Brownsville Library

It’s a testament to what a sleepy community can do when they put their minds and hearts to it. The Brownsville Public Library was merely an idea in December 1945 when it was proposed for the village and people of the surrounding area. Sponsored by the Brownsville Community Club, members felt it would be “very educational and beneficial to the community”.

In 1946, the volunteer committee began accepting donations and funds from local and surrounding area donors. New books were purchased with money donated by the Brownsville Community Club, which gave the first $100 towards the library fund. Because there was no available place to house a library, books were cataloged and stored in the basement of the local dentist’s home, Dr. Alton Rosenkranz and his wife, Sylvia.

In 1949, the Community Club donated funds towards the library portion of a new building built on Railroad Street that was to accommodate both the library and the village water pump house, By November 19, the library opened its doors for six hours each week and offered 1,400 books, with only 200 of them been borrowed from the Dodge County Loan Library. The first library staff included Dora Bloohm, Marie Croschke, Ann Jacobson, Bette Kuen, and Director, Sylvia Rosenkranz.

From the onset, the library was a busy place, used and enjoyed by the people of community and surrounding area.  It was evident that community needed and an increasing collection were helping the library growing out of its limited space. So in November 1969, construction of a new library on Main Street was completed as a cost of $72,000 with an additional $6,000 for shelving and furnishings. The library staff loved the facility. Director, Sylvia Rosenkranz said, “It is the end of a dream – not many towns this size have a library.” The village population was only 276. Other staff members included Dora Bloohm and Harriet Ewerdt.

On December  14, 1970 a referendum vote allowed the Community Club to turn a debt free library over to the village by Dr. M.F. Ries, chairman of the library’s building committee. This new library was built due to the efforts of Brownsville’ local family doctor, M.W. Ries. Dr. Ries was instrumental in obtaining funds from local donors, organizations and businesses. Eighty percent of the funding came from the Dr. R. G. Raymond and Sarah Raymond foundation, Inc., an organization that Dr. Ries served as President of the board of trustees. Through his ongoing efforts the library continued to receive periodical grants from the foundation.

Dr. L.E. Friedrich, an associate of Dr. Ries in the former Brownsville Medical Clinic and John Tagliapetria, a village resident, are presently serving on the board of trustees for the Raymond Foundation. Dr. Friedrich is the current president of the foundation. The library still receives grants have helped to make the Brownsville Library an outstanding facility.

In 1990 a generous endowment was received from the estate of Dr. Alton Rosenkranz and his wife, Sylvia. The library has used to interest payments of the endowment to purchase computers, furniture and software. Keeping abreast of technology in very costly and these funds help keep it up-to-date.  The library in very fortunate to have such resources that help support, enhanced library services provided through technology.

In January 1999, the library was featured in the American Public Library Magazine as one of America’s best public libraries for 1998. Hennen’s American Public Library Rating index reviews public libraries in the United States. Brownsville Public Library was ranked number one on the under 2,000 population category. The library was again ranked number one in 1999.

The library board wishes to express appreciation to the many people on the community and surrounding area what have giving their time, talents and financial support to the library through the years.

The Regular Village Board Meeting will take place at the Village Hall 514 Railroad St., on Wednesday February 12, 2020 starting after the 6:00 p.m. Check back here closer to the date for an agenda. Please contact the clerk if you wish an ite..