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.




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

Leave your comment

Guest Monday, October 22, 2018


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo