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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In Bed With Carnegie

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Saturday, January 03, 2009
in Carnegie libraries


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Finding alternative uses for Carnegie library buildings that have been vacated for newer and more functional facilities can be a challenge. The old Carnegie library in Ladysmith, Wisconsin was transformed into a very unusual alternative purpose. It is now the Carnegie Hall Bed & Breakfast. In a Google search, I was only able to find a couple of similar uses in the nation. The Carnegie library building in Sterling, Colorado is now the Old Library Inn. The Carnegie library building in Olean, New york is now the Old Library Restaurant in conjunctin with a bed and breakfast. Why not spend a night with Carnegie on your next vacation.


The public library in Ladysmith is now named the Rusk County Community Library. The library has done a good job of outlining its library history.


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  • Marion Howard says #
    The Carnegie building in Darlington is now the home of the LaFayette County Historical Society Museum and Archives. Marion Howard,...

Edward Asahel Birge 1851-1950

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, December 31, 2008
in Hall of Fame

birge.jpgEdward Asahel Birge was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Birge was one of a small group of people who gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on February 11, 1891 to organize the Wisconsin Library Association.  At the time Birge was a noted Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the Madison Public Library Board.  He served on the Madison Public Library Board from 1891 to 1909 and was its chairman from 1893 to 1909.  He served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association from 1897 to 1899 and again in 1905-1906. He was a member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. He had a long and active career at the University of Wisconsin serving as Professor of Zoology (1879-1911), Dean of the College of Letters and Science (1891-1918), Acting President  (1900--1903), and President (1918- 1925).  He is listed in the  Dictionary of Wisconsin History.  Thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives and Records Mangement Services for permission to use the image of Birge. 

 

Other links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Ashael_Birge
http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/wireader/WER0747.html
http://archives.library.wisc.edu/chancellors/chancellors.htm

 

Note: In the comming months we will be featuring 2008 inductees to the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on the blog component of the the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website. Not only will this provide more exposure to these exceptional people, it will enable us to deal with a technical difficulty in organizing our site. 

 

Founding Contributors

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Monday, December 29, 2008
in Marketing-Publicity

We wish to express our appreciation to the following individuals and organizations who have achieved the designation of Founding Contributor to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center by making a special contribution to the WLHC.  These individuals and organizations are helping the WLHC to get off to a good start in its efforts to promote the heritage of Wisconsin libraries.


Diana Anderson
Appleton Library Foundation
Lori A. Belongia  
Dan C. Calef                                                                                      
John Eldred/Heather Eldred
Nancy Fletcher
Peter Gilbert
Barbara Kelly
Rick Krumwiede                                                     
Beatrice (Bea) Lebal
Milton Mitchell 
Ruth Ann Montgomery                                                                
Friends of Neenah Library
Larry T. Nix
T.B. Scott Free Library, Merrill, WI
Lisa Strand                                          
Lowell W. Wilson  


The WLHC is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.  All members of WLA are automatically  members of the WLA Foundation.  Those members who wish to provide additional support for WLA Foundation programs are encoraged to become a participant in one of the contributing Circles of the Foundation.  The Founding Contributor designation for the WLHC is a one-time contributing opportunity.  For more on how to become a Founding Contributor click here


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  • PG says #
    I have to report that my contribution was a Christmas present from my wife. She knows what I like...

ALA in Waukesha

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, December 16, 2008
in Library artifacts

As noted in the previous post, the American Library Association met in Waukesha in July of 1901. As reported in the magazine Public Libraries: "The twenty-third annual meeting of the A. L. A. was held at Waukesha, Wis., with an enthusiasm and interest that has not been equaled more than two or three times in the history of the association."  The conference was held at the Fountain Spring House, Waukesha's premier resort. The Public Libraries article concluded: "A large majority of the people present attended their first conference of American librarians at Waukesha, and the interest, enthusiasm, and evident progress made at this meeting is due largely to that fact.  For months the local associations in the middle west were at work to interest thelibrarians of their diffferent states in the importance of being present at Waukesha.  Their efforts were successful, and there was but one note sounded in regard to the meeting, and that was satisfaction."


The full Public Libraries report on the Waukesha conference can be found in Google Books on pages 459-497 of the 1901 annual compilation.


At early ALA Conferences, momentos were routinely given to participants. At the Waukesha conference, the attendees were given an elaborate medal. At the top of the medal was a pin-back badger followed by a ribbon similar to those on military medals and finally there was a copper colored medallion.  The medallion, which is in my collection of Wisconsin library memorabilia, is shown below.  Someone probably took the medal apart for the attractve badger pin. A complete medal is located in the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.



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ALA Madison Day 1901

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Monday, December 15, 2008
in Library buildings

madison-day-whi-45544-72
The 1901 Conference of the American Library Association took place in Waukesha. In the early Monday morning hours of July 8, 1901 the entire group of attendees went by train to Madison. As reported in the magazine Pulic Libraries, "They were met on their arrival by a local committee, carriages were provided and the party was taken to various points of interest about the city and through the beautiful drives adjoining the university grounds."  Later that afternoon "... the party was led through the new Historical library building... 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. The beautiful reading-room was greatly admired by everyone, and even those who are wont to think that Bates hall [in the Boston Public Library] and the halls of the Congressional library at Washington are beyond compare, were willing to admit that the enthusiasm and praise of the room were merited." Madison Day ended with a group picture on the steps of the Historical library. "The party returned to Waukesha well pleased with its trip and delighted with the hospitality of the Madison people."

Plans are underway to restore the Reading Room of the State Historical Society to its original grandeur.

The image of those attending Madison Day is from the Wisconsin Historical Image collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID: 45544.

Theresa West Elmendorf (1855-1932)

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Friday, December 12, 2008
in Hall of Fame

elmendorf1.jpgTheresa West Elmendorf was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Theresa West became Deputy Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1880 when she was just 25 years old.  In 1882 she became the first member of the American Library Association from Wisconsin. After attending the 1890 American Library Association conference and learning of the creation of state library associations in some Eastern states, she came back and promoted a Wisconsin state library association. This idea came to fruition on February 11, 1891. West became Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1892 when the previous librarian, Klas Linderfelt, resigned.  She was the first woman to direct the public library of a large city in the United States. She held this post until 1896 when she married Henry Elmendorf, also a librarian.  After a brief time in London, England, they moved to Buffalo, New York where Henry Elmendorf became director of the Buffalo Public Library.  After the death of her husband in 1906, Theresa Elmendorf became Vice-Librarian of the Buffalo Public Library.  Active in the American Library Association, she became the first woman president of ALA in 1911-12. In the June 1911 issue of the Public Libraries magazine there was a report on the 1911 conference of the American Library Association where Elmendorf was elected President of ALA. The report said this about Elmendorf: "Mrs. Thresa West Elmendorf, the first woman to be honored by the association with its presidency, comes into the office by right of achievement greater than that of any other woman in the library field and of an equal grade with that of any man.  Her wholesome, sympathetic attitude toward library work and workers has been a distinct contribution to the craft and her freedom from personal ambition has made her a valuable aid in developing the power of the A. L. A. Her election to the presidency is a well-earned, a well-deserved honor, marking an epoch in which the A. L. A. honored itself in honoring her." In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". She is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. The photo of Elemendorf is reprinted with permission from the article "Pioneers of the Library Profession", by Joseph Adams Rathbone, The Wilson Library Bulletin, June 1949.

Wisconsin Rapids Public Library History

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Friday, December 12, 2008
in Library buildings


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This postcard shows the public library building for Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids). It was completed in 1892. The library shared the building with the city council and the fire department initially, but the library took over the entire building in 1900. The library was named the T. B. Scott Free Public Library at that time after T. B. Scott who donated $5,000 to the library. The library was located in this building until 1948.  


The folks at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, formerly the T. B. Scott Free Public Library,  have done an especially good job of telling the library's story on their website. A recent addition to their website is a Google map of the previous locations of the library with photos and descriptions.  Also on the website is an online version of Centennial Story 1890-1990 : McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
by Alice McCaul Hayward.  There is a section devoted to the traveling libraries initiated by J. D. Witter in Wood County. Information about other Wisconsin traveling libraries can be found here. Finally there is a section that includes digitized newspaper articles that were written in 1921 about the early years of the library. A mural showing the history of the library is located near the entrance to the library. This mural is shown as part of the new Google map feature. 


Recent Comments Show all comments
  • Larry Nix says #
    I'm sorry, but the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is not in position to do the kind of research which you request. Our area of...
  • Antoine Nouens says #
    Dear Sir, Madam: Please assist me in regard of the following. I do research about US servicemen that were killed in WW 2 in and ne...

The Bookworm

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, December 10, 2008
in Postcards


pc-wi-bookworm-72.jpgThe original painting of a very popular image showing an elderly gentleman standing on a ladder in a library is owned by the Milwaukee Public Library. The painting is "The Bookworm" by Carl Spitzweg. The collector who donated the painting to the library also gave several Spitzweg paintings to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Shown here is the painting on a postcard. Prints and posters of the image are readily available on the Internet by searching "Spitzweg bookworm".


Beginnings of the UW-Milwaukee Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, December 09, 2008
in Academic libraries
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The UW-Milwaukee Libraries had their beginning as the Library of the State Normal School in Milwaukee which began in 1885. This postcard was mailed on July 12, 1926. At the time Delia Ovitz was the Librarian. She served in this capacity from 1901 to 1944. A list of all the directors of the UW-Milwaukee Libraries and their predecessors is here. In 1955, the state legislature approved a merger of Wisconsin State College, Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Extension Center of the University of Wisconsin to form the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee. The new institution opened its doors in 1956. A timeline for the development of UW-Milwaukee can be found here.
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  • Sarah Kropp says #
    I was interested in seeing this article, as my great aunt was Dehlia Ovitz-- In addition, I am now a Library Media Specialist in M...

Carnegie Libraries in Superior and Hayward

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Friday, December 05, 2008
in Carnegie libraries

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The postcard on the masthead for the WLHC website shows the building which Andrew Carnegie helped fund for Superior, Wisconsin. Beth Carpenter, the designer of the WLHC website, picked the postcard for the masthead, but I heartedly approve. I like it because it shows people around the library and a very neat vintage automobile that helps date the card. Unfortunately, the building is at risk. When the City of Superior was set to raze the building, a group of individuals banded together and were able to save the building at least temporarily. But to date they have been unable to find a permanent use for the building.  For more on the Superior Carnegie building click here.


 



carnegie-wi-hayward-1-72.jpgThe situation in Hayward, WI differs dramatically from the one in Superior. When the Hayward Public Library moved to a new building, the old Carnegie building was bought by a retailer that has done a fine job of restoring and preserving the building. A contributing factor to this more favorable outcome was the ideal location of the Carnegie building in a popular commercial district for tourists.  If you're in the Hayward area check it out. 


Frank Avery Hutchins (1851-1914)

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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in Hall of Fame

hutchins-72.jpgFrank Avery Hutchins was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Hutchins was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891.  He served as President of WLA from 1894 to 1897.  As President of WLA he was instrumental in starting the Summer School for Library Economy in 1895 which became the Wisconsin Library School in 1906.  He helped establish the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) in 1895 and was its initial Chair until 1897.  In 1897 with the reorganization and increased funding of the WFLC he became its first paid Secretary, a post he held until 1904.  He originated the idea of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library which became a unit of the WFLC and served as a national model.  He was a national leader in public library development and extension.  Helen Lyman in the Dictionary of American Library Biography entry for Hutchins said, “He belongs to that small group of men and women who formed and developed the modern library movement and made the library profession what it has become.” Hutchins became interested in libraries while serving as editor of the weekly newspaper, the Beaver Dam Argus.  He helped organize the Beaver Dam Free Library Association which was established in 1884. He was featured in the "As it Was in The Beginning" series of the Public Libraries magazine (1925, volume 30, pages186-190).   He is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Dictionary of Wisconsin History . The image of Hutchins is from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Historical Image Collection  Image ID: 29375.



 



Dunn County News Story

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Saturday, November 29, 2008
in Hall of Fame
One of the goals of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is to publicize Wisconsin libraries and their history.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see a story in the November 28 issue of the Dunn County News about the induction of James Huff Stout into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. Click here to read the story.

Stoughton's Historic Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Friday, November 21, 2008
in Carnegie libraries


pc-wi-stoughton-old-72.jpgThe City of Stoughton, Wisconsin has the distinction of having preserved two historic library buildings. An elaborate multi-purpose building which housed the public library in the basement was completed in 1901.  The stone signage on the building says "City Hall 1901 Library".  In addition to the City Hall and Library, the building contained a large city auditorium which became the City Hall Opera House.  The building has been restored and serves as an active cultural and entertainment venue.  More on the building's history can be found here.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


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Wanting a larger space for the public library, the City sought and received a Carnegie grant of $13,000 to help build a separate public library building which was dedicated in 1908. The building was designed by architects Claude and Starck.  A referendum was passed in 1988 to significantly expand the building. The wrap-around addition preserves the original building.  Recently, the interior of the Carnegie building was restored. More on the library's history can be found here.


These two buildings are on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail.


Milwaukee Pencil Dater

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, November 20, 2008
in Library artifacts

I came across this illustration in an 1886 Library Bureau supply catalog. It gives credit to the Milwaukee Public Library for creating the pencil dater which became a fixture in most libraries in the first half of the 20th century.  Does anyone have an example of a pencil dater?  Has anyone used one?


 



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Recent Comments Show all comments
  • Fern Teleglow says #
    I've been searching for a pencil dater for a year or two now - I used to use them when I first started working in libraries in the...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Fern, it is not just pencil daters that are hard to find. Unfortunately, most of the artifacts which library staffs used to condu...
  • Larry Nix says #
    There were several different kinds of pencil daters. I have an old Demco catalog which shows five different ones. There are a co...

Charles R. McCarthy (1873-1921)

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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in Hall of Fame

mccarthy1-72.jpgCharles R. McCarthy was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton on October 22, 2009. McCarthy was the first head of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library which began as the Documents Department of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and eventually became the independent Legislative Reference Bureau. The Legislative Reference Library was the first of its kind in the nation and served as the model for the Congressional Reference Service of the Library of Congress. McCarthy was a leader in the Progressive Movement and wrote The Wisconsin Idea. McCarthy's leadership of the Legislative Reference Library was so well thought of by the State Legislature that a memorial plaque of  McCarthy was placed in the Assembly Chambers of the State Capitol. When McCarthy died in 1921 his body lay in state in the State Capitol where thousands of people passed his bier.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WLHC Booth Update

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Monday, November 10, 2008
in Exhibits
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WLHC Steering Committee member Pete Gilbert at the WLHC booth at the WLA Conference.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center hosted a booth in the exhibits area of the 2008 WLA Conference which took place November 4-7 in Middleton. The exhibit featured selected items from the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia Exhibit which is available for display at individual libraries.  The booth provided an opportunity for members of the WLHC Steering Committee to interact with a great many conference goers. 



wlhc-booth2-72.jpgA big hit with those viewing the booth exhibit were the library souvenir spoons.  


WI Library Hall of Fame

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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in Hall of Fame


stearns-standing-72.jpgThe Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame was created by the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Board as part of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center at its July 16, 2008 meeting. The WLHF will include both librarians and library supporters. The first ten individuals will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Awards Banquet of the WLA Conference on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008.  Information about the inductees can be found on the Hall of Fame page of this site. The image of Lutie Stearns is from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Historical Image Collection, Image ID: 29372.


WLHC Booth

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Monday, October 27, 2008
in Exhibits

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will have a booth at the WLA Conference in Middleton on Nov. 5 and 6.  The booth number is 406. The booth will have a display of some of the Wisconsin library memorabilia that is included in the WLHC's traveling exhibit.  You will be able to see the world's largest collection of Wisconsin library souvenir spoons (12), a selection of library souvenir china, library postcards,library pinback buttons, and a few odds and ends. Please stop by to enjoy the display and let us know your thoughts about the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center.


The WLA Conference is taking place at the Mariott Hotel in Middleton. Exhibit hours run from 10 am to 5pm on Wed. Nov. 5 and 8:30am to 4:30pm on Thurs. Nov 6.


One of the display cases that you will be able to see at Booth 406.


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Tags: Exhibits

Claude and Starck Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Sunday, October 26, 2008
in Library buildings

Library history buffs and those interested in architecture won't want to miss a program at the WLA Conference in Middleton on the Wisconsin Carnegie libraries designed by the architectural firm of Claude & Stark.  The program is entitled "The Shared Ideal: The Carnegie Libraries of Claude & Starck" and will take place in the La Crosse Room of the Marriott on Thursday, November 6 from 4:00 to 5:15.  The presenter will be Sheridan A. Glen, Board Member, Madison Center for Creative and Cultural Arts. The description of the program in the WLA Program reads as follows:


"The Madison architectural firm of Claude & Starck received commissions for 25 of 63 Carnegie libraries built in Wisconsin. This slide show, illustrated by postcards, will show the different styles—Classical, Sullivanesque, Prairie, Original, English Gothic, and Swiss Chalet—that Claude and Starck developed for Wisconsin libraries. The legacy of their beautiful libraries seems particularly meaningful, given the importance these libraries were to the development of small town America."


According to Kristin Visser in Frank Loyd Wright & the Prairie School in Wisconsin, the architectural partnership of Louis Claude and Edward Starck designed hundreds of buildings in Madison and the Midwest including over 40 library buildings.


The Columbus Public Library which was dedicated on November 1, 1912 was one of those library buildings.  According to Visser, "The Columbus library is unique among Claude and Starck designs in that it combines elembents of Prairie sbyle with English cottage decorative features."


The Columbus Public Library which is shown on the postcard below is on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail.


 



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Seymour Eaton's Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Saturday, October 25, 2008
in Library artifacts
booklovers-72.jpg

At the turn of the 19th century entrepreneur Seymour Eaton established two national commercial libraries that had an impact on Wisconsin. The first of these libraries was the Booklovers Library which provided home delivery of books by subscription. The Booklovers Library might be described as the Netflix of books for this period.  It had a circulation in the millions.


The Milwaukee Library Centre for the Booklovers Library was located at 463 Broadway. This photograph is from a 1902 promotional brochure for the Booklovers Library.


 


 


 


 



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The Booklovers Library pre-dated parcel post so delivery was accomplished through a combination of express companies via train and wagon and the Booklovers Library's own fleet of horse drawn wagons. This illustration from a promotional brochure shows the distribution plan for Eastern Wisconsin.  For more on the Booklovers library click here


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


The second of Seymour Eaton's libraries was the Tabard Inn Library which was also a paid subscription library. This library had stations in the form of revolving bookcases located in drug stores and other commercial establishments throughout the United States including Wisconsin. The bookcases held 120 books which were changed from a central location every week.




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A photograph of a Tabard Inn Library Bookcase which is currently located in the Menasha Public Library. A member deposited five cents in a compartment in the bookcase  The carved message around the top of the bookcase reads "The Best Reading Rooms In the United States Are the Homes of the American People". The Menasha Public Library is on the Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail. For more on the Tabard Inn Library click here.  


 


 


 


 


 


 


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