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Best Library for Explaining Painful Times

You can't check out books at the AUBURN AVENUE RESEARCH LIBRARY. But the building's modern design is so inviting -- and its collection of works chronicling African-American life is so unusual -- that camping out there is no bother. A lot has changed since the original Auburn Avenue library opened in 1921, a time when libraries and just about everything else were segregated. When the new Auburn Avenue library reopened in 1994, it became the first library of its kind in the Southeast. Among other prized possessions, it houses rare pre-1865 books and pamphlets by black authors, more than 100,000 negative prints of early-20th-century black artists and an impressive sound collection of phonographs and radio shows by black musicians. Rather than representing a divide between blacks and whites in the South, the Auburn Avenue Library now celebrates the artistic gifts that arose from an oppressive era.

101 Auburn Ave. 404-730-4001. www.af.public.lib.ga.us/aarl

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