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.

Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938)

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 in Hall of Fame

smith-walter-80.jpgWalter Mcmynn Smith is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Smith became the first full time Librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891 and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. Smith was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891, and he was the first academic librarian to serve as President of WLA (1908-1909). Smith oversaw the move of the University library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library. Starting in 1893 Smith gave a series of lectures about the library to students, one of the early examples of library instruction in the nation. Smith was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was listed in Who’s Who in America (1936) and is included in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Smith was one of 67 American librarians elected to the prestigious American Library Institute when it was organized in 1905. 


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