Andrew Carnegie is noted for his gifts for the construction of public library buildings. However, he also gave gifts to help build 108 academic libraries in the United States. In addition to the Carnegie grants for 63 public library buildings in Wisconsin, there were two academic institutions that received Carnegie grants for library buildings – Beloit College and Lawrence University. The Lawrence University Carnegie building was razed in 1974, but the Beloit College Carnegie building still survives. In 1962 it became home to the Pettibone Center for World Affairs. Check out the “Carnegie Libraries” link on the right to find out more about Carnegie library buildings in Wisconsin.
Postcard showing the Lawrence University Carnegie Library Building
Postcard showing the Beloit College Carnegie Libray Building
Two members of the WLHC Steering Committee have articles in the Summer issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Michael Edmonds is the author of “On the Trail of Paul Bunyan” and Christine Pawley is the author of “The Wisconsin Idea in Action: Reading, Resistance & the Door-Kewaunee Regional Library, 1950-52”. Congratulations to both of them.
Although the Paul Bunyan article by Michael is wonderful, it is Christine’s Pawley’s article that will be of most interest to the library history buff. Obtaining state funding for the 1950-1952 Door-Kewaunee Regional Library demonstration was one of the Wisconsin Library Associations greatest legislative victories. Pawley’s article provides insight into why the county funding referendums which followed the demonstration in Kewaunee and Door counties failed and passed respectively. Passage in both was required for continuation of what was primarily bookmobile service in the rural areas of the counties. The article is well illustrated with some great bookmobile photographs including one of the bookmobile being loaded on the ferry to go to Washington Island.
The Wisconsin Historical Society makes available freely online its archive of the back issues of the Wisconsin Magazine of History from 1917 up through the 2006-2007 volume year. Only the current volume year is not available online. By searching the archive using the terms “libraries” and “librarian” several articles of interest to the library history buff can be found.
On a recent trip to Minneapolis I made a point of stopping off at the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The Museum is part of the Dunn County Historical Society. It houses one of Wisconsin’s most important library artifacts – Traveling Library #13 of the original 32 traveling libraries established in Dunn County by Senator James Stout in 1896. Traveling libraries were small rotating collections of books. This first demonstration of the traveling library concept in Wisconsin expanded until there were hundreds of traveling libraries throughout the state.
When I indicated to the volunteer museunm staff member the purpose of my visit, I was half expecting that she would not know what I was talking about. Instead she led me immediately to what is a permanent display of Traveling Library # 13. The museum is well aware of the importance of their unusual library artifact. For a library history buff like me, it was like visiting a shrine.
Traveling Library #13 is an good example of why the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is not trying to establish a physical library history museum. Instead, the WLHC hopes to identify the location of important Wisconsin library artifacts, archives, and buildings and make this information known to all. This is an important role for this website. If you have information about any of these historical treasures, we would like to hear from you.
More information on Wisconsin’s traveling libraries can be found on the Traveling Libraries Page of this website.