Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
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.
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.
Ron Chepesiuk, "Schomburg of the South: The Auburn Avenue Research Library," American Libraries 27 (February 1996): 38-40.
Clifford M. Kuhn, Harlon E. Joye, and E. Bernard West, Living Atlanta: An Oral History of the City, 1914-1948 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990).
Annie L. McPheeters, Library Service in Black and White: Some Personal Recollections, 1921-1980 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1988).
Wesley Chenault, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.