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 Nix
Larry Nix
Larry 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.

 

wla125logo-small

Comments

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

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, December 16, 2018

Categories

Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo