2007 Award Winners

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Library of the Year

MiddletonLibraryMiddleton Public Library

WLA is pleased to name Middleton Public Library as the 2007 Library of the Year. The Middleton Library represents the best of the award’s criteria: sense of place in the community, municipal support, stellar staff, creative and popular programming, great holdings, and an exceptionally engaged community. Board President Patricia Bornhofen says, “Anyone who has worried that libraries might be becoming obsolete in the new electronic era should go to the Middleton Library to see how unfounded that concern is. We’ve had almost three years now of unprecedented records for circulation and attendance. The real concern may be parking.”

In fact, following a remodeling and expansion project that was completed in 2004, program attendance has increased an amazing 300%. That’s not surprising, given the friendly and knowledgeable staff team, led by Director Paul Nelson, and their focus on tailoring service to their users. The engaged library board, active Friends group, and strong support from city officials also position this library to provide exemplary service.

City Administrator Mike Davis says, “Middleton Public Library serves as the hub of a dynamic Downtown Middleton, inviting visitors to explore our City both at the Library and beyond.”

The Middleton Public Library just might be one reason Money Magazine ranked the city number one on their 2007 list of “Best Places to Live.”

DEMCO Librarian of the Year
Sturzl2-001Alice Sturzl
Instructional Media Specialist,
School District of Laona

For her distinguished service to the library profession, outstanding involvement in professional organizations, and more, WLA is pleased to select Alice Sturzl as 2007 DEMCO Librarian of the Year. From her promotion of libraries and information literacy in Laona Schools to her involvement in local, regional, and statewide library and education organizations, Alice Sturzl has made numerous important professional contributions during the past 30 years. In addition, she has personally mentored and encouraged many other budding educators and librarians and set an example as a forthright and honest professional.

Heather Eldred, Director, Wisconsin Valley Library Service, says, “Give Alice a job and she’ll do it – and do it well! Ask for her opinion and she’ll give it – thoughtfully and straight on. She adds humor and common sense to every gathering.”

According to nominator Kathy Pletcher, Associate Provost for Information Services at UW-Green Bay, the impact and significance of Alice’s contribution to education and librarianship stem from her deep commitment to improving library services, supporting teaching and learning, and serving the library profession. She has served on Department of Public Instruction committees, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Laona Education Association, Wisconsin Valley Library Service Board (currently as President), Board Of Trustees of The Edith Evans Public Library in Laona, Forest County Library Board, Friends of the Edith Evans Community Library, Wisconsin Valley Library Association, and Northeastern Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications Advisory Committee. In addition, Alice served as WLA President in 1997, and has held many other leadership positions within WLA and the WLA Foundation. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association. Alice Sturzl’s dedication, versatility and leadership acumen make her a worthy DEMCO Librarian of the Year.

Trustee of the Year
LWilson-001Lowell  Wilson
Lakeshores Library System

For his work advancing library service, his involvement in library matters beyond the local community, for his wisdom and persistent devotion to the ideals of good library trusteeship and much more, WLA is pleased to select Lowell Wilson as 2007 Trustee of the Year.

“Lowell Wilson is a man of motion, always going forward – whether piloting his plane, dancing the night away (long after most younger people have retired for the night, mind you) or keeping up on the latest in the library world,” says Kate Bugher, Past President of Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association (WEMTA), in support of Lowell’s nomination for Trustee of the Year.

In fact, Lowell has been in motion ever since he started his career in school libraries in the mid-1940s. He was instrumental in forming statewide professional organizations for audio-visual professionals and served as president of the Wisconsin Audio-Visual Association from 1973-1976. In 1975, Lowell became active in WLA as a member of the division for trustees, chairing the group in 1991. He continues to be an active member of WLA and WEMTA and remains on the board of the Wisconsin Library Trustees & Advocates, a division of WLA. Several years ago, WEMTA established the Lowell Wilson Scholarship to invite practicing certified teachers to enter the library media field. Lowell has served on the board of the Lakeshores Library System since 1983.

As a library trustee, Lowell is constantly learning and encouraging other trustees to participate in library association conferences and leadership opportunities. He has attended most, if not all, Library Legislative Days in Madison, because he takes his advocacy responsibilities very seriously. He is a consistent protector of intellectual freedom, adamantly opposed censorship and Internet filtering, while defending a library patron’s right to privacy and freedom of access to information.

Highsmith Award
HedbergStaffWLAHedberg Library Friday Family Fun Night
Carthage  College, Kenosha

For nearly five years, Family Fun Night has been a gift from Carthage to the local community, using an innovative programming model that can be replicated easily and inexpensively by libraries in other communities. For these reasons and more, Hedberg Library Family Fun Night is selected for the 2007 Highsmith Award.

Family Fun Night provides free, interactive programs on topics ranging from music and geography to international cultures and physics. One week’s program could feature an author, while another could allow participants to use spectroscopes to view the visible color spectrum and a spinning human gyroscope to study properties of angular momentum. Not only do local community members benefit, but the college students, faculty, and staff benefit from preparing and guiding the various activities.

The coordinator of Fun Nights, Kathy Myers, keeps expenses low by featuring on-campus and other local talent in the programs, and by calling on local organizations and resources to promote the programs. The formula obviously works, as a broad range of people from throughout the Kenosha and Racine area attend, along with Carthage faculty, students, and staff and their families. There is no question that this Carthage “gift to the community” has provided significant recreational and learning opportunities for the local community and serves as a model for other library outreach programs throughout the state.

Muriel Fuller Award
Bea LebalBea Lebal, Director
T.B. Scott Free Library, Merrill

For improving community access to library resources, developing collaborations with local organizations to promote library services, and other contributions to library services that benefit users, the WLA selects Bea Lebal for the 2007 Muriel Fuller Award.

Stacy Stevens, assistant director of T.B. Scott Free Library, writes that the library is an integral part of the Merrill Community because of Bea’s tireless efforts to make the library more than just a place to check out books. Bea partners with local artists, the senior center, public schools, legal experts, and others to continually expand services and resources to the community through the library.

Though Bea does not consider herself technologically adept, she communicated her vision for better service through technology and persuaded the library board and city to invest in expanded computer systems and ILS software in 1992. Ultimately, these efforts meant that Bea was poised to help lead the implementation of the Wisconsin Valley Library Service’s shared automated system, V-Cat, in 1999. That system now serves 22 of the 24 WVLS libraries, providing residents with direct access to 1.5 million items.

Bea also realized how important it was to have a Friends group. She started with one volunteer in 1999 and now, the group is an important means of support for the library. After growing the Friends group, Bea worked on growing the library, and in 2002, an expansion project that doubled the library size was completed. Doug Williams, Mayor of Merrill, states, “To Bea’s credit and hard work, the T.B. Scott Free Library is jewel for our community, and will remain for generations to come.”

Citation of Merit
Frank FiorenzaFrank Fiorenza, Potosi 

For outstanding contributions to quality library services by a Wisconsin citizen who is not a librarian or trustee, WLA presents the 2007 Citation of Merit to Frank Fiorenza, President, Village of Potosi.

When the bookmobile formerly servicing Potosi was discontinued in 1997, Village residents were required to drive to Lancaster or Platteville to visit a library. As a former educator and avid reader, Mr. Fiorenza recognized the importance of restoring library services to the Village. In 2005, space opened at the rear of the Village Hall, and though it was hard for many to envision it, Mr. Fiorenza persuaded the Village Board to support the idea of putting a library there.

He contacted potential partners in the Lancaster City government and public library and promoted the idea in both Potosi and Lancaster. He negotiated a three-party agreement for the operating and funding of the branch on a 3-year trial basis, oversaw the renovation of the site, and helped secure donations for shelving and some materials. After years of perseverance, Mr. Fiorenza’s idea for a branch library in Potosi became a reality in January 2007.

Recently, the Village of Potosi has been making significant renewal efforts, including new housing starts, a new restaurant, a major renovation of the historic Potosi Brewery, and a new events center. Thanks to Frank Fiorenza’s leadership and vision, the Village has also acknowledged the contribution a library makes to its quality of life and its sense of community. His efforts exemplify the contributions recognized by the Citation of Merit.

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation