Bob Bartling and several like-minded people founded the Prairie Striders Running Club in 1969 to promote running, fellowship, and health. Bob began collecting books and magazines related to running and track and field, and by 1978, the Prairie Striders Running Club Library was established. It includes 636 volumes of books, over 5,000 periodical and newsletter issues, and has the results of 16 annual races. The collection is so complete that even the editors of Runner’s World contact Bob for articles. The library was housed in the basement of Bartling's store for 40 years and moved to another store in downtown Brookings before finding a permanent home in the H.M. Briggs Library in June 2015. It is currently housed in compact shelving on the lower level of the Briggs Library.
In order to make the collection useful, Bob began indexing articles in the magazines. He keeps track of subjects, events, and people on 4x6 index cards. There are now approximately 8,000 cards describing each issue in the journal collection. Each card usually includes two to fourteen entries. Beginning in 2019, students were hired to input the data from the cards into a database.
The library was in the basement of Bartling's store for 40 years and moved to another store in downtown Brookings before finding a permanent home in the H.M. Briggs Library in June 2015. It is currently housed in compact shelving on the lower level of the Briggs Library.
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The Prairie Striders Running Library Collection contains 100 journal titles.
Bob Bartling’s family came to Brookings in 1918 and established the Sellers and Bartling Furniture and Funeral Home. Bob’s father, Earl Bartling, strongly supported the South Dakota State’s athletics. In the 1920s and 1930s, Earl would go to businesses around Brookings asking for donations for the student athletes. The money raised would help pay the students’ tuition and living expenses. These notebooks document Earl’s fundraising.
Sellers and Bartling Furniture and Funeral Home eventually became Bartling’s Shoes, a store that evolved out of Bob’s love of running. In the late 1960s, Bob purchased 10 pairs of shoes from an advertisement in one of the running magazines. These were so well received that he began keeping a small stock of shoes in the furniture store. In 1972, Nike came to Bob and asked if he would sell their shoes. Bartling’s store was the first to sell Nike shoes in South Dakota. From then on, it was the only brand he sold in the store. Because of the service and discount, people would come from all over the region to purchase shoes from Bartling’s Shoes. The store closed in 2008.