Opened March 29, 1971, the Douglass Branch for Specialized Services was named in honor of Frederick Douglass, the gifted orator and civil rights leader of the Civil War period, and the well-known Scripps-Booth family, who were benefactors of the library in numerous areas. James E. Scripps was a member of the Detroit Library Commission from 1900 to 1905.
The Douglass Branch is located on the former estate of George G. Booth (James E. Scripps' son-in-law), a Detroit philanthropist, who donated his land and house to the city of Detroit in 1905 with the requirement that it become a public park and a branch library. The house was used as a public library until around 1966, when it was demolished to make way for the existing building.
The distinguishing feature of the Douglass Branch is the Frederick Douglass Mural, which depicts the meeting between Frederick Douglass and John Brown that took place in Detroit in March of 1859. Created by muralist Leroy Foster, it measures 10 feet by 12 feet and was in the Douglass Branch at the time of its opening. The Douglass Branch provides Library On Wheels (LOW), a city-wide bookmobile, which provides door-to-door service to senior centers, apartment buildings, nursing homes, and adult foster homes. Another service housed in this branch is the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which provides talking books and computers equipped with assistive hardware and software.