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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wla is one twenty in twenty one one

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Thursday, January 06, 2011
in Events

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The year 2011 is an important anniversary year in the history of libraries in Wisconsin.  This year marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Library Association. On February 11, 1891, a group of individuals gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (located in Wisconsin's second Capitol, shown above) for the purpose of establishing a state library association.  At that meeting, a constitution (based on that of the New York Library Association) was adopted and officers were elected.  They included K. A. Linderfelt, president; R. G. Thwaites, vice-president; and F. A. Hutchins, secretary-treasurer. The first conference of the newly established association took place in Madison on March 11, 1891.  Although much of the focus of the early years of the Wisconsin Library Association was on the development of public libraries, twelve decades of library leadership and support by the association has had a positive impact on all types of Wisconsin libraries. As Wisconsin libraries face a tough year due to the economy, it is also a time to acknowledge the tremendous library growth and development that has occurred in the last 120 years. Through good times and hard times Wisconsin libraries have persevered in meeting the information and knowledge needs of the state's residents.  That's something to celebrate.


The Public Library in Eau Claire 1860-2009

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, November 09, 2010
in Public libraries

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I just received a complimentary copy of The Public Library In Eau Claire 1860-2009, a history of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library (also available on the web). The primary authors of the book are L.E. Phillips staff members Katherine Sullivan and Larry Nickel. Editing and layout assistance was provided by Bess Arneson and Josh Stearns. Library director John Stoneberg assisted with the research for the publication.  Congratulations to all who were involved in this excellent publication.  I would recommend it as a model for any library that is contemplating the writing of a library history.  There are a number of things I like about this attractive, well laid out publication. Throughout the book there are framed blocks of text that highlight complimentary material that relates to broader historical events and to special information about the library's history. In regard to the library's history, I noted that Ione Nelson was one of their library directors before becoming a longtime library consultant at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission/Division for Library Services. I also noted that in 1985, "A representative from the state Department of Public Instruction came to help mediate the dispute in Eau Claire [involving the level of County reimbursements to L.E. Phillips]. I wonder who that was.

 

I would also like to commend the folks at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library for the treatment of their library's history on their website.  They use my recommended "two click" approach to website library histories - one click on "About Us" and a second click on "Library History" after reaching the library's home page.  The Library History page at L.E. Phillips includes links to the new publication  and a variety of other library history resources that have been digitized.

 

I have a previous post about the early public library buildings in Eau Claire.

 

Awards and Honors Banquet 2010

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Sunday, November 07, 2010
in Hall of Fame
potter-hof-acceptance-72.jpgThe Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee appreciates the opportunity to induct new people into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame as part of the Awards and Honors Banquet at the WLA Annual Conference. This year in Wisconsin Dells on November 4 was the third time that the WLHC has inducted multiple individuals into the Hall of Fame during the Awards and Honors Banquet.  The Wisconsin Library Association Board and the WLA Awards and Honors Committee have been extremely gracious in allowing the inductions to take place at this important event at the WLA Conference. The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a logical extension of the recognition which is given annually to those who have made an important contribution to the improvement of library services in Wisconsin. Both the Awards and Honors Banquet and the Library Hall of Fame are made possible by the support of the WLA Foundation which is a major reason for supporting the Foundation with a contribution. Cal Potter is shown here giving his acceptance speech for his induction into the Library Hall of Fame.  Wayne Bassett, H. Vail Deale, Leah Gruber, and Julia Wright Merrill were all inducted posthumously. Information about all five inductees can be found HERE. I find the Awards and Honors Banquet to be one of the most uplifting events of the year. It always makes me proud to be a part of the Wisconsin library community. Information about this year's recipients and previous award winners can be found HERE.

Wayne Wiegand's Library Trading Card

Posted by Larry Nix
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in Library artifacts


wiegand-card-front-72.jpgDuring the Library History Seminar XII, a national meeting of library historians, which was held in Madison, WI, in September. Wayne Wiegand was surprised after his keynote presentation when he was presented with his own library trading card.  Wiegand is the F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies at Florida State University, and is considered to be the dean of current library historians in the United States.  Wiegand is also a native of Manitowoc, Wisconsin and a former Professor at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. The trading card which is shown above is supposedly #64 in a set of 100 famous librarian trading cards.  The card is accompanied by a list of the 100 famous librarians as selected by by the Wayne Wiegand Library Trading Card Coordinating Committee (Jim Danky, Karen Krueger, Doug Zweizig, and Larry Nix).  Using a partially tongue-in-cheek baseball metaphor the back of the card begins "Wayne's first sand lot tryouts with a library team, the Manitowoc (WI) Library Mirros, showed the promise his subsequent career demonstrated."  Wiegand is perhaps best known for his biography of Melvil Dewey, Irrepressible Reformer.  In his presentations he often mentions that there are more public library outlets than McDonalds restaurants.  He is a strong advocate of approaching library history from the viewpoint of the "library in the life of the user" in contrast to the "user in the life of the library".  Wiegand plans to retire next year. The list of famous librarians includes, among others, Melvil Dewey, Herbert Putnam, Peggy Sullivan, John Cotton Dana, Margaret Monroe, Arna Bontemps, Benjamin Franklin, Lutie Stearns, Fred Glazer, Pope Pius XI, E. J. Josey, S. R. Ranganathan, Augusta Baker, and Callimachus. It also includes former librarians at the Manitowoc Public Library.


You can obtain a copy of the Wiegand trading card and the list of the 100 famous librarians by sending $5 (check or cash) to Larry T. Nix, 3605 Niebler Ln., Middleton, WI 53562.  All proceeds from the sale of the cards will go to the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at UW-SLIS which Wiegand, along with Jim Danky, founded.


WLHC Display at WLA Conference

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Wednesday, November 03, 2010
in Exhibits

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center has a display at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference at the Kalahari Conference Center in  Wisconsin Dells this week.  It's in a very visible location adjacent to the WLA Foundation display and across from the registration desk. Take a look if you're there.


Tags: Exhibits

Carnegie Library Exhibit in Sheboygan

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on Tuesday, November 02, 2010
in Carnegie libraries

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The "Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy" exhibit will be on display at the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan for the month of November.  This special exhibit which was created to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of Carnegie's birth was previously on display at the Middleton Public Library. It's nice to have the exhibit in Sheboygan which had its own Carnegie building (only the facade survives), and during the month when Carnegie was born (November 25).


Calvin (Cal) Potter (1945- )

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potter-recent-72.jpgCalvin (Cal) Potter was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4 at the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Potter was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his almost five years of service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning (DLTCL). Potter was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly from 1975-90 and a member of the Senate from January 1991 to May 1998. He served on the Assembly Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee and served as Chair of both committees. He served as Chair of the 1977 Legislative Council Committee on Library Laws which resulted in major revision to state legislation on libraries. He also served as Chair of the Legislative Council Committee on Public Libraries (1997) which resulted in favorable changes to library public library legislation. Potter was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Science. Potter served as Assistant State Superintendent and administrator of DLTCL from May, 1998 to January, 2003. During this period extensive technology planning and implementation took place for both public and school libraries. The transition from federal to state funding for BadgerLink also took place during this period. He chaired the State Superintendent's Task Force on Public Library Funding and Legislation. For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985. Based on nominations from WLA and the Wisconsin Educational Media Association, Potter was selected in 2000 for the American Library Association's National Advocacy Honor Roll which included those individuals and organizations who had most actively advocated for libraries in the United States over the last 100 years. Potter is currently a member of the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND). 
 
Potter was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Lakeland College and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught Social Studies at Plymouth High School (1968-1975) before his legislative career. In May 1998, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lakeland College in "recognition of his many contributions to quality education as a State Senator and State Representative". He has received more than 50 other awards for his legislative efforts in behalf of education, libraries, and environmental protection. He is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History
 
Potter and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Potter, a former instructor at Silver Lake College, currently reside in the Town of Sheboygan Falls.

Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961)

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merrill2-72.jpgJulia Wright Merrill was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4 at the WLA Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Merrill worked for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission on two occasions. From 1903 to 1906 she taught in the WFLC’s library school during the summer and served as a field agent the rest of the year.  She also served as a field agent and instructed part time at the library school from 1917 to 1922.  From 1925 to 1946 she worked at the American Library Association serving in a variety of capacities. She was the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of ALA.  She was a national leader in the extension of public library service. She is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography, a highly selective compilation of those who have made the greatest contribution to library development in the United States.  Merrill has also been inducted into the Ohio Library Hall of Fame (1975).  Joyce Latham, Assistant Professor, UW-Milwaukee will be presented a program at the WLA Conference in Wisconsin Dells on November 5 entitled “’Circuit Rider’: Julia Wright Merrill and Public Library Extensi0n, 1926 -1944”.  Latham writes about Merrill: “She had a reputation as a quiet but committed advocate for libraries, was well-liked and well respected, but was consistently overshadowed by Carl Milam, the executive secretary of the association.  Given the financial limitations on the ALA during this time, she often functioned as his number two, serving as the Acting Executive Secretary while he was away. However, the lists of great women in librarianship fail to include her and her listing in the Dictionary of American Library Biography is minimal. Hopefully, induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will provide greater exposure to the contributions to this public library extension pioneer.

Recent Comments Show all comments
  • Kathleen McCook says #
    Yes, "Hopefully, induction into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame will provide greater exposure to the contributions to this publ...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Thanks Kathleen.

Leah D. Gruber (1906-1996)

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Leah GruberLeah D. Gruber was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Gruber made a significant contribution to public library service in Wisconsin as a library trustee. She served on the Prairie du Sac Public Library Board from 1940 to 1988 during which she served several terms as President of the Board. She also served on the Sauk County Library Board from 1975 until 1983. As President of the Sauk County Library Board, she was instrumental in organizing the South Central Library System  and was a member of the SCLS Board from its founding in 1975 until 1983. Gruber served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974. She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976. Gruber was on the Board of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association when it became a division of the Wisconsin Library Association. Gruber was born in 1906 in Fort Monroe, Virginia.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1927 with a bachelor's degree in English and Library Science.  She worked at the Fond du Lac Public Library and at the Legislative Reference Library in Madison. After marriage and a move to Prairie du Sac in 1939 she served as a volunteer cataloging books at several libraries in the area. Gruber received a special commendation from the University of Wisconsin System in 1974.

 

Oregon's Centennial Birthday Party

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Sunday, October 10, 2010
in Public libraries

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I attended the Centennial Birthday Party for the Oregon Public Library today.  As someone who encorages the celebration of important library anniversaries this was an especially nice occasion for me. There have been events in celebration of the centennial througout the year at the Oregon Public Library.  A nice tie in has been the Centennial Community Read project based on Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days by Jerry Apps. At the birthday party today there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the impressive new circulation desk created with a wide variety of wood from the community.  A commemorative china plate was painted by 96 year old Oregon resident Clarice Christensen to celebrate the occasion. I came across an interesting historical sign about the Parmelee Library, a for-profit traveling library system that operated in Oregon for several years. 


Delafield Exhibit

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Sunday, September 26, 2010
in Exhibits

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The Delafield Public Library has a "sneak peek" at its new building today (Sept. 26, 2010), and opens for business in its new location tomorrow.  The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) is sponsoring an exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia for its sneak peek that will continue through October. The  WLHC also has an exhibit at the Middleton Public Library on Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy that continues through Sept. 30.  Because of the overlap with the Middleton exhibit, the exhibit in Delafield focuses on non-Carnegie library buildings. There are a number of artifacts relating to the Milwaukee Public Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Carnegie wasn't the only benefactor of public libraries in Wisconsin and the exhibit includes artifacts relating to libraries which received large gifts in Marinette, Beaver Dam, Kenosha, and others. I was very impressed with the display case at the Delafield Public Library, one of the best I've come across.  Our exhibit only occupies half of the display case.  Delafield has a nice overview of its history on its website.


Contact Larry Nix at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to arrange for a  WLHC library memorabilia exhibit at your library.


H. Vail Deale (1915-2004)

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H. Vail DealeH. Vail Deale was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells.  Deale served as Director of Libraries and Chair, Department of Library Science at Beloit College from to 1953 to 1980. A highlight of his career at Beloit was the planning and completion of the Colonel Robert H. Morse Library in 1962 which resulted in the library being designated as WLA’s 1962 Library of the Year, the first academic library to receive this honor.  Deale was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as its first chair in 1955-56.  Deale served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61.  He served a six year term on the Governor's Council on Library Development.  He was a life member of the American Library Association and served as chair of the ALA International Relations Committee (1957-77); chair of the ACRL College Section (1961-62); chair of the ACRL Grants Committee (1967-70); and a member of the ACRL Standards Committee.

 

Wayne Bassett (1915-1988)

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Wayne Bassett was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. He served as Director of the Wausau Public Library from 1965 to 1974.  When the Wausau Public Library merged with the Marathon County Library in 1974 to become the Marathon County Public Library, he served as Director of the merged library until his retirement in 1983. Concurrently (1965-1983), he served as the Director of what is now the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. Serving as the Wisconsin Library Association’s first Legislative Advocate from 1971 to 1979 he played an important role in the enactment of Wisconsin’s public library system law. Bassett received WLA’s Special Service Award in 1971 and served as President of WLA in 1976. He was named WLA’s Librarian of the Year in 1979.  His life and service to the Wisconsin library community were recognized with a WLA Special Memorial Citation in 1988.


Under his leadership, the Wausau Public Library was named as WLA’s Library of the year in 1965. Bassett was instrumental in the establishment of the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin. He served as leader and/or member of numerous WLA and other statewide committees including the Library Development and Legislation Committee; the Library Services and Construction Act Review Committee; and the Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Library Laws.  He was a member of the American Library Association.


Prior to coming to Wausau, Bassett graduated from the University of Minnesota (UM) with degrees in Political Science and Public Administration. He served in the U.S. Army in France during WWII.  Returning home, he earned a library science degree from UM. After beginning his library career at the Fond du Lac (WI) Public Library, he served as the Director of the Worthington (MN) City Library, later the Nobles County Library, from 1949 to 1965. From 1954 to 1962 Bassett served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.  


2010 Library Hall of Fame Selections

Posted by Larry Nix
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The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected five individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2010.  They are Wayne Bassett (1915-1988), H. Vail Deale (1915-2004), Leah Gruber (1907-1996), Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961), and Calvin Potter (1945- ).  The inductions will take place on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells.  Wayne Bassett served as Director of the Wausau Public Library, later merged into the Marathon County Public Library, and the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.  He served as the Legislative Advocate for WLA and as its President in 1976. H. Vail Deale was the former Director of Libraries at Beloit College.  He was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries (WAAL) in WLA and served as its first chair in 1955-56.  Deale served as President of the WLA in 1960-61.  Leah Gruber served as a trustee on the Prairie du Sac Library Board for 48 years. She also served on the boards of the Sauk County Library and the South Central Library System.  Leah served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974.  She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976.  Julia Wright Merrill worked for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission on two occasions, from 1903 to 1906 and again from 1917 to 1922. She taught in the WFLC’s library school and served as a field agent promoting public library service throughout the state. She was a national leader in public library extension and served as the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association.  Calvin (Cal) Potter’s was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his four and a half years service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning.  For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985.  More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these five individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.


 


Carnegie's Wisconsin Legacy - An Exhibit

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, August 31, 2010
in Exhibits
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"Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy - An Exhibit of Memorabilia Featuring Wisconsin's Carnegie Libraries" will be on display at the Middleton Public Library (WI) for the month of September. November 25th will be the 175th anniversary of Carnegie's birth. Sixty Wisconsin communities were the recipients of 63 public library grants from Andrew Carnegie. In addition, two academic institutions also received Carnegie library grants. Fourteen of these Carnegie buildings have been razed, 28 are no longer used as libraries, but 23 are still being used as libraries. Most of those being used as libraries have been expanded and in some cases they are the smaller part of the expanded library. A number of Carnegie buildings have been repurposed as historical museums, and others have become office buildings. Wisconsin has the only Carnegie building serving as a bed and breakfast (Ladysmith). One former Carnegie is now a private residence (Superior, East Branch). For public libraries, Wisconsin communities received a total of $1,045,511. For the two academic libraries it received $104,000. Wisconsin ranked seventh among the states in the number of communities receiving grants for public libraries. A total of 7 grants were received in 1901, the first year that communities in Wisconsin received Carnegie grants. The East Branch of the Superior Public Library was the last Carnegie library constructed in Wisconsin (1917). The exhibit at the Middleton Public Library includes postcards depicting 62 of the 65 Wisconsin Carnegie libraries. The exhibit also includes more than 30 souvenir china pieces along with souvenir spoons and paper weights. The exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. The curator for the exhibit is Larry T. Nix. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center maintains a section on its website devoted to Wisconsin's Carnegie libraries. This post is also being published in The Library History Buff Blog.


Demcourier, Magazine for Librarians

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In 2005 DEMCO, the well known library supply company headquartered in Madison, WI, celebrated its centennial.  As part of that celebration it published a book entitled Honoring A Century of Service - The Story of Librarians & DEMCO 1905-2005 by Raymond M. Olderman. Far from being a boring corporate history, the book does indeed tell the story of both librarians and DEMCO during this hundred year period. One of the stories in the book is about Norman Bassett who became owner of Demco Library Supplies in 1931 and the free magazine for librarians he created in 1932. The magazine's name Demcourier came from two librarians who won a contest to name the magazine and as a result received $10 each.  Initially the focus of the magazine, was on practical information for librarians but it evolved more and more into a literary magazine with each issue devoted to a single literary figure. I recently acquired the Autumn 1939 issue (cover shown above) and it is devoted to Louis Untermeyer.  In this issue, Bassett, who edited the magazine, apologetically tells readers that the magazine has become so popular that DEMCO is going to have to limit its distribution to those who purchase at least $10 in library supplies each year from the company and those who pay a subscription fee of 50 cents a year (returned if $10 is spent with the company).  Bassett was a model of the best in relationships between library vendors and the library community.  He became active in both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association.  In 1932 at the conference of the Wisconsin Library Association he arranged an auction of autographed copies of books to raise funds for scholarships for library school students. As a result a Scholarship Committee (which continues today) was established with Bassett as its chair. During World War II the cost of paper forced the suspension of the magazine in 1943 and its publication was never resumed.  This article was published simultaneously in The Library History Buff Blog.


The Library Historians are Coming

Posted by Larry Nix
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On September 10-12, 2010 library historians from around the nation (and further afield) will gather in Madison to share their research on the history of libraries and print culture.  They will be participating in the Library History Seminar which  occurs only once every four years.  This year is the twelfth such event. Library History Seminar XII is being hosted by the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  The event will take place at the Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus. The information for registering for the Seminar and the program is located at http://slisweb.lis.wisc.edu/~printcul/.  If you're a library history buff (or even if you're not) this is a great opportunity to rub elbows with the premier library historians of our time. If you can't attend the entire program try to catch one of the two public lectures. On Friday, Sept. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Room 325-326 of the Pyle Center Janice A. Radway, Northwestern University, School of Communication, will present "Can the Underground be Saved?: Girl Zines, the Librarians Who Love Them, and the Reconfiguration of the Literary Sphere." On Saturday, Sept. 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wayne A. Wiegand, Florida State University, School of Library and Information Studies, will present  "Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1865-1956." Wiegand is a native of Manitowoc and former Professor at UW SLIS. He co-founded the  Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America with Jim Danky.  I'm looking forward with great anticipation to the event and to meeting some of the people I admire the most.

Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame 2010 Nominations

Posted by Larry Nix
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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 2010. Nominations must be submitted by August 9, 2010. 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 9.  For additonal information please feel free to contact Larry T. Nix.

Wadsworth Library and a Dog Named Smokey Peterson

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on Friday, June 18, 2010
in Special libraries

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This is a follow-up post to a post on the Milwaukee Soldiers Home Library (Wadsworth Library) that I made on January 4th of this year. As a result of that post, Patricia Lynch informed me that the Wadsworth Library built in 1891 continues to serve patients of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.  She also noted that during an annual event called Reclaiming Our Heritage at the VA Medical Center the Wadsworth Library is open to the general public and is filled with displays on the history of the library and other exhibits. Reclaiming Our Heritage occurs on the weekend after Memorial Day and this year my wife and I took advantage of this opportunity to visit the library.  The pictures above are a result of our visit. I was particularly intrigued by a photo of a dog on a display bulletin board with the caption "Smokey Peterson, The Wadsworth Library Mascot and 3rd Overdue Book Collector. Retired 1990." It would be great to find out more about the canine overdue book collectors.



Marketing Library History in Sheboygan

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Saturday, May 01, 2010
in Carnegie libraries

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For me attending a conference of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL), a division of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) is like walking into a bar called Cheers. There are lots of longtime friends and "everybody knows your name".  These days my name is mostly associated with library history, and that was why I was in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday of this week. At a conference with the theme “Anchoring the Past, Setting Sail for the Future”, I was there to help anchor the past with a program which I called “Turning Your Library’s History into a Public Relations Asset”.  The conference was held at the Blue Harbor Resort, the anchor to a major harbor development, right on beautiful Lake Michigan. Dick Nelson, the conference program chair, had to twist my arm a little to get me to do the program. Not that I would actually pass up on an opportunity to promote library history, but when competing with five other programs in the same time slot I wasn't optimistic about the size of the audience I would be talking to. With past programs about library history I have sometimes ended up talking to a very small choir of like minded individuals.  In this instance, that turned out not to be the case. The size of my audience was a respectable percentage of the 300 plus conference attendees.


In any case to hedge my bets and to ensure that the preparation for my presentation was not wasted, I had taken this opportunity to enhance the website of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) by creating three new web pages. One of my responsibilities as Chair of the Steering Committee for the WLHC is maintaining the website. This also enabled me to avoid using technology onsite in my presentation (something I hate), and enabled the audience to avoid taking copious notes on my words of wisdom. This approach also allows those of you reading this post to benefit from the presentation without being there. Since a library has to have researched and compiled some form of a library history in order to turn it into a public relations asset, the first web page supporting my presentation deals with Researching and Writing a Library History. I want to acknowledge ALA's Library History Round Table, Bernadette Lear, and other members of the WLHC Steering Committee for much of the content on this web page.  The second web page is about the core message of the program "Marketing Library History", and the final web page is focused on "Celebrating Anniversaries".


Attending the WAPL Conference was a great opportunity to talk to old and new friends. The reception on Thursday night at the Mead Public Library was a wonderful event. The library's outstanding facility includes many interesting spaces and artifacts. Among them is a portrait of Andrew Carnegie from their old Carnegie facility (shown on the postcard above). I'm hoping to take advantage of some of their display cases for an exhibit later in the year. While in Sheboygan I also picked up a vintage public library book box which WAPL Conference Chair David Weinhold had assisted me in obtaining via Craigslist. On the way home I swung up to Menasha to pick up a library history exhibit featuring the Tabard Inn Library, the Booklovers Library, and Wisconsin Library Memorabilia. All in all a great couple of days for a library history buff.


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