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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Stoughton's Historic Libraries

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Friday, November 21, 2008
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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.


Mr. Carnegie's Portrait

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Thursday, October 23, 2008
in Carnegie libraries


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In 1935 to celebrate the centennial of Andrew Carnegie's birth, the Carnegie Corporation of New York donated a framed portrait of Andrew Carnegie to every library in America that had received a Carnegie grant for a library building. I don't know how many of the Carnegie portraits donated to Wisconsin's 63 public library buildings and two academic library buildings still exist, but some of the Carnegie buildings that are used as libraries and some that are used as historical societies still have them prominently displayed. Some that I am aware of include:  Columbus Public Library, Watertown Public Library, Berlin Public Library, Tomah Public Library, Lafayette County Historical Society (former Darlington Public Library), T. B. Scott Library (Merrill, WI), McIntosh Memorial Library (Viroqua, WI), Chippewa Falls Public Library, and the Waupun Heritage Museum (fomer Waupun Public Library).  If you know of others, let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


For more on Wisconsin's Carnegie libraries click here.


Madison Public Library History

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, October 14, 2008
in Carnegie libraries
On Wednesday, October 15, 5 - 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, Terrie Goren, Director of the Madison Public Library Foundation, will be presenting the video "The History of the Madison Public Library", written and narrated by local author and historian Stuart Levitan. This event is a part of the Wisconsin Book Festival.

The Madison Public Library also has one of the most comprehensive histories on the web that I've seen. It was written by Dr. Bob Kann in 2001 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Madison Public Library. To see the history click here.

Every library should have at least a brief history of the library accessible from its website. Examples of Wisconsin library web histories can be found here.

The City of Madison was one of three Wisconsin communities to receive a second Carnegie grant for a branch library (the other communities were Racine and Superior).  The Carnegie branch library of the Madison Public Library is no longer used as a library.  It now houses the offices of Yahara Builders.  The building is located at 1497 Williamson St. near the corner of Williamson and Baldwin.  It is located at the east end of the Williamson Street Co-op grocery store. The Central Library building funded by Carnegie was razed.

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Carnegie Was Also Academic

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, August 26, 2008
in Carnegie libraries

Andrew Carnegie is noted for his gifts for the construction of public library buildings. However, he also gave gifts to help build 108 academic libraries in the United States. In addition to the Carnegie grants for 63 public library buildings in Wisconsin, there were two academic institutions that received Carnegie grants for library buildings - Beloit College and Lawrence University. The Lawrence University Carnegie building was razed in 1974, but the Beloit College Carnegie building still survives. In 1962 it became home to the Pettibone Center for World Affairs. Check out the "Carnegie Libraries" link on the right to find out more about Carnegie library buildings in Wisconsin.


Postcard showing the Lawrence University Carnegie Library Building



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Postcard showing the Beloit College Carnegie Libray Building


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


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