Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Log Cabin Library at Lithia Springs

I've written concerning how the library in Douglasville came to be here, but the efforts at Lithia Springs were entirely the beginning, and predated the folks in Douglasville by thirty-seven years.

The Lithia Springs project was spearheaded by the women in the community. The library would be housed in a log cabin that sat north of the railroad tracks. They decided to fund the library by holding a box supper and invited the general public. A Sentinel article from the time reported the event was well attended...especially by the men in the area. They enthusiastically bid on the dinners and bought chances to win quilts the ladies displayed.

The Sentinel article goes on to say, "The ladies of Lithia Springs are eternally grateful to the boosters for the nice donation of $25 to build a chimney to their beloved Log Cabin Library which was in danger of being left in the cold, as Lithia Springs is building a new school house and now feeling a might poor. Some of these days they will return the favor when Douglasville and her boosters turn their full attention to such institutions in their town."

The boosters the Sentinel spoke of were a group of businessmen in Douglasville who were headed, at the time, by Dr. Tom Whitley.

The Lithia Springs Log Cabin library was governed by the Lithia Springs Library Association with Miss Lily Reynolds, a school teacher and outspoken promoter of the library project, at the helm.

Volunteers made up the library staff, and in those early days the library was open to the public from two to four o'clock on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.

The book collection was described as "marvelous" and circulation and membership seemed quite good. A fine of one cent per day was charged for books kept over 14 days.

In 1917, Mrs. George Bass and Captain J.C. Joyner laid a brick walk from the porch to the sidewalk. The library was used at this time for various women's meetings and also served as the town hall for town council meetings.

At some point around 1918, Miss Reynolds left the area and interest in the library began to decline. Sadly, the building burned down in the late 1940s. However, one book, a Bible, survived the fire, and is a treasured relic at the Lithia Springs Library today.

I've looked through several collections of old photos taken in and around Douglas County. I've yet to see a picture of the old log cabin, but would be greatly interested in seeing and sharing one.

The efforts to maintain a public library at Lithia Springs took off again when Mrs. Annette Winn, principal of what was then Lithia Springs Elementary School wanted her students to have more access to reference materials than what the school board could afford for the school. Fannie Mae Davis advises in her book Douglas County: From Indian Trail to I-20 that Mrs. Winn was never one to leave a stone unturned, if it concerned a benefit for her beloved adopted Douglas County and her own community of Lithia Springs.

At last there was a reason for hope with the founding of West Georgia Regional Library in Carrollton. After the library's bookmobile service was inaugurated, Mrs. Winn contacted the director, Miss Edith Foster, the State Department of Library Services, and Douglas County officials, whereby permission was granted for the bookmobile to visit Lithia Springs Elementary/Annette Winn Elementary once a month. The children knew the schedule and eagerly awaited the monthly visits. A library was needed. Mrs. Winn and Miss Foster talked with parents, civic groups and clubs to get their interest.

Finally, it was decided that the little courthouse located in Lithia Springs near the fire department would be the perfect location. I've written about the little courthouses here.

The front room of the little building was made available and volunteers from the local Ruritan Club built bookshelves. Mrs. Betty Hagler took over as the librarian on a volunteer basis.

Fannie Mae Davis continues, in May, 1963, East Douglas County Library opened. The first library board was comprised of Mrs. Annette Winn, chairman; Mrs. A.B. Craven, Mr. George P. Argo; Mrs. Agnes Green, Mrs. Ethelyn Cooper, Mr. Louie Wood, and Mrs. Edith Foster the West Georgia Regional director served as an advisor. Mrs. Hagler continued as librarian, but on a salary. The library was now open for longer hours.

They registered 200 people in the first week alone. Of course, it didn't take long for the small front room of the Lithia Springs little courthouse to overflow with books and library patrons. A larger space was needed and the library that you and I know as the Lithia Springs Library was opened in the late 1970s.

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