We certainly don't need another reason to mourn for the loss of Prince, but we have one anyway. It turns out that Prince saved the Western Branch Library in Louisville from closure back in 2001. So in addition to being a musical legend, an amazing activist, and an inspiration to people everywhere, it seems he was also someone who saved a library. And although he tragically passed away last week at the age of only 57, the library remains.
The historic Western Branch Library, which opened in 1905, was the first full-service library in the U.S. to exclusively serve African Americans. It also had an all-black staff. Almost a century later, however, the library was having financial problems, and in 2001, it looked as though the Louisville Free Public Library system would be forced to shut down the Western Branch Library. At least, until Prince heard about it.
Following posts from library personnel on social media about the gift after Prince's passing, Louisville Free Public Library confirmed to Insider that Prince made a donation of $12,000 in 2001 that he intended for "community building efforts at Western." Apparently, the musician requested that the gift be kept secret.
“He didn’t want people to know. He just wanted to do the right thing without a lot of fanfare and accolades," explained Haven Harrington, a former library employee, on Facebook.
The Western Branch Library houses archives of African-American literary magnets Joseph S. Cotter Sr. and the Rev. Thomas F. Blue, as well as other collections. They host host numerous programs for the community, including story time for pre-schoolers and toddlers, movie screenings, book discussions for adults, classes on how to use social media, and tours of their archives.
Prince may be gone, but his legacy remains, including the legacy of the Western Branch Library. Long may its patrons read.