Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"No trouble. No red tape."

Pamphlet Image Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin’s strong resource sharing network began long before desktops, the internet, and ILL management software. A pamphlet published by the Wisconsin Library Commission (WLC) instructed residents how to get books by mail. In fact, it was Wisconsin’s very first version of patron-initiated requesting. On January 1, 1913, the U.S. Congress approved parcel post. Packages could then be sent by US Mail anywhere in the U.S. By 1914, the Wisconsin Library Commission had taken advantage of the new service and set up a program to send books by mail. The books were sent from a consortium of the WLC, the State Historical Society Library, the University of Wisconsin, and The Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Pamphlet Image Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society

Any Wisconsin resident could send a postcard or letter to the WLC stating titles, authors, or a subject and books would be sent postage paid. Patrons were instructed:  "You pay only the return postage.  No trouble, no red tape."

100 years later, Wisconsin residents can still get a book not available locally, or a CD, DVD, VHS, audio book….you get the idea. The process is much faster, easier, and free, but still with “No trouble. No red tape."

Written by:  
Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning