Countee Cullen Library (Manhattan, NY)

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Place Category: Library

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  • We are home to the James Weldon Johnson Reference Collection for children, located in the Children’s Room on the second floor; books on the African-American experience; a reference collection, including college catalogs and financial aid information; and the African-American/Black Culture reference collection.

    The Countee Cullen Branch gives Harlem residents of all ages access to library services delivered in a friendly and effective manner, which will:

    • enable them to find, evaluate, and use information effectively
    • provide the materials, programs, and services needed to meet their information and recreational needs
    • provide information related to services offered by community agencies and organizations
    • enable them to explore the rich Harlem culture and history

    The Countee Cullen Branch opened on January 14, 1905, as the 135th Street Branch, in a building designed by McKim, Mead and White, with funds given by Andrew Carnegie. This original building is now part of The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 1941, having outgrown its quarters, the library moved to its present location, a building designed by Louis Allen Abramson. Ten years later the library was renamed for poet and teacher Countee Cullen (1903–1946), an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance and the library’s friend and neighbor. The library occupies the site of A’Lelia Walker’s townhouse, which was a gathering place for artists and writers during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s; A’Lelia was the daughter of beauty products tycoon Madam C. J. Walker. The library was renovated in 1990, and is wheelchair accessible.

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