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
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 accessment.
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
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
1906-late forties Miss Fanny Cheatham, Librarian
Late forties - 1950 Miss Pat Turner, later Mrs. Pat Turner Schramm,
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 Regional
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, Regional
January, 1899-to the Present Mrs. Claudia Copeland, Terrell County Library
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
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
- a regional microfilm collection including census tapes and the Dawson
- a regional filmstrip collection (which is becoming an out of date
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 library system.
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
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 citizens' participation;
- 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 Service.
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