Wisconsin Historical Society Library Circulation | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Borrow Materials

Wisconsin Historical Society Library Circulation | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeView of the reading room from the SE corner

Library Reading Room

See the Society's policies and procedures for checking out library materials by selecting from the menu below.

Borrowing Period

Items checked out with a Society library card are on loan for 28 days. Some University of Wisconsin students and employees are eligible for a longer borrowing period.

Borrowing Policies

Many books, bound periodicals, microforms and government publications may be checked out for home use with a library card. Rare, fragile, small (under 50 pages) and heavily used materials (including genealogical resources) do not circulate.

A borrowing card is not required if you want to use materials within the Library.

Checking Out Materials

Check out books, pamphlets, microfilm, government publications and bound periodicals at the Library Circulation Desk.  A valid borrowing card (UW ID, UW community card or Society community card) must be presented to check materials out.

Interlibrary Loan Services

Visitors who are not residents of Wisconsin nor current UW System students or employees are not eligible to borrow materials in person. However, any item that circulates from the Library may be loaned to a patron of another library through interlibrary loan.  Follow your home library's procedures for placing an interlibrary loan request.

Library Cards

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin students and employees may borrow Library materials in person with a UW System photo ID card.

Wisconsin Residents
Option 1

The most versatile library card for Wisconsin residents is the borrowing card issued by the UW-Madison Libraries. You apply for this card online and it's ready in a few business days.  For $50 per year ($25 per year for borrowers age 62+), you can borrow materials from both the UW-Madison Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library.

Option 2

Wisconsin residents can sign up for a free Society Library card at the Society's Library Circulation Desk. Signing up takes about five minutes and requires both photo ID and proof of current Wisconsin address (driver's license, state ID, utility bill or lease). Society library cards are only valid for borrowing Society Library materials, expire after one year and must be renewed in person.

Overdue Items and Fines

Borrowers are emailed by the UW-Madison Libraries shortly before and shortly after a loan's due date.  Each borrower is responsible for keeping the library notified of a current email address.  Borrowers who do not supply an email address are still responsible for returning library materials on time.

If a loan reaches 28 days overdue, the material is presumed lost and the borrower is billed $100 per item.  This charge remains on a borrower's account until the late item is returned or its replacement cost paid.

Additional charges may be assessed on items returned with damage.


  • Some loans can be renewed online by visiting the UW-Madison Library Catalog and signing in at upper right.  
  • If you are a Society Library cardholder, enter your card's barcode number (11 digits) in place of the UW-Madison ID number.
  • If online renewal does not work for you, email the Circulation Desk at askcirculation@wisconsinhistory.org or call 608-264-6534.
  • To avoid fines, please renew your materials within 28 days of the due date.

Learn More

Have Questions?

Contact the Wisconsin Historical Society Circulation Department by phone at 608-264-6534 or by email below: