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

Gilbert H. Doane Lowell W. Wilson Anniversaries Rusk County Community Library Hall of Fame 2018 Special libraries White House Conference on Library and Information Services 23 Ice Storm Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Wayne A. Wiegand Dorothea M. Krause 11 ca Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Buttons James Huff Stout Black River Falls Hall of Fame 2018 Bookmobiles Charles Bunge T. B. Scott Free Public Library Hall of Fame 2015 Pinback buttons Robert Bocher 10 Oshkosh Public Library Hall of Fame 2009 J. D. Witter Anniversaries library memorabilia Jerome P. Daniels Edward Asahel Birge Public libraries Events & Meetings I Love Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library People background Middleton Public Library Digital Collections Carnegie libraries Ruby Roeder Suring Area Public Library COLAND Hall of Fame 2015 UW-Madison school of library and information studies Pewaukee Public Library Library Artifacts Public libraries Meter mail slogans Eratus Swift Wilcox DeForest Area Public Library World War I Library people Postcards Gerald A. Somers Brown Deer Public Library WLA 125 Ripon Public Library traveling libraries Black River Falls Public Library Bernard Schwab Increase A. Lapham Louise S. Robbins Tower Hill Wisconsin library education library legislation Cam American Library Association caly film Katharine MacDonald Jones Lutie Eugenia Stearns 27 Lutie Stearns WLA 125 presentations archives library exhibit 22 Historical Register Sandra Friedman Dolnick buil Hall of Fame 2016 S. Janice Kee Academic Libraries Library Trustees Amer Marketing-Publicity Wisconsin State Law Library Wisconsin Historical Society Clinton Public Library books-by-mail Campaign Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Matthew S. Dudgeon Wisconsin Free Library Commission State Law Library Cooperative Children's Book Center Library celebrations Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Wisconsin Rapids School of Library and Information Studies John Miller Chancellor Superior Carnegie Libraries Wisconsin Library Bulletin WWI Library War Service Hartford Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Soughton Public Library Woman's Congress Larry T. Nix William J. Wilson membership libraries Parcel post John J. Jax campa state historical society Milwaukee Public Library 20 People Hall of Fame 2014 21 Portage Public Library Nolan I. Neds Cornelia Marving Pierce caly film Irene W. Newman Library History Public library systems Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Hall of Fame 2015 Appleton Public Library 28 WAAL Ruth Ann Montgomery Carl Spitzweg Lucy E. Smith Morris Library Buildings Postcards campaign Hall of Fame 2011 campaign Hall fo Fame 2012 Campaign Events & Meetings Hall of Fame 2015 Elroy Public Library Frank Avery Hutchins Wisconsin Library Association Wisconsin Free Library Commission Exhibits Milwaukee Art Museum Hall of Fame 2012 Eager Free Public Library UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Milwaukee Public Library Hall of Fame 2017 Publications Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library McMillan Memorial Library Orrilla Blackshear Capitol Fire 1904 UW-Milwaukee Libraries Library Systems Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 24 Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Peter G. Hamon bed and breakfast Hall of Fame 2010 Postcards Klaus Linderfelt Hall Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Jane K. Billings Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Richard E. Krug Dianne McAfee Hopkins campaign Helen Adams Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide WLA 125 National Library Week bookworm American Library Association Library War Service Academic Librarians anniversaries Brown County Library CCBC cam Postcards Inform Wisconsin Hall of Fame 2008 Manitowoc Public Library Bob Bochfer Hall of Fame 2013 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library people National Bookmobile Day Madison Public Library Beaver Dam Public Library Events Library e Council on Library and Network Development Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Uncategorized WLA 125 Campaign Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs James Duane Doty Hall of Fame 2015 trav Zona Gale Gertrude Thurow WHCLIS Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Beloit Public Library caly film Evansville Wisconsin Library Buidlings Centennial 14 Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Sarah Janice Kee Delia Ovitz School libraries hall of Clarence Brown Lester

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo