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.