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Marion-Jefferson Davis Regional Library History

In 1905, the teachers in the Marion County community organized a library for their use and placed it in the office of the Superintendent of Education.  By 1910, a group of citizens, including the pastor of the Methodist Church, the Superintendent of Education, and other civic leaders, began to work for the public library.   A Professor Griffis was appointed to head the project  of soliciting funds to keep the library movement alive.  The teachers donated books from their libraries, and these were added to those purchased with the $120 collected by Professor Griffis.  This collection formed the nucleus of the Columbia Public Library, which opened its doors on January 1, 1912, with Jeannie Watts as Librarian.  Library dues were $1.00 a year; but teachers, having donated their books to the cause, were exempt from paying dues.  The growth of the library could by no means be described as rapid, but by 1916 it claimed 600 volumes.

The library was operated as a WPA (Work Project Administration) with Cora Calhoun and Mrs. Bessie Harris as librarians.  Later, Mrs. Mamie Lou Bayliss Broom served as librarian until 1959 when she was succeeded by Mrs. Earl McClain.

After a number of moves the city was fortunate in receiving the home of Mrs. I. A. Shelby as a gift from her sister, Mrs. Mattie Lou Lacy Edwards.  Mrs. Edwards specified that the home be used for a library and named the Shelby Memorial Library in memory of Mrs. Shelby.

On October 9, 1972, Marion and Jefferson Davis Counties joined in creating the Marion-Jefferson Davis Regional Library system with Columbia as the headquarters.  The library is supported by the cities of Columbia, Prentiss, Bassfield, as well as funding from Marion and Jefferson Davis Counties and some state funding.  Mrs. Mary Johnston followed Sid Graves as director.  The Columbia-Marion County Public Library was dedicated and opened to the public on December 14, 1975. 

Libraries in Jefferson Davis County are located in Prentiss and Bassfield.  The new Bassfield Public Library, Dr. Frank L. Leggett, was dedicated on January 7, 1973, with Mrs. B.C. Blount as librarian.

Marion County Local Community Information

Jefferson Davis County Community Information


South Mississippi Regional Library Mission Statement

The Mission of South Mississippi Regional Library is to provide to all of the citizens within its service area access to materials and services to meet individual and group needs for information, education, relaxation, personal enrichment, and cultural growth. Its economic commitment is to make the best possible use of allocated and donated funds for appropriate materials, programs, equipment, services and a well-trained staff.