2005 Award Winners

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Library of the Year

RDLRhinelander District Library

Rhinelander’s library is formed by a joint library district consisting of the City of Rhinelander and the four surrounding towns of Crescent, Newbold, Pelican and PineLake. The Chief Executives of the five Rhinelander Area Joint Library District member municipalities nominated RDL for the award. Their nomination letter said, “We are very proud of our library and the many ways in which it enriches the lives of citizens in the greater Rhinelander area, regardless of age, interests, and educational or financial background.”

In making this selection, the Awards and Honors Committee noted the number and quality of achievements of Rhinelander library in just the last two years. The timing is particularly impressive since two years ago the Rhinelander Library District was threatened with major budgetary cutbacks and possible dismantling. The effort to save the library district in 2004 galvanized the communities’ support for and appreciation of their library.

According RDL Director Kristine Adams Wendt, “We are very excited to receive this award, which recognizes the excellent work of RDL staff members, along with the outstanding support of citizens who count on RDL to meet their information needs.”

DEMCO/Librarian of the Year

front-coverJohn Nichols
Director, Winnefox Library System and Oshkosh Public Library

For over twenty years John Nichols has been a library leader in Wisconsin. As director of the Oshkosh Public Library he has stressed public service and technical innovation. As a result of his efforts as director of Winnefox, libraries in the 5-county system have a high level of support.

Throughout his tenure, Nichols has looked for ways to knit the library into the fabric of the Oshkosh area, often looking to innovative technologies to serve the broader community. For example, Oshkosh Public Library has been a pioneer in the digitization of city directories and local history books. And the Oshkosh library has developed an Information and Referral database for communities in the Winnefox service area. With this data Oshkosh is poised to become one of the few libraries in the country operating a 2-1-1 call center and website. Nichols was also instrumental in developing the publication for the L.I.F.E. in Winnebagoland Report (Local Indicators for Excellence.) The Oshkosh Public Library reference department created and maintains the website for this information. This report has been used by local funders, planners and candidates for public office as a community planning document. John, the Oshkosh Public Library and Winnefox staff developed, published and maintain the official Oshkosh community website. He has also provided staff time to assist area nonprofit organizations like the Red Cross and Winnebago County Historic and Archeological Society to develop their own websites.

Beyond the efforts of his library affiliations, Nichols has been personally involved in the time and toil of building a better community. He was instrumental in the organization of the Oshkosh Collaboration Work Group, an organization of human services agencies and organizations and in 2005 he was awarded their Make a Difference Award for his contributions. Nichols has served on innumerable area Councils, Teams, Committees and Boards. Through his participation in community activities Nichols has increased the visibility and credibility of the Oshkosh Public Library and library services in general.

John Nichols has been an acknowledged Wisconsin library leader, especially in the area of helping to set state policy in technology areas. In the broader library setting, Nichols has been a strong advocate of “futurist” thinking about library services for the 21st century. In 2001 he was interviewed for the Library Journal “Future of the Library “ series and featured on the cover of the April issue.

Trustee of the Year
Kristi Williams 02Kristi Williams, South Central Library System Trustee

Kristi Williams has served on both the South Central Library System Board of Trustees as well as the Dane County Library Board. Williams has been active in the legislative arena on behalf of libraries, representing South Central at ALA Legislative Day in Washington and WLA Legislative Day in Madison. In his letter of support, South Central Board member, Tom Brown stated "Often in those legislative offices she was already well-known and obviously respected."

A tireless advocate in many venues for funding for libraries of all types, Kristi Williams has also served for several years on the Council on Libraries and Network Development appointed by the Governor. Kristi “is a known player," asserts Anne Iwata another long-term South Central Board member. "She is a hard worker, never shirking... Not only has the SCLS, but the Wisconsin library community been fortunate to leverage her interests and energy."

WLA/Highsmith Award
LAXHighsmith“La Crosse History Unbound”
Kelly Krieg-Sigman, Director, La Crosse Public Library, and Anita Evans, Director, Murphy Library, UW-La Crosse

(Pictured here, from left to right, standing: Paul Beck and William Doering, Murphy Library, UW-La Crosse; seated: Kathy Kabat and Anita Taylor-Doering, La Crosse Public Library. Not pictured is Peg Zappen, retired from La Crosse Public Library.)


Working jointly, La Crosse’s two major libraries have created a digital archive of La Crosse area history called, “La Crosse History Unbound”. This collaboration allowed development of a valuable local resource that neither institution could have produced independently. The joint content of this database is varied and extensive. For example, the Public Library has digitized historic city directories, many local and state government documents related to the city and newspaper articles from the La Crosse Tribune. Besides providing access to the pictorial and general histories of La Crosse and locales within the county, Murphy Library has also prepared and presented masters’ theses and seminar papers related to La Crosse. The Murphy Library staff has also tackled some very difficult material to present on the web, such as an early parade film originally mastered on dangerous nitrate film. This creative and innovative project allows access to historical La Crosse materials making them available to home and remote users and creating a local history portal available 24/7.

Special Service Award
sturzl1Alice Sturzl
School Library Media Director, School District of Laona

The WLA Special Service Award is reserved for individuals of noteworthy achievement as evidenced by substantial activities and exceptional service to the library profession. The 2005 Special Service Award is presented to Alice Sturzl. Sturzl has a lengthy and wide-ranging involvement with the Wisconsin Library Association where she served on numerous committees and held leadership positions including WLA President. This ongoing commitment to WLA activities is all the more impressive because of the sheer distance Alice travels to be available for these duties. Sturzl is school library Media Director for the School District of Laona. Laona is 250 miles, or about 4 hours drive, from Madison and the WLA office. Alice “gets up at o-dark-thirty in the Northwoods to drive all over the state for meetings, bringing doughnuts that are still warm,” says Kris Adams Wendt, who, as director of the Rhinelander District Library is no stranger to long distance library activities herself.

“Alice Sturzl was the heart of WLA,” says Larry Martin, former WLA Executive Director. “Her spirit, enthusiasm, dedication and love of libraries have helped to charge and lift the work of the Association these many years.”

Citation of Merit
EdMEdwin Majkrzak
Local historian and former library board member, Kiel

Described as "the Pilot Light" of the Kiel Library, Edwin Majkrzak, former library board member, author and local historian for the City of Kiel, is the recipient of the 2005 Citation of Merit. An active and committed library trustee until his retirement in mid 2004, Majkrzak has spent decades volunteering his time, his expertise in local and regional history, his knowledge of appropriate archival procedures and his prescient understanding of the importance of document preservation to assist the Kiel Library in their role of safe guarding local history. Nanette Bulebosh, Director of the Kiel Library said of Mr. Majkrzak. "Because of all his work, undertaken at his own initiative and diligently maintained despite physical handicaps, the library is able to provide to the public...a remarkable record of...this community."

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation