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Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library

Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library
Title: Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library
Release Date: 2018-12-01
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 45
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Colored Branches
Louisville Free Public Library

An illustrated description of the buildings together with some interesting
figures concerning their cost, equipment and use. Issued
to mark the Tenth Anniversary of the opening of
the first free public library in America
exclusively for colored readers.


When you see a book think of the
Public Library

in the
of the
For Fiscal Year Ending August 31, 1916

Circulation—adult17 821 9 289 27 110
juvenile18 597 18 282 36 879
 ——— ——— ———
 36 418 27 571 63 989
Class room collections   37 303
Stations    3 841
Total circulation through all agencies  105 133
Borrowers registered 632 270 902
Cards in force 4 025 1 298 5 323
Borrowers registered since opening 8 254 1 298 9 552
Reference topics looked up 3 493 1 484 4 977
Persons assisted in reference work since opening 29 501 3 476 32 977
Pictures loaned 1 942 805 2 747
Books added 1 484 875 2 359
Total books in library 11 269 3 850 15 119
Current periodicals and newspapers received   142
Meetings held in libraries during the year    498
Attendance at meetings    11 628
Following clubs meet regularly in the buildings:
Bannecker Reading CircleDouglass Debating Club
Fisk ClubAthletic Association
Dorcas Literary ClubJefferson County Teachers Association
Artisans ClubMinisterial Alliance
Girls Dramatic ClubParent-Teachers Association
Normal School Gymnastic Class    Girls Club
Physical Culture ClubMothers Congress
Wilberforce ClubStory hour
Y. W. C. A.

Staff--Colored Branches

Staff—Colored Branches

Colored Branches
Louisville Free Public Library

In organizing the public library for Louisville it was plannedto have separate buildings for colored readers. The systemconsists of the Main library, eight branches, 230 class room collectionsin 35 school buildings and 62 stations, a total of 301 centersfor the circulation of books for home use. This includes twobranches, 52 class room collections in 13 school buildings and 6stations, a total of 60 centers for colored readers. The totalcirculation of books for the year was 1,045,077. Of this number104,771 volumes were used by colored readers.

History. After the opening of the Main library, the coloredbranch came next. It was opened on September 23, 1905 in temporaryquarters in a residence on Chestnut Street between Tenthand Eleventh. This was the first free public library in Americaexclusively for colored readers and it marked an epoch in thedevelopment of the race. At the same time the Library Boardpurchased a corner lot, 69 by 120 feet, at Tenth and ChestnutStreets. On this site was erected a Carnegie building which wasoccupied: October 29, 1908.

Western Colored Branch

Western Colored Branch

The Western Colored Branch building is 77 feet long and 45feet wide and is built of brick and stone with tile roof. The buildinghas a main floor and basement. On the main floor near theentrance is the delivery desk and back of it are large tables forreading and reference. To the left on entering is a newspaperalcove, the librarian’s office and the special room for children.To the right on entering is the magazine alcove, a study room andthe special room for adults. The basement floor contains a largelecture room, two class rooms and supply and boiler rooms. Thebuilding is heated throughout by hot water. The furniture andshelving are beautiful in design and finish, and provision is madefor free access to all the books. The arrangement is one of convenienceand comfort for those who wish to read or study or toget a book for home use.

Cost of Building and Equipment

Site $3,105.00
Improving grounds 1,123.68$4,228.68
Building construction30,935.33
Books, pamphlets and periodicals 10,500.00
Total $47,410.64
Eastern Colored Branch

Eastern Colored Branch

The work at the first colored branch library proved so successfulthat a second Carnegie building was erected in the eastern partof the city. This is known as the Eastern Colored Branch, andwas opened with appropriate exercises January 28, 1914.

The building is well adapted for library and social centeruses. It occupies a site 75 by 150 feet at Lampton and HancockStreets. The site cost $5000 of which amount $1000 was raisedby colored citizens. The building is 60 by 80 feet, built of brick,concrete and stone with tile roof, and has a main floor and basement.The first floor contains the library room accommodating10,000 volumes, the librarian’s office, and an auditorium to seat350 people. The basement has three class rooms for club use, aplayroom, 37 by 40 feet, cloak room, boiler room, etc. An experimentalgarden is under cultivation in the “L” of the buildingand arrangements are under way to equip a playground 60 by 75feet in the rear.

Cost of Building and Equipment

Improving grounds 1,000.00$6,000.00
Building construction19,250.81
Books, pamphlets and periodicals  4,500.00
Total $31,024.31
Interior Western Colored Branch

Interior Western Colored Branch

Books in the Libraries. The libraries contain 13,655volumes; Western 10,554, Eastern 3,101, and receive 137 currentperiodicals and newspapers, all of which are for free use. Newbooks are being added constantly and readers are urged to makesuggestions for additions which they feel are needed and shouldbe added to the library.

Registration. Since the opening 8,958 persons have registeredas borrowers and there are now 4,866 cards in force. This numberhowever does not represent all who use the libraries. There arenumerous readers daily using books at the tables and there areschool room collections which are used by the school children.

Circulation. Since the opening of the libraries 595,048volumes have been drawn for home use. The following table ofcirculation by years is interesting:

1905-06 17,838
1906-07 30,419
1907-08 35,910
1908-09 50,386
1909-10 58,870
1910-11 65,175
1911-12 73,462
1912-13 72,222
1913-14 85,995
1914-15 104,771
Total 595,048
Interior Eastern Colored Branch

Interior Eastern Colored Branch

Reference Work. A large amount of reference work isdone with the pupils and teachers of high schools and gradedschools. Since the opening of the libraries 27,968 persons havebeen assisted in reference work by the librarians. It is impossibleto keep an accurate account of the questions asked and informationgiven.

Apprentice Class. The library conducts annually an apprenticeclass for those who desire to enter library service. An examinationis held in June to enter a class which begins work in September.In preparing for service apprentices are given three months’work under the direction of the branch librarian, heads of departmentsand chief librarian. The course has been taken by twelvepersons, four of whom came from other cities, Houston, Evansville,Memphis and Cincinnati, preparing for service in coloredbranches in these cities. Arrangements are being made to admitthree young women from other cities to take the apprentice workwith this year’s class.

Educational Center. Close co-operation with teachers issought in work with the schools. The libraries not only helppupils during the school life but enable them to continue studiesafter leaving school.

Interior Eastern Colored Branch

Story Hour

Social Center. Aside from circulating books and doingreference work, the libraries encourage and assist in all efforts tothe advancement of our citizens to a social betterment. Thepeople are made to feel that the libraries belong to them and thatthey may be used for anything that makes for the public welfare.During a single month forty meetings have been held in the buildings.The following clubs and reading circles meet regularly:

Artisan’s Club
Banneker Reading Circle
Bena Mowya Club
Big Sisters’ Committee
Douglass Debating Club
Douglass Glee Club
Fisk Club
Girls’ Club
Girls’ Gymnastic Club
I. K. B. Club
Jefferson County Teachers’ Institute
Mu-So-Lit Reading Club
Normal Alumni
Normal School Gymnastic Class
Parent Teachers’ Association
Story Hour
Sunday School Training Class
Wilberforce Club
Y. W. C. A.
Douglass Debating Club

Douglass Debating Club

Meetings in the Libraries. The Story Hour is the children’sdelight and is held weekly under the direction of a trained storyteller.In addition to the pleasure that the stories give, newexperiences are brought to the children, their imagination is enlargedand an interest is created in books and reading. A storytelling contest is held annually and prizes are given to the childrenwho can best reproduce a story told during the year.

The Douglass Debating Club is composed of high school boysand meets weekly under the direction of the branch librarian.The purpose of the club is to acquaint its members with parliamentaryusages, to keep before them the great current questionsand to train them to speak in public. Public debates are givenoccasionally and a prize contest is held annually. Followingare some of the subjects debated:

“That the right of suffrage should be extended to women.”

“That the influence of women has contributed more to civilizationthan that of men.”

“That the North American Indian has had greater opportunityfor development than the Afro-American.”

“That Lincoln was a greater American than Washington.”

“That the United States was justified in taking up armsagainst Mexico.”

“That Germany was justified in taking up arms against theAllies.”

“That the United States should interfere to stop the internalstrife in Mexico.”

Popularity of the Library

The following expressions are selected from letters written bypatrons of the Colored Branches:

“Next to the Public School, I regard the Public Library as the mostimportant educational institution in the city for our people.”

W. B. Matthews, Principal
Central Colored

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