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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Some WI Library Buildings 1904

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, March 19, 2015
in Publications
Wausaukee Free Library
In 1904 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) published a book titled Some Wisconsin Library Buildings. The book was comprised primarily of photographs of selected Wisconsin library buildings but also included a tabulation of all library building projects completed or in the process. The book notes that when the WFLC was organized in 1895 there were only three libraries in the state occupying their own buildings, but by 1904 there were 52 buildings either completed or provided for. Included in the tabulation were 29 buildings that had received Carnegie grants totaling $627,000. Other private individuals had made library building grants of $418,500 for a total of $1,045,500 from this source. By far the largest projects listed were the State Historical Society building which cost $620,000 from state funds and the Milwaukee Public Library building which cost $512,000 from municipal funds. The State Historical Society building was designed to house both the Historical Society’s library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. The most unusual library listed and pictured was the Wausaukee Free Library (see image above). The Wausaukee Free Library was established in 1901 and was part of a “social hall” that included the library and reading room, a lunch and dining room, and an amusement room. The building was donated by State Senator Harland P. Bird, a strong library supporter who served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1904-1905. A digitized copy of this book can be found on the Hathi Trust website. 

Madison Public Library History

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. 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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