Education for Librarianship in Wisconsin

pc-wi-slisc-int-f-72
 
 
 
Education for librarianship in Wisconsin dates back to 1895 when the newly created Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) sponsored the first Summer School of Library Economy.  The summer school was the idea of Frank Hutchins, the Commission’s first Secretary.  The school was personally financed by library legislative champion Senator James H. Stout and was directed by Katharine Sharp, director of the Library School of the Armour Institute in Chicago. A full time Wisconsin Library School, still under the auspices of the WFLC, was founded in 1906 and housed on the second floor of the Madison Public Library. Mary Emogene Hazeltine was its first Perceptor or Principal. She served in this capacity until 1938. In 1938 administrative control of the library school was moved from the WFLC to the University of Wisconsin. It is now the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison and it is fully accredited by the American Library Association.  More on its history can be found HERE. A second library school was established at UW-Milwaukee in 1976. It is now the School of Information Studies and is accredited by the American Library Association. It is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 
 
The postcard above shows the second floor atrium of the Madison Public Library when it was located in the building financed by Andrew Carnegie, now razed.  It was here that the Wisconsin Library School was located from 1906 to 1938.  Carnegie gave additional funding to enable the library school to be located in the public library building. The message on the back of the postcard which was mailed in 1925 is from library school faculty member Winifred Davis to Mrs. N. A. Cushman, Librarian of the Reedsburg Public Library.  Davis invites Cushman to visit a library school exhibit at the University Exposition.

Wisconsin’s Traveling Libraries

Under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, the State of New York initiated a state funded traveling library system in 1892.  Traveling libraries were small rotating collections that provided a method for extending library service to rural areas.  These small libraries usually from 30 to a hundred books were located in a post office or store with a volunteer acting as the caretaker of the collection.  In New York the collections stayed in one location for six months before they were rotated.  Michigan initiated a similar system in 1895 and Iowa in 1896.   

Traveling libraries began in Wisconsin in 1896, when Senator James Huff Stout of Menomonie, Wisconsin privately funded a system of these libraries for Dunn County.  He provided 500 books divided into collections of 30 volumes each.  He was assisted in the selection of titles to be included by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which began in 1895.  Senator Stout along with Lutie Stearns and Frank Hutchins had been instrumental in starting the Commission.  More about Wisconsin’s traveling libraries can be found HERE.  The image below shows a Stout Traveling Library bookcase at the Dunn County Historical Society

Creation of the Council on Library & Network Development

In 1979 the Wisconsin Legislature created a Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) within the Department of Public Instruction.  The 19 member advisory council advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on issues relating to library and information services in Wisconsin.  Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for three year terms and include a combination of professional and public members.  COLAND emerged from a study conducted by a Special Committee of the Wisconsin Legislative Council in 1977-1979 which was chaired by Calvin Potter.  The Special Committee was charged with developing recommendations relating to: 1) the state aid formula for public library system aids; 2) the future role and function of the Division for Library Services in DPI; and 3) the role of the State Reference and Loan Library in DPI.  The Wisconsin Library Association actively monitored the work of the Special Committee.  The most controversial aspect of the work of the Committee concerned the issue of governance and administration of the Division for Library Services (DLS).  DLS had been created in 1965 when the former Wisconsin Free Library Commission was eliminated and this function was transferred to the DPI. The Secretary position of the former Commission became a Division Administrator position in DPI and was a non-political civil service appointment.  The Wisconsin library community and members of WLA split on how DLS should be governed and administered in the future. One faction wanted to create a new independent board to oversee state level library development and cooperation efforts and another faction wanted to preserve the Division for Library Services as a unit in DPI. The Special Committee of the Legislative Council recommended the creation of COLAND as compromise and it was incorporated into AB 20, the bill introduced by the Legislative Council as a result of the study and enacted by the Legislature.  As part of AB20, the Administrator position for the Division for Library Services was removed from civil service and the appointment was to be made in the future at the pleasure of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  
wla125logo-small

Wisconsin Libraries Keep Us All in a Better State

 
On January 31, 2006 the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation (WLAF) launched the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries in the State Capitol to promote a better understanding of how libraries contribute to the state’s economic growth, education and lifelong learning, and the quality of life in Wisconsin.  With the theme “Support Wisconsin Libraries: Keep Us All in a Better State” the aggressive public relations and fund raising campaign included a variety of promotional materials, radio spot announcements, and a website WisconsinLibraries.org.  The Campaign included an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 a year to promote libraries of all types.  The photo above is a group shot of attendees at the 2007 WLA conference in Green Bay wearing a tee shirt promoting the campaign. It was taken by Steven Platetter.  Promotional materials included posters, bookmarks, and buttons with a variety of catchy slogans including “If knowledge is power, libraries are power plants.”  The Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries has gradually faded from its original enthusiasm and is no longer active.
 

Capitol Fire of 1904

 
Two of Wisconsin’s most significant libraries were dramatically impacted by the fire that began in the late evening of February 26, 1904 and destroyed most of the State Capitol in Madison. Stanley H. Cravens article “Capitals and Capitols in Early Wisconsin” in the Wisconsin Blue Book for 1983-1984 contains an excellent account of the 1904 fire. A pdf version of that article is located HERE. The first library impacted was the Wisconsin State Library (now the Wisconsin State Law Library). Through quick action the library’s collection was mostly saved.  Cravens describes the rescue as follows:
 
“University students continued to arrive to aid in the rescue and fire-fighting efforts. Because of thick smoke filling the building, they were unable to use the stairways and several ladders were secured and raised to the windows in the north wing, which contained the State Law Library. Once inside, they began throwing volumes out the windows to snow banks below; others below began stacking the books haphazardly until State Supreme Court Justice R. D. Marshall arrived and organized the students into lines to pass the books hand-to-hand to nearby stores and later, to waiting wagons. According to Solon J. Buck (who later became archivist of the United States), then a senior attending the University of Wisconsin, this effort grew to five to six hundred people ‘and it began to get too crowded to work’.”
 
The second library impacted, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, did not fare nearly as well. Henry E. Legler, Secretary of the Commission, described the impact in the Fifth Biennial Report of the Commission. Legler wrote:”The Commission sustained a severe loss by reason of this fire, not only as regards the records, but in the books and material then on hand, and manuscript copies of important publications contemplated…. The Document department [later the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau] which had acquired an exceedingly valuable collection of pamphlets and books, was entirely destroyed.  Much of the destroyed material cannot be replaced, inasmuch as, prior to the fire, most of the state departments had transferred to the Document department the accumulated files gathered for years past…. During the eight years of the Commission’s existence, large and useful collections had been made of plans, photographs, and half-tone engravings of library buildings throughout the country, bibliographies, books on library economy, bulletins, reports, blanks, collections of children’s books, sample bindings, library devices, and technical tools of every sort.  All of these collections, many of which were thought to be the best extant, were consumed. Of the traveling libraries, 28 were destroyed.” Legler continues:  “Libraries throughout the country responded most generously to the request for material.  To the Carnegie library of Pittsburgh, the Commission is indebted for a set of printed cards for 1,000 children’s books.  The New York state library sent complete files of its own publications and other library literature.  The public libraries of Cleveland, Providence, Cincinnati, and many older cities supplied valuable publications.  The library of the University of Wisconsin made large contributions of library literature.”
 
About the postcard shown above, Cravens writes:”One of the first Madisonians to awake to the sight was 15 year-old Joseph Livermore, who had the presence of mind to use his vest-pocket Kodak to take a most spectacular, if not the only, night photograph of the Capitol fire. Livermore later made copies of the photograph to sell for 10 cents apiece to earn enough money to purchase a bicycle; his father, however, felt the price too exorbitant and made Joseph reduce the price to 5 cents. One of Livermore’s customers was a postcard printer, who ran off and sold hundreds of the postcards, without sharing any of the profits with the boy.”
 
 

Portrait of a Legislative Success Story by Charles Bunge

 
As noted in an earlier blog post Charles Bunge, Professor Emeritus of the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies and member of the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame, made a presentation titled “Portrait of a Legislative Success Story: The Development and Passage of Public Library System Legislation in Wisconsin” at a program on February 8 of this year preceding WLA Library Legislative Day. Bunge also made the same presentation at the May conference of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries. Bunge has allowed the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center to post a copy of the text of his presentation on this website.  Passage of 1971 Senate Bill 47 has been described as “WLA’s greatest legislative victory”. The photograph above shows most of those (including Charles Bunge) who helped achieve this victory at the signing ceremony for the bill.
 
 
 
 

WLA Members Meet in Chicago in 1893

 
Due to the unfortunate resignation of Klas A. Linderfelt as president of the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) in 1892 it did not meet formally in 1892 or 1893. However, twelve members of WLA attended the meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Chicago in 1893, and they gathered for an informal meeting which is considered to be the second conference of WLA.  As a result of that meeting Reuben G. Thwaites assumed the presidency of WLA. The 1893 ALA Chicago meeting was in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition or World’s Fair. Members of the WLA delegation undoubtedly visited ALA’s library exhibit in the Government Building of the exposition (see postcard above).  They also probably visited the Woman’s Building Library which housed a collection of books written by women from around the world. WLA held its next conference in 1894 in Beaver Dam. Except for 1903 WLA has held a conference every  since 1894. 
 
 

Wisconsin’s Early Public Libraries

 
Later this week the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries, a division of the Wisconsin Library Association, will be meeting in Oshkosh for its spring conference. The legal authority for the establishment of public libraries in Wisconsin was the public library law of 1872.  The first public library established under this law in Wisconsin was the Black River Falls Public Library.  The second public library established under the law was the Sparta Public Library which was established in 1874 (see postcard above). Public libraries that followed soon after were the Eau Claire Public Library (1875), the Madison Public Library (1875), the Fond du Lac Public Library (1876), the Marinette Public Library (1878), and the Milwaukee Public Library (1878).  Other early public libraries were the Janesville Public Library (1883), the Neenah Public Library (1884), the Beaver Dam Public Library (1885), the Bayfield Public Library (1886), the Hayward Public Library (1887), the Green Bay Public Library (1888), the Wisconsin Rapids Public Library (1890), and the Chippewa Falls Public Library (1891), the Merrill Public Library (1891), and the Washburn Public Library (1891). The dates of establishment for these public libraries are based on the Fifth Biennial Report of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. It should be pointed out that there are some questions about the exact dates of establishment of early Wisconsin public libraries. An excellent research paper titled Public Library Development in Wisconsin: 1872-1900 by Karla Fingerson (unpublished, December 12, 1971) explores those questions. It should also be noted that free public libraries established under the law of 1872 were preceded by fee based membership libraries in many Wisconsin communities. Also, some early public libraries operated under privately appointed library boards and were not established under the 1872 law. 
 
 

Increase A. Lapham and Wisconsin’s First School Library

Increase A. Lapham (1811-1875) is considered to be Wisconsin’s pioneer scientist and scholar. In addition to his scientific endeavors, Lapham was a supporter and contributor to Wisconsin’s library collections. His efforts in this regard included: helping to found the Wisconsin Historical Society; helping to found the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters; and developing a personal library of over 1,100 volumes that became part of the library of the University of Wisconsin in 1876.  One of Lapham’s most interesting contributions to libraries involved his role in establishing a school library in Milwaukee in 1851.  At the time Lapham was one of the Milwaukee school commissioners and he led the effort to establish the library.  After a resolution proposed by Lapham to create the library was approved by the school commissioners, Lapham moved quickly to establish the library. This included selecting and ordering 704 books costing $371.61.  A librarian was recruited by Lapham and paid fifty dollars a year. The library was located in the building of Milwaukee’s Young Men’s Association and was open for business on Saturday afternoons.  The early enthusiasm for the library gradually dissipated, and only thirty more books had been acquired by 1857.  In 1878 the Young Men’s Association Library became part of the new Milwaukee Public Library and over the years the original school library collection disappeared. 
 
The primary source of the information in this post is an article by Graham P. Hawks titled “A Nineteenth-Century School Library: Early Years in Milwaukee” in the Journal of Library History for Fall, 1977, pages 359-363. 
 
 

Oldest Wisconsin Academic Libraries

Determining the date that an academic library was established is somewhat of a challenge. Technically, a library is established when the responsible institutional governing board takes a specific action to do so.  However, such a specific action in regard to academic libraries is often lacking, and academic libraries sometimes use the date of establishment of the overall academic institution for the date of their establishment. Added to the confusion is the definition of what constitutes a library.  Is it merely a collection of books or something more substantial. In 1850 the Smithsonian Institution undertook a major survey of libraries in the United States. For Wisconsin only two academic libraries responded to that survey.  One of these was the Beloit College Library which reported that “the libraries connected with the college now amount to over 1,000 volumes, and arrangements are made which will insure their progressive increase.”  The other was the Library of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The American Library Directory which is published annually asks each library to indicate the year it was was founded. The Colonel Robert H. Morse Library of Beloit College indicates that it was founded in 1849.  The Todd Wehr Memorial Library of Carroll College in Waukesha indicates that it was founded in 1846 which is the date that the College was founded. The General Library System & Memorial Library of the University of Wisconsin at Madison indicates that it was founded in 1850.  The Seeley G. Mudd Library of Lawrence University in Appleton indicates that it was also founded in 1850.  Access to early academic libraries was often extremely limited and sometimes actually denied to undergraduates.  The librarian was usually a junior faculty member who was assigned the responsibility but had limited training as a librarian.