Thursday, January 21, 2016

The First State Library Associations

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. It was one of the first state library associations created in the nation. However, there was a question about the exact order of the creation of these state library associations. I did some research on this topic and came up with the following information. The New Hampshire Library Association claims to be the first state library association, but a case can also be made that the New York Library Association was the first. New Hampshire’s claim rests on the fact that the New Hampshire state legislature passed a law on August 16, 1889 specifically authorizing the creation of a state library association. However, it was not until September 12, 1890, while meeting with the American Library Association in White Mountains, NH, that a group initiated the formation of the New Hampshire Library Association under the new law. Meanwhile under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, New York, with the knowledge of and based on the New Hampshire law, took action to create a state library association on July 11, 1890. Notwithstanding New Hampshire’s claim to be number one, I think from a technical/legal perspective New York has the edge. Iowa claims to be the second state library association created (after New York). It took actions in this regard on September 2, 1890. Based on Iowa's claim and date of establishment, New Hampshire would actually be the third state library association to be legally established. The Massachusetts Library Club was created on October 22, 1890, and the New Jersey Library Association was created on Dec. 29, 1890.  Wisconsin became the sixth state library association to be created on February 11, 1891 followed closely by Connecticut on February 23, 1891, and Maine on March 1, 1891. A flood of state library associations followed in the next decade under the encouragement of Melvil Dewey and the American Library Association.


Adamovich, Shirley Gray, ed. The Road Taken, The New Hampshire Library Association 1889-1989 (The New Hampshire Library Association, 1989).

Wiegand, Wayne A. Irrepressible Reformer, A Biography of Melvil Dewey (Americal Library Association, 1996).

Iowa Library Association website.

Dewey, Melvil. “Notes on American and State Library Associations”, Library Journal (June, 1891) p. 169-170.

Fairchild, S.C. “Outline of Modern Library Movement in America With Most Important Foreign Events”, Library Journal (February, 1901) p. 73-75. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Library History 2016

Happy New Year to all of my blog followers and readers!

I’m looking forward to a number of library history events and activities in 2016. The big one for me is the 125th anniversary of the Wisconsin Library Association. WLA was founded on February 11, 1891.  I serve on the 125th Anniversary Task Force, and plan to be involved in several activities related to the celebration of this milestone. A major focus will be the website of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center for which I serve as webmaster and primary contributor. 

The American Library Association will mark its 140th anniversary in 2016.  It was founded on October 6, 1876.  American Libraries will be calling attention to this milestone with a Pinterest Board which will be updated weekly and special posts on their Scoop blog. The ALA Library has put together a great list of opportunities to celebrate libraries in 2016 but no library history events are listed at this point. Kudos to LITA, a Division of ALA, for establishing a committee to help celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016. During 2016 I will make a special effort to make posts about ALA history on this blog.  

Along with Wisconsin, library associations in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, and Indiana will be celebrating their 125th anniversaries in 2016. The year 2016 will also be the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Federal Library Services Act.

In regard to my personal library history activities I will be updating my philatelic exhibit on the Library of Congress for display at several national level stamp shows. 

What are you doing to promote library history in 2016?