The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library is the gateway to Five Points and the Welton Street Historic District. The building merges with Sonny Lawson Park via a plaza connecting the two. The Library has three spacious levels, each with its own unique purpose.
Level One: A Full-Service Branch Library
Entering Level One is an inviting experience. This space, awash in natural light, features a 5,800 square-foot gallery. A conference room with seating for 100 people, and a smaller meeting room which seats 20 are also located on this level. Please call 720-865-2401 for information on using the meeting rooms. The circulating collection includes books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and public computers with Internet access. The Library features individual areas for children, teens, and adults, and a circulating collection with items in English and Spanish.
Level Two: Collection Archives and Research Library
The Archives provide a wide range of primary sources including photographs, manuscript collections, letters, and diaries. It also features audio and video oral histories, including the Trailblazers series: a collection of oral histories from a cross-section of Coloradans. Learn more about access to the Blair-Caldwell Reading Room.
Level Three: The Western Legacies Museum and Charles R. Cousins Gallery
From early pioneers to present-day heroes, follow the footsteps of African Americans who settled the West. An exhibition space spans more than 7,000 square feet and includes an African American Legacy corridor, a leadership hall and a replica of the Office of Former Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb. The changing Gallery highlights local Denver artists and exhibits. Tours and programming for adults and families are available throughout the year. For details, call 720-865-2420.
The History of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
The Denver Public Library Commission named the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Former Mayor Wellington Webb and First Lady Wilma Webb proposed the name, which combines the last names of Omar Blair, the first black president of the Denver school board, and Elvin Caldwell, the first black City Council member.
"Omar Blair and Elvin Caldwell made major contributions to our community and are fitting namesakes for this unique addition to the Library system," said Landri C. Taylor, Denver Public Library Commission. "We unanimously approved the proposed name for the Library because Blair and Caldwell are prominent African Americans who have given of their time and talents to bring about significant change in Denver and the West."
Background: A Missing Piece of History
Denver Former Mayor Wellington E. Webb and First Lady Wilma J. Webb had a shared vision. They envisioned a research library and museum to preserve and showcase the many contributions of African Americans to Colorado and the West. Much of that history was in private hands — those of political leaders, community organizations, churches and individuals. Other history was unwritten, still in the heads and hearts of those who had lived it. In 1999, during his third term as Mayor of Denver, Mayor and Mrs. Webb saw the urgent need to collect this legacy in one place before it was lost forever. They proposed construction of an African American Research Library as part of the Denver Public Library system. “There’s so much history, and we need to capture that for young people,” he said. “So much of it is in boxes, in basements, or in our heads.” And so the journey of gathering that history began.
By 2000, the Denver Public Library had engaged consultants and a community advisory committee to help plan the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Public meetings were held with neighborhoods that would use the facility, and Library staff began to collect personal and professional papers, publications, photographs, works of art and other memorabilia of distinguished African Americans from all walks of life. Finally, groundbreaking for the new library took place in early 2002. The Library continues to thrive as a neighborhood branch, a research library and museum. Plan your visit to the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library today.
Meet the Staff
Charleszine “Terry” Nelson
Senior Special Collection and Community Resource Manager
Charleszine “Terry” Nelson is the special collection and community resource manager for the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. With 30 years of Library experience, Nelson has been a bookmobile librarian, manager of the library film center, a reference and humanities librarian, and was the manager of Volunteer Services for the Denver Public Library. She is also the co-author (with Bonnie F. McCune) of Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Libraries, which has become a valuable manual for managers of volunteer programs throughout the nation. Born and raised in Denver, Nelson attended Manual High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a master’s degree in Information Technology and Library Science from Emporia State College.
Annie Nelson joined Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library April 2013 and is a reference librarian/archivist. Prior to becoming an employee of the DPL, Annie served as a docent at both Central and BCL for over 15 years. As a docent she worked at the information desk, in the computer lab and provided one-on-one computer lessons to customers at Central, and at BCL her focus was primarily archival work and reference services. As a librarian at BCL her current focus is reference and the archives. Prior to this position, Annie worked 14 years for the University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs as the Assistant to the Dean for two deans over that time span. Other positions include a stint at the Education Commission of the States as a Program Assistant, the Federal Deposit Corporation (in banking and finance) and the Resolution Trust Corporation (minority-and women owned law firms outreach) as a paralegal for both agencies; these positions were held in Colorado. Prior to relocating to Colorado, Annie served as a paralegal in the legal division for the Louisiana State Department of Environmental Quality. Born in Oakland, Mississippi, Annie attended Saint Catherine Labourệ High School in St. Louis, Missouri, earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, a historically black university, and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver (graduated with honors). Annie also earned a certificate of paralegal studies from Louisiana State University.
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Staff
Our friendly and efficient staff is here to help you with research, checking out materials, reference questions and more.