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Your Local Library's History

Providing Education & Opportunity

South Mississippi Regional Library System (SMRL) serves the citizens of Jefferson Davis and Marion Counties.  SMRL has two branches in Jefferson Davis County: The Dr. Frank L. Leggett Library in Bassfield and the Prentiss Public Library.  Marion County has one branch in Columbia, the Columbia-Marion County Public Library, which is the headquarters branch for SMRL.  The system is supported by the cities of Columbia, Prentiss, Bassfield, and the Marion and Jefferson Davis Counties.
On January 1, 1912, as the result of a vision for the community and much hard work by a dedicated group of citizens, a Public Library opened in Columbia, MS.  The library, located in a small committee room adjoining the office of the County Superintendent of Education, was open two afternoons a week from 3:00-5:00 p.m.  Dues of $1.00 per year were charged for the privilege of using the library, except for teachers.
By 1916, the library collection contained some 600 volumes in its collection and was moved to the east hall of the Court House. From the Court House, the library was moved, in 1942, to the recreation hall on the campus of the Columbia Grammar School. When, in 1948, the Grammar School needed the space for classrooms, the library moved to the Court Room at City Hall.
In 1955, Mrs. Maggie Lou Lacy Edwards of Houston, TX, inherited the home of her sister, Mrs. I.A. Shelby in Columbia, MS. On September 17, 1955, she deeded the property at 707 Oak Avenue to the city to be used as a public library to be known as the “Shelby Memorial Library.” With the acquisition of this property, it was possible for the library to expand its services, and story times and a Summer Reading Program were added.
In 1969, the library signed a contract with the Pike Amite Library System to provide a bookmobile service that would visit a total of 33 stops in Marion County on a bi-weekly basis.
Beginning in 1970, the process began to create a regional library system. On October 9, 1972, Marion and Jefferson Davis Counties joined in creating the Marion-Jefferson Davis Regional Library system with Columbia as the headquarters. 
In 1973, Gaylord, the library’s first charging system for the circulation of materials, was introduced. Each library patron was issued a card with a metal plate containing a number which was stamped on the check out card. This new system eliminated the necessity of patrons signing cards.
During this time, Congress made available to states “revenue sharing money” to be used for library construction. Paperwork began to secure these funds for a new building in the library system, to be designated the headquarters. A commitment by local officials was required. The City of Columbia provided the land for the building and Marion County provided support for the construction. The process came to fruition with the dedication of the City of Columbia Marion County Library at 900 Broad Street on December 16, 1975. Construction continued on the buildings in Prentiss and Bassfield. On January 12, 1977, the Regional Library Board changed the name to South Mississippi Regional Library.
On April 1, 1984, the library system hired its first professional Children’s Librarian, Ms. Ann Fortenberry. In 2002, the Columbia Marion County Library was renovated to include the Children’s Room, later renamed in 2007 for long time Director, Mrs. Sara Carter Swinney.
The first computer was purchased for the library in 1984 but was used by staff to provide a listing of library patron numbers. The first computer for public use was at the Prentiss Library, provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was an immediate success and plans began to offer the service throughout the system. Today, the system offers a total of 33 public access computers, as well as free WiFi Internet, which was added in 2012.
Since 1912, the Public Library has provided for the educational, informational and recreational needs of the communities it serves.

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Mission Statement

Providing Education & Opportunity

South Mississippi Regional Library

Mission Statement



          The South Mississippi Regional Library, serving Marion and Jefferson Davis counties, with libraries located in Columbia, Bassfield, and Prentiss, provides resources and information for the educational and recreational needs of its customers.  A variety of formats is used to meet these needs.


Services provided are as follows:


  1. Current topics and titles—the library offers current high- demand, high-interest materials in a variety of formats.

  2. General information—the library provides information and answers to questions related to school assignments, work assignments, and general interest.

  3. Lifelong learning—the library provides a collection of circulating materials on a variety of topics designed to meet the needs of persons wishing to broaden their horizons.

  4. Local history—the library collects and maintains resources that are relevant to the history and development of the area.


Adopted July 31, 2006

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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI REGIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

Board Directors

Fiscal Year 2020-2021

Name 

Mrs. Sharon Dungan

Phone

601-260-7300

Name

Mrs. Patricia Norris

Phone

601-310-6811

(Jefferson Davis County)

Name

Mrs. Dorothy Barnes

Phone

601-943-6225

Cell Phone

601-740-1948

(Jefferson Davis County)

Mrs. Cheryl Bourne

(Marion County)

Name

Mrs. Joan Bass

Bassfield, MS 39421

Phone

601-765-5539

(Jefferson Davis County)

Ms. Carol Durham

(Marion County)