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.

Libraries and World War I

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April 6 marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.  The American Library Association through its Library War Service was actively involved in providing books and magazines to the armed forces during the war.  Library service was provided through 41 camp library buildings and many more library stations.  Library service was also provided at military hospitals and in France and Germany. Wisconsin libraries actively cooperated with the American Library Association in its efforts to provide books for soldiers and sailors during World War I. This included participation in nationwide fundraising efforts. Matthew S. Dudgeon, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and a member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame, took a leave of absence to serve in the Library War Service. He was in charge of all camp libraries in the U. S., and later served in France. For the month of April the Middleton Public Library has an exhibit on display about ALA’s Library War Service (see photo above). Many organizations will be commemorating the U.S. involvement in WWI in the months ahead. The American Library Association Archives which has an outstanding collection of archival materials related to the Library War Service will be doing a number of things to commemorate ALA’s involvement in the war.  The Archives has already posted several outstanding articles on its blog. I have also written a number of articles about the Library War Service on The Library History Buff Blog. If you would be interested in hosting an exhibit at your library, contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Brown Deer Public Library

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Brown Deer Public Library

An exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia will be on display at the Brown Deer Public Library in Milwaukee County for the month of March.  The Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and has been displayed at libraries around the state.  The exhibit includes souvenir items for many of Wisconsin's Carnegie libraries, the Milwaukee Public Library, other public libraries, and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. A variety of souvenir items including china, spoons, paperweights, and picture postcards are part of the exhibit. More about the exhibit and how to schedule one for your library can be found HERE.

Exhibits for National Library Week

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC), a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, sponsors library memorabilia exhibits at libraries throughout Wisconsin. In 2014 exhibits will be on display at fourteen different public libraries. National Library Week is held each year and this year it will run from April 13 to April 19. Exhibits from the WLHC will be on display at the Jack Russell Memorial Library in Hartford and the Suring Area Public Library for the month of April to help celebrate National Library Week at these libraries. The exhibit at the Hartford library features memorabilia and souvenirs for the Library of Congress (see image above).  The exhibit at the Suring library features memorabilia for Wisconsin libraries (see image below). Both exhibits include early library souvenir china, spoons, and postcards. The Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit will move to Hales Corners in May, Black River Falls in June, Brown Deer in July, Hayward in August, Mukwonago in September, Marshfield in October, Middleton in November, and Hartford in December. 

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit in DeForest

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit

An exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will be on display at the DeForest Area Public Library in November and December 2013 and in January 2014. In the last part of the 19th century and in the first two decades of the 20th century an explosion of library construction took place in communities throughout Wisconsin. This construction boom was fostered to a large extent by Andrew Carnegie and other philanthropists. The new library buildings were a source of civic pride and as such were represented on a variety of souvenir items including china, spoons, paperweights, and picture postcards. Examples of these souvenir items and others which reflect the library heritage of Wisconsin are included in the exhibit. The exhibit is located in the DeForest Area Historical Society space within the public library. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. Larry T. Nix is the curator for the exhibit.

Library Memorabilia Exhibit

 

Beloit Exhibit for National Library Week

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is helping to celebrate National Library Week (April14-20) with an exhibit at the Beloit Public Library. The exhibit will be on display until the end of April.  The exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia is available for display at Wisconsin libraries with certain restrictions. Contact Larry Nix at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Kimberly - Little Chute

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The Kimberly - Little Chute Public Library is a joint public library that, as one would expect, serves the communities of Kimberly, WI and Little Chute, WI. Both communities have their own library building, but are served by a single administrator and staff. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is sponsoring an exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia at the Kimberly library that will run through the end of November, and an exhibit at the Little Chute library that will be on display in January and February of 2013. Images of the exhibit at Kimberly are shown below. Because of the unusually large display area at the Kimberly library, the exhibit at that library is one of the largest exhibits that has been sponsored by the WLHC. The exhibit has also been scheduled for the Deforest Area Library in March and April. Libraries wishing to schedule the exhibit for future months should contact Larry Nix at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kimberly exhibit 2

Kimberly exhibit 1

 

Books for Soldiers and Sailors in WWI - An Exhibit

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center sponsors exhibits of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia. One of those exhibits will be on display at the Waupaca Area Library for most of April and May. I will also have an exhibit on the American Library Association Library War Service for the month of April at the Hales Corners Public Library.  Wisconsin libraries actively cooperated with the American Library Association in its efforts to provide books for soldiers and sailors during World War I. This included participation in nationwide fundraising efforts. Matthew S. Dudgeon, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, took a leave of absence to serve in the Library War Service. He was in charge of all camp libraries in the U. S., and later served in France.   I've included some images of the exhibit below.

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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

Tags: Events

WLHC Display at WLA Conference

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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

Delafield Exhibit

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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.


Carnegie's Wisconsin Legacy - An Exhibit

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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.


A Tale of Two Libraries Exhibit in Menasha

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Located near the fireplace on the main floor of the Menasha Public Library is an extraordinary antique bookcase. The unusual revolving bookcase was part of the Tabard Inn Library, an early 20th century commercial lending library that spanned the nation. The Tabard Inn Library was a subsidiary of an even larger enterprise called the Booklovers Library. Both libraries were founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Seymour Eaton, a Canadian born writer, educator, and entrepreneur. During the month of April there will be a special display at the Menasha Public Library related to the Tabard Inn Library bookcase and Eaton’s two libraries. The display will be located on the Art Wall near the fireplace and in the display case adjacent to the circulation desk of the library. The exhibit  consists of a variety of printed ephemera and artifacts for the two libraries collected that I have collected over the years. In addition to the items related to the Tabard Inn Library and the Booklovers Library there will be selected items from the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit which has been displayed at a number of Wisconsin libraries.


 


WLHC Display at WLA

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center has a display at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton, Oct. 21-23.  The display is located in a prominent location across from the registration desk in the corridor to exhibits and meeting rooms.


Tags: Exhibits

Archives Month in Wisconsin

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October is American Archives Month and Wisconsin is joining in on the celebration.  The Wisconsin Historical Society is supporting the state theme "Scrapbook Wisconsin". The UW-Madison student chapter of the Society of American Archivists has established the Archives Month Blog to help promote Archives Month. Archives are essential in the preservation and understanding of library history and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is pleased to recognize the importance of archives this month. There are many possible ways that libraries could help celebrate Archives Month. High on the list are programs and exhibits. These could focus on the library's own history and archives or those of the community in which the library is located. If not this year, why not plan for next year.

Eastern Shores 30th Anniversary

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easternshores5-72.jpgThe Eastern Shores Library System headquartered in Sheboygan is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Sunday with an open house. To help celebrate this occasion I put together a special exhibit on behalf of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. The main Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit is on display at the Door County Library in Sturgeon Bay for September and October, so some improvisation was required. Where possible artifacts with a connection to ESLS and its member libraries were used, but these were supplemented with a variety of other items. The exhibit includes library postcards, library souvenirs, library mail, library buttons, and a framed collection of artifacts relating to the 1971 passage of the Wisconsin public library system law. The 1971 system law display is normally located in meeting room C of the Wisconsin Library Association offices. The Eastern Shores Library System began as the Sheboygan County Library System but was renamed when Ozaukee County joined the system in 1987.
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  • David Weinhold says #
    Larry, We received many comments on the display and people were very impressed by the artifacts you have that connect to our libra...

Memorabilia Exhibit Milwaukee

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Today, with the assistance of my wife Kathy and Dawn Lauber of the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) staff, I installed the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit at the Central Library of MPL for the month of April.  MPL generously made available eight display cases for the exhibit which is on the second floor of the library. It includes one of the largest collections of Wisconsin library memorabilia ever assembled. This exhibit is supplemented by MPL's permanent vintage library office exhibit (see photo below, pardon the glare from the glass). The permanent exhibit includes an example of the pencil dater that was invented by the Milwaukee Public Library.  In addition to the pemanent exhibit MPL will be displaying other items including some vintage wooden cases used to transport books to the branch libraries.  Of course, a visit to MPL's magnificent Central Library which was originally built in 1898 is a treat in itself. 



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Williams Free Library - Beaver Dam

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The City of Beaver Dam is home to the historic Williams Free Library building which was built in 1890-91. It housed the Beaver Dam Public Library until its move into its current facility.  The building is an outstanding example of the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style which was inspired by architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The building has been depicted on several of the souvenir items in the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit which are pictured above. The Williams Free Library is named for John J. Williams who donated $25,000 for the construction of the building.


Before moving to Madison, Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame inductee Frank Avery Hutchins was a resident of Beaver Dam and served on the library board. Hutchins was an early advocate for open shelves in libraries and the Beaver Dam library was one of the first public libraries in the nation to implement this concept.


The Dodge County Historical Society has been located in the former library building since 1985. The Williams Free Library is on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail and is well worth a visit.



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WLHC Booth Update

Posted by Larry Nix
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WLHC Steering Committee member Pete Gilbert at the WLHC booth at the WLA Conference.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center hosted a booth in the exhibits area of the 2008 WLA Conference which took place November 4-7 in Middleton. The exhibit featured selected items from the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit which is available for display at individual libraries.  The booth provided an opportunity for members of the WLHC Steering Committee to interact with a great many conference goers. 



wlhc-booth2-72.jpgA big hit with those viewing the booth exhibit were the library souvenir spoons.  


WLHC Booth

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will have a booth at the WLA Conference in Middleton on Nov. 5 and 6.  The booth number is 406. The booth will have a display of some of the Wisconsin library memorabilia that is included in the WLHC's traveling exhibit.  You will be able to see the world's largest collection of Wisconsin library souvenir spoons (12), a selection of library souvenir china, library postcards,library pinback buttons, and a few odds and ends. Please stop by to enjoy the display and let us know your thoughts about the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center.


The WLA Conference is taking place at the Mariott Hotel in Middleton. Exhibit hours run from 10 am to 5pm on Wed. Nov. 5 and 8:30am to 4:30pm on Thurs. Nov 6.


One of the display cases that you will be able to see at Booth 406.


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Tags: Exhibits

Postal Librariana Exhibit in Milwaukee

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The former Carnegie library building in Sheboygan, Wisconsin is pictured on the envelope above.  All but a portion of the Carnegie building has been razed. One way that communities in the first two decades of the 20th century sought to attract new businesses was through advertising on envelopes. These envelopes typically included pictures on the front of the envelope that depicted significant buildings and attractions in the community. Libraries are often one of the buildings being depicted on these envelopes.


The Sheboygan advertishing envelope is part of my postal librariana exhibit "The Evolution of the American Public Library".  The exhibit includes more than 300 postal and related artifacts.  The exhibit will be on display at Mt. Mary College in the Milwaukee area on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Sept. 12-13). The exhibit is one of many which will be part of MILCOPEX, Milwaukee's annual national level stamp show. For information on the stamp show click here. For information on the exhibit click here.


 


 


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