Georgia Center for the Book

About Us

Who We Are:

The Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book (GCB) is an affil­i­ate Cen­ter of the Nation­al Cen­ter for the Book in the Library of Con­gress. Since receiv­ing Affil­i­ate Cen­ter sta­tus in 1998, it has become the largest non-prof­it, lit­er­ary pre­sent­ing orga­ni­za­tions in the South­east, and one of the largest in the nation. The Center’s mis­sion is to sup­port libraries, to pro­mote lit­er­a­cy and the lit­er­ary arts, and to pre­serve the lit­er­ary her­itage of Georgia.

When the GCB received its affil­i­ate char­ter, for­mer DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library direc­tor Dar­ro Wil­ley stat­ed, The cen­ter won’t need to defend the book, because it doesn’t need defend­ing. But, we do plan to cel­e­brate the book and try to keep it promi­nent in people’s minds.”


“The center won’t need to defend the book, because it doesn’t need defending. But, we do plan to celebrate the book and try to keep it prominent in people’s minds.”

— Darro Wiley

When Dar­ro Wil­ley became the Direc­tor of the DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library, one of his ear­ly projects was to estab­lish an Affil­i­ate Cen­ter for the Book in Geor­gia. The Cen­ter for the Book was cre­at­ed in the Library of Con­gress in 1977 by for­mer Pres­i­dent Jim­my Carter. It was the intent that each state have an Affil­i­ate Cen­ter that would expand the reach of the Library of Con­gress and show­case the lit­er­a­ture of each state. Wil­ley came to DeKalb Coun­ty from Broward Coun­ty, Flori­da, which was then home to the Flori­da Cen­ter for the Book. In late Fall of 1996, Wil­ley wrote to John Y. Cole, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for the Book in the Library of Con­gress, and expressed inter­est in cre­at­ing a Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book, with DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library act­ing as the host. By sum­mer of 1997, Wil­ley had sent a pro­pos­al to the Library of Con­gress for approval that includ­ed a mis­sion state­ment, a struc­ture for oper­a­tions, and an Advi­so­ry Coun­cil that con­sist­ed of four steer­ing mem­bers, includ­ing the first Exec­u­tive Direc­tor for the Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book, Anne John­son, and six­teen oth­er mem­bers from among the com­mu­ni­ty of authors, pub­lish­ers, librar­i­ans, jour­nal­ists, and aca­d­e­mics from around the state.

On Sep­tem­ber 5,1997, Wil­ley wrote to the DeKalb Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­ers, stat­ing, I am pleased to inform you that DeKalb Coun­ty has recent­ly received a sin­gu­lar recog­ni­tion among Geor­gia libraries. The Library of Con­gress Cen­ter for the Book has des­ig­nat­ed the DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library to serve as the host insti­tu­tion for a new state orga­ni­za­tion — The Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book.”

Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Anne John­son worked on orga­ni­za­tion­al plan­ning in 1998, and began plan­ning for lit­er­ary pro­gram­ming in 1999. One of the first events for the GCB was a recep­tion cel­e­brat­ing the cre­ation of the orga­ni­za­tion on Jan­u­ary 22, 1998. Dig­ni­taries from around the state attend­ed the event, and John Y. Cole was the spe­cial guest for the evening. The Geor­gia State Sen­ate rec­og­nized the Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book by res­o­lu­tion on Jan­u­ary 28, 1998, the date cel­e­brat­ed as the birth­day of the GCB.

Georgia Book Month
Gov­er­nor Roy Barnes and Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Anne John­son dis­play the procla­ma­tion declar­ing Novem­ber as Geor­gia Book Month on Novem­ber 3, 1999, in hon­or of the begin­ning of the pro­gram that is now Books All Geor­gians Should Read.
Janisse Ray in conversation with Jessica Handler
Janisse Ray in con­ver­sa­tion with Jes­si­ca Han­dler at First Bap­tist Church of Decatur dis­cussing Wild Spec­ta­cle, Novem­ber 2021. Janisse was the first author to ever do a Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book event.

Rhon­da Mullen became Exec­u­tive Direc­tor in 1999 and con­tin­ued plan­ning what would become three major pro­grams for the Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book: All Geor­gia Read­ing the Same Book (the One Book, One Com­mu­ni­ty project cre­at­ed by the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties, and what would lat­er become the Books All Geor­gians and Young Geor­gians Should Read lists), Let­ters About Lit­er­a­ture, and Riv­er of Words. Mullen was respon­si­ble for the first lit­er­ary event host­ed by the GCB at the Decatur Library: an event fea­tur­ing Geor­gia author Janisse Ray, whose Ecol­o­gy Of A Crack­er Child­hood was select­ed as the Book All Geor­gians Should Read,” cho­sen from the twen­ty-five books on the Geor­gia Read­ing List. Com­piled in 2001, the 2002 list was released to the pub­lic on Octo­ber 26, 2001, at Bor­ders Books and Music in Buck­head with Con­gress­man John Lewis giv­ing remarks.

Bill Starr became Exec­u­tive Direc­tor in 2003, and was charged with increas­ing the num­ber of lit­er­ary events pre­sent­ed by the Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book. It was dur­ing this time that the GCB took over the respon­si­bil­i­ty for coor­di­nat­ing the for­mer Geor­gia Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val. The GCB, with the Geor­gia Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources and the Library of Con­gress, began Geor­gia’s Riv­er of Words stu­dent art and poet­ry com­pe­ti­tion, cre­at­ed by Robert Haas dur­ing his tenure as the US Poet Lau­re­ate Con­sul­tant in Poet­ry, and joined The Let­ters About Lit­er­a­ture com­pe­ti­tion. Geor­gia con­tin­ues to be hon­ored by the many nation­al and grand nation­al win­ners in these com­pe­ti­tions. The GCB also began its part­ner­ship with the Jim­my Carter Pres­i­den­tial Library and Museum.

In 2006, Joe Davich joined the GCB as the Pro­gram­ming Assis­tant after pre­vi­ous­ly work­ing in book­stores in West Vir­ginia and Atlanta. See­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to grow the num­ber of author talks host­ed by the GCB, Davich approached pub­lish­ers quar­ter­ly to book lit­er­ary events. From 2006 to 2013, the num­ber of author events host­ed by the GCB increased to over one hun­dred per year, and fea­tured authors Amy Tan, Tina McEl­roy Ansa, Kahled Hos­sei­ni, Anne Lam­ott, Eliz­a­beth Gilbert, Amy Sedaris, Ter­ry McMil­lan, Karin Slaugh­ter, Sue Grafton, James McPher­son, Ali­son Weir, HRH Princess Michael, Rep. John Lewis, Ambas­sador Andrew Young, Car­men Deedy, Ter­ry Kay, Fer­rol Sams, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Dave Bar­ry, Jamie Lee Cur­tis, Shaquille O’Neal, and many more.

The Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book forged part­ner­ships to present sev­er­al pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary awards in Geor­gia. The GCB part­nered with The Chat­ta­hoochee Review and Geor­gia Perime­ter Col­lege to present the Townsend Prize for Fic­tion. The Lil­lian Smith Book Award (LSBA) is pre­sent­ed annu­al­ly by the South­ern Region­al Coun­cil, Uni­ver­si­ty of Geor­gia Libraries, DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library/​The Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book, and Pied­mont Col­lege, in con­junc­tion with the Decatur Book Fes­ti­val. The Stan­ley Lind­berg Award was pre­sent­ed bien­ni­al­ly (in oppo­site years from the Townsend Prize) and is cur­rent­ly not active.

Bill Starr retired as Exec­u­tive Direc­tor in April 2013, and lat­er that year in Octo­ber 2013, Davich took over the posi­tion. Con­tin­u­ing the strong tra­di­tion of author events, Davich expand­ed the pro­gram­ming to include the visu­al, the­atri­cal, and motion pic­ture arts. The GCB part­ners with the Decatur Arts Alliance to present the annu­al The Book As Art exhi­bi­tion, and with doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er Hal Jacobs to host The Decatur Shorts Docs Film Fes­ti­val. Jacobs’ doc­u­men­tary Lil­lian Smith: Break­ing The Silence debuted at the Decatur Library Audi­to­ri­um. Also in part­ner­ship with Jacobs, the GCB host­ed a pre­sen­ta­tion of Jor­dan Is So Chilly: An Encounter With Lil­lian Smith, a one-woman show cre­at­ed by local actor Bren­da Bynum that toured across the state, spon­sored by the Geor­gia Human­i­ties Coun­cil. Davich sought part­ner­ships with local church­es, book­stores, and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions to sup­port lit­er­ary pro­gram­ming in Decatur and beyond. One such part­ner­ship is with the First Bap­tist Church of Decatur for the Con­ver­sa­tions at First Bap­tist read­ing series.

Davich renewed ties with oth­er Affil­i­ate Cen­ters for the Book with pro­grams such as Route 1 Reads, a read­ing pro­gram with the six­teen Affil­i­ate Cen­ters for the Book along Route 1; On My Mind, a read­ing series with Read­SC — the South Car­oli­na Cen­ter for the Book (a play on the titles of both state songs); and most recent­ly with Geor­gia Poet Lau­re­ate Chelsea Rath­burn for the Geor­gia Poet­ry in the Parks pro­gram, which fea­tures the works of Geor­gia poets on sig­nage placed in parks across the state.

The GCB host­ed the first edi­tions of the Broadleaf Writ­ers Con­fer­ence, brain­child of author Zachary Steele, the GCB’s Pro­gram­ming Assis­tant from 2016 to 2018. Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty’s Revival: Lost South­ern Voic­es, a fes­ti­val for read­ers, began hold­ing their annu­al con­fer­ence at Decatur Library in 2019, and the GCB became a full part­ner for the con­fer­ence after Ally StoneWright became the Pro­gram­ming Assis­tant in July 2019. StoneWright, a Geor­gia native, received her PhD from Geor­gia State in Eng­lish, Cre­ative Writ­ing, and was involved with the con­fer­ence from its ear­ly stages.

Dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the Geor­gia Cen­ter for the Book went vir­tu­al and con­tin­ued to pro­vide month­ly author pro­grams and expand the vir­tu­al offer­ings of its many annu­al pro­grams. We now offer a vari­ety of in-per­son and vir­tu­al pro­grams. Part of the going-vir­tu­al ini­tia­tive has been the cre­ation of this new web­site, now live thanks to the help of Jim­my Lo and Jer­ri Wil­son of DeKalb Coun­ty Pub­lic Library, and the enthu­si­asm and hard work of Ally StoneWright. She promis­es it will only get bet­ter from here as more is added.

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