The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), is a Wisconsin, United States non-profit, professional membership organization which has existed since 1891. WLA represents nearly 2000 members statewide --- primarily librarians and library staff from school, public, academic, and special libraries, in addition to students, trustees and library Friends. Because of its broad membership base, WLA is concerned with the needs of all types of libraries in the state. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, WLA is a chapter of the American Library Association.
In 1882, Theresa West Elmendorf, Deputy Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library, became the first member of the American Library Association from Wisconsin. After attending the 1890 American Library Association conference and learning of the creation of state library associations in some Eastern states, she returned to Wisconsin and began promoting a Wisconsin state library association. This idea came to fruition on February 11, 1891, when she, along with Reuben Gold Thwaites,Edward Asahel Birge (Madison Public Library Board member), and Frank Avery Hutchins, gathered in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to organize the Wisconsin Library Association.
The WLA and its successor, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WLFC) established in 1895, were the main bodies promoting the establishment and improvement of public libraries in Wisconsin, seeing libraries as essential to the intellectual and moral development of children and young adults.
Today's Wisconsin Library Association consists of over 2000 members who represent many kinds of libraries and library staff, including public, academic, school, and special libraries, as well as friends of the library, trustees, and other community members and corporate library supporters.
The WLA publishes a quarterly newsletter (January, April, July, and October) that reflects the purposes and responsibilities of the association and reports the activities and developments of the library profession in addition to keeping members informed about the organization's current activities and initiatives. Other WLA communications include e-news reports, blog postings, Twitter updates, and online bulletin boards.