Library History 


The Bayfield Library is one of the oldest free public libraries in Wisconsin.

Established in 1857 under the auspices of the Bayfield Lyceum
the Library established its own Association in 1875 and flourished out of a room at Bayfield’s first courthouse.
The first Library Board formed in 1893.

Architect Henry Wildhagen provided a “pleasing and elegant design” in the Greek Revival style
with striking iconic columns of locally quarried brownstone for the new Carnegie-funded facility.

The cornerstone was laid with great ceremony
with local Masons, the Bayfield city band, and a large crowd on August 19, 1903.

The Bayfield Carnegie Library was named to the National Register of Historic Places
as part of the Bayfield Historic District on Nov. 25, 1980.


1857 – 1903

Only ten years after Bayfield was founded, the first library was established as a free Reading Room in 1857, signaling the community's early commitment to knowledge and the free exchange of information.

Work on the grand structure still used as the community's library began when Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided $10,000 to the Bayfield Library Board.

Architect Henry Wildhagen designed the Greek Revival Style building with the striking iconic columns of Locally Quarried Brownstone.


1904 – Now

The current Bayfield Carnegie Library opened its doors January 10, 1904.

Over the years dedicated citizens, hardworking librarians and board members, and civic groups such as the Junior Civic League continued support for the library.

Library circulation increased from 3,000 in 1978 to over 39,000 in 2013.

The library has adapted to the needs of the community with improvements from the addition of space in the lower level, digital services, and staff time.