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.

Some WI Library Buildings 1904

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Wausaukee Free Library
In 1904 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) published a book titled Some Wisconsin Library Buildings. The book was comprised primarily of photographs of selected Wisconsin library buildings but also included a tabulation of all library building projects completed or in the process. The book notes that when the WFLC was organized in 1895 there were only three libraries in the state occupying their own buildings, but by 1904 there were 52 buildings either completed or provided for. Included in the tabulation were 29 buildings that had received Carnegie grants totaling $627,000. Other private individuals had made library building grants of $418,500 for a total of $1,045,500 from this source. By far the largest projects listed were the State Historical Society building which cost $620,000 from state funds and the Milwaukee Public Library building which cost $512,000 from municipal funds. The State Historical Society building was designed to house both the Historical Society’s library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. The most unusual library listed and pictured was the Wausaukee Free Library (see image above). The Wausaukee Free Library was established in 1901 and was part of a “social hall” that included the library and reading room, a lunch and dining room, and an amusement room. The building was donated by State Senator Harland P. Bird, a strong library supporter who served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1904-1905. A digitized copy of this book can be found on the Hathi Trust website. 

Wisconsin Library Bulletin 1905-1984

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wi-lib-bulletin-1909-72In January, 1905, just over 110 years ago, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC), the predecessor to the Wisconsin Division for Libraries and Technology, published the first issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin (WLB). The new monthly publication was described as "A Magazine of Suggestion and Information" and was devoted to the improvement of Wisconsin's libraries. It reported on library activities and development within the state and provided a wealth of  practical information primarily for public libraries. The WLB was edited by WFLC Secretary Henry E. Legler. The first issue of the magazine can be found on the Hathi Trust website. That issue contained a summary of library progress in Wisconsin and a variety of articles and news items written by leaders in public library development and extension in Wisconsin. These included Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame members Lutie Stearns and Cornelia Martin. The WLB ended with a special issue in 1984. A complete file of the WLB can be found on the Hathi Trust website but not all issues are available in "full view". Efforts are being made by the Division for Libraries and Technology to rectify that situation. The image to the left shows the cover of the Sept.-Oct. 1909 issue.

 

Demcourier, Magazine for Librarians

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demcourier-72.jpg


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.


Traveling Libraries Publication

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traveling-libraries-wi-1897-72.jpgIn 1897 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission published a 39 page booklet entitled Free Traveling Libraries in Wisconsin: The Story of Their Growth, Purposes, and Development; With Accounts of a Few Kindred Movements. The cover of the publication is shown here. The cover includes the statement: "It is after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small ones, that may do most for the people". This philosophy is consistent with that which is discussed in the previous post. Also on the cover is an illustration of a traveling library bookcase similar to the one used by the Stout traveling libraries in Dunn County. The booklet has been digitized by the Wisconsin Historical Society and can be viewed here. Many of the images of traveling libraries in the booklet are also part of the Digital Images Collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society and can be seen here. There is also a page on this site devoted to traveling libraries.
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Evansville History Book Published

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montgomery-book.jpg
Congratulations to WLHC Steering Committee member Ruth Ann Montgomery on the publication of her new book on the history of Evansville, Wisconsin. The book is part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. Ruth Ann is Director of the Arrowhead Library System in Janesville and is a longtime Evansville historian. Many of the images in the book are from her personal collection assembled over many years. Ruth Ann also has also written a history of the Eager Free Library Public Library which is on the web. The Janesville Gazette has written an article about Ruth Ann and the publication of the book.


 


 


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  • Gordon Glass says #
    Congratulations to Ruth Ann for her new book. Ruth, I am proud to say is a high school classmate an an old friend of mine....

Wisconsin Library Bulletin

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The Wisconsin Library Bulletin was begun in 1905 by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission under the leadership of Henry E. Legler. It continued publication through 1984. It is the most comprehensive account of Wisconsin’s library history for that period. It includes a wealth of information which can be utilized by libraries and those interested in local and state history to tell the story of Wisconsin’s libraries. Although the primary focus of the bulletin was initially public library development, the magazine includes information about libraries of all types. It documents a wide variety of library related activities and events which occurred during that period including staff appointments and changes, building projects, library association meetings, library education and continuing education events, legislation, gifts and appropriations, and grant programs including the Library Services Act and the Library Services and Construction Act. Through the involvement of the University of Wisconsin - Madison General Libraries in the Google Books project, the Wisconsin Library Bulletin has been scanned and many early issues of the magazine are now appearing in Google Books.  Locating and accessing periodicals through Google Books is often a difficult process. I have been able to locate the compilations for 19051907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1917, and 1922. You can search these compilations by keyword and an interesting exercise would be to search for your library in them. I will continue to keep looking for additional yearly compilations.


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  • John DeBacher says #
    thanks, Larry--I hope they get 1911-16 done soon, since it's a good way for libraries to track centennial information. And I found...

Wisconsin Magazine of History Articles

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Two members of the WLHC Steering Committee have articles in the Summer issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History.  Michael Edmonds is the author of "On the Trail of Paul Bunyan" and Christine Pawley is the author of "The Wisconsin Idea in Action: Reading, Resistance & the Door-Kewaunee Regional Library, 1950-52".  Congratulations to both of them.


Although the Paul Bunyan article by Michael is wonderful, it is Christine's Pawley's article that will be of most interest to the library history buff. Obtaining state funding for the 1950-1952 Door-Kewaunee Regional Library demonstration was one of the Wisconsin Library Associations greatest legislative victories. Pawley's article provides insight into why the county funding referendums which followed the demonstration in Kewaunee and Door counties failed and passed respectively. Passage in both was required for continuation of what was primarily bookmobile service in the rural areas of the counties. The article is well illustrated with some great bookmobile photographs including one of the bookmobile being loaded on the ferry to go to Washington Island.


The Wisconsin Historical Society makes available freely online its archive of the back issues of the Wisconsin Magazine of History from 1917 up through the 2006-2007 volume year. Only the current volume year is not available online. By searching the archive using the terms "libraries" and "librarian" several articles of interest to the library history buff can be found.


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  • Kitty Tiner says #
    Have always wanted to talk to someone about demolishing those beautiful buildings should be a sin........I lived 1 block from on...

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