As part of the University of Georgia’s Year 2000 millennial celebration, the University Libraries established the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame—a public awards program and a permanent Internet exhibit honoring Georgia’s most influential writers.
The mission of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is “to recognize Georgia writers, past and present, whose work reflects the character of the state—its land and its people. Although there are a few award programs in the state that recognize specific books, the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is the first to honor Georgia writers for their overall contribution to our culture.”
The organizers also conceived the Hall of Fame as a library reference, or “gateway,” program. The annual induction process and the corresponding Internet Hall of Fame exhibit are designed to introduce interested groups to the university’s unparalleled collections of Georgia literature and literary source materials.
The Hall of Fame online presence includes a virtual pantheon or “cyberhall” of digital portraits, capsule biographies, and bibliographies of the authors’ published works. These lists of published works are compiled from the catalogs of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The staff manages the nomination process of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame awards program.
The program annually solicits nominations from the public and turns the eligible nominations over to a board of volunteer judges, which consists of twelve to twenty academics, civic leaders, librarians, and publishing professionals selected for rotating three-year terms by the director of the University of Georgia Libraries, who also chairs the board. To be eligible for nomination a writer “must have been either a native of Georgia or have produced a significant work during or subsequent to a substantial time of work and/or residence in Georgia.”
The Hall of Fame officially opened in April 2000. At that time the board of judges selected a charter membership of twelve famous writers from Georgia’s history. Since then, judges have convened annually to select new members from among the nominations. From the time of their selection, all living writers are invited to serve three-year terms as ex officio members of the board of judges.