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.”

His­to­ry

“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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