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.

Disaster Strikes the Newly Created Wisconsin Library Association

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, March 24, 2016 in WLA 125

linderfelt-72Just a little more than a year after the Wisconsin Library Association was founded and held its first conference one of the most bizarre events in American library occurred. In The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA 1966) Benton Wilcox writes:

“Disaster struck the infant Association in the spring of 1892 through the loss of its president, K. A. Linderfelt, who had also received in October, 1891, the even greater honor of election to the presidency of the American Library Association. Mr. Linderfelt had been born in Sweden and achieved an excellent classical education there before coming to America and Milwaukee in 1870. Here he had secured employment in the Milwaukee Female College as an instructor in Latin and Greek at a pittance of $400 per year, later increased to $600. In 1880 he was appointed librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library at $1,200. As recorded in the Library Journal, “In his twelve years of library administration he won a permanent place among eminent American librarians. A man of brilliant capacities and devoted to his calling, he was practically the creator of the Milwaukee Public Library, which he developed to a high efficiency.”

Unfortunately, in trying to maintain a standard of living comparable with that of the culturally elite of the city with whom he was associated, he became heavily involved in debt. In early 1892, the city having been spurred to a careful audit of its accounts by a defalcation discovered in one of its offices, a shortage of some $10,000 was found in the funds of the public library. Mr. Linderfelt readily acknowledged his guilt and aided the auditors in tracing the shortages. His staff and library board members showed their support by replacing the missing funds, and he was given a suspended sentence. Though Mr. Dewey offered him a position in his organization he returned to Europe, studied medicine, and died a practicing physician in Paris in 1900. The American Library Association expunged him from its records by accepting his resignation as of the day he had been elected its president. The Wisconsin Library Association, without machinery or heart for such decisive action, was left leaderless and apparently no one knew just what to do. As a consequence there was no annual conference in either 1892 or 1893.”

The Wisconsin Library Association forgave Linderfelt and welcomed him back into their fold at WLA’s Centennial reception in Milwaukee in 1991. It went even further and inducted him into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009.  

Read more about Linderfelt.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Popular Tags

Jerome P. Daniels Ruth Ann Montgomery Black River Falls Public Library Eratus Swift Wilcox UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Events & Meetings UW-Milwaukee Libraries Suring Area Public Library 14 WWI Library War Service White House Conference on Library and Information Services Academic Librarians 28 Middleton Public Library Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Milwaukee Public Library Campaign Hartford Public Library Black River Falls Public library systems books-by-mail buil Library Artifacts Hall fo Fame 2012 campaign Hall of Fame 2015 caly film library memorabilia ca bed and breakfast Milwaukee Public Library Lowell W. Wilson Wisconsin Library Heritage Center library education Irene W. Newman American Library Association Digital Collections Library Buildings Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Richard E. Krug Ruby Roeder Exhibits WLA 125 Oshkosh Public Library campa 23 CCBC COLAND William J. Wilson bookworm Klaus Linderfelt American Library Association Library War Service Meter mail slogans Centennial National Bookmobile Day DeForest Area Public Library Eager Free Public Library membership libraries Cooperative Children's Book Center Hall of Fame 2010 Larry T. Nix Wisconsin State Law Library Ice Storm Gerald A. Somers presentations Publications archives Clarence Brown Lester Pinback buttons J. D. Witter Postcards Beaver Dam Public Library Public libraries WAAL Evansville Wisconsin Brown Deer Public Library traveling libraries Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Carl Spitzweg Bernard Schwab 22 Library Trustees Lutie Stearns 10 Buttons Hall of Fame 2009 Wisconsin Library Bulletin Jane K. Billings People Carnegie libraries Increase A. Lapham Hall of Fame 2012 Library people S. Janice Kee library legislation Hall of Fame 2011 State Law Library Dianne McAfee Hopkins Madison Public Library Hall of Fame 2016 James Duane Doty Superior Carnegie Libraries Amer School of Library and Information Studies Wayne A. Wiegand library exhibit Wisconsin Free Library Commission Gertrude Thurow Hall of Fame 2017 Portage Public Library Beloit Public Library Special libraries James Huff Stout WHCLIS trav caly film Sarah Janice Kee Frank Avery Hutchins Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Marketing-Publicity 20 Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Rusk County Community Library Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide Elroy Public Library Brown Deer Public Library Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Zona Gale Events cam National Library Week Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Delia Ovitz Hall of Fame 2012 Academic Libraries Milwaukee Art Museum Library people Postcards Anniversaries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Nolan I. Neds Wisconsin Library Association School libraries Hall of Fame 2014 Library Buidlings Soughton Public Library WLA 125 Gilbert H. Doane Brown County Library Hall of Fame 2012 Ripon Public Library WLA 125 state historical society Capitol Fire 1904 Pewaukee Public Library Matthew S. Dudgeon Hall of Fame 2015 Uncategorized 11 Events & Meetings Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library History campaign Wisconsin Free Library Commission Appleton Public Library Orrilla Blackshear UW-Madison school of library and information studies Bookmobiles Manitowoc Public Library John J. Jax 24 Lutie Eugenia Stearns Peter G. Hamon Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Public libraries I Love Libraries Historical Register Clinton Public Library Campaign Hall Woman's Congress Tower Hill Wisconsin McMillan Memorial Library 21 World War I Louise S. Robbins Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Anniversaries Campaign Sandra Friedman Dolnick Hall of Fame 2013 Postcards Wisconsin Rapids Library Systems Cam T. B. Scott Free Public Library Charles Bunge Hall of Fame 2008 Cornelia Marving Pierce Dorothea M. Krause Postcards 27 Wisconsin Historical Society Library e caly film Hall of Fame 2015 background hall of Hall of Fame 2015 WLA 125 anniversaries Edward Asahel Birge Parcel post Inform Wisconsin Library celebrations Katharine MacDonald Jones campaign Library People Hall of Fame 2015 John Miller Chancellor Council on Library and Network Development

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo