Who We Are
The Brownsville Community Library system is located at 146 Spaulding Avenue, Brownsville, Oregon. The Library provides free services to all residents living within the Brownsville city boundaries with services available to all others for a fee.
The library system holds over 18,000 materials including over 17,500 books, and 500 compact discs, cassette tapes and books on cassette.
In total, over 14,000 items were checked out of the system during fiscal year 2009-2010! In addition to these items, thousands of people entered the library to utilize print and electronic reference resources, access the Internet through the Library’s fiber-optic connection, enjoy state-of-the-art Wi-fi service, view a Library exhibit, or attend one of the Library’s many events.
Our friendly and professional staff is eager to serve you. Welcome to the Public Library!
October 19, 1910, the Self-Improvement Club of Brownsville, later to be known as the Brownsville Women’s Study Club, organized. Deciding the community needed a library; a library was official started on March 11, 1911 by the ladies with a book shower collecting 250 volumes. The club nurtured the library acting as librarians, raising money for books and housing the library in various buildings about town. May 1960, A library measure was passed and the city budget gave the Library $567.23 per year for the librarian salary and books. In 1976 the Study Club hired an architect to draw plans for a new facility to replace the poorly heated, leaking structure the library and police department shared. Funds were not available for building until later that year when the federal government announced a limited number of grants were available to communities with qualifying needs. The Women’s Study Club plans were submitted and approved.
February 22, 1977, after sixty-six years of continuous volunteer service, the Brownsville Women’s Study Club relinquished library control to the City of Brownsville to access the federal $200,000 Economic Development Grant for construction of the present library facility, translating a dream into a reality. The Brownsville Women’s Study Club continues to have as one of its objective to benefit the Library.
The first meeting of the Library Board was on March 21, 1977. The Library Board oversaw the details of the construction, established policy and procedures regarding the public use of the library, budget, the input/output of library services, represented the library to the community, established the trust fund and made recommendations on librarian wages & hours to the city council.
Thursday, October 19, 1977 was the first meeting of the Friends of the Library organized to function as a support group to the Brownsville Library. Their first task was to raise $20,000 to provide furnishings for the new library. The Friends of the Library purpose continues to focus public attention on the library; to stimulate the use of the library’s resources and services; to receive and encourage gifts, endowments and bequests to the library; to support and cooperate with the library in developing library services and facilities for the community; and to support the freedom to read as expressed in the American Library Association Bill of Rights.
An open house on September 18, 1978 celebrated the new facility with the Library Board coordinating the Friends of the Library and Women’s Study Club role in the festivities.
The new library was closed May 26 through June 10, 1979 because of a city budget deficit for the 1978-79 fiscal year. It opened briefly for the Pioneer Picnic and then closed again. It remained locked through three municipal attempts at securing voter approval of a city budget levy for 1979-80. In the final election, the library operation was presented to the voters as a separate $9,200 measure and was rejected on July 25.
On August 6, 1979 the City Council met with the Library Board and the Friends of the Library to discus the future of the library. A plan was devised with the Friends of the Library dipping into their fund for special events at the library to purchase basic supplies to launch a volunteer operation to open the facility. The city paid for some of the utility costs.
After an 11-week closure the library was open under the volunteer guidance of Judy Cates, the former assistant librarian and 40 volunteers. The group included 16 women, each of who worked a four-hour shift once a week to staff the checkout desk with others serving as substitutes and cleaning the building. Funding was eventually restored and the library supervision returned to a librarian’s care in the autumn of 1980 with volunteer staff support.
The strong community support continues today even among those not visibly present at the site of the library. A volunteer stated, “People that come into to check out the library get drawn into the ‘family’ of the Brownsville Library and end up caring passionately about it.”
It is the mission of the Brownsville Community Library to maintain and improve the quality of life for all citizens of our community by collecting and providing books, materials and resources, and preserving special classic resources that enhance and contribute to individual knowledge, enlightenment and enjoyment in the most efficient, friendly and pleasant environment possible.