Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Spelman College in 1934 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Library Science in 1938 from the University of Michigan. Between 1938 and 1944, Jones worked in the libraries at Dillard University and Southern University. In 1944, she took a position at the Detroit Public Library and in 1970 she was appointed Director, a position she held until her retirement in 1978.
In 1976, she was elected the first black president of the American Library Association and in 1978 she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science where she served until 1982. In 1990, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association presented Jones with the Trailblazer Award.