Libraries were some of the quickest building to be integrated!
Before the internet, libraries were the beacons of knowledge—like a Wikipedia that you really had to work hard at to find an answer.
They offered imaginations to soar and brains to flex—and were one of the first establishments to end segregation.
Due to their symbol of freedom and right to knowledge, libraries became popular spots to protest during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
African Americans would stage “study-ins” in the South which lead to a lot of hefty fines and suspensions, and in some extreme cases were detained. Libraries that were open to African Americans lacked the same material that “White only” establishments enjoyed, and many students found that unsuitable.
Libraries became integrated much quicker than other public institutions, including schools. The attitude was more relaxed and made for some really unique places for “social imagination.”
And while not all public libraries were ready to take segregation seriously, it ended up being a major first step to civil liberty.