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Lake Lanier Regional Library
An Informal History

The Norcross Public Library started with a collection of 300 books, donated by interested citizens, in a room in Norcross Public School, in July 1907. The stimulus, which preceded this opening, included a statewide program by the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs, and the interest and enthusiasm of the local Woman's Club. The mainstay of the early Library support was the result of gifts and contributions of many individuals, notably of Mr. Edward Buchanan. Later in 1907, the need for a larger program was seen, and an additional gift, to be used as a building fund, was given by Mr. Buchanan. In order to better serve the City, the Library was moved to a room in the Masonic Building. Miss Harriet Webster was the first librarian. By 1919 the Library had moved to a room in the Medlock Building, with Miss Lola Key as librarian. That same year, a lot was purchased and the new building was occupied in 1921, with a book collection of 2500. The work of the early trustees, among them Mr. Homer Jones, Dr. Walker, Mr. C. A. McDaniel, Mr. R. E. Skinner, and Mr. B. F. Summerour, had made a good foundation for future library service. In May 1957, in order to better serve Norcross and the rapidly growing area around it, an agreement was signed with the Regional Library. Through the cooperation of Mayor Dudley B. Hancock and others, the agreement will enable Norcross to benefit from all of the materials of the Regional Library program, which includes filmstrips, recordings, motion pictures, and equipment.

As is often the case recounting history, "The Families of Norcross" offers new details, agrees on most points, and differs on others: In 1907 the State Federation called for all Clubs to observe a "Library Day". The Woman's Club of Norcross manifested unusual enthusiasm for the plan that called for all members to contribute at least one book on the occasion. A Miss Harriet Webster made an appeal to Edward F. Buchanan for aid and received a check for one hundred dollars. The library was opened on July 1, 1907 and possessed three hundred books. It was located in the Public School building. Later in September of this same year Mr. and Mrs. Homer V. Jones, while on a trip to New York, called on Mr. Buchanan to thank him for his aid in behalf of the new library. They also took occasion to outline plans for the construction of a new building for the library to have as a permanent home. Mr. Buchanan, long a benefactor of Norcross, stated that he too, wished to see Norcross have a library housed in a home of its own, and with that remark presented a check for $2,500.00 for that purpose. Great difficulties befell Mr. Buchanan and later he was to request the loan of that money to aid his aging foster mother, giving as security a mortgage on the stone house he had built for her in his more prosperous times. Years passed, the stone house was sold, and the mortgage came to light resulting in a sum of $4,131.97 being paid the library trustees. It was with this money that the lot was purchased and the building erected in 1917. The property served the town well through the years and only the pressing need for larger space necessitated by the growth of the library brought the library to a new home in 1971.

The Lawrenceville Public Library was founded in 1935. Exactly how it was started was not recorded but one story is that it grew out of a suggestion Mrs. Agnes Sams made at a PTA meeting. Teachers were interested: a special fund was arranged and continued through several years to buy books specially needed by teachers - the Teachers Professional Collection. Money was donated by a group of the teachers. The library opened with a shelf of books in the city hall. Mayor W. Grady Holt assisted and Mrs. J. T. Jackson acted as librarian. The Library contained 577 volumes and circulated 5800 books that first year. Registration was 420. In 1936 the library moved its quarters into the Court House and became the Gwinnett County Library. Mrs. J. T. Jackson continued as librarian. The business of building up the collection went forward to keep pace with the expanded concept of the library.

In order to properly serve rural residents of Gwinnett County, the library procured a bookmobile in 1940. Federal aid under the WPA [Works Progress/ Projects Administration] program was used to promote a book mending service. New staff members were Bertha P. Sears, librarian, Lula B McGee, Cora Holland, and John Gunter. Col. Marvin Allison had taken the reins of the library, and served as Chairman from here on. Other trustees were J. Arthur Alford and Carl T. Garner. Col. Allison was largely responsible for a state law giving aid to libraries and Gwinnett County benefited by approximately 500.00 that year. 4290 books were circulated 10686 times. 2578 persons registered to date. The Bookmobile served schools, churches, stops at crossroads stores, and home stops for invalids.

As the library grew, so did the rest of the county and county offices. By 1950 it was obvious something had to give - and so the library moved into the old Gwinnett Journal Building [NE corner of the Courthouse] with Mrs. Cora Holland and Mrs. G. E. Wagener, staff at the time. Trustees were Col. Marvin Allison, Powell Smith, and R. L. Norton Sr. 9062 registered users borrowed 69,269 volumes from the collection of 12,103 books. All schools in the county were served by the bookmobile. Erwin Mapp became director in 1954.

New Bookmobile
Rough roads took their toll on the first bookmobile and finally plans were made for a new one. Gwinnett County Commissioners and Board of Education jointly purchased it and Mrs. G. E. Wagener operated it. A third bookmobile was acquired in 1961.

Forsyth County
Things were happening all over Georgia to libraries. Under the excellent state program, counties were financing together what they could not afford separately: Regional Libraries. Gwinnett and Forsyth joined into such a venture. The first aid the Gwinnett-Forsyth Regional Library gave was to help re-establish the Forsyth County Library, defunct since 1955 due to lack of funding. Space was given by the Kiwanis Club of Cumming. Books were provided by the Regional Library. Mrs. Jean Potts, Librarian. Trustees from Forsyth County were Col. Leon Boling and Mrs. Louise Mashburn.

Remodeled Interior
Audio-visual equipment owned by the Library include a tape recorder, 7 film strip projectors, 2 moving picture projectors, and 3 record players. Film strips and recordings were added to the collection. The Special Allotment provided by the State made this equipment possible. The Special Allotment also provided funds for remodeling of the interior during the summer of 1957. Efforts were made to bring equipment, shelving, and arrangement up to something approaching state and national library standards. With many local items fast disappearing from the book market, efforts were made to develop a collection of local history. Concentration was on county histories, local histories, other important Georgiana. Some 300 volumes were added to this non-circulating collection. It was seen that additional room for the library was desperately needed and two buildings were found that could be rented for library use. The block building is used for storage. The wooden one is used for processing materials and office of the Bookmobile Division. In cooperation with Central Gwinnett High School's VOT program, students are given training and pay while doing library work. The Mack Haygood Library was opened in 1958 to serve as headquarters for Negro service.

Dawson County
People in Dawson County became interested in Library Service and petitioned to join. They entered into an agreement and started getting Bookmobile service in 1957. The Regional Library founded the Dawson County Library. This was the first time in the history of Dawson County that they had library service. With the addition of Dawson County, the Regional Library changed its name to Lake Lanier Regional Library.

By Year 1994, the number of items checked out exceeded 4 million, giving the system the largest circulation in the state of Georgia. On July 1, 1994, the Dawson County branch joined the Chestatee Regional system. Lake Lanier Regional Library changed its name to Gwinnett-Forsyth Regional Library. In the fall of 1995, the Gwinnett County Library Board voted to dissolve the system, and on July 1, 1996, the Forsyth County Branch became an independent library,

Gwinnett Branches
Lawrenceville Branch - 1935
Norcross Branch - 1957 (1907)
Buford-Sugar Hill Branch - 1967
Lilburn Branch - 1968
Duluth Branch - 1968
Elizabeth H. Williams Branch (Snellville) - 1970s
Mountain Park Branch - 1970s
Peachtree Corners Branch - 1986
Five Forks Branch - 1995
Collins Hill Branch - 1999
Centerville Branch - 2002
Suwanee Branch - 2004
Dacula Branch - 2006
Grayson Branch (Grayson) - 2006
Hamilton Mill Branch - 2010

Lake Lanier Regional Library - An Informal History (GHS archives, c. 1962)
Wingo, Betty (donated by, presumed author) - The Families of Norcross (GHS library, c. 1972)
The Gwinnett County Public Library website (