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.

Free Library Commission

The Wisconsin Free Library Commission was established in 1895. In 1965 it became the Division for Library Services within the Department of Public Instruction.  It is currently the Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning.

Timeline

1891

The Wisconsin Library Association is founded.

1895

The Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) is founded. Lutie Stearns is the Commission's first Secretary.

Summer training sessions for librarians are initiated under the auspices of the WFLC. These training sessions are the precursors of what is to be the the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

1901

The Legislative Reference Library is established as a part of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Charles McCarthy is its first librarian. McCarthy was a leader in the Progressive Movement and is the author of the “Wisconsin Idea”. The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library served as a prototype of such libraries in other states and also was the model for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. 

1904

The State Capitol in Madison burns. The State Law Library collection is saved with the help of University of Wisconsin students. The collections of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission are heavily damaged, however. 

1906

A library school is established as a part of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. It later becomes the School of Library Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

1914

The Postmaster General shifts library books to fourth class parcel post mail making the postal rates much more affordable for libraries. Matthew Dudgeon, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, working in cooperation with the major libraries in Madison, establishes a books-by-mail program which provides the resources of these libraries to the rural residents of the state.

1917

The United States enters the war with Germany. The American Library Association takes a leadership role in providing library service to soldiers and sailors at home and abroad. Matthew Dudgeon, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, takes a leave of absence to join ALA’s War Service Library. Libraries throughout Wisconsin join in the national effort to raise funds for books and library service for the armed forces.

1956

The federal Library Services Act (LSA) is passed. 

S. Janice Kee, previously Director of the Public Library Association of ALA, becomes Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. 

1957

Wisconsin’s State Plan for LSA funding is approved.

1959

Several county and multi-county public library demonstrations are funded by the Free Library Commission with Library Services Act funds.  These are the predecessors of Wisconsin's public library systems.

1964 

The Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), an expansion of LSA to include urban libraries, is enacted by Congress.

1965

The Wisconsin Free Library Commission is incorporated into the Department of Public Instruction as the Division for Library Services. S. Janice Kee resigns from the Free Library Commission.  Lyle Eberhart becomes the Assistant State Superintendent in charge of the new Division for Library Services.

1971

Wisconsin’s public library system law is enacted.

1973

The first four public library systems are established under the new law.

1980

The Council on Library and Network Development is established with the responsibility to advise the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on library development and cooperation and public librarian certification.

Additional Information

Matthew S. Dudgeon served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission from 1909 to 1920.  He took a leave of absence from the WFLC in 1919 to serve with the ALA Library War Service.  In 1914 Dudgeon instituted a a statewide books by mail service for rural areas of the state.  Books could be borrowed from the WFLC, the State Historical Society Library, and the University of Wisconsin Library.

DudgeonLetter.jpg

 

bookmobile.jpg

The bookmobile shown in the postcard was used by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission for demonstrations of county and regional library service in the late 1950s after the passage of the Federal Library Services Act in 1956.

Biennial Reports of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission

The following biennial reports are part of the Public Documents Sub-collection of the State of Wisconsin Collection University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

 

Categories

Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo