Douglass-Truth Branch : About the Branch

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Douglass-Truth Branch

About the Douglass-Truth Branch

The Douglass-Truth Branch of The Seattle Public Library has:



The expanded Douglass-Truth Branch at 2300 E. Yesler Way reopened Oct. 14, 2006. It was the 21st project completed under the "Libraries for All" building program. (See the Douglass-Truth Branch Building Facts for more information.)


The addition was designed by Schacht Aslani Architects and built by Construction Enterprises and Contractors Inc.


The contemporary design of the addition follows historic preservation guidelines to respect, but not mimic the original library, which is a city landmark. The design preserves the form of the historic building and clearly defines the new structure. Most of the addition is below street level, to ensure the original building dominates the site.


A grand staircase extends east to the lower level, which is bathed in light from an expanse of windows and skylights. The brick and terracotta exterior wall of the historic building is still visible from the stair landing and the hall to the meeting room. The Library chose copper for the exterior of the addition because it is an old-world material that ties in with the copper gutters of the original building.


Spaces named for donors include: The Gayton Family Meeting Room; the Rae and Harry Kersch/Schultz Family Foundation Children's Area; the Louise Jones McKinney Reading Area; and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Delta Upsilon Omega Chapter Exhibit Area. (See Donors to the Douglass-Truth Branch: Named Spaces for more information.)


Auburn artist Marita Dingus created copper wire sculptures of cherubs and sea grass for the branch. Artist Vivian Linder, who lives near the branch, created three-dimensional relief panels that depict her interpretation of Aztec, Mayan and Western African influences.


Returning to the branch are paintings of former slaves and abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth by artist Eddie Ray Walker, which hung in the original building. Also intact is the Soul Pole, a totem pole depicting African-American history given to the Library in 1972 by what was then called the Rotary Boys Club.



Library service in the Central District dates back to 1914 with the opening of what was then called the Henry L. Yesler Memorial Library - the first Seattle branch library not financed by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.


The city paid to build the 8,008-square-foot branch, which was designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Harlan Thomas to resemble Carnegie's traditional floor plan. It was named after Yesler in recognition of his early efforts to start a library in Seattle.


Over the years, the demographics of the neighborhood changed and the library served foreign-born immigrants, Jews and people of Japanese and Filipino descent. After World War II, the library served a growing number of African-Americans.


But by the 1960s, circulation at the branch had dropped and the branch was threatened with closure. In 1965 the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., a national sorority of black college women, donated books to launch what was then called the Negro Life and History Collection.


In 1975 the branch was renamed the Douglass-Truth Branch, after Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.


Libraries for All capital projects and the Douglass-Truth Branch

In 1998 voters approved the $196.4 million "Libraries for All" (LFA) bond measure and The Seattle Public Library Foundation pledged to contribute privately raised money to improve the Library system. The plan included expanding the Douglass-Truth Branch.


Construction began in June 2005. The expanded branch reopened Oct. 14, 2006.

Safe Place

Douglass-Truth Branch
2300 E. Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122



10 am - 8 pm


10 am - 8 pm


10 am - 8 pm


10 am - 8 pm


10 am - 6 pm


10 am - 6 pm


1 pm - 5 pm

Regional Manager:
Steve DelVecchio

Libraries for All: Investing in Experiences