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. Our friendly and efficient staff is here to help you with research, checking out materials, reference questions and more.