Wisconsin Residents

Wisconsin Water Library > Wisconsin Residents

Welcome to the Wisconsin Water Library, a collection of 30,000 volumes of water-related information about the Great Lakes and the waters of Wisconsin. The Water Library is an academic library housed at UW-Madison that is open to the public – any adult resident in Wisconsin can check out books from the library for free. To find out how, visit our Request, Borrow, Renew page.

Bordered by two of the Great Lakes—the largest system of fresh water on the planet—Wisconsin has an abundant supply of high-quality water. Early French explorers called this area “Ouisconsin,” derived from a Native American word meaning “gathering of the waters.” The state’s liquid assets include more than 32,000 miles of perennial rivers and streams, more than 15,000 lakes and more than 5 million acres of wetlands.

The state is framed by water. There are more than 800 miles of Great Lakes shoreline on the north and east, and more than 190 miles of Mississippi River shoreline on the west.  It also has an enormous supply of groundwater—an estimated two quadrillion gallons flows in its subterranean depths.