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.
Frank Avery Hutchins was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Hutchins was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1891. He served as President of WLA from 1894 to 1897. As President of WLA he was instrumental in starting the Summer School for Library Economy in 1895 which became the Wisconsin Library School in 1906. He helped establish the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) in 1895 and was its initial Chair until 1897. In 1897 with the reorganization and increased funding of the WFLC he became its first paid Secretary, a post he held until 1904. He originated the idea of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library which became a unit of the WFLC and served as a national model. He was a national leader in public library development and extension. Helen Lyman in the Dictionary of American Library Biography entry for Hutchins said, “He belongs to that small group of men and women who formed and developed the modern library movement and made the library profession what it has become.” Hutchins became interested in libraries while serving as editor of the weekly newspaper, the Beaver Dam Argus. He helped organize the Beaver Dam Free Library Association which was established in 1884. He was featured in the "As it Was in The Beginning" series of the Public Libraries magazine (1925, volume 30, pages186-190). He is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Dictionary of Wisconsin History . The image of Hutchins is from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Historical Image Collection Image ID: 29375.