A fantastic resource is wasting away! Save it! Somebody save it!
Working entirely on her own, spending her librarian’s salary and later her Social Security checks, Mayme Clayton amassed one of the finest collections of African American history in the world — and stored it in her garage.
“I got to warn you, it’s scary in here.” This is Mayme’s son, Avery Clayton, talking. He’s jiggling his keys and opening the door. He reaches, finds the light switch, clicks. Inside? It is amazing .
“Originally,” Avery apologizes, “there were tables and chairs, like a library, and you could sit down. But as you can see — ”
The roof sags, it may leak. There are books, floor to ceiling on shelves, but the passages between the stacks are blocked, with storage cabinets and film cases and cardboard boxes overflowing with photographs, journals, cartoons, correspondence, playbills, magazines, all dusted with a soft fungal dander. Mold.