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 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
wla125logo-small

Categories

Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo