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.

Wisconsin's Membership Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, March 08, 2016 in WLA 125

Milwaukee Young Men's AssociationMembership libraries, sometimes referred to as social libraries, were the predecessors of free public libraries. There were dozens of these libraries in Wisconsin before and after the passage of the 1872 public library law. Membership libraries originated in New England, and it was New Englanders who brought this concept to Wisconsin. Membership libraries were formed when a group of individuals pooled their resources to purchase books which could then be commonly shared. An annual fee was usually required to participate in the membership library. These libraries often struggled from lack of financial resources or strong leadership. Only about a dozen survived for more than ten years. Some of the membership libraries transitioned into public libraries. The oldest of the membership libraries was the Milwaukee Young Men's Association Library (see illustration at left) which turned its assets over to the newly created Milwaukee Public Library in 1878. The Madison Institute Library was formed in 1853 and was replaced by the Madison Public Library in 1875. The longest surviving membership library was the Waupun Library Association which existed from 1858 to 1904. This was largely the result of the efforts of one man - Edwin Hillyer, a Waupun attorney. The library was located in Hillyer's office and he served as Clerk and Librarian at least from 1859 to 1880. A comprehensive history of membership libraries in Wisconsin can be found in the 1973 University of Chicago dissertation of John C. Colson - The Public Library Movement in Wisconsin, 1836-1900.




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

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, January 26, 2020


Popular Tags

Dianne McAfee Hopkins WAAL Bernard Schwab ca Dorothea M. Krause WHCLIS Matthew S. Dudgeon Hall of Fame 2015 People 28 Madison Public Library Klaus Linderfelt Beaver Dam Public Library Jane K. Billings Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Black River Falls Public Library Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Clinton Public Library Ruth Ann Montgomery Hartford Public Library Superior Carnegie Libraries library memorabilia Library Trustees Gertrude Thurow Academic Libraries Anniversaries Academic Librarians Lowell W. Wilson Jerome P. Daniels Postcards Special libraries Brown County Library archives Library History Richard J. Sorensen Library Artifacts Library People Hall 20 Increase A. Lapham Public libraries Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies WLA 125 WWI Library War Service Ripon Public Library Milwaukee Public Library 21 Wisconsin Library Bulletin World War I Hall of Fame 2017 Middleton Public Library library exhibit WLA 125 Gilbert H. Doane S. Janice Kee Brown Deer Public Library Cam Richard E. Krug traveling libraries Carnegie libraries COLAND Cooperative Children's Book Center T. B. Scott Free Public Library National Library Week Meter mail slogans Ruby Roeder I Love Libraries Events & Meetings Black River Falls Events & Meetings Zona Gale Library Systems Wisconsin Free Library Commission Postcards caly film Library Buildings library education National Bookmobile Day Hall of Fame 2015 Tower Hill Wisconsin 27 Library Buidlings Hall of Fame 2009 Library people Postcards state historical society library legislation Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Peter G. Hamon Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Portage Public Library Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries UW-Madison school of library and information studies James Huff Stout Inform Wisconsin John Miller Chancellor bed and breakfast background Library celebrations Beloit Public Library CCBC campaign 22 Amer Hall of Fame 2019 Soughton Public Library Hall of Fame 2015 Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs American Library Association Dick Sorensen Cornelia Marving Pierce Oshkosh Public Library Wayne A. Wiegand School of Library and Information Studies Library e Wisconsin Free Library Commission UW-Milwaukee Libraries Louise S. Robbins Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends State Law Library Sarah Janice Kee Anniversaries Publications Pewaukee Public Library School libraries Lutie Eugenia Stearns Digital Collections Brown Deer Public Library Public libraries American Library Association Library War Service Delia Ovitz Ice Storm Bob Bochfer Clarence Brown Lester Nancy Marshall Hall of Fame 2018 Frank Avery Hutchins Hall of Fame 2010 DeForest Area Public Library Centennial Historical Register Hall of Fame 2016 Elroy Public Library Parcel post Hall of Fame 2015 Events Edward Asahel Birge Hall of Fame 2012 McMillan Memorial Library Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee books-by-mail Hall of Fame 2018 Robert Bocher caly film Lutie Stearns Hall of Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2013 Dick Sorensen Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services 24 Evansville Wisconsin membership libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries cam 10 Campaign James Duane Doty White House Conference on Library and Information Services Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Nolan I. Neds Pinback buttons Campaign Campaign Suring Area Public Library Gerald A. Somers Wisconsin State Law Library Sandra Friedman Dolnick WLA 125 Appleton Public Library Helen Adams Council on Library and Network Development Postcards Woman's Congress Eager Free Public Library Library people WLA 125 bookworm 14 Hall of Fame 2011 Hall of Fame 2014 Marketing-Publicity Hall fo Fame 2012 campaign Public library systems campaign 11 Larry T. Nix caly film William J. Wilson Katharine MacDonald Jones Wisconsin Library Association John J. Jax Capitol Fire 1904 Charles Bunge buil 23 Lucy E. Smith Morris anniversaries trav hall of Wisconsin Rapids Manitowoc Public Library Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Rusk County Community Library Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Hall of Fame 2015 J. D. Witter Carl Spitzweg Exhibits Hall of Fame 2008 Bookmobiles Eratus Swift Wilcox presentations Milwaukee Public Library Irene W. Newman Wisconsin Historical Society Orrilla Blackshear Buttons Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Hall of Fame 2012 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries campa Uncategorized Milwaukee Art Museum

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo