In a previous post on the 1901 American Library Association meeting in Waukesha, I mentioned that momentos or favors were often given to conference participants. I recently discovered another such momento for the Waukesha conference. It is the book Shakespeare the Man by Walter Bagehot which was published by McClure Phillips and Company of New York. There were 1,000 copies of the book published with 450 designated specifically for distribution at the ALA conference.
Postcard depicting Whitford Memorial Hall which housed the Milton College Library from 1906 to 1967. It is now a retail store.
On May 15, 1982 a Wisconsin college library along with the college it was part of died. The death of the college was announced to the staff and faculty in the library. The doors of the library were closed and the building in which it was located and the collection of books were transferred to other entities. Staff were only able to retrieve their posessions under supervision.
The college was Milton College in Milton, Wisconsin. The library was the the Shaw Memorial Library. Milton College dated back to the Milton Academy which was established in 1844, and was one of the oldest continuously operating colleges in Wisconsin. The Shaw Memorial Library building was completed in 1967. Prior to that time the library was located in Whitford Memorial Hall from 1906 to 1967, and before that in Main Hall. Both the Whitford Hall building and the Main Hall building are still in existence and are part of a historical district in Milton.
The Shaw Memorial Library building was acquired by and now houses the Milton Public Library. The library’s collection was sold as a unit to a college in Milwaukee.
Links related to Milton College and its libraries:
Milton College Preservation Society
Whitford Memorial Hall
Newspaper article on closing of the college
Whole Earth Review article by Barbara Rubin Hudson, Spring 1988
Finding alternative uses for Carnegie library buildings that have been vacated for newer and more functional facilities can be a challenge. The old Carnegie library in Ladysmith, Wisconsin was transformed into a very unusual alternative purpose. It is now the Carnegie Hall Bed & Breakfast. In a Google search, I was only able to find a couple of similar uses in the nation. The Carnegie library building in Sterling, Colorado is now the Old Library Inn. The Carnegie library building in Olean, New york is now the Old Library Restaurant in conjunctin with a bed and breakfast. Why not spend a night with Carnegie on your next vacation.
The public library in Ladysmith is now named the Rusk County Community Library. The library has done a good job of outlining its library history.
Edward Asahel Birge was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Birge was one of a small group of people who gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on February 11, 1891 to organize the Wisconsin Library Association. At the time Birge was a noted Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the Madison Public Library Board. He served on the Madison Public Library Board from 1891 to 1909 and was its chairman from 1893 to 1909. He served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association from 1897 to 1899 and again in 1905-1906. He was a member of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. He had a long and active career at the University of Wisconsin serving as Professor of Zoology (1879-1911), Dean of the College of Letters and Science (1891-1918), Acting President (1900–1903), and President (1918- 1925). He is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives and Records Mangement Services for permission to use the image of Birge.
Note: In the comming months we will be featuring 2008 inductees to the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on the blog component of the the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center website. Not only will this provide more exposure to these exceptional people, it will enable us to deal with a technical difficulty in organizing our site.
We wish to express our appreciation to the following individuals and organizations who have achieved the designation of Founding Contributor to the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center by making a special contribution to the WLHC. These individuals and organizations are helping the WLHC to get off to a good start in its efforts to promote the heritage of Wisconsin libraries.
Appleton Library Foundation
Lori A. Belongia
Dan C. Calef
John Eldred/Heather Eldred
Beatrice (Bea) Lebal
Ruth Ann Montgomery
Friends of Neenah Library
Larry T. Nix
T.B. Scott Free Library, Merrill, WI
Lowell W. Wilson
The WLHC is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation. All members of WLA are automatically members of the WLA Foundation. Those members who wish to provide additional support for WLA Foundation programs are encoraged to become a participant in one of the contributing Circles of the Foundation. The Founding Contributor designation for the WLHC is a one-time contributing opportunity. For more on how to become a Founding Contributor click here.
As noted in the previous post, the American Library Association met in Waukesha in July of 1901. As reported in the magazine Public Libraries: “The twenty-third annual meeting of the A. L. A. was held at Waukesha, Wis., with an enthusiasm and interest that has not been equaled more than two or three times in the history of the association.” The conference was held at the Fountain Spring House, Waukesha’s premier resort. The Public Libraries article concluded: “A large majority of the people present attended their first conference of American librarians at Waukesha, and the interest, enthusiasm, and evident progress made at this meeting is due largely to that fact. For months the local associations in the middle west were at work to interest thelibrarians of their diffferent states in the importance of being present at Waukesha. Their efforts were successful, and there was but one note sounded in regard to the meeting, and that was satisfaction.”
The full Public Libraries report on the Waukesha conference can be found in Google Books on pages 459-497 of the 1901 annual compilation.
At early ALA Conferences, momentos were routinely given to participants. At the Waukesha conference, the attendees were given an elaborate medal. At the top of the medal was a pin-back badger followed by a ribbon similar to those on military medals and finally there was a copper colored medallion. The medallion, which is in my collection of Wisconsin library memorabilia, is shown below. Someone probably took the medal apart for the attractve badger pin. A complete medal is located in the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
The 1901 Conference of the American Library Association took place in Waukesha. In the early Monday morning hours of July 8, 1901 the entire group of attendees went by train to Madison. As reported in the magazine Pulic Libraries, “They were met on their arrival by a local committee, carriages were provided and the party was taken to various points of interest about the city and through the beautiful drives adjoining the university grounds.” Later that afternoon “… the party was led through the new Historical library building… There was but one opinion of the entire party in regard to the beauty and arrangement of the building, and that was satisfactory to the highest degree. The beautiful reading-room was greatly admired by everyone, and even those who are wont to think that Bates hall [in the Boston Public Library] and the halls of the Congressional library at Washington are beyond compare, were willing to admit that the enthusiasm and praise of the room were merited.” Madison Day ended with a group picture on the steps of the Historical library. “The party returned to Waukesha well pleased with its trip and delighted with the hospitality of the Madison people.”
Plans are underway to restore the Reading Room of the State Historical Society to its original grandeur.
The image of those attending Madison Day is from the Wisconsin Historical Image collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID: 45544.
Theresa West Elmendorf was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Theresa West became Deputy Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1880 when she was just 25 years old. In 1882 she became the first member of the American Library Association from Wisconsin. After attending the 1890 American Library Association conference and learning of the creation of state library associations in some Eastern states, she came back and promoted a Wisconsin state library association. This idea came to fruition on February 11, 1891. West became Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1892 when the previous librarian, Klas Linderfelt, resigned. She was the first woman to direct the public library of a large city in the United States. She held this post until 1896 when she married Henry Elmendorf, also a librarian. After a brief time in London, England, they moved to Buffalo, New York where Henry Elmendorf became director of the Buffalo Public Library. After the death of her husband in 1906, Theresa Elmendorf became Vice-Librarian of the Buffalo Public Library. Active in the American Library Association, she became the first woman president of ALA in 1911-12. In the June 1911 issue of the Public Libraries magazine there was a report on the 1911 conference of the American Library Association where Elmendorf was elected President of ALA. The report said this about Elmendorf: “Mrs. Thresa West Elmendorf, the first woman to be honored by the association with its presidency, comes into the office by right of achievement greater than that of any other woman in the library field and of an equal grade with that of any man. Her wholesome, sympathetic attitude toward library work and workers has been a distinct contribution to the craft and her freedom from personal ambition has made her a valuable aid in developing the power of the A. L. A. Her election to the presidency is a well-earned, a well-deserved honor, marking an epoch in which the A. L. A. honored itself in honoring her.” In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame”. She is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. The photo of Elemendorf is reprinted with permission from the article “Pioneers of the Library Profession”, by Joseph Adams Rathbone, The Wilson Library Bulletin, June 1949.
This postcard shows the public library building for Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids). It was completed in 1892. The library shared the building with the city council and the fire department initially, but the library took over the entire building in 1900. The library was named the T. B. Scott Free Public Library at that time after T. B. Scott who donated $5,000 to the library. The library was located in this building until 1948.
The folks at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, formerly the T. B. Scott Free Public Library, have done an especially good job of telling the library’s story on their website. A recent addition to their website is a Google map of the previous locations of the library with photos and descriptions. Also on the website is an online version of Centennial Story 1890-1990 : McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
by Alice McCaul Hayward. There is a section devoted to the traveling libraries initiated by J. D. Witter in Wood County. Information about other Wisconsin traveling libraries can be found here. Finally there is a section that includes digitized newspaper articles that were written in 1921 about the early years of the library. A mural showing the history of the library is located near the entrance to the library. This mural is shown as part of the new Google map feature.
The original painting of a very popular image showing an elderly gentleman standing on a ladder in a library is owned by the Milwaukee Public Library. The painting is “The Bookworm” by Carl Spitzweg. The collector who donated the painting to the library also gave several Spitzweg paintings to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Shown here is the painting on a postcard. Prints and posters of the image are readily available on the Internet by searching “Spitzweg bookworm”.