125 Years: Serving the Government Information Needs of South Dakota

The year 1889 marked a territorial turning point for the nation. With the passage of the Enabling Act on February 22, 1889, territories in the wild, wild, west took to the statehood trail.

AN ACT to provide for the division of Dakota into two States and to enable the people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to form constitutions and State governments to be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and to make donations of public lands to such states. (Approved February 22, 1889).1

And so, the first day of South Dakota’s journey on the trail to statehood began:

At the hour of 12 o’clock, meridian on this 4th day of July, 1889, the day and hour appointed by law, the members elect of the constitutional convention of South Dakota assembled in Germania hall at Sioux Falls, and were called to order by Hon. Dighton Corson of Lawrence, one of their number.2

Seventy-five duly elected representatives from twenty-five districts, now South Dakota counties, served as delegates to the Constitutional Convention of South Dakota. Upon the roll call, only five did not answer and the rest were sworn in on that first day by the Honorable Bartlett Tripp, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Dakota Territory.3

Note, the Enabling Act allowed for two critical advancements: statehood and land grants. Land grants instituted under the Morrill Act of 1862 had earlier allowed for the allocation of lands to educational institutions. “An Act Donating public lands to the several States and [Territories] which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the Mechanic arts” provided for 30,000 acres of land to the states and territories.4 With the admittance of the State of South Dakota, 120,000 acres of land had been granted for the “use and support” of the Agricultural College in South Dakota.5

The Territorial Legislature had chartered the Agricultural College in 1881 as a land grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1881. Located in Brookings, South Dakota, the college is now known as South Dakota State University, with more than 12,500 students currently enrolled not only in “agriculture and the Mechanic Arts,” but in 183 fields of study in eight colleges and the graduate school. SDSU offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and 43 graduate programs including masters, doctoral, and professional degrees.6

The land grant heritage’s importance to the South Dakota Agricultural College library manifested through automatic designation as a Federal Depository Library. Libraries can be designated by an elected or appointed Federal official, or “by-law” through special provisions of the Title 44 of the US Code.7 “By-law” designations empower the Public Printer of the United States and the Superintendent of Documents from the US Government Printing Office (GPO) to designate, as federal depositories, the libraries at: land-grant colleges and universities, the Highest Appellate Court of a state, accredited law schools, and state libraries. Indeed, the collection in the South Dakota Agricultural College library began with mostly government publications.8 With the signing of the statehood proclamations for “twins” North and South Dakota on November 2, 1889, the South Dakota Agricultural College library became an official member of the Federal Depository Library program.9

The Federal Depository Library program originates with the 1813 resolution of congress calling for the printing and distribution of House and Senate Journals and other congressional documents to the executives of states and territories, colleges, and universities, and historical societies. The resolution called for two hundred copies in addition to the usual number of copies printed.10 The Printing Act of 1852, authorized the newly created Superintendent of Public Printing to receive not only congressional materials for printing and distribution, but also materials from the executive departments.11 The Printing Act of 1860 further empowered the Superintendent of Public Printing to procure buildings, machinery, and materials in order to execute the public printing charge, and thus was born the Government Printing Office. The 1895 Printing Act further codified public printing of government materials and the 1962 Depository Library Act allowed for greater distribution of agency publications and created the regional depository library system.12 Title 44 of the US code provides statutory authority and legal requirements for the Federal Depository Library Program.13

The library at South Dakota State University, formerly South Dakota Agricultural College, has been a member of the Federal Depository Library Program since 1889 when South Dakota became a state. Hilton M. Briggs Library is the largest depository library in South Dakota with a collection of over 558,000 government publications in multiple tangible formats and over 91,000 online documents. Hilton M. Briggs Library, so named in 1977, and South Dakota State University celebrated 125 years of government information service to the state of South Dakota in the fall of 2014. Since celebrations often require guests, refreshments and speeches, a party was in order.

Coincidentally, the university prepared to host the first annual lecture featuring former Senator and Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Senator Trent Lott. Senator Daschle is a South Dakota State University alumnus who has donated his congressional papers to the university. The Daschle Career Papers are held in the University Archives and Special Collections in Hilton M. Briggs Library. As the University prepared to host these honorable gentlemen in the first “Daschle Dialogue,” planners recognized the important milestone represented in 125 years of Federal Depository Library Service to South Dakota. Celebratory events featuring guests, refreshments and speeches included a special anniversary party held in Senator Thomas A. Daschle Congressional Research Study in Hilton M. Briggs Library, September 30, 2014.

Planning began early in the spring for the “Daschle Dialogue,” with the Chief University Librarian Kristi Tornquist chairing the planning committee. Documents Librarian Vickie Mix was asked to join the planning committee. Committee members included representatives from the offices of the President and Provost, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the Heads of the Political Science department, Campus Security, University Marketing and Communications, and the South Dakota State University Foundation. This well-rounded group devoted weekly planning sessions over five months to assure a successful inaugural event held October 1, 2014, featuring Senators Daschle and Lott.14

The Inaugural Event eve was set aside to recognize the 125th anniversary of the FDLP at South Dakota State University. Senator Daschle had agreed to participate in the celebration and special guests from the university and the community were invited to attend. The documents librarian contacted the Government Printing Office (now Government Publishing Office) to extend an invitation to the public printer, the superintendent of documents, or their representative to attend the celebration. We were honored to have Andy Sherman, GPO Chief of Staff attend on the behalf of GPO. We were also honored by the attendance of Regional Librarian Kirsten Clark from the University of Minnesota, who serves as Regional Librarian for Minnesota, South Dakota, and Michigan. The intimate setting of the Daschle Congressional Study provided a perfect backdrop for the presentation of the 125th Anniversary Plaque by Andy Sherman and comments by Senator Daschle on the importance of freely available government information.15

When the planning initially began prior to the inclusion with the Daschle Dialogue, Documents staff and the library Events committee wanted to create a special celebratory event. All agreed to think “big.” Having Senator Daschle, GPO’s Andy Sherman, and Regional Librarian Kirsten Clark indeed met that goal. If your library anticipates a milestone anniversary, think big! Invite dignitaries, library supporters, foundation officers, community leaders, and as many constituents as you can imagine. Serving the government information needs of our communities is a big deal. Serving our citizens deserves celebrating big.

Vickie Mix (vickie.mix@sdstate.edu) is Associate Professor and Government Documents Librarian, Hilton M. Briggs Library, South Dakota State University.


  1. 25 U.S. Statutes at Large, c. 180, p. 676.
  2. Journal of the Constitutional Convention of South Dakota. (Sioux Falls, SD: Brown & Saenger, 1889), 3.
  3. Ibid., 5.
  4. Act of July 2, 1862 (Morrill Act), Public Law 37-108; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789–1996; Record Group 11; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives, accessed June 15, 2015 from http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=33.
  5. South Dakota State University. South Dakota State University 2015-2016 Undergraduate Catalog: About SDSU, accessed June 15, 2015 from http://catalog.sdstate.edu/content.php?catoid=26&navoid=2678.
  6. “South Dakota State University: Academics,” South Dakota State University, accessed June 15, 2015, www.sdstate.edu/academic/index.cfm.
  7. Designation Handbook for Federal Depository Libraries, (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office 2008, rev.), http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS100554.
  8. William H. Powers, A History of South Dakota State College (Brookings, SD: South Dakota State College, 1931), 81.
  9. South Dakota State News, September 25, 2014, http://news.sd.gov/newsitem.aspx?id=16766. Note: Almost identical proclamations for each Dakota was signed by President Benjamin Harrison who shuffled the documents before and after signing as he declared “They were born together-they are one and I will make them twins.”
  10. Resolution for the printing and distribution of an additional number of the Journals of Congress and of the documents published under their order, 3 U.S. Statutes at Large, 140–41.
  11. James L. Harrison, 100 GPO years, 1861-1961: A History of United States Public Printing (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 2010), 22.
  12. Keeping America Informed: the U.S. Government Printing Office: 150 Years of Service to the Nation (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2010), 99.
  13. Office of the Superintendent of Documents. Legal Requirements & Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2009), accessed June 15, 2015 from http://www.fdlp.gov/requirements-guidance/legal-requirements.
  14. Inaugural Event, www.sdstate.edu/daschlestudy/event.cfm.
  15. Daschle Congressional Research Study, www.sdstate.edu/daschlestudy/.
Provost Laurie Nichols, Chief University Librarian Kristi Tornquist, Government Documents Librarian Vickie Mix and GPO Chief of Staff Andy Sherman.

Figure 1. Provost Laurie Nichols, Chief University Librarian Kristi Tornquist, Government Documents Librarian Vickie Mix and GPO Chief of Staff Andy Sherman. 125th Anniversary of FDLP at SDSU Brookings, SD September 30, 2014.

Senator Thomas A. Daschle at the podium

Figure 2. Senator Thomas A. Daschle, Brookings, SD September 30, 2014.


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