Douglass Library

Michael Burns wrote a description of the history of the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, which was started in the Douglass Center, a community center funded by the Black community in Champaign.  An excerpt is below


In April 1970, a group of students from the Graduate School of Library Sciences at UIUC, with input from the local black community, submitted a proposal to Champaign and Urbana Public Libraries and the Lincoln Trails Library System to install a library at the Douglass Center. While it had long been a hub of activity in the black community, library services at the Douglass Center consisted largely of donated books. The North End never had a library of its own. A year later, the Douglass Center housed a full-fledged library and Miriam Butler was appointed as its first director.

At the top of the library’s letterhead was the image of an open book with a raised black fist, a symbol of the Black Power era. On the pages of the book read the library’s slogan, “A Black Library for the Black Community.” The Douglass Library soon became a favorite hang-out for local youth. Library staff hosted a story hour, special programs, and offered day-care for children. Among the most popular events was a program called “A Soul Experience” which attracted some 350 people. In April 1971, the first month that materials were lent from the library, only 37 books were checked out. However, by August there was a circulation of more than books. In 1972, the Douglass Library officially became a branch of the Champaign Public Library.

(full transcript available at

The Douglass Library continues to be a valuable resource to the Champaign community, and we are fortunate and happy to be able to partner with the library through Mix IT Up!  More information about the Douglass Library is located at



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