Katie M. Heart was a pioneer of culture and literacy; a black woman who broke barriers as the first librarian of Hertford County, North Carolina, during the Jim Crow era. This is a bit of her story: 

In 1931, Katie, then a teacher supervisor, started a small library for children of color. She first kept books in her office, where students could borrow readings after school. In 1938, as her library demand grew, Katie purchased a small truck to begin what is believed to be the first bookmobile service in the Southeastern United States. By 1941, the need for a permanent library center was overwhelming, and Katie purchased land in Winton to open the Hertford County Colored Public Library. 

When Katie retired in 1969, her library merged with the Albemarle Regional Library. But, her legacy is continued today by Caroline Stephenson, filmmaker and founder of Cultivator Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to improving rural literacy, food access and creativity. 

Caroline provided Lend A Hand Society copies of 1960s articles about Katie and her work. In them, a discovery: Katie’s 1930s collection of more than 10,000 books included donations from LAH.  

We’re thrilled to hear about our small part in helping Katie promote literacy and cultural development. A long-lost history that reminds us of the importance of giving to our communities.