The Springfield City Library has had a profound impact on tens of thousands of patrons throughout its history, but for Mary K. Brogan, the Library and, in particular, the Reference Department, were essential to her professional career as a Private Investigator. Ms. Brogan practiced her profession in the City of Springfield for several decades beginning in the mid-1960s and passed away in October, 2020 at 92 years of age. Now thanks to a significant bequest from Ms. Brogan’s estate, she is going to play an equally essential role in the future of the Library’s collections and other resources for decades to come.
The Library Foundation worked closely with Ms. Brogan’s niece, Judith Cramer, Ph.D., to design a plan that would fittingly honor both Ms. Brogan and her husband, John J. Brogan, who practiced law in the City. “Our Board of Directors felt very strongly about publicly recognizing Mary Brogan as both a major benefactor and as a pioneering woman professional in a field typically associated with hard-boiled men in rumply suits,” said Matt Blumenfeld, the Library Foundation’s Executive Director. “It’s such a great story, and a testament to Mary Brogan’s intelligence and fortitude that she was able to use the Library’s resources so extensively in her work – it’s a prime example of how the Library provides tremendous value for patrons in ways one doesn’t typically consider.”
Recently, the Foundation Board of Directors voted to establish the Mary K. and John J. Brogan Endowment Fund to provide a permanent source of funding for the Library’s Reference Department. “We expect that the Brogan Fund will add approximately $12,500 per year to the Reference budget,” said Patrick Markey, the Library Foundation President. In addition, the Foundation is using $50,000 from the fund to create the Business Center and Reference Desk at the East Forest Park Branch and $50,000 to create the new Brogan Research Center at Wellman Hall at the Central Library. “Together these commitments will help keep the City Library relevant for patrons of all ages,” said Mr. Markey.
Mayor Sarno states, “On behalf of the City of Springfield, I want to express our heartfelt thanks to Mary K. Brogan, Attorney John J. Brogan and their niece Judy Cramer for this incredibly thoughtful and powerful commitment. Mary Brogan’s gift will help ensure that our residents continue to have a world class library system, and I hope this gift will inspire many others to consider giving back in whatever way they can.”
“It is fitting that we make this wonderful announcement here at the Central Library, which was built through the generosity and foresight of Andrew Carnegie, the City of Springfield and many generous local benefactors,” said Mr. Markey. “There’s a terrific Carnegie quote about the importance of public libraries that I think is as fitting today as it was so many years ago. Carnegie said ‘A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.’ The bequest from Mary Brogan adds substantially to that spring here in our City and will enable generations of library patrons to quench their thirst for critical knowledge in perpetuity.”
“On behalf of my aunt and uncle and the entire Cramer and Brogan families, I am very pleased to see the ways in which these funds will be used,” said Dr. Cramer. “My grandfather, my aunt’s father, Harry R. Cramer, was a school teacher in Springfield and so my aunt grew up in an environment in which education was highly valued. The reference room at the Central Library was a constant and essential source of invaluable information for her. It was central to her conducting her research, and the Reference Department and its devoted staff were essential to her work as a private investigator. She spoke often of using the old Criss-Cross directory to find addresses and calling the reference librarians for other research material she might need in her investigations. My aunt was so grateful to have these resources available to her, and knowing that this bequest will continue to make these types of resources available for students, researchers and other patrons brings our family great joy.”
According to City Library Director, Molly Fogarty, the Information Services (formerly known as Reference) Department is busier than ever, and the new Brogan Fund will play a huge role in keeping services and resources up-to-date. “So many of today’s resources are available electronically, and as costs rise, it is critical to be able to subscribe to the databases, journals and other resources that patrons need. The type of questions asked of our staff has changed as well. More patrons request help doing things – learning how to do genealogical research on their families, finding out how to start a business, and learning how to use electronic resources for work, school and personal interest. Reference is now more about helping patrons to problem solve. The Brogan Fund will help us expand our reach where its needed most, and I am so excited and grateful.”
“I'm sure Mrs. Brogan is smiling down upon us with today’s announcement,” said Stephen Cary, Chair of the Springfield Library Commission. “While some might question why we need a library in the internet age, my answer, backed by data, is that we need public libraries precisely because of the web. Give the same term to both a search engine like Google and to a professional Reference Librarian, and sure, Google will deliver millions of leads in a fraction of a second, the vast majority of which will lead you nowhere or to someone trying to sell you something. Give five minutes to a Reference Librarian and you will get 5-10 solid high-quality leads, which I guarantee will actually get you where you need to go. This sure seemed to work well for Private Investigator Brogan and thanks to this legacy gift, thousands of our patrons will be able to learn to solve their own mysteries and challenges.”
“The Library Foundation has been a strong steward of numerous gifts large and small that have been made by generous individuals over centuries, and we intend to continue this legacy far into the future,” said Mr. Markey. “Since 2005, thanks to the generosity of donors like Mary Brogan the Foundation has contributed more than $6.5 million to the Springfield City Library, for books and materials, support of the branches, and for staff development and programs. Today’s announcement continues this legacy and enables all of us to play our part and make a positive contribution to the future of the City of Springfield.”
About the Springfield Library Foundation
The Springfield Library Foundation was formed in 2005 and is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, not-for-profit corporation organized and operated exclusively for the benefit of the Springfield City Library. The Foundation has two primary purposes:
1. To responsibly steward and manage endowed and other funds entrusted to the Foundation’s care by donors going back more than a century.
2. To encourage philanthropy and raise new funds, both restricted and unrestricted, in support of the Library’s programs, materials, services, and facilities.
Fulfilling these two purposes enriches the lives of every library patron, and ensures that Springfield’s library system remains vibrant and responsive to community needs. To learn more, visit http://www.springfieldlibrary.org/library/about/promise-realized/ or contact Matt Blumenfeld at MBlumenfeld@springfieldlibrary.org.