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.

Subscribe to feed Viewing entries tagged Black River Falls

Origin of Wisconsin's Public Library Law (WLA 125)

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
in WLA 125
erastus-swift-willcoxWisconsin's original public library law was introduced as Assembly Bill no. 87, 1872 on January 26, 1872 by Assemblyman Alexander Graham of Janesville, Wisconsin. It was approved by the Governor on March 22, 1872. The  Graham Bill was remarkably similar to a bill introduced in the Illinois Legislature on March 23, 1871 and signed into law on March 7, 1872.  So similar, in fact, that there is little doubt that Wisconsin's public library law was based on the one in Illinois.  A key provision is almost identical: "Every library and reading-room established under this act, shall be forever free to the use of the inhabitants of the city or village where located, always subject to such reasonable rules and regulations as the library board may find necessary to adopt and publish ...".
Erastus Swift Willcox (pictured above), while librarian of the Peoria Mercantile Library, a forerunner of the Peoria Public Library, conceived the public library law that was substantially enacted by both Illinois and Wisconsin in 1872 and which was a model for a number of other states. Although New Hampshire adopted a state public library law in 1849, a solid case has been made that Willcox's public library law was the first comprehensive state public library law. Willcox realized that the fees charged by mercantile libraries and other membership libraries were not only inadequate for funding library service but that they were significant barriers to library use by the general public. Little is known of Alexander Graham's motivation for introducing the Wisconsin law or the specifics of how he became aware of the Illinois bill. He was, however, a member of the Janesville Young Men's Association, a membership library which experienced some of the same challenges as those of the Peoria Mercantile Library. A major motivating factor in the passage of the Illinois law was the movement to create a public library for the City of Chicago. The City of Chicago passed an ordinance under the new act creating the Chicago Public Library on April 1, 1872. The Black River Falls Public Library was the first public library created under Wisconsin's public library law of 1872.
Originally posted on June 19, 2009


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo