Henry E. Legler was inducted into the Wisconsin Library of Fame on October 22, 2009. He served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) from 1904 to 1909. During his tenure in that capacity he left an important legacy to the state’s libraries. He established the Wisconsin Library Bulletin in 1905 which played a major role in conveying information and knowledge to the Wisconsin library community. Under his leadership the library school which later became the School of Library and Information Studies of the University of Wisconsin – Madison was founded as part of the WFLC. He continued the public library development of his predecessor Frank A. Hutchins and the expansion of the traveling library system. While Secretary of the WFLC he also served without salary as the first secretary of the University of Wisconsin Extension Division. He became actively involved in the national library activities and was elected as the first chair of the League of Library Commissions in 1905. Building on booklists established by the WFLC, he founded the Booklist of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1904 and served as its editor until 1916. He was a member and chair of the ALA Publishing Board. He served as ALA President in 1912-13. After leaving Wisconsin in 1909 he became Director of the Chicago Public Library, a post he served in until his death in 1917. Legler was instrumental in the relocation of the headquarters of the American Library Association from Boston to Chicago in 1909. Legler was born in Palermo, Sicily on February 22, 1861. His family immigrated to the United States where they settled in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1873. After completing his education in La Crosse, he worked as a newspaper reporter in both La Crosse and Milwaukee. He served for one term as a member of the Wisconsin Assembly in 1888-1890. He became Secretary of the Milwaukee Board of Education (superintendent of schools) in 1890. Legler wrote several books including Library Ideals which was edited by his son and published in 1918 after his death.
A report of Legler’s resignation from the WLHC is included in the Wisconsin Library Bulletin issue of Sept.-Oct. 1909. A report of his death appears in the October 1917 issue of the Wisconsin Library Bulletin. Legler is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography and the Wisconsin Dictionary of History. He was also one of eighteen library leaders included in the publication Pioneering Leaders in Librarianship (ALA, 1953). He is also included in Wisconsin Authors and Their Works by Charles Rounds (1918).