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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National Library Week in WI

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Sunday, April 10, 2016
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Today is the first day of National Library Week with a national theme of “Libraries Transform”. Wisconsin has a long history of participating in National Library Week which began in 1958 as a joint project of the American Book Publishers Council and the American Library Association. Each state was expected to establish a statewide committee to promote the week, and WLA did so. WLA’s NLW Committee initiated a major public relations project under the leadership of Beryl Hoyt in 1961-62 involving the development of television public service spots. As an outgrowth of Wisconsin’s 1962 National Library Week program and under the leadership of Mrs. Bruno V. Bitker, the Friends of Wisconsin Libraries (FOWL) was founded on April 21, 1963. In 1964 WLA received the first Grolier Award for the most effective state National Library Week program in the nation.  National Library Week was promoted on mail with slogans produced by the meter postage machines of libraries and other organizations. Some examples of early National Library Week slogans on meter mail are shown above.
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National Library Week 2009

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Sunday, April 12, 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.


Recent Comments Show all comments
  • 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...

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