This History of Public Library Service in Durham, 1897-1997 by Jessica Harland-Jacobs
1. Durham prospered because of the national demand for Durham's distinctive bright-leaf tobacco and increasing popularity of smoking tobacco (especially in the form of cigarettes) in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Sydney Nathans, The Quest for Progress: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1870-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983,) 2.
7. The idea for a public library was not entirely new in Durham; other organizations had considered the idea and Main Street Methodist Church had established a reading room open evenings and free to the public in 1894. See Anderson, 202.
8. After putting Bull Durham tobacco on the map through aggressive advertising, Carr diversified into some of tobacco's satellite industries, including cotton, banking, and electricity; he also started the Golden Belt Manufacturing Company.
9. Carr quoted in Mena Webb, Jule Carr: General without an Army (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987) 157-8. Carr also indicated his support to the library in a letter to the local newspaper. See Walter M. High,
A History of the Durham Public Library, 1895-1940 (Master's thesis, University of North Carolina, 1976), 7.
11. The original members of the Board of Trustees were Julian S. Carr, George W. Watts, Edward J. Parrish, Thomas B. Fuller, Robert W. Winston, L.B. Turnbull, James H. Southgate, Clinton W. Toms, Jonathan F. Wiley, Howard A. Foushee, Edwin Mims, and H. H. Markham.
12. Board of Lady Managers meeting minutes, 4 and 13 May 1896, Box 1, Durham County Library Archives (hereafter cited as
DCL Archives). Original members of the Board of Lady Managers were: the wives of B. L. Duke, B. N. Duke, L. L. Morehead, A. G. Carr, L. A. Carr, J. A. Robinson, T. D. Jones, W. H. Branson, W. E. Lloyd; Bessie Leak, Lalla Ruth Carr, and Cora Tyree. See Nathans,
The Lowdown on Uplift: Public Libraries and Democratic Culture, 1890-1920, paper presented at the Linder Humanities Lecture Series, Durham County Library, 16 September 1997. On the historical role of women in library organization, see Anne Firor Scott,
Women and Libraries, in Donald G. Davis (ed), Libraries, Books & Culture (Austin: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 1986).
An act to incorporate the Durham Public Library, 5 March 1897, Private Laws of the State of North Carolina Passed By the General Assembly at its Session of 1897 (Winston: M. I. & J. C. Stewart, 1897), 196.
14. Much to Durham's chagrin, the Baptists had selected Raleigh for their female university. Though the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce had secured the university, it could not raise sufficient funds to open a public library until 1901. Valentine,
Steel, Cotton, and Tobacco: Philanthropy and Public Libraries in North Carolina, 1900-1940, Libraries & Culture 31 (Spring 1996): 274.
18. Some sources claim that Durham's library was the first in the entire Southeast. See Mary Edna Anders,
The Development of Public Library Service in the Southeastern States, 1895-1950, (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1958).
21. Circular letter from the Board of Lady Managers, 5 March 1906, Scrapbook 1, DCL Archives. They also sought an increase from the city in its appropriation at this point as well as a raise for the librarian.
27. Memoirs of Lillian Baker Griggs (hereafter cited as
Griggs Memoirs), Duke University Archives, 49. The Board at the time included several of Durham most successful businessmen--Carr, Thomas Fuller, Clinton Toms, and James Southgate--as well as the mayor, the city and county superintendents of schools, a minister, a lawyer, and a banker.
28. High, 28. By 1914, Griggs would start providing evening hours (from 7:30 to 9:30) at the main library for those who worked during the day. In 1915, she started referring to the station as the
Welfare Club Branch Library, since it had a permanent collection of 100 books. See Annual Reports, 1914 and 1915.
30. In fact, she felt that people in the country had more of an appreciation for
the best books of the best types. In her opinion,
Their close and familiar contact with nature gives them a greater power of interpretation for the really great literature. Griggs,
Rural Library Extension, North Carolina Library Bulletin 2 (March 1915): 95.
33. As Dubois explained it:
I consider the greatest factor in Durham's development to have been the disposition of Durham to say 'Hands off--give them a chance--don't interfere.' Dubois quoted in Anderson, 222.
37. Wooten moved into the second floor of the library, from where she could monitor both the library and her sick mother. Talk by Selena Warren Wheeler at the meeting of the Historic Preservation Society, 1987.
39. Annual Report, 1917. Members of the first Board of Trustees were: Moore, John M. Avery, M. T. Norfleet, Charles C. Spaulding, Mrs. S. V. Norfleet, E. D. Mickle, Stanford L. Warren, William G. Pearson, and J. A. Dyer.
43. Anderson, 320. Carr even offered $2500 to expand the existing building, in order to prevent his town from begging Carnegie for money. See Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 22 June and 11 December 1916, Box 1, DCL Archives.
63. An insatiable gatherer of statistics, Crawford presented a profile of the library's readers--children, juveniles, people who worked with their hands,
brainworkers, and homemakers--and concluded that the library was primarily an agency for recreation, though brainworkers did use it to improve their educational qualifications. Annual Reports, 1931, 1932, and 1933.
66. Unidentified clipping, 24 July 1936, Scrapbook 1, DCL Archives. It reached the point that the Board decided the water problem was
a positive menace to the users of the library and held urgent consultations with the City Council. Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 3 August 1936, Box 1, DCL Archives.
73. The Board had applied unsuccessfully to the Duke Foundation for a grant to build the new library. See Stanford L. Warren Library, Board of Trustees meeting, minutes, 13 November 1935 and 31 January 1936, SLW Archives.
76. State aid was the culmination of the Citizens Library Movement, a campaign begun in 1927 to secure state funding for libraries. In 1941, the General Assembly passed an annual appropriation of $100,000
to improve, stimulate, increase and equalize public library service to the people of the whole state. During the initial year, most of the funds were allocated for national defense projects, but both libraries did receive assistance for general operations, including personnel and bookmobiles. The African American library received one-third of Durham's share of state aid. See University of North Carolina Newsletter 41 (14 Dec 1955) and Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 19 June 1941, Box 1, DCL Library.
83. A graduate of Morehouse College and North Carolina Central University, Wheeler joined Mechanics and Farmers Bank at a young age, became president in 1952, and held the position until 1978. From the forties he was instrumental in the movement to desegregate Durham's public schools. Throughout his life he served the community in many capacities, advocated the rights of African Americans and in 1975 became chairman of the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs. Wheeler also served as vice chairman of the Durham City-County Library Board from 1966 to 1978. Durham Herald, 7 July 1978.
92. Residents raised $2700 dollars to pay for the land. Many years later, when discussions were underway to build a branch in North Durham in 1978, the Bragtown community would again rally, this time to protest the proposed closing of the branch. They appeared before the County Commissioners and made the case that the library served as a central community center. The Commissioners agreed to keep the branch open. See Durham Sun, 4 December 1978.
102. Jones, 49. The Durham Committee on Negro Affairs (later called the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People) adopted this approach--making certain a series of conditions were met before proceeding to agree to mergers--in other instances of institutional integration. See Watts Oral History, 28 October 1997.
109. While the Board thought the renovations would cost $2.75 million, the commissioners estimated $1.5 million. Durham Sun, 5 September 1972; memo, 27 February 1972, County of Durham Correspondence, Box 24, DCL Archives; Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 28 February, 6 March, and 11 September 1972, Box 2, DCL Archives.
113. As a result of the improvement in the salary situation, the unionization movement was short lived. Durham Herald, 11 May 1973; Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 30 April 1973 and 17 May 1974, Box 2, DCL Archives. See Tommie Dora Barker to Griggs, 18 January 1921, Scrapbook 1, DCL Archives. The Board of Lady Managers had tried to improve the salary situation in 1905. Board of Lady Managers meeting minutes, May 1905, Box 1, DCL Archives. Linder to the City Council, 15 July 1968, Budget, 1967-1972, Box 6, DCL Archives.
116. The library had secured a new bookmobile in 1970. The program for the elderly was originally funded through grants and eventually headquartered at the Senior Citizens Memorial Center in Oldham Towers (1973), Durham Herald, 2 September 1976.
117. According to Linder, this project was the first cooperative program between a department of library science at a university and a public library in the state. Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 30 April 1973, Box 2, DCL Archives.
118. The extension of services in one area required consolidation in others. During the early seventies, the branch at the John Avery Boys Club was downgraded to a deposit station and the Y. E. Smith Branch closed due to lack of use.
119. Jones, 72; see also Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 3 February 1969 and 25 October 1971, Box 2, DCL Archives. Members of the management board were Josephine Clement, Constance Watts, John Washington, W. E. Bennett, Lyda Merrick. In 1971 the magazine had 375 regular subscribers in ten countries. The name of the magazine was changed to the Merrick-Washington Magazine for the Blind in 1981.
121. Among the groups that participated were: Carolina Action, Tobaccoland Kiwanis, American Association of Retired Persons, Association of Students of Duke University, Downtown Revitalization Foundation, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Durham Preservation Society, Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, League of Women Voters, NCCU, Jaycettes, Durham Technical Institute, Durham Voters Alliance, and the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. See Durham Herald, 27 and 28 February 1976.
125. Currently, the North Carolina Collection is comprised of 15,000 volumes concerning North Carolina, including fiction and non-fiction, with an emphasis on history. The North Carolina Room also houses collections of clippings and pamphlets, Durham newspapers on microfilm, Durham photographic archives, and materials for genealogical research.
130. The report recommended more story hours, increased contact with parents and teachers, rejuvenation of summer reading clubs and the Reading Is Fundamental program, establishment of a homework center and hotline, and general improvements to the children's department as a whole.
131. Renovations included enlarging the children's area, improving the bathrooms, replacing the heating and air conditioning systems as well as the windows, and extensive improvements to the exterior, including a ramp for handicapped patrons and a new sign.
133. The fundraising effort for the bookmobile in 1995 was a community-wide effort. As had been the case in the past, the Kiwanis Club and other civic organizations and individuals made contributions. But the library's supporters also raised $3300 through bake sales and $8500, through
Trike-A-Thons--dozens of children rode tricycles in circles around the bookmobile and received pledges for their laps.