The American Library Heritage Trail

A virtual tour of America's library heritage 

The purpose of this section of the Library History Buff Web site is to promote the creation of  a virtual tour of America's library heritage by identifying significant library history landmarks and artifacts throughout the nation and by connecting them through Internet links where possible.  At the same time, the virtual tour serves as a guide for a more meaningful real life tour of America's library heritage.  The American Library Heritage Trail is envisioned as a distributed museum of America's library heritage.  It is one component of a possible agenda for promoting the preservation and celebration of America's library heritage.


There was a significant effort in the early 1980's by the Public Library Association to explore the possibility of a library history museum or some other mechanism for promoting public library history.  The Public Library Heritage Task Force was appointed in 1982 by PLA and was asked to develop recommendations in this regard.  A hearing on this topic was hosted by the Task Force at the ALA Annual Conference in Los Angeles in 1983. 

One serious idea that was explored was the development of a public library heritage trail.  State librarians were asked to identify historic libraries in their states, and a publication that included this information was planned.  Like many good ideas that go through the bureaucracy of a large association, this one finally ground to a halt and the Task Force was disbanded with no tangible outcome.

In an article in the March 2000 issue of Connecticut Libraries entitled "A Library Heritage Trail for Connecticut", Norman Stevens provides a proposal for a library heritage trail for that state.  That proposal was also not acted upon.

This site is another attempt to promote the idea of an American library heritage trail.


This is an ongoing work in progress. Each state is encouraged to identify and list significant library buildings and artifacts worthy of a visit by those with a love for libraries and library history. Wisconsin is the first state to undertake this effort. I will be happy to link the efforts of other states to this site. 

Wisconsin Library Heritage Trail