Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society, founded in 2008, supports the library and assists in bringing culturally enriching programs to the university and regional community.

Through nationally-acclaimed exhibits, literary events, lectures, performances and information access education, the Melson Society enhances university program opportunities and helps share the resources of an academic library with the surrounding community. 

These activities support the mission of the Society:

• To foster closer relations between the library and the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the university, and between the library and the surrounding community.
• To develop a greater realization of the importance of the library to the future development of the university and the community
• To encourage gifts to support the library
• To sponsor programs designed to the cultural life of the community

In 1908, Fourth District A&M School principal John Holland Melson and his wife, Penelope (Nep) Stevens Melson, hosted a shower to obtain “A Cloudburst of Books” for the newly formed institution. The 325 volumes donated by local citizens formed the school’s first library and Mrs. Melson volunteered as its first librarian. Over one hundred years later, the library has blossomed into a dynamic research facility. The Penelope Melson Society supports Ingram Library’s commitment to provide a place where the university and the community can come together and feel at home in a world of ideas.

  • About Penelope Melson
    About Penelope Melson

    Penelope Melson Society

    Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society was founded January 27, 2008 to mark the centennial of the library established through the efforts of Penelope and John Holland Melson. In 1906 the Georgia legislature passed the Perry Act, supporting the development of an agricultural and mechanical school in each of Georgia’s eleven congressional districts. Thanks to pledges of support from citizens and local government Carrollton was chosen as the site for the Fourth District Agricultural & Mechanical School.

    Melson CouplePenelope ‘Nep’ Stevens was born in Buena Vista, Georgia October 24, 1879, to Hampton Stevens and Adaline Baker. She married John Holland Melson July 8, 1900 in Buena Vista, where both held teaching positions at Buena Vista High School. Professor Melson, a graduate of Mercer University, was appointed principal of the Fourth District A&M School in March 1907. Professor and Mrs. Melson, their six year old son Holland, infant daughter Martha, and Mrs. Melson’s young brother Rabun Cox Stevens, moved to Carrollton December 6, 1907, taking up residence in the dormitory, one of two buildings then under construction. While they resided in Carrollton, the Melsons had two sons, Edwin Stevens, 1910-1912, and Frank Baker, born in 1914.

    On January 29, 1908, Professor Melson invited local citizens to shower the institution with “A Cloudburst of Books.” The community turned out for an afternoon of musical entertainment and welcome by the students and faculty. Penelope Stevens Melson joined her husband in hosting the event, which secured 325 books and bound journals that formed the school’s first library. Mrs. Melson organized the collection, first in a closet in the administration building, and later in a converted classroom. Under her supervision the collection grew, and students paid a fee to allow the library to subscribe to current periodicals and newspapers. The Melsons left the institution in 1920, and Irvine Sullivan Ingram was appointed principal. The Fourth District A&M School became West Georgia College in 1933. In 1980, the West Georgia College Library was named in honor of Dr. Ingram.Melson Poem

    After serving as the volunteer librarian for the Fourth District A&M School, Penelope Melson continued her community involvement when the family moved to Hogansville, Georgia, where she operated the Calumet Center of Callaway Mills. She died April 20, 1969.

    Bibliography

    Bonner, James C.; Myron W. House; and James W. Mathews, From A&M to State University: A History of the State University of West Georgia. Carrollton: State University of West Georgia Foundation, 1998.

    Cobb, Rena. A History of Marion County, Georgia, Motherland of Many. Wolfe Publishing, 1997.

    Heard County Historical Society. History of Heard County, Georgia 1830-1990. Curtis Media, 1991.

    Melson, Nep S. Reminiscences of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School, Carrollton, Georgia, 1907-1920. Hogansville, Georgia: Nep S. Melson, 1941.

    Ware, Martha Melson. “Oral History Interview with Martha Ware, 2003 Aug. 2.” LaGrange, Georgia: Troup County Archives and the Troup-Harris-Coweta Library, 2004. Digital Library of Georgia.

    UWG Library 1921

  • How do I become a Member?
  • Who comprises the Board of Directors?
  • Bylaws
  • Founders
    Founders

    Ingram Library and the University of West Georgia are grateful to those who assisted in founding the Penelope Melson Society and in guiding its development.

    Steering Committee 2007
    • Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Don Chalfant
    • Dr. Fran Chalfant
    • Helen Chambers
    • Julie Dobbs
    • Suzanne Durham
    • E. Lorene Flanders
    • Diane Fulkerson
    • Shanna Freeman
    • Sharlet George
    • Bart Gillespie
     
    • Victoria Gunther
    • Myron House
    • Dr. Andy Leavitt
    • Lisa Ledbetter
    • Angela Mehaffey
    • Vicki Morris
    • Dorothy Pittman
    • Dr. Anne Richards
    • Jan Ruskell
    • Dr. Mel Steely
    • Roni Tewksbury
      • Dr. Tom Carrere
      • Don Chalfant
      • Dr. Fran Chalfant
      • Helen Chambers
      • Julie Dobbs
      • Suzanne Durham
      • E. Lorene Flanders
      • Diane Fulkerson
      • Shanna Freeman
      • Sharlet George
      • Bart Gillespie

       
      • Victoria Gunther
      • Myron House
      • Dr. Andy Leavitt
      • Lisa Ledbetter
      • Angela Mehaffey
      • Vicki Morris
      • Dorothy Pittman
      • Dr. Anne Richards
      • Jan Ruskell
      • Dr. Mel Steely
      • Roni Tewksbury

    Holland Ware, grandson of John Holland and Penelope Stevens Melson, provided the tinted photograph of Penelope ‘Nep’ Stevens Melson that serves as the Society’s logo, and the wedding portrait of the Melsons used by the Society in the library’s 2008 Centennial exhibit and in subsequent publications.

    Terry Kay, West Georgia College Class of 1957, granted permission for use of the quote about libraries from The Book of Marie, A Novel (Mercer University Press, 2007) featured in the Society’s original membership brochure, published in 2008 and subsequent publications.

    Barbara Stevens Owston, niece of Penelope Stevens Melson, provided the quote about her Aunt ‘Nep’ used in the Society’s second membership brochure, published in 2010.

    Founding Board of Directors 2008-2009
    • President
      Michelle Morgan
    • Vice President/President-Elect
      Beth Hunt
    • Representing the Steering Committee as Honorary Past President
      Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Secretary
      Helen Chambers
    • Treasurer
      Julie Dobbs
    • Faculty Representative
      Dr. Micheal Crafton
     
    • Community Representative
      Nathaniel Smith
    • Student Representative
      Rick Primuth
    • Alumni Representative
      Kenya Elder
    • Director of University Libraries
      E. Lorene Flanders
    • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
      James Janis
    • President of the Student Government Association
      Robert Kelly
      • President
        Michelle Morgan
      • Vice President/President-Elect
        Beth Hunt
      • Representing the Steering Committee as Honorary Past President
        Dr. Tom Carrere
      • Secretary
        Helen Chambers
      • Treasurer
        Julie Dobbs
      • Faculty Representative
        Dr. Micheal Crafton

       
      • Community Representative
        Nathaniel Smith
      • Student Representative
        Rick Primuth
      • Alumni Representative
        Kenya Elder
      • Director of University Libraries
        E. Lorene Flanders
      • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
        James Janis
      • President of the Student Government Association
        Robert Kelly

    Committees 2008-2009

    Marketing Committee

    • Dr. Jon Anderson
    • Shanna Freeman
    • Kevin Shunn
    • Gail Reid
    • Josh Sewell
     

    Programs Committee

    • Cyle Bohannon
    • Joe Cumming
    • Suzanne Durham
    • Myron House
    • Angela Mehaffey
    • Dorothy Pittman
     

    Membership Committee

    • Joan Edwards
    • Carol Goodson
    • Betsy Griffies
    • Robin Smith
    • Marketing Committee

      • Dr. Jon Anderson
      • Shanna Freeman
      • Kevin Shunn
      • Gail Reid
      • Josh Sewell

       

      Programs Committee

      • Cyle Bohannon
      • Joe Cumming
      • Suzanne Durham
      • Myron House
      • Angela Mehaffey
      • Dorothy Pittman

       

      Membership Committee

      • Joan Edwards
      • Carol Goodson
      • Betsy Griffies
      • Robin Smith

    Board of Directors 2009-2010
    • President
      Michelle Morgan
    • Vice President/President-Elect
      Beth Hunt
    • Representing the Steering Committee as Honorary Past President
      Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Secretary
      Helen Chambers
    • Treasurer
      Julie Dobbs
    • Faculty Representative
      Dr. Micheal Crafton
     
    • Community Representative
      Sue Medeiros
    • Student Representative
      Rick Primuth
    • Alumni Representative
      Kenya Elder
    • Director of University Libraries
      E. Lorene Flanders
    • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
      James Janis
    • President of the Student Government Association
      Alan Webster
    Committees 2009-2010

    Marketing Committee

    • Josh Sewell, Chair
    • Dr. Jon Anderson
    • Shanna Freeman
    • Kevin Shunn
    • Gail Reid
     

    Programs Committee

    • Myron House, Chair
    • Cyle Bohannon
    • Suzanne Durham
    • Angela Mehaffey
    • Dorothy Pittman
     

    Membership Committee

    • Kenya Elder, Chair
    • Joan Edwards
    • Carol Goodson
    • Betsy Griffies
    • Robin Smith
    • Marketing Committee

      • Josh Sewell, Chair
      • Dr. Jon Anderson
      • Shanna Freeman
      • Kevin Shunn
      • Gail Reid

       

      Programs Committee

      • Myron House, Chair
      • Cyle Bohannon
      • Suzanne Durham
      • Angela Mehaffey
      • Dorothy Pittman

       

      Membership Committee

      • Kenya Elder, Chair
      • Joan Edwards
      • Carol Goodson
      • Betsy Griffies
      • Robin Smith

    Board of Directors 2010-2011
    • President
      Dr. John Ferling
    • Vice President
      Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Past President
      Michelle Morgan
    • Secretary / Treasurer
      Julie Dobbs
    • Faculty Representative
      Gail Reid
     
    • Community Representative
      Sue Medeiros
    • Student Representative
      Brittiny Prenell
    • Alumni Representative
      Kenya Elder
    • Dean of Libraries
      E. Lorene Flanders
    • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
      James Janis and Bill Norris
      • President
        Dr. John Ferling
      • Vice President
        Dr. Tom Carrere
      • Past President
        Michelle Morgan
      • Secretary / Treasurer
        Julie Dobbs
      • Faculty Representative
        Gail Reid

       
      • Community Representative
        Sue Medeiros
      • Student Representative
        Brittiny Prenell
      • Alumni Representative
        Kenya Elder
      • Dean of Libraries
        E. Lorene Flanders
      • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
        James Janis and Bill Norris

    Board of Directors 2011-2012
    • President
      Dr. John Ferling
    • Vice President
      Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Past President
      Michelle Morgan
    • Secretary / Treasurer
      Julie Dobbs
    • Faculty Representative
      Gail Reid
     
    • Community Representative
      Sue Medeiros
    • Student Representative
      Abla Soglo
    • Alumni Representative
      Robin Collins
    • Dean of Libraries
      E. Lorene Flanders
    • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
      Bill Norris
      • President
        Dr. John Ferling
      • Vice President
        Dr. Tom Carrere
      • Past President
        Michelle Morgan
      • Secretary / Treasurer
        Julie Dobbs
      • Faculty Representative
        Gail Reid

       
      • Community Representative
        Sue Medeiros
      • Student Representative
        Abla Soglo
      • Alumni Representative
        Robin Collins
      • Dean of Libraries
        E. Lorene Flanders
      • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
        Bill Norris

    Board of Directors 2012-2013
    • President
      Dr. John Ferling
    • Vice President
      Dr. Tom Carrere
    • Past President
      Michelle Morgan
    • Secretary / Treasurer
      Julie Dobbs
    • Faculty Representative
      Gail Reid
     
    • Community Representative
      Sue Medeiros
    • Student Representative
      Julianna Carter
    • Alumni Representative
      Robin Moore Collins
    • Dean of Libraries
      E. Lorene Flanders
    • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
      Bill Norris
      • President
        Dr. John Ferling
      • Vice President
        Dr. Tom Carrere
      • Past President
        Michelle Morgan
      • Secretary / Treasurer
        Julie Dobbs
      • Faculty Representative
        Gail Reid

       
      • Community Representative
        Sue Medeiros
      • Student Representative
        Julianna Carter
      • Alumni Representative
        Robin Moore Collins
      • Dean of Libraries
        E. Lorene Flanders
      • Office of Development and Alumni Relations Representative
        Bill Norris

  • History of Ingram Library
    History of Ingram Library

    Professor and Mrs. J.H. MelsonWest Georgia's library began in January 1908 when Professor and Mrs. J.H. Melson hosted an afternoon event inviting the community to provide the newly-formed Fourth District Agricultural & Mechanical School with a "Cloudburst of Books." Three hundred twenty-five books were donated and Mrs. Melson organized the volumes in a converted linen closet in the Administration building. She later secured a classroom for use as a library. Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society, a friends group, was founded in 2008 in honor of the library’s centennial, and in recognition of Penelope Stevens Melson’s voluntary efforts to establish and manage the institution’s first library.

    By the 1930s the library collection had over a thousand volumes. In 1933, the newly-formed Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia granted junior college status to the school. President Irvine Sullivan Ingram appointed Annie Belle Weaver, a professional librarian trained at Emory University, to develop a library to support the institution's new mission. At the time, West Georgia College had 200 students.

    Sanford LibraryIn the fall of 1936, Miss Weaver received blueprints for a new library building. Construction was funded through the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). Construction on the library began in October of 1936 and was completed in February of 1937. Though the WPA provided no funds for shelving and furnishings, the empty library building was opened to great fanfare. Sanford Library was central to West Georgia's first accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1940 the Julius Rosenwald Fund gave $20,000 for an addition to Sanford Library, boosting its seating capacity to 130 and providing shelving space for 15,000 books.

    Construction of new libraryEnrollment grew dramatically during the 1960s. The modern Academic Center, composed of four air conditioned buildings including a new library, was dedicated in 1968. Upon Miss Weaver’s retirement, Robert Simmons was named Library Director. He served until 1978, when Charles E. Beard was appointed Director of Libraries. The library was enlarged in 1980 and named for Dr. Irvine Sullivan Ingram. Special Collections was named in honor of Annie Belle Weaver. Ingram Library moved into the electronic age in the 1980s and 1990s with its first automated library catalog and the birth of GALILEO, Georgia Library Learning Online.

    Speaker MurphyIn 1983, Congressman Newt Gingrich, later Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, agreed to deposit his papers and political memorabilia at the University. The collections of Georgia's Political Heritage Program, a program established by Dr. Melvin T. Steely, Professor of History, with the assistance of Dr. Ted Fitz-Simons and Dr. Don Wagner, are housed in the library's Special Collections, and include the papers and office contents of former Georgia House Speaker Thomas B. Murphy. Other notable collections include those of Congressmen Bob Barr and Mac Collins. Georgia Senator Bill Hamrick donated his papers in 2007, adding to the numerous collections associated with political leaders from the West Georgia region. The Georgia Holocaust Commission's Thomas B. Murphy Teacher Training & Resource Center opened on the second floor of Ingram Library in 2001, the only center of its kind housed within the library of a state institution of higher education.

    The 2003 State University of West Georgia Campus Master Plan identified the need for additional library space to support the growth of the institution, and its move to university status. Director of University Libraries Charles E. Beard chaired the Campus Master Plan committee. Mr. Beard retired in 2004. E. Lorene Flanders was appointed Director of University Libraries in 2005, and named Dean of Libraries in 2010. In 2007 Sizemore Group, AIA of Atlanta developed a Strategic Program for the renovation and expansion of Ingram Library. During the 2008 Georgia State Legislative Session, $8 million was appropriated in the 2009 state budget to fund the renovation of the library as a tribute to the late Speaker Murphy. Houser Walker Architecture of Atlanta served as architects. Parrish Construction of Perry, Georgia, acted as contractors on the renovation project, which was completed in 2011.

    Ingram Library Today

    The Thomas B. Murphy Reading Room and State Capitol Office Replication, dedicated April 19, 2012, is located on the ground floor of Ingram Library. The Reading Room contains interpretative exhibits tracing Speaker Murphy's life and political career. The exhibits are aligned with Georgia Performance Standards for the study of Georgia history. The floors of the Reading Room are laid with Cherokee marble, the material used in the Georgia Capitol, and the room overlooks the Townsend Study Garden, located on the east side of the library. The garden was established in honor of the institution’s fifth president, Dr. Maurice Townsend, following his death in 1993. Dr. Townsend’s first major construction project was the 1980 expansion of the library. He donated some 7,000 volumes from his personal collection to the library during the course of his presidency. The Townsend Garden was rebuilt in 2012 with plans developed by the Jaeger Company. The Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections, the Center for Public History, the Thomas B. Murphy Center for Public Service, and Georgia's Political Heritage Program are located adjacent to the Murphy Office as part of  the university's Center for Civic Engagement. 

    The library's main floor features flexible study environments, help desks, computer stations, and areas for programs and exhibits. The library’s reference, new books, map, and U.S. government documents collections are housed on the main floor. The library’s main entrance faces Back Campus Drive, and an additional entrance through Starbucks faces the UWG Campus Center and Love Valley. The bust of Georgia House Speaker Thomas B. Murphy by sculptor Michael D. Jernigan stands in the main entrance lobby. It was transferred to the university in 2012 from the Capitol Education Center. The bust was commissioned by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, and unveiled at the State Capitol in 2000 in a ceremony attended by Governor Roy Barnes and Lt. Governor Mark Taylor. Ingram Library houses a collection of student and faculty art, including “The Prophet,” a bronze by Gary Coulter, presented by the Class of 1968. A bowl by renowned artist Phillip Moulthrop, Class of 1969, which Mr. Moulthrop donated to the College of Arts & Humanities in 2012, is also displayed on the main floor. 

    The library’s second floor contains study rooms, circulating collections, the Assistive Technology Lab, administered by UWG Disability Services, the Thomas B. Murphy Holocaust Teacher Training & Resource Center, administered by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, a conference room, and the office of the Dean and Library Administration. The Dean’s Conference Room contains the original conference table from the office of the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. It was built for Georgia House Speaker George L. Smith, who assumed the office in 1959, when he was appointed by Governor Earl Vandiver. He served in that capacity until 1962. George L. Smith fought for the independence of the House from the Executive Branch, and was elected speaker by his fellow members of the House in 1967. He served as Georgia House Speaker until his death in 1973. Speaker Tom Murphy also used the table during his tenure as Speaker 1974-2002. 

    The library’s third floor, designated for quiet study, contains classrooms, computer workstations, and the offices of the library’s Instructional Services unit. “Sporangium Disseminating Spores,” a large ceramic installation by Cameron Covert and Bruce Bobick, was completed in 1980 and installed on the library’s main floor. Removed and stored during the 2011 renovation, “Sporangium Disseminating Spores” is slated to be re-installed on the third floor of the library.

    A Century of Success: A UWG History

    Ingram Library Renovation