The history of library service in Brownsville/Haywood County begins in the early 1900's. Correspondence was begun between Mayor Bomar of Brownsville and the secretary to Mr. Andrew Carnegie in 1909. Mr. Carnegie was favorable in his response to the request to help start a library in the town. Construction of the Carnegie Library was completed in 1910. It took two years to furnish and staff the library. The Carnegie Library, located at 121 W. Main St. in Brownsville, opened to the public in 1912. The first Library Director was Mrs. Dabney Sherrill.
In 1957, the Carnegie Library joined the Regional Library System of Tennessee and was renamed the Bownsville-Haywood County Library. The library was offering much to the citizens of Brownsville and Haywood County. All manner of books and materials were being checked out and programs were offered on a regular basis; however, space was very limited as the collections grew. By the late 1980s the building wa bulging at the seams. Another benefactor stepped forward.
Mr. Dick Ross approached the Library Board and Director, the City of Brownsville and Haywood County with an astounding offer. Mr. Ross offered to give the library $250,000.00 if the county and city would each match with $125,000.00 to build a new library at a new location with the stipulation that the library be named after his wife Miss Elma. This offer could not be refused. Construction began on the new library in 1991.
In May 1992, construction was finished, and the newly constructed Elma Ross Public Library located at 1011 E. Main St. in Brownsville was opened to the public, where service to the community continues today.
The Elma Ross Public Library offers the following materials in Fiction and Non-Fiction: Books in Regular and Large Print, Audio Books on Cassette Tape and CD, Newspapers and Magazines, VHS Videos and DVDs, Interlibrary Loan Services, Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), Regional E-Book and Audio-Book Download System (READS), Public Access Computers with Internet, Wi-Fi Wireless Hotspot, and the Reese J. Moses-Scallions Genealogy Room.