Federal funding and local history: Impacts of IMLS in Wisconsin

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Grants to States program is the largest source of federal funding for library services in the U.S. In Wisconsin, Library Service and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from IMLS are administered by the Department of Public Instruction’s Division for Libraries and Technology. Each year, DPI distributes nearly $1 million in sub-awards to support literacy, accessibility and technology projects in Wisconsin’s public libraries. In 2016, Recollection Wisconsin received a $50,000 grant from DPI (70% of our operating budget) to continue the development of Wisconsin’s DPLA Service Hub.

The recently released federal budget proposal includes a recommendation to eliminate all funding for IMLS. The American Library Association, Society of American Archivists and the American Alliance of Museums are all taking action right now to advocate for IMLS and other federal agencies that support libraries, archives and museums.

Source: The Washington Post

Source: The Washington Post

The IMLS Grants to States program not only supports Recollection Wisconsin, it’s also funded local history digitization projects in dozens of communities around the state. Just a few of these projects are highlighted below. You can find abstracts of all recently-awarded grants here.

Winding Rivers Library System: ECHO Project
WRLS provided training and equipment to 24 of its member public libraries to build a regional online collection of photographs and postcards representing western Wisconsin history and culture.

Milwaukee Public Library: Dr. James Cameron Pamphlet Collection
Pamphlets written by Milwaukee civil rights activist Dr. James Cameron (1914-2006).

East Troy Public Library: East Troy Electric Railroad Collection
East Troy Public Library partnered with the Milwaukee Transit Archives and Museum to digitize materials related to early electric railways in southeastern Wisconsin.

Outagamie Waupaca Library System and Wisconsin Public Library Consortium: Historical Newspaper Pilot Project
OWLS worked with WPLC, in partnership with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Wisconsin Historical Society, to launch a project to add historical community newspapers to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers database in BadgerLink.

For many years, LSTA grants supported local history digitization projects by public libraries in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center. All of these projects are available through Recollection Wisconsin and DPLA via the UWDCC’s State of Wisconsin Collection.

A few examples of these collaborations include:
Bunny Berigan: Fox Lake’s Own
The story of famed jazz trumpeter and Wisconsin native Bunny Berigan. (Fox Lake Public Library)

The Home Front: Manitowoc County in World War II
Homefront experiences of the Manitowoc area during WWII, including the shipbuilding industry and other manufacturing. (Manitowoc County Historical Society, Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Manitowoc Public Library and Lester Public Library)

Oshkosh, Omro, and Winnebago County
Atlases and histories of northeast Wisconsin. (Oshkosh Public Library)

Kenosha’s Lost Industries
Photographs and documents from Kenosha manufacturers including N. R. Allen Sons, American Brass, Bain Wagon Company, Nash Motors, America Motors, MacWhyte, Pirsch, and Simmons. (Kenosha Public Library and Kenosha County Historical Society)

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