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 Eratus Swift Wilcox

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

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo