2008 Award Winners

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Library of the Year

Menasha Public Library staff photoMenasha Public Library Elisha D. Smith Public Library 

Menasha is a second time winner of the Library of the Year Award, having also been designated as such in 1988. Supporters describe the library as a vibrant, collaborative, and vital part of the city. The staff, of course, is the winning element in any Library of the Year, and this library’s staff is adept at improving library service by using new technologies and collaborating with other organizations such as the Menasha School District and area nonprofits. They have doubled the programming for children and adults, initiated several blogs for staff and patrons, used podcasting, and developed the largest public library del.icio.us links collection in the United States – among many other notable service achievements.
Photo by Steven Platteter

DEMCO/WLA Librarian of the Year
bernie bellinBernie Bellin, Lakeshores Library System, Waterford

Bernie Bellin is director at Lakeshores Library System in Waterford. Praised for his success as a library director and system director, Bernie also stands out because of his commitment to statewide and regional library organizations. He has served as WLA Conference Chair a record four times and chaired the WLA Foundation Silent Auction four times, in addition to helping with numerous other library-related fundraisers and advocacy efforts. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Bernie has developed a huge network of personal and professional colleagues, fulfilling the role of both mentor and friend to many.

Trustee of the Year
Doug LayDoug Lay, Mosinee

Doug Lay, Mosinee, the Trustee of the Year, is a former librarian who has also served libraries with more than 20 years as trustee for the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. He served two 3-year terms on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Advisory Committee, and in 2007, he was appointed to a three-year term on the Council for Library and Network Development (COLAND), both of which are advisory to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. His involvement in the WLA began when he joined the association in 1980, and he has served on several committees. In addition, he has served many terms on the Board of the Wisconsin Library Trustees & Friends, a division of WLA. He currently is serving on the WLTF Board and on the WLA Board of Directors, as well. Supporters describe him as a tireless library supporter who is erudite, wise, and thoroughly enjoyable to have as a colleague – and a model for other trustees throughout the state.
Photo by Steven Platteter

Special Services Award
Bob BlitzkeBob Blitzke, Madison

Bob Blitzke, recently retired from the South Central Library System, could be called the father of the statewide delivery network that we all benefit from today. Of course, many people contributed to building the network, but those “other” people are happy to give Bob the credit for having the vision and the enthusiasm to make Wisconsin’s library delivery service a nationwide model. Kathy Pletcher, one of the many supporters of Bob’s nomination, recalled the early years of delivery service when she would see Bob on a delivery route. “He was always cheerful and knew his customers by name. There was no task that was beneath him. He saw all work as contributing to the sharing of knowledge and spreading literacy.” The long-lasting impact of Bob’s contribution to library service make him especially worthy of this year’s Special Service Award.
Photo by Steven Platteter