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Love of books, community earn Moore Peterson Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities


News Staff - September 24, 2019

STURGIS, SD – As a youngster, Sturgis Public Library Director Julie Moore Peterson would spend most of her time around books.  Growing up in Brookings, SD, she found the local library as a safe and expressive haven for filling the hours between school and home.

It’s no wonder that for over 37 years, she would immerse herself in the world of libraries. And it’s that outstanding commitment to scholarly and cultural advocacy around South Dakota — advocacy in the form of presenting humanities-related events and programs, and securing funding and partnerships to sustain a vibrant cultural landscape – that has earned her the Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award.

The South Dakota Humanities Council, a non-profit that leads statewide advocacy for the humanities, will present the award during the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books, Oct. 4-6 in Deadwood.

“Moore Peterson has donated countless hours of time and energy to promoting the humanities in South Dakota; she has been instrumental in organizing and setting up SDHC events, offering guidance from her seat on the SDHC Board of Directors and generally promoting the organization's efforts in every way possible,” according to a release from SDHC. 

Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book and the Festival of Books adds, "Julie has served on the Festival steering committee several times and has helped us coordinate countless events in Sturgis, including visits from former National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, acclaimed Vietnam-era author Tim O'Brien and many others."

Peterson has served as the library director in Sturgis for 15 years but has worked there since 1985. Her tenure has seen the building of a new library for the community and subsequent expansions and renovations.  Programming for all ages and interests has blossomed under her leadership that is shaped by a love for community. “Making connections,” she says, “from readers to books to authors to the community and area we serve, is one of the best things about my job.”

Also receiving Distinguished Achievement awards at the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books are longtime volunteer Scott Rausch and the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Rausch was the winner in the "Individual" award category, while Moore Peterson was selected for the "Librarian" category and the South Dakota Historical Society Press was the winner in the "Organization" category.

"For many years, Scott was our 'go-to' volunteer for setting up South Dakota Festival of Books venues in Deadwood, from hauling chairs to keeping audio-visual equipment working, and as a past SDHC treasurer, he also spent many hours assisting staff with financial record-keeping," said Widman.

South Dakota Historical Society Press has partnered with SDHC on numerous projects. In addition to printing the 2019 Young Readers One Book, the press also published the 2012 One Book South Dakota "Dammed Indians Revisited" (2012) and has been a constant presence at the annual South Dakota Festival of Books, where the organization displays its extensive library of works published about South Dakota and by South Dakota authors.

"It is a privilege to have such a strong publishing presence in our state," said Widman. "Each year, the Festival of Books features several authors published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, and their insights into the rich history of South Dakota always draw praise from attendees."

The Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Awards Ceremony will be held at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, October 5 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center during the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books, which is Oct. 4-6 in Deadwood. The awards ceremony will precede the event "A Celebration of South Dakota's New Poet Laureate."

Julie Moore Peterson - Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner
Julie Moore Peterson, director of the Sturgis Public Library since 2004, has worked in libraries for more than 37 years. Moore Peterson also served on the board of directors for the SDHC and the Sturgis Area Arts Council and continues to work closely with both to promote and provide literary and arts-related programs in the community. Under her guidance the library has hosted, co-hosted or sponsored numerous SDHC programs and speakers, including two Smithsonian Institution/Museum on Main Street Exhibits, Chautauqua events, author Tim O'Brien (part of a three-month community Big Read Grant in 2017), "Longmire" author Craig Johnson and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. The library has also hosted One Book authors, Speakers Bureau events and regional author programs. Moore Peterson has chaired SDHC board committees and annually volunteers for the South Dakota Festival of Books. Moore Peterson was also a founding partner in developing the "Black Hills Library Consortium," a group of 11 area libraries that jointly share collections and an online operating system. She served on that organization's board for four years.

Scott Rausch – Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner
Scott Rausch grew up on a farm near Agar, S.D. He graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City and worked in the aerospace industry, retiring as a vice president of engineering. Upon retirement, he joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the School of Mines and served as a faculty member and department head. He served on the SDHC Board of Directors for 10 years and has been actively involved with the South Dakota Festival of Books, playing a crucial role with venue setup and offering other assistance as needed. He has also served on other non-profit boards, including the Rapid City Arts Council, the Piedmont Park Board and the School of Mines Alumni Association. Rausch is a lifelong advocate of books and reading and maintains a large personal library focusing on science, mathematics, history, philosophy and religion.



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