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 T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
Larry T. 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
wla125logo-small

Categories

Popular Tags

Library People Hall of Fame 2011 Dorothea M. Krause Rusk County Community Library Gertrude Thurow background Hall of Fame 2015 Dick Sorensen Jane K. Billings Library Buidlings Lutie Stearns Library Buildings Campaign Brown Deer Public Library WWI Library War Service Library Artifacts caly film Meter mail slogans WLA 125 Milwaukee Public Library Appleton Public Library Library Trustees Madison Public Library WLA 125 Library people Postcards Carnegie libraries Lucy E. Smith Morris hall of Frank Avery Hutchins Wisconsin Library Bulletin Pewaukee Public Library Events library education Cooperative Children's Book Center Superior Carnegie Libraries Capitol Fire 1904 Irene W. Newman Hall of Fame 2017 Oshkosh Public Library Bookmobiles Larry T. Nix Campaign Pinback buttons 10 Matthew S. Dudgeon Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries COLAND White House Conference on Library and Information Services Tower Hill Wisconsin Ice Storm Gerald A. Somers Woman's Congress Robert Bocher John Miller Chancellor National Library Week Wisconsin Free Library Commission State Law Library DeForest Area Public Library Library History Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Exhibits School of Library and Information Studies Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Gilbert H. Doane Anniversaries Council on Library and Network Development Library e Wisconsin Rapids Lutie Eugenia Stearns Hall of Fame 2018 Postcards Beaver Dam Public Library Wisconsin Free Library Commission Dick Sorensen Postcards Hall of Fame 2015 Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends library memorabilia Manitowoc Public Library Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library John J. Jax Hall Events & Meetings Evansville Wisconsin Hall of Fame 2012 Black River Falls bookworm 27 Eager Free Public Library J. D. Witter James Duane Doty Elroy Public Library Brown County Library campaign Wayne A. Wiegand William J. Wilson anniversaries Increase A. Lapham library legislation Library Systems Public library systems Richard E. Krug 21 Hall of Fame 2014 Publications Ripon Public Library library exhibit Cornelia Marving Pierce Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Wisconsin Historical Society Dianne McAfee Hopkins cam People Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Beloit Public Library books-by-mail UW-Madison school of library and information studies I Love Libraries American Library Association Bob Bochfer Richard J. Sorensen Hall fo Fame 2012 20 Amer ca Jerome P. Daniels Ruby Roeder Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Campaign Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2019 Digital Collections Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Public libraries Hall of Fame 2008 Bernard Schwab Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Academic Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Special libraries campaign archives Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Buttons state historical society caly film Hall of Fame 2018 22 Centennial S. Janice Kee Hartford Public Library Klaus Linderfelt Clinton Public Library Carl Spitzweg buil Nancy Marshall Anniversaries Middleton Public Library Wisconsin State Law Library WAAL Parcel post School libraries Peter G. Hamon WHCLIS American Library Association Library War Service Sandra Friedman Dolnick Soughton Public Library Nolan I. Neds 28 Sarah Janice Kee Orrilla Blackshear CCBC Portage Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2015 Events & Meetings Katharine MacDonald Jones Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs Helen Adams Edward Asahel Birge Eratus Swift Wilcox Suring Area Public Library Cam 11 14 Postcards WLA 125 membership libraries WLA 125 Uncategorized caly film Academic Librarians Library celebrations Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2016 Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide 23 James Huff Stout traveling libraries Milwaukee Art Museum bed and breakfast Zona Gale Inform Wisconsin Delia Ovitz campa Hall of Fame 2012 Marketing-Publicity trav World War I National Bookmobile Day Black River Falls Public Library McMillan Memorial Library Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2013 Hall of Fame 2009 Clarence Brown Lester Wisconsin Library Association presentations UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Ruth Ann Montgomery Milwaukee Public Library Hall of Fame 2010 UW-Milwaukee Libraries T. B. Scott Free Public Library Public libraries campaign Louise S. Robbins Charles Bunge Historical Register Library people Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Lowell W. Wilson 24 Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo