Jade Praus (Left) & Rita Ennen (Right)

“Librarians have always been among the most thoughtful people. They are teachers without a classroom.” Willard Scott

When my husband and I moved to Dickinson in 2007 with our children, I quickly made my way to the Dickinson Area Public Library. I hoped to meet other moms with kids, or like-minded-book nerdy-kindred spirits, or the resources I needed to survive the time of transition and toddler-dom. I found all of this and so much more from our Library, and am continually inspired by the dedication, creativity and tenacity of the Library staff. The DAPL has been where my kids grew up, and I’m so grateful for their second home. Please join me in acknowledging the efforts of two women whose gifts and passions are integral to our community’s health and wellbeing: Rita Ennen, Library Director and Jade Praus, Children and Young Adult Librarian. -Tara

Rita Ennen states, if she had the option to dream of being a Librarian, instead of the standard Nurse or Teacher professions offered to young women, she would have known at a young age what she was destined to become.

Growing up on a dairy farm outside a tiny town, she remembers having to walk to piano lessons after school every week – and passing her local library on the way.

“That was my time,” she recalls with joy, obvious in her expression. “I discovered other places, people with other lives and became part of other stories there. It was my place.”

Fortunately for all of us, she found a way to make her passion into her career. Her path to becoming the Dickinson Area Public Library’s Director was preempted by years in university libraries, including our own Dickinson State. Rita was the Director there from 2007, transferring to the public library in 2014.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Why the change?’ Here (at the Dickinson Area Public Library) I get to serve ages 0-99, I interact with the entire community with the programming we implement,” says Rita.

“I still love reading a good book. And finding a new author!” she shares. “I find them here, then I pass them along to other people to read, because ultimately, books are a joy that is meant to be shared.”

Right now, Rita is engaged in a series set in Iceland and states she is enjoying learning about that country.

“I’ve put that one into a couple people’s hands,” she says with a smile.

Jade Praus will tell you she fell into her position at the Dickinson Area Public Library.

“I grew up in Dickinson, so this library has always been my library,” she recalls fondly. “I remember coming with my mom up the purple spiral stairs and reading in a nook by the window while my mom searched for books.”

Though, it seems there were hints of her future occupation in her childhood.

“My sister and I used to play library,” says Jade. “And I was always the one behind the desk checking out the books. I used a comb for the ‘due dater’.”

Jade attended Dickinson High and Dickinson State after graduation, studying elementary education. She joined the DAPL team under the then Children’s Librarian Lane (Takington) Stoltz.

“I loved working with the children, which is why I thought I was going to be a teacher. When Stotz left, I just sort of fell into this being my career path.”

Parents, young adults and children who have attended a program created by Jade will tell you: they had fun, they learned something and they got to do that with a community.

This is what makes the Dickinson Area Public Library an impactful, affecting entity in the community: the natural genius and ingenuity of these two women, and the whole library team.

“My favorite part of my position is to empower the staff to do what they want to do,” says Rita. “My job is to first value my staff, then second do everything I can to give them what they need and say, ‘Yes you can!’ when they come to me with ideas.”

In the past 10 years, programming for all ages has grown exponentially, from adding countless activities for teens, tweens, and younger children, (lock-ins, zombie Barbie creations, and multiple reading program to name just a few), online story time during the pandemic, and recently, a Hygge Lounge that promoted self-care and mental wellness during the darkest time of the year.

All the programs are designed to, and effectively achieve, reaching across the community and bringing together all ages with an added benefit of inviting everyone to discover a love for books.

“Kids who hate reading are my favorite,” says Jade. “I tell them, we just haven’t found your book yet.”

Our community possesses a tremendous gift in having a thriving, active, inventive Library, which is successful to the degree of those who abide therein. Rita Ennen and Jade Praus bring themselves, their passions, their drive, their personalities, and their dedication to their jobs, and the entire region is enriched and fortified because they do.

Submitted by Tara Zettel