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 Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Categories

Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo