Archive for the ‘Archives & History’ Category

October is officially Georgia Archives Month! Archivists from all over Georgia attended the official proclamation signing at the Capitol last Tuesday.  Georgia’s many archival institutions offer a variety of great resources.  If you have never explored an archives, it’s a great time to explore! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgia-Archives-Month/192293157461205







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Informative rambles around Decatur Cemetery are sponsored by the Friends of Decatur Cemetery on the second Sunday of each month now through October. New information gleaned from ongoing research has expanded the content of these tours, so if it has been a while since you joined a stroll, come meet some of Decatur’s oldest residents. Tours last about an hour and begin at the Gazebo off Commerce Drive at 2:30 p.m. For more information email friendsofdecaturcemetery@gmail.com.

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When you stroll through the stalls of books or enjoy readings from the authors during the nationally celebrated Decatur Book Festival, imagine a time when libraries and access to books were limited or even censored.  We are fortunate the times have changed.  Resources are widely available and freedom of expression is valued and protected.  In the early 1930’s, when the country was reeling from the 1929 stock market crash and people were struggling to put food on their plates, the Decatur Public Library was in its beginning stages limited by laws and resources.

Although Georgia’s Municipal Library Law was enacted in 1901, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the state tax laws allowed for towns and counties to contract for library services across governmental lines.  Most local libraries were housed in buildings with other civic or commercial functions.

Decatur’s first public library formed in 1907 in Lithonia.  In February 1911, the Decatur Library was continued from the good will of a few citizens of the county. (Atlanta Georgian and News, February 4, 1911, Digital Library of Georgia).  Some years later the Decatur Public Library was housed in the Decatur Bank & Trust Building, then upstairs inside City Hall and staffed with the best intentions of bringing reading accessibility to the community.  Decatur’s present library, located on Sycamore St and designed by Edwards & Sayward Architects was opened in 1950.

Library collections were often contracted out by a commercial company.  The Dixie Lending Library was a family business that contracted for library resources to Atlanta and Decatur libraries.  Dixie Lending Library was considered a commercial rental library and was a subsidiary of the Fiction Lover’s Library, operating in the District of Columbia area around 1923.  The Dixie Lending Library served Georgia, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.   The document images below are samples of the early days.  These records reveal some of the limitations of the selection process:



In 1935 the Georgia Library Commission adopted several objectives, set forth a plan and by 1936 seven trained librarians working with the WPA were dispersed around Georgia serving as area or district supervisors.  Even by 1944 public library service was available to less than half of the population and most existing library services had limited trained personnel and book resources.  President Kennedy began the real push for reforming and upgrading the nation’s libraries introducing the Library & Services Construction Act in 1963.  President Johnson signed the LSCA into law July 1966.  It was at that point that public libraries across the country began to gain ground.

How far things have come!  Decatur has hosted the nationally recognized and increasingly popular Book Festival for the past 8 years.  A historic screen snapshot on the WayBack Machine in the Internet Archive: 2006 AJC Decatur Book Festival web page, shows just how popular the festival has become over time.   Well known authors, poets and emerging authors all flock to the AJC Decatur Book Festival each year in ever increasing numbers and it has become one of the South’s celebrated venues wrapping up the summer.  It’s always a celebration of ideas and the freedom of expression.

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