BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – In Jackson County, you’ll find that one of its two public libraries holds a title unique to Wisconsin.
“The Black River Falls Library is therefore the first public library established in Wisconsin,” said Cara Hart, director of the Black River Falls Public Library.
In 1872, Wisconsin established a law that allowed taxes to be used to establish free public libraries.
This move was important because at the time only the wealthy had access to books.
“Access to information gives everyone a bit more of a level playing field,” Hart said.
The Black River Falls Public Library plays an important role in the life of the community.
“In small towns, it’s really interesting to see people leave and come back. And it’s just that “I’m home” reaction, Hart said.
Something that can bring people home, a time capsule.
The one presented during the 150th anniversary of the library was made 25 years ago.
“I haven’t looked at it, I don’t know what’s inside…maybe a beanie baby,” Hart said.
Bryan Smetana was one of the kids who put stuff in the time capsule, he was 5 years old at the time.
“It was quite fun, I really didn’t know what we were going to get out of it,” Smetana said.
He was also unaware that the time capsule unveiling was taking place and found out about it through his mother who received a call from her history teacher, Nancy Oldham.
“And then he called me and said, ‘I’ll be there,'” Oldham said. little ones… it makes the heart feel that you have accomplished something.”
The world has evolved around Wisconsin’s first public library over time, but library historian Mary Woods says the digital age can’t offer everything.
“There’s a lot of stuff in this library that’s not online,” Woods said. “This library has just been top notch.”
While people say the internet is forever, Woods says no, it’s actually the library.
“Someone asked me the other day if libraries are ever going to disappear because of the availability of everything online. It’s not going to happen. This library is used by the very young and by the elderly”, Woods said.
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