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 resources for A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965
She was a Huntsville native and a college graduate who had served brie®y as a librarian in Walker County, Alabama. Dr. 44 The Davis Avenue Branch opened on July 14, 1931, but lost its funding after only three months. The library started with two thousand volumes and was open to the public mostly in the afternoons and evenings. The branch scarcely had time to make a beginning, however, before the commissioners voted to end appropriations for both of Mobile’s libraries. 45 The Davis Avenue Library survived the Depression by relying on gifts and user fees.
Though blacks comprised more than 40 percent of the county population, they received only 8 percent of the book budget. 25 Still, the library continued to make progress into the 1930s. In the years between 1920 and 1935 circulation at the Booker T. Washington Branch almost quadrupled. Earline C. Driver, a college graduate with some library school training, had replaced the unfortunate Reginald Gaines in 1921. In 1923 the library board lost its lease on the Third Avenue location, and obtained space in the new Colored Masonic Temple on Seventeenth Street.
4 Coal mining was the area’s dominant economic activity. As much as 85 percent of the county’s work force was employed in the mines in the 1920s. ” Though the existence of the region’s abundant mineral deposits was common knowledge as early as the Civil War, few mines opened until the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s made it possible to take advantage of these resources. Birmingham’s iron and steel industry provided a steady demand for Walker County coal and the region experi- Black Libraries and White Attitudes II / 29 enced a boom period in the 1890s and continued economic growth up to the Depression.