, a circulation librarian who has also worked as a youth services librarian, emphasized the role of the library as a meeting place.
“I see it as a gathering place (for young people),” said Dykstra, who has worked at the library for about 21 years. “They were in school all day, they had to follow the rules and be quiet. When they come here, they can sit together and visit each other.
Dykstra also sees the library as a vital place for the elderly – which has made the isolating effects of COVID-19 all the more difficult to bear.
“We have our seniors who come and want to see the books, touch the books,” she said. “They also want to see people again, which they haven’t been able to do in recent years. But they are all still very cautious.
This kind of gathering spirit also plays a big role in Frazier-Riggs’ design of the library, for young people and adults.
“I want to continue to see access to books and a safe space where people can go without feeling the need to spend money,” she said. “If you go out to do something, it always costs money – and people get left behind when that happens.
But the library, she said, creates “a space where people can come and do something fun together and not expect to spend money”.
And with the specters of money and unnecessary technology eliminated, she suggested, relationships can more easily take root.
People seeking more information about zine activities and other aspects of the library can call 605-347-2624.