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Buffalo River Regional Library

Buffalo River Region

The regional library program was first developed in Tennessee because of the large population, the distances between the cities, and the lack of public library service across the state. The program was first authorized by state legislature in 1936 but was not funded until 1940, when the Tennessee Valley Authority contracted with Lawson McGhee Library in Knoxville to provide service to four counties in East Tennessee.

During 1946, the counties of Franklin, Lawrence, Marshall and Warren formed a region known as the Middle Tennessee State College Region. In 1947, three counties were added to the region - Coffee, Rutherford, and Wilson. These were followed by Bedford County in 1949, Maury County in 1951. and Moore County in 1953.

In July 1954, Lawrence, Marshall and Maury counties were transferred to a new region at Columbia called the Blue Grass Region. At the same time three other counties were transferred from the Austin Peay Region into the newly formed region. These counties were Hickman, Lewis and Perry.

In October 1955, Giles County came into the Blue Grass Region with Wayne County joining in 1956. Williamson County, the last county in the state to join the regional system, joined Blue Grass in 1968. From 1968 to 2012, the region was made up of nine counties - Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Wayne and Williamson. In July 2012, the regional library system was reorganized. The Blue Grass Region become the Buffalo Region and Lincoln County joined the new region.

The Blue Grass Region was set up by Miss Mary Nelson Bates of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, who acted as director until the arrival of Miss Mary Melton in October 1954. Since then the region has seen a succession of regional directors. The current regional director is Marion Bryant. From its founding in 1955 until 1999 the region was governed by a board appointed by the county commissions of the member counties. On July 1, 1999, the region became part of the State of Tennessee Department of State and the Board moved into an advisory role.

The Buffalo River Region contracts each year with the ten member counties to coordinate local library services in the region and to provide professional advice and assistance to the member libraries. The region also supplies a large collection of materials to supplement those owned by the local libraries and provides assistance with technology issues and planning.

As the largest of the twelve multi-county regions, the Buffalo River Region's service area covers 5,393 square miles and has a population of approximately 461,257. The regional library currently services 27 member libraries.