GCL History

In 1962, long-time Germantown resident and former bank president Emma Duerrwaechter surprised the community by donating $30,000 for a building to be used as Germantown’s first library. Born in 1881, Emma grew up and attended school in Germantown.  She followed her father, Philip G. Duerrwaechter, into the family banking business.  In 1923, Emma was voted director and bank president.  She was known as “Wisconsin’s First Lady of Banking,” and remained president of the bank until 1959.  She passed away in 1969 at the age of 87.

Germantown’s first library was built on land donated by the Germantown Volunteer Fire Department on Edison Drive.  With Emma Duerrwaechter’s generous donation, a 1,800 square foot library was built on Park Avenue near Fireman’s Park.  In 1960, Germantown’s population was 622.  Initially the new library had about 2,000 holding and was open for 20 hours per week.  By the late 1970’s, the library’s holdings had grown to 19,000 and more space was needed to provide library service for Germantown’s growing population.  To this day, the former library still stands at Fireman’s Park and continues to house the offices of the Germantown Volunteer Fire Company.

By 1980, Germantown’s population had increased dramatically to 10,731.  The Duerrwwaechter Memorial Library on Park Street had outgrown its 1,800 square foot building.  In a 1981 referendum, taxpayers approved an 8,800 square foot library on Village property off Mequon Road.  When the new library opened in July of 1982, it had over 19,000 holdings and a circulation of 52, 398.

Over the next 20 years, the Village of Germantown’s population continued to grow, as did library usage.  For example between 1987 and 1996, circulation increased by 61%.  In the 2000 census, Germantown’s population increased to 18,260.  By the end of 2001, the library’s holdings had increased to 83,896, and library circulation reached an all-time high of 202,720.

In 1998, initial approval was given for a new expandable library facility to be built to the west of the current library.  The third Germantown Library building opened in 2002 on Mequon Road.  This 26,000 square foot building can be expanded by 13,000 square feet in the future.

In December of 2015, the Germantown Community Library merged with 33 libraries in Washington, Dodge, Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties to become the Monarch Library System.

The Germantown Community Library currently services 19,972 residents in the Village of Germantown and an additional 11,330 residents of surrounding areas*.  The collection holds over 145,800 physical items with an overall circulation of 277,461 items in 2017.

*2015 Wisconsin Public Library Services Data