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Thursday, June 1, 2017

One of my favorite places in Bismarck: the North Dakota Heritage Center

Thursday I made a morning stop to my favorite place in Bismarck, the North Dakota Heritage Center (well, the Missouri River is my favorite natural place, but you get the idea).

I needed to purchase a couple of books at the gift shop and do a little research.

But first, a snack at the James River Cafe.  A group of young folks came in at the same time I did, so I chatted with them.  They were staff from the State Library, on a break.  I told them that I am a retired librarian, and I asked them some questions about their particular jobs there.  They were a cheerful bunch.

Here is one of the books I purchased, the 3rd edition of A Traveler's Companion to North Dakota State Historic Sites.  The staff at the State Historical Society of ND have greatly improved upon the 2nd edition.  This new one includes many helpful maps and photographs.  This will go in our Highlander.   Remember, my husband and I are history nerds, and both of us are besotted with North Dakota.  He was at one time the ND Tourism Director.

We are members of the State Historical Society and receive at home their excellent publication North Dakota History.  We also have a collection of most of the back issues, but we are missing one that holds an article I was in need of, hence the trip there.

My old friend, Jim Davis was working.  I always thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him.  I have the utmost respect for the staff of the State Archies and Historical Research Library and some sense of their devotion and the diligent work required in the task of being the caretakers of this place.  A deep bow to all of the staff of the State Historical Society, some of the best folks of North Dakota.  The institutional memory that Jim Davis holds leaves me in awe.  You may have heard his name on Prairie Public Radio as one of the writers of the vignettes "Dakota Datebook".  More often than not, he has the answer to my questions, or knows where to look, and is very interested when I dig up nuggets he's not heard of before.

As to the staff's dedication, look at just this glimpse of the reading room and of the microfilm collection.  Do you have any idea how much work goes into keeping all of this organized and available to researchers?

The reading room of the SHSND Library

The microfilm collection at SHSND
 I pull one reel of microfilm and make my way to the torture device known as the microfilm reader.  I can't say I found exactly what I was looking for, but I found (and printed) something, and Jim made copies for me from the back issue of ND History that was my particular focus of this day.  I never leave the SHSND Library without learning something.

I make my way back toward the parking lot, my path taking me through a hallway that holds so many memories for me, as I've attended dozens of meetings in these rooms, taking a break in the sunshine that pours in through the windows.

And it just makes me happy to walk by this beautiful map.

A couple of last glimpses and it is time to go home.

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