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

COLAND Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Hall of Fame 2011 CCBC WLA 125 library legislation bed and breakfast Exhibits bookworm Public libraries Eager Free Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries WLA 125 DeForest Area Public Library Madison Public Library Sandra Friedman Dolnick ca Council on Library and Network Development S. Janice Kee School of Library and Information Studies Zona Gale Nolan I. Neds Sarah Janice Kee Cooperative Children's Book Center Library Artifacts Wisconsin Historical Society Carnegie libraries Lucy E. Smith Morris Hall of Fame 2018 Woman's Congress Events Robert Bocher William J. Wilson Wisconsin State Law Library Hall of Fame 2012 WLA 125 Hall of Fame 2015 campaign Appleton Public Library Black River Falls Public Library traveling libraries John Miller Chancellor White House Conference on Library and Information Services Lutie Eugenia Stearns Hall of Fame 2016 School libraries Clinton Public Library WLA 125 caly film Cornelia Marving Pierce presentations Middleton Public Library Pewaukee Public Library Rusk County Community Library Parcel post 20 Lutie Stearns Wisconsin Rapids Hall of Fame 2015 Eratus Swift Wilcox Tower Hill Wisconsin James Duane Doty Campaign Portage Public Library People Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs state historical society Peter G. Hamon Library Buidlings Hall cam Klaus Linderfelt Buttons Library History Hall of Fame 2015 Brown Deer Public Library Wisconsin Library Bulletin Soughton Public Library Gerald A. Somers buil Academic Librarians trav Beloit Public Library Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Uncategorized Hall of Fame 2013 campa State Law Library Carl Spitzweg Academic Libraries Oshkosh Public Library Louise S. Robbins Jane K. Billings anniversaries Library Systems UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies hall of Larry T. Nix Matthew S. Dudgeon Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide Helen Adams Digital Collections Bernard Schwab 14 Nancy Marshall library exhibit 11 Hall of Fame 2009 Milwaukee Art Museum Campaign Hall of Fame 2017 Hall of Fame 2008 Postcards Public libraries background Centennial American Library Association Library War Service Bookmobiles Delia Ovitz Beaver Dam Public Library Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Library celebrations Amer Cam Campaign Milwaukee Public Library Brown County Library Postcards UW-Milwaukee Libraries 21 Hall of Fame 2015 Events & Meetings Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Katharine MacDonald Jones Ice Storm archives Clarence Brown Lester Special libraries Dick Sorensen Library Trustees Manitowoc Public Library American Library Association Irene W. Newman Hall of Fame 2019 Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Hall of Fame 2014 22 Pinback buttons Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Library People Postcards Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2012 McMillan Memorial Library Meter mail slogans campaign Suring Area Public Library WAAL Events & Meetings J. D. Witter Library people Postcards Lowell W. Wilson WWI Library War Service WHCLIS Ruth Ann Montgomery Jerome P. Daniels membership libraries caly film John J. Jax James Huff Stout Edward Asahel Birge Hartford Public Library Dorothea M. Krause Gilbert H. Doane Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library 23 Wayne A. Wiegand Inform Wisconsin Marketing-Publicity Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Wisconsin Free Library Commission Orrilla Blackshear library memorabilia Capitol Fire 1904 Library e Hall fo Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2010 Ruby Roeder caly film Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries World War I Elroy Public Library Bob Bochfer Black River Falls Historical Register Wisconsin Free Library Commission Frank Avery Hutchins Richard J. Sorensen Library Buildings Library people National Bookmobile Day Increase A. Lapham Public library systems Richard E. Krug Hall of Fame 2018 campaign UW-Madison school of library and information studies Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Wisconsin Library Association Ripon Public Library Anniversaries Anniversaries National Library Week Gertrude Thurow Marjorie Sornson Malmberg 28 Dianne McAfee Hopkins Dick Sorensen Charles Bunge 24 Evansville Wisconsin 10 T. B. Scott Free Public Library library education 27 Superior Carnegie Libraries Publications I Love Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Milwaukee Public Library Brown Deer Public Library books-by-mail

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo