Public Library Directories

The Wisconsin Public Library Directory from the Department of Public Instruction’s Public Library Development Team is now online in PDF and Excel formats. The directory is based on data compiled from the Public Library Annual Reports and subsequent, ongoing updates. Library directors are asked to please review the information for their libraries and report any corrections.

The PDF version includes a combined "Directory of Public Libraries and Their Branches" listed by city, followed by an alphabetical index of library and branch names. The document also includes system and resource library directory information.

The Excel file has three sheets containing information for all 383 public libraries and services, 82 branches, and the state's regional library systems. This Excel file is useful as a merge source for mailing labels or form letters.

New Workforce Act Recognizes Libraries

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22 to improve the delivery of job training and workforce development. The new bill recognizes the important role public libraries play in improving our workforce development system by making them eligible for funds as One-Stop partners. The Act is an amendment and reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 which established a national network of One-Stop Career Centers to provide assistance with employment and training services to all individuals (including people with disabilities). There are currently 1,700 One-Stops across the United States providing an expansive array of job search services and resources job seekers need to access the kinds of skills training, career information, and education that are required for today’s job market.

The new legislation instructs State and Local Workforce Development Boards to build “digital literacy skills” through training centers to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment, unless otherwise noted. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue further guidance on the time frames for implementation of these changes and proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment. 

The Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) will continue to support collaborations between libraries and federally funded adult education programs to help Americans take advantage of workforce development resources. IMLS recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) to assist the estimated 3 million Americans who are seeking access to federal job information, education, and training by connecting them through resources at their public libraries. IMLS partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will highlight effective practices and encourage additional collaboration between the workforce investment system and public libraries.

Library Simplified

Finding ways to make ebook access as simple as possible is vital for libraries. Frustrating experiences can push patrons away and can have a lasting impact on their perception of library ebooks. In an effort to increase readership by removing these barriers, the New York Public Library launched “Library Simplified” in December, a two year project that aims to make library ebooks and other digital content easier to access.


LibrarySimplified will involve a coalition of ten libraries working with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop for libraries an open ebook reading platform, integrating content systems like OverDrive, 3M, Axis 360 as acquisitions modules, that will enable ebooks to be borrowed seamlessly using a single app or interface. Read the full article from Digital Shift.

Wisconsin Public Library Data

Wisconsin Public Library Statistics are posted by the Department of Public Instruction:

  • State totals and averages
  • Library system-wide statistics in order by system
  • County-wide statistics
  • Public library in order by municipality
  • Public library by library system and county – Includes statistics for every public library, county, and system in the state. Arrangement is alphabetical by system, then county, then by each library. County and library system totals are also provided.

Free Library Courses

Through the generous support of OCLC, the Gates Foundation, and many state library agencies across the U.S., WebJunction provides timely and relevant learning content for library staff to access anytime, from anywhere. Simply create an account at, and explore the catalog of library-focused self-paced courses and webinars. Certificates of completion are available after completing any course or webinar enrolled in from the catalog. Over the next year, WebJunction will continue to grow its catalog of learning content, and will add new resources on topics of high interest. Happy learning!

Seniors – Another Kind of Digital Divide

America’s seniors have been late adopters to the world of technology and their movement into digital life continues to deepen, according to newly released data from the Pew Research Center. The report, Older Adults and Technology Use, examines technology use by Americans ages 65 or older.

Today, 59% of seniors report they go online. The group of older Americans with relatively substantial technology assets and a positive view toward the benefits of online platforms leans toward younger, more highly educated, or more affluent seniors. The population of seniors largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically tends to be older and less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability). Many seniors remain disconnected from online and mobile life; 41% do not use the internet at all, 53% do not have broadband access at home, and 23% do not use cell phones. Digital engagement among seniors fall off notably for those over 75 years of age.

As the internet plays an increasingly central role in connecting Americans of all ages to news and information, government services, health resources, and opportunities for social support, these divisions are noteworthy—particularly for the many organizations (such as libraries) and individual caregivers who serve the older adult population. To read a summary of findings, or access the entire report, visit the PewResearch Internet Project.

Sharing Historical Photos

Do you represent a library, historical society or museum in a small Wisconsin town or city (population under 6,000)? Recollection Wisconsin needs your input! Our program is seeking to expand online access to photos, documents, artifacts and other historical materials from small and rural communities around the state. 

Whether your organization already has a strong digitization program in place, you’re just starting to think about going digital, or digitization is not a priority for you right now, your responses to our survey will help us improve our services to small cultural heritage organizations across Wisconsin.

Our short survey is available online and should take between 5-15 minutes to complete. Please submit your responses by Monday, June 16. Survey results will be made available online later this summer at For questions about the survey, please contact Recollection Wisconsin Program Manager Emily Pfotenhauer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-616-9756.

The Recollection Wisconsin program helps Wisconsin libraries, archives, historical societies and museums digitize and share online their unique historical collections. The program is sponsored by WiLS (Wisconsin Library Services) in partnership with the Milwaukee Public Library, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Financial support is provided by a grant from the Nicholas Family Foundation.

New OverDrive Help

OverDrive, provider of downloadable e-Books and e-Audiobooks for Wisconsin's Digital Library, recently went live with a new support interface that features a modern design, streamlined navigation options, and quick links that make it easier to get started and see how things work.  You can now search through a database of help articles, videos, compatible device profiles, and troubleshooting links. Visit the OverDrive Blogs to learn more about the new features and visit the new OverDrive Help site to experience it for yourself!

Reporting 2014 Reference Transactions

Wisconsin participates in the Public Libraries Survey (PLS) by compiling and submitting annual report data to the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS). Every year the State Librarians vote whether to adopt proposed changes that add, revise, or remove data elements. For the 2014 annual report that libraries will be preparing in early 2015, the definition of reference transactions has been updated to include the types of questions that librarians answer regarding technology:

Reference Transactions are information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs.

A reference transaction includes information and referral service as well as unscheduled individual instruction and assistance in using information sources (including web sites and computer-assisted instruction). Count Readers Advisory questions as reference transactions.

Information sources include (a) printed and non-printed material; (b) machine-readable databases (including computer-assisted instruction); (c) the library's own catalogs and other holdings records; (d) other libraries and institutions through communication or referral; and (e) persons both inside and outside the library.

If a contact includes both reference and directional services, it should be reported as one reference transaction. Duration should not be an element in determining whether a transaction is a reference transaction.

NOTE: Do not include directional transactions (giving instruction for locating staff, library users, or physical features within the library.) Examples of directional transactions include, “Where is the reference librarian? Where is Susan Smith? Where is the rest room? Where are the 600s? Can you help me make a photocopy?”

If an annual count of reference transactions is unavailable, reference transactions can be counted during a typical week or weeks (a week in which the library is open its regular hours and is neither unusually busy nor unusually slow), and multiplied to represent an annual estimate. [If the sample is done four times a year, multiply totals by 13, if done twice a year multiply by 26, if done only annually, multiply by 52.]

National Library Week

In honor of National Library Week, CNN asked people to share photos of their favorite libraries from around the world and describe what makes the library special. 


Robert Dawson was also featured for his twenty year project dedicated to photographing American libraries, including the Forest Lodge Library in Cable! Dawson recently published "The Public Library: A photographic Essay" with essays and hundreds of photographs. Toni Morrison writes: "Robert Dawson's work is an irrefutable argument for the preservation of public libraries. His book is profound and heartbreakingly beautiful." Visit NPR to lisiten to an interview of Dawson for the Saturday Weekend Edition.


Americans strongly value the role of public libraries in their community, according to findings by the Pew Research Center. 94% of people polled in 2013 said that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community. Despite enduring budget cutbacks and challenges to incorporate modern technology and digital literacy services, there's been an increase in the use of public libraries in the U.S. over the past decade. Libraries are information hotspots; they are places communities can gather; and they provide learning collaboration.