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  • Lani Hansen

Grand Opening

BY LANI HANSEN

REPORTER


Former Education Department employee Della Wolfe sees her vision come to life within the department.



Della Wolfe waves at the grand opening of the Della Wolfe UKB Library on March 16 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Wolfe spent 16 years with the United Keetoowah Band Education Department before retiring in 2022. (LANI HANSEN/GCN)

TAHLEQUAH- The United Keetoowah Band Education Department celebrated its grand opening of the Della Wolfe UKB Library on the evening of March 16th.


Wolfe had worked with the education department for 16 years before her retirement in 2022. She was hired in 2005, outlasting five education directors before Dr. Leslie Hannah came on board. Wolfe was the backbone of the department, putting all her time towards improving the education department itself.


“She took me under her wing, showing me how things are done, and we spoke on how we can improve the department,” Dr. Hannah said. “Della told me her vision of using the classrooms which we use now and the library which just held books in boxes.”


The library once held books that people would see in others, and Dr. Hannah had an idea of transitioning it to a Native centric space. Before bringing in their librarian Sarah Scarberry, they made some phone calls searching for Native American books and authors.


To help improve the library, Jacqueline Watson was applying for grants, and they received a $10,000 grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In total the education department received about $90,000 in funding to utilize for the library.


“Shortly after we received the funding, Sarah came on board as our librarian,” Dr. Hannah said. “We needed one, because Jacqueline and I got so busy the library renovation was a task further down our list. She asked what my goal was for it, and I told her I want it to be a Native centric library.”


Sarah was able to jump right in and dedicate her time in fixing up the library. Dr. Hannah and Jacqueline were very pleased of the work she did.


“Sarah really helped embody the vision that Della wanted of the library,” Jacqueline said. “Della wanted the students to come and find a book that other libraries did not hold. She also wanted it to be a safe space for Native students.”


The Della Wolfe UKB Library has officially opened their doors to patrons. The grand opening was a night to remember where Della was able to attend and cut the ribbon to the library. Dr. Hannah and Jacqueline said because of her health they were unsure until the day of the opening that Della would make it. To help celebrate she was surrounded by friends and family.


“We were really happy to see her,” Dr. Hannah said.


The library hours are from 8a.m.-5p.m. Monday through Friday. Registered patrons can run their books through self-checkout.


Extended hours vary and will be posted on the Della Wolfe UKB Library Facebook page, as well as merchandise that will be sold in the future.


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