Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

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Creation of the Council on Library & Network Development

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In 1979 the Wisconsin Legislature created a Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) within the Department of Public Instruction.  The 19 member advisory council advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on issues relating to library and information services in Wisconsin.  Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for three year terms and include a combination of professional and public members.  COLAND emerged from a study conducted by a Special Committee of the Wisconsin Legislative Council in 1977-1979 which was chaired by Calvin Potter.  The Special Committee was charged with developing recommendations relating to: 1) the state aid formula for public library system aids; 2) the future role and function of the Division for Library Services in DPI; and 3) the role of the State Reference and Loan Library in DPI.  The Wisconsin Library Association actively monitored the work of the Special Committee.  The most controversial aspect of the work of the Committee concerned the issue of governance and administration of the Division for Library Services (DLS).  DLS had been created in 1965 when the former Wisconsin Free Library Commission was eliminated and this function was transferred to the DPI. The Secretary position of the former Commission became a Division Administrator position in DPI and was a non-political civil service appointment.  The Wisconsin library community and members of WLA split on how DLS should be governed and administered in the future. One faction wanted to create a new independent board to oversee state level library development and cooperation efforts and another faction wanted to preserve the Division for Library Services as a unit in DPI. The Special Committee of the Legislative Council recommended the creation of COLAND as compromise and it was incorporated into AB 20, the bill introduced by the Legislative Council as a result of the study and enacted by the Legislature.  As part of AB20, the Administrator position for the Division for Library Services was removed from civil service and the appointment was to be made in the future at the pleasure of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  
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Wisconsin's Traveling Libraries

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traveling-libraries-wi-1897-72Under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, the State of New York initiated a state funded traveling library system in 1892.  Traveling libraries were small rotating collections that provided a method for extending library service to rural areas.  These small libraries usually from 30 to a hundred books were located in a post office or store with a volunteer acting as the caretaker of the collection.  In New York the collections stayed in one location for six months before they were rotated.  Michigan initiated a similar system in 1895 and Iowa in 1896.   

Traveling libraries began in Wisconsin in 1896, when Senator James Huff Stout of Menomonie, Wisconsin privately funded a system of these libraries for Dunn County.  He provided 500 books divided into collections of 30 volumes each.  He was assisted in the selection of titles to be included by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which began in 1895.  Senator Stout along with Lutie Stearns and Frank Hutchins had been instrumental in starting the Commission.  More about Wisconsin's traveling libraries can be found HERE.  The image below shows a Stout Traveling Library bookcase at the Dunn County Historical Society

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Wisconsin Libraries Keep Us All in a Better State

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bookmark-if-knowledge-72On January 31, 2006 the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation (WLAF) launched the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries in the State Capitol to promote a better understanding of how libraries contribute to the state’s economic growth, education and lifelong learning, and the quality of life in Wisconsin.  With the theme “Support Wisconsin Libraries: Keep Us All in a Better State” the aggressive public relations and fund raising campaign included a variety of promotional materials, radio spot announcements, and a website WisconsinLibraries.org.  The Campaign included an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 a year to promote libraries of all types.  The photo above is a group shot of attendees at the 2007 WLA conference in Green Bay wearing a tee shirt promoting the campaign. It was taken by Steven Platetter.  Promotional materials included posters, bookmarks, and buttons with a variety of catchy slogans including “If knowledge is power, libraries are power plants.”  The Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries has gradually faded from its original enthusiasm and is no longer active.
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  • Ginny Moore Kruse says #
    I still have my red tee-shirt. Whenever ! wear it, at least one good conversation about libraries is certain to take place with so...

Capitol Fire of 1904

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Two of Wisconsin's most significant libraries were dramatically impacted by the fire that began in the late evening of February 26, 1904 and destroyed most of the State Capitol in Madison. Stanley H. Cravens article "Capitals and Capitols in Early Wisconsin" in the Wisconsin Blue Book for 1983-1984 contains an excellent account of the 1904 fire. A pdf version of that article is located HERE. The first library impacted was the Wisconsin State Library (now the Wisconsin State Law Library). Through quick action the library's collection was mostly saved.  Cravens describes the rescue as follows:
 
"University students continued to arrive to aid in the rescue and fire-fighting efforts. Because of thick smoke filling the building, they were unable to use the stairways and several ladders were secured and raised to the windows in the north wing, which contained the State Law Library. Once inside, they began throwing volumes out the windows to snow banks below; others below began stacking the books haphazardly until State Supreme Court Justice R. D. Marshall arrived and organized the students into lines to pass the books hand-to-hand to nearby stores and later, to waiting wagons. According to Solon J. Buck (who later became archivist of the United States), then a senior attending the University of Wisconsin, this effort grew to five to six hundred people 'and it began to get too crowded to work'."
 
The second library impacted, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, did not fare nearly as well. Henry E. Legler, Secretary of the Commission, described the impact in the Fifth Biennial Report of the Commission. Legler wrote:"The Commission sustained a severe loss by reason of this fire, not only as regards the records, but in the books and material then on hand, and manuscript copies of important publications contemplated.... The Document department [later the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau] which had acquired an exceedingly valuable collection of pamphlets and books, was entirely destroyed.  Much of the destroyed material cannot be replaced, inasmuch as, prior to the fire, most of the state departments had transferred to the Document department the accumulated files gathered for years past.... During the eight years of the Commission's existence, large and useful collections had been made of plans, photographs, and half-tone engravings of library buildings throughout the country, bibliographies, books on library economy, bulletins, reports, blanks, collections of children's books, sample bindings, library devices, and technical tools of every sort.  All of these collections, many of which were thought to be the best extant, were consumed. Of the traveling libraries, 28 were destroyed." Legler continues:  "Libraries throughout the country responded most generously to the request for material.  To the Carnegie library of Pittsburgh, the Commission is indebted for a set of printed cards for 1,000 children's books.  The New York state library sent complete files of its own publications and other library literature.  The public libraries of Cleveland, Providence, Cincinnati, and many older cities supplied valuable publications.  The library of the University of Wisconsin made large contributions of library literature."
 
About the postcard shown above, Cravens writes:"One of the first Madisonians to awake to the sight was 15 year-old Joseph Livermore, who had the presence of mind to use his vest-pocket Kodak to take a most spectacular, if not the only, night photograph of the Capitol fire. Livermore later made copies of the photograph to sell for 10 cents apiece to earn enough money to purchase a bicycle; his father, however, felt the price too exorbitant and made Joseph reduce the price to 5 cents. One of Livermore’s customers was a postcard printer, who ran off and sold hundreds of the postcards, without sharing any of the profits with the boy."
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  • Ginny Moore Kruse says #
    I've never known about this fire. Thank you for such a comprehensive and yet brief report.

Portrait of a Legislative Success Story by Charles Bunge

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As noted in an earlier blog post Charles Bunge, Professor Emeritus of the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies and member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame, made a presentation titled “Portrait of a Legislative Success Story: The Development and Passage of Public Library System Legislation in Wisconsin” at a program on February 8 of this year preceding WLA Library Legislative Day. Bunge also made the same presentation at the May conference of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries. Bunge has allowed the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center to post a copy of the text of his presentation on this website.  Passage of 1971 Senate Bill 47 has been described as “WLA’s greatest legislative victory”. The photograph above shows most of those (including Charles Bunge) who helped achieve this victory at the signing ceremony for the bill.
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    It was an informative and entertaining program, and emphasized the need to collect oral histories from our early system leaders an...

WLA Members Meet in Chicago in 1893

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Due to the unfortunate resignation of Klas A. Linderfelt as president of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) in 1892 it did not meet formally in 1892 or 1893. However, twelve members of WLA attended the meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Chicago in 1893, and they gathered for an informal meeting which is considered to be the second conference of WLA.  As a result of that meeting Reuben G. Thwaites assumed the presidency of WLA. The 1893 ALA Chicago meeting was in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition or World’s Fair. Members of the WLA delegation undoubtedly visited ALA’s library exhibit in the Government Building of the exposition (see postcard above).  They also probably visited the Woman’s Building Library which housed a collection of books written by women from around the world. WLA held its next conference in 1894 in Beaver Dam. Except for 1903 WLA has held a conference every  since 1894. 
 
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Wisconsin’s Early Public Libraries

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Later this week the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries, a division of the Wisconsin Library Association, will be meeting in Oshkosh for its spring conference. The legal authority for the establishment of public libraries in Wisconsin was the public library law of 1872.  The first public library established under this law in Wisconsin was the Black River Falls Public Library.  The second public library established under the law was the Sparta Public Library which was established in 1874 (see postcard above). Public libraries that followed soon after were the Eau Claire Public Library (1875), the Madison Public Library (1875), the Fond du Lac Public Library (1876), the Marinette Public Library (1878), and the Milwaukee Public Library (1878).  Other early public libraries were the Janesville Public Library (1883), the Neenah Public Library (1884), the Beaver Dam Public Library (1885), the Bayfield Public Library (1886), the Hayward Public Library (1887), the Green Bay Public Library (1888), the Wisconsin Rapids Public Library (1890), and the Chippewa Falls Public Library (1891), the Merrill Public Library (1891), and the Washburn Public Library (1891). The dates of establishment for these public libraries are based on the Fifth Biennial Report of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. It should be pointed out that there are some questions about the exact dates of establishment of early Wisconsin public libraries. An excellent research paper titled Public Library Development in Wisconsin: 1872-1900 by Karla Fingerson (unpublished, December 12, 1971) explores those questions. It should also be noted that free public libraries established under the law of 1872 were preceded by fee based membership libraries in many Wisconsin communities. Also, some early public libraries operated under privately appointed library boards and were not established under the 1872 law. 
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Increase A. Lapham and Wisconsin’s First School Library

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Increase A LaphamIncrease A. Lapham (1811-1875) is considered to be Wisconsin’s pioneer scientist and scholar. In addition to his scientific endeavors, Lapham was a supporter and contributor to Wisconsin’s library collections. His efforts in this regard included: helping to found the Wisconsin Historical Society; helping to found the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters; and developing a personal library of over 1,100 volumes that became part of the library of the University of Wisconsin in 1876.  One of Lapham’s most interesting contributions to libraries involved his role in establishing a school library in Milwaukee in 1851.  At the time Lapham was one of the Milwaukee school commissioners and he led the effort to establish the library.  After a resolution proposed by Lapham to create the library was approved by the school commissioners, Lapham moved quickly to establish the library. This included selecting and ordering 704 books costing $371.61.  A librarian was recruited by Lapham and paid fifty dollars a year. The library was located in the building of Milwaukee’s Young Men’s Association and was open for business on Saturday afternoons.  The early enthusiasm for the library gradually dissipated, and only thirty more books had been acquired by 1857.  In 1878 the Young Men’s Association Library became part of the new Milwaukee Public Library and over the years the original school library collection disappeared. 
The primary source of the information in this post is an article by Graham P. Hawks titled “A Nineteenth-Century School Library: Early Years in Milwaukee” in the Journal of Library History for Fall, 1977, pages 359-363. 
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Oldest Wisconsin Academic Libraries

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Determining the date that an academic library was established is somewhat of a challenge. Technically, a library is established when the responsible institutional governing board takes a specific action to do so.  However, such a specific action in regard to academic libraries is often lacking, and academic libraries sometimes use the date of establishment of the overall academic institution for the date of their establishment. Added to the confusion is the definition of what constitutes a library.  Is it merely a collection of books or something more substantial. In 1850 the Smithsonian Institution undertook a major survey of libraries in the United States. For Wisconsin only two academic libraries responded to that survey.  One of these was the Beloit College Library which reported that “the libraries connected with the college now amount to over 1,000 volumes, and arrangements are made which will insure their progressive increase.”  The other was the Library of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The American Library Directory which is published annually asks each library to indicate the year it was was founded. The Colonel Robert H. Morse Library of Beloit College indicates that it was founded in 1849.  The Todd Wehr Memorial Library of Carroll College in Waukesha indicates that it was founded in 1846 which is the date that the College was founded. The General Library System & Memorial Library of the University of Wisconsin at Madison indicates that it was founded in 1850.  The Seeley G. Mudd Library of Lawrence University in Appleton indicates that it was also founded in 1850.  Access to early academic libraries was often extremely limited and sometimes actually denied to undergraduates.  The librarian was usually a junior faculty member who was assigned the responsibility but had limited training as a librarian.
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Academic Libraries & WLA

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The Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries (WAAL), one of the divisions of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), is holding its spring conference this week at the Heidel House in Green Lake.  After its founding in 1891 the focus of WLA was primarily public library service. However, academic librarians participated in the Association from its beginning. Walter M. Smith, Librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, was the first academic librarian elected president of WLA (1908). In 1954 the College and University Section, the predecessor of WAAL, was established in WLA. H. Vail Deale was one of the founders of the College and University Section and served as its first chair in 1955-56.  A complete history of WAAL can be found HERE.

Bookmobiles in Wisconsin Library History

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Today is National Bookmobile Day and the focus of this blog post is bookmobiles in Wisconsin library history. Although there were some earlier uses of motor vehicles to deliver library service, bookmobile service as we know it today was first demonstrated in Wisconsin in 1940 using federal funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Three bookmobiles were purchased by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission using WPA funds. One of the three bookmobiles was used for a demonstration in Shawano County. In March, 1942, following a successful demonstration, the first autonomous bookmobile service in the state was established in Shawano County. Bookmobile service in Shawano County continues today through the Shawno City-County Library. One of the three bookmobiles served Grant, Iowa, Crawford, and Rock counties. Operational funding for this demonstration which only served children was provided through contributions from 26 American Legion posts. The image above shows children using this bookmobile.  The first state funding for public library service in Wisconsin funded a bookmobile demonstration in Door and Kewaunee Counties in 1950-52. Although the demonstration was a success in terms of use by the residents of those counties, a referendum to continue the service failed in Kewaunee County. Although a similar referendum passed in Door County, both referendums were required to pass in order to continue the service.  In 1956 federal funding was made available to extend public library service to rural areas through the Library Services Act. The Wisconsin Free Library Commission developed a state plan for using this funding. It included the development of regional library systems, and bookmobiles were one component of that plan.  By 1993 there were 21 bookmobiles operating in Wisconsin.  Since then the number of bookmobiles has been reduced to eight. More about Wisconsin bookmobile history can be found HERE.
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National Library Week in WI

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Today is the first day of National Library Week with a national theme of “Libraries Transform”. Wisconsin has a long history of participating in National Library Week which began in 1958 as a joint project of the American Book Publishers Council and the American Library Association. Each state was expected to establish a statewide committee to promote the week, and WLA did so. WLA’s NLW Committee initiated a major public relations project under the leadership of Beryl Hoyt in 1961-62 involving the development of television public service spots. As an outgrowth of Wisconsin’s 1962 National Library Week program and under the leadership of Mrs. Bruno V. Bitker, the Friends of Wisconsin Libraries (FOWL) was founded on April 21, 1963. In 1964 WLA received the first Grolier Award for the most effective state National Library Week program in the nation.  National Library Week was promoted on mail with slogans produced by the meter postage machines of libraries and other organizations. Some examples of early National Library Week slogans on meter mail are shown above.
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ALA Comes to Madison, July 8, 1901

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When the American Library Association met in Waukesha in 1901 from July 3-10, Monday, July 8th, was designated as "Madison day" and more than 300 attendees boarded a train for the Wisconsin Capital where they were met by carriages that took them on a tour of the city. A highlight of Madison day was a visit to the recently completed building of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin which housed both the Society's library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. Each visitor received a handsome booklet about the new building courtesy of the Art Metal Construction Company. An image of the front of the booklet is shown above. A Library Journal report on the Madison visit noted that "There was but one opinion of the entire party in regard to the beauty and arrangement of the building, and that was satisfactory to the highest degree."  The image below of the ALA conference attendees in front of the building is from the Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Collection (Image ID 45544).
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ALA Meets in Waukesha in 1901

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ala-waukesha-medal-72The American Library Association held its second conference in Wisconsin in Waukesha, WI in July of 1901 (the first was held in Milwaukee in 1886). As reported in the magazine Public Libraries: "The twenty-third annual meeting of the A. L. A. was held at Waukesha, Wis., with an enthusiasm and interest that has not been equaled more than two or three times in the history of the association."  The conference was held at the Fountain Spring House, Waukesha's premier resort (see postcard above). The Public Libraries article concluded: "A large majority of the people present attended their first conference of American librarians at Waukesha, and the interest, enthusiasm, and evident progress made at this meeting is due largely to that fact.  For months the local associations in the middle west were at work to interest the librarians of their different states in the importance of being present at Waukesha.  Their efforts were successful, and there was but one note sounded in regard to the meeting, and that was satisfaction."  One day of the conference was designated as “Madison Day” and conference attendees made the trip to Madison to see the new combined building of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin Library. More about that in a later post.
 
At early ALA Conferences, mementos were routinely given to participants. At the Waukesha conference, the attendees were given an elaborate medal and a book about Shakespeare. The image of the medal (at left above) is courtesy of the American Library Association Archives which has several examples in its collection. The book (see below) Shakespeare the Man by Walter Bagehot was published by McClure Phillips and Company of New York and 450 of the 1,000 copies published were designated specifically for distribution at the ALA conference.
 
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    What a treat it was to read about this ALA conference in Wisconsin. The event described strikes me as quaint, but it also seems so...

Disaster Strikes the Newly Created Wisconsin Library Association

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linderfelt-72Just a little more than a year after the Wisconsin Library Association was founded and held its first conference one of the most bizarre events in American library occurred. In The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA 1966) Benton Wilcox writes:

“Disaster struck the infant Association in the spring of 1892 through the loss of its president, K. A. Linderfelt, who had also received in October, 1891, the even greater honor of election to the presidency of the American Library Association. Mr. Linderfelt had been born in Sweden and achieved an excellent classical education there before coming to America and Milwaukee in 1870. Here he had secured employment in the Milwaukee Female College as an instructor in Latin and Greek at a pittance of $400 per year, later increased to $600. In 1880 he was appointed librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library at $1,200. As recorded in the Library Journal, “In his twelve years of library administration he won a permanent place among eminent American librarians. A man of brilliant capacities and devoted to his calling, he was practically the creator of the Milwaukee Public Library, which he developed to a high efficiency.”

Unfortunately, in trying to maintain a standard of living comparable with that of the culturally elite of the city with whom he was associated, he became heavily involved in debt. In early 1892, the city having been spurred to a careful audit of its accounts by a defalcation discovered in one of its offices, a shortage of some $10,000 was found in the funds of the public library. Mr. Linderfelt readily acknowledged his guilt and aided the auditors in tracing the shortages. His staff and library board members showed their support by replacing the missing funds, and he was given a suspended sentence. Though Mr. Dewey offered him a position in his organization he returned to Europe, studied medicine, and died a practicing physician in Paris in 1900. The American Library Association expunged him from its records by accepting his resignation as of the day he had been elected its president. The Wisconsin Library Association, without machinery or heart for such decisive action, was left leaderless and apparently no one knew just what to do. As a consequence there was no annual conference in either 1892 or 1893.”

The Wisconsin Library Association forgave Linderfelt and welcomed him back into their fold at WLA’s Centennial reception in Milwaukee in 1991. It went even further and inducted him into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009.  

Read more about Linderfelt.

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WLA's First Library Conference, March 11, 1891

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On this date 125 years ago the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) held its first conference in Madison. According to Benton H. Wilcox's history of WLA, only 26 people were in attendance. Of these 15 were librarians. The call for the conference was worded as follows: "All citizens who are interested in library work are cordially invited. ...teachers and school officers are especially requested to attend. The Association aims to help establish new libraries as well as to aid those now in existence. Practical questions in all lines of library work will be discussed and the future course of the Association will be outlined."  Benton writes that "The program appeared rather hastily prepared. F. A. Hutchins spoke first on the conditions and prospects of town libraries, and later on the manner of establishing free city libraries under the state law. Dr. Birge talked informally on the proper conduct of free city libraries, while Mr. Thwaites gave a short address on the work of city libraries and local history. The only business transacted was to elect to their respective offices for another year the temporary officers chosen by the founding meeting on February 11. If there was any discussion concerning “the future course of the association,” as proposed in the call for the meeting, it is not mentioned in the minutes. No future program was outlined, discussed or even proposed. Nevertheless the minutes assure us that it had been an enjoyable get-together of library interested people. There was not another until July, 1894."
 
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Wisconsin's Membership Libraries

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Milwaukee Young Men's AssociationMembership libraries, sometimes referred to as social libraries, were the predecessors of free public libraries. There were dozens of these libraries in Wisconsin before and after the passage of the 1872 public library law. Membership libraries originated in New England, and it was New Englanders who brought this concept to Wisconsin. Membership libraries were formed when a group of individuals pooled their resources to purchase books which could then be commonly shared. An annual fee was usually required to participate in the membership library. These libraries often struggled from lack of financial resources or strong leadership. Only about a dozen survived for more than ten years. Some of the membership libraries transitioned into public libraries. The oldest of the membership libraries was the Milwaukee Young Men's Association Library (see illustration at left) which turned its assets over to the newly created Milwaukee Public Library in 1878. The Madison Institute Library was formed in 1853 and was replaced by the Madison Public Library in 1875. The longest surviving membership library was the Waupun Library Association which existed from 1858 to 1904. This was largely the result of the efforts of one man - Edwin Hillyer, a Waupun attorney. The library was located in Hillyer's office and he served as Clerk and Librarian at least from 1859 to 1880. A comprehensive history of membership libraries in Wisconsin can be found in the 1973 University of Chicago dissertation of John C. Colson - The Public Library Movement in Wisconsin, 1836-1900.

 

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I Love Libraries and I Vote

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button-i-love-libraries-72On February 3, 2004 on Library Legislative Day the Wisconsin Library Association kicked off an election year campaign, “I Love Libraries and I Vote”. The campaign was designed to encourage library users to vote and to remind those running for public office that many voters cared deeply about libraries of all kinds.  The proposal for the campaign came from WLA’s Library Advocacy Round Table (LART). The idea for the campaign was based on a study sponsored by the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium and partially funded by WLA that determined that 80% of library users voted in the 2002 gubernatorial election compared with 65% on nonusers.  WLA developed a website for the campaign along with tips for libraries to promote the campaign. Buttons (see left) and other promotional materials were distributed to libraries throughout the state. Part of the campaign involved having library patrons mail postcards, similar to the one below from the Beloit Public Library, to elected officials. On the back of the card, the sender provided a personal message about why the library was important to him or her. After this initiative the Library Advocacy Round Table was disbanded because of overlap with other WLA units, and the WLA Foundation embarked on an even more ambitious library marketing campaign, the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries, in 2005. 
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The Wisconsin Historical Society

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The Wisconsin Historical Society was founded in 1847 and it quickly began to establish one of Wisconsin’s earliest library collections. Led by the vision of Lyman Copeland Draper and succeeding secretaries of the Society, that collection developed into one of the country’s largest and most important North American historical collections. The leaders and staff of the Society played an important role in the creation and development of the Wisconsin Library Association.  In addition to Draper, these individuals included: Daniel Steele Durrie; Reuben Gold Thwaites; Minnie M. Oakley; and Benton H. Wilcox among others. A symbol of the early library history of the Wisconsin Historical Society is a bookcase that housed the original library.  The collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society was housed in several buildings over time including the State Capitol. In 1900 the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin Library jointly occupied a newly completed building. That building with expansions continues to house the Society. The UW Library moved into its own building in 1953.  The Society completed a major renovation of its impressive reading room in 2010.  In 2015 the Wisconsin Historical Press published The Wisconsin Historical Society: Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing Stories Since 1846 by John Zimm.
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Founders of WLA

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The following individuals were either instrumental in supporting the idea of a state library association for Wisconsin and/or attended the organizational meeting for the Wisconsin Library Association on February 11, 1891 in the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
 
From the State Superintendent’s Office:
Oliver E. Wells, State Superintendent
Charles A. Hutchins, Assistant State Superintendent
Frank A. Hutchins, Township Library Clerk
 
From the University of Wisconsin:
Walter M. Smith, University Librarian
E. A. Birge, Professor of Zoology 
(also member of the Madison Public Library Board of Trustees)
John C. Freeman, Professor of Literature
 
From the State Historical Society:
Isaac S. Bradley, Librarian
 
From the Milwaukee Public Library:
Theresa West Elmendorf, Assistant Librarian
 
Others:
Minnie M. Oakley, Librarian, Madison Public Library
Lorenzo D. Harvey, President of the Wisconsin Teacher’s Association
Albert O. Wright, Secretary of the State Board of Charities and Reform
 
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