A Short History of the Library

In 1916, according to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Covington from that year, what is now the Covington Woman’s Club building at the corner of Washington and Elm streets was then the “Public Library”. Here’s the link to the map:1916 Map of Covington

According to the History of Newton County, the free public library opened its doors for the first time in November of 1944. In September of that year, at a meeting in the home of Mrs. Katherine Paty, plans were made for a public library. Space was provided in the basement of the Newton County Courthouse.

In 1953 the library became part of the DeKalb Regional Library System, a three-county regional library system including Newton, DeKalb and Rockdale counties. The growing library moved from the courthouse basement into the Covington Gymnasium on Conyers Street.

In 1978 funding from James H. Porter Foundation made possible the renovation of the old post office on Monticello Street and the Porter Memorial Library came into being.

Newton Library Circa 1978
Newton County Library Circa 1978

In 1989 The DeKalb Regional Library System was disbanded and each of the three counties became individual library systems, DeKalb County Library System, Conyers-Rockdale Public Library and Newton County Library System.

A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) passed by the voters of Newton County in 1995 along with a grant from the State of Georgia funded a new 32,000 square-foot building that opened in 1998 called the Newton County Library. Children's Services in the Covington Branch are located in Sara's Room, named in honor of Sara Trammell, Chairman of the Newton County Library Board from 1952 through 1996.

In 2000 the library joined the state-wide consortium PINES, Georgia Public Information Network for Electronic Services. PINES is a network of public libraries working toward the concept of a state-wide library card by sharing a database and library materials. Benefits for the public include access to books in libraries across the state, the ability to travel around the state using local libraries, borrowing and returning materials at PINES libraries with a PINES library card, and online access to the catalog and your own account in PINES.

In 2008 a formal agreement was entered into with the Newborn Town Council that made their community developed library become a service outlet and part of the library system.

Newborn Library Service Outlet History

In 1981 a “deposit collection”, or a significant loan of materials for an extended period of time from the Covington Library, was placed in the Newborn town hall. The deposit collection was rotated with new books quarterly.

About 2002 a group of community members headed by Janette Ziegler started a “Friends of the Library” organization. They secured an area in the Childs Building and over a period of years the Friends worked with the Library to expand and improve the space for the deposit collection eventually creating a1,200 square foot enclosed library area. Both the Library and the Friends have contributed furniture and books resulting in a small, informal lending library. Gradually the Library’s expanded its services by providing basic computer equipment for public use, by providing staff for regular visits including storytime and general library assistance to the public.

A formal agreement in 2008 between the Newborn Town Council and Library established the provision of materials and services thus enabling the library to make the Newborn deposit collection eligible for “Service Outlet” status with the State of Georgia’s library services governing agency. Establishing the Newborn Library Service Outlet makes the library eligible for grant funding from the state that directly benefits the citizens of Newborn in the form of the of a permanent lending collection, Internet access and library services for this tiny community.

Porter Memorial Branch Library

B_Architectural_Rendering_Exterior-View.png

Also in 2008 the Library was included as part of a County Impact fee initiative and the Library System was awarded a $2 million grant from the State of Georgia to construct the Porter Memorial Branch Library in the western part of the County. Construction was begun on the Library in 2010 and was completed in January of 2011. The Porter Memorial Branch Library is a state-of-the-art branch library with self-checkout of library materials, public access computers, informational television monitors, a teen zone, a quiet room, children's library, a general collection, audio-visual items, study rooms and a meeting room for the general public. The library facility was constructed according to LEED standards to be energy efficient and use sustainable materials. Among the special features of the building is a system that reuses filtered rain water to flush toilets and water outdoor plants, a system that reduces costs by harvesting sunlight entering the building to reduce the need for electrical lighting, a raised floor that houses an extremely energy efficient heating and air-conditioning system, and other features that enabled the facility to attain a GOLD LEED award.