Hours and Holiday Closings
Weekdays 9am to 8 pm
Weekends – 12 to 5pm
We will be closed on these dates in 2013.
- Tuesday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
- Sunday, March 31 – Easter
- Monday, May 27 – Memorial Day
- Thursday, July 4 – Independence Day
- Monday, September 2 – Labor Day
- Monday, October 14 – Columbus Day (for staff training, Bookmobile not in service)
- Thursday, November 28 – Thanksgiving Day
- Tuesday, December 24 – Christmas Eve – all day
- Wednesday, December 25 – Christmas Day
- Tuesday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve (close at 5pm)
- Wednesday, January 1, 2013 – New Year’s Day
Directions to the Brown Library
James V. Brown Library
19 E. 4th St.
Williamsport, PA 17701
Library Board of Trustees
Harold D. Hershberger, Jr., President
Thomas B. Burkholder, Vice-President
John M. Confer,Treasurer
Melissa E. Welch
Gloria Z. Greevy
Trisha Gibbons Marty
Dr. Don C. Adams
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana
William E. Nichols, Trustee Emeritus
Dr. Kenneth L. Cooper -Trustee Appointed by City Council served the Library from 1976 -2011 -Dr. Kenneth Cooper died on March 23, 2011. Words of gratitude for all he did for the James V. Brown Library for over three decades could in no way convey our true feelings of thankfulness.
Memorial page for Dr. Kenneth Cooper – 35 Years of Service
Resolution of Respect to Dr. Kenneth L. Cooper
History of the Library
original text by Jill Wollet modified by staff
When the James V. Brown Library first opened its doors in Williamsport the second week of June, 1907, the season was changing: local farmers were bragging that their strawberries were ripe, Williamsport Dickinson Seminary (now Lycoming College) was in the midst of its 58th commencement exercises, and women’s summer linen suits were on sale for $22.50.
A year and a half of construction was completed and the community was eagerly awaiting the most exciting event of summer. (James V. Brown Library under construction April 30, 1906)
From the PA Grit newspaper, June 16, 1907:
“The throwing wide of the doors of the James V. Brown Memorial Library to the public, on Tuesday morning June 18th, at 9 o’clock, will be one of the most significant annals of Williamsport. For the first time in the history of the city the public will be offered opportunities for educational development, through the medium of the best books obtainable. The thousands of volumes in the James V. Brown Library furnish information on every subject worth knowing about, and all are at the disposal of those who would read and learn.”
Indeed, by the noon hour on Tuesday, June 18, 1907, 150 books had been borrowed, and when the Children’s Room opened at 2:00 P.M., scores of children were waiting to rush in! The Brown Library was a bequest to the city from lumber baron and philanthropist James VanDuzee Brown who died on December 8, 1904, at age 78. Already a widower with no children, Brown had dreamt for years of giving Williamsport a free, public library. The idea for the library was suggested by his late wife, Carile Brown.
James V. Brown came from a large family in New York state, and was a descendant of the family that founded Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Arriving in Williamsport in 1859, he worked in the printing and flour mill trades, then went into lumbering where he made his fortune as a partner in the Brown, Early & Company Lumber Mill. Mr. Brown was a prominent city leader with an impressive resume, including his service as: president of the Williamsport Water Company, where he masterminded the development of the city’s water system; president of the Citizen Gas Company, an original stockholder of the Market Street Bridge (it was a privately owned toll bridge), a controlling stockholder of the Gazette Bulletin newspaper, the Central PA Telephone Company, and organizer of First National Bank.
Mr. Brown lived at 239 East Third Street, the corner of East Third and Basin, in a home built by Williamsport’s founder Michael Ross. He is buried in the family plot in Wildwood Cemetery. At his death in 1904 he was survived by a brother, Orange Sabin Brown, then the city’s Postmaster and manager of the Gazette & Bulletin, and a nephew, David A. Howe.
In his will James V. Brown bequeathed $400,000 to the city of Williamsport, and stipulated that $140,000 be used to erect and endow a public library at the corner of Fourth and State Streets for the use of the people of Williamsport and nearby communities. His wishes also included how the library should be governed, a plan that is still followed today. Management of the library would be under the control of a nine-member board of trustees consisting of: the Mayor of Williamsport; the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church (where Brown was a member), the Superintendent of Williamsport Schools, a representative of Williamsport City Council, and five other representatives of Williamsport or nearby vicinity.
During the next several years the Brown Library’s services expanded to include branches and reading stations in Montoursville, Newberry, and other city locations. By 1920 a library tax was established to finance the needs of the library and its users, as Mr. Brown’s annual endowment of $10,000 for purchasing new books and materials was not enough to keep up with the demand.
By 1939 the library was loaning 1,000 books per day to borrowers. In 1939 the first bookmobile went out on the county roadways. In 1969 the library was designated one of the Commonwealth’s 28 District Centers and assumed a regional role in delivering library service throughout North Central Pennsylvania.
Capital campaigns were undertaken in 1971 and 1993 to expand the library’s growing collection and the increasing varieties of service offered that were not in existence when it was built in 1907: DVDs, microfilm machines, MP3 players, computers, CDs, and even elevators! But they would still find some of the original 12,000 books on the library’s shelves.
The James V. Brown Library provides free services to more than 1,000 customers a day, seven days a week. The library has 30,000+ card holders locally, and as a state-designated District Center offers resource sharing and advisory services for over 40 public libraries in an 11-county area of North Central Pennsylvania.
Through this website anyone can search the Brown Library’s collection of three hundred thousand plus books, DVDs, CDs and other materials online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The library’s bookmobile provides materials to special needs customers, including those in rural communities,infants and preschoolers, and senior citizens.
Today, the James V. Brown Library is finding a balance between books and technology. Our customers value both the traditional services, and readily use the new technology based services. Hundreds of people a week use the web while at the library. The library’s website receives thousands of visits per month.
Hundreds of babies, toddlers and preschool children enjoy a story time and select books–either in the Youth Services Department or from the traveling Story mobile. The library now teaches people to read through the Learning Center. While located in the quiet woods of North Central PA, the Brown Library is the tenth busiest library in the state, and owns several “one of a kind” collections not found in other metropolitan libraries.
Today about half the people who visit the James V. Brown Library come for a good book or to read. The other half come for other reasons; seeking information for work,school, or personal development.
The Brown Library is one of Williamsport’s most handsome historic buildings. Though the facility has been renovated over the years to increase space, efficiency, and to accommodate ongoing changes in technology – it still remains true to its 1907 Victorian charm. Even more important, the library remains true to its original mission: to enable people to be the best they can be, to grow, to learn and to enjoy their lives while learning!