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New library director appointed, parental controls and policy changes discussed

Library board votes to implement new rules for unattended children, and considers revisions to bylaws for appointing board members.

Danielle Kappel
From left, Dickinson Library Board Secretary Paula Martin, Library Director Danielle Kappel and retiring library director Rita Ennen discussed issues during a Jan. 17 meeting.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Danielle Kappel was introduced as the new library director for Dickinson Area Public library during a board meeting Jan. 17. She was a library media specialist at Dickinson Middle School and had been employed with Dickinson Public Schools for more than seven years.

The board members welcomed Kappel, saying they were happy to have her at the library.

“I'm excited to be here and more involved in the community and public sector,” Kappel said.

During the meeting, retiring library director Rita Ennen said newly implemented parental controls are now active at Dickinson Area Public Library. The safeguard allows parents to put a block on their minor children’s library cards, making parental permission necessary for children to check out any library materials.

“So that is something that new library patrons, as they come to get their card, will have that explained to them at the desk,” Ennen said. “We will be doing some publicity in our next newsletter and other things. We haven't done a whole lot yet because we were wanting to make sure we had everybody trained at the desk.”

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Existing library patrons can have library staff update their children’s card with the block upon request.

The measure was put into place in response to an outcry from community members about the graphic novel, “Let’s talk about it: a teen’s guide to sex, relationships and being a human,” which will soon be shelved at the library. Many community members have spoken in support of the book, but many others have demanded the book stay off library shelves or safeguards be implemented to keep children from accessing the sexual content in the book.

Ultimately, the library board voted to put the book in the adult nonfiction section during a November meeting, without any additional restrictions from in-library access. During the Jan. 17 meeting, Ennen said the book would be shelved after several library patrons who have reserved the book had a chance to check it out.

Board members also voted unanimously to replace the library’s rules of conduct with a revised code of conduct policy. One of the changes addresses unattended children in the library. While previous rules of conduct allowed children ages 7 to 11 to be left unattended for up to an hour and a half, the new code of conduct policy does not. It stipulates all children under the age of 12 be accompanied by a parent or caregiver at all times.

Library Board
From left, Dickinson Library Board Members Brian Kopp, Johnna Douthit and Paula Martin discuss matters with Library Director Danielle Kappel and retiring library director Rita Ennen.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Revised bylaws were also discussed but were not voted on during the meeting. The proposed bylaws call for the Dickinson City Commission to appoint board members, including a member of the city commission.

“I think it would be a good idea to have a Stark County Commissioner on there too,” Library Board Secretary Paula Martin said.

The board members agreed to invite the Stark County Commission to appoint a commissioner to the library board if they choose to.

Another bylaw proposed that library board members who miss three meetings in a twelve month period will be recommended for dismissal to the Dickinson City Commission.

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In addition, current bylaws allow special meetings to be held with as little as 24 hours notice.

Library Board Member Brian Kopp said that time frame is unacceptable.

That's crazy,” Kopp said. “No one can attend. No one can make it. There's no public notice. The public wouldn't even be aware.”

He proposed the notice time be increased. Final decisions on the proposed bylaw changes will be made at future meetings.

The meeting was Ennen’s last since she has retired, although she is still advising Kappel to ease her into her new role.

“You’ve been wonderful to work with,” Martin said to Ennen.

She and other board members thanked Ennen for her service.

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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