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Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History facts for kids

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Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
Picture of Auburn Avenue Research Library.jpg
Country United States
Type Special library
Established 1994
Location Atlanta, Georgia

The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is a special library within the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, located in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Historic District. The Auburn Avenue Research Library "is the first 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."

"Occupying 50,000 square feet, the Auburn Avenue Research Library's four-story, red-brick-and-black-granite structure is actually three buildings in one: a library research area containing general reference books and materials, study areas, and a reading room; a public section housing exhibit cases, general reference materials, and a main reading room; and an archive that includes a core of library stacks running through the center of the building on the second and third floors."

The library is open to the public. Also, "all researchers wishing to use archival collections are encouraged to make an appointment with an Archives Division staff person prior to visiting the Research Library."

"In 2001, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History received a Governor's Award in the Humanities."

The library was temporarily closed for about two years but re-opened in 2016 after $20 million worth of renovations.


The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American History and culture opened in May 1994 in its current location. "Its core collection was formed at the Auburn Branch of the Carnegie Library of Atlanta." "This branch, opened in 1921, was Atlanta's first public library branch for African Americans." "Due to Jim Crow laws, African Americans were denied public library service which began in 1902."

"From 1921-1959, the Auburn Avenue Research Library provided educational and community programming and amassed its core collection called the Negro History Collection." "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 library closed in 1959. After the library's closure, the Negro History Collection moved to the West Hunter Branch. "This branch was built in 1949 to accommodate the demands for expanded public library service from the increasing numbers of African Americans who had migrated to Atlanta's west side."

The collection moved again in 1970, to "where Central Library now stands at One Margaret Mitchell Square." "One year later, the collection was named the Samuel W. Williams Collection on Black America, in honor of the Atlanta-based educator, theologian, and philosopher." "The collection remained at the main library until 1994, and was then moved to the newly built Auburn Avenue Research Library."

"After fifteen years of operation, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History had outgrown its space." "On November 4, 2008, Fulton County voters approved a library bond referendum, which included funds to enhance and expand the facility."


"The Samuel W. Williams Collection forms the cornerstone of the reference and research division, which maintains a variety of textual and microform records, a noncirculating library of secondary sources, and a broad array of Web-accessible research databases for the study of African American culture and history and the African Diaspora."


"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."


"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." "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."


The sections of the Auburn Avenue Research Library's collection that are contained in the Archives Division include "the Art and Artifacts Collection which contains art and artifacts by and about peoples of African heritage throughout the world." "The collection contains contemporary works by African American artists, including works by Romare Bearden, Charles White, James Van Der Zee and Ed Dwight." "The Archives Division also includes the Archives and Manuscripts Collection, which focuses on the history, literature, politics, and culture of peoples of African descent in Atlanta, the Southeast, the U.S. and the world."

Other collections include "the Ephemeral Collection which contains resources in the following categories: calendars, dust jackets, family genealogical booklets, flags, maps, postcards, posters, sheet music, slave documents, yearbooks, vertical files, educational kits, black history month essays, funeral programs, coins, comic books, playbills, typescripts, buttons, recipes, autographs and stamps."

The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Collection "provides audiovisual resources which document and interpret African American experiences in the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, the southeastern region of the U.S. and throughout the nation."

The Oral History Collection "complements the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Collection." "Preserved on videocassette tapes, audio cassette tapes and transcripts, and digital formats, this expanding collection seeks to enhance and make available collected oral histories of historical and significant cultural organizations, individuals, institutions and communities."

The Pamphlet Collection "includes works published before 1865 in the United States; first editions by African American authors before 1930 and during the Harlem Renaissance and works published before 1901 in Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean, and publications of Black private presses."

The Photographs and Prints Collection "contains both documentary and fine art photographs which document the history and culture of peoples of African descent as well as the work of photographers of African descent."

The Rare Periodical and Newspaper Collection "contains mainly African American publications. A small percentage of the collection is composed of non-African American publications." "The collection includes articles, photos, illustrations, newspapers and periodicals in bound volumes."

Digital Collections

In 2010 the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History (AARL) and the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) collaborated to digitize eleven archival collections. AARL and DLG received funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to make Web-accessible late nineteenth- and mid-twentieth-century manuscript collections "that document the historical development of education for African Americans, primarily in the South, from the early 1860s to the early 1950s." Eleven collections were digitized and are now available via the library website.

The Reference and Research Division "contains the print, digital and microform collections which includes an impressive list of Africana resources that provide unlimited access to full-text articles from current and past issues of scholarly Africana journals, popular African American magazines and international African journals."

The "strengths of the (Auburn Avenue Research Library's) collection are Southern Civil Rights Movement, Southern African American Literature and History, General African and African American History and Literature, Atlanta and Georgia Vertical File Collections, Current and Historic African American Journals, Current and Historic African American Newspapers, Africana Children's Literature Collection, The Coretta Scott King Award Winning Children's Titles 1969 to current, Africana Cinema and Documentary Film Collections, and Subject Bibliographies highlighting AARL resources."

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