The building holds great significance in the Black Historic Sites Survey due to its connection with African American literature and culture. It boasts the most extensive collection on this subject, as well as West Coast history. This collection comprises over 10,000 items, encompassing books, newspaper clippings, art prints, and dissertations from community members (Campbell and King 2023).
Initially named in honor of Henry L. Yesler, a Jewish philanthropist who generously donated the land for the library, it underwent a renaming in 1975 to Douglass-Truth Library. This change was made to pay tribute to the influential African American figures Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.
In 2006, the library underwent renovations and expansion. A notable feature on the library's lawn is the Soul Pole, created by the local Rotary Boys Club. This pole serves as a commemorative piece, symbolizing 400 years of African American history through its intricate carvings.