2020 Awards & Honors


2020 Awards Announcements

TheAwards & Honors Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association annually selects winners for the following awards: 
Citation of Merit

Library of the Year Award
The Muriel Fuller Award
Programming Innovation Award
Special Service Award
Trustee of the Year Award
WLA/DEMCO Librarian of the Year Award

The Wisconsin Library Association is pleased to announce the 2020 Library Award & Honor Winners, selected for their outstanding contributions to libraries and librarianship:  

Citation of Merit:  Chris Brookes
Nominated by: Emily Kornak & Rachel Strehlow, Lake Geneva Public Library

Library of the Year:  Kenosha Public Library
Nominated by: Brandi Cummings, Kenosha Public Library

Programming Innovation Award:  North Shore Library’s Pen Pal Program, Glendale, WI
Nominated by: Lizzy Lowrey, North Shore Library

Special Services Award:  Stefanie Morrill
Nominated by: Emily Pfotenhauer, WiLS 

Trustee of the Year:  Jim Moes, Kimberly-Little Chute Library Board, Little Chute, WI  
Nominated by: Steve Thiry, Kimberly-Little Chute Library

The Wisconsin Library Association congratulates each winner and will celebrate their accomplishments in a soon to be determined manner. 

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.

Citation of Merit  

Chris Brookes is one of the most special patrons the Lake Geneva Public Library has. From serving on the library board and the Friends board to organizing an annual local author festival, she endlessly contributes her wealth of knowledge and community connections towards the library’s mission of making lifelong learning available and accessible to everyone. Chris does this selflessly with a tremendous amount of donated time and energy. She is deeply appreciated by every library staff member and library trustee. 

Chris Brookes is awarded the Citation of Merit for her many contributions to the Lake Geneva Public Library and its community from the Wisconsin Library Association.

Library of the Year 

The Kenosha Public Library has spent the last six years deeply committed to and heavily involved in our county’s StriveTogether initiative, Building Our Future. Immersion in this collective impact partnership has forced the library to critically reexamine all of its policies, services, staffing, and collections through an equity lens. This preparation has enabled the Kenosha Public Library to courageously rise to the challenges of both COVID-19 and the recent riots that sent their city up in flames. Throughout the turmoil, the library staff has remained undaunted. The Kenosha Public Library was determined to deliver programs, collections, and wireless access to neighborhoods across the city. They opened library branches on streets that looked like war zones three days after the fires were extinguished and drove wireless hotspot vans into neighborhoods afflicted with high rates of child poverty. All of this was done to sustain some semblance of normalcy for children and the elderly by getting books into their hands and meeting them virtually face to face. 

The fact the Kenosha Public Library’s responsibility to the community does not stop at the library’s walls and for its progressive commitment to the success of the Kenosha Community, the Kenosha Public Library is truly deserving of the 2020 Library of the Year Award.

Programming Innovation Award

The Library Pen Pal Program, designed and implemented by the North Shore Public Library, has received the 2020 Programming Innovation Award. This program pairs children with a senior they haven’t met yet in order to write letters to each other all summer until ultimately meeting in person at the Pen Pal Picnic. Creating P.O. Boxes at the library allowed participants easy participation and created a sense of excitement as they checked their mail while visiting the library. A huge benefit of this program was the Library’s ability to keep it running despite the current pandemic. Although many programs needed to be cancelled due to the circumstances, the North Shore Library decided that a program like Library Pen Pals where people could connect with one another in a safe, socially distanced way is more important now than ever.  

Special Services Award

Stef Morrill has served Wisconsin libraries as a thoughtful and compassionate leader for more than two decades. Stef is described by those who know her as creative, collaborative, and courageous. She is seen by her colleagues as a connector and one who creates community wherever she serves. After beginning her career in the state’s library community at the Wisconsin Reference & Loan Library, Stef served as New Technologies Coordinator and later as Associate Director for South Central Library System (SCLS) from 2001-2011. She established SCLS as a statewide leader in providing technology services to member libraries at a time when libraries were first beginning to adopt new IT innovations and platforms that have become vital to Wisconsin residents’ access to information and resources. In 2011, she took the helm as Executive Director at WiLS and gracefully guided the small non-profit through a comprehensive reorganization. Working closely with a stellar board of directors and the WiLS member community, Stef re-envisioned the organization from the ground up –and then made it happen. The transition included some extremely difficult conversations and decisions, including a new membership model, a major reduction in staffing, and a shift to a “virtual office” model with no central physical location. Stef led the reorganization process thoughtfully and with the utmost transparency, clearly communicating all changes to staff, members, and the library community as they happened, and incorporating their input wherever possible.

Stef brings an energetic presence and highly personal voice to all that she does. One of the best examples of this authenticity was her weekly email message to WiLS members where she highlighted issues on her mind and how they inspired and informed her work. In 2020, after more than 20 years of amazing service to libraries in Wisconsin, Stef decided to continue her passion of serving others by focusing her efforts on her local community, establishing River Valley Commons, a non-profit that aims to increase the well-being of the community of Spring Green and the surrounding region.

The Wisconsin library community is fortunate to have benefitted from having Stefanie in our midst for so long and the Wisconsin Library Association is pleased to recognize and honor Stefanie Morrill with WLA’s Special Services Award.  

Trustee of the Year 

Jim Moes, current President of the Kimberly-Little Chute Library Board of Trustees, has been named the 2020 Trustee of the Year. Jim has been a leader with a reputation for supporting libraries for over 30 years. Jim is a man of action and has contributed to positive change through his words and deeds. He was instrumental in fostering the dream of building Little Chute’s first public library and is a constant advocate for libraries, ensuring local planning takes libraries into consideration as communities grow and change. Because of Jim’s wisdom and sound judgement, Library Director’s under his leadership speak of being supported, valued, and encouraged in their work. Jim’s commitment to libraries and his community cannot be overstated and we congratulate him for this honor.