On Friday the 13th I made a presentation about the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center (WLHC) to the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) at their meeting at the Middleton Public Library. The legislation creating COLAND was passed in 1979 (30 years ago) and it began functioning in 1980. Although the 19 members of COLAND are appointed by the Governor, for administrative purposes it is located in the Department of Public Instruction. COLAND makes recommendations about library and networking issues to the State Superintendent, the Governor, and the Legislature. The members of COLAND are divided into two categories – public members and members representing library and information organizations. Individuals representing all types of libraries serve on COLAND.
The legislation (AB 20) creating COLAND was controversial and divisive to the library community. In 1965 the former Wisconsin Free Library Commission was eliminated and this function was transferred to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The new entity became the Division for Library Services in DPI. The Secretary or administrative position of the Commission became a Division Administrator position in the Department of Public Instruction. Under the new arrangement the Division Administrator position was a non-political civil service appointment. In 1979 one faction of the Wisconsin library community 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 creation of COLAND was a compromise. As part of the COLAND legislation, 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.
As part of my presentation I put together a small display similar to the one at the Wisconsin Library Association conference in Appleton. After my presentation COLAND went on record as endorsing the purposes of the WLHC and supporting efforts to digitize library history materials at the local and state levels.