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

Western Colored Branch Library, Louisville, KY (Jefferson County)

The library originally opened on September 23, 1905, in a home in Louisville, KY; the books were shelved in three rooms. In 1908, permission was sought and funds were received from the Carnegie Corporation, and a permanent library was built at the corner of Tenth and Chestnut Streets. It was the first Carnegie Colored Library in the United States; it still operates at the same location. From 1912-1931, the library housed the first library training program for African Americans in the United States. This was also the period when Louisville hired more African American librarians than any other city in the U.S. In addition to the library, the Western Colored Branch Library supported 69 classroom collections in 26 colored schools in Louisville, and a number of deposit library stations within Negro businesses and organizations. For more see A Separate Flame; Western Branch; the first African American Library and the video recording of the same title (available in the University of Kentucky's Audio Visual Services' Media Library collection); and Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky, by R. F. Jones. See also A list of books selected from titles in the Western Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library recommended for first purchase. Compiled by Thomas F. Blue and Rachel D. Harris [available online in the Kentucky Digital Library].


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: A separate flame, Western Branch: the first African-American public library (videorecording)
NKAA Source: Library service to African Americans in Kentucky, from the Reconstruction Era to the 1960s

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Western Colored Branch Library, Louisville, KY (Jefferson County),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 26, 2021,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 18:15:20