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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Sarah Janice Kee (1908 -1998)

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kee-72.jpgS. Janice Kee was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton on October 22, 2009. Kee served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission 1956-1965. She provided the leadership for significant statewide planning during this period and for the implementation of the federal Library Services Act. This planning served as the foundation for Wisconsin’s public library systems. She received WLA's Special Service Award in 1965. Previously she was Executive Director of the Public Library Association of the American Library Association (1952-1956) and held a number of posts at the Missouri State Library including Acting State Librarian and Assistant State Librarian (1947-1950). She was an Army librarian during World War II. After her work in Wisconsin she taught at the Library School Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia and then became a Library Services Program Officer for the U.S. Dept. of Education in Dallas, Texas where she retired. She was included in the National Advocacy Honor Roll by the American Library Association in 2000 for her contribution as an advocate for library services in the 20th century.
 

Charles A. Bunge (1936 - )

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bunge.jpgCharles A. Bunge was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton on October 22, 2009. Bunge is Professor Emeritus in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He became part of the SLIS faculty in 1967 after receiving his Ph.D at the University of Illinois. He served as director of the library school from 1971 to 1981. He returned to full-time teaching in 1981 and continued teaching until his retirement in 1997. Bunge has contributed significantly to the improvement of reference service in libraries Wisconsin and the nation through teaching and writing. Bunge was active and played a leadership role in the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA). He served as Chair of WLA’s Library Development and Legislation Committee in 1969-70 which made a significant contribution to advancing library legislation which resulted in the creation of public library systems in 1971. Bunge served as president of WLA in 1972-73. He was selected as WLA Librarian of the Year in 1983. Bunge was also active in the American Library Association (ALA). He chaired the Committee on Accreditation from 1990 and 1992. He was nominated as a candidate for the presidency of ALA in 1990 and 1993. Bunge was awarded ALA’s Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award in 1983 for distinguished contributions to reference librarianship. Bunge served as president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) in 1980-1981. ALISE presented Bunge with its Professional Contributions to Library and Information Science Education award in 1982. He also received the UMI Excellence in Writing award in 1982. Bunge was born in Kimball, Nebraska on March 18, 1936. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in 1959, a master’s degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1960, and a Ph.D from the University of Illinois in 1967. He worked as a reference librarian at the Daniel Boone Regional Library System in Columbia, Missouri and at Ball State Teachers College Library in Indiana.
 

 

2009 Hall of Fame Inductees

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee has selected seven individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009. The induction ceremony will take place at the Awards Banquet on October 22 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton. The seven inductees are Charles A. Bunge (1936- ), Matthew Simpson Dudgeon (1871-1949), Sarah Janice Kee (1908 -1998), Henry Eduard Legler (1861-1917), Klas August Linderfelt (1847-1900), Charles R. McCarthy (1873-1921), and Margaret Ellen Monroe (1914-2004).  Bunge will be the first living individual to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Brief biographical information about the 2009 inductees is located on the Hall of Fame page of this website. Lengthier biographies can be seen by clicking on the names of the inductees above. The first ten individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is in turn a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

2009 Hall of Fame Inductees

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee has selected seven individuals to be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009. The induction ceremony will take place at the Awards Banquet on October 22 at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Appleton. The seven inductees are Charles A. Bunge (1936- ), Matthew Simpson Dudgeon (1871-1949), Sarah Janice Kee (1908 -1998), Henry Eduard Legler (1861-1917), Klas August Linderfelt (1847-1900), Charles R. McCarthy (1873-1921), and Margaret Ellen Monroe (1914-2004).  Bunge will be the first living individual to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Brief biographical information about the 2009 inductees is located on the Hall of Fame page of this website. Lengthier biographies can be seen by clicking on the names of the inductees above. The first ten individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. The Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame is a project of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center which is in turn a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

Evansville History Book Published

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Congratulations to WLHC Steering Committee member Ruth Ann Montgomery on the publication of her new book on the history of Evansville, Wisconsin. The book is part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. Ruth Ann is Director of the Arrowhead Library System in Janesville and is a longtime Evansville historian. Many of the images in the book are from her personal collection assembled over many years. Ruth Ann also has also written a history of the Eager Free Library Public Library which is on the web. The Janesville Gazette has written an article about Ruth Ann and the publication of the book.


 


 


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  • Gordon Glass says #
    Congratulations to Ruth Ann for her new book. Ruth, I am proud to say is a high school classmate an an old friend of mine....

Oakley and Baker at Work

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whs-id23281-oakley-baker-large-72.jpgThis image above shows Minnie Oakley and Florence Baker at work in the State Historical Society Library when it was located in Wisconsin's third Capitol. Baker is the one standing precariously on a shelf reaching for a book. Oakley served as Librarian of the Madison Public Library from 1884 to 1889 before going to work for the the State Historical Society Library. Oakley was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891. She was one of two librarians from Wisconsin who joined the American Library Association in 1886 (only the second and third to do so) when ALA met in Milwaukee. Oakley became Cataloger and Assistant Librarian at the State Historical Society. She later became Cataloger for the Seattle Public Library (1909 or 1910) and Supervisor of Branches for the Los Angeles Public Libraries (1911). Baker became head of the Reading Room of the Historical Society Library. She later married James A. Hayes and moved to the West Coast where she became a noted clubwoman. Clio's Servant: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1846-1954 by Cliffford L. Lord and Carl Ubbelohde (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1967) is an excellent history of the society and the library. The image is part of the Historical Society's image collection (ID. 23281).

Phebe Swan's Reference by Mail Lending Library

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In developing the blog entry on the 1905 meeting of the Wisconsin Library Association in Beloit I came across a reference to the Gleaner's Library operated by Phebe Swan. A brief article in the Wisconsin Library Bulletin for January, 1905 had this to say about Swan's library: "The Gleaner's library at Beloit has proved so invaluable for many a perplexed librarian that a visit to it will be one of the features of the coming meeting of the Wisconsin Library Association. The unique venture has been so successful that Miss Phebe Swan, the proprietor, now has patrons in all parts of the country. She rents magazine articles, newspaper clippings and copies of articles from standard works of reference, on a required subject, to clubwomen, debaters, authors and students for a very small fee." Mame B. Griffin in an April 8, 1911 article for La Follett's Weekly Magazine provides more background on this unusual library. According to Griffin, Swan started out small but her enterprise was so successful that she bought a fourteen room home in Beloit in 1908 to house her growing business. She employed six workers to assist her in organizing and classifying a hundred different magazines. Swan actively marketed her library with ads in magazines and wide distribution of a flyer about the library's services. The image above is a partial scan of a copy of one of the flyer's that is in the collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The flyer indicates that articles will cost the requester five cents each along with both outgoing and return postage. This is a remarkable story of success by a woman who had an idea for a business model and made it work. I'm not clear about who the "Gleaners" were or how long the library lasted. It's certainly a subject that is worthy of further study.


More about Phebe Swan.


Further digging around in Google has resulted in more information about Phebe Swan. The Semi-Centennial History of the Illinois State Normal University, 1857-1907 which was published in 1907 has the best information. She was a member of the class of 1881 at ISNU, now Illinois State University. She is listed as Lizzie Phebe Swan and her occupation is given as Librarian and Proprietor of a Reference Library in Beloit, Wisconsin. According to the ISNU history, she was an assistant (library ?) at ISNU from 1886 to 1892. She was a student of the Library Department of Armour Institute (predecessor of the University of Illinois Library School), 1893-94 and worked as a librarian at the University of Wisconsin from 1894 to 1902. She became Librarian of the Gleaners' Library in Beloit in 1902, a library which she evidently founded.  Handbooks of the American Library Association list her as member number 1,507. She evidently became a life member of the National Education Association in 1897.


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  • Rick says #
    "I'm not clear about who the "Gleaners" were..." According to my dictionary to glean is to gather grain or other produce left by r...
  • Larry Nix says #
    That certainly makes sense.

Henry Eduard Legler 1861-1917

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legler-ideals-72.jpgHenry E. Legler was inducted into the Wisconsin Library of Fame on October 22, 2009. He served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) from 1904 to 1909. During his  tenure in that capacity he left an important legacy to the state's libraries. He established the Wisconsin Library Bulletin in 1905 which played a major role in conveying information and knowledge to the Wisconsin library community. Under his leadership the library school which later became the School of Library and Information Studies of the University of Wisconsin - Madison was founded as part of the WFLC. He continued the  public library development of his predecessor Frank A. Hutchins and the expansion of the traveling library system. While Secretary of the WFLC he also served without salary as the first secretary of the University of Wisconsin Extension Division. He became actively involved in the national library activities and was elected as the first chair of the League of Library Commissions in 1905. Building on booklists established by the WFLC, he founded the Booklist of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1904 and served as its editor until 1916. He was a member and chair of the ALA Publishing Board. He served as ALA President in 1912-13. After leaving Wisconsin in 1909 he became Director of the Chicago Public Library, a post he served in until his death in 1917. Legler was instrumental in the relocation of the headquarters of the American Library Association from Boston to Chicago in 1909.  Legler was born in Palermo, Sicily on February 22, 1861. His family immigrated to the United States where they settled in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1873. After completing his education in La Crosse, he worked as a newspaper reporter in both La Crosse and Milwaukee. He served for one term as a member of the Wisconsin Assembly in 1888-1890. He became Secretary of the Milwaukee Board of Education (superintendent of schools) in 1890. Legler wrote several books including Library Ideals which was edited by his son and published in 1918 after his death.

A report of Legler's resignation from the WLHC is included in the Wisconsin Library Bulletin issue of Sept.-Oct. 1909. A report of his death appears in the October 1917 issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin. Legler is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Wisconsin Dictionary of History.  He was also one of eighteen library leaders included in the publication Pioneering Leaders in Librarianship (ALA, 1953). He is also included in Wisconsin Authors and Their Works by Charles Rounds (1918).

 

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  • Eric novotny says #
    great to see Legler inducted into the Wisconsin library of Fame - I've been looking at his contributions to the Chicago Public Lib...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Eric, thanks for your comments. I have corrected the date typo.

Governor Doty's Public Library

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doty-72.jpgOne of Wisconsin's earliest and most unusual libraries was that of Territorial Governor James Duane Doty (1799-1865). While serving as Territorial Governor (1841-1844) in Madison, Doty made his own personal library of about 500 volumes available for use by the general public. Colonel George W. Bird writing in the August 1907 issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin described the library. He noted that there were only two regulations for its use, and these were:


"1. Any white resident between the lakes, the Catfish and the westerly hills, his wife and children, may have the privileges of this library so long as they do not soil or injure the books, and properly return them.
2. Any such resident, his wife or children, may take from the library one book at a time and retain it not to exceed two weeks, and then return it, and on failue to return promptly, he or she shall be considered, and published as an outcast in the community."


Obviously the restriction to "any white resident" was considerably less than praiseworthy,but allowing access by children was noteworthy. The image of Governor Doty is image #2617 in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Digital Collections.


Hall of Fame Nominations Sought

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The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee invites your nominations for the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame for 2009. Nominations are due by August 10, 2009. In 2008 the first group of individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are indicative of the kind of individuals which the WLHC Steering Committee feels should be included in the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame.

This will be the first year that living individuals will be considered for the Hall of Fame. In lieu of multiple testimonials, the WLHC Steering Committee seeks documentation and supporting information of :
1) An individual's record of leadership in the Wisconsin Library Association and/or other statewide library organizations/institutions.
2) The overall importance and impact of an individual's contribution to the improvement of library service in Wisconsin.
3) An individual's contributions to the improvement of library service at the national level.
Once an individual has been nominated, he or she will continue to be considered in future years even if not selected for induction in 2009.

Induction of those individuals selected for 2009 will take place at the WLA Awards Banquet at the WLA Conference on October 22.

Please send your completed nomination forms (or questions about the process) to Larry T. Nix, Chair, Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Steering Committee, 608-836-5616, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Library Liquor Fee

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The Janesville Young Men's Association Library (a membership library) was founded in 1865. An amendment to the City of Janesville charter was enacted which provided one half of the liquor license fee for the purchase of books for the library. The Board of Supervisors for Rock County lobbied its state legislators to repeal that amendment. In the letter above written on January 8, 1872, W. S. Bowen of the Janesville Gazette asks state legislator D. S. Cheever not to support legislation that would repeal the amendment. He makes the case that the amendment "is not so great a hardship as the board of supervisors imagine". Bowen indicates his considerable interest in the library and notes that : "We have a fair start toward something which in time will be a benefit not only the city but to the county. Money is scarce and it has for a year or two past been almost impossible to maintain our library without outside aid." Bowen's effort to prevent the repeal of the library liquor license fee amendment was unsuccessful and it was repealed in 1873.  In July 1881 the Janesville Young Men's Association went bankrupt. The Janesville Public Library under the Public Library Law of 1872 was established in 1884. Another blog entry on Wisconsin's membership libraries can be found here.


Origin of Wisconsin's Public Library Law

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Wisconsin'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.


National Library Week 2009

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National Library Week started today with the theme "World's Connect @ your library". In 1958 the National Book Committee and the American Library Association conducted the first annual National Library Week campaign with the theme “Wake Up and Read”.  Each state that participated in the effort was required to establish a statewide planning committee.  The Wisconsin Library Association took the responsibility for designating a volunteer state executive director for Wisconsin.  The executive director worked with the statewide committee under a lay chairperson and with significant lay membership.  As a spin off of the 1962 National Library Week campaign in Wisconsin, Mrs. Bruno Bitker of Milwaukee provided the leadership for founding the Friends of Wisconsin Libraries(FOWL) in 1963.  That organization was the model for the national Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) which was also founded in Wisconsin. In 1964 under the leadership of Gerry Somers, Director of the Brown County Public Library, WLA was given the first $1,000 Grolier Award for most effective state National Library Week program in the nation. FOWL has been integrated into the new Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends (WLTF) Division of WLA. On February 1, 2009 FOLUSA joined with the Asociation of Library Trustees and Advocates to form the  Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF).


For more on the history of National Library Week and previous themes click here.


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  • Sandra Kincaid says #
    I just learned of ALTAFF and their meeting in Chicago next month and I wanted to know if there is a Wisconsin Friends of Libraries...
  • Larry Nix says #
    Sandra, The Library Friends group in Wisconsin is the Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends unit of the Wisconsin Library Associa...

Library Charging Systems

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In 1881 under the direction of Librarian Klas Linderfelt, the Milwaukee Public Library implemented a new charging system. Linderfelt made a presentation on library charging systems at the 1882 American Library Association conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.  In that presentation he identified twenty questions that should be answered in evaluating a library charging system. The first four were: 1) Is a given book out?; 2) If out, who has it?; 3) When did he [she] take it?; and 4) When is it to be sen for, as overdue?  Another Milwaukee Public Library innovation was the pencil dater. Library charging or circulation systems have been evolving for many decades.  I was recently interviewed by John Kelly of the Washington Post about the stamping of library books with the date due.  Kelly wrote an article in his blog today about the move to printed receipts in public libraries. As a result of the Kelly interview I scanned my library card collection to the Library History Buff website which included this well used Milwaukee Public Library card from the 1920s.


Elizabeth Burr, 1908-1996

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photo-wi-burr-72.jpgElizabeth Burr was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008. Burr retired in 1973 after 27 years as Public Library Consultant for Children's Services for the Wisconsin Division for Library Services and its predecessor the Wisconsin Free Library Commission.  She was a founder of the Cooperative Children's Book Center in 1963 and its director until her retirement.  She was the first recipient of the Wisconsin's Library Association's "Librarian of the Year" award.  In 1992, WLA established the annual Elizabeth Burr Award to be given to the Wisconsin author or illustrator of a distinguished book for children. She was selected for the National Advocacy Honor Roll by the American Library Association in 2000 for her contribution as an advocate for library services in the 20th century.


 

Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I

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On exhibit at the Middleton Public Library for the month of April is an exhibit entitled "Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I".  It's about the Library War Service of the American Library Association (ALA) in World War I. Given our current economic crisis and the impact on libraries, it is interesting to see how libraries coped in another time of great national crisis. The United States stayed neutral for much of World War I. During that period of neutrality, one of the largest impacts on public libraries in Wisconsin was the difficulty of obtaining books in German because of the British blockade of Germany. In his book "An Active Instrument For Propaganda" - The American Public Library During World War I (Greenwood Press, 1989), Wayne Wiegand quotes a letter from Matthew Dudgeon of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission to the President of ALA: "We are starved for German books in Wisconsin.  Do you know anywhere that we could buy,borrow, beg, or steal any new, secondhand,bound or unbound?" When the United States did enter the war in 1917, ALA took on a leadership role in providing books to the soldiers and sailors in our armed forces. Dudgeon took a leave of absence to serve as librarian of the ALA camp library at Camp Perry in Great Lakes, Illinois and later as Manager of Camp Libraries for the ALA Library War Service. Libraries in Wisconsin actively participated in supporting the ALA Library War Service and the war effort in general. In an abrupt turn around, instead of seeking books in German, the Free Library Commission removed all German language books from its traveling libraries.


Mary Emogene Hazeltine (1868-1949)

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Mary Emogene Hazeltine was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008. Hazeltine was the first head of the Wisconsin Library School established under the auspices of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1906.  She served in this capacity until 1938. The school was the ninth library school established in the United States and one of six charter members of the Association of American Library Schools.  During her tenure as head of the library school she helped train over a thousand librarians. Prior to coming to Wisconsin in 1906, Hazeltine had directed the public library in Jamestown, New York and the summer library school in Chautauqua, New York.  She served as President of the New York Library Association in 1902.  After her retirement she returned to Jamestown, NY and volunteered as a reference librarian at the public library. She is the author of One Hundred Years of Wisconsin Authorship which was published in 1937. She was elected to the American Library Institute, a select organization of library leaders. In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". She is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.  The image is used with permission of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies.


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  • Aurélia says #
    I have a postcard that was sent from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to Mrs. M. E. Hazeltine in 1923. The postcard was sent to the Wiscons...

Parcel Post and Library Service

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Parcel post, the delivery of packages through the mail, began in the United States on January 1, 1913.  Libraries had long lobbied for a special rate for library materials sent through the mail, and in 1914 the postmaster general authorized the shipment of books at the parcel post rate. This decision opened up significant possibilities for library service to geographically remote poputlations.  One of the first librarians to realize the potential of parcel post and library service was Matthew S. Dudgeon, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC). Under Dudgeon's leadership the WFLC began implementing a system in which any resident of the state could request a book from the major libraries in Madison including the University of Wisconsin Library and the State Historical Society Library. There was little red tape involved. All that was required was a letter requesting a book along with the postage. Under the new postal rates a book could be sent anywhere within a 150 of Madison for an average of six cents and for greater distances for eight cents. Implementation of this system was facilitate by the fact that the President of the University of Wisconsin and the Secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society served on the Wisconsin Free Library Commission board. An article about Didgeon's parcel post system appeared in the December, 1915 issue of American Review of Reviews.


DudgeonLetter.jpg


  


Reuben Gold Thwaites (1853-1913)

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Reuben Gold Thwaites was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008. Thwaites was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891. He served as President of WLA 1892-1894. Thwaites served as assistant to Lyman C. Draper, Secretary State Historical Society of Wisconsin from 1885 to 1887.  He became Secretary of the Historical Society after Draper's retirement in 1887, and served in that capacity until his death in 1913.  He served on the Wisconsin Free Library Commission from its inception in 1895 until 1913 in his capacity as Secretary of the Historical Society. He was elected President of the American Library Association in 1900. In 1951 he was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". He is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Dictionary of Wisconsin History . The image of Thwaites is from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Historical Image Collection  Image ID: 4158.


Book Wagons and Crazy Socialists

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The Machinists' Monthly Journal for July, 1904 wrote:"These crazy Socialists in Wisconsin are going too far. A book wagon, the first public library on wheels to be sent out in the United States, is contemplated in a plan just completed by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. It will invade the State next October. As the wagon passes through the counties the farmers will be invited to select their winter's reading. There will be books for the old and young, and each family will be allowed to make as large a selection as is desired. The following Spring the wagon will make another trip through the same territory to gather up the books and return them to the central library." The proposed book wagon was the idea of Lutie Stearns, and as far as I can determine it was never implemented. Stearns first discussed the concept of a book wagon at the American Library Association conference at Niagra Falls in 1903. The idea was more fully explained in a letter reprinted in the July, 1904 issue of Public Libraries (p. 331). Stearns a major supporter of rotating or traveling libraries felt book wagons could provide more current material. The first book wagon to actually go forth in the United States was from the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland in April, 1905. Whether Mary Titcomb, the Librarian in Hagerstown in 1905, got her inspiration from Lutie Stearns is unknown. The first Hagerstown book wagon was destroyed in 1910 while crossing a railroad track. It was hit by a freight train leaving only fragments of the wagon.

Note: This entry was also posted on the Library History Buff Blog on Feb. 10, 2009. More on bookmobiles in Wisconsin can be found here.
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  • Ian Hunter says #
    It should read: Niagara Falls

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