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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Madison's Central Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Saturday, September 21, 2013
in Public libraries

The Madison Public Library's new central library was dedicated today. The new central library is a substantial remake of the central library building which was built in 1965. For all practical purposes it is a new building. The first separate library building for the City of Madison was a building built with assistance from Andrew Carnegie.  That building which was located at 206 N. Carroll Street opened to the public on February 23, 1906. One of the most unusual aspects of the building was that the Library School of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (the predecessor of the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies) was housed on its second floor.  The Carnegie building was razed after the completion of the 1965 building to make way for a parking lot. The 1965 central library building was named the Bernard Schwab Library in 1990 in honor of Schwab who retired as the Madison Public Library's Director in 1981. He played a major role in the design of the building which was built during his tenure.


1906  Carnegie Building

Madison Central Library 1965

1965 Building, Named the Bernard Schwab Library in 1990

Madison Central Library 2013

New Central Library 2013


Edward Asahel Birge 1851-1950

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
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on Wednesday, December 31, 2008
in Hall of Fame

birge.jpgEdward Asahel Birge was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Birge was one of a small group of people who gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on February 11, 1891 to organize the Wisconsin Library Association.  At the time Birge was a noted Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the Madison Public Library Board.  He served on the Madison Public Library Board from 1891 to 1909 and was its chairman from 1893 to 1909.  He served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association from 1897 to 1899 and again in 1905-1906. He was a member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. He had a long and active career at the University of Wisconsin serving as Professor of Zoology (1879-1911), Dean of the College of Letters and Science (1891-1918), Acting President  (1900--1903), and President (1918- 1925).  He is listed in the  Dictionary of Wisconsin History.  Thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives and Records Mangement Services for permission to use the image of Birge. 


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Note: In the comming months we will be featuring 2008 inductees to the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on the blog component of the the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website. Not only will this provide more exposure to these exceptional people, it will enable us to deal with a technical difficulty in organizing our site. 



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