By Tia Lynn Ivey
With the new decade comes a new name for the regional library system. Formerly named the Uncle Remus Regional Library System, of which the Morgan County Library is part, is officially renamed the Azalea Regional Library System.
“On January 9, 2020 the Regional Board of Trustees for the Uncle Remus Regional Library System voted to change the Regional System’s name to the Azalea Regional Library System, which is more representative of the six counties that comprise the current Regional System,” said a press release from the regional library system. “Member Counties include: Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Morgan, Putnam, and Walton. The azalea is also the official wildflower for the State of Georgia, adopted on April 19, 1979, and blooms from March through August in all parts of the state. Various native species are located in all of the counties in the Regional System and bloom brilliant shades of white, pink, orange, scarlet, yellow, and purple.”
Some form of the Uncle Remus name has been part of the regional library system since 1959, which pay homage to stories of Joel Chandler Harris of Putnam County, who authored the series of Uncle Remus stories. According to The New Georgia Encyclopedia, “Uncle Remus is the fictional title character and narrator of a collection of black American folktales compiled and adapted by Joel Chandler Harris and published in book form in 1881. … He wrote these stories to represent the struggle in the Southern United States, and more specifically in the plantations.”
Uncle Remus and Beer Rabbit tales were adapted by Disney into films and books, becoming iconic figures in popular culture throughout the decades.
The URRLS board voted in October to retire the Uncle Remus name in an attempt to find a more unifying name reflective of the entire region.
“The Regional Board is in no way attempting to erase the system’s rich history,” said Stacy Brown, director of the regional library board in a press release. “Books and materials pertaining to Uncle Remus and/or Joel Chandler Harris will not be discarded from the nine Member Libraries. Historical accounts of how the Regional System’s name came to be will not be altered. Artifacts, the Laughin’ Place garden or the “Critters” at the Morgan County Library, mural art, or any other “Uncle Remus” statuary within the System will not be removed or replaced on Library grounds. The Regional System will still maintain its already excellent level of customer service and continue to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Patrons will, however, notice that along with a new name, there will be a new logo to represent the Regional System, as the Brer Rabbit logo will be retired and replaced with a native azalea bloom. We expect these changes to take place as soon as this coming spring with other changes, such as new letterhead, website, signs, and plaques, taking place over a five year period.”
The regional board is appreciative to the communities who contributed name ideas during the search.
“The Trustees, the Regional Director, and all library staff would like to thank the communities that the region serves for their name and logo suggestions,” said Brown. “Selecting a new name was not an easy task and one that was carried out with great consideration for the region’s rich history and culture, diverse communities, and unique landscapes.”