Past Award Recipients

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014


Super Awesome Library Award

Monticello Public Library -- Libraries come in all shapes and sizes, and each serves its community in unique ways.

Monticello Public Library is the 2019 recipient of the “Super Awesome Library Award,” which is ”For the library that was overall awesome in 2019. Maybe they handled a tough situation with grace. Or took a new approach. Or found a lot of money under a rock and did something really cool with it. Or got a lot of local support and kudos because they play well with others. Or are just plain super awesome every day.” Picured at right (left to right) are: Janet Pugh (SCLS Foundation Board President), Stephen Scanlan (library board president), and Katrina Linde-Moriarty, director.

The year has been one of change for Monticello Public Library, including reorganizing the picture book collection by genre to help young and old readers find their next adventure.

They also remodeled the circulation and juvenile nonfiction areas which provided more space for the children’s section.

Monticello ran a mobile library spot next to the grocery store during the summer to check out materials to patrons and promote library resources, and they also partnered with the school district to offer a summer class at the library, while also providing supportive services to teachers.

That change will intensify in December when the library joins the other South Central Library System libraries in the LINKcat online catalog.

In 2019 Monticello also joined the SCLS Foundation in a strong step toward better financial stewardship of funds donated to the library.

The SCLS Foundation Board is thrilled to recognize Monticello Public Library with the Super Awesome Library Award. Libraries serve their communities in many ways, and sometimes it’s the little things we do that can have the most meaningful impact. Keep up the good work!


Program Wizard Award

Lester Public Library of Rome -- Harkening back in history to the iconic American drive-in movie, Lester Public Library of Rome involved children in a project that required creativity, individuality, and a lot of fun. For its efforts to create a “Drive-In Movie Day” for children, the Lester Public Library of Rome is the recipient of the 2019 “Program Wizard Award.” Picured at right (left to right) are: Janet Pugh (SCLS Foundation Board President), Renee Daley (director), Ron Fregien, Rebecca Whitley, Cassi Williams, Fern Fregien, and Jeanne Osgood.

The description on the award nomination reads: “For a super creative, innovative and fun library program created by library staff. In the library or out. For babies or seniors or anyone in between. A one-off or a regular series. If Dumbledore thinks it's worthy of Wizard status, nominate it!”

The staff held a special week for the children in the Rome area,” said Director Renee Daley. “First they collected large boxes, plastic plates and disks, and decorating items like paint and glitter. Then they announced a special Drive-In Movie Day for the children. Children were invited to the library anytime during the week before the event to select a box to design and decorate like a car.”

Renee said some of the children came many times to add small touches to their car to make it even more special. On Saturday, they came to the library and "drove " their car into a parking space marked on the floor. The movie “Wonder Park” was shown on the big screen while children sat in their cars and munched on popcorn and candy.

Renee said the cars were awesome, and the children (and parents) enjoyed the experience so much that they asked the staff to repeat the program in the future.

The SCLS Foundation Board is thrilled to recognize Lester Public Library of Rome with the Program Wizard Award. Libraries are the heart and soul of a community, and programs like this one help create lifelong bonds with the library. Well done!


Giddy Up Partner Award

E.D. Locke Public Library, McFarland -- Partnering with community organizations and agencies is common practice for public libraries.

The nomination form for the “Giddy Up Partner Award” reads: For those strong community partnerships that add value to the library and the community as a whole. It takes two, baby! Or three…or four. Pictured at right (left to right) are: Jonathan Gillette, Janet Pugh (SCLS Foundation Board President), Heidi Cox (library director), Noah Gillette and Jean Papalia.

E.D. Lock Public Library and the McFarland Optimist Club have collaborated for two years to sponsor the annual Bike Rodeo. The event brought over 175 kids and families to the library on a sunny May Saturday morning for free bike helmets, donuts with the local police department and a chance to win a free bike to take home.

According to Library Director Heidi Cox, the Optimist Club uses the library meeting room on a regular basis now, and families that may not normally use the library are brought to the library as well. A great partnership has been formed and the Bike Rodeo continues to grow too.

Heidi said this partnership helps highlight the services and resources of the library, while at the same time making available to the community the expertise and resources of the McFarland Optimist Club. She said “It’s a win-win for both of us.”

The SCLS Foundation Board is pleased to recognize E.D. Locke Public Library and McFarland Optimist Club with the Giddy Up Partner Award. This project is an example of how public libraries and civic groups can work together for mutual benefit, and to enhance the lives of residents.



Super Awesome Library Award

Alicia Ashman Library (Madison Public Library) -- On Aug. 20, 2018, the Alicia Ashman Library literally became an island from the flooding at Old Sauk and High Point Roads on Madison's west side. Despite operating on emergency lights and very limited capacity, Pam Wittig, the librarian in charge, kept the library open knowing it was too dangerous for staff and patrons to challenge the surrounding waters (Pam is pictured at right with master of ceremonies Rob Ferrett). Pam was joined by Library Assistant Marina Fritz, and three Library Pages, Mary Lynch, Madeline Urso and Shanin Chapman (it was Shanins first day on the job), who assisted with patrons until 1:30 a.m.

At around 9 p.m. when the lights came back on, a firefighter brought a woman into the library who had been stranded in her car for over three hours. Pam remained with her at the library until 4 a.m. and then gave her a ride home at that time.

Earlier in the evening, one patron who was stuck at the library for a few hours was the local alderperson. Upon hearing the above story the next day, he said: "The staff did an incredible job while I was there and this story is awesome. Ive shared it with my council colleagues and will share it with a wider audience in the near future."

When Madison Public Library's Facilities Manager contacted Pam, thanking her for her leadership during the crisis, she simply replied, Well, I was the librarian.

Public libraries serve their communities in many ways, and the actions of staff at the Alicia Ashman Library in Madison are further evidence of the important role libraries play," said Janet Pugh, SCLS Foundation Board President. The SCLS Foundation Board is honored to recognize the Alicia Ashman Library as our 2018 Super Awesome Library. You make us all very proud!"

Program Wizard Award

Madison Public Library (multiple locations) -- Wild Rumpus: an AnjiPlay experience is a project at Haen Family Park, Reindahl Park, and Brittingham Park nominated for the Program Wizard Award because it has brought racially, culturally and socially diverse community members together, encouraged early childhood literacy, activated public park space in a new and innovative way, connected children to nature, and expanded the public's sense of what and where Library programs can be.

At Reindahl Park, Monday nights were transformed from an evening with few people at the park shelter into an evening with more than 100 children and community members connecting. Two weeks prior to the end of the program, total 2018 attendance had reached 2,043 people. One of the Haen Family Park events alone drew 171 people.

"The impact has been substantial and growing," wrote Marc Gartler, Alicia Ashman & Sequoya Library Supervisor in his award nomination. "This project highlights a successful partnership and sharing of resources between agencies." Madison Public Library provided the play material, a trailer for storage and staff at each location. The Madison Parks Division provided park space, a truck and staff for transporting the trailer and onsite materials such as sand. This program is a partnership between Madison Public Library, Madison Parks Division, Madison Public Library Foundation and AnjiPlay.

Carissa Christner (right), children's librarian at Alicia Ashman Library, accepted the award for Madison Public Library.

AnjiPlay is an educational approach rooted in self-directed play and the principles of love, joy, risk, engagement and reflection. Children are provided with play materials including climbing cubes, planks, ladders, mats and wooden blocks. They are given access to sand and water, chalk, paper and markers. Parents and caregivers are invited to step back while closely observing as children take the lead in play.

"Play is also one of the five practices of early literacy as defined by the Every Child Ready to Read initiative," Gartler wrote. "During these programs, children engage in highly active and creative play of their own choosing. They meet other children from their community who may be different from themselves and play together in interesting and complex ways. After playing, children are encouraged to draw a picture of their play and talk about what they did as a form of reflection which strengthens the learning that takes place during play."

Public library programs are not bound by the walls of the physical space, and the AnjiPlay Experience is an exciting example of how libraries can change lives for the better," said Janet Pugh, SCLS Foundation Board President. The SCLS Foundation Board is pleased to honor Madison Public Library with the 2018 Program Wizard Award.

Giddy Up Partner Award

Beth Hays & Ruth Culver Community Library, Prairie du Sac -- Partnering with community organizations and agencies is common practice for public libraries, and on Oct. 18 the Ruth Culver Community Library and Beth Hays were recognized by the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundation as recipients of the 2018 Giddy Up Partner Award. Beth (holding the plaque and trophy) is pictured with Jennifer Endres Way (left), former library director, Meagan Statz interim director, and Helen Campbell, board president.

The nomination form for the Giddy Up Partner Award reads: For those strong community partnerships that add value to the library and the community as a whole. It takes two, baby! Or threeor four. Nominate the library and its partner(s) and describe the amazing stuff theyre doing together.

Ruth Culver Community Library and Youth Services Librarian Beth Hays created a community program to explore the documentary ScreenagersGrowing Up in the Digital Age. The film probes into the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games, and academics. The film offers solutions on how we can help kids navigate the digital world.

Beth worked in partnership with Sarah Ramthun of 6:8, the Sauk Prairie School District, and Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation, which funded the event with aHealthy Life Initiative grant, to create a community discussion. The film was shown to all Middle and High School students presentalmost 1,300 in totalduring the school day on March 22 through the partnership with the Sauk Prairie Middle and High School. Some time was provided for discussion and discussion kit was shared with educators who wished to continue the dialogue after the showing. A free public showing of the film was held on Thursday, March 22 at the River Arts Center for families and interested members of the public; there were approximately 80 in attendance. A discussion facilitated by Assistant Superintendent Jeff Wright was incorporated into the public showing and enhanced the viewing experience.

This was a unique opportunity for the library to help facilitate a dialogue and explore a topic that touches the lives of our youth and families today, said Interim Library Director Meagan Statz. This partnership really highlights the role of the library as a facilitator of conversation on a topic of community-wide interest.

The SCLS Foundation Board is pleased to recognize Ruth Culver Community Library and Beth Hays with the Giddy Up Partner Award, said Janet Pugh, SCLS Foundation Board President. This project is an example of how the library can partner with other community agencies and organizations to work together for mutual benefit, and to enhance the lives of residents.

Outstanding Library Volunteer Award

Nicole Waerzeggers, Sun Prairie Public Library -- Public libraries and their staff member provide vital services and resource in the communities they serve, but most successful libraries have something else in commondedicated volunteers. In recognition of her efforts in support of Sun Prairie Public Library, Nicole Waerzeggers was named the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Library Volunteer Award from the South Central Library System Foundation. Nicole (center) is pictured with Sun Prairie Library Director Svetha Hetzler (left) and Cindy Stankey, the Administrative Assistant for the Sun Prairie Public Library Foundation and the Circulation Manager at Sun Prairie Public Library.

The nomination form for the Outstanding Library Volunteer Award reads: This award recognizes that outstanding volunteer who is instrumental in making your library what it is. It is presented to an individual who through their contributions has had a significant impact on library service in a single community.

The Sun Prairie Public Library is indeed fortunate to have had the support of many dedicated volunteers over the years, said Svetha Hetzler, library director. Among those individuals, Nicole Waerzeggers stands out as someone, through the generous gifts of her time, talents, and passion for public libraries, who has made a dramatic and positive impact on the services, facilities, and visibility of the Sun Prairie Public Library.
Nicole has served four years as a member of the Sun Prairie Public Library Foundation Board, and during that time she has worked to grow the Bookn It Run, which is one of two annual fundraisers hosted by the Foundation. The Bookn It Run is a 5K & 10K run that began in 2004, and today it also includes a 1-mile fun run, a 100-meter dash for children, and a mascot race. Community support is necessary to run the event and over the years, Nicole has developed and fostered relationships that allow the Foundation to make the event a reality.

Through Nicole's hard work and dedication, she has inspired the Foundation Board to seek over 90 corporate and community sponsors, Hetzler said. The 2018 run received over $26,000 in corporate and community sponsorship. Nicole also recruited over 100 volunteers to assist before, during, and after the run. She managed all this while working around the clock, assisting businesses and residents with their insurance needs during the aftermath of the 2018 downtown Sun Prairie explosion.

Through Nicoles inspiration, Hetzler said a firemans boot was obtained and donations were collected to assist fireman Ryan Welch, who was injured during that tragic explosion. $1,000 was raised for Ryan and his family through that effort.

I am deeply grateful both personally and professionally for all that Nicole has done to support the Sun Prairie Public Library through the years, Hetzler said. Nicole's enthusiasm, organization, and commitment to fundraising is second to none. She truly lives up to the mission of the Sun Prairie Public Library Foundation, which is "to raise funds to support the Sun Prairie Public Library, to make it the best library it can be."

The SCLS Foundation Board is thrilled to recognize Nicole Waerzeggers with the Outstanding Library Volunteer Award, said Janet Pugh SCLS Foundation Board President. Volunteers provide valuable service and resources to public libraries, and Nicole has been a beacon for the Sun Prairie Public Library.


Super Awesome Library Award

Lester Public Library of Rome -- Libraries come in all shapes and sizes, and each serves its community in unique ways. Lester Public Library of Rome is the 2017 recipient of the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundations Super Awesome Library Award.

After about a decade of planning and fundraising, the Lester Public Library of Rome was able to add a 4,025 sq. foot addition to the 2,500 sq. foot library. There were volunteers who made themselves available to move shelving, books, cabinets, and other library materials into the new addition in January said Library Director Lore Ingram. There was no money for landscaping, so Friends of the Library requested and received a grant from Incourage Foundation to finish some projects. Master Gardeners planted, hauled wheelbarrows of compost and wood chips, and worked hard to get the outside landscaping done in time for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in June. Prairie Nursery donated some plants to help finish some of the demonstration garden areas the Master Gardener Volunteers were creating. The cooperation of all of these groups was awesome! Ingram added that Town of Rome maintenance staff were also instrumental in the waning days of the project to help get the landscaping work completed.

According to Ingram, the staff at the Lester Public Library of Rome has done a super awesome job creating expanded programming for patrons of all ages. There is a large childrens area that has Lego and train tables for children to play with, as well as an expanded book section. Staff has recruited Town of Rome Police Officers to offer a week-long Read With An Officer program for children, and staff created a Drop, Roll, and Read program with Fire Department Volunteers. Children even got to sit in a patrol car and examine a Fire Truck during these programs. The Summer Reading Program had 70 children register, and the reading minutes more than doubled during the summer reading challenge. At the end of the program, participating children were able to pie the staff.

With the new program room, residents now have a space they can reserve for meetings and events, and Ingram said the Rome Community loves the newly expanded library.

Program Wizard Award

Stoughton Public Library -- Harry Potter and the imaginary wizarding world continue to enthrall readers of all ages, and Stoughton Public Library capitalized on that interest by hosting Harry Potter escape room sessions for teens this past summer. For this program, Stoughton Public Library has been selected to receive the 2017 South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundations Program Wizard Award.

Stoughton Public Library put on a Harry Potter themed trivia escape room, and it was so popular we had to add two more sessions! said staff member Sarah Bukrey in her nomination of the library and Cynthia Schlegel. It was so timely. The amazing props that Cynthia brought in and the planning done for all the trivia was fantastic. What a great thing for the teens/tweens of our city.

According to the nomination from staff member Amanda Bosky, Cynthia spent an extensive amount of time crafting props and puzzles for the teens to work through collaboratively. The teens had a wonderful time making potions, playing tunes on a recorder to "unlock" a door, and emptying the Pensieve to find a key at the bottom, Bosky said. Not only was Cynthia a master prop-maker, she also hosted the program with her typical warmth, kindness and patience as the teens tore around the room working on puzzles together. She went above and beyond, agreeing to host the program three times so 36 teens would be able to enjoy the program.

The Carnegie Room of the library was transformed into a Harry Potter World that included: Harry's owl Hedwig in his cage, buttons and information on Harry's club S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare), several plants from Professor's Sprout's Herbology class, Professor Umbridge's office with kittens and tea, the Great Hall complete with Sorting Hat and falling letters (mail brought by owls), 'The Invisible Book of Invisibility', and a libraryof course!

Giddy Up Partner Award

Sun Prairie Public Library & Sun Prairie Media Center -- Partnering with community organizations and agencies is common practice for public libraries, and on Nov. 2 the Sun Prairie Public Library and Sun Prairie Media Center will be recognized by the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundation as recipients of the 2017 Giddy Up Partner Award.

The Sun Prairie Public Library and the Sun Prairie Media Center have been working together to bring creative programming to residents over the past few years. In 2017, we created several recordings, including a whimsical feature on Sun Prairie's "Georgia Cow'Keeffe", one of the cows from the Wisconsin Cow Parade, said Library Director Svetha Hetzler. During the summer and spring, the cow resides outdoors in Cannery Square, but during the winter months the cow moves indoors and greets patrons in the library entrance.

This feature included interviews with patrons and staff, asking them what they like most about the cow, Hetzler said. In addition, the media center attends library events, including our Foundation's fundraising events to interview patrons about how the library has transformed their lives.

This year the library and media center created a focused plan for collaboration that will be mutually beneficial to both city departments, accordingly to Hetzler. The media center is looking to increase community engaged programming, and the public library will provide a monthly radio show and a quarterly television show called Connect @ Your Library.

In turn, Hetzler explained that library staff members will be able to use the media center's equipment for bi-weekly PSA recordings to bring awareness to events at the library. This fall, the staff at the media center began providing "Media Maker Labs" for library patrons. Separate workshops will be held for children and adults so that participants can learn the art and skills needed for radio, podcasting, and filming. The single class workshops give patrons a taste of creating media and the opportunity to decide if they'd like to pursue full-length workshops at the media center or volunteer their services at the media center.

This partnership really helps highlight the services and resources of the library, while at the same time making available to the community the expertise and resources of the Sun Prairie Media Center, Hetzler said. Its a win-win for both of us.

Outstanding Library Volunteer Award

Beth Persche, Baraboo Public Library -- In recognition of her efforts in support of Baraboo Public Library, Beth Persche (at right, center) has been named the inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Library Volunteer Award from the South Central Library System Foundation.

The Baraboo Public Library is indeed fortunate to have had the support of many dedicated volunteers over the years, said Meg Allen, library director. Among those individuals, Beth Persche stands out as someone, through the generous gifts of her time, talents, and passion for public libraries, who has made a dramatic and positive impact on the services, facilities, and visibility of the Baraboo Public Library.

Beth served as a Trustee on the Library Board from December 2004 to January 2010, and in 2008 she chaired the committee charged with hiring an architect to begin the library renovation and addition project. During the design process in 2009, in addition to fulfilling her responsibilities as Building Committee Chair and Board member, she also attended nearly every meeting held between the library staff and the library building consultant during program development. According to Allen, Beth felt it was absolutely critical to the success of the project that she have a deeper understanding of staff needs for the new space.

In 2014 Beth volunteered to be part of the creative team charged with planning and presenting the librarys first-ever fundraising gala, A Novel Evening. Stunning decorations made from re-purposed books captured the imaginations of the guests and set the mood for an unforgettable evening. This event was pivotal in the effort to help our community see the Baraboo Public Library in a new light.

When the Friends of the Library were in need of new officers, Beth was asked to volunteer and became President in 2015. Under her leadership the Friends treasury has grown from $7,000 in 2014 to an annual operating budget in 2017 of about $15,000 with an additional $15,000 in reserves. Instrumental in this success has been her leadership in instituting an annual membership mailing conducted in the fall of each year.
In the fall of 2016 Beth served as a member of the steering group that crafted the process followed by the citizen committee that studied the past work on the building project as well as serving on the committee itself. The final report from this group has been the key to obtaining a renewed commitment from the Baraboo Common Council and a place holding dollar amount in the 5-year City of Baraboo Capital Plan of $10 million.
In the spring of 2017 Beth served on the work group that selected furniture, carpet and paint to refresh the Adult Department reading room, providing needed electrical updates and enhancing the furnishings to highlight the historic details of the space. She worked tirelessly, experimenting with paint samples and helping clean and dust wooden shelving and trim when the work began.

Also this spring, for the first time the library was a stop on the downtown Baraboo Spring Wine Walk. The Friends sponsored the event, and under Beths leadership they pulled out all the stops with clever, imaginative decorations and door prizes all made from re-purposed books, delicious home-made appetizers to accompany the wine, and volunteers to staff the event. Everyone was delighted including a major donor who announced that the library was her favorite stop! The Wine Walk brought regular patrons through our door, but also many folks who hadnt visited the library in years or ever. Once again, Beths efforts opened eyes to what the public library has to offer.

I am deeply grateful both personally and professionally for all that Beth Persche has done to support the Baraboo Public Library through the years, Allen said. The impact she has had on raising the profile of the library in the community with her imaginative vision for events like A Novel Evening and the spring Wine Walk is impossible to quantify, and in my opinion priceless. Her financial contribution through leadership of the Friends is easy to quantify and no less staggering. The Baraboo Public Library is poised to begin a new chapter and Beths contributions have been essential to making it happen.


Super Awesome Library Award

Rio Super Awesome Library Award PhotoRio Community Library -- What a way to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- the Rio Community Library is definitely a Super Awesome Library!

A note from Rios library director, Jenna Assmus: I personally love the Olympics and when I started with the Rio Community Library I knew we had to do something to celebrate the fact that we share a name with the host city. We of course, pronounce it differently, but the opportunity was too great to pass up! The folks at village hall had received a few calls from news outlets asking if any events were planned so we jumped at the opportunity to get the community together for a bit of fundraising and fun.

Just before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the folks in Rio, WI hosted their 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, thats about 40% of Rio (WIs) population!

The Rio Summer Games were a joint effort by the Rio Community Library, village, and volunteer fire department. This free community event raised nearly $4,000 through sponsorships, special event registration, and free-will donations. Proceeds will go toward some much needed improvements to the Rio Firemens Park facilities, including an upgrade to the bathroom facilities to make them accessible to all folks who visit the park.

The Rio Historical Society also took the community gathering as an opportunity to bury a time capsule commemorating the 150 year history of the community; it will be excavated at the Rio Bicentennial in 2065. We capped off the day with a concert by the Samba Novistas, an area band whose lead singer hails from Rio de Janeiro.

Program Wizard Award

Verona Program Wizard Award PhotoVerona Public Library -- The recent release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had many librarians looking for a magical output. Here at Verona Public Library, we 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 (of that to rival Dumbledores Army) 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 Botts Every Flavor Beans. Members of the four Hogwarts houses tested their knowledge with trivia to earn house points and showed of their wizarding wears in a costume contest. To defeat the Dark Lord, there was a Horcrux Scavenger Hunt and a challenging Triwizard Maze which wound through the Adult Area ending with a portkey to a graveyard. Witches, wizards, and muggles of all ages joined us for the event. This event brought together 180 Harry Potter fans of all ages from baby on up and proved that Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. (J.K. Rowling)

Giddy Up Partner Award

Baraboo Public Library Giddy Up Partner Award photoBaraboo Public Library -- The Baraboo Public Library Youth Services Department has 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 StoryWalk concept was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont. 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, Ms. Kipps dream became a reality on July 14, 2016 with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the StoryWalk at City View Park.

In the spring of this year, Youth Services staff hosted a special Saturday program at Ochsner Park Zoo. Families and young children were invited to craft food creations and toys for the zoo animals and watch as zoo staff fed the animals the special treats they made. This program was such a success that it will be an annual event.

The 2016 summer reading program theme, Get in the Game Read, presented another great opportunity to work with the Parks and Rec. Department. A number of the weekly programs for families and teens took place at parks all over town including:

  • Play Day at Pierce Park with jumbo lawn games like JENGA, bowling, and chess and old stand-bys like kickball, croquet, and potato sack races;
  • Train like an Astronaut at the Baraboo Civic Center Gym that simulated the training astronauts go through to get space ready; and
  • Muggle Quidditch at Langer Park and Calvinball at Attridge Park on two Teen Tuesdays.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Hardy has been open, enthusiastic, and super supportive. He was excited to cross-promote these joint program initiatives in his departments publicity materials. Mike is always ready to try something new.

Partners provide each other with complementary resources and benefits, creating the potential to achieve what may not otherwise be possible. The partnership between the Youth Services Department and Parks and Rec. has flourished and achieved this outcome and were just getting started!


Super Awesome Library Award

North Freedom Public Library -- North Freedom Public Library is a wonderful haven for both young and old, male or female, said Marja J. Lawrecki, the nominator and self-described proud member of the North Freedom Public Library. She said at North Freedom Public Library there are many opportunities to win prizes for reading skills, book reports and buddy reading programs, and when North Freedom lost its mini handy market, the library started serving as a haven for the purchase of sweets, cookies, water and sodas. Many of these items are baked and donated by patrons of the library, Lawrecki said, and all proceeds go to the library.

However, the most wonderful thing about this librarybesides its wonderful, helpful librariansis that they provide reading glasses to the customers who have difficulty reading, using the computer, or scanning for items, Lawrecki said. I cannot think of any one place that provides this service to its library customers. After all, what is a library for if not to study, read, or scan information on the computers. And if one can not see clearly, how can one accomplish this...well, the North Freedom Library has thought of it all.

North Freedom Public Library also has a collection of special cake pans, in all shapes and sizes, that it loans out to customers. There is a teddy bear, SpongeBob SquarePants, a Minion, a dump truck, and many others -- mroe than 90 in all.

Program Wizard Award

Mount Horeb Public Library -- Each October, Mount Horeb Public Library encourages the community to come together surrounding the joy of a good book through a series of programs that take place under the overarching theme, "The Big Read." This year the library took a slightly different approach when it chose "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee. Set in the mid 1900s, this novel explores the characters' personal and political struggles during the turbulent era that shaped America.

Reference and Adult Programming Librarian Melissa Roelli planned and coordinated all events associated with the Big Read, and many other programs that took place this fall. We are so lucky to have her on staff, said Jessica Williams, director. The Big Read featured films, events, music and book discussions. The Friends of the Library provided 50 free copies of the book to the first 50 people who registered for the program, beginning Sept. 1. This year we gave the books away in less than 6 hours, which was a library record! said Williams.

The kickoff event featured Michael Edmonds, deputy director of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library Archives Division, discussing Freedom Summer (Civil Rights). He also introduced a multi-paneled nationally touring exhibit about Freedom Summer that was on display in the library from Oct. 1-19. Other events included a documentary about Harper Lee followed by discussion, and a screening of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird (complete with a homemade Lane Cake).

The biggest program of the month was Music of the Civil Rights Era with the Hanah Jon Taylor Artet (a quartet) from Chicago, Williams said. This educational evening featured not only incredible live jazz, but Hanah Jon Taylor also shared the history and the meaning behind the songs and music. His personal experiences, and the stories and poetry of the friends he brought, truly taught the reason the music was so important to the African American Community and the Civil Rights movement. According to Williams, this program gave the more than 65 participants a personal glimpse into the lives of African Americans during the mid 1900s. We are still hearing rave reviews about the program, and all the programs that occurred throughout the Big Read, Williams said. Because of this multi-faceted event, the Mount Horeb community gained a much deeper understanding of the Civil Rights Era in America.

Giddy Up Partner Award

Columbus Public Library -- In 2015, Columbus Public Library, Columbus Area Senior Center, Columbus Recreation, Columbus Community Learning Center and the Columbus Community Hospital teamed up to create the Columbus Community Calendar, a one-stop, online web resource for things happening in and around Columbus, Wisconsin.

The calendar was an instant success, with more and more people turning to it for information each month and over a dozen organizations now listing their events on a regular basis, said Cindy Fesemyer, director of Columbus Public Library. The group just renewed the calendar subscription for another year and now knows the calendar will live on for years to come.

According to Fesemyer, the five founding organizations continue to meet regularly to administer the calendar for the community. As a result, we are now planning a community-wide Bike Week in the spring of 2016, Fesemyer said. In an effort to create a more bikeable town, bicycle safety programs, a bike rodeo, bike rally and fun bike programs will take place all over town, hosted by at least a half dozen organizations and individualsall just in time for the spring riding season.


Super Awesome Library Award

Middleton Public Library -- In 2014, Middleton Public Library staff engaged the community through new and creative collaborations including outreach to students attending afterschool programs, designing an art venue -- Community Canvases -- for local artists then combined them all to create one amazing mosaic, made visits to the American Family Hospital, provided their community with a Return On Investment Report, provided trolley rides to second-graders from all five of the elementary school to the library for a tour and card registration, reached out to at-risk students at Middletons Clark Street School, partnered with various city departments to offer various programs for kids and families (gardening, art, literature). In addition, Middleton was awarded a $15,000 Monsanto Grant which will engage local experts as instructors at their mobile Media Maker Lab in 2015 and will be hosting its first ever Read Together Middleton program.

    Program Wizard Award

    Portage Public Library -- Portage Public Library partnered with local public schools to provide summertime meals to school age children and their families. Kids on free and reduced lunch lose access to food over the summer months while school is on break. Working together, library and schools provided free lunches at the library, bringing kids and families in to nourish their bodies and their minds during those critical summer months.

    What a Great Idea Award

    Verona Public Library -- Meet Santas Reindeer was one of the library's most well attended events of all time, with 650 people coming out to see three real live reindeer at the library. (Well, just outside the library in the parking lot.) The incredibly cute and docile reindeer posed for pictures with people in a festive red sleigh. Elves shared facts about the amazing animals with the crowd. People headed into library to warm up with hot chocolate and enjoy card-making, and a local musician played historical holiday songs with guitar and vocals by the Christmas tree. He had a hat out for donations to the library as he was "Busking for Books". It was a truly magical evening that brought people of all ages to the library and demonstrated to the community how the library is their social meeting place.

    For more information, contact Martha Van Pelt, South Central Library System Director, (608) 246-7975.