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.

  • JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with id: 52

Wisconsin's Membership Libraries

Posted by
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 Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo