Walter Mcmynn Smith is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Smith became the first full time Librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891 and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. Smith was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891, and he was the first academic librarian to serve as President of WLA (1908-1909). Smith oversaw the move of the University library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library. Starting in 1893 Smith gave a series of lectures about the library to students, one of the early examples of library instruction in the nation. Smith was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was listed in Who’s Who in America (1936) and is included in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Smith was one of 67 American librarians elected to the prestigious American Library Institute when it was organized in 1905.
Ella T. Veslak is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served simultaneously as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first federal demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She was a strong advocate of the role of the public library in adult education. In 1939 Veslak was presented with the Theodora Youmans Citizenship Award of the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs for her service in uniquely combining local, county and federal resources in providing library service to rural people. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission 1946-1948. According to Benton H. Wilcox, Veslak was one of the most respected members of WLA when she was appointed to the WFLC. She became a staff member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960. She received the 1967 Honorary Recognition Award from UW College of Agriculture & Life Sciences which honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made significant contributions in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, natural resources and social science.
Orrilla T. Blackshear is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975, a landmark publication about Wisconsin’s literary heritage. Blackshear served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. Blackshear was a high school teacher and librarian in Ripon, Wisconsin (1937-40), Librarian of the Ripon Public Library (1940-45), and Librarian of the Beaver Dam Public Library (1945-47). From 1947 to 1957 she was a public library consultant and later head of the Traveling Library for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Simultaneous with those jobs at the WFLC she was editor of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin. In 1957 she became Assistant Director of the Madison Public Library, a position she held until 1967. She was then hired by the University of Wisconsin Library School to work on a special grant project. Blackshear was born in Otsego, WI in 1904. She received her BS in Library Science from the University of Illinois in 1943.
Norman D. "Smiley" Bassett is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931 after the former Library Supplies Department separated from the Democrat Printing Company in Madison, Wisconsin. Bassett had been in charge of the Library Supplies Department at the Democrat Printing Company starting in 1925. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee. In that capacity he instituted an auction of books autographed by prominent authors to raise funds for WLA’s Scholarship Fund. At Demco, Bassett started a free magazine for librarians named Demcourier which existed from 1931 to 1943. Bassett stepped down from the presidency of Demco in 1959 but continued to play an important role in the company until 1968. He launched the Bassett Foundation in 1954 and left $4.5 million to charities when he died in 1980.
Reference: Olderman, Raymond M. Honoring A Century of Service: The Story of Librarians & DEMCO 1905-2005 (DEMCO, 2005).
Gilson G. Glasier is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. The information about Glasier which is given below is from an article by Amy Crowder in the "WSLL @ Your Service" newsletter of the Wisconsin State Law Library. It is reprinted with permission.
Gilson Glasier: Fifty Years of Faithful Public Service
With 50 years of service to his name, Gilson Glasier is the longest serving State (Law) Librarian to date in Wisconsin history. Glasier came to Madison in 1896 to study law at the University of Wisconsin. While still in school he was appointed as private secretary to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice R.D. Marshall and would eventually serve in that position for eight years. Following two years of private practice in Milwaukee, Glasier returned to Madison in 1906 when the Supreme Court offered him the State Librarian position.
During his tenure, Glasier actively served the legal and law library communities at both state and national levels. It was stated that he "was a quiet, soft-spoken person, meticulous in his work and completely dedicated to serving the bar in addition to his full-time position as librarian." Glasier was secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of Wisconsin from 1920 to 1949 and editor of the bar association's Bulletin, which he founded, for 22 years. He also edited Callaghan's Wisconsin Digest from 1909 to 1920.
Glasier was a charter member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and held the office of president in 1921-1922. He also served on the executive board and held numerous chairmanships over several decades. In addition, he served as managing editor of the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Law Library Journal. A 1952 Law Library Journal article called Glasier "one of the most active and useful members" of AALL. In 2010 Glasier was posthumously inducted into the AALL Hall of Fame as a Pioneer member, for his dedication and service to the association.
Upon his retirement in 1956, Glasier was honored by the Legislature with a joint resolution commemorating his 50 years of faithful public service to the State of Wisconsin. In it, the Legislature opined, "His leaving will be repined in all corners of the state."
Earlier in the week I was privileged to participate in the culminating event of a year long celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of what is now the Wisconsin State Law Library (WSLL). As I indicated in my presentation at the event, it doesn't get any better than that for a library history buff. The WSLL's approach to its 175th anniversary could be used as a model by other libraries approaching a significant anniversary. The WSLL's 175th anniversary activities are recorder on its website. The library, originally designated as the State Library, was established as part of the Congressional act which established the Territory of Wisconsin. A $5,000 appropriation was made to purchase books for use by the Territorial Legislature. This set a precedent for later territorial legislation that followed. The library narrowly escaped a disastrous fire in the Capitol where it was located in 1904. The WSLL's long serving librarian Gilson Glasier will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in November. The WSLL staff has put together a very nice timeline of the library's history. At the reception this week the staff had assimilated a number on neat artifacts from their history that were displayed for the guests. I'm the proud owner of five sections of iron shelving that were in the library when it was located in the Capitol (it moved out in 1999). Before most of the iron shelving was discarded, the library managed to salvage some very nice label holders that were reused on the attractive shelving the library has now. Their 175th anniversary logo is based on these label holders.
The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected seven individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame (WLHF) in 2011. They are Norman D. Bassett (1891-1980), Orilla Thompson Blackshear (1904-1994), Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892), Gilson G. Glasier (1873-1972), Ginny Moore Kruse (1934- ), Walter Mcmynn Smith (1869 – 1938), and Ella T. Veslak (1897-1996). Their induction into the WLHF will take place during the Awards & Honors Banquet at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee on November 3. These seven inductees will join twenty-two other individuals who have previously been inducted into the WLHF.
Norman Bassett became the owner and first president of Demco Library Supplies, Inc. (now DEMCO) in 1931. He served in that capacity until 1959. A hallmark of Bassett’s leadership of one of the nation’s premier library supply companies was his close relationship with the library community and his commitment to helping libraries carry out their mission more effectively. Bassett was an active member of both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. He was Chair of WLA’s Scholarship Committee.
Orrilla Blackshear was a public library leader and a major promoter of Wisconsin’s literary heritage. She served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61 and was designated as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1962. She held important administrative positions at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the Madison Public Library. She was the compiler of Wisconsin Authors and Their Books 1836-1975 published in 1976 which was a landmark literary publication.
Daniel Durrie served as librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie is considered one of the founders of the Historical Society. He along with the first Secretary of the Historical Society, Lyman C. Draper (Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame inductee), established the foundation of one of America's great historical libraries. Durrie played a major role in indexing and organizing the Society's collection.
Gilson G. Glasier served as Wisconsin’s state law librarian from 1906 to 1956. During this period the Wisconsin State Law Library (formerly the Wisconsin State Library) grew from 30,000 volumes to 125,000 volumes and was ranked as one of the best law libraries in the country. Glasier was one of the founders of the American Association of Law Libraries and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2010.
Ginny Moore Kruse, Director Emerita of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, served as director of the CCBC from 1976 to 2002. In that capacity she was a state and national champion of quality library literature for children and of intellectual freedom. While Director she founded the CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services. She is an advocate for children’s literature that reflects the multi-cultural nature of our society.
Walter Smith became the first full time head librarian of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1891and served in that capacity until 1937. During his tenure the library grew from a staff of one to a staff of 35 and the library increased its holdings from 18,000 to 475,000 volumes. He oversaw the move of the library from Library Hall to the new building of the Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1900 where it shared space with the Society’s library.
Ella Veslak was a leader in the development of county library service in Wisconsin. She began serving as Director of the Shawano Public Library in 1926 and served as Director of the Shawano County Library starting in 1934. She was a proponent of bookmobile service and participated in the first demonstration of bookmobile service in Wisconsin. She served as a citizen member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1946-1948, and joined the WFLC staff in 1948. She received the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960.
More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these seven individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.
On March 11, 1891, 120 years ago today, twenty-nine people gathered in Madison for the first conference of the Wisconsin Library Association. Benton H. Wilcox in his history of The Wisconsin Library Association 1891-1966 described the first conference: "The program appeared rather hastily prepared. F. A. Hutchins spoke first on the conditions and prospects of town libraries, and later on the manner of establishing free city libraries under the state law. Dr. Birge talked informally on the proper conduct of free city libraries, while Mr. Thwaites gave a short address on the work of city libraries and local history. The only business transacted was to elect to their respective offices for another year the temporary officers chosen by the founding meeting on February 11. If there was any discussion concerning "the future course of the association," as proposed in the call for the meeting, it is not mentioned in the minutes. No future program was outlined, discussed or even proposed. Nevertheless the minutes assure us that it had been an enjoyable get-together of library interested people. There was not another until July, 1884." Although there was not another conference until July, 1884, there was a "get-together" of Wisconsin library folk in Chicago on July 13, 1893 in conjunction with ALA's World's Congress of Librarians which was held at the World's Columbian Exposition. The logo shown here is from the Wilcox history written in 1966 on the 75th anniversary of WLA. That book is now 45 years old and in great need of updating. Perhaps this can be done by WLA's 125th anniversary.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the birth of Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame member Frank Avery Hutchins (1851-1914). Hutchins was a leader in the free public library movement in Wisconsin and the United States. Hutchins' entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) written by Helen Huguenor Lyman has this to say about him: "Frank Hutchins, a brilliant man of rare vision and modesty, a pioneer librarian and active leader in the library world of Wisconsin, was born on March 8, 1851, in Norfolk, Ohio. During his lifetime he was teacher, bookseller, newspaper man, library trustee, and librarian. Again and again his friends described him as a humanitarian, public servant, scholar, and practical idealist. he helped to gain legislative, financial, and professional support for both the educational work of school and public libraries and the extension of library services throughout the state of Wisconsin. An initiator who would take no credit for the events he helped to set in motion, he recognized the abilities of others and encouraged them to carry out new ideas." Hutchins was a founder of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891and the first paid secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Hutchins close partner in the development of public library service in Wisconsin was fellow Hall of Fame member Lutie Stearns.
The 2011 theme for National Library Week (April 10-16) is "Create your own story @ your library". The theme, as it should be, is directed at the general public. However, this year's National Library Week is also an opportunity for libraries (and the people connected or interested in them) to tell a story or stories about the history of the library. Last year I gave a presentation to the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries titled “Turning Your Library’s History into a Public Relations Asset”. In that presentation I noted that a basic tenet of good library public relations is to seize every possible opportunity to penetrate the consciousness of the general public and community leaders with a positive message about the library. I pointed out that the message that the library has been in the business of changing lives and improving the quality of life for the residents of the community for a long time and that it continues to build on that heritage is a powerful positive message. I then provided some methods for conveying that message. The American Library Association has just published Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Effective Leadership by Kate Marek. Although I have not read the book, ALA's promotional material leads me to believe that the book would be very supportive of using stories about a library's history to promote the library. Why not resolve to penetrate the consciousness of your community's residents with at least one good story about the library's heritage during this year's National Library Week. Note: this post is being simultaneously published on the Library History Buff blog.
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 card. The winner and other entries are located HERE. The library will have a 35th anniversary birthday party on Sunday, January 23rd, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Congratulations Hales Corners!
The Wisconsin State Law Library is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Although this is a significant milestone in the history of one Wisconsin library in particular, it is also a significant milestone for library service in general in Wisconsin. In a slight modification of the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries slogan, Wisconsin libraries have been keeping "Us All in a Better State" for 175 years. When the Congress of the United States, in the act establishing the Wisconsin Territory, set aside $5,000 for the purchase of books for the Territorial Legislature in 1836, it represented a commitment of public funds for public knowledge and and public betterment. So as the Wisconsin State Law Library actively celebrates this milestone anniversary, it also represents an opportunity for the entire Wisconsin library community to celebrate 175 years of public support for library service for the common good. Previous posts about the Wisconsin State Law Library are located Here, Here and Here. The envelope above was used to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the State Law Library which was called the State Library at that time.
The year 2011 is an important anniversary year in the history of libraries in Wisconsin. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Library Association. On February 11, 1891, a group of individuals gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (located in Wisconsin's second Capitol, shown above) for the purpose of establishing a state library association. At that meeting, a constitution (based on that of the New York Library Association) was adopted and officers were elected. They included K. A. Linderfelt, president; R. G. Thwaites, vice-president; and F. A. Hutchins, secretary-treasurer. The first conference of the newly established association took place in Madison on March 11, 1891. Although much of the focus of the early years of the Wisconsin Library Association was on the development of public libraries, twelve decades of library leadership and support by the association has had a positive impact on all types of Wisconsin libraries. As Wisconsin libraries face a tough year due to the economy, it is also a time to acknowledge the tremendous library growth and development that has occurred in the last 120 years. Through good times and hard times Wisconsin libraries have persevered in meeting the information and knowledge needs of the state's residents. That's something to celebrate.
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 Stearns. Library director John Stoneberg assisted with the research for the publication. Congratulations to all who were involved in this excellent publication. I would recommend it as a model for any library that is contemplating the writing of a library history. There are a number of things I like about this attractive, well laid out publication. Throughout the book there are framed blocks of text that highlight complimentary material that relates to broader historical events and to special information about the library's history. In regard to the library's history, I noted that Ione Nelson was one of their library directors before becoming a longtime library consultant at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission/Division for Library Services. I also noted that in 1985, "A representative from the state Department of Public Instruction came to help mediate the dispute in Eau Claire [involving the level of County reimbursements to L.E. Phillips]. I wonder who that was.
I would also like to commend the folks at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library for the treatment of their library's history on their website. They use my recommended "two click" approach to website library histories - one click on "About Us" and a second click on "Library History" after reaching the library's home page. The Library History page at L.E. Phillips includes links to the new publication and a variety of other library history resources that have been digitized.
I have a previous post about the early public library buildings in Eau Claire.
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 University, and is considered to be the dean of current library historians in the United States. Wiegand is also a native of Manitowoc, Wisconsin and a former Professor at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. The trading card which is shown above is supposedly #64 in a set of 100 famous librarian trading cards. The card is accompanied by a list of the 100 famous librarians as selected by by the Wayne Wiegand Library Trading Card Coordinating Committee (Jim Danky, Karen Krueger, Doug Zweizig, and Larry Nix). Using a partially tongue-in-cheek baseball metaphor the back of the card begins "Wayne's first sand lot tryouts with a library team, the Manitowoc (WI) Library Mirros, showed the promise his subsequent career demonstrated." Wiegand is perhaps best known for his biography of Melvil Dewey, Irrepressible Reformer. In his presentations he often mentions that there are more public library outlets than McDonalds restaurants. He is a strong advocate of approaching library history from the viewpoint of the "library in the life of the user" in contrast to the "user in the life of the library". Wiegand plans to retire next year. The list of famous librarians includes, among others, Melvil Dewey, Herbert Putnam, Peggy Sullivan, John Cotton Dana, Margaret Monroe, Arna Bontemps, Benjamin Franklin, Lutie Stearns, Fred Glazer, Pope Pius XI, E. J. Josey, S. R. Ranganathan, Augusta Baker, and Callimachus. It also includes former librarians at the Manitowoc Public Library.
You can obtain a copy of the Wiegand trading card and the list of the 100 famous librarians by sending $5 (check or cash) to Larry T. Nix, 3605 Niebler Ln., Middleton, WI 53562. All proceeds from the sale of the cards will go to the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at UW-SLIS which Wiegand, along with Jim Danky, founded.
The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center has a display at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference at the Kalahari Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells this week. It's in a very visible location adjacent to the WLA Foundation display and across from the registration desk. Take a look if you're there.
The "Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy" exhibit will be on display at the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan for the month of November. This special exhibit which was created to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of Carnegie's birth was previously on display at the Middleton Public Library. It's nice to have the exhibit in Sheboygan which had its own Carnegie building (only the facade survives), and during the month when Carnegie was born (November 25).