History & Geography
Portage des Sioux, Missouri, a small river town situated near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, was settled in 1799 (Mincke, 2004, p. 13). The first permanent home dates to 1805, one year after Lewis & Clark set off on their expedition up the Missouri river (Mincke, 2004, p. 24). In 1975, Charles City-County Library District, the North County Branch opened its first branch — sited on the southern edge of town in a former one-room schoolhouse (St. Charles City-County Library District, 2010). (figure 1)
Portage des Sioux was once a typical, small, Midwestern town, encompassing several more blocks than today remain (Mincke, 2004, pp. 106-107). At present, the town boasts two marinas, a handful of restaurants, an auto repair shop, a general store, one church and a bar. Most residents of the town leave the area to seek work in either St. Louis county or one of St. Charles county’s larger cities. Since its opening, the North County Branch library has seen the town grow to a population high of 503 in 1990 (Onboard Informatics, 2011a), only to shrink rapidly following the devastating and historic flood of 1993. By 2000 the population stood at 351 and had grown to just 380 by 2010 (Usowski, 2011).
Driving to Portage des Sioux from St. Charles, one is struck by the sudden change in topography. Where St. Charles is hilly, the area around Portage des Sioux (or Portage as the locals call it) is flat farmland, planted in corn and beans. One also notices, upon arriving in town, an apparent lack of cars — not because cars are not owned — rather, residents prefer other modes of transit. It is quite common to see children and adults alike making their way about by bicycle, golf cart, tractor, or on foot, as Portage is easily walked being laid out on an easy to navigate grid, with the Mississippi river serving as its northern border. Cars are used when one is leaving town or when the weather is inhospitable.
The library service area includes not only the town of Portage des Sioux, but all of the 63373 zip code, along with the town of West Alton and its zip code area, 63386 (figure 2, figure 3). As mentioned, the current population of Portage des Sioux is 380, while the entire 63373 population, including Portage, is 603 and the 63386 population is 538 (US Census Bureau, 2010). Respectively, 3.8% of 63373 children are under age five, while 6.7% are in the 63386 area. Moreover, 19% of the 63373 residents are between the ages of 5 and 19, while just 17% of 63386 residents are in this age bracket. (US Census Bureau, 2010) Of the 243 households in the 63373 zip code, 172 are family households. Similarly sized, the 63386 area has 209 total households, 149 belonging to families. A greater varience is seen in single parent households which range from 17% of total in the Portage area, to 55% of total in the West Alton area. (US Census Bureau, 2010)
The median family income for both library service areas is...