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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Lutie Stearns and the Woman's Congress at Tower Hill, WI

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This article was also posted on The Library History Buff Blog.   

For Women's History Month I thought I would post a story about Lutie Stearns, one of Wisconsin's greatest library pioneers. As often happens, a piece of postal librariana was the stimulus for my engaging in some library history research. I was delighted when I researched a picture postcard depicting the Ann Mitchell Library at Tower Hill, Wisconsin (shown above) to find that there was a link between Tower Hill and Lutie Stearns. Tower Hill is now the Tower Hill State Park, but was originally the summer retreat of Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a prominent Unitarian minister. As is explained in the first issue of La Follette's Weekly Magazine (January 9, 1909), Jones sponsored an annual Woman's Congress at Tower Hill. The guests at the Woman's Congress were limited to twenty-five invited individuals, and the speakers and topics for the Congress were selected by a committee which Lutie Stearns chaired for several years. Stearns at the time was on the staff of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which she helped to found in 1891. In addition to her advocacy for free public libraries and traveling libraries, Stearns was an outspoken advocate for women and their role in society. Library Journal (October, 1916) reported on on a Library Congress held at Tower Hill in August of 1916. This Congress was also chaired by Lutie Stearns. Librarians from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and North Dakota participated in this informal gathering to discuss library issues and to relax. It is in that Library Journal article which was written by Stearns that mention is made of the Ann Mitchell Library.  It notes that: "The afternoons during the week were given over to informal conferences and visits to the Ann Mitchell Library building on the Tower Hill grounds, which was found to be well supplied with the classics as well as the better part of latter-day literature." I have been unable to determine the identity of Ann Mitchell. Jones was a promoter of women in the ministry so perhaps she was a minister. The library and the building that housed it no longer exist. I also have a blog post about Lutie's speech impediment and her proposal for a book wagon. I highly recommend a book about Lutie for young people titled Books in a Box.

Library History Exhibits Schedule for 2012

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center sponsors exhibits of Wisconsin library memorabilia and other library artifacts for display in Wisconsin libraries. The Center currently has an exhibit on display at the Mukwonago Community Library for the month of February. The Mukwonago Community Library which recently moved into a new building will be holding an open house on February 11.

After the Mukwonago exhibit, exhibits are planned for the following libraries through the end of 2012.

March, 2012 - Angie W. Cox Public Library, Pardeeville, WI

April, 2012 - Hales Corners Public Library (Special exhibit - Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I)

April-May, 2012 - Waupaca Area Public Library, Waupaca, WI

June, 2012 - Lone Rock Community Library, Lone Rock, WI

July, 2012 - Matheson Memorial Library, Elkhorn, WI

August, 2012 - DeForest Area Public Library, DeForest, WI

September, 2012 - Cedarburg Public Library

October–November, 2012 - Kimberly–Little Chute Public Library, Kimberly, WI

December, 2012 - Open

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Reedsburg Public Library Carnegie Exhibit

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reedsburg-carnegie-plans.jpgThe first exhibit of library memorabilia sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center this year is at the Reedsburg Public Library. It will remain there for the month of January. The exhibit focuses on the Wisconsin library legacy of Andrew Carnegie. This is very appropriate since Reedsburg's Carnegie library building is 100 years old this month. Although the public library now occupies a new building located across the street from the Carnegie building, the Carnegie is still used to house the library's archive collection. I was delighted to find that the library has preserved and framed the original plans for the Carnegie building which were approved by James Bertram of the Carnegie Corporation on March 11, 1911.

One of Seven Sisters in Merrill, WI

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merrill-frieze-detail-72.JPGMy wife and I installed the exhibit "Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy" early this week at the T. B. Scott Free Library in Merrill, Wisconsin. The exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. This year is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Carnegie library building in Merrill. A major addition to the building was completed in 2001. The integration of the older building with the new addition has been done remarkably well. The original Carnegie building was designed by the
architectural firm of Claude & Starck in the Prairie School style pioneered by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Claude & Starck firm which designed over 40 libraries employed the Prairies School style in a number of them. Seven of those library buildings have been referred to as the "seven sisters" because they share as a design element an ornamental frieze designed (or based on a design) by Sullivan. Wisconsin is the location of four of the seven sisters (Barron, Evansville, Merrill, and Tomah). The others are located in Rochelle, IL, Detroit Lakes, MN, and Hoquiam, WA. The T. B. Scott Free Library has conducted a number of activities to celebrate the centennial of its building during 2011. On Nov. 6, Ellsworth Brown, Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society will make a presentation at the library titled "Andrew Carnegie: The Great Library Benefactor's Life & Mission". It's really great to have the Carnegie exhibit in a Carnegie library building. The exhibit will continue through the end of the year. (This post is also being published on the Library History Buff Blog)

Ginny Moore Kruse (1934- )

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kruse-final-72.JPGGinny Moore Kruse is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee.  Kruse is Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, an examination, study and research library devoted to children's and young adult literature. She served as director of the CCBC between 1976 and 2002. While director, she founded the award-winning CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services. With CCBC colleagues she wrote and taught about book evaluation, especially multicultural literature and also international books for children & young adults. As an active member of the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association, she chaired and also served on many book award committees. She co-founded the annual CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Award & Lecture. Ginny's formal honors include election into Beta Phi Mu (1977); Member of the Year, Society of Children’s Book Writers (1977); Librarian of the Year, Wisconsin Library Association (1978); Alumna Honor, College of Education & Human Services, UW-Oshkosh (1985); Christopher Latham Sholes Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers (1988); Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Books, Children’s Reading Round Table of Chicago (1988); Award of Excellence, Wisconsin Educational Media Association (1996); Alumna of the Year, School of Library & Information Studies, UW-Madison (1996); Distinguished Service Award, Association for Library Services to Children, American Library Association (1996); Hope S. Dean Award, Foundation for Children’s Books (1997); and the Distinguished Achievement Award, School of Education (1998). In 2003 Ginny was awarded the second Rabin Youth Arts Award for Individual Achievement given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. She was named a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh in 2006. In 2008 Ginny was named a “Backyard Hero” by Community Shares of Wisconsin for her leadership in the 2007 “Public Reading of Banned Books” event sponsored by ALCU/Wisconsin. 
 
Prior to taking the position as Director at the CCBC, Ginny received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Wisconsin State University – Oshkosh in 1956 and a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1976. She taught English and Speech at Lincoln Junior High School, 1956-1958. Between 1967 and 1969, served as Library Director at Central Junior High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, followed by five years during which she was the Resource Center Director at Weeks Junior High School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. In 1974 she taught the Children’s Literature course in the Education Department at Simmons College, Boston. Between 1974 and 1975 Ginny coordinated special programs for children and families for the Children’s Department of the Brown County Public Library, Green Bay, Wisconsin. 


Ginny is grateful for the mentoring and support of two previous Library Hall of Fame inductees - Elizabeth Burr and Muriel Fuller. Burr as Children's Consultant at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) helped found the CCBC in 1963 as a cooperative venture between the WFLC, the UW Library School, and the UW School of Education.
 

Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892)

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durrie-3-72.jpgDaniel Steele Durrie is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Durrie held the elected position of Librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie and Lyman C. Draper, the first Secretary of the Historical Society, worked together to build the foundation of the Society’s nationally acclaimed collection. Leslie Fishel had this to say about Durrie and Draper in a 1995 Wisconsin History Magazine article: “Daniel Steele Durrie was a knowledge-seeker with a penchant for detail, a dedication to hard work, an ambition to build enduring monuments, and an imaginative drive which undergirded all of those impulses. Reserved and respectful but not reticent, he assisted and complemented the expansive and egocentric Lyman Copeland Draper, who, as the institution’s first “corresponding secretary,” energized a fragile State Historical Society of Wisconsin in its early years. Working in tandem, these two men helped to create the foundations of a dynamic research institution which came to rank with the best of the breed around the globe.” In an 1892 tribute to Durrie, James Davie Butler indicates that Durrie is justly classed among the founders of the Historical Society. Durrie was largely responsible for organizing and indexing the library’s monograph and periodical collection prior to the development of a library profession in America. Durrie was born on January 2, 1819 in Albany, New York. Prior to his work in the Society’s library he was a bookseller. During Lyman Draper’s tenure as Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Durrie served as his assistant. 


The image of Durrie is from the Wisconsin Historical Society's Digital Image Collection. Image ID: WHi-47868.


Recent Comments Show all comments
  • Nancy M. Pexa says #
    I am a descendent of John Steele as is Durrie. When Durrie documented the Holt family, his research was put in the archives at WI...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Nancy, I'm not in a position to do any research. You would have to contact the State Historical Society directly. Larry

Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938)

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smith-walter-80.jpgWalter Mcmynn Smith is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Smith became the first full time Librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891 and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. Smith was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891, and he was the first academic librarian to serve as President of WLA (1908-1909). Smith oversaw the move of the University library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library. Starting in 1893 Smith gave a series of lectures about the library to students, one of the early examples of library instruction in the nation. Smith was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was listed in Who’s Who in America (1936) and is included in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Smith was one of 67 American librarians elected to the prestigious American Library Institute when it was organized in 1905. 
 

Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996)

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veslak-small.jpgElla T. Veslak is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served simultaneously as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first federal demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She was a strong advocate of the role of the public library in adult education. In 1939 Veslak was presented with the Theodora Youmans Citizenship Award of the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs for her service in uniquely combining local, county and federal resources in providing library service to rural people. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission 1946-1948. According to Benton H. Wilcox, Veslak was one of the most respected members of WLA when she was appointed to the WFLC. She became a staff member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960. She received the 1967 Honorary Recognition Award from UW College of Agriculture & Life Sciences which honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made significant contributions in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, natural resources and social science. 
 

Orrilla Thompson Blackshear (1904- 1994)

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blackshear-72.jpgOrrilla T. Blackshear is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975, a landmark publication about Wisconsin’s literary heritage. Blackshear served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. Blackshear was a high school teacher and librarian in Ripon, Wisconsin (1937-40), Librarian of the Ripon Public Library (1940-45), and Librarian of the Beaver Dam Public Library (1945-47). From 1947 to 1957 she was a public library consultant and later head of the Traveling Library for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Simultaneous with those jobs at the WFLC she was editor of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin. In 1957 she became Assistant Director of the Madison Public Library, a position she held until 1967. She was then hired by the University of Wisconsin Library School to work on a special grant project. Blackshear was born in Otsego, WI in 1904. She received her BS in Library Science from the University of Illinois in 1943.
 

Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980)

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bassett-small-96.JPGNorman D. "Smiley" Bassett is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931 after the former Library Supplies Department separated from the Democrat Printing Company in Madison, Wisconsin. Bassett had been in charge of the Library Supplies Department at the Democrat Printing Company starting in 1925. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee. In that capacity he instituted an auction of books autographed by prominent authors to raise funds for WLA’s Scholarship Fund. At Demco, Bassett started a free magazine for librarians named Demcourier which existed from 1931 to 1943. Bassett stepped down from the presidency of Demco in 1959 but continued to play an important role in the company until 1968. He launched the Bassett Foundation in 1954 and left $4.5 million to charities when he died in 1980.


Reference: Olderman, Raymond M. Honoring A Century of Service: The Story of Librarians & DEMCO 1905-2005 (DEMCO, 2005).

Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972)

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glasier.jpgGilson G. Glasier is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. The information about Glasier which is given below is from an article by Amy Crowder in the "WSLL @ Your Service" newsletter of the Wisconsin State Law Library. It is reprinted with permission.


Gilson Glasier: Fifty Years of Faithful Public Service


With 50 years of service to his name, Gilson Glasier is the longest serving State (Law) Librarian to date in Wisconsin history. Glasier came to Madison in 1896 to study law at the University of Wisconsin. While still in school he was appointed as private secretary to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice R.D. Marshall and would eventually serve in that position for eight years. Following two years of private practice in Milwaukee, Glasier returned to Madison in 1906 when the Supreme Court offered him the State Librarian position.


During his tenure, Glasier actively served the legal and law library communities at both state and national levels. It was stated that he "was a quiet, soft-spoken person, meticulous in his work and completely dedicated to serving the bar in addition to his full-time position as librarian." Glasier was secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of Wisconsin from 1920 to 1949 and editor of the bar association's Bulletin, which he founded, for 22 years. He also edited Callaghan's Wisconsin Digest from 1909 to 1920.


Glasier was a charter member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and held the office of president in 1921-1922. He also served on the executive board and held numerous chairmanships over several decades. In addition, he served as managing editor of the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Law Library Journal. A 1952 Law Library Journal article called Glasier "one of the most active and useful members" of AALL. In 2010 Glasier was posthumously inducted into the AALL Hall of Fame as a Pioneer member, for his dedication and service to the association.


Upon his retirement in 1956, Glasier was honored by the Legislature with a joint resolution commemorating his 50 years of faithful public service to the State of Wisconsin. In it, the Legislature opined, "His leaving will be repined in all corners of the state."


WI State Law Library 175th Anniversary Celebration

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wsll-bookmark-metal-72.jpgEarlier in the week I was privileged to participate in the culminating event of a year long celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of what is now the Wisconsin State Law Library (WSLL). As I indicated in my presentation at the event, it doesn't get any better than that for a library history buff. The WSLL's approach to its 175th anniversary could be used as a model by other libraries approaching a significant anniversary.  The WSLL's 175th anniversary activities are recorder on its website.  The library, originally designated as the State Library, was established as part of the Congressional act which established the Territory of Wisconsin.  A $5,000 appropriation was made to purchase books for use by the Territorial Legislature.  This set a precedent for later territorial legislation that followed.  The library narrowly escaped a disastrous fire in the Capitol where it was located in 1904. The WSLL's long serving librarian Gilson Glasier will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in November. The WSLL staff has put together a very nice timeline of the library's history. At the reception this week the staff had assimilated a number on neat artifacts from their history that were displayed for the guests. I'm the proud owner of five sections of iron shelving that were in the library when it was located in the Capitol (it moved out in 1999). Before most of the iron shelving was discarded, the library managed to salvage some very nice label holders that were reused on the attractive shelving the library has now.  Their 175th anniversary logo is based on these label holders.


This article is being jointly posted on the Library History Buff Blog and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center blog.


2011 Library Hall of Fame Selections

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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected seven individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame (WLHF) in 2011. They are Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980), Orilla Thompson Blackshear (1904-1994), Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892), Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972), Ginny Moore Kruse (1934- ), Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938), and Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996). Their induction into the WLHF will take place during the Awards & Honors Banquet at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee on November 3. These seven inductees will join twenty-two other individuals who have previously been inducted into the WLHF.


Norman Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931. He served in that capacity until 1959. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee.


Orrilla Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975 published in 1976 which was a landmark literary publication.


Daniel Durrie served as librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie is considered one of the founders of the Historical Society. He along with the first Secretary of the Historical Society, Lyman C. Draper (Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame inductee), established the foundation of one of America's great historical libraries. Durrie played a major role in indexing and organizing the Society's collection.


Gilson G. Glasier served as Wisconsin’s state law librarian from 1906 to 1956.  During this period the Wisconsin State Law Library (formerly the Wisconsin State Library) grew from 30,000 volumes to 125,000 volumes and was ranked as one of the best law libraries in the country. Glasier was one of the founders of the American Association of Law Libraries and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2010.


Ginny Moore Kruse, Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, served as director of the CCBC from 1976 to 2002. In that capacity she was a state and national champion of quality library literature for children and of intellectual freedom. While Director she founded the CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services.  She is an advocate for children’s literature that reflects the multi-cultural nature of our society.


Walter Smith became the first full time head librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. He oversaw the move of the library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library.


Ella Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1946-1948, and joined the WFLC staff in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960.


More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these seven individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.


Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame 2011 Nominations

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee is accepting nominations for individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2011. Nominations must be submitted by August 15, 2011. Procedures and a nomination form are located HERE. Both the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame are programs of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is granted to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the statewide improvement of library service in Wisconsin over a sustained period of time.  Individuals who have worked in and/or advocated for Wisconsin libraries will be considered.  Both living and deceased individuals will be considered. Final selection of inductees into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will be made by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee. Nominations should be submitted to Larry T. Nix (Chair of the WLHC Steering Committee) as email attachments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 15.  For additonal information please feel free to contact Larry T. Nix.

When Thoreau Came to Wisconsin

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stamp-us-thoreau-72.jpgThis week is the 150th anniversary of the start of a trip taken by Henry David Thoreau and Horace Mann, Jr. to Minnesota and back to Massachusetts. The trip started on May 11 and ended on July 11, 1861. On the return leg of the trip Thoreau and his companion traveled through Wisconsin.  Corinne H. Smith, a writer and librarian in Massachusetts, has written a book about the journey which will be published this summer. Smith also maintains a website with a great deal of information about the trip including the exact route taken on the trip. On June 26 to June 27, Thoreau and Mann came down the Mississippi River and arrived in Prairie du Chien, WI on the morning of June 27. They departed Prairie du Chien by train at 10:00 a.m. that morning traveling through more than 18 Wisconsin communities before arriving in Milwaukee at 6:00 p.m. that evening.  On Friday, June 28 they departed Milwaukee by steamship stopping at the port of Sheboygan before proceeding on to Mackinac Island, Michigan and the rest of their trip home.  This momentous journey by a famous author provides an opportunity for Wisconsin libraries to plan some special activities to commemorate the occasion.  The Stoughton Public Library will be hosting a program on the journey given by Corinne Smith on June 20.  Smith will also be making presentations at other libraries along the route. Like the theme for Wisconsin's summer library program, "One World, Many Stories", this is just one of many Wisconsin stories.

An enjoyable get-together, WLA's first conference

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wla-wilcox-bk2-72.jpgOn March 11, 1891, 120 years ago today, twenty-nine people gathered in Madison for the first conference of the Wisconsin Library Association. Benton H. Wilcox in his history of The Wisconsin Library Association 1891-1966  described the first conference: "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, 1884." Although there was not another conference until July, 1884, there was a "get-together" of Wisconsin library folk in Chicago on July 13, 1893 in conjunction with ALA's World's Congress of Librarians which was held at the World's Columbian Exposition. The logo shown here is from the Wilcox history written in 1966 on the 75th anniversary of WLA. That book is now 45 years old and in great need of updating. Perhaps this can be done by WLA's 125th anniversary.

Happy 160th Birthday Frank Hutchins

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hutchins-72.jpgToday is the 160th anniversary of the birth of Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame member
Frank Avery Hutchins (1851-1914). Hutchins was a leader in the free public library movement in Wisconsin and the United States. Hutchins' entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Helen Huguenor Lyman has this to say about him: "Frank Hutchins, a brilliant man of rare vision and modesty, a pioneer librarian and active leader in the library world of Wisconsin, was born on March 8, 1851, in Norfolk, Ohio.  During his lifetime he was teacher, bookseller, newspaper man, library trustee, and librarian.  Again and again his friends described him as a humanitarian, public servant, scholar, and practical idealist.  he helped to gain legislative, financial, and professional support for both the educational work of school and public libraries and the extension of library services throughout the state of Wisconsin.  An initiator who would take no credit for the events he helped to set in motion, he recognized the abilities of others and encouraged them to carry out new ideas." Hutchins was a founder of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891and the first paid secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Hutchins close partner in the development of public library service in Wisconsin was fellow Hall of Fame member Lutie Stearns.

National Library Week 2011, A Storytelling Opportunity

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The 2011 theme for National Library Week (April 10-16) is "Create your own story @ your library".  The theme, as it should be, is directed at the general public.  However, this year's National Library Week is also an opportunity for libraries (and the people connected or interested in them) to tell a story or stories about the history of the library. Last year I gave a presentation to the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries titled  “Turning Your Library’s History into a Public Relations Asset”.  In that presentation I noted that a basic tenet of good library public relations is to seize every possible opportunity to penetrate the consciousness of the general public and community leaders with a positive message about the library. I pointed out that the message that the library has been in the business of changing lives and improving the quality of life for the residents of the community for a long time and that it continues to build on that heritage is a powerful positive message. I then provided some methods for conveying that message. The American Library Association has just published Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Effective Leadership by Kate Marek. Although I have not read the book, ALA's promotional material leads me to believe that the book would be very supportive of using stories about a library's history to promote the library. Why not resolve to penetrate the consciousness of your community's residents with at least one good story about the library's heritage during this year's National Library Week. Note: this post is being simultaneously published on the Library History Buff blog.


Hales Corners Library 35th Anniversary Exhibit

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, January 11, 2011
in Public libraries

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This year the Hales Corners Public Library is celebrating its 35th anniversary.  The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is helping out with its exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia which will be on display now through the end of February. As part of its celebration the library sponsored a contest to design a new library card.  The winner and other entries are located HERE.  The library will have a 35th anniversary birthday party on Sunday, January 23rd, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Congratulations Hales Corners! 

 

State Law Library 175 in 2011

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
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on Friday, January 07, 2011
in Special libraries

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The Wisconsin State Law Library is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.  Although this is a significant milestone in the history of one Wisconsin library in particular, it is also a significant milestone for library service in general in Wisconsin. In a slight modification of the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries slogan, Wisconsin libraries have been keeping "Us All in a Better State" for 175 years. When the Congress of the United States, in the act establishing the Wisconsin Territory, set aside $5,000 for the purchase of books for the Territorial Legislature in 1836, it represented a commitment of public funds for public knowledge and and public betterment. So as the Wisconsin State Law Library actively celebrates this milestone anniversary, it also represents an opportunity for the entire Wisconsin library community to celebrate 175 years of public support for library service for the common good.  Previous posts about the Wisconsin State Law Library are located Here, Here and Here. The envelope above was used to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the State Law Library which was called the State Library at that time.


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