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

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo