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.

ALA Meets in Waukesha in 1901

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 in WLA 125
ala-waukesha-medal-72The American Library Association held its second conference in Wisconsin in Waukesha, WI in July of 1901 (the first was held in Milwaukee in 1886). As reported in the magazine Public Libraries: "The twenty-third annual meeting of the A. L. A. was held at Waukesha, Wis., with an enthusiasm and interest that has not been equaled more than two or three times in the history of the association."  The conference was held at the Fountain Spring House, Waukesha's premier resort (see postcard above). The Public Libraries article concluded: "A large majority of the people present attended their first conference of American librarians at Waukesha, and the interest, enthusiasm, and evident progress made at this meeting is due largely to that fact.  For months the local associations in the middle west were at work to interest the librarians of their different states in the importance of being present at Waukesha.  Their efforts were successful, and there was but one note sounded in regard to the meeting, and that was satisfaction."  One day of the conference was designated as “Madison Day” and conference attendees made the trip to Madison to see the new combined building of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin Library. More about that in a later post.
At early ALA Conferences, mementos were routinely given to participants. At the Waukesha conference, the attendees were given an elaborate medal and a book about Shakespeare. The image of the medal (at left above) is courtesy of the American Library Association Archives which has several examples in its collection. The book (see below) Shakespeare the Man by Walter Bagehot was published by McClure Phillips and Company of New York and 450 of the 1,000 copies published were designated specifically for distribution at the ALA conference.
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Ginny Moore Kruse Thursday, March 31, 2016

What a treat it was to read about this ALA conference in Wisconsin. The event described strikes me as quaint, but it also seems so civilized and the opposite of hectic. Of course those librarians would appreciate receiving a book about Shakespeare in a limited distribution and a medal, too. Just think! A medal and a book for showing up!

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