Presently the Ponca Nation has a small but well kept tribal library located in the Ponca Cultural Center. The Cultural center is where special events are held for all ages from funerals, dances, dinners and sports like basketball for all ages. The community has worked hard together to have this library. It is not unlike most public libraries and it is open set hours with a librarian that is paid through the IMLS Basic grant and the Ponca Tribe. Primarily the library patrons visit the library as a quiet place for study, meetings, checkout of books and materials and not so quiet weekly story time for Headstart and the Child Development Center with arts and crafts. The library has a desktop for the librarian and two desktops but no internet. The library has spill over WiFi from the Headstart and Child Development Center that sometimes works. The library has a vision, the room that connects to it is a community clothes closet that will be moved soon and a wall will be coming down quickly. The space will be more than doubled in size. This room will be converted with the Chairman’s full endorsement to a new computer lab and teen area with the help of the NDIA pilot project and community partners. .
Oklahoma is fortunate, to have a community partner that is working with education, public libraries and schools with e-rate and internet connections. This community partner is considering making Ponca Tribe Library an anchor organization. If this happens then the Ponca Nation which is 8.3 miles from Ponca City with 108 homes and 500+ people living at the complex with a medium income of $18,000, will suddenly have access to internet and information. Hopefully we will know shortly and can share this community partner’s name, they are looking to make a difference and impact.
Another resource recently discovered is USDA Oklahoma branch offering two grants and/or a combination of loans for communities for essential services. The Oklahoma branch has a specialist for each of the programs that will be visiting with the tribe. https://www.rd.usda.gov/ok
A Tribal Library is an essential service and if the people being served are under poverty level – then the application can be for a grant instead of a loan. The first grant: Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program in Oklahoma. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities-direct-loan-grant-program/ok
The second grant: Economic Impact Initiative Grant in Oklahoma talks about high unemployment and an essential service organization which a library can be a resource for career and employment development training. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/economic-impact-initiative-grants/ok
What does it all mean? It is all about the community and the people and their needs. Next to the library is a new dialysis center waiting to be opened and next to it the White Eagle Medical clinic that served 12,000 + Native people in 2016. The Ponca Head Start and Child Development Center is on the other side of the library. The library will serve the community well located in the Cultural Center, as a good resource for information for education, employment, health and social media. The heart of the library will be the Ponca collection that will include books and materials about the Ponca people rich in culture, traditions and history.