Brownsville Library - History

Branch History

With the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, New Yorkers moved deeper into Brooklyn to escape the crowded conditions of Manhattan. To meet the needs of this growing population, the first Brownsville branch opened in 1905 on the second floor of the Alliance building. The Hebrew Educational Society donated its collection of 7,000 books to start the collection.

In December of 1908, the current Carnegie branch opened on Glenmore Avenue in a neighborhood of one- to four-story wood and masonry houses. The 10,550-square-foot building was busy from day one—the first day’s circulation exceeded 3,000! In response, the library was forced to limit the time that each patron could spend finding books and using reference services.

Due to the branch’s overcrowding, a second Carnegie branch was built in Brownsville in 1914. The Brownsville Children’s Library, located on Stone Avenue and now known as Stone Avenue Library, was the first dedicated children’s library in the world.

Brownsville Library remains popular with its community, serving as a resource for résumé and career help, as well as well-attended teen programs. Its laptops are always in high demand, and children frequent the library’s Homework Help and ProjectArt programs, among others, when school is out.

Did you know?:

The area that is now Brownsville was originally used by the Dutch as farmland. The neighborhood is named for Charles. S Brown, who owned the land in the late nineteenth century.