Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
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istoric district, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History opened May 1994 in Atlanta. A special library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (A-FPLS), it is the first public library in the Southeast to offer specialized reference and archival collections dedicated to the study and research of African American culture and history and of other peoples of African descent. In 2001 the library received a Governor's Award in the Humanities.
From 1921 until the branch closed in 1959, numerous women of color managed and administered the facility and provided educational and community programming. Among them were Alice Dugged Cary and Annie L. McPheeters, who was responsible for much of the development of the core collection, known as the Negro History Collection, in size and significance. A special, noncirculating collection, it was formally organized in 1934, the same year McPheeters was appointed
The Negro History Collection comprised the volumes owned by the Auburn Branch in combination with titles acquired through an adult education project sponsored by the American Association of Adult Education, the American Library Association, and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Later, a group of children's books—named for Arna Bontemps, a noted Harlem Renaissance writer who became a children's book author and librarian—were added. From the mid-1930s to the late 1940s the collection grew to include bound copies of magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals by, for, and about African Americans, including the Atlanta Daily World, Crisis, Journal of Negro Education, and Negro History Bulletin.
Duringdesegregated in 1959, the collection remained at the West Hunter Branch, where McPheeters served as librarian until her retirement from the library system in 1966.
In granite at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Courtland Street. Following almost fifteen years of growth, however, the library outgrew its space. On November 4, 2008, Fulton County voters approved a library bond referendum, which included funds to enhance and expand the facility.
The Auburn Avenue Research Library consists of three divisions: reference and research, archives, and program. Together, the divisions support the library's mission "to promote specialized library service, archival resources, and culturally/educationally related activities essential for study and use by the general public, students, and scholars of the culture and history of peoples of African descent."
Located on the second floor, the archives division preserves and makes available unique historical records of enduring value related primarily to African American culture and history, with a concentration on local Atlanta history. These primary sources include not only textual and special media records (cartographic records, graphic arts, still photographs, sound recordings, and moving images) but also art and artifacts, microforms, rare book collections, and textiles. Archives staff assist patrons on-site in the archives reading room, which includes research tables, private study carrels, and exhibition cases, and makes collections Web-accessible through finding aids presented by the Digital Library of Georgia, an initiative of GALILEO, the state's virtual library.
The program division supports the library's mission and serves the public through book discussions and readings, exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, seminars, tours, and workshops. The facility accommodates these activities on the third and fourth floors—through an auditorium, small gallery, and conference rooms—and on the main level via two exhibition spaces, including the Cary/McPheeters Gallery. Through its cultural, educational, and scholarly programming—which is local, national, and transnational in scope—the program division helps interpret and highlight the institution's rich collections and provides outreach to the general public, as well as to Atlanta's academic community.
Ideally located in downtown Atlanta, the Auburn Avenue Research Library is a short walking distance to numerous visitor and tourist destinations, restaurants and retail shopping, and historic districts, and is part of the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.
Media Gallery: Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History