Some WI Library Buildings 1904

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In 1904 the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) published a book titled Some Wisconsin Library Buildings. The book was comprised primarily of photographs of selected Wisconsin library buildings but also included a tabulation of all library building projects completed or in the process. The book notes that when the WFLC was organized in 1895 there were only three libraries in the state occupying their own buildings, but by 1904 there were 52 buildings either completed or provided for. Included in the tabulation were 29 buildings that had received Carnegie grants totaling $627,000. Other private individuals had made library building grants of $418,500 for a total of $1,045,500 from this source. By far the largest projects listed were the State Historical Society building which cost $620,000 from state funds and the Milwaukee Public Library building which cost $512,000 from municipal funds. The State Historical Society building was designed to house both the Historical Society’s library and the library of the University of Wisconsin. The most unusual library listed and pictured was the Wausaukee Free Library (see image above). The Wausaukee Free Library was established in 1901 and was part of a “social hall” that included the library and reading room, a lunch and dining room, and an amusement room. The building was donated by State Senator Harland P. Bird, a strong library supporter who served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association in 1904-1905. A digitized copy of this book can be found on the Hathi Trust website. 

The Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries could be one of the most important things the library community has ever done. We live in a knowledge-based economy, where life-long learning is mandatory. Public, academic, special, and school libraries are essential institutions and should not be compromised. Yet these valuable institutions are in danger. We are seeing funding cuts, service and staffing cuts, aging collections, and deteriorating physical infrastructure as a growing challenge that must be addressed. A campaign for library advocacy throughout the state of Wisconsin is sorely needed. Please join our effort to give libraries this much needed voice.

Rick Krumwiede
Wisconsin Library Association Foundation President

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation

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