Calvin (Cal) Potter was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4 at the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Potter was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his almost five years of service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning (DLTCL). Potter was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly from 1975-90 and a member of the Senate from January 1991 to May 1998. He served on the Assembly Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee and served as Chair of both committees. He served as Chair of the 1977 Legislative Council Committee on Library Laws which resulted in major revision to state legislation on libraries. He also served as Chair of the Legislative Council Committee on Public Libraries (1997) which resulted in favorable changes to library public library legislation. Potter was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Science. Potter served as Assistant State Superintendent and administrator of DLTCL from May, 1998 to January, 2003. During this period extensive technology planning and implementation took place for both public and school libraries. The transition from federal to state funding for BadgerLink also took place during this period. He chaired the State Superintendent's Task Force on Public Library Funding and Legislation. For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985. Based on nominations from WLA and the Wisconsin Educational Media Association, Potter was selected in 2000 for the American Library Association's National Advocacy Honor Roll which included those individuals and organizations who had most actively advocated for libraries in the United States over the last 100 years. Potter is currently a member of the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND).
Potter was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Lakeland College and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught Social Studies at Plymouth High School (1968-1975) before his legislative career. In May 1998, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lakeland College in "recognition of his many contributions to quality education as a State Senator and State Representative". He has received more than 50 other awards for his legislative efforts in behalf of education, libraries, and environmental protection. He is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
Potter and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Potter, a former instructor at Silver Lake College, currently reside in the Town of Sheboygan Falls.
Leah D. Gruber was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Gruber made a significant contribution to public library service in Wisconsin as a library trustee. She served on the Prairie du Sac Public Library Board from 1940 to 1988 during which she served several terms as President of the Board. She also served on the Sauk County Library Board from 1975 until 1983. As President of the Sauk County Library Board, she was instrumental in organizing the South Central Library System and was a member of the SCLS Board from its founding in 1975 until 1983. Gruber served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974. She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976. Gruber was on the Board of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association when it became a division of the Wisconsin Library Association. Gruber was born in 1906 in Fort Monroe, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1927 with a bachelor's degree in English and Library Science. She worked at the Fond du Lac Public Library and at the Legislative Reference Library in Madison. After marriage and a move to Prairie du Sac in 1939 she served as a volunteer cataloging books at several libraries in the area. Gruber received a special commendation from the University of Wisconsin System in 1974.
I attended the Centennial Birthday Party for the Oregon Public Library today. As someone who encorages the celebration of important library anniversaries this was an especially nice occasion for me. There have been events in celebration of the centennial througout the year at the Oregon Public Library. A nice tie in has been the Centennial Community Read project based on Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days by Jerry Apps. At the birthday party today there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the impressive new circulation desk created with a wide variety of wood from the community. A commemorative china plate was painted by 96 year old Oregon resident Clarice Christensen to celebrate the occasion. I came across an interesting historical sign about the Parmelee Library, a for-profit traveling library system that operated in Oregon for several years.
The Delafield Public Library has a "sneak peek" at its new building today (Sept. 26, 2010), and opens for business in its new location tomorrow. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) is sponsoring an exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia for its sneak peek that will continue through October. The WLHC also has an exhibit at the Middleton Public Library on Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy that continues through Sept. 30. Because of the overlap with the Middleton exhibit, the exhibit in Delafield focuses on non-Carnegie library buildings. There are a number of artifacts relating to the Milwaukee Public Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Carnegie wasn't the only benefactor of public libraries in Wisconsin and the exhibit includes artifacts relating to libraries which received large gifts in Marinette, Beaver Dam, Kenosha, and others. I was very impressed with the display case at the Delafield Public Library, one of the best I've come across. Our exhibit only occupies half of the display case. Delafield has a nice overview of its history on its website.
H. Vail Deale was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Deale served as Director of Libraries and Chair, Department of Library Science at Beloit College from to 1953 to 1980. A highlight of his career at Beloit was the planning and completion of the Colonel Robert H. Morse Library in 1962 which resulted in the library being designated as WLA’s 1962 Library of the Year, the first academic library to receive this honor. Deale was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries in the Wisconsin Library Association and served as its first chair in 1955-56. Deale served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1960-61. He served a six year term on the Governor's Council on Library Development. He was a life member of the American Library Association and served as chair of the ALA International Relations Committee (1957-77); chair of the ACRL College Section (1961-62); chair of the ACRL Grants Committee (1967-70); and a member of the ACRL Standards Committee.
Wayne Bassett was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. He served as Director of the Wausau Public Library from 1965 to 1974. When the Wausau Public Library merged with the Marathon County Library in 1974 to become the Marathon County Public Library, he served as Director of the merged library until his retirement in 1983. Concurrently (1965-1983), he served as the Director of what is now the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. Serving as the Wisconsin Library Association’s first Legislative Advocate from 1971 to 1979 he played an important role in the enactment of Wisconsin’s public library system law. Bassett received WLA’s Special Service Award in 1971 and served as President of WLA in 1976. He was named WLA’s Librarian of the Year in 1979. His life and service to the Wisconsin library community were recognized with a WLA Special Memorial Citation in 1988.
Under his leadership, the Wausau Public Library was named as WLA’s Library of the year in 1965. Bassett was instrumental in the establishment of the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin. He served as leader and/or member of numerous WLA and other statewide committees including the Library Development and Legislation Committee; the Library Services and Construction Act Review Committee; and the Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Library Laws. He was a member of the American Library Association.
Prior to coming to Wausau, Bassett graduated from the University of Minnesota (UM) with degrees in Political Science and Public Administration. He served in the U.S. Army in France during WWII. Returning home, he earned a library science degree from UM. After beginning his library career at the Fond du Lac (WI) Public Library, he served as the Director of the Worthington (MN) City Library, later the Nobles County Library, from 1949 to 1965. From 1954 to 1962 Bassett served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, has selected five individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2010. They are Wayne Bassett (1915-1988), H. Vail Deale (1915-2004), Leah Gruber (1907-1996), Julia Wright Merrill (1881-1961), and Calvin Potter (1945- ). The inductions will take place on November 4, 2010 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Wayne Bassett served as Director of the Wausau Public Library, later merged into the Marathon County Public Library, and the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. He served as the Legislative Advocate for WLA and as its President in 1976. H. Vail Deale was the former Director of Libraries at Beloit College. He was a member of the 1954-55 Steering Committee that helped establish the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries (WAAL) in WLA and served as its first chair in 1955-56. Deale served as President of the WLA in 1960-61. Leah Gruber served as a trustee on the Prairie du Sac Library Board for 48 years. She also served on the boards of the Sauk County Library and the South Central Library System. Leah served as President of the Wisconsin Library Trustee Association in 1973 and 1974. She was honored as WLA’s trustee of the year in 1968 and was again selected for this honor in 1976. Julia Wright Merrill worked for the Wisconsin Free Library Commission on two occasions, from 1903 to 1906 and again from 1917 to 1922. She taught in the WFLC’s library school and served as a field agent promoting public library service throughout the state. She was a national leader in public library extension and served as the first Executive Secretary of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association. Calvin (Cal) Potter’s was a consistent and effective legislative supporter for Wisconsin libraries of all types during his 23 year career as a member of the State legislature and during his four and a half years service as Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning. For his advocacy for libraries, Potter received WLA’s Citation of Merit in 1981 and again in 1985. More extensive coverage of the accomplishments of these five individuals will be forthcoming in later posts to the WLHC website.
"Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy - An Exhibit of Memorabilia Featuring Wisconsin's Carnegie Libraries" will be on display at the Middleton Public Library (WI) for the month of September. November 25th will be the 175th anniversary of Carnegie's birth. Sixty Wisconsin communities were the recipients of 63 public library grants from Andrew Carnegie. In addition, two academic institutions also received Carnegie library grants. Fourteen of these Carnegie buildings have been razed, 28 are no longer used as libraries, but 23 are still being used as libraries. Most of those being used as libraries have been expanded and in some cases they are the smaller part of the expanded library. A number of Carnegie buildings have been repurposed as historical museums, and others have become office buildings. Wisconsin has the only Carnegie building serving as a bed and breakfast (Ladysmith). One former Carnegie is now a private residence (Superior, East Branch). For public libraries, Wisconsin communities received a total of $1,045,511. For the two academic libraries it received $104,000. Wisconsin ranked seventh among the states in the number of communities receiving grants for public libraries. A total of 7 grants were received in 1901, the first year that communities in Wisconsin received Carnegie grants. The East Branch of the Superior Public Library was the last Carnegie library constructed in Wisconsin (1917). The exhibit at the Middleton Public Library includes postcards depicting 62 of the 65 Wisconsin Carnegie libraries. The exhibit also includes more than 30 souvenir china pieces along with souvenir spoons and paper weights. The exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center, a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. The curator for the exhibit is Larry T. Nix. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center maintains a section on its website devoted to Wisconsin's Carnegie libraries. This post is also being published in The Library History Buff Blog.
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 story of both librarians and DEMCO during this hundred year period. One of the stories in the book is about Norman Bassett who became owner of Demco Library Supplies in 1931 and the free magazine for librarians he created in 1932. The magazine's name Demcourier came from two librarians who won a contest to name the magazine and as a result received $10 each. Initially the focus of the magazine, was on practical information for librarians but it evolved more and more into a literary magazine with each issue devoted to a single literary figure. I recently acquired the Autumn 1939 issue (cover shown above) and it is devoted to Louis Untermeyer. In this issue, Bassett, who edited the magazine, apologetically tells readers that the magazine has become so popular that DEMCO is going to have to limit its distribution to those who purchase at least $10 in library supplies each year from the company and those who pay a subscription fee of 50 cents a year (returned if $10 is spent with the company). Bassett was a model of the best in relationships between library vendors and the library community. He became active in both the Wisconsin Library Association and the American Library Association. In 1932 at the conference of the Wisconsin Library Association he arranged an auction of autographed copies of books to raise funds for scholarships for library school students. As a result a Scholarship Committee (which continues today) was established with Bassett as its chair. During World War II the cost of paper forced the suspension of the magazine in 1943 and its publication was never resumed. This article was published simultaneously in The Library History Buff Blog.
This is a follow-up post to a post on the Milwaukee Soldiers Home Library (Wadsworth Library) that I made on January 4th of this year. As a result of that post, Patricia Lynch informed me that the Wadsworth Library built in 1891 continues to serve patients of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. She also noted that during an annual event called Reclaiming Our Heritage at the VA Medical Center the Wadsworth Library is open to the general public and is filled with displays on the history of the library and other exhibits. Reclaiming Our Heritage occurs on the weekend after Memorial Day and this year my wife and I took advantage of this opportunity to visit the library. The pictures above are a result of our visit. I was particularly intrigued by a photo of a dog on a display bulletin board with the caption "Smokey Peterson, The Wadsworth Library Mascot and 3rd Overdue Book Collector. Retired 1990." It would be great to find out more about the canine overdue book collectors.
For me attending a conference of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL), a division of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) is like walking into a bar called Cheers. There are lots of longtime friends and "everybody knows your name". These days my name is mostly associated with library history, and that was why I was in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday of this week. At a conference with the theme “Anchoring the Past, Setting Sail for the Future”, I was there to help anchor the past with a program which I called “Turning Your Library’s History into a Public Relations Asset”. The conference was held at the Blue Harbor Resort, the anchor to a major harbor development, right on beautiful Lake Michigan. Dick Nelson, the conference program chair, had to twist my arm a little to get me to do the program. Not that I would actually pass up on an opportunity to promote library history, but when competing with five other programs in the same time slot I wasn't optimistic about the size of the audience I would be talking to. With past programs about library history I have sometimes ended up talking to a very small choir of like minded individuals. In this instance, that turned out not to be the case. The size of my audience was a respectable percentage of the 300 plus conference attendees.
In any case to hedge my bets and to ensure that the preparation for my presentation was not wasted, I had taken this opportunity to enhance the website of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) by creating three new web pages. One of my responsibilities as Chair of the Steering Committee for the WLHC is maintaining the website. This also enabled me to avoid using technology onsite in my presentation (something I hate), and enabled the audience to avoid taking copious notes on my words of wisdom. This approach also allows those of you reading this post to benefit from the presentation without being there. Since a library has to have researched and compiled some form of a library history in order to turn it into a public relations asset, the first web page supporting my presentation deals with Researching and Writing a Library History. I want to acknowledge ALA's Library History Round Table, Bernadette Lear, and other members of the WLHC Steering Committee for much of the content on this web page. The second web page is about the core message of the program "Marketing Library History", and the final web page is focused on "Celebrating Anniversaries".
Attending the WAPL Conference was a great opportunity to talk to old and new friends. The reception on Thursday night at the Mead Public Library was a wonderful event. The library's outstanding facility includes many interesting spaces and artifacts. Among them is a portrait of Andrew Carnegie from their old Carnegie facility (shown on the postcard above). I'm hoping to take advantage of some of their display cases for an exhibit later in the year. While in Sheboygan I also picked up a vintage public library book box which WAPL Conference Chair David Weinhold had assisted me in obtaining via Craigslist. On the way home I swung up to Menasha to pick up a library history exhibit featuring the Tabard Inn Library, the Booklovers Library, and Wisconsin Library Memorabilia. All in all a great couple of days for a library history buff.
The public library in Eau Claire (now named the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library) has benefited from the generosity of several benefactors over the years. An online history of the early years of the public library can be found HERE. In 1894 the library was given rent free space in the new Ingram Building by lumberman Orin H. Ingram. The Ingram Building is shown in the first postcard above. In 1902 a grant of $40,000 was obtained from Andrew Carnegie for a new library building and the grand opening of the building was held on April 21, 1904, just over 106 years ago. A copy of the letter requesting the grant from Andrew Carnegie is located HERE. The second postcard shows the exterior of the Carnegie building and the third postcard shows the interior.
I first reported on the plans for renovating the Wisconsin Historical Society's headquarters building which includes the library in a post on May 10, 2009 in connection with Historic Preservation Month. I'm extremely happy to report the renovation is complete and that public tours will take place tomorrow (Friday) from 1 to 4 and on Saturday from 10 to 4. A story about the "Awe-inspiring Reading Room Restoration" appears in today's Wisconsin State Journal. As I indicated in my previous post I believe the building is second only to the State Capitol in its historic importance to the state. I also noted that when the American Library Association met in Waukesha in 1901, conference attendees came to Madison to visit the newly completed building and, "There was but one opinion of the entire party in regard to the beauty and arrangement of the building, and that was satisfactory to the highest degree." On the envelope above mailed in February, 1899, the year before the building opened, Harry Johnson makes known that he is the general contractor for the new building. The postcard shows the reading room before it received a less than perfect restoration in 1955.
Located near the fireplace on the main floor of the Menasha Public Library is an extraordinary antique bookcase. The unusual revolving bookcase was part of the Tabard Inn Library, an early 20th century commercial lending library that spanned the nation. The Tabard Inn Library was a subsidiary of an even larger enterprise called the Booklovers Library. Both libraries were founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Seymour Eaton, a Canadian born writer, educator, and entrepreneur. During the month of April there will be a special display at the Menasha Public Library related to the Tabard Inn Library bookcase and Eaton’s two libraries. The display will be located on the Art Wall near the fireplace and in the display case adjacent to the circulation desk of the library. The exhibit consists of a variety of printed ephemera and artifacts for the two libraries collected that I have collected over the years. In addition to the items related to the Tabard Inn Library and the Booklovers Library there will be selected items from the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit which has been displayed at a number of Wisconsin libraries.
Today marks the second anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC). The WLHC is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation (WLAF). The WLHC was established on March 19, 2008 by action of the WLAF Board based on a report [heritage-center-report-3-19-08.pdf] submitted by the WLHC Steering Committee. This action led to the creation of this website and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. The WLHC Steering Committee is looking forward to another successful year.
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 it relates to Wisconsin's library heritage. Our library heritage consists of archives, artifacts, architecture, and the memory of those librarians and library supporters who have handed down the legacy that is today's Wisconsin library community. There are lots of ideas on the Preservation Week website that can be used to highlight and promote your library's heritage. Why not undertake some of them this year.
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 Salzmann Library is affiliated with the St. Francis de Sales Seminary, a Catholic seminary, located in St. Francis, Wisconsin which was founded in 1845. The Salzmann Library, shown in the second postcard, serves a larger community which include anyone who works or volunteers at the parishes, schools, and ministries in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.