Library Open For Regular Hours

Decorah Public Library is back open for regular hours. Follow DPL on social media for the most up-to-date information about building closures and other important information. This will be especially true over the next several weeks as COVID cases continue to rise locally. Thank you for your flexibility as we continue to monitor and adjust staffing levels according to City of Decorah policies.

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2/8: Take-and-Make Tuesday: Valentines

Take and make decorative image

We provide the supplies for a project–you pick them up at the library and do the project at home.

— :  Valentines

Please pick up materials at the library Tuesday 2/8 between 9 am and 7 pm. Supplies are limited. Register early to guarantee a space. Registration ends 1/31 at 3 pm. 

Registration required please use form below to register.

Enter a phone number where you can be reached in case of changes in the event status

Enter an email to contact you in case of changes in event status

Select the name of the event you are registering for from the list

Enter the total number of people in your group attending or participating in this event

First and last name of person/s attending or participating in the event. Separate multiple names with a comma.

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Northeast Iowa RSVP Program Commemorates 20th Year

There will be no parades down Main Street, church bells ringing, train whistles blowing, or fire truck sirens blaring to celebrate this month when the AmeriCorps Seniors Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Allamakee, Howard and Winneshiek counties observes its 20th anniversary year, but there will be dozens of community organizations that quietly express thanks that the local RSVP has been there for two decades to provide volunteers that make it possible for them to succeed in their work for their communities.

As Northeast Iowa RSVP program commemorates 20 years of service to the three-county area, Deana Hageman, who has served a RSVP director since April 2018, reflects on some of the notable accomplishments of the AmeriCorps Seniors program and looks forward to continuing and expanding its role.

In more than 70 locations – which RSVP calls “stations” – volunteers recruited and assigned by RSVP contribute their time and talents to agencies and organizations that include veterans’ services, care centers, food pantries, meal deliveries, schools, day care providers, youth services, health care providers, historical and cultural associations, recreation programs, blood drives, tax preparation, and dozens of other community assistance groups. Without the volunteers that RSVP provides, these organizations could not provide the services and benefits they offer to the three-county area.

In the first years the local RSVP was established, there were nine stations that sought the agencies assistance in providing volunteers. Currently, there are 72 stations, and that number is likely to increase.

“There are many non-profit organizations in our group that tell us they literally could not function without the help of volunteers,” said Deana Hageman, RSVP Director, “and there is an increasing need for volunteers. We welcome people age 55 and older to contact RSVP and find the best fit for their talents.”

“We are fortunate to live in a part of the state where people are generous with their volunteer time and talent,” Hageman said. She said RSVP volunteers enjoy using the skills they have acquired during their careers to help the area’s non-profit organizations operate more effectively and efficiently.

She added that those who volunteer not only help their community, they also gain a rewarding experience. “We have volunteers that tell us this work is one of the most worthwhile and

gratifying parts of their lives,” said Deana.

20 years of service to RSVP

Georgie Klevar of Decorah was one of the first volunteers and has worked with RSVP since its founding. She has served with at least 20 stations within the RSVP organization, including three years on the advisory board.

Currently she volunteers on the Food Pantry board of directors as president and as a pantry escort. Her previous volunteer work includes the ISU Extension Service Food and Fitness Initiative planning committee, English literacy tutor, Northeast Iowa Community College ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor, Library ESL tutor, Equal Opportunity fundraiser, Habitat for Humanity board, the Luther College Cafeteria to Community Food Program, First Lutheran Church Food Pantry, MLK Day Food Drive, Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, Decorah Library Reads!, and several other stations.

Formerly a high school social studies teacher, she taught at North Winneshiek School when she moved to Decorah in 1970 and then began her career in adult education at NICC, eventually becoming the community college’s Director of Continuing Education. She retired from NICC in 2000.

“When I was invited to serve on the RSVP board, I was pleased to do so because I knew it was a program that would be of great benefit to our community,” said Georgie. “Senior citizens often have time, energy, experience and a desire to help others, and those volunteers make a difference to many organizations.” She added that important community programs such as Habitat for Humanity and the Food Pantry, programs that address fundamental needs of families, could not function without large numbers of volunteers.

“In all my volunteer activities I’ve met new and interesting people and I have a good time while volunteering,” she said. “Personally, I was most impacted by the time I spent tutoring people from other countries, helping them learn enough English to get along in the United States.”

She said that she was inspired and humbled by the courage of immigrants who left their countries to seek a better life for their families. “I learned as much from them as they did from me as they shared their stories and information about their cultures.”

Her experiences working as a volunteer range from uplifting to gratifying to humorous. “It’s heartwarming when a single mother with four children comes into the Food Pantry to get much needed food,” she said. “And it’s uplifting when you are thanked by an ESL student who appreciates the help you have offered.”

Georgie said she remembers a humorous incident related to s to her ESL tutoring with a Spanish-speaking client.

“I was helping a Mexican woman with her English and asked her to point out and name several items in her kitchen, including soap. She was totally confused, and I was confused because she was usually a very fast learner.” Said Georgie. “Finally, we figured out that she heard me say ‘sopa,’ which is soup in Spanish, and we had a good laugh.”

The rewards of her volunteer work have been many, she said, but foremost is the appreciation she has received from clients. “It’s very gratifying when people offer a sincere thank you for the help given to them.”

Volunteers are always needed and appreciated

“So many of our RSVP members are like Georgie,” said Hageman. “During her 20 years of volunteer work she has literally contributed thousands of hours of service with no need or desire for recognition. As we observe our 20th year, the community should know how much volunteers, especially RSVP volunteers, have given”.

She said the RSVP volunteers database goes back to 2003, and it lists 991 total volunteers over the years with 493 current volunteers. In its initial year, RSVP provided volunteers for nine stations; now there are 72. In the course of its 20 years, there have been 116 stations.

The first RSVP Advisory Council/Board was comprised of Georgie Klevar, Mark Wilharm, Mary Lou Rauk, Mary Ann Humpal, and Wendy Mihm Herold. Currently nine members, three members from each county, meet quarterly to advise, assess community need, and assist in activities.

The biggest challenge facing RSVP today, Deana said, is awareness of the organization’s work. “We have volunteers tell us all the time they didn’t know the RSVP program existed,” she said. “We need to get the word out and recruit more people.”

The greatest success in her years as director has been the “partnership formed with those volunteers who help the RSVP staff with tasks that allow us to focus on community needs.

Having only a full-time Director and a part time Volunteer Coordinator, we couldn’t support the number of stations and volunteers without that partnership with our internal volunteers.”

People age 55 or older who are looking for opportunities to serve their community are encouraged to volunteer through RSVP. You do not need to be retired.

“Your volunteer assistance can aid hundreds of people in Allamakee, Howard, and Winneshiek counties, and contributing your talent and time will be one of the most valuable and rewarding parts of your senior years,” Deana promises. “There is always need for more assistance, and we enjoy matching up the right volunteers with the right organizations and services.”

Established nationally in 1993 as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP has been operating locally at the Decorah Public Library since 2001. Service opportunities and hours are flexible, volunteers can choose from a wide range of stations, and the time they dedicate to their volunteer work can be as little or as much as they wish.

To find out about volunteer service opportunities and needs, call RSVP at 563-277-5181; send an email message to [email protected]; or visit the RSVP offices Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Decorah Public Library, 202 Winnebago St., Decorah, Iowa.

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RSVP Pen Pal Program

Third graders in teacher Casey Rausch’s Crestwood Elementary School in Cresco are already preparing to write to the pen pals they’ll be matched with this winter through a Northeast Iowa RSVP program. “We did not have the Pen Pal program last year due to COVID and are so excited to get it up and running again!” Rausch said.  Three rounds of letters will be exchanged between the three classes of Third grade at Crestwood Elementary and volunteers from Northeast Iowa RSVP.

RSVP pairs volunteers age 55 and up with local organizations and is looking for individuals to connect with students through letter writing as part of the local Pen Pals program.

Pen Pals gives students an opportunity to practice the art of letter writing, increases reading and writing skills, and improves their social skills and involvement in school. Students in Rausch’s class have begun to warm up for writing letters by composing emails.

When the Pen Pals program begins, Rausch said, students have already learned to write in cursive. “However, now they are responsible for writing entire letters in cursive,” she said. “They are learning the proper procedure to create a letter, including sentence and paragraph structure. They learn how to generate ideas, ask and answer questions and correctly address and sign a letter. They get a new friend out of the process as well.”

The RSVP volunteer letter writers gain a lot through the experience too. Receiving an actual letter in the mail can brighten anyone’s day. Making a new friend and reading about a child’s interests and accomplishments can boost one’s mental well-being. The only supplies required are a pen or pencil and paper. Writing letters through the Pen Pals program does not require a computer or the internet. Also, letters can be sent from anywhere, so people from other counties or those who travel south for the winter can participate.

Rausch’s students liked writing to their pen pals so much that some of them continued to exchange letters with their RSVP partners even while the program was officially shut down last year.

The first batch of letter-writing will begin in January 2022.

Northeast Iowa RSVP has been sponsored by the Decorah Public Library since 2001 with the mission of engaging people age 55 and older in volunteer service to meet critical community needs and to provide a high-quality experience that will enrich the lives of volunteers.

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2021 RSVP Appreciation Events

In October, volunteers were recognized once again at “Drive Through” appreciation events held in each of the three counties served by NEI RSVP.  Volunteers that drove through were treated to cupcakes and ice cream, and they also had the chance to pick up a few appreciation gifts and chat with RSVP staff.

Volunteer “Years of Service Awards” were handed out to volunteers that reached milestones. The years served by the 49 volunteers receiving awards totaled 455 years!  Take a look at the slideshow to see photos of some of the recipients who picked up awards in person as well as stations who were presented with Certificates of Appreciation.

Despite so many changes in our world today, one thing remains the same – RSVP volunteers are appreciated by RSVP staff, stations and the communities they serve.

Thank you so much!


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01/25: Moon Yoga Storytime – Decorah Public Library

with Mikah Jaschke and DPL
at the Yoga Studio

Join us for a kid-friendly cozy movement session at the Yoga Studio! We’ll read a story themed around the moon, do a 30 minute family-friendly yoga practice, and send you home with a materials to make a moon-inspired craft. Open to kids and adults of all ages. Children under 10 must be accompanied by a caregiver. Sponsored by Friends of the Decorah Public Library.

Registration is required. Please use form below to register.

This program invites children and adults to participate in a playful storytime and yoga session that starts with story and an opening song, includes a sequence of themed movement, and ends with a guided relaxation, and a closing song.

We understand that in a multi-age setting that attention spans will vary and welcome you to participate at the level that feels appropriate. We have mats to provide.

Please feel free to reach out to Rachael at [email protected] for any additional questions about accessibility, accommodations or logistics.

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Dog Tales

1/11, 1/25
4:30-5:30 pm

Independent readers are welcome to join us in reading to some adorable four-legged friends. Our visitors are certified therapy dogs (with their trainers), and are more than excited to see you.

What you can expect:  This drop-in program invites emerging readers to read with a certified therapy dog and their trainer.  Dogs and trainers will be available on a first come first serve basis in DPL’s children’s section.  Readers can select a book of their choice to read with a dog.  Participants can read a book with the dog…or more than one book if their aren’t other readers waiting.  It’s an opportunity to both practice skills and to have positive and affirming experiences with books and with the library.  Readers are “old enough” to participate when they can engage with a book independently and be safe and respectful with our animal visitors–we’re not necessarily looking for a specific level of phonic fluency.  Readers under 8 should be accompanied by an adult.  Please feel free to reach out to Rachael at [email protected] for any additional questions about accessibility, accommodations or logistics.

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Kiki Smith Birthday Party with Arthaus

1/18: 3:30-5 pm at ArtHaus

Join ArtHaus to celebrate the 68th birthday of Kiki Smith, a German American Artist known for her sculpture, installation, printmaking and drawing. Enjoy cake with the artist (actor) as she tells about her life and create a piece of art inspired by her style.

Children of all ages.  Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.  Pre-registration required. Use form below to register.  Sponsored by Friends of Decorah Public Library.

What to expect: During this program the artist (played by a community member) will meet participants, talk about her work, and answer questions.  We will then do a project inspired by her work and end by eating birthday cake.  Participants who prefer not to eat during this program are welcome to take their cake to-go.

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Grab-and-Go Reserves

Grab and Go Reserves Image

Starting on June 1, curbside pickup and reserves will be merged into Grab-and-Go Reserves. Anything you place on reserve will be checked out to your account and placed on the Grab-and-Go Reserves shelf in the library’s lobby. All you need to do is run in, grab the books with your name on them, leave the rubber band and get on with your day.

Grab-and-Go Reserves includes all the convenience of the curbside pickup services we offered during the pandemic, but now you can get your books any time the library is open. Patrons who normally use the reserve system to place holds on items can just grab them from the shelf instead of stopping at the circulation desk. Book bundles will also be waiting on the bottom of the Grab-and-Go Reserves shelf. Just grab the bag with your name on it.

Depending the notification preferences on your library account, you’ll get an automated email or text when your books are ready, or one of the friendly DPL librarians will call and let you know you can come in to get your books. If you want to change your notification settings, you can either call the library or follow these easy instructions:
Log into your account on the library’s catalog,
Click “MY ACCOUNT” at the top right corner of the screen.
Click on the “Notifications” tab
Change your notification preferences for each of the categories. If you want to get a text, select the phone number with the word “Text” in front of it.

Not sure how to reserve materials? Follow these easy instructions to get started!

Call the library at 563-382-3717 for more information.

Click on image to below to get started with online reservations.

Click “Play” button to watch a How-To on reserving books online…

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2/1: Take-and-Make Tuesday: Snow Painting

Take and make decorative image

We provide the supplies for a project–you pick them up at the library and do the project at home.

Snow Painting

Please pick up materials at the library Tuesday 2/1 between 9 am and 7 pm. Supplies are limited. Register early to guarantee a space. Registration ends 1/24 at 3 pm.

Registration required please use form below to register.

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