The Dorothy Bramlage Public Library was established in May of 1983. Previously, Junction City's library had been the George Smith Public Library. This first library, named after the Junction City resident who founded it, opened in March of 1908.
Having come through its pioneer years, in the early 1900s Junction City was a firmly established community with businesses, schools, churches, and agricultural developments. It lacked, however, a library - as well as funds to build one.
When George Smith, a wealthy businessman, died in 1905, he left his entire $75,000 estate to the city for the purpose of building a library. He specified that the library was to be constructed at the corner of Seventh and Washington Streets as a two-story building. The library was to be housed on the second floor of this building with local businesses on the first floor. Rent from these businesses' owners was to be given to the library as a means of continued support.
It was a creative idea. Unfortunately, because the library could only be reached by climbing a steep 27-step flight of stairs, it was inaccessible to many patrons. Moreover, while its limited 5,200 square feet adequately housed the library's initial collection of books, by the mid-1970s, books were shelved in double rows (the back row hidden behind the first) as well as in windowsills.
In 1980 the library proposed the construction of a new, 20,000 square-foot, single-level library to the City Commission. When funding once again proved lacking, local resident Fred Bramlage donated $750,000 to build and equip the new facility, asking that it be named in honor of his wife Dorothy. A private donor offered another $50,000. While these funds were insufficient to construct the proposed 20,000 square-foot building, they provided for one of 13,000 square feet.
Junction City donated the site for the new library, and on May 5, 1983, the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library opened its doors. In the three decades since then, the library has continued to grow and expand its services. Responding to changing times, it is no longer merely a building full of books, but is a thriving (though still quiet) environment serving the community's reading, research, technological, educational, social, and meeting space needs. The George Smith Library still stands today serving as a reception hall.