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Reception scheduled Nov. 20 in McFarland
Francis Cherney to receive 2014 ‘Cornerstone Award’

Since 1969 Francis Cherney has been working on behalf of public libraries in Wood County, and on Nov. 20, 2014, he will be recognized for his countless efforts as the recipient of the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundation Cornerstone Award.

“This is the Foundation’s sixth annual award to honor people who have made significant contributions to the improvement of library service in their own communities, throughout the South Central Library System, and statewide,” said Janet Pugh, foundation board president and member of the SCLS Board of Trustees. “I’ve known and worked with Francis for years, and this is a fitting tribute to a selfless supporter of public libraries.”
The award is given to an individual or individuals who have had a significant and long-term impact on enhancing public libraries in South Central Wisconsin and represent the values and mission of the SCLS Foundation. This year’s fundraising award reception will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. at the 5100 Bar, 5100 Erling Avenue in McFarland (

Francis began his public service in 1969 when he started a six-year stint as the town clerk. It was during this time that he started on the Wood County Library Board, serving ever since. He later became a member of the Wisconsin Valley Library System board, and served there until Wood County joined the South Central Library System. He has served as a member of the South Central Library System Board since that time.

In addition to this library service, former Gov. Jim Doyle appointed Francis to the Council on Libraries and Network Development (COLAND). “My experience with libraries through the years has helped me as I serve on this board,” Francis said. “I enjoyed serving for about two years as president of the SCLS Board, and lobbying in Washington, DC, was a learning experience as we tried to get our message out.”

Francis was a frequent participant in National Library Legislative Day in Washington, DC, as a member of the South Central Board. He has also been very involved in the Wood County Farm Bureau Board, and visited Washington, DC, several times to lobby on behalf of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers.

After high school Francis worked on the family farm for several years, was drafted into the army and spent several years in Germany, then returned home to work on the two family dairy farms, managing them after his father’s death, then farming one of them on his own after getting married. “My goal was to milk cows until I was 80,” Francis said. “Well, I did that, in fact more than an extra year now, so, I have to look for a new goal!”

Francis and his wife Bev have one son and two daughters, five granddaughters, and a new great-grandson.
According to Pugh, this sixth annual Cornerstone Award Reception continues a fundraising tradition that has raised more than $60,000 for the foundation in five years

This year’s event will also offer a new twist—three new awards to recognize the amazing work public libraries do every day while serving their communities. The awards are (see related article below):

“This sixth annual Cornerstone Award fundraising reception is a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on someone who has given so much of himself to public libraries,” Pugh said. “It’s also a great way to raise money for the Foundation, which in turn makes funds available for projects that benefit all member public libraries.”

The Foundation contributed $6,188 this year to purchase ebook titles for Wisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive collection), thereby reducing library costs, and will contribute another $5,000 in 2015. An additional $3,975 has been dedicated to the purchase of technology and materials for a traveling makerspace kit being developed by the SCLS Innovation Subcommittee.

SCLS Foundation announces new library awards

Libraries do amazing things as they work to meet the needs and wants of the residents they serve, and in 2014 the South Central Library System Foundation is introducing three new awards to recognize those innovative efforts.
Join us on Thursday, Nov. 20, to find out which libraries will be the recipients of these new awards, which will be presented as part of the 2014 Cornerstone Award fundraising reception from 5:30-7 p.m. at the 5100 Bar, 5100 Erling Avenue in McFarland (

The new awards include:

To nominate a library for one of these awards (or multiple awards), visit All awards will be announced during the 2014 Cornerstone Award fundraising reception, Nov. 20 at the 5100 Bar in McFarland.

Foundation supports purchase of materials for traveling makerspace

Makerspaces in libraries are gaining in popularity across the country, and a recent commitment of the SCLS Foundation Board to contribute $3,975 will soon benefit libraries across the South Central Library System.
Makerspaces are most often thought of as a dedicated space within a library for activities that involve creating something. It might be something as high-tech as a 3D printer that lets people bring their designs to life, or it might be instruction about sewing, quilt making, beer brewing, gardening, or any number of crafts or hobbies

Unfortunately, most public libraries don’t have the option of devoting permanent space to such a use, and that is where a new traveling “makerspace kit” will come into play. The $3,975 will be used to purchase 10 Lego Mindstorm kits that will be available to all member libraries. Leftover funds will be set aside to purchase replacement parts when needed.

Combining the versatility of the LEGO building system with advanced technology, older children and younger teens can create and command Robots that walk, talk, think and do anything they can imagine. Step-by-step 3D building instructions allow for the creation of five different robots—TRACK3R, R3PTAR, SPIK3R, EV3RSTORM and GRIPP3R—which are then brought to life with an easy, intuitive and icon-based programming interface. These robotic kits combine the fun of building with Legos while learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Lego Mindstorms website is a resource to ask questions, get ideas, and compete in online challenges. It is a fully moderated community that is a safe, fun environment for robotic builders and programmers of all ages to share and learn.

This year’s planned purchase is a continuation of the Foundation’s goal of making investment proceeds available to benefit member libraries. For the past two years, and again in 2015, the foundation has made money available to purchase ebook titles for the OverDrive collection (Wisconsin’s Digital Library at

However, the Foundation Board decided that it wanted to do something in addition to that, so members approached the SCLS Innovation Subcommittee for ideas about how to use the funds, and that body (made up of member library representatives and SCLS staff) recommended the Lego Mindstorms project.

Each of the kits can build five different robots, and Innovation Subcommittee member felt that 10 kits was an ideal number that will allow for creative programming in all participating libraries. SCLS will include a laptop computer with the kit, and students can also use smartphones or tablets to download and use a Mindstorms App with the robots.