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.

Library Liquor Fee

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 in Public libraries


The Janesville Young Men's Association Library (a membership library) was founded in 1865. An amendment to the City of Janesville charter was enacted which provided one half of the liquor license fee for the purchase of books for the library. The Board of Supervisors for Rock County lobbied its state legislators to repeal that amendment. In the letter above written on January 8, 1872, W. S. Bowen of the Janesville Gazette asks state legislator D. S. Cheever not to support legislation that would repeal the amendment. He makes the case that the amendment "is not so great a hardship as the board of supervisors imagine". Bowen indicates his considerable interest in the library and notes that : "We have a fair start toward something which in time will be a benefit not only the city but to the county. Money is scarce and it has for a year or two past been almost impossible to maintain our library without outside aid." Bowen's effort to prevent the repeal of the library liquor license fee amendment was unsuccessful and it was repealed in 1873.  In July 1881 the Janesville Young Men's Association went bankrupt. The Janesville Public Library under the Public Library Law of 1872 was established in 1884. Another blog entry on Wisconsin's membership libraries can be found here.


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