The eighteenth century origin of the Augusta Library is a bit convoluted, but sometime between the two recorded dates of 1732 and 1750, Augusta, Georgia saw the formation of its first public library. In the early 1830s a number of wealthy benefactors from Britain donated books for a public library in the colony, many of which arrived on the ship, Charming Nancy. In Augusta, public sentiment was high for the formation of a library, and by 1750, Augusta had ten titles listed in the Catalogue of Augusta’s First Library, for public use.
Several groups and societies were involved in the early establishment of the public library; among them, The Augusta Library Society (1730), and The Thespian Society and Library Company of Augusta (1808), but finally in 1848, with the formation of the Young Men’s Library Association, Augusta’s first official public library was opened. The Young Men’s Library Association and Reading Room was opened on March 13, 1848. By 1855, the library housed 2,000 volumes, which had grown to 12,000 by 1908. Until 1926, when the library was moved into the Old Richmond Academy Building, several locations were home to the growing collection, and sadly the library was temporarily closed in 1906 due to a lack of funding.
The library remained in the Richmond Academy Building until 1960 when all 103,542 volumes were moved to the newly constructed midcentury modern facility designed by architects, Eve and Stulb, on the corner of 9th and Greene Streets. Finally, the library had a permanent home, until June 25, 2010 when it was moved to its present location on Telfair Street.
In honor of National Library Week, Sunday, April 12-Satuday, April 18, 2015, the Georgia Heritage Room is hosting an exhibit honoring the history of the Augusta Public Library. The display is located on the third floor of the Headquarters Library at 823 Telfair Street.
Catalogue of Augusta’s First Library
199 Years of Augusta’s Library by Berry Fleming
Common Prayer Books, 22 copies
Companion of the Sick, 12 copies
Duty of Man, 13 copies
Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man, 12 copies
Help and Guide to Christian Families, 20 copies
How to Walk with God, 50 copies
Spelling Books, 12 copies
The Great Importance of a Religious Life Considered, 6 copies
The Young Christian Instructed, 12 copies