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Celebrating Black History Month

Powdersville Library Branch Manager Alex Currin reflects on the contributions of African Americans:

At my segregated elementary school in Raleigh, NC, black history was celebrated the second week in February. However, my teachers told us about the contributions of African-Americans throughout the school year.

We learned that there is strong evidence African nations had colonized the new world before Columbus. That a black man, Crispus Attucks, was the first American to die for this country. That the Chicago surgeon Daniel Dale Williams was the first physician to perform a successful heart operation. And that the black community in Los Angeles raised money to send Ralph Bunche to study at Harvard. He would become a diplomat and the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, 14 years before Martin Luther King, Jr.

Norma Haywood, my fourth-grade teacher, placed a challenge for us who were college-bound: we were to be Dr. King’s lieutenants who would break doors open for those who came after us, or as the scholar W. E. B. DuBois would call us, “The Talented Tenth.”

The superlatives of these great Americans should not overshadow black men and women who aren’t in the history books. I speak of those who bought the freedom of themselves and their families during slavery. Those who served in our two world wars so gallantly that President Truman ordered the integration of the armed forces in 1948. Those who rode buses, sat at lunch counters, and endured fire-hoses and vicious police dogs. Those who challenge authority at the untimely death of African Americans who have had confrontations with law enforcement. And on a more personal note, my grandfather, a farmer in rural North Carolina who sent his nine children to college.

African-American labor built the White House and cleared the frontier. This isn’t to say that the black experience in America has been one of continuous tribulation. African-Americans have been trendsetters throughout this nation’s history. You hear it in our music—the blues, jazz, Motown and hip-hop. You see it in fashion—Ann Lowe designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, Stephen Burrows made clothes people wore to be seen in the disco era, and Russell Simmons and Sean “Diddy” Combs made urban wear commonplace. And filmmakers Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and Gordon Parks have raised the profile of the black aesthetic.

February truly is a time to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans. The library will commemorate the month in the following ways:

  • A crossword puzzle with names and events prominent in black history for ages 12 and under
  • A pathfinder with clues to names and events prominent in black history for teens and adults
  • Pictures of prominent African-Americans that you can take selfies with
  • Bold Type, a program where members of the community read works from prominent African-Americans
  • Reading lists of fiction by African-American authors

Black History is American history. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Let the journey begin.

Meet the New Assistant Director

Annie Sutton
Annie Sutton

The Anderson County Library System welcomes Annie Sutton as the new Assistant Director this month. She takes over from Janet Price, who retired in December after twelve years with the Library to spend more time with her family, including her granddaughter.

Annie, the South Carolina Library Association’s 2019 Outstanding Librarian, is a familiar face at the Library and around Anderson. She has been the Library’s Head of Access Services since 2014, overseeing the Circulation Department and the branch managers, as well as leading successful book clubs and volunteering her time with The LOT Project, United Way, PAWS, and more.

Get to know the new Assistant Director, Annie!

  • You are originally from Indiana, but have been in Anderson for 13 years now. What are some things you appreciate about the community?

Thirteen years is a significant amount of time to spend in an area, and I’ve loved being able to see how it has embraced change and growth. Downtown Anderson has really flourished and the community continues to add events and resources for its residents. I’ve also noticed and been able to be a part of organizations banding together to better address taking care of those in need in our community.  

  • You’ve seen quite a few changes with the Library over your career. What are some things that have changed, and what has stayed the same?

I would say that overall our basic services have remained the same and likely will continue to do so. We have always provided materials to check out, reference services, programs for children, and meeting spaces for community groups. 

What’s changed is the focus of some of those services. Since I’ve been at the library we’ve added digital resources (like eBooks) for patrons to check out.  Our programming has been updated to also include teens, tweens, and adults. We’ve also expanded programs to take on a larger scope over the years, like the How-To Fair, Comic Con, and Books & Community.  

Our physical spaces have adapted as needed. Thirteen years ago we needed more room for computers. Now, we are making more room for small groups to meet and work. The teen department and Electric City Creative makerspace – and even the library’s social media – are entirely new spaces that have been added in my time here.

  • What are you most excited about for the future of the Anderson County Library System?

I’m always excited to see how we can continue to meet the needs of our patrons. As a library we strive to remain relevant and that often brings changes in what we offer… new programs, new kinds of items to check out, new kinds of spaces, new partnerships. It’s fun!

  • Do you have any pets?

Ha ha ha, yes, I have two dogs! Oakley is a black lab rescue; he’s sweet and shy.  Elmer came to me this year as a foster from Anderson County PAWS (where I volunteer) and I decided to keep him. He’s energetic and super cute.  Both love going to daycare and provide a ton of laughs and fun.  Remember: adopt, don’t shop!   

  • Since picking a favorite book can be way too difficult, can you tell us instead about what you’re currently reading?

I’m reading The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg and listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Both are for library book clubs that I help lead! 

Please join Director Faith Line and the entire library staff in welcoming Annie to her new role. And look for more exciting programs and services thanks to Annie’s leadership at Anderson County Library!

Discover Family History

As families gather for the holidays, it can be a great time to begin exploring your family’s history. The Anderson County Library System has a wealth of resources and tools to aid your genealogical research. The South Carolina Room, on the second floor of the Main Library, is staffed with archive and local history experts ready to help you get started, answer questions, and assist with any of the resources available free with your library card. Many of these resources are even available from home!

SC Room Bronze Palmetto

Not sure exactly where to begin? HeritageQuest, available from your home through the library’s website, is a great first step. Search or browse through records from the U.S. & Canada Census, the Freedman’s Bank, U.S. Indian Census rolls, Revolutionary War Era Pension & Bounty-land Warrant files, U.S. obituaries, the full text of over 20,000 family and local histories, and more.

Ready to go more in-depth? Try Genealogy 101 from Universal Class. Also available from home, the course has 13 lessons ranging from constructing a family tree, introduction to basic resources, and improving research strategies.

Doing local research? The new Local Obituary Index is available through the library’s website. SC Room staff regularly update this searchable index of obituaries from Anderson County newspapers. It currently covers 1950-1954, 1971, 1980 & 2010-2018, and the indexing continues to add more obituaries. Copies of the obituaries may be printed from the microfilm records in the South Carolina Room.

Already visiting the library? Access to Ancestry – Library Edition is available at all library locations. Ancestry has extensive historical and genealogical information from the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada, Europe, Australia and other areas of the world.

Still looking for more? South Carolina Room staff teach classes on these resources and other ways to get the most out of your family research. Upcoming classes at the Main Library: Links to the Past: Probate Records on January 21 and Exploring Family History through DNA on January 29. To register or for more information, call 260-4500 x130 or email

Anderson County Library System Joins Boycott of Macmillan Publishers

Macmillan Boycott: 5 Things to Know

Effective immediately, the Anderson County Library System will stop purchasing print books, eBooks, downloadable audiobooks and books on CD for circulation from Macmillan Publishers and its imprints. The Anderson County Library System’s boycott is part of a national movement to protest Macmillan’s recent business practices towards libraries. Books and other items that are already part of the Library’s collections will not be affected.

On November 1, Macmillan implemented an embargo on library eBook purchases that prevents any library from purchasing more than one copy of a newly published eBook from Macmillan or any of its imprints for eight weeks after the publication date. For a popular release, the Anderson County Library System typically purchases up to six copies to meet demand. You can read more about eBooks and the library from a previous blog post here.

“The Library’s mission is to provide free and equitable access to all our patrons, and Macmillan’s embargo is antithetical to that mission. We have to send a clear message on that,” says Library Director Faith Line.

Last fiscal year, the Anderson County Library System circulated over 126,000 eBooks and audiobooks in Overdrive alone, the Library’s main digital platform. It was a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

eBooks aren’t just about convenience, though; they’re about accessibility. “eBooks allow patrons to enlarge the text, heighten the contrast, or even change to a font that is helpful for readers with dyslexia,” says Heather Bistyga, collection development manager. “And patrons who are unable to travel to the library can select their own books and download them in the comfort of home.”

The Anderson County Library System joins other libraries in South Carolina and nationwide in opposing the embargo and Macmillan. The American Library Association launched a national campaign at As of Nov. 21, over 209,000 people had signed a petition demanding that eBook access for libraries not be denied or delayed.

Libraries already face limitations on eBook and digital audiobook purchases, since many Amazon eBooks and Audible exclusives are unavailable for libraries to purchase and make available to their patrons. Libraries also pay up to five times the retail price for downloadable books, many of which expire after a certain time period or number of checkouts.

Libraries are major purchasers of books as well as a source of free marketing for books and authors.  Like other libraries participating in this boycott, the Anderson County Library hopes to make Macmillan reconsider their embargo, remember the key roles that libraries play in the book and reading world, and prevent other publishing companies from following suit.

“This boycott isn’t a decision we go into lightly, but Macmillan is setting a dangerous precedent that could influence other publishers in the future,” says Line. “We hope our patrons will understand why we feel the need to take a stand to ensure free and equitable access.”

We understand that this may be a source of inconvenience for our patrons and ask for understanding at this time.

What You Can Do:

  1. Please keep using our Digital Library. We can’t demonstrate the value and need for access without your support in this way.
  2. Let Macmillan know what you think.  You can send them an email at
  3. If you do check out the book from one of our libraries or otherwise get a copy of the book, please consider cancelling your hold in Overdrive or Libby. That way we can get the eBook faster to others who are waiting.
  4. Read more about eBooks and libraries. Libraries are fighting for fair and equal access to books for everyone, especially through the #eBooksForAll campaign.