Wisconsin Library Association Awards: Celebrating Excellence in Library Service

Posted by Lisa Strand on Friday, August 31, 2012 in Awards

The Wisconsin Library Association is pleased to announce this year’s library luminaries, selected as outstanding for their contribution to libraries and librarianship:

Citation of Merit: Dr. Lelan McLemore, retired director, Carroll University Library
The Wisconsin Library Association Awards and Honors Committee confers the 2012 Citation of Merit award upon Dr. Lelan McLemore, recently retired director of the library at Carroll University.  Though Dr. McLemore is not a librarian, his nomination supporters say, “…the library has been his great passion, and he has succeeded in creating a library populated with an excellent staff, state of the art library resources, and students and faculty that consider the Todd Wehr Memorial Library the center of academic life on campus.”

Dr. McLemore was chosen as interim director in 1997 in order to oversee a major library renovation, after which a permanent library director was to be hired. However, in the process of renovating the building, Dr. McLemore was inspired to reinvent library services by advocating for better funding and mentoring and motivating staff to find innovative ways to fulfill the library’s mission. Today, about 43,000 patrons pass through the Information Commons annually, no small feat on a campus of 3,000 FTE students!

Special Service Award: Anthony (Tony) Driessen, WLA Lobbyist
Although Tony Driessen serves WLA as a hired governmental affairs consultant, the depth of his service goes far beyond the “hired gun” approach to lobbying. Tony’s broad knowledge of and concern for libraries, his great familiarity with education concerns and political issues, his principled approach to government decision-making and advocacy, and his collaborative nature all combine to make him an effective and valuable friend to libraries.

Tony combines soft-spoken, well-reasoned ideas and insights consistent with open government and strong ethics. With good humor, he challenges WLA to develop more effective advocacy positions and strategies.  He provides countless hours of pro bono service to WLA, as well as to the wider Wisconsin library community by participating in advocacy workshops and events.

Tony’s activities on behalf of libraries are substantial, and he is highly deserving of this recognition.

Trustee of the Year: Jim Backus, Trustee, Wisconsin Valley Library Service
Having served for 11 years on the Wisconsin Valley Library Service board, more than 5 on the Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends (WLTF) board, as well as in numerous other library-related volunteer positions, Jim Backus exemplifies the qualities for which the Trustee of the Year is recognized. Both locally and statewide, he has dedicated remarkable energy to his roles. He has been ahead of the curve in presenting workshops on library technology and adopting such technology himself, including eBooks, blogs and wikis.  He created and administers a Facebook page for WLTF and also serves as the WLTF newsletter editor.

Jim is a tireless advocate for better trustee education and has introduced board development topics regularly at meetings. He also developed an appraisal instrument to improve the evaluation process of the WVLS system director.  Finally, Jim is a staunch advocate for the important role libraries play in our communities, and he participates actively in Library Legislative Day and other advocacy activities.

Library of the Year: David A. Cofrin Library, UW-Green Bay
The Wisconsin Library Association Awards and Honors Committee confers the 2012 Library of the Year award upon David A. Cofrin Library, UW-Green Bay. 

UW-Green Bay’s founding chancellor Edward Weidner placed the Cofrin Library at the physical center of campus. During the past three years, director Paula Ganyard and the library staff have worked hard to make sure it is the heart of the university, as well.

To improve the user experience, the library has waived the interlibrary loan fee for students and instituted text messaging and instant messenger reference services along with the ability to text a call number to a smart phone. The library has also added an embedded librarian program, a virtual shelf browsing function, library instruction via Skype and a public services department to provide faculty, staff and students with more support for their research and learning.
Cofrin Library’s improved marketing efforts have paid off with higher gate counts, a 230% increase in ILL usage and a 25% increase in reference transactions during the past three years.  They have partnered with on-campus entities to host freshmen orientation events, leadership programs, and a “Bash in the Stacks” party for 500 students! To reach out beyond campus, Cofrin participated in Community book projects with Brown County Public Library and hosted the Northeast Regional National History Day competition.

In addition to all these activities, the staff has worked to improve collections and the physical facilities and increase their participation in professional development. They have also become active fundraisers in order to move beyond the base budget. In partnership with University Advancement, the library was able to secure a generous donation to start the Robert L. Ganyard Library Endowment and triple it in the first year.

David A. Cofrin Library has much of which to be proud and is a great example of a Library of the Year. 

WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year: Stephen Proces, Director, Neenah Public Library
For thirty years, Steve has been focused on building libraries and developing services that meet the changing needs of communities. Steve has built the Neenah Public Library into a premier destination in the Fox Cities for programming and collections that appeal to all ages. The current library was built in 2000, when annual circulation was 530,000; this year, it is approaching 1 million items!

His nomination supporters extol his gifted communication abilities; Steve has preferred to eschew the limelight and quietly build a broad base of support for the library. Thus, he has gained support for library budgets that have provided consistent staffing and services while also increasing materials acquisition.

Steve is highly respected by his staff for his generosity in mentoring younger librarians and creating a working environment where staff is free to grow and experiment with new programs and services.  He advocates for new services himself, as well, directing the building of the current library and subsequent redesigns of staff and public areas to improve workflows and enhance customer service. 

Steve has made significant contributions to the profession as a speaker and consultant. He has been an active member of the WLA, serving as WAPL Chair in 1999 and WLA President in 2002.  For all these reasons and more, Stephen Proces receives the WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year Award.

WLA congratulates each winner and celebrates their accomplishments at the WLA Conference awards banquet Thursday, October 25, 2012, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel La Crosse.

The WLA Awards program is supported by the WLA Foundation, through individual charitable contributions. The WLA engages, inspires and advocates for library workers and supporters to improve and promote library services for the people of Wisconsin. The awards program is one way the association acknowledges the dedication of its members to provide exemplary library service to the people of Wisconsin.

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