By Patterson Toby Graham
A dramatic bankruptcy in American cultural heritage. * Winner of the Alabama Library Association’s Alabama writer Award for Nonfiction Patterson Toby Graham is Director of the electronic Library of Georgia on the collage of Georgia in Athens.
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Extra info for A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965
Provision of service to African Americans was not a condition for receiving aid as in the Rosenwald program. Instead, local of¤cials determined the extent to which black Alabamians could participate in library activities. Local priorities and prejudices often resulted in unfair distribution of work relief jobs. African Americans were interested in library work, even if they were only mildly interested in libraries. The hardships of the Depression fell disproportionately upon them and black Alabamians, particularly women, needed the WPA library posts for economic relief.
Black Libraries and White Attitudes / 13 The Booker T. Washington Branch Library in Birmingham, Alabama was the state’s ¤rst public library for African Americans. This photograph from 1919 pictures librarian Reginald Gaines at the desk in the foreground. Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives. ” The board appropriated ¤ve hundred dollars from the special fund raised by the black schools for furnishings. These consisted of shelving for three or four thousand books, also eight tables and forty chairs.
Their focus was on initiating a program of “cultural democracy” by providing service to those without it, particularly people living in rural areas. Normally, state library agencies and the WPA sponsored a statewide library program with public libraries and school boards cosponsoring individual projects. The WPA offered technical supervision and it loaned books on a matching basis. The Administration also provided personnel from among those who quali¤ed for WPA work relief. 18 The WPA helped existing institutions and it also participated in the creation of deposit stations and travelling libraries in areas that had never had library service.
A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965 by Patterson Toby Graham