My wife and I installed the exhibit "Andrew Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy" early this week at the T. B. Scott Free Library in Merrill, Wisconsin. The exhibit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. This year is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Carnegie library building in Merrill. A major addition to the building was completed in 2001. The integration of the older building with the new addition has been done remarkably well. The original Carnegie building was designed by the architectural firm of Claude & Starck in the Prairie School style pioneered by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Claude & Starck firm which designed over 40 libraries employed the Prairies School style in a number of them. Seven of those library buildings have been referred to as the "seven sisters" because they share as a design element an ornamental frieze designed (or based on a design) by Sullivan. Wisconsin is the location of four of the seven sisters (Barron, Evansville, Merrill, and Tomah). The others are located in Rochelle, IL, Detroit Lakes, MN, and Hoquiam, WA. The T. B. Scott Free Library has conducted a number of activities to celebrate the centennial of its building during 2011. On Nov. 6, Ellsworth Brown, Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society will make a presentation at the library titled "Andrew Carnegie: The Great Library Benefactor's Life & Mission". It's really great to have the Carnegie exhibit in a Carnegie library building. The exhibit will continue through the end of the year. (This post is also being published on the Library History Buff Blog)
Earlier in the week I was privileged to participate in the culminating event of a year long celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of what is now the Wisconsin State Law Library (WSLL). As I indicated in my presentation at the event, it doesn't get any better than that for a library history buff. The WSLL's approach to its 175th anniversary could be used as a model by other libraries approaching a significant anniversary. The WSLL's 175th anniversary activities are recorder on its website. The library, originally designated as the State Library, was established as part of the Congressional act which established the Territory of Wisconsin. A $5,000 appropriation was made to purchase books for use by the Territorial Legislature. This set a precedent for later territorial legislation that followed. The library narrowly escaped a disastrous fire in the Capitol where it was located in 1904. The WSLL's long serving librarian Gilson Glasier will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in November. The WSLL staff has put together a very nice timeline of the library's history. At the reception this week the staff had assimilated a number on neat artifacts from their history that were displayed for the guests. I'm the proud owner of five sections of iron shelving that were in the library when it was located in the Capitol (it moved out in 1999). Before most of the iron shelving was discarded, the library managed to salvage some very nice label holders that were reused on the attractive shelving the library has now. Their 175th anniversary logo is based on these label holders.
The 2011 theme for National Library Week (April 10-16) is "Create your own story @ your library". The theme, as it should be, is directed at the general public. However, this year's National Library Week is also an opportunity for libraries (and the people connected or interested in them) to tell a story or stories about the history of the library. Last year I gave a presentation to the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries titled “Turning Your Library’s History into a Public Relations Asset”. In that presentation I noted that a basic tenet of good library public relations is to seize every possible opportunity to penetrate the consciousness of the general public and community leaders with a positive message about the library. I pointed out that the message that the library has been in the business of changing lives and improving the quality of life for the residents of the community for a long time and that it continues to build on that heritage is a powerful positive message. I then provided some methods for conveying that message. The American Library Association has just published Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Effective Leadership by Kate Marek. Although I have not read the book, ALA's promotional material leads me to believe that the book would be very supportive of using stories about a library's history to promote the library. Why not resolve to penetrate the consciousness of your community's residents with at least one good story about the library's heritage during this year's National Library Week. Note: this post is being simultaneously published on the Library History Buff blog.
This year the Hales Corners Public Library is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is helping out with its exhibit of Wisconsin Library Memorabilia which will be on display now through the end of February. As part of its celebration the library sponsored a contest to design a new library card. The winner and other entries are located HERE. The library will have a 35th anniversary birthday party on Sunday, January 23rd, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Congratulations Hales Corners!
The Wisconsin State Law Library is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Although this is a significant milestone in the history of one Wisconsin library in particular, it is also a significant milestone for library service in general in Wisconsin. In a slight modification of the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries slogan, Wisconsin libraries have been keeping "Us All in a Better State" for 175 years. When the Congress of the United States, in the act establishing the Wisconsin Territory, set aside $5,000 for the purchase of books for the Territorial Legislature in 1836, it represented a commitment of public funds for public knowledge and and public betterment. So as the Wisconsin State Law Library actively celebrates this milestone anniversary, it also represents an opportunity for the entire Wisconsin library community to celebrate 175 years of public support for library service for the common good. Previous posts about the Wisconsin State Law Library are located Here, Here and Here. The envelope above was used to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the State Law Library which was called the State Library at that time.
The year 2011 is an important anniversary year in the history of libraries in Wisconsin. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Library Association. On February 11, 1891, a group of individuals gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (located in Wisconsin's second Capitol, shown above) for the purpose of establishing a state library association. At that meeting, a constitution (based on that of the New York Library Association) was adopted and officers were elected. They included K. A. Linderfelt, president; R. G. Thwaites, vice-president; and F. A. Hutchins, secretary-treasurer. The first conference of the newly established association took place in Madison on March 11, 1891. Although much of the focus of the early years of the Wisconsin Library Association was on the development of public libraries, twelve decades of library leadership and support by the association has had a positive impact on all types of Wisconsin libraries. As Wisconsin libraries face a tough year due to the economy, it is also a time to acknowledge the tremendous library growth and development that has occurred in the last 120 years. Through good times and hard times Wisconsin libraries have persevered in meeting the information and knowledge needs of the state's residents. That's something to celebrate.
I attended the Centennial Birthday Party for the Oregon Public Library today. As someone who encorages the celebration of important library anniversaries this was an especially nice occasion for me. There have been events in celebration of the centennial througout the year at the Oregon Public Library. A nice tie in has been the Centennial Community Read project based on Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days by Jerry Apps. At the birthday party today there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the impressive new circulation desk created with a wide variety of wood from the community. A commemorative china plate was painted by 96 year old Oregon resident Clarice Christensen to celebrate the occasion. I came across an interesting historical sign about the Parmelee Library, a for-profit traveling library system that operated in Oregon for several years.
Each new year provides opportunities to enjoy and celebrate library history. Here is a preview of some of those opportunities in 2010.
The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center will continue to promote and celebrate Wisconsin's library heritage with its ongoing activities including this website, its library memorabilia exhibits, and the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.
National Library Week which occurs April 11-17 is a great opportunity to make your community aware of your library's heritage. This year's theme is "Communities thrive @ your library." The Menasha Public Library will be having a special exhibit related to their Tabard Inn Library bookcase in April as part of their celebration.
The American Library Association will launch its first Preservation Week May 9-15 with the theme "Pass It On". The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) of ALA is coordinating this effort. How about a focus on preserving and/or highlighting your library's historical artifacts and archives.
Every five years the Library History Round Table undertakes the sponsorship of a Library History Seminar. This year the event will take place September 10-12 in Madison, Wisconsin. The Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison is coordinating this event. Library historians from around the country will gather to hear presentations on the role of library records as a source of data and information for print culture and library history research.
October is American Archives Month which provides an opportunity to highlight and display library history archives.
November 25 will be the 175 anniversary of the birth of Andrew Carnegie which makes 2010 a great opportunity for communities, libraries, and institutions that have benefited from Carnegie's gifts to celebrate his legacy. In Wisconsin 60 communities received Carnegie grants for 63 public library buildings and two colleges received grants for library buildings.
A number of Wisconsin libraries will celebrate significant anniversaries in 2010 which provide an opportunity to celebrate library history. Here are a few suggestions for doing that.
The Eastern Shores Library System headquartered in Sheboygan is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Sunday with an open house. To help celebrate this occasion I put together a special exhibit on behalf of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center. The main Wisconsin Library Memorabilia exhibit is on display at the Door County Library in Sturgeon Bay for September and October, so some improvisation was required. Where possible artifacts with a connection to ESLS and its member libraries were used, but these were supplemented with a variety of other items. The exhibit includes library postcards, library souvenirs, library mail, library buttons, and a framed collection of artifacts relating to the 1971 passage of the Wisconsin public library system law. The 1971 system law display is normally located in meeting room C of the Wisconsin Library Association offices. The Eastern Shores Library System began as the Sheboygan County Library System but was renamed when Ozaukee County joined the system in 1987.