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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Inform Wisconsin: A public library legislation and funding proposal

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, August 11, 2016
in WLA 125
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Seeking increased funding and legislation in support of libraries has been a long standing priority for the Wisconsin Library Association.  One of the most ambitious such efforts occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The effort was titled “Inform Wisconsin” and was the result of the Final Report of the Task Force on Public Library Legislation and Funding to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction which was submitted in October, 1988.  Although the report addressed a large number of issues faced by Wisconsin public libraries and public library systems, the lack of adequate funding for public libraries was the most significant issue. To deal with this issue the Task Force recommended a “Public Library Foundation Program” which would ensure that every resident of the state had access to a basic level of public library service. The level of funding needed to accomplish this was deemed to be $12 per capita for a total of $73,000,000 with the funding coming from state aid.  However, up to $62,000,000 of that amount could have been used for property tax relief by local communities already funding libraries at $12 per capita.  The Inform Wisconsin report was widely discussed in the library community and endorsed by the Wisconsin Library Association.  Although a number of its legislative recommendations were accepted by the State Superintendent and ultimately enacted, the Foundation Program was never advanced as a budget proposal by the Department of Public Instruction. 

Creation of the Council on Library & Network Development

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, June 29, 2016
in WLA 125
In 1979 the Wisconsin Legislature created a Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) within the Department of Public Instruction.  The 19 member advisory council advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on issues relating to library and information services in Wisconsin.  Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for three year terms and include a combination of professional and public members.  COLAND emerged from a study conducted by a Special Committee of the Wisconsin Legislative Council in 1977-1979 which was chaired by Calvin Potter.  The Special Committee was charged with developing recommendations relating to: 1) the state aid formula for public library system aids; 2) the future role and function of the Division for Library Services in DPI; and 3) the role of the State Reference and Loan Library in DPI.  The Wisconsin Library Association actively monitored the work of the Special Committee.  The most controversial aspect of the work of the Committee concerned the issue of governance and administration of the Division for Library Services (DLS).  DLS had been created in 1965 when the former Wisconsin Free Library Commission was eliminated and this function was transferred to the DPI. The Secretary position of the former Commission became a Division Administrator position in DPI and was a non-political civil service appointment.  The Wisconsin library community and members of WLA split on how DLS should be governed and administered in the future. One faction wanted to create a new independent board to oversee state level library development and cooperation efforts and another faction wanted to preserve the Division for Library Services as a unit in DPI. The Special Committee of the Legislative Council recommended the creation of COLAND as compromise and it was incorporated into AB 20, the bill introduced by the Legislative Council as a result of the study and enacted by the Legislature.  As part of AB20, the Administrator position for the Division for Library Services was removed from civil service and the appointment was to be made in the future at the pleasure of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  
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Portrait of a Legislative Success Story by Charles Bunge

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, May 19, 2016
in WLA 125
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As noted in an earlier blog post Charles Bunge, Professor Emeritus of the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies and member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame, made a presentation titled “Portrait of a Legislative Success Story: The Development and Passage of Public Library System Legislation in Wisconsin” at a program on February 8 of this year preceding WLA Library Legislative Day. Bunge also made the same presentation at the May conference of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries. Bunge has allowed the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center to post a copy of the text of his presentation on this website.  Passage of 1971 Senate Bill 47 has been described as “WLA’s greatest legislative victory”. The photograph above shows most of those (including Charles Bunge) who helped achieve this victory at the signing ceremony for the bill.
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  • John DeBacher says #
    It was an informative and entertaining program, and emphasized the need to collect oral histories from our early system leaders an...

Library Legislative Day 1895

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, February 02, 2016
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WLA's Library Legislative Day for 2016 will occur next week on February 9th. Library legislation like everything else connected to Wisconsin libraries also has a heritage. In his 1966 history of the Wisconsin Library Association Benton H. Wilcox wrote about WLA's first legislative victory. Lutie Stearns attended the American Library Association meeting in Lake Placid New York in 1894 where she was introduced to the idea of a state library commission. Stearns brought back copies of legislation establishing such commissions in New Hampshire and Massachuttes and was enthusiastic about establishing such a commission in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's first library legislative champion Senator James Huff Stout introduced the necessary legislation early in the 1895 legislative session. According to Wilcox this legislation was the principal subject of discussion at WLA's conference in Madison on February 13 and 14, 1895. At that conference, WLA enorsed the legislation and appointed a committee to work for its enactment.  Wilcox writes: "The legislature was less than enthusiastic but by holding the requested appropriation to only $500 per annum for expenses, Senator Stout was able to bring it through, and it became law late in April, 1895. The Association had achieved its first notable victory." So WLA has been involved in library legislation for 121 years. The result of that early success was the creation of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which is now the Division for Libraries and Technology. Both Stearns and Stout were inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008.

Information about this year's legislative day can be found HERE. An important feature of this year's legislative day will be the kickoff of WLA's 125th Anniversary Celebration in the rotunda of the State Capitol at 12:00 noon.

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    This is a test.

WLA’s Greatest Legislative Victory

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Tuesday, February 02, 2016
in WLA 125
charles bungeIn December of 1971, the Governor signed into law SB 47.  This bill substantially revised the laws related to public libraries in Wisconsin and enabled the creation of single-county and multi-county public library systems in Wisconsin. It was largely responsible for ensuring that every citizen in Wisconsin not only has access to public library service but has access to the shared resources of all public libraries in Wisconsin.  The bill was passed after years of effort on the part of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), the Wisconsin Division for Libraries in DPI, and the Wisconsin library community.  It was undoubtedly WLA’s greatest legislative victory.  Next week, one of the key players in making that happen, Charles Bunge, Professor Emeritus, School of Library and Information Studies, UW-Madison, will present a program titled “Portrait of a Legislative Success Story: The Development and Passage of Public Library System Legislation in Wisconsin”. The program will take place on Monday, February 8, at 7:00 p.m. at the Madison Public Library.  It precedes Library Legislative Day which takes place on February 9. The program is sponsored by the Task Force on WLA’s 125th Anniversary and the Legislative Day Planning Committee of WLA. Bunge is a member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.
 
The text of Bunge's presentation can be found HERE.
 
 
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