|At this time, the earliest reference
I have found to library service in Terrell County is the History
of Terrell County Georgia by Ella Christie Melton and
Augusta Griggs Raines. In May 4, 1871, "The
Bottle," a temperance drama was presented to raise funds
for a library. Again, that same month, the Excelsior
Debating Society raised $35 dollars for the library through a
debate on "Is the education of man more important than that
of a woman."
The first Library Association in Terrell County was organized
May 3, 1878. The officers were A.J. Baldwin, President,
W.H.H. Allen, Vice-President, J.G. Parks, Treasurer, U.L.
Weston, Secretary. Other board members were J.D. Hoyl,
C.R. Moore, and J.H. Guerry.
The "library hall" was located in one of the
editorial rooms of the Dawson Journal.
It would appear that this effort was not sustained because,
it is recorded that the Dawson Library Association was formed in
1906 as an outgrowth of the Wednesday Afternoon Club. The
officers were Mrs. J.D. Jordan, President, Mrs. F.M. McNulty,
Treasurer, and Mrs. Lucius Lamar, Secretary. The Club had
32 members and organizational meeting was held at the home of
Minnie Bridges. The library was located in a room over T.D.
Lee's drug store. Fanny Cheatham, known, as "Miss
Pet," was the first librarian.
Miss Cheatham was paid $40 a month. Members of the
Dawson Library Association were accessed $.25 each. I do
not know if this was a one time fee or if there was an annual
After a couple of years the library moved to the city council
room over the fire department.
The present Carnegie Library building was constructed 76
years ago in 1914.
The building became the responsibility of the City of Dawson
in 1924. The City Council appointed the trustees to
the Board. Members were: Mrs. Ed Bell, chairman,
Miss Louise McNulty, Mrs. Lucius Lamar, Mrs. D.C. Pickett, and
Mrs. J.M. Griggs.
The first bookmobile service began in 1938.
After Miss Cheatham's death in the late forties, Pat Turner
(later married Calvin Schramm) served as librarian until 1950.
The full record includes:
1906-late forties Miss Fanny Cheatham, Librarian
Late forties - 1950 Miss Pat Turner, later Mrs. Pat Turner
1950-1953 Mrs. Lillian Cowart, Librarian
1953-1954 Henry Shearhouse, Librarian
1954-1970 Mrs. S.J. Smith, Regional Director
September 1, 1970-August, 1970 Mrs. Dorris Wightman, Acting
September ?, 1971 - 1987 Mrs. Dorris Wightman, Regional Director
August 1, 1987-1988 Miss Karen A. Berryman, Regional Director
January 1, 1989-to the present Mrs. Shirley Mills Fischer,
January, 1899-to the Present Mrs. Claudia Copeland, Terrell
County Library Manager
In 1953 Calhoun County and, in 1954, Lee County joined with
Terrell County to create the Terrell-Calhoun-Lee Regional
Library System. The Regional Headquarters and the Terrell
County Library shared the Carnegie Library building in Dawson.
Thirty-one years ago, in 1959, an annex was added to the
original Carnegie Library building.
Randolph and Webster Counties joined the system in 1961; Clay
County became the sixth and final county to join the system in
1966. The Terrell-Calhoun-Lee Regional Library System
became the Kinchafoonee Regional Library System.
Thirteen years ago, in 1977, the original Carnegie building
and the annex were modernized with the main entrance moved from
the Carnegie to the annex.
Today, through the Terrell County Public Library, residents
have access, at little or no charge, to most of the printed
material in the English language published in the United States.
Access to printed materials outside of the country has been made
possible through State funding and the Federal funding of
Library Services and Construction Act (L.S.C.A.). One of
the uses of these monies is the support of Interlibrary Loan
A residents first access point is the local public library.
The second access point is the Regional Library. However,
as users of the Terrell County Public Library, residents
immediately access the Regional Library's materials.
To access the Regional Collection is to have access to:
- a book collection that annually receives more than three
times the number of new books purchased for any one of the
other county libraries in the Region;
- a reference collection that is four times the size of any
reference collection in any one of the other county
libraries in the Region;
- a periodical collection that is twice the size of any
periodical collection in any one of the other county
libraries in the Region;
- a regional video cassette collection of over 1,500 titles
with approximately 800 placed in the eight member libraries
leaving 700 in Dawson; approximately 400 are rotated into
and out of other libraries each month;
- a regional microfilm collection including census tapes and
the Dawson News
- a regional filmstrip collection (which is becoming an out
of date format).
If Terrell County and Regional Library collections do not
include the information a resident needs, he/she may request
that the staff search for and obtain it form another library
outside the Region.
Another access point for residents is the Dougherty County
Public Library. Like most public libraries in the State,
the Library makes its materials available to anyone who walks
into the building for use in the library. However, for
only $5 a Terrell County resident may get a library card and
borrow materials. Because Dougherty County Public Library
has an agreement with Darton College, the user will find all
items owned by Darton College on the automated catalog--and the
Dougherty County Public Library can borrow them for the user.
Not only is Dougherty County Public Library a larger system
than the Kinchafoonee Regional Library, it is more heavily
supported at the local level. This means it has the
financial resources to develop a more sophisticated system with
more library resources. It is also a select U.S.
Government Document Depository.
While it is normal for Terrell County residents to use the
Dougherty County Public Library, it may be that access to it and
resources reduces the resident's commitment to his/her local
Past Library Board chairpersons included:
Dawson Library Association
1906-? Mrs. E.T. Jordan
Dawson Public Library (when was it changed to the
Terrell County Public Library")
Mrs. Ed Bell
Mrs. Augusta Griggs Raines
Eli G. Hill
Olive Minter Wall
Charles M. Cruikshank
1989-the present Frank Drapalik
(Did the Terrell County Board meet between 1953
and 1989?; I find no minutes other than the Regional Library's
minutes; was there ever any actual election to elect the
officers of the Terrell County Board?)
Having the Regional Library System Headquarters and the
Terrell County Public Library located in the same building has
had positive and negative results for Terrell County Public
Library. The positive side has been to have immediate
access to staff, materials, and other resources. The
negative side includes:
- loss of identity in that the library board, while required
by State Code, in practice merged with the Regional Board
and eliminated its State required quarterly meetings,
election of officers, and reduced its membership and
- loss of identity to its funding agencies in that there
were not separate operating budgets for the two entities;
- loss of identity in its staffing in that Terrell County
staff and System staff were merged; eventually, with no
locally received monies to staff the Terrell County Library,
only System staff was available.
- current pressure from other members of the Region and the
Regional Director; the Regional Director cannot carry out
the State mandated program and meet the demands of the other
members of the Region if System staff and revenues continue
to be disproportionally diverted for Terrell County Public
It is hoped that a Terrell County Friends of the Library will
be a major influence in restoring the identity of the Terrell
County Public Library to its users and its financial supporters.
Date of printout, February 24, 1990