Fr. Joseph P. Browne, C.S.C., died Sunday, October 30, 2016 at Notre Dame at the age of 87. He gave many years of faithful service at the University of Portland, most notably as director of the Clark Library.
Ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1955, Fr. Browne’s academic career began as an instructor in moral theology at Holy Cross College (Washington, DC). He was, however, the newest and latest hire, and so, as he reports with a continuing sense of question and whimsy, “it fell to me to take classes at nearby Catholic University where they had a School of Library Science”. His superiors having read in his character and talents the future of a professionally-trained librarian. As a newly minted librarian he was sent on his way to UP and the University’s library science program. Two years later he was named University Librarian upon the retirement of Br. David Martin, C.S.C.; a position Fr. Browne was to hold twice — 1966 to 1970, and from 1976 until his retirement in 1994. (During the pause between his stints as library director he was lent out as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1970-73.)
During Fr. Browne’s years as director the Clark Library doubled in size, expanded and remodeled in 1979. At the same time automated systems were introduced and the library ventured into early interlibrary cooperatives for the purpose of collection and resource sharing with Portland area libraries (PORTALS) and other colleges and universities throughout the Northwest (NAPCU), leading directly to today’s membership in the Orbis Cascade Alliance (Summit).
Upon retiring from UP, Fr. Browne became pastor of St. Birgitta Parish (Portland) from 1994-2004. In 2009, he moved to Holy Cross House at Notre Dame where he resided until his death.
Among Fr. Browne’s awards and achievements: President of the Catholic Library Association, 1971-73; The Culligan Faculty Award in 1979; and the Holy Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface distinguished service award in 2008. He was also State Chaplain for the Oregon Knights of Columbus and an expert in parliamentary procedure. His jacket-lapel sometimes sporting the keys of St. Peter, other times, crossed gavels. A Religious, a Priest, a Librarian, a Parliamentarian: obedient and admiring and a servant of good order.
(Photo gallery from the University Archives and Log Yearbooks, click on images to enlarge)