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Washington Memorial Library to celebrate a century of service to the Macon community

<p>The Washington Memorial Library is less than a mile from Mercer&#x27;s campus and is located on the corner of College Street and Washington Avenue.</p>

The Washington Memorial Library is less than a mile from Mercer's campus and is located on the corner of College Street and Washington Avenue.

This fall marks Washington Memorial Library’s 100th anniversary. The library will kick off the celebration on Nov. 9 with an opening birthday party, followed by a year of monthly challenges ending in October 2024.

According to the library’s website, the building opened on Nov. 28, 1923, after Ellen Washington Bellamy contributed a $50,000 donation in honor of her brother, Hugh Vernon Washington. The historic library was named one of the top ten most beautiful libraries in the state by Georgia’s Public Library Service in 2017.

The 50,000 square foot library underwent renovations in 2011 and implemented new technologies such as computer labs, reading rooms, an area for young people called Teen Central and wireless internet access. The million-dollar project was funded by the Bibb County Government, Macon Friends of the Library, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Since the renovation, the library plans to serve thousands of Georgians through free computer classes.

Kate Aultman, head of the Washington Memorial Library, is proud of the work she and her staff have done to provide reading and computer literacy opportunities for patrons young and old. Aultman grew up as a “latchkey kid”, meaning she was often home alone growing up, and because of this her local library became an essential beacon of entertainment, human connection and personal growth. She said she works hard to help the Washington Memorial Library play the same role for others.

 “It’s a celebration of all the hard work, and why we wake up every day to be able to both serve the public and see the benefit of modern information,” Aultman said. 

Aultman said the library’s continued evolution depends upon merging traditional and digital humanities. Library staff are happy to have access to online systems that allow for wider book circulation and robust databases for research such as Galileo. 

“We have a genealogy and local history space within our library on the first floor that is dedicated to local history and has a really extensive archive,” Aultman said. 

Bryson Malta ‘24, the president of Mercer’s Writer’s Club, often visits the library when he’s looking for specific resources.

“I go to the Washington Memorial Library when I seek to checkout movies or books that are otherwise not available at Tarver library,” Malta said. 

Aultman said she wants more Mercer students to take advantage of Washington Memorial Library’s services, such as the Busy Bee Book Club which meets at the Oh Honey Baking Co. in Macon. She is excited at the possibility of partnerships with the university in the future. 

The library will begin the year of celebration with an opening birthday party on November 9 from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring cake and a proclamation from Mayor Lester Miller. Mercer students and the public are also invited to attend and to join in the yearlong celebration that includes online reading challenges and themed months.

According to Aultman, the Washington Memorial Library is prepared for another successful century of serving the Macon community .

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