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 Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Categories

Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo