Fayette County Rural Library Service, Negro Efforts
The Fayette County Rural Library Service was established on August 22, 1938, as part of the Library Project in Fayette County, KY, established by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The effort was supported by the U.S. Works Progress Administration, Lexington Public Library, Fayette Community Council, and Fayette County Board of Education [source: Library Project in Fayette County, 1937-1939, Scrapbook 46m29, letter pasted inside of front cover].
Mrs. Hammond Dugan was the supervising librarian; there was also a supervising body of women known as "Friends of the Fayette Library," that acted in an advisory capacity. Mrs. Preston Johnson was the chairperson of the Friends group [source: "A Library on wheels brings the riches of literature to rural Fayette," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/12/1939, p. 28].
For Negroes in Lexington and Fayette County, the Douglass Community Library was opened at Douglass High School [source: "Fayette County rural library service," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/16/1938]. The site was described as the Negro branch of the Fayette County free circulating collection of books for the Negro community. Books and magazines could be borrowed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mrs. P. E. Stephens was in charge of the branch. The Fayette County Rural Library Service boasted that it had established the first Negro library center in the county; the first service to blind Negroes and shut-ins to whom books were read aloud; and the first story-telling for groups of Negro children [source: "A Library on wheels brings the riches of literature to rural Fayette," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/12/1939, p. 28].
In 1939, the project ended. In the summary report, item 10 pertained to service to Negroes: "At the time of the library's closing, we were planning and working toward the dispersal of large quantities of magazines and throughout the many Negro settlements in the county. This, we felt, would give the colored people a great deal of good reading matter in spite of the fact that we were not able to supply them with books except in their one school center. We had also planned to hold weekly story-telling hours in the colored communities." -- [source: "Library Project in Fayette County, 1937-1939, file folder 46m29, archival material].
The Douglass Community Library was included in the two circulation reports found in the archival file [there were no dates on the reports]; on one of the reports, the circulation numbers were 857 for adults and 1,797 for juveniles; on the other, the circulation numbers were 139 for adults and 187 for juveniles.
For more about the overall effort, see Library Project in Fayette County, 1937-1939, a scrapbook and file folder at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. The next library for Negroes in Fayette County, KY, would be in 1940, the Charlotte Court Library. See also Laura Carroll Colored Branch and Colored Reading Room, Lexington Carnegie Public Library.