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.
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.
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 1905, 1907, 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.
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.