The Skillman Branch Library, Detroit, Michigan

Libraries We Love – The Skillman Branch Library, Detroit, Michigan

The key to understanding people and the world around us begins with education. One way to learn about the world is by developing a love of books. Each month, we profile a library. Large, small, urban, rural, post-modern, quaint or neo-classic; do you have a library that you love? Tell us about it. This month, Patricia Vaccarino writes about the Skillman Branch Library in Detroit, Michigan.


The Skillman Branch Library is a public library that is affiliated with the Detroit Public Library System. The branch initially opened in 1932 as the Downtown Library. The library’s art deco, rotund-shaped building features an old-fashioned “Newspaper Room,” where you can easily imagine a slew of 1930s beat reporters whirling in and out of its brass revolving door.

The respect once accorded to journalists can be viewed by reading the inscription above the Library’s front entrance: The Wealth of the Mind is the Only True Wealth. A Library has always been a hollowed place for reporters to verify facts and chase scoops for stories as much as it is the place for every man, woman and child to expand awareness.

This library has had a succession of sketchy closings and reopenings. It closed in 1998 but was restored and then reopened in 2004. At the top of 2018, it closed for reasons unknown, reopening unceremoniously several months later. The link to its website is broken, the online listing has broken links and its Facebook page has been inactive for two years. Yet the library lives on, and even during the pandemic is open most days of the week from 10am to 6pm.

The Library has grand staircases, stained glass windows and vast painted ceilings that make it feel as welcoming and as intimate as a small church. Its most unique feature resides among its collection. The Library houses the National Automotive History Collection that expands beyond a trove of books but also contains artifacts relating to motorized transportation in the United States.

The Downtown Library was renamed the Rose & Robert Skillman Branch Library to acknowledge a major gift from the Skillman Foundation, a reminder that it takes more than good ideas to keep a library running. Dollars are needed too.

Contact Information:

Skillman Branch (Detroit Public Library)

121 Gratiot

Detroit, MI 48226



There is no website or functional link for the library.

Here is an Online listing  Detroit Public Library


The Library is open during the pandemic but check by phone or email to verify hours.

NOTE: The National Automotive History Collection can ONLY be viewed by making a prior appointment.


















Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino is an accomplished writer who has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, essays, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and nine books.

Comments Join The Discussion