From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Academic Library Classes, Kentucky, African Americans

The first academic library classes for African Americans in Kentucky were taught in 1932 within the unaccredited library department developed by Eliza Atkins at the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes in Louisville, KY [source: Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky, by R. F. Jones]. The department was established by the Municipal College in partnership with the Louisville Western Colored Branch Library, and the classes existed off and on from 1932 to about 1940 (in 1951 the Municipal College merged with the University of Louisville).

The Western Colored Branch Library had been home to the first library training program specifically for Negroes, 1912-1931. The training program was attended by public library employees in the South. The new program in 1932 was a more scholarly effort in the training of Negro librarians within a college framework. In 1933, Virginia Lacy arrived at the Municipal College and assisted Eliza Atkins in teaching the library classes. The program had barely gotten off the ground when Eliza Atkins left the Municipal College in 1936 and in 1940 became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in library science and the first African American dean of a library school. 

Virginia Lacy left the Municipal College in 1938; she became the second African American to earn a Ph.D. in library science and the second African American dean of a library school. In 1938, Virginia Lacy left Kentucky at the exact time when Negro candidates for teaching certificates could also qualify for teacher-librarian certification [source: p. 92 in Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky, by R. F. Jones]. The Louisville Municipal College was approved by the Division of Teacher Training and Certification to be a training center for Negro school teachers and teacher-librarians. The classes were also to suffice for Negro public library employees who were seeking the qualifications the new law mandated for public librarians. Classes were held at the Louisville Municipal College, Western Colored Branch Library, and Eastern Colored Branch Library. 

From 1938-1940, classes were also offered at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University). "During the summer session of 1938 there was introduced a technical course in Library Science for the training of special and teacher librarians in the Negro high schools of the state."- - [source: Ten Year Report of Kentucky State College - 1929-1939, pp. 48-49]. The State Department of Education required 18 credit hours for certification. Too few students enrolled in the library classes at Kentucky State College; therefore, the school began referring applicants to Fisk University in Tennessee for a four year undergraduate major in library science.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Academic Library Classes, Kentucky,African Americans,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 22, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-03 09:27:54