Statement of Purpose

The Heritage Room is a special collections unit of the Athens-Clarke County Library which collects, preserves, organizes, and makes available on a limited basis materials for the purpose of research and/or preservation covering the Athens area, the state of Georgia, and the Southeastern United States. As one of Georgia’s larger publicly accessible and non-membership genealogy and local history collections, the Heritage Room is a regional resource. The Heritage Room seeks to serve students of all ages and experience levels in their research into Southern, Georgia, and local area history and genealogy.

The Heritage Room maintains three arms of service: reference and research, archives, and programming. Together, these arms support the Athens-Clarke County Library’s mission to provide information and resources which address the needs of the community, foster enjoyment and a love of reading, and provide a repository of the history and culture of Athens-Clarke County.

The Heritage Room maintains a variety of textual and microform primary source records, a non-circulating library of secondary sources, and a broad array of web-accessible research databases for the study of genealogy and local history. The Heritage Room staff serves the public on-site as well as remotely through email, mail, telephone and fax inquires.

The Heritage Room Archives preserve and make available unique records of enduring value related specifically to the history of Athens and Clarke County’s individuals, families, organizations, institutions, and select local government agencies. It also serves as the central repository for the permanent retention of the archival records of the Athens Regional Library System and its branches. The Heritage Room Archives seek to document the lived experiences of ordinary Athenians for the purposes of genealogical and historical research. These primary sources include not only textual and special media records—such as maps, photographs, sound recordings, and moving images—but also art and artifacts, rare book collections, manuscripts, architectural drawings, and textiles. Heritage Room staff assists patrons on-site in the Heritage Reading Room, and makes collections web-accessible through finding aids, digital exhibits, and online search tools.

Heritage Room programming serves the public through book discussions and readings, exhibitions, lectures, seminars, tours, webinars and workshops. Through its cultural and educational programming, the Heritage Room helps interpret and highlight its rich collections and provides outreach to the general public.

Acquisitions / Collection Development

Selections Criteria

Materials suitable for the Heritage Room collection must have relevance to Athens-Clarke County (or the distinct City of Athens and Clarke County prior to unification), the state of Georgia, the migration trails into and out of Georgia, and/or the South.

The subject areas include, but are not limited to:

  1. Business, economic, social, cultural, educational, natural, and transportation history;
  2. Government and politics, including settlement of the region and armed conflict;
  3. Geology, archaeology, and geography, and their effects on the history and development of the region.

The “South” is generally defined as the eleven states that seceded from the Union in 1860-1861: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. After Georgia, these states are given the most emphasis within the Heritage Room collection. Certain Border States (i.e. Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri) are collected less extensively due to their role in the migration periods both in the early part of American history and surrounding the period of the Civil War.

Some Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are also collected to cover the colonial and Southern migration trails to Georgia and the rest of the South, as are materials about other parts of the United States when the subjects relate to Georgia and/or the South.

High priority subjects for collection include but are not limited to the following topics, listed in no particular order:

  1. The indigenous peoples who originally settled and lived in the area, with particular emphasis on the territory disputes between the Cherokee and the Creek Indians and Native American genealogy;
  2. The key position of Georgia in the Southern migration and settlement of North America spanning from the Colonial period through the American Revolution and into the early Federal period;
  3. The important roles played by many citizens and industries of Clarke County during the antebellum years through the Civil War;
  4. Southeastern African-American history, culture, economics, geography, and education to reflect the historically large percentage of African-Americans in the local population.


Materials will be collected through purchase, gift, or trade from individuals, businesses, and institutions. The Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist reserves the right to refer or reject gift or trade materials of questionable value to the collection.

Additions to the Heritage Room collection will be evaluated based on the criteria listed in the Athens-Clarke County Library System’s Resource Collections Management Policy as well as the following selection criteria:

  1. Permanent value to the collection;
  2. Relevance of the item to the existing collection;
  3. Physical characteristics of the item (i.e. size or storage requirements);
  4. Relative importance in comparison to other works on the same subject.

Materials in a variety of formats are suitable for inclusion in the Heritage Room collection. However, due to limited space, memorabilia, ephemera, published works of fiction, and collections will be purchased or accepted as donations on a limited basis.

Heritage Room staff will regularly and publically solicit donations of records, scrapbooks, and other materials from local businesses, clubs, societies, organizations, local schools, etc. in an effort to preserve the history of Athens and Clarke County. The Heritage Room actively attempts to acquire selected local government publications of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, the formerly distinct governments of the City of Athens and Clarke County, the city of Winterville, and their departments.


All donations and gifts will be evaluated using the same criteria as materials selected for purchase. The Heritage Room will accept donations and gifts with the understanding that it may use them in accordance with its policies and dispose of them as it sees fit.

Items typically accepted as donations but not purchased include but are not limited to:

  1. Family histories and surname society publications;
  2. Family records and papers;
  3. Yearbooks from local schools, colleges, and universities;
  4. Annuals, minute books, docket books, financial ledgers, and other organizational or business records or papers for local garden, civic, study clubs.

Patrons wishing to donate bibles and copies of bible records will be referred to area genealogical or lineage society for preservation and/or publication.

Patrons wishing to claim tax deductions for donations made to the Heritage Room must have their item(s) or collection(s) appraised at their own expense prior to making their donation. A completed Deed of Gift form must accompany all donations.

Athens Authors Shelf

The Athens Authors Shelf is a non-circulating book collection located in the Heritage Room and includes items not previously addressed in the Acquisitions / Collections Development section of this document. Additions to the collection must be made by donation from the author, who must meet one of the following qualifications:

  1. Born in Athens-Clarke County; or
  2. Lived in Athens-Clarke County for at least ten years; or
  3. Wrote the book while living in Athens-Clarke County.

Books published to fulfill the requirement for an advanced university degree are not eligible. No public funds are to be used to acquire books for the Athens Authors Shelf.

Items Placed in Custody of the Heritage Room

Under exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist, in consultation with the Library Director, materials not owned by the Heritage Room may be kept in the collection for research or other purposes. Such items will require a completed Deed of Deposit form granting permission by the owning entity to allow the Heritage Room to have physical possession of the item(s) on a temporary basis while the owning entity retains ownership and copyright.

Materials Review Policy and Procedures

Patrons who request the reconsideration of materials in the Heritage Room should follow the procedures outlined in the Challenged Materials section of the Athens-Clarke County Library policy.

Collection Maintenance

In general, the Heritage Room follows the practices outlined in the Collection Maintenance section of the Athens Regional Library System’s Resources Collections Management Policy. Most materials in the Heritage Room are collected or accepted for permanent retention, so the collection is typically not weeded.

Deaccessioning is the process of removing permanently from the archival collections accessioned materials that are duplicated, fail to meet collection criteria or are otherwise inappropriate to the collection. The deaccessioning process shall be cautious, deliberate and completed with the utmost integrity.

Heritage Room resources are weeded or deaccessioned from the collection if content, condition, or lack of patron demand limits further use. With the removal of an item from its collection, the Heritage Room will do its utmost to secure a new home for the deaccessioned material, and reserves the right to sell discarded resources to benefit the Heritage Room or to otherwise dispose of items no longer suitable for its collections.

Items dating from 1865 and earlier or items appraised at a value of $2,500 or greater must be presented to the Board for approval prior to being weeded or deaccessioned.


Patrons must register with the Heritage Room upon their initial visit, and sign in and out of the room on all subsequent visits. A PINES card is not required to use the Heritage Room. Patrons are allowed to bring laptop computers, tablet computers, and personal scanners into the Heritage Room. As long as a flash is not used, digital cameras and cell phone cameras are also permitted.
Patrons in the Heritage Room have access to the books, periodicals, microforms, vertical file records, and databases available.

The Heritage Room collection includes materials in a variety of formats and therefore provides the technology and software necessary to access these formats, including but not limited to computers with database access, VHS players, compact disc and cassette tape players, slide carousels and projectors, microform readers, printers, photocopiers, and scanners. Due to the limited availability of equipment and high demand for their use, the Library reserves the right to limit individual equipment sessions. Internet access in the Heritage Room is for genealogical and/or historical research only. Abuse of this privilege may result in removal from the Heritage Room and possibly the Athens-Clarke County Library.

Registered Heritage Room patrons who wish to access materials held in the Vault must fill out both a Vault Materials Use form and a Call Slip for each item they request. Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Materials will be brought into the Heritage Reading Room for the patron to access.


Due to the nature of the Heritage Room collection, essential security restrictions are in place. Materials from the Heritage Room collection may only be accessed during hours the Heritage Room is open and staffed. Heritage Room books will bear a distinguishing “GR” — for “Georgia Room” — before the call number. The collection does not circulate.
Patrons are required to leave any bags and other personal belongings in the lockers near the entrance to the Heritage Room. Lockers are provided as a courtesy to Heritage Room patrons only, and should be emptied at the conclusion of the patron’s visit. Items may not be stored in lockers overnight. Heritage Room lockers will be regularly checked, and personal items left at the end of the day will be moved to Lost & Found or disposed of as necessary.

If materials belonging to the Heritage Room cannot be located in either the Heritage Room or Athens-Clarke County Library building, and it is determined they have not been misfiled or misplaced, the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist or the Director of the Athens-Clarke County Library will notify the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Access to the Vault is by key and only regularly scheduled, trained Heritage Room staff, the Heritage Room Librarian/Archivist, the Information Services Manager, the Director of the Athens-Clarke County Library, and the Athens-Clarke County Library Administrative Assistant have access to the key for the Vault. A box-level inventory of the Vault will be conducted annually.

Research Requests

Research requests are defined as any questions requiring that are not ready reference, including but not limited to multi-part questions and those involving vague or uncertain information. Patrons making such requests will be charged a research fee. Written research requests received via mail, fax, or email will be answered as time permits at the rates listed in the Fines / Fees Schedule of the Athens-Clarke County Library Policy Manual. Research fees are non-refundable. Due to the specialized nature of research requests, all requests must be made in writing. Patrons who phone with research requests will be provided with the Library’s email and/or mailing address to submit their questions in writing.

The results of each commissioned research request will include at least one of the following: (1) up to 12 photocopies for most orders with a citation of the source, or (2) a report of the search, indicating all sources searched if no information is located, or (3) when applicable, a listing of suggested sources for additional research.

Ready reference questions will be answered by phone, in person, or by email at no charge.

The Heritage Room staff welcomes and encourages all patrons to use the collection while also acknowledging limitations to collection availability and staff time. An effort will be made to teach patrons to use the collection and provide self-help materials such as indexes, finding aids, software and hardware instructions, and information about courses, programs, organizations, or individuals specializing in relevant areas of study.


Materials may not be removed from the Heritage Room without the authorization of the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist, the Assistant Director, or the Director. Materials may be made available for Interlibrary Loan with an “In-Library Use Only” stipulation at the discretion of the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist. Fragile materials will not be loaned due to risk of further deterioration.

Special permission may be granted by the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist or the Director of the Athens-Clarke County Library for Heritage Room materials to be used by another institution for exhibition or other purposes. A written loan agreement defining the terms of the loan will be signed by the two organizations prior to the removal of any materials from the Heritage Room.


The Heritage Meeting Room is available to the public with a reservation during the hours the Heritage Room is open. Please see the Public Use of Meeting Rooms Policy for more information.

The Heritage Room Vault contains rare, original, fragile, and/or valuable processed materials. Items are stored in the Vault at the discretion of the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist or the Director of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

The Heritage Storage Room is for accessioned materials awaiting processing. The Heritage Workroom is for the processing of materials from the Storage Room so they can be added to the Vault. Access to the both rooms is for authorized staff and volunteers only, and these rooms will remain locked at all times.

Reproduction and Use

Permission to Publish

The Heritage Room is committed to supporting research, teaching, scholarship, publication, and artistic production involving use of the Library’s special collections materials. To remove barriers to such uses, it is not necessary to seek the Library’s permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials from the Heritage Room. This applies whether the use is non-commercial or commercial.

Requests for permission to publish from the small number of collections for which the Athens-Clarke County Library does own copyright must be in writing and include a full description of the material to be published, citation of where and in what format the material will be published, and any relevant details to the publication. Permission is granted for one use only and is not transferrable to any other person, organization, or entity. Additional uses require additional written requests, and will be considered separately.
Requests for permission to publish should be addressed to:

Heritage Room Librarian
Athens-Clarke County Library
2025 Baxter Street
Athens, Georgia 30606

The Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist reserves the right to refuse to accept a permission to publish request if, in his/her judgment, fulfillment of the request would constitute a violation of copyright law. Further, some library donors have placed restrictions on the use of Heritage Room materials that must be honored. The Heritage Room cannot grant permissions requests for printed works that are still under copyright protection. Similarly, we cannot grant permissions requests for archival or manuscript collections for which we do not hold copyright. It is the sole responsibility of the user or recipient of copies of Heritage Room materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to any distribution or publication. If the text or image in question is under copyright, permission to publish must be sought from the owners of the rights, typically the creator or the heirs to his or her estate unless covered by the principle of “fair use.” Copyright law protects unpublished as well as published materials.

Any use of Heritage Room images or materials is subject to the user or recipient’s agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the Athens-Clarke County Library, its officers, employees and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions and expenses. By using these materials, the patron agrees to these responsibilities, including the noted legal protections of the Athens-Clarke County Library. Failure to abide by copyright law or provide proper credit is grounds for the permanent denial of access to the Heritage Room collection of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

How to Cite

The Heritage Room must always be cited as the source of text or images when published or otherwise distributed. In general, Heritage Room materials should be cited as:

Collection name, box #, folder #, Courtesy of the Heritage Room,
Athens-Clarke County Library, Athens, Georgia

Please contact the Heritage Room if questions arise concerning the proper citation or description of materials.

Requesting Reproductions / Duplications

It is possible to request photocopies, microfilm and digital images of Heritage Room materials. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” Reproductions may not be made for or donated to other repositories. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

The Heritage Room will consider requests for limited reproduction of materials when copying meets all of the criteria:

  1. can be done without injury to the material
  2. does not violate donor agreements
  3. conforms to copyright law

Reproduction requests must be made in advance using the form provided. A flat fee payable to the Athens-Clarke County Heritage Room, plus the costs of reproduction as determined by the needs of the patron, is due upon reproduction request. See the Athens-Clarke County Library Fines / Fees Schedule for more information.

Any fees or other charges associated with the reproduction of illustrative, photographic, or audio materials do not in any way constitute the sale of these images, files, content or their copyrights. Permission to examine materials or to obtain copies does not imply the right to publish or reproduce them, in whole or in part. All rights are retained by the Heritage Room and/or the copyright holder. If copy negatives are made in the reproduction process, all such negatives shall become the property of the Heritage Room of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

Collection Care


In an effort to preserve materials in the condition in which they are received, the Heritage Room Vault and Storage Rooms will have an independently adjustable and monitored temperature and humidity controlled environment. As funds are available, archival storage containers will be purchased and used. Heritage Room staff will clean and repair materials that are the property of the Athens-Clarke County Library using standard preservation procedures.


Heritage Room materials that require conservation and/or restoration will be sent to professionals as funds are available. A priority list of items needing attention and the prescribed treatment needed will be maintained. Where necessary, Heritage Room staff will provide patrons with duplicates or digital surrogates of fragile or valuable original materials.

Insurance and Appraisal

Items that are rare, valuable, or difficult and/or expensive to replace may require insurance. Important donated materials should be appraised by the donor before donation to the Heritage Room. If no appraisal was completed, an expert approved by the Athens-Clarke County Library’s insurance company will provide the evaluation.

Some items may increase in value over time and require reappraisal. This need will be evaluated at the time of the annual inventory, with the Heritage Room Librarian / Archivist making recommendations for the reappraisal of certain items in the collection as warranted.

Approved April 14, 2015

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