The Wisconsin Library Association Announces 2017 Awards and Honors Winners

Posted by Brigitte Rupp Vacha on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 in Events and Promotions

The Wisconsin Library Association is pleased to announce the 2017 library Award & Honor Winners, selected for their outstanding contributions to libraries and librarianship:

Citation of Merit: Amy Glaser, River Falls Public Library

Library of the Year: UW-Parkside in Kenosha

WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year: Leah Langby, Indianhead Federated Library System

Programming Innovation Award: Melissa Roelli. Mt. Horeb Public Library, Big Read Program

Special Services Award: Steve Conway

Trustee of the Year: Stephen Runde, Verona Public Library

“We congratulate each winner and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the 2017 Annual Conference at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells next month,” said Plumer Lovelace, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Library Association.

Here are a few more details about this year’s winners:

Citation of Merit: Amy Glaser, River Falls Public Library
Once in a blue moon, or more rarely, a library will find a volunteer and supporter willing to do it all. The River Falls Public Library found that once-in-a-lifetime supporter in Amy Glaser and for her generous gift of time to that library, Amy is the 2017 WLA Citation of Merit recipient. Committed community library members like Amy help make Wisconsin libraries great!

Library of the Year: UW-Parkside Library
Which Wisconsin library has hosted such a successful Big Read program that not one, but two local breweries incorporated phrases from the Big Read book into their beer names? UW-Parkside Library! In addition to the honors of the hops variety, Parkside’s Big Read event also captured fifty community sponsors for the event (and 2500 people attended 40 events). The event was a catalyst for this library which also excels in staff development, responsiveness, and community outreach, including opening the library to a local middle school. This diverse academic library is going to great lengths to exceed expectations in every service area and is this year’s 2017 Library of the Year!

WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year: Leah Langby, Indianhead Federated Library System
Leah Langby is the heart of youth services and library development in northwestern Wisconsin. Leah’s many accomplishments include maintaining the youth services blog, “Keeping up with Kids” for seven years and being an active and vocal proponent of economically disadvantaged populations through her many collaborations. Care, commitment, passion and humility were frequent refrains in Leah’s nomination. Libraries all over the state are better because of Leah Langby, the 2017 WLA Librarian of the Year!

Programming Innovation Award: Melissa Roelli of Mt. Horeb for the Big Read
This year’s Programming Innovation Award goes to Melissa Roelli of the Mt. Horeb Public Library for her creative and expansive Big Read! This innovative program includes not only bringing a community together to read and discuss one book, it grabs onto the Big Read as an opportunity to delve into deeper societal issues while staying true to the themes of a wide variety of thought-provoking books.

Special Services Award: Steve Conway, WLA Government Relations Advisor, DeWitt Ross & Stevens
“Librarians are not known as great risk-takers or seekers of the lime-light. But they do know their stuff and with encouragement – and a righteous cause – they will rise to the occasion. Steve provided the leadership and strategy; librarians provided the details and courage,” wrote Beloit Public Library Director Nick Dimassis of recent WLA legislative successes. Remarkable successes include having three pieces of legislation approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor as well as the first state increase in library funding in many years. With deep gratitude for his calm guidance, energy and enthusiasm, clear direction, perfectly timed advice and sense of humor, we are honored to acknowledge Steve Conway with the 2017 WLA Special Services Award. LD&L Co-Chairs Kathy Pletcher and Connie Meyer wrote, “Steve will say this has been a team effort, and he would be correct. However, his leadership, passion for libraries and librarians, and his hard work has made all the difference in our success.”

Trustee of the Year: Stephen Runde, Verona Public Library
For 17 years of thoughtful, dedicated, and fearless service on the Verona Public Library Board, Stephen Runde is the 2017 WLA Trustee of the Year. Mr. Runde has served as library board president and tackled all duties related to leading a board through a $6.4 new building project; advocated and encouraged innovation with the 2010 installation of an automated materials handling center; ushered in an endowment to support programming; and always remembers to remind other community groups to collaborate with the library. WLA is grateful for dedicated trustees in Wisconsin like Stephen Runde.

An Awards & Honors Reception will take place on Thursday, October 19, at 5:45 p.m., with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The WLA Awards program is supported by the WLA Foundation, through individual charitable contributions and through the generous support of EBSCO.

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.


The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected five individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame (WLHF) in 2017.

The inductees include:

Sandra Friedman Dolnick (1936-2016). Milwaukee native, founder and first executive director of the Friends of Libraries USA.

Joe Jax (1935- ). Director, UW-Stout Library, WLA President (1982), WLA Librarian of the Year (1986), a leader in library technology and resource sharing.

Louise Robbins (1944- ). Educator, consultant, researcher, author, volunteer. Professor, UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies, 1991-2009, and Director from 1997-2009).

Ruby Roeder (1913-2017). Director of the Williams Free Library, Beaver Dam, from 1947 to 1979, who was particularly effective in the areas of library cooperation and outreach.

Lowell Wilson (1916-2015). His contributions as a library professional and volunteer started in the mid-1940s and continued into the 21st century.

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