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2016 Cornerstone Award Recipients
Julie Chase, Mary Lou Sharpee honored by SCLS Foundation

About 70 library supporters gathered Nov. 17 at the Cambridge Winery to celebrate the lifetime contributions of two special 2016 Cornerstone Award Recipients—Julie Chase and Mary Lou Sharpee.

Eight years ago the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundation created the Cornerstone Award as a way to recognize exemplary individuals for their selfless dedication to libraries and the ideals they support.

Julie Chase is the former director of the Dane County Library Service and Middleton Public Library, and Mary Lou Sharpee is a community activist who has been involved in literacy efforts in the Columbus area for more than 40 years.

The 2016 award reception raised about $12,000.

Julie Chase
Julie was inspired to become a librarian by observing and interacting with a school librarian. After earning a Bachelor’s degree from UW-Eau Claire, Julie came to UW-Madison to earn her Masters Degree in Library Science.
After a short stint at North Texas State University, she accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Northwest Regional Library in Thief River Falls, MN, then later returned to Wisconsin to become the Middleton Public Library Director. In February of 1985 she was named Dane County director, and served in that capacity until she retired in December 2014.

Mary Lou Sharpee
During her 42 years in Columbus, Mary Lou Sharpee was for many years the reading coordinator for the Columbus Public Schools. She has continued her efforts to improve literacy through the Columbus Literacy Council and Columbus Public Library.

Sharpee was one of the founding members of the Literacy Council when it formed in the late 1980s. She’s still tutoring people who need help with reading, but these days she is also the group’s president and chief troubleshooter, making sure everyone in need of assistance gets help, training tutors, and keeping the program on track.

Library Awards
Also presented at the Cornerstone Award Reception were three library awards for exceptional and innovative service. Recipients were announced for the Super Awesome Library Award, Program Wizard Award, and Giddy Up Partner Award. Recipients and their program descriptions are below.

Super Awesome Library Award: Rio Community Library
Just before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Rio Public Library hosted its own version of the summer games. Events included kickball and horseshoe tournaments, cupcake wars, Norwegian skis, hay bale hurdles, mini-mini golf, book balance relay, trivia, gaga ball, and a very popular dunk tank. Nearly 400 local “athletes” took part in the activities, or about 40% of Rio’s population!

The Rio Summer Games were a joint effort of the Rio Community Library, village, and volunteer fire department. This event raised nearly $4,000 through sponsorships, special event registration, and individual donations. Proceeds will go toward some much needed improvements to the Rio Firemen’s Park facilities, including an upgrade to the bathroom facilities.

The Rio Historical Society purchased a time capsule commemorating the 150 year history of the community; it will be excavated at the Rio Bicentennial in 2065.

Program Wizard Award: Verona Public Library
The release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” had many librarians looking for a magical outlet. Verona Public Library put all that energy into an after-hours, all ages, wizarding extravaganza called “A Very Potter Party.” Harry Potter fans on staff from all departments joined forces in order to create the world of Harry Potter. The night included Diagon Alley with Butterbeer Floats, a Whomping Willow craft station, Nargel Repelling Necklaces, and Honeydukes Sweets Shop. Daring witches and wizards tested their sweet tooth with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

Giddy Up Partner Award: Baraboo Public Library
The Baraboo Public Library Youth Services Department developed a partnership with the City of Baraboo Parks and Recreation Department that is creating fun, fresh opportunities for kids, teens, and families to get outside to learn and play.

Inspired by an article in American Libraries magazine, Baraboo Public Library Youth Services Librarian Carey Kipp dreamed of creating a StoryWalk® in Baraboo. The pages from a children’s picture book are displayed on a series of kiosks along a path. Stroll down the path and discover the next page in the story.

In an effort that spanned two years, and marked the beginning of this growing partnership, Carey worked with the Parks and Recreation Commission through multiple meetings to select a site from among the many parks in town. Parks and Recreation Department staff donated their time to install the concrete footings and signposts. With funding from the Friends of the Library and private donors, Kipp’s dream became a reality on July 14, 2016 with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the StoryWalk® at City View Park.

Complete descriptions of the projects are available on the Foundation website at

Library fundraising workshop recording available

Last year the SCLS Foundation paid for an all-day fundraising and development workshop.

The morning presenter was Library Strategies, St. Paul, MN, which was created in response to increasing requests of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library for advice and consulting support from libraries nationwide.
The workshop covered an overview of the major areas of development, the roles and responsibilities of the Library Board and development staff, best practices of Friends and Foundations, keys to effective fundraising in libraries, issues or challenges facing the library in fundraising, and future directions for library development.
The afternoon featured a panel discussion with library directors and supporters who recently conducted major fundraising campaigns to support library projects

A recording of the webinar is available at

Consider the meaning of ‘Foundation’

by Janet Pugh, President
SCLS Foundation Board

Just out of curiosity, I looked up “foundation” in Merriam-Webster online. Many of the definitions I had already thought of, but a couple expanded my thinking. So…here are my thoughts about definitions and the SCLS Foundation.

  1. The act of founding, as in “here since the foundation of the school.” The SCLS Foundation was founded in 2001. It has assisted SCLS libraries for 16 years!
  2. A basis (as a tenet, principle or axiom) upon which something stands or is supported. The foundation of the SCLS Foundation is raising “private funds that will, in turn, permit public libraries throughout our SCLS Community to expand their excellent services. Such partnerships are necessary for a great library—public dollars provide quality and private dollars determine the margin of excellence.”
  3. Funds given for the permanent support on an institution. This is certainly a hope for the SCLS Foundation. The South Central part of the Foundation and the funds deposited by libraries in the system are intended as support for our various institutions. Each library’s funds are maintained for that library alone. Because the monies of the participants are invested together, we each get a better financial return to support the purpose, programs, and services of each library. We all want to see our libraries and the system do its best in service of our communities into the future.
  4. An underlying base or support (like the masonry substructure of a building). Several libraries that participate in the Foundation do so with the intention of using the money for remodeling or a new building.
  5. Various other definitions of “foundation” include a: a body or ground upon which something is built up or overlaid (a limestone foundation); b: a woman’s supporting under-garment; c: a cosmetic usually used as a base for makeup. These last definitions seem to focus mostly with how something looks. We all want to look our best and also provide the best service we can.

I am proud to be a part of the SCLS Foundation. I believe in libraries as a foundation for education, literacy, and even social interaction in our communities. And I believe that the SCLS Foundation is a useful, purposeful, and firm way that we can help support South Central libraries, today and into the future.