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.

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  • Wayne Wiegand's Library Trading Card

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    During the Library History Seminar XII, a national meeting of library historians, which was held in Madison, WI, in September. Wayne Wiegand was surprised after his keynote presentation when he was presented with his own library trading card.  Wiegand is the F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies at Florida State Univ ...
    Nov 04 Tags: Library People
  • Margie Malmberg and WLA's Finest Hour

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    On February 16 the Wisconsin Library Association will hold its annual Library Legislative Day. For a little historical inspiration for this event, there is nothing as appropriate as the story of Margie Sornson Malmberg and the legislative battle for a bill to provide state aid for a bookmobile demonstration project during the 1949 Wisconsin legisla ...
    Feb 06 Tags: Library People
  • Scattering Libraries Over the Whole Land

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                      The early philosophy and work of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission is aptly communicated by the logo and and quotation on this library envelope mailed in 1901. The quotation "Had I the power I would scatter libraries over the whole land, as a sower sows his wheat field" is from Ho ...
    Dec 03 Tags: Library People
  • Community Advertising Envelopes

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                                                                One way that communities in the first two decades of the 20th century sought to attract new businesses was through advertising on envelop ...
  • Oakley and Baker at Work

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    This image above shows Minnie Oakley and Florence Baker at work in the State Historical Society Library when it was located in Wisconsin's third Capitol. Baker is the one standing precariously on a shelf reaching for a book. Oakley served as Librarian of the Madison Public Library from 1884 to 1889 before going to work for the the State Historical ...
    Aug 20 Tags: Library People
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  • Some WI Library Buildings 1904

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    In 1904 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) published a book titled Some Wisconsin Library Buildings. The book was comprised primarily of photographs of selected Wisconsin library buildings but also included a tabulation of all library building projects completed or in the process. The book notes that when the WFLC was organized in 1895 ...
  • Wisconsin Library Bulletin 1905-1984

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    In January, 1905, just over 110 years ago, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC), the predecessor to the Wisconsin Division for Libraries and Technology, published the first issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin (WLB). The new monthly publication was described as "A Magazine of Suggestion and Information" and was devoted to the improvement ...
  • Demcourier, Magazine for Librarians

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    In 2005 DEMCO, the well known library supply company headquartered in Madison, WI, celebrated its centennial.  As part of that celebration it published a book entitled Honoring A Century of Service - The Story of Librarians & DEMCO 1905-2005 by Raymond M. Olderman. Far from being a boring corporate history, the book does indeed tell the s ...
  • Traveling Libraries Publication

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    In 1897 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission published a 39 page booklet entitled Free Traveling Libraries in Wisconsin: The Story of Their Growth, Purposes, and Development; With Accounts of a Few Kindred Movements. The cover of the publication is shown here. The cover includes the statement: "It is after all, not the few great libraries, but the ...
    Dec 10 Tags: Publications
  • Evansville History Book Published

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    Congratulations to WLHC Steering Committee member Ruth Ann Montgomery on the publication of her new book on the history of Evansville, Wisconsin. The book is part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. Ruth Ann is Director of the Arrowhead Library System in Janesville and is a longtime Evansville historian. Many of the i ...
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  • Madison's Central Libraries

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    The Madison Public Library's new central library was dedicated today. The new central library is a substantial remake of the central library building which was built in 1965. For all practical purposes it is a new building. The first separate library building for the City of Madison was a building built with assistance from Andrew Carnegie.  T ...
  • Hales Corners Library 35th Anniversary Exhibit

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        This year the Hales Corners Public Library is celebrating its 35th anniversary.  The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is helping out with its exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia which will be on display now through the end of February. As part of its celebration the library sponsored a contest to design a new library ...
  • The Public Library in Eau Claire 1860-2009

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      I just received a complimentary copy of The Public Library In Eau Claire 1860-2009, a history of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library (also available on the web). The primary authors of the book are L.E. Phillips staff members Katherine Sullivan and Larry Nickel. Editing and layout assistance was provided by Bess Arneson and Josh Ste ...
  • Oregon's Centennial Birthday Party

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                                                                                                  I attended the ...
    Oct 10 Tags: Library celebrations
  • Public Library Photographs

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      The Wisconsin Historical Society has recently created a new gallery in its Wisconsin Historical  Images collection featuring photographs of public libraries from the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Thanks to Richard Wambold who assisted with this project for alerting us to this new image gallery.  Publications of the Wisco ...
    Oct 10 Tags: Digital Collections
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  • Superior’s Carnegie Library Buildings

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        Superior, WI was one of three communities in Wisconsin to receive grants from Andrew Carnegie for two library buildings. The other two communities were Madison and Racine. Both of Superior’s Carnegie buildings are at risk. The old central library was abandoned in 1991 when the public library moved to new quarters, and is current ...
  • Some Libraries Sharing Municipal Facilities

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    In the previous blog post I discussed some newly completed “stand alone” library buildings in Wisconsin in 1904.  Libraries, however, often shared a facility with another part of municipal government. This often preceded a separate library building. For smaller communities this was more common.  One example of a larger community where t ...
  • Wisconsin's Library Lions

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    By far the most famous library lions are those that grace the front entrance of the New York Public Library's building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The Oshkosh Public Library in Wisconsin also has a pair of library lions and, like those in New York, they have provided an important visual symbol of the public library. Also like the lions of th ...
  • Fennimore's Public Library

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    On a recent trip I stopped in at both the Southwest Wisconsin Library System and the Dwight T. Parker Public Library in Fennimore, Wisconsin. The Public Library is housed in a building which is on the National Register of Historic Places . It was constructed in 1923 and was designed by the architectural firm of Claude & Starck which designed ...
  • Former De Pere Public Library

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    Thanks to Paul Nelson's Retiring Guy's Digest Blog I recently became aware of a story in the Green Bay Press Gazette about the former De Pere Public Library building. I have a postcard of the building which is shown above. I found out more about the building and its history from a survey of Wisconsin's historic public libraries which was conducted ...
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  • Library Postcards Revisited

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        Postcards depicting libraries are wonderful souvenirs and also serious historical artifacts. The “golden age” of postcard production and collecting was from 1898 to 1918. That period coincided with the construction of large numbers of library buildings as a result of the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie and others. These new libr ...
  • Elroy's Public Library and the Ice Storm of 1922

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    I've lived in Wisconsin for 32 years and I've never experienced a serious ice storm. I missed the devastating ice storm of March, 1976. In February of 1922 Wisconsin also experienced one the worst ice storms in its history. During that ice storm ice accumulations ranging from one inch to as high as four inches brought down over 15,000 communicati ...
  • Brodhead's Early Public Library

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    I'm always on the lookout for postcards depicting Wisconsin libraries. I've been so successful that it is not often that I come across one that I don't already have. So it was a real treat when I found a Real Photograph Postcard (RPPC) showing the the public library on the Main Street of Brodhead, WI (shown above). RPPCs as the name implies are p ...
  • One of Seven Sisters in Merrill, WI

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      My wife and I installed the exhibit "Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy" early this week at the T. B. Scott Free Library in Merrill, Wisconsin. The exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. This year is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Carnegie library building in Merrill. A major addition to the bu ...
  • Wisconsin's Early Seminary Libraries

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    Two of Wisconsin's oldest libraries are connected to seminaries that date back to the 1840s. The Nashotah House Library is part of the  Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary that was founded in 1842. It is pictured in the first postcard shown above. It is located in Nashotah, Wisconsin which is off of I-94 25 miles west of Milwaukee. The Salzman ...
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  • Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I

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                                  On exhibit at the Middleton Public Library for the month of April is an exhibit entitled "Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I".  It's about the Library War Service of the American Library Association (ALA) in World War I. Given ...
    Apr 01 Tags: Exhibits, Library People
  • Wisconsin Celebrates American Archives Month

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    Archives are essential resources for both library history scholars and library history buffs. Wisconsin is fortuanate to have many excellent archival collections. In celebration of American Archives Month, the Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created a blog to celebrate Wisconsin's arc ...
    Oct 13 Tags: Digital Collections
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  • 2018 Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame Inductees

    Posted by Larry Nix
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    Three individuals have been selected by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) Steering Committee to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2018.  They are:  Lucy E. Smith Morris (1850-1935) who advocated for the development of public libraries in Wisconsin beginning in the late 19th century; Helen Adams a retired sc ...
    Oct 02 Tags: Untagged
  • Robert (Bob) Bocher, 2018 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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    Robert (Bob) Bocher dedicated his career to the use of technology to improve library service to the public, emerging as a state and national leader in this field.  He worked for decades to improve resource sharing throughout the state and saw the proliferation of library system and multi-system shared integrated library systems which helped ma ...
  • Helen Adams, 2018 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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    An exceptional library media specialist and role model for more than 50 years, Helen Adams distinguished herself as a powerful intellectual freedom advocate, particularly for children and youth.  Her career began as a school district reading instructor and by 1973, she was a school librarian, retiring in 2004 from Rosholt School District (Wisc ...
  • Lucy E. Smith Morris, 2018 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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    Lucy E. Smith Morris (1850-1935) was a native of Berlin, Wisconsin. She was a contemporary and colleague of charter Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame member Lutie Stearns. Lucy Morris advocated for the development of public libraries beginning in the late 19th century.  She worked to unite local women's clubs under the umbrella of the Wisconsin F ...
  • Lowell W. Wilson, 2017 Library Hall of Fame Inductee

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    Lowell W. Wilson was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells on October 19, 2017.   Lowell W. Wilson (1916-2015) contributed to advancing library service in Wisconsin as a library professional and library trustee for nearly 70 years. He was instrumental in for ...
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  • Northland College Library

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    The images above are from the dedication program for a new library building for Northland College in Ashland on June 14, 1941. The Jean Nicolet Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) played a large role in funding the building which was a replica of "Wakefield", the birthplace of George Washington. George C. Allez, Director of ...
  • Milwaukee-Downer College

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    Milwaukee-Downer College, one of Wisconsin's historic colleges, ceased to exist as a separate institution in 1964 when it became part of Lawrence University. Milwaukee-Downer College was created in 1895 when Milwaukee Female College (founded in 1851) merged with Downer College (founded as Wisconsin Female College in 1855). The former campus of Mil ...
  • Carthage College Lincoln Connection

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    The nation is celebrating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth this year. Wisconsin has a number of connections to Abraham Lincoln including those of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Carthage College was founded in 1847 as the Literary and Theological Institute of the Lutheran Church of the Far West.  After a series of name cha ...
  • Anne Morris Boyd and UW-Whitewater

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    Today (January 13, 2009) is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Anne Morris Boyd (1884-1969) who served as Librarian of the State Normal School at Whitewater (now the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater) from 1913 to 1917.  Boyd served on the faculty of the University of Illinois Library School from 1918 to 1949 and was an authority and an ...
  • Death of a Library

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      Postcard depicting Whitford Memorial Hall which housed the Milton College Library from 1906 to 1967. It is now a retail store.          On May 15, 1982 a Wisconsin college library along with the college it was part of died. The death of the college was announced to the staff and faculty in the library. The doors of ...
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  • The Library Historians are Coming

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    On September 10-12, 2010 library historians from around the nation (and further afield) will gather in Madison to share their research on the history of libraries and print culture.  They will be participating in the Library History Seminar which  occurs only once every four years.  This year is the twelfth such event. Library Histor ...
    Aug 23 Tags: Library People
  • Pass it On: Wisconsin's Library Heritage

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    The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) of the American Library Association (ALA) is sponsoring the first Preservation Week May 9-15, 2010. The theme for the ALCTS Preservation Week is "Pass it On". It is a great theme and can also be considered a plea from the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee as ...
    Mar 16 Tags: Marketing-Publicity
  • National Bookmobile Day

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    As part of National Library Week this year there is going to be a National Bookmobile Day on April 14. On the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website there is a bookmobile page which chronicles some of Wisconsin's bookmobile past.  National Bookmobile Day provides an opportunity for any library that has had bookmobile service in the past to ...
  • Library History 2010 Preview

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    Each new year provides opportunities to enjoy and celebrate library history. Here is a preview of some of those opportunities in 2010. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will continue to promote and celebrate Wisconsin's library heritage with its ongoing activities including this website, its library memorabilia exhibits, and the Wisconsin Libr ...
  • Library Heritage 2009

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    The celebration of Wisconsin's library heritage in 2009 has been rewarding. It was the first full year of operation for the WLHC which was officially established in March, 2008 by the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. The website continues to be the most visible aspect of the WLHC. The website contains both static pages and blog posts. Ther ...
    Dec 31 Tags: Marketing-Publicity
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  • Happy National Bookmobile Day!

    Posted by Larry Nix
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      This week is National Library Week and one day during the week (today April 15) is designated as National Bookmobile Day. Bookmobiles are a part of Wisconsin library history and the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center has developed a page on its website to highlight this aspect of our library heritage. Take a look. ...
  • Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Changes

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    Larry T. Nix who has served as Chair of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) Steering Committee since its establishment in 2008 is leaving the committee. Committee member Paul Nelson will take over as Chair. Also leaving the committee after completing three terms on the committee are Peter Gilbert and Lori Belongia. Continuing members on th ...
  • Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit at Lone Rock

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    The exhibit of Wisconsin library memorabilia sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is currently on display at the Lone Rock Public Library (see photo above). The exhibit will be there through the month of June. The Lone Rock Public Library is the smallest public library in which the exhibit has been displayed. A variety of library memo ...
    Jun 15 Tags: Untagged
  • Happy National Bookmobile Day

    Posted by Larry Nix
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    Today is National Bookmobile Day. Check out our "Bookmobiles" page to see information about the history of bookmobiles in Wisconsin. Paul Nelson has a nice post on his blog about bookmobiles which has some Wisconsin bookmobile images and information. The Library History Buff Blog also has a list of the best bookmobile websites. The item show ...
  • Lutie Stearns and the Woman's Congress at Tower Hill, WI

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    This article was also posted on The Library History Buff Blog.    For Women's History Month I thought I would post a story about Lutie Stearns, one of Wisconsin's greatest library pioneers. As often happens, a piece of postal librariana was the stimulus for my engaging in some library history research. I was delighted when I ...
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  • WLA Celebrates 125th in Milwaukee

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      The Wisconsin Library Association will be celebrating its 125th anniversary when it holds its Annual Conference this week (Oct. 25-28) at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.  In addition to a full slate of regular programs there will be some special activities related to the 125th anniversary.   On Wednesday, Octob ...
    Oct 26 Tags: Untagged
  • WLA Pinback Buttons

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    Pinback buttons have been used by libraries, library organizations, and library vendors for many years to promote a variety of library related events, programs, services and products. These buttons are great souvenirs and most librarians have at least a small collection. The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) has been among the organizations creat ...
  • The First Books-By-Mail Program in Wisconsin

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    Parcel post, the delivery of packages through the mail, began in the United States on January 1, 1913.  Libraries had long lobbied for a special rate for library materials sent through the mail, and in 1914 the postmaster general authorized the shipment of books at the parcel post rate. This decision opened up significant possibilities for lib ...
  • The 1979 White House Conference on Library and Information Services

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    The first White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS) took place in Washington, D. C. on November 15-19, 1979.  Preceding WHCLIS each state in the nation held a pre-conference.  In September, 1978 148 delegates representing communities and institutions from around Wisconsin gathered in Madison for the Wisconsin ...
  • WLA’s Centennial Celebration

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        The Wisconsin Library Association celebrated its centennial in 1991. As with this year’s 125th anniversary celebration, WLA’s annual conference took place in Milwaukee. The conference theme was “Celebrating Ourselves”.  In the introduction to the conference program, WLA President Peter Hamon wrote : “The choice for our theme be ...
    Aug 18 Tags: Centennial, WLA 125
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  • COLAND Presentation

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    On Friday the 13th I made a presentation about the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) to the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) at their meeting at the Middleton Public Library. The legislation creating COLAND was passed in 1979 (30 years ago) and it began functioning in 1980. Although the 19 members of COLAND are appointed b ...
    Nov 14 Tags: Events, presentations
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