Speakers Bureau Programs Now Available Virtually

All SDHC-Sponsored Programs Held Online Temporarily

For hundreds of years, readers have enjoyed the unique talents of novelists who venture through dimensions of time and space to engage them in the story. We learned long ago that we needn't interact face to face to learn from each other: Picking up a book is like stepping through a doorway into somebody else's mind.

Now, in the era of modern technology that's proved invaluable during quarantine, we're learning from each other through computer-generated connections instead of written words.

Fortuitously, our ambitious group of South Dakota Humanities Council scholars, uniquely educated on fascinating facets of the human experience, are joining people digitally during these uncertain times. Interestingly, they've learned that the casual virtual format sometimes lends itself to a more interactive experience: invisible barriers disappear with the lectern. Such discoveries are fortunate because, due to the coronavirus pandemic, SDHC's grant-sponsored programs will be virtual-only for the time being. (SDHC is constantly evaluating public safety concerns to determine if it is safe to hold in-person gatherings. Contact us at info@sdhumanities.org with questions).

Our scholars' virtual successes are especially encouraging as we all navigate these difficult times.

Scholar Lawrence Diggs held an SDHC-sponsored Zoom lecture in April and hosts regular such programs on his own account, connecting people in South Dakota and beyond.

"Some of my Zoom discussions have had more audience participation than my in-person events," Diggs said. "I've been pleased to see people discover things they hadn't realized before."

Diggs offers his scholar programs virtually and encourages all who are interested to join his "DiggsWorld Brainstorming" sessions. Sign up here.

Scholar Patrick Hicks is also enjoying new opportunities offered by the digital format.

"Virtual presentations are a wonderful way for me to connect with people on the other side of the state that I might not otherwise get a chance to visit with," said Hicks, who recently held a virtual Speakers Bureau program. "Although the format might be new, it offers new possibilities to bring us together."

Meanwhile, SDHC scholar Peter Grady offered us a sample of his Chautauqua program to share with people who may be interested in hosting him for their group when quarantine restrictions have been lifted. 

Speakers Bureau Speakers  

The following speakers are now available for virtual Speakers Bureau programs:

  • Marilyn A. Carlson Aronson
  • Kiera Ball
  • Molly Barari
  • Verna K. Boyd
  • Patricia Catches the Enemy
  • Phyllis Cole-Dai
  • Curtis Dahl
  • Jace DeCory
  • Lawrence Diggs
  • Anne Dilenschneider
  • Arley Fadness
  • Wayne Fanebust
  • Adrienne Brant James
  • V. R. Janis
  • Barbara Johnson
  • Bruce Junek & Tass Thacker
  • Billie Kingfisher Jr.
  • Jeanie Kirkpatrick
  • Patrick Hicks
  • Peter Hoesing
  • Paul Horsted
  • Allen & Jill Kirkham
  • Rich Lofthus
  • Ray Maple
  • Bill Markley
  • Kate Meadows
  • Kris Miner
  • Colin Mustful
  • Laura Hovey Neubert
  • Jean Patrick
  • Dyanis A. Popova
  • John & Jane Rasmussen
  • Jim Reese
  • Bruce Roseland
  • Christine Stewart
  • Brad Tennant
  • Marty Watson
  • Jerry Wilson
  • Norma Wilson
  • Steven Wingate

NOTE: Lawrence Diggs has generously offered tech support for Speakers Bureau scholars or participants who need it: contact him at public@Ldiggs.com. Additional speakers may be added to the list above. 

Use Book Club to Go for Virtual Book Club, One Book

SDHC constituents can either host an SDHC scholar via Zoom or discuss their favorite books, either with or without a discussion leader.

Our Book Club to Go program normally provides books for your club and an optional discussion leader for just $50. Now, to accommodate your virtual book club, you can check out any book from our Lending Library, including the 2020 One Book South Dakota, for the reduced fee of $25 to cover postage. We will mail a box of books you can distribute to your members. We also have scholars who have generously agreed to facilitate virtual discussions (see list below).

If you are starting from scratch, our general tips will help you assemble your group. Then, you can refer back to this post for instructions on creating a virtual discussion. Also, whether you are a book club veteran or a newbie, this post will help you select a good book.

One Book, Book Club to Go Discussion Leaders

If you would like a scholar to help lead your virtual discussion, the following people are available for One Book or Book Club to Go:

  • Kiera Ball
  • Molly Barari
  • Lawrence Diggs
  • Barbara Johnson
  • Jeanie Kirkpatrick
  • Coleen Liebsch
  • Kate Meadows
  • Colin Mustful
  • Laura Hovey Neubert
  • Jean Patrick
  • James Sullivan
  • Martha Watson

Visit our Book Club to Go page to choose from the SDHC Lending Library, where we'll provide books for your entire group for just $25. Fill out the form as usual on the Book Club to Go page and, if you'd like a scholar to lead your discussion, select one of the above. Please facilitate the technical aspects of the conversation with your chosen scholar.


Perhaps the quickest, easiest, and cheapest (and least reliant on internet connection), a cell phone conference call is an excellent audio-only method. Depending on your carrier and plan, you might have a limit on how many people you can conference in at once, so check with your carrier before proceeding. Conference calls on both iPhone and Android are straightforward.

iPhone & Android: Conference Calling

  1. Call one of your members.
  2. Once connected, look at your phone screen, find and press the "add call" button (on Android this may be represented simply by the Android icon and a plus sign).
  3. Select another person from your contact list and call them.
  4. Once connected, look at your screen again, find and press the "merge calls" button.
  5. You should be connected to both people. Repeat this process until all of your members are connected.


Video provides a more personal experience. However, a stable internet connection is required and you may need to pay a subscription fee, depending on the size of your group.


Zoom is extremely popular, as callers can participate with audio-only or audio and video. You need a computer to start the meeting, but participants can hop on the call with a phone or computer. Zoom is compatible with any phone or computer.

If your club meeting is less than 40 minutes long, you can get away with Zoom's free plan; to host longer meetings, a $14.99 per month subscription is necessary (not bad, if split among members). Either option allows up to 100 participants. The time limit on the free plan applies only to groups; if you have a book club of two, you can talk as long as you want via Zoom.

Zoom provides helpful instructions to walk you through the process. If you choose this option, elect one of your members to sign up and follow directives.


iPhone users have the additional option of FaceTime. Here are instructions from Apple on how to start a group FaceTime call:

  1. In FaceTime, tap + at the top right.
  2. Type the names or numbers of the people you want to call in the entry field at the top. You can also tap + to open Contacts and add people from there.
  3. Tap Video to make a video call or tap Audio to make a FaceTime audio call.

The above options, both user-friendly and inexpensive, should accommodate your virtual book club; however, you can research myriad other options such as Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.

More Resources

Because reading is increasingly important in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are making a concerted effort to offer as many books as we can for the quarantined and socially isolated. Click below to follow our Facebook page, which features daily book giveaways and other resources under the hashtag #sdhcquarantainment.