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Equal Access: The Unfolding Legacy of the Auburn Branch

Auburn Branch Staff

Jammie Dora Barker 

Librarian of Carnegie Library from (1916-1930). Auburn Branch was built under her administation in 1921. 

Alice D. Cary

From 1921 to 1929, Mrs. Alice Dugged Cary, First non-professional African American Librarian, served as Auburn branch head. Cary was born in New London, Indiana, in 1859. She attended Wilberforce University and began her teaching career in the public schools of Kansas in 1882.  She later became the principal of the Mitchell Street School in 1887. Alice Cary died in Atlanta, GA, in 1941.

From 1929 to 1959, the Auburn Branch developed under the stewardship of the following individuals: 

Mrs. Mildred Gains (1929-1932)

Mrs. Anne Rucker Anderson (1932)

Mrs. Mae Z. Marshall Shepard (1932-1936)

Mrs. Annie L. Watters McPheeters (1936-1949)

Mrs. R. Leathers (1949-1957) 

Mrs. Goldie Culpepper Johnson (1959-1960)

Mrs. Julie V. Hunter (1971)

More on Annie Lou Waters Mcpheeters

In 1936, Mrs. Annie L. Mcpheeters (1936-1949) became the first African-American professional librarian in the Atlanta Public Library. She also served as branch head. 

She received an associate's degree in English and education at Clark College in 1929, where she worked as a library assistant and later became the acting librarian. After teaching in Summerville, GA and Greenville, SC, McPheeters earned a bachelor's degree in library science from Hampton University in 1933. A year later, she went on to become the first African-American professional librarian with the Atlanta Public Library. In 1950, McPheeters accepted the position of Reference Librarian with, Georgia State University, becoming the first African-American faculty member at the school. She later obtained her master's degree in library science from Columbia University in 1956 and furthered her education by enrolling in journalism courses at Georgia State University and Clark College during the seventies.

In addition, many of McPheeters' writings have been published. Some of them are: An Educational Program for the Blind (1944), Library Eyes for the Blind (1944), Atlanta Branch Aids Negro Group (1949), Negro Progress in Atlanta, Georgia, 1950-1960. Scarcity of Children's Librarians in Public Libraries (1960), Negro Progress in Atlanta, Georgia, 1961-1970 (1974) and Library Service in Black and White. Some Personal Recollections (1988).

McPheeters played a great role in the development of the Auburn Avenue Research Library up until her death on December 23, 1994. Along, with former librarian Alice D. Cary, The Cary-McPheeters Gallery, which is located on the first floor, was named in her honor.

Mrs. Ethel Hawkins

In 1941, University Homes Reading Room was established under the supervision of the Auburn Branch Librarian. Mrs. Ethel Hawkins, a librarian residing in the university Homes Project, and the former assistant librarian at the Auburn Branch, volunteered to manage the Reading Room. In 1942, the Reading Room was designated a branch of the Atlanta Public Library. The University Homes Branch operated from 1941 to 1962.