RVW: We're talking with Ms. Emily Sanders in her apartment in Charleston,SC. on February 2,1987. Now Ms. Sanders you have looked at our questions and we'll go by those as sort of a beginning. But how about letting us start with telling us something about your family background and those kinds of things.
ES: Well, well I was born in Beaufort, and I was baptized at St. Helena's Episcopal Church there. My background is English with a little bit of Scottish and a little bit of German; that's about it.
RVW: What about your parents?
ES: My parents-- names you mean?
ES: Grace Harvey Tonkin and William Nick Sanders.
RVW: And they had been in Beaufort a good long while?
ES: No. My father's from the up country, York County, and my mother from Beaufort and their fathers came over from England in fairly recent years, comparatively, in the 1800's, late 1800's.
ES: Compared to them, hah! Compared with most things that are considered old.
RVW: Did you grow up in Beaufort?
ES: No, I only lived there a few years. I moved to Charleston one year, moved to Summerville where I was finished my schooling. And then I had a varied educational background. I did a little of this and a little of that and I received a bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina. I had one year at library school at Pratt Institute and received a certificate in 1935.
RVW: How did you get to Pratt from Charleston? Now you finished college in Charleston ...
ES: Well, it was one of these ... No, I didn't, I just had one year at the College of Charleston. I thought Pratt was a fine library school and they were admitting by examination so I took the examination and then later got my bachelors degree. So I had a checkered career you may say.
RVW: Oh! That's right, I remember now you did get your degree at U.N.C. a number of years later didn't you.
ES: Right. 1940 to be exact.
RVW: How did you find out about Pratt Institute and ...
ES: I just knew. I don't know how I heard about it except it was the one school to which you could gain admission without a bachelors degree.
RVW: That's why you went there then.
ES: That's what I did.
RVW: And you were at the College of Charleston just one year?
ES: One year only and then I took a night school course, somewhere in the thirties I think.
RVW: How was Pratt?
ES: Wonderful. We had Mrs. Josephine Rathbone, you may have heard of her. A great lady. And she put us through the mill, but we were well educated in library science by the time we finished the year. Every Friday we had to give an extemporaneous talk on something that had happened that week, usually current events of some sort. And at the end of the week she would tell us what free things or inexpensive things we were to see in New York City. So we had a wonderful year, a marvelous year. And she liked Southerners, so it was a plus.
RVW: Where were you when you were there? They didn't have a dorm or ...
ES: No, I lived right near there with one of the faculty, actually. I had an upstairs room. And then when I worked there later - I worked there three years, after I came back to Summerville and took ... I had been on leave of absence from Summerville High School, so I came back to Summerville High School and also organized a greater school library in that year, thirty-five, thirty-six. Then I was asked to go back to Pratt, so I went there and worked for three years, then went to Chapel Hill and finished my degree, and then came to Charleston.
RVW: Now you worked in the library, the public library in Brooklyn too...
ES: It was the public library-- it was a branch of the public library in Brooklyn, Pratt Institute Free Library, it was called at that time. It served the school and it served, in effect, as a branch for the Brooklyn Public Library. So I had public library experience in various departments of that very fine library.
RVW: How did you get interested in library work initially?
ES: I always liked to read. A friend of mine ... the mother of a friend of mine knew of a position open at the Timrod Library, which was the only so called public library in Summerville. And, so I started there as an assistant and later got myself into the high school library. I worked there three, four, five years.
RVW: What kind of work did you do at the Pratt?
ES: I was in the catalog department. But all assistants - which I think is very healthy - were required to take time at each of the other departments. Science and technology, circulation, reference and whatever other departments there were so that all assistants were given all kinds of experience. Actually this is a joke, but I remember being at the circulation desk and not ever having known what garlic was and this gentleman came in and I said "what is this awful smell?". It turned out to be that he had garlic and I had never had the experience of smelling it before. You can erase that. He was right over the desk and there you were and there he was and there wasn't anything I could do. I had to suffer it.
RVW: That's quite an initiation into public services. Well I hear great tales about what New York City was like during those years.
ES: It was wonderful. It really was. We were given an introduction, as I said by Mrs. Rathbone, and were told of all the free things there were to do so we did a little of everything including walking up and down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday and that was the thing to do then.
RVW: Who were the other professors at Pratt that you recall and ...?
ES: I can't say I recall any of the names except Ms. Hanson who succeeded Mrs. Rathbone and who taught cataloging there for a year. But she wasn't--I don't think she taught me. She came after... She came when I was working there as a member of the staff at the library school. But, it was a very fine library school and it is now a graduate library school, as you know. So its name has changed somewhat.
RVW: Rathbone really has a famous reputation in the field.
ES: She was a great lady.
RVW: That is quite a well known name.
RVW: And also was one of those very stern...
ES: Right. Also I had Ms. Nora Beaust at Chapel Hill and Ms. Akers. I took library science there some too. So I had some very good people.
RVW: How would you compare what you learned at Pratt versus what you learned at Chapel Hill when you were there.
ES: I can't compare really. Different. Equally good.
RVW: This says you were at Chapel Hill a number of years after you had already been a school librarian.
ES: Yea. I worked--I went to Chapel Hill just to go eighteen months out of school because I had various other courses which enabled me to get my degree but none ... eighteenth month period or something like that.
RVW: Life as a school librarian during that time, what was it like?
ES: If you were a school librarian you had a small room and you organized it and sometimes you had a typewriter and sometimes you didn't have a typewriter and so a lot of my catalog cards were in long hand and my printing was terrible so I tried to print and wasn't very successful.
RVW: Library hand didn't take with you?
ES: No. Library hand didn't take with me for some reason. I guess I'm not artistic or engineering wise talented.
RVW: Did they try to teach you that at Pratt?
ES: Oh, yes. You were supposed to learn that at Pratt and at Chapel Hill...
RVW: What was your collection like as a high school librarian?
ES: I don't remember. Very basic and very small. A room about this size [approximately 10'x 15'], I guess. And we had one young student who was really a bad boy in school, but he loved the library so he'd come in. If there wasn't a seat - very often there wasn't - he'd just sit in the corner perfectly quiet, and read. It didn't matter to him.
RVW: Well, there weren't very many high school libraries around there at the time.
ES: Well, I guess ours was the first. I don't know. I don't know the history of high school libraries, really. I guess it was the late thirties before they came into being ... and the early forties. I was the first librarian at Summerville High. And at Summerville grade school, actually. When I came back I decided that they needed a library too, so I sort of divided my time between the two.
RVW: Then the big switch to the county library. How did you make this decision to do that?
ES: Well I wanted to come back to Charleston after living in New York for awhile, so I investigated and this turned up. The librarian was leaving so they invited me to come and I was glad to accept.
RVW: Now you succeeded whom at the county library?
ES: Mrs. Palma Lee Chivers who was there from 34-39, something like that or 33-39 perhaps; [I] don't remember. And Miss Mosimann succeeded me; Miss Margaret Mosimann. She had been deputy librarian and then following her was Ms. Jan Bovinger, who is now head librarian, director. During my time they changed the title from librarian to head librarian to director so I was librarian first, which I rather prefer.
RVW: What was the library like when you took over and became the director in 19...?
ES: I thought it was a wonderful library because I was unaccustomed to anything except Pratt, Chapel Hill and a few other libraries I had seen around. So I thought it was fine. It didn't have enough money. I came at sort of a crises time so we had to ... at one time we were running on ten cents per capita, which seems incredible, but we were.
RVW: Did you have any trouble making the decision to accept the job?
ES: No. I wanted it.
RVW: Did you?
ES: Yes indeed.
RVW: Now you worked a short while before you were director , or were you ... ?
ES: A short while where?
RVW: At the county library.
ES: No, no. Never.
RVW: You first went immediately as the director?
ES: Oh, yes, I came in initially as director, August 1, 1940. Shortly after I came there was a hurricane. One of our hurricanes - I remember the rose vine that was on the front of the old building that we had at that time was torn down with the hurricane and I went to see the president of the board and she said, "Oh Ms. Sanders, that's really not important". And I thought, "Well, I guess it isn't, but all these people will say 'There's this rose vine torn down'. Ms. MacBee was the president of the board at that time. She was the head of Ashley Hall. Very great lady - another great lady. There were lots of them in those days.
RVW: What were the first problems that you faced?
ES: Budget. Almost immediately. You see the library had had Carnegie money, $35,000, to begin with and it also had ... let see what the total was ... something like $85,000 - at any rate, the Rosenwald Fund had matched the county funds for a period of 5 years. So the early 1940's we were just getting over that, having spent that money and trying to get the county to appropriate as a millage. So we had budget problems. We survived.
RVW: Were the Rosenwald funds gone by the time you became director?
ES: Oh yes.
RVW: That was completely over.
ES: Yes, that was completely over. Of course we still had the books; the Rosenwald Fund and other Carnegie money was entirely for books.
RVW: Let's go back to the Rosenwald Fund. So you didn't play a part in getting those funds. Do you recall what ... how this happened? Who did the main work for getting the funds?
ES: Yes. I would say the main work was done by Mrs. Peggy P. McGowan who was a member of the board from the beginning and one of the incorporators. She was not a colored woman, but she was interested in interracial matters. We always went to interracial committee meetings together. She was acknowledged as a leader. She was the first woman to be on city council. She was the first woman member of the state board of education. She was president of the civic club, president of this, president of the garden club. Did all kinds of things. In addition, she was a very nice lady. Maybe Miss Mosimann told you this morning, but one of the very young people on the staff at the time she was on the board said, "You know Ms. McGowan doesn't have to be so nice, but she was so nice to me and I'm just a little young thing here, but Ms. McGowan was always so lovely to me". So it shows me what a lovely person she was. She and Mrs. Susan Dart Butler, who at the time had a reading room in the building that she owned herself for young colored people and students, and Rosenwald Fund was attracted by that fact, and the fact that Charleston seemed to be a place that needed it very badly. There had been no public library at all. So...
RVW: How did she know about the Rosenwald Fund?
ES: I don't know. She was ... they investigated because the Civic Club had been for years and years interested in establishing a county library or public library. They first started to be a free library for the city and it didn't go beyond that, but for some reason the city, although it did say it would help, turned down the request for funds. So that from the very beginning it has always been a county library. It has always served the whole county. And the incorporators were the first board. Mrs. McGowan, Dr. Felsh, who was a Lutheran minister, Mr. Homer Pierce, who was a businessman - and a very good business man - Ms. Macvy [?], who was the first - who was the second president after Dr. Felsh left - and she was the head of the very fine school, Ashley Hall. And then Mr. Nat Condon who was the head of a department store; Mr. Sidney Writtenbury, who was an attorney and Miss Laura Bragg, who was at the museum and who was the first librarian. She moved away shortly after the library was started. And Mr. Stroker, who was the school principal, he was on the first board. And Judge MacMillan, who was an attorney and a judge, and Thomas R. Raring, who was city editor--who was the editor for the Evening Post, (he later died). Mrs. McGowan and Ms. Pollards, those were the first members of the library--of the library board. All of them great people in their own way, and they all ... since I guess somewhere in the 1910 to 1920 ... the Civic Club began trying to get an interest in a county library building among the various organizations, educators and so forth. And then the Civic Club, of which Ms. MacBee as the president, actually called the first meeting, and at that first meeting there were various people represented from various parts of the county. And let's see what I've got here. [Ms. Sanders reading from the SC State Library Bulletin] Educators, business people, civic clubs, patriotic organizations and all kinds of people got together with the Civic Club and representatives at a meeting that Ms. MacBee held at Ashley Hall, which was her school. And from there they went on, Ms. McGowan and Ms. Bragg and Ms. MacBee investigated where money might come from. So they contacted a Dr. Felsh, who was one of the chief ones, and they contacted Carnegie and Rosenwald and I know a number of other organizations that they thought might give seed money to the library. So Carnegie and Rosenwald came through, which was wonderful.
RVW: Now the black branch was an integral part of the Rosenwald fund?
ES: Oh yes, always. Well, no. We've always served everybody in the city and county. It's been no question of everybody being served. The reason that ... one of the reasons that Rosenwald was attracted was that there was already some service being given at the John Dart Library to black children and adults. That was one thing and then the fact that there were such prominent people and such civic leaders who were trying to get the money. Those two things, I think, attracted them to the library.
RVW: Did you ever hear why the Dart family had gotten interested in setting up that kind of service for...
ES: No, the institute, it was the Charleston Industrial Institute, which Mrs. Butler's father had started. He had raised money when the building was built somewhere in the early 1900's actually, He raised money from contributions, built the building as an industrial institute for the education of the people of his race in the city of Charleston or anywhere else, of course. And that was the purpose of the building being built. And then Mrs. Butler became interested and used one section of the building as a reading room and she just had her own books and whatever else was contributed. And the fact that she had that - and, of course, Ms. McGowan and other people knew about that and they could all call attention to it when these organizations were asked to contribute. But the county library always served the whole county and I think its healthy because other libraries have started off as a city library or something of the sort and then they later had to combine, or they had to redo their organization or government. We have always been one, no problem. And the city was always included, of course, because that's where the library was.
RVW: So you came in already with county service ... when you became the librarian, county service already well established.
ES: Well it started at the very beginning. It had started in 1931. They had started with some small branches. I can give you some clippings of that if you're interested.
RVW: No, we saw some of them in the scrap book of....
ES: Miss Mosimann?
RVW: Well, no. The scrapbooks from the library that we had borrowed.
ES: Oh, you had borrowed scrapbooks?
RVW: Yes, to use in the exhibit.
RVW: We photocopied some pages.
ES: Oh, you did?
RVW : Yes.
ES: Oh well you know ... you probably know more than I'm telling you.
RVW: No, no. Well, when you became the librarian, you had the downtown library and what, two branches at the time?
ES: Oh we had about ... we had the John L. Dart Library, we had four branches in... they were community libraries in the county. And that came later. Edisto, MacClellanville, not Folly, that was later ... I've forgotten.
RVW: And some bookmobile service...
ES: Always bookmobile service.
RVW: Oh, that's right. We won't forget that.
ES: All right Dart, MacClellanville, Edisto, Mount Pleasant, of course, and St. Paul's Parish. I'd forgotten those.
RVW: And what was your staff like when you became the librarian in 1940?
ES: Very fine staff. We had a small staff, of course. And at that time Mrs. Chavous (sp?), who had preceded me, was encouraging everybody to get some sort of library education. Some of them had had some training and some had not. Gradually we began to insist on a library, a year of library science. We had a comparatively small staff.
RVW: Other than budget problems - if there can be an other than that - what other kinds of problems did you encounter early on in 1940 and those early years?
ES: Don't remember any problems. We had lots of things we did. There was World War II, of course. We ran a victory book campaign, which meant that people were asked to contribute books and this little cottage in the yard of the library and so we used that to sort the books and some of the staff and some of the members of A.A.U.W. and other organizations, particularly Mrs. Goodly B. Finch, who later became president of the board, took to sorting the books and arranging them. We got people to take them out to where they should go. Victory book campaign and what else did we do? Oh, we had a contribution from Armed Forces Master Records of recordings that were especially to be distributed and loaned to the service men. And for years we got that money, I think. Two, three years, which was perfectly wonderful. Then sort of in line with that, we had Saturday night book music programs. And a professor, Captain Roy, at Porter Military Academy - at that time Porter Gaude was Porter Military Academy - had a music appreciation program for awhile and we still have some pictures of that. And then as World War II was coming to an end, we conceived the idea that there was going to be a memorial to the people that had suffered in World War II. it should be a library building, so numerous people wrote letters to the paper and Richard Thomas Aquinas Coleman, a local author, I think, wrote one of the first ones. Various people wrote letters to the editor and the head of the Gibbs Art Gallery was interested in it. Various other people. And then in the 40's also we started what we called Public Book Discussions, or Book Evenings - Public Book Evenings. We were in a building and the room was a living room. That was our public area where reference, reference and circulation and periodicals, everything was. So in order to have the Book Evening on Monday nights - we'd have it once a month on Monday nights - we had to clear out the whole room, move the tables, move the chairs, put folding chairs in and all this happened at 9:00 o'clock because we closed at nine. And then at 9:00 o'clock, theoretically, the Book Discussion started and we'd move a chair over for the discussion leader and for his panel and we had all kinds of people helping us with the Book Discussion. We got a committee which decided what books,or helped us to decide what books we should discuss. We had a moderator who sometimes was immoderate, but he was delightful. And we had a reviewer, then we usually had two people, supposedly two people who would take opposite sides on the review. The first book we did was United_States_and_Foreign_Policy by Walter Lippman and Thomas R. Waring Jr., whose father had been on the first board, but who had died, and was then editor or city editor or something of the Courier. So he was going to review the book and this was our first venture. We didn't know whether anybody would come. And when he came in already seventy-five people were there and he said, "Good heavens, I thought maybe there would be ten or fifteen!". So they were very successful. People loved it. And there weren't as many activities then as there are now, of course, so everybody looked forward to the Monday night Book Discussions that went on for years and years. In the new building, at 404 King Street, we changed the name and called it What Makes the Book Live? [about 10 seconds of information is missing here] One of the programs that was rather startling was the review of Josephine Pecan's Three O'clock Dinner. You probably vaguely know about that. Anyway, it was a Charleston story and a professor at the Citadel reviewed it. There was two panel members and the moderator, Samuel Gilrod Sturney. And people kept coming and coming and coming and coming and coming and finally they went out on the porch, finally they went out in the yard and when the newspaper wrote it up the next day they said people were even outside trying to listen and then he said, "When it broke up, at last, after much discussion, they discussed the discussion for blocks". So that was nice.
RVW: Now these were started in the old building and continued in the new?
ES: These were continued in the new. We started in the nineteen forties I guess. Then in nineteen fifty we started a Great Books Discussion. Had a man come down from Chicago from the Great Books Foundation to do a training, of course. He did two others in South Carolina. And of course at that time we took them literally. They said we should meet about once a week, that we should have two discussion leaders. So for a long time we did. We tried to have two discussion leaders. Finally, we went down - got down to one. It was too hard to get two people, but it did work out better to have two people because when you are leading a small group of ten or twelve people around a table, it was easier to see who really wanted to say something, and wasn't getting a chance to say it, if there were two people. One person to sort of observe and the other person to keep the discussion going. And literally the discussion leaders did what they were told and they never answered a question. They always asked questions and kept the discussion going, but they never answered a question. They weren't supposed to. And that was - it is only in the last two or three years has that sort of subsided. They're probably just--just start a new session up again.
RVW: What was happening all this time in terms of dissatisfaction with the county and raising millage?
ES: Well, we - Tobias and Company, which is a public relations firm, had helped us several times doing brochures about library activities. They had done one about library activities. Then Mrs. Goodly B. Finch, who is now Mrs.James G. Harrison, became president in December 1953. She had been on the board for, I think, about six - five or six years - so she was familiar with the whole thing. So, when she took over - just as she took over, Tobias and Co. - we had put out this new brochure which told about the terrible conditions at the main building, and how we were over- flowing with books and no room for this and no room for that. It was a beautiful building, but it wasn't suited for a library. And then amazingly, in January 1954, when she had just taken office, the Charleston Evening Post came to us and said we want to do a series on the library. And we said that's wonderful. So a young reporter named David McCarthy did a series of articles on the library and the conditions. And the first had a scare headline of something about the libraries are about to fall down, or words to that effect. And front page, banner headlines - not banner headlines, half way across. Then he did a series of articles - I think there were - eight every afternoon for about a week or so. And that got people informed. Then, of course, we had been talking about the need for a library since the forties because we had had all these people write letters to the editor and speak about the conditions. The book, This_is_Charleston, published in - somewhere back there - It said one of the things that this community needs is an adequate library system and a new library - new library building - and so forth. And ... where was I?
RVW: Lead up to the publicity.
ES: Yeah. And um--let's see what else we have on the list.
RVW: Why do you think Charleston came so slowly to this realization that you needed a new library building? I mean a long time to get a library established and then once you had one established, a long time to get a new building that was...
ES: Well, I don't think it was a long time. And when are you at it over long period it seems to me that it sort of developed; it had to develop slowly. You couldn't do things overnight. You can seldom do things overnight. Some people can, but it does not often happen. We had a very fine library already in the community, the Charleston Library Society, which of course is a membership library. Only people who could afford, belonged. But it was like the Boston Library Society and the New York Library Society. It was a research library, but also it bought current books for the current membership - they wanted new books and so forth. And that happens to be a well endowed library and that pot [of money] out there had really nothing to do with with the fact that the library was late on its being established. I don't know when the Boston Public Library was started. Do you?
ES: 1850? So they were a little bit ahead of us.
RVW: A little bit, yes.
ES: Anyway ...
RVW: We were talking ...
ES: It wasn't really anything-- anybody's fault. It was just, I suppose, poverty from the War Between The States - The Civil War - whatever you want to call it.
RVW: We were talking with the Mosimanns about whether the Library Society could have been a retardant to the development of a public library system.
ES: It was a plus.
RVW: Do you think so?
RVW: It didn't ...
ES: Well, I think people, a few people, probably felt they already had books because they could buy-- they could subscribe to the Library Society, but that is comparative to few, actually. No - We've always had very good relations with other libraries in the area, particularly the Library Society, because when we had our public book discussions we could only afford one or two copies. Just enough copies for the panel on the book, and even then would have to borrow copies from the Library Society, the College of Charleston or the Citadel to eke out what we had and make enough - get enough copies - so that we always had...we were very friendly with the Library Society.
RVW: Well what's ...
ES: In fact the librarian's very good friends of the Mosimanns and me and other members of the staff.
RVW: It just struck me in reading the history here that the county delegation again and again in the twenties and thirties turned down the request for the establishment of a public library system.
ES: They turned it down once, then they turned it down again; I think it was maybe two times. They were always cutting the appropriations and so forth. But I think at two separate times the people had to send them telegrams and go see them and so forth and so on.
RVW: I would say - talking about the effect of positive and negative of the Library Society - and folks saying... I think Margaret said something about a newspaper editor had said to her that the Library Society was enough.
ES: Well that couldn't have been Dr. Bull. Well, it may have been Dr. Bull. He was the editor of the Courier. Dr. William Watts Bull, I remember he appeared in his column. [He had] written two or three books. Anyway, I went to see him in the early 1940's, I forget what about and he was a rather imposing figure and I sat there talking to him about the library. He said, "I bet nobody reads Lawrence Stern, Sentimental Journey, nobody reads that any more." I said, "Oh yes they do." But he didn't believe me. So I went back and I did check and they did still read it. But Dr. Bull might have said that [since we] already had a library... It doesn't sound like him because he was the one who, in two or three editorials, said, "Well, you can do without secondary schools, but you can not do without libraries." So that was one of the first editors. Then of course the Charleston Evening Post editor was on the first board.
RVW: Why did the newspaper, after supporting you initially with publicity and such, turn against you at the very end when the movement ... ?
ES: I guess we all have our little aberrations. I don't know. They are friends - and have always really - if you look over the long view, they have always been friends. Who knows?
RVW: But I mean it must have been disappointing to you personally that they would editorialize against the bond issue.
ES: Well, I didn't take things personally. I took it for the library. Mrs. - I had a very good board president and Mrs. Polastein (sp?), Mrs. Goodly B. Finch, who is now Mrs. James G. Harrison, so whenever we had problems, and of course any library has problems, I would call up and say, "Do you think I should do this, do you think I should do that?". She said, "No". Finally I said, "You know Estelle, I call you up and you listen and it's just wonderful to have a shoulder to sob on, but you generally say `no'". And that happened to her with ... She was an organizer of the League of Woman Voters - the Charleston County League of Woman Voters - and she was Assistant President to the first president and so she was always the one who said we had better go carefully and we'd better think about this before we do that. But she was always willing to listen and she did such things when we were having the bond issue vote, trying to get people to support us and she went personally, I know, to see any number of people including Belks - at that time was on King's Street - she went to see the President of Belk's, sat down with him and chatted; and innumerable people did that kind of thing. Took their time and their energy just because they were interested. They weren't getting anything out of it. After all, I was being paid, but they were doing it because they felt that the library was important.
RVW: Whose idea to do the post cards and the ballot samples and those kinds of things? They seem to be so effective.
ES: I don't know. That was evidently very effective. We sent them to everybody whom we thought was of voting age. I think we may have sent some who were not of voting age, but we actually sent them to...I think it probably was Estella's idea, because that was a personal thing. You were personally invited by post card to go to the polls and vote for the library, vote "yes" for the bond issue. The library bond issue ... building program however it was worded. And ...
RVW : It sounds as if the League ...
ES: League of Woman Voters ...
RVW: League of Woman Voters really supported you.
ES: The League of Woman Voters, yes they surely did. The ... at the end we thought that we were going to be defeated, we thought that the library foundation was going to go down. One of our board members went to see a politician - Mrs. Maple Pollis is who it was - and she reported to me that this politician said, "The library is not going to win, but don't be disappointed. Next time you'll probably win". But he was dead wrong, fortunately. So we thought we were going to lose and at least we were prepared to lose. We were tying to accustom ourselves, psychologically, to losing. And Mrs. Finch, she was Mrs. Finch at that time - her daughter was at one of the polls - working at the polls for the library - of course, and Estella was going around to the different polling places just to check and the last one she went to was at the polling place where her daughter was working, her daughter was in college. And her daughter says, "You know, My mother just practically went down on her knees to the last man who was going in there to vote to beg him to vote for the library". She still remembers that about her mama.
RVW: Had you tried anything similar to the bond issue in previous years?
ES: No. No, there had been nothing put to a vote. There were only two times that the library came to a vote. That was in 1954 and then this recent success in 1986. There were only two times that the library has been voted on.
RVW: Charleston seems to do pretty well with their bond issues. Does this reflect hard work by a lot of folks over a long period of time -
ES: Yes, it does.
RVW: - Carefully laying the ground work?
ES: Yes, it does. Its been remarkable, really, the support of the city library was one thing, the support of individuals in organizations and the support of the League of Women Voters, I felt was instrumental - partially instrumental - in getting us the bond issue favorable vote in 1954 because they were dead set on getting it. It was in their early years and they were very ambitious and this was one of the things they wanted to get done and they went out to the far reaches of the county where it was way yonder - not suburbs like it is now - and distributed flyers, which I believe they paid for. I think the League paid for the flyers. The library had raised a few dollars from various contributions, and paid for the post cards and a few other things. Then, of course, we had the free contribution from Tobias and Company, which gave us a booklet which had come out in the Fall of '56.
RVW: Had they done your booklets and flyers free of charge?
ES: Yes. No, they didn't do the flyer. They did the booklet twice. One late 1940's, I guess, and the other for the ... in 1953, which preceded the bond issue by about a year. And everybody been talking about the need for a new building and so forth. So they made the focus - I'm sorry I don't have a copy of that - the focus of their leaflet brochure was a need for a new building. And the articles by David McCarthy, a reporter of the Evening Post, came at just the time when the library was going to county council to ask them to put the bond issue on the slate in November. So they had a hearing in February, I think, just following the series of articles. So ... the editor of the Charleston Evening Post at that time, now the editor of the News and Courier, Arthur Wilcox. And I asked David McCarthy, the young reporter--which was awfully nice of the newspapers to do this for us--how did it happen? Who should I thank? And he said, "Oh, nobody knows about it except Arthur Wilcox and me". That is the city editor. He was not the editor, he was the city editor of the Charleston Evening Post and himself. So ...
RVW: But they had come up with the idea to do the newspaper series.
ES: They came to us and asked us and told us that they wanted to do it. I don't know whether somebody else had suggested it. I hadn't. A friend might have suggested it. Who knows?
RVW: Would county council likely have been receptive to the idea of the referendum?
ES: Well we had been talking about it and I think several months we had been talking about it and we had meetings with County Council. I remember one meeting we had, I think, chairman of County Council and an interested member and somebody else and somebody else and [not clear], Executive Committee of the Board. We were in the old building, of course. And Estella Fich Harrison met Mr. Walker downstairs and was going to take him up to the far back room where we were going to meet and she just happened to stand at the foot ofthe stairs and have all these horrible looking books that needed binding and so forth and so on and she just casually picked them up and looked at them and put them back on. And of course he was perfectly conscious of the fact that she was trying to persuade him that we really did need money for bindery which happened to be a particular problem at that time. So, all these people, all the small things that they did and the big things that they did, added up to a positive end result.
RVW: Has there been in Charleston County this conflict between the city support for a downtown library versus not support for outlying areas.
ES: No, there hasn't been.
RVW: Was this because of good county service that you were providing?
ES: I don't know. From the very beginning there's ... there was always county service. Within a year they had a book mobile and I mentioned the early branches, which were way out. One was McCllanville which was fifty miles away, St.Pauls, which is way off the other way, and Mount Pleasant was just across the river and the other one was Edisto, which is Saint Paul's Parish in Edisto. And those were always small units or branches. And then we always had the John L. Dart Library which happened to be in the city. And all those had been started within the first six months, certainly within the first year of the establishment of the library. So it was fairly firmly in people's minds that we were a county wide organization. I don't know of any conflict.
RVW: Sounds like you had gotten outreach services through branches and book mobiles very well.
ES: We'd always had it. I mean that one of the first things, because of course, the appropriation only came from the city, we would have had the problem, but as it just happens - and it was fortunate that it happened - we had to set up county wide from the very beginning so that there wasn't any ... really any conflict that I know of.
RVW: Your colleagues and other county library systems around the state must have been jealous. I know Richland County had troubles getting their county service started.
ES: Greenville had some problem there for awhile if I remember. I don't remember what Richland ... Greenville I think had to get legislation to separate them or whatever. I'm not familiar with that. But I don't think - I don't think people... we were so poor compared with other libraries in this state that I don't think people were interested. Then publicity wise in the 1950's we did a series of articles about families using the library. Somebody from the State Library and from various points and various kinds of people. One family that lived in a semi-plantation, another family that lived in North Charleston and Doctor's family and various others. And the Library Journal used one of those in the 1950's.
RVW : Has the library maintained copies of those films? Things we could use.
ES: I don't think we have that film. I'm sure we don't. Of course I know we don't have it. It was WCSC's property. We didn't even ask for it. I guess we should have.
ES: I can remember the end was a little girl pleading with the public to please vote for the library.
RVW: Do you have any idea if they still have it?
ES: I wouldn't know.
RVW: Did you try to call?
ES: In their archives though I've never asked. I don't know whether anybody would be interested.
RVW: T.V. and radio stations are very bad about not maintaining them.
ES: Well we ... I just didn't look. I guess we were so busy we didn't think about it.
RVW: Would you call them up some time and ask them if they have them?
RVW: I would love to have them and get them copied.
ES: Well, anybody ... You saw the series that we did ... that David McCarthy did.
RVW: In the scrap book. Right.
ES: We tried to get a Pulitzer Award for him for it, but it didn't work out. He really did a grand job.
RVW: Yes, they did a fine article. I would really like to see those ... the early movie and the other kinds of things.
ES: Well, we had an intensive publicity campaign in 1942-43 when we were having ... struggling together. Money - when we had it - at that time it was a county delegation and one of the board members paid for somebody to work for six months to just do publicity for us and she did a good job. She had ... she had worked for the library at one of the first board members...I mean one of the first library staff members. Oh, then another thing that happened in that same time: one member of a church took it upon herself to call every member of their congregation and tell them definitely they should call the delegation and tell them this was disgraceful. They had to get a vote "yes" for the library, whatever we were asking for at that time. She actually saw everybody in her church or else phoned them. I don't know which church it was. Maybe Saint Michaels. We had a lot of individuals at that time who were very helpful to us.
RVW: Very supportive of the library.
ES: Very supportive. And they did all kinds of things.
RVW: It sounds as if the women's groups were particularly the great supporters of the library getting it started...
ES: AEOW Civic Club, but then the educators too. We had several members who were either principals or educators. And they really went to town for the library and helped us.
RVW: Did you go and make appearances before these groups and talk to them on occasion?
ES: Occasionally I talked. I remember before Estelle Harrison was on the Board, when I went to talk to the AEOW which was much larger than it is at present - and so it decreased in size - and talked to them about the appropriation for the library and you know the situation and she said, "I didn't know anything about the library until you came and talked to the AEOW." Then, of course, she became very very interested and she was just a young thing. I was just saying what I thought, I guess. It wasn't anything startling. Yes, I would do some, but actually you depend on other people to do a lot of these things.
RVW: How do you feel you were treated as a women administrator during those times?
ES: I never had any problem.
RVW: You never felt discriminated against?
ES: No. Maybe salary wise once in a while, but when the women's rights came into being I said, "Well, I have enough responsibility now. I don't want any more." I'm afraid that was my angle.
RVW: Did you know what your counterparts in county government were making salary wise?
ES: Oh yes, definitely. I was very conscious of that. I was also very conscious of what other libraries were paying librarians and staff. And we did numbers of studies over the years of taking libraries from all over the country, some of comparable size, some larger, and making comparisons of circulation, support, salaries, books, the overall picture. Buildings and so forth and we tried to publish articles too. I think we did a number of studies on that kind of comparison thing.
RVW: And gave those to the Board?
ES: Gave them to the Board and also to the public. And David McCarthy used some of it for one of his articles. But we started it way back yonder. You know ... comparisons. I would say,"Oh well, Charleston is different, but then you have to compare with somebody."
RVW: Were you tempted away by other job offers during those years?
ES: I had about four different tentative... not exactly offers - whichever way you want to call it. Oh, I remember going to see a Mr. Emerson who was on our Board for awhile. He was editor of the Charleston Evening Post, delightful man. And I was saying for how helpful the WPA Books had been to us, thinking that would interest him. And he said, "Yes, that's interesting," but he said, "You know those WPA Guides for the State are...they're all based on newspaper articles and I don't know how accurate they are." This is an editor of the Evening Post. So from then on I thought well maybe I better check some of these figures that they use in these books.
RVW: It was interesting you brought up the WPA. Now that was all finished by the time you became director.
ES: There was still some ... a few when I was ... when I came in. They sort of petered out in the early 1940's.
RVW: And all the workers were gone by then?
ES: Not all. There was still some. And I don't know how long ... many years it lasted. Maybe two three years. Did Miss Mosimann tell you about some of our staff? She probably ...
ES: They were really were good. Mrs. Coopman, Miss Janie Smith, and ...
RVW: It sounded as if you had a staff here that came and did a really good job and stayed for a long time.
ES: Some did.
RVW: A good solid staff.
ES: We were fortunate. Mrs. Coopman came from ... where did she come from? Hawaii I think was were she'd been before. Her husband had been at various places. He was a librarian too. In fact he was very fond of the Turkish people because he had worked at a university in Turkey, so she had lived all over the world. She came to head the extension department. They've probably told you about this story. A very fine, wonderful person who really built up the extension department and people still remember her today. They still remember Miss Madeline Mosimann, too. Remember I told you the story about Mr. Steiner who was county manager for a few years. He was county manager when Miss Mosimann was director and when Miss Margaret was children's director. But he was a bookmobile child and Margaret Mosimann was on the bookmobile. She remembered him as a very smart boy. And so he grew up to be a county manager or whatever he turned out to be: And so when he came to be county manager Miss Mosimann knew she had good material there so he got a big increase in the book budget when she became director, because Mr. Steiner already knew he had used it before. He went off and resigned as county manager and went to get his degree at the University of South Carolina. He's now a lawyer. His wife is a surgeon.
RVW: I gather you sort of specialized in buildings over the years in terms that you did some consulting work in [the field] ...
ES: No. No, I consulted people. I consulted them about our buildings. No, I never did any consulting. We visited many libraries. Mrs. Harrison - Mrs. Fich, who is now Mrs. Harrison - and the two different architects and I would go to various libraries and visit them. We went to Kansas City, various libraries that were supposed to be good examples of buildings. And we went to library workshops, particularly the public library's Building Committee. Hoyt Galvin was chairman at that time that we were trying to get our building. He had just ... I think his bond issue had just passed so our buildings were sort of going together. And he came down one day and spent a day and stayed overnight, I guess and told us what we already knew. That the library should be in the center of pedestrian traffic and centrally located business area, so forth and so on. And so we got a lot of help from a lot of different librarians at a lot of different libraries. We used Joseph Wheeler's book and I think - oh yes - Richland County Library had not been built for many years so we used that on this folder that Tobias and Company had put out. They used the picture, a beautiful front of the Richland County Library, which was brand new at that time. And comparison with us was just miserable of course 'cause they were so much better. So we used a lot of comparisons of that kind.
RVW: Did you have a hand in selecting the architect for the new building?
ES: No, the Board had somebody in mind. I don't know why they had somebody in mind, but they went to ... the chairman of county council or the head of the buildings committee which ever it was, Mr. Walker, and said would it be all right if we secured so and so to be the ... He said, "Oh fine." I said, "Fine." And in the end it was Dan Hulsey. Mr. Hulsey died that's why we went off with two different people to see these buildings, but it was the same firm. Snack, Hummings and McCrady, I think. I think that's their name now. And so it was the choice of county council. It was up to them to decide, but they evidently had no ideas so whatever the board suggested was all right.
RVW: Was the site selection a problem?
ES: The site selection went hither [and thither] and here and there. We first decided not knowing that the old Citadel would be available at all, we first hit on the site of the old Bennett School which was opposite the College of Charleston's main building. It now is the dining room and so forth for the College of Charleston. And persuaded county council to put in a bid for the building and they agreed to do so. And then the planning board director found out that the old Citadel was going to be available so we immediately latched on to that. So that's how we had that...got that building at that site.
RVW: It most certainly seems like an ideal location.
ES: At that time it was, and I think it still is, particularly since King Street is being up-dated so with the Omni Hotel and so forth and so on. I think it was a good selection and probably still is.
RVW: And near the College of Charleston.
ES: Yes. Near the College of Charleston. Up the street from the Library Society, traffic is ... traffic movement is very good. And way back yonder when Mrs. McGowan, whom I spoke of as being so active in interracial affairs, instrumental in getting the money from Carnegie and from the Rosenwald Fund. She ... after they said something to the Senator from Charleston County, O.T. Wallace at that time, he had a big headline in the paper. This was way back, "The best place for the Library was on Marion Square" and this was quoting Ms. McGowan, "You could take down John C. Calhoun." That was Miss. [not clear] she was an Old Southerner of the Old School. But John C. Calhoun is still there, but the library is there. So he liked to get publicity and he was a good friend of the library. His son is still on county council ... His son, who is a doctor, is on county council and has been a fast friend of the library. Really been very very helpful.
RVW: What about racial relations and such? Was integration a difficult time for you?
ES: Not at all. We didn't have a ... when the new building was opened, everybody had been asked to vote for the new building; therefore, it was for everybody to use and actually we had had people using the various libraries that we already had. We had negroes--black people--using the main library. In fact, when Mr. Arthur M. Wilcox was in there several times, somebody would come in and he never even raised an eyebrow. You know people just assume, well this is a public library... So we ... when we opened, of course, everybody everybody used the library, including black people and white people, rich and poor.
RVW: And the Dart Branch was a going concern and part of the library system?
ES: Oh yes. Yes, always has been.
RVW: And that librarian was on your staff and working with you all?
ES: Oh yes. Supervised. She was one of our branch librarians always. And then we had Cheryl Sander which was on the other side of the city, which is where the [not clear]Committee used to meet and we put a station there, but we'd call it a station, which was a collection of books with a librarian, a paid librarian. And then the various units in the county that black people used, but as I say we had never -to put it negatively -the library ... service had been never been refused to anybody at any unit as far as I know during the history of the library. It was just the custom at that time, so we adhered to the custom. But people accepted it. We didn't know how many thousands of people we'd have using the library, so when we first opened the first few nights of the week, board members came in and walked all through the library and sort of acted as supervisor or whatever. Just keeping an eye on things, because we didn't know what our big crowds would have, or [not clear]... And that was another one of the kinds of things that the board members did that ... just did because they were interested.
RVW: Tell us about relations with the State Library from the late forties on.
ES: Very good as far as I know. Mrs. Walker, of course, followed Mrs. Blair, Mrs. Nancy Blair. They had a small appropriation doing what they could. And Miss Walker, of course, did an enormous amount in the time she was there. And through them and through efforts of various people and organizations, in Charleston and elsewhere, the Library Services Act was passed and that really turned out to be seed money for the library. First of all, as maybe Ms. Mosimann told you, it was used only for rural areas. That was ... in fact, I think it had rural in its name when first, you probably know that, when it first became ... After they changed the name of the title of the act.
RVW: At first the L.S.A - it was at first L.S.A.
ES: Yes, the first L.S.C.A. In fact it didn't have a "c" in it because there wasn't any construction in that phase. And they were ... we could only buy books that were for a rural areas, and then finally it was changed and we could buy used books. And Miss Mosimann probably told you the story about when she was children's librarian, I think it was the first year that we could use books not for rural areas, and she was in the children's room. And told you about the fire. Did she tell you?
RVW : Yes.
ES: That's one of the most delightful stories.
RVW: Tell us about your going up to the ...
ES: Yes, she would have been safer with the title pages. And there was reason for that. I mean, it sounds silly that you had to save title pages, but there was a reason for it. But she took it in great humor. We thought for sure that the steeple was going to fall on the library.
RVW: How did you feel about the State Library doing that kind of thing to make you get rid of some of those old books. Was there resentment or was it agreeable ?
ES: No, because we knew what ... we knew the reason behind it. At least Ms. Mosimann was smart enough to know there were people who might take them off the shelves when you were there and then put them back on the shelf the next day just because they felt they didn't have enough books. We had ... in those early years Mrs. Coopman, who was extension librarian, and Ms. Janie Smith, who was children's librarian, in the main building. They both felt strongly and so deeply about not having enough books and I could remember Mrs. Coopman, "But I don't even have one book" per child for the school she was going to serve. At that time school libraries, especially in rural areas, were nonexistent. So, they felt very strongly about more books.
RVW: What about the swimming hole incident? How did that affect them? Do you remember that? The controversy over the book called The Swimming Hole that showed white and black kids playing together?
ES: I don't remember that.
RVW: It happened in the 1950's.
ES: It was in the fifties?
RC: Yes, around the time of integration.
ES: It didn't reach us I guess.
RVW: It ... there was a good deal of legislative activity.
ES: Oh, you mean the State Library. It had something to do with the State Library.
RVW: Well, and particularly Florence County Library. There was an incident that happened there.
ES: Oh, Florence. No, I don't remember that.
RVW: Not Florence but Darlington.
ES: Which library?
RC: It was the law about censorship that was questioned.
ES: I'd forgotten that.
RC: It caused quite a bit of controversy.
ES: Oh, yes.
RVW: Miss Walker has a variety of reputations depending upon whom you talked to in this state.
ES: Miss Walker. She is not Mrs. Walker.
RVW: No, I was using the "Ms." as "miz."
ES: Oh, excuse me. You're using Ms. like I did on an interview I did with somebody. I said "Ms." the whole time and I said, " How could I have done that? I didn't realize I was doing that."
RVW: I gather you had a good relationship with her and felt she was a positive force in the library.
ES: Oh, definitely. Yes, I sure did. She was admired. I don't know why she did, but she seemed to admire the Charleston County Library. And the...She'd known some of the early staff members. One of them became an Army librarian and left us in the Forties. And she'd always had a sort of known Charleston and then friends. She was always good friends with Margaret and Madeline Mosimann. And, they usually had her for tea or something when she came down. And for some reason she thought that Charleston did all right. I mean, she seemed to.
RVW: How interesting that you all had been so successful with your bond issue. That probably had a good deal to do with how she regarded you all in terms of getting good support for that.
ES: I don't know. I don't know. I don't really know, because their friendship with Lou Gilliard - the lady I'm talking about who is now dead - Fountain she married - went way back before that and ... I don't know. I guess she thought we tried and we did try.
RVW: What about SCLA and your relationship with it over the years?
ES: Well, I don't know that I did too much. I was president one year in the Forties. I was on various committees and ...
RVW: Now you were president in 1947.
RVW: Forty-eight That's right.
ES: I looked that up. I wouldn't have remembered it if I hadn't looked it up.
RVW: Forty-eight - forty-nine. And I believe you followed ...
ES: Francis Lander Spain.
RVW: Francis Lander Spain.
RVW: Didn't you?
ES: Yes. She was a very fine librarian.
RVW: Any kind of memorable events in regard to SCLA, what its problems were...
ES: No, we were just trying to get budgets up to ... school library budgets, public library budgets, all kinds of budgets, up to where it would be passable. And that was a struggle for a long time. Seems to me that we did a sample of discussion, book discussion evening at the convention in 1949 when I was president and we carried ... we took the people who ... some people from Charleston and did that as part of their program. [That is] about the only thing I remember, to tell you the truth.
RVW: What do you think about SCLA's role in library development over these years that it has been active? Has it been a minor role, an important role, side show? How would you describe it.
ES: I would say it would be a major role. Of course I look at it from the public library stand point. I would think that the efforts to get appropriations up, standards up -personnel standards, building standards, budgets. They've been helpful in those ways and I think just getting together to talk is a big asset that they've done over the years. I don't remember how many librarians ... how many members there were when I was president, but we were comparatively small.
RVW: Was it influential in political activities? Lobbying the legislature.
ES: Yes. We did some lobbying as I remember. And when Mrs. Walker would say there's a dime to do this a dime to do that we would go right at it.
RVW: But it was the state library that was doing that more than SCLA would you say?
ES: No, I don't think that. The state library was of course, top of the budget for the state and for the Federal Library Services Act, so that they were more conscious of that. Nothing at the state library, I mean nothing at the South Carolina Library Association was instrumental in those early days.
RVW: At that time was it mostly for the public libraries ...
ES: No. The school library section was getting strong.
RVW: What about academic?
ES: The university, academic and they were... and they became very strong. I can't remember too much of this.
RVW: No particularly memorable events the year you were president?
ES: If there were I don't remember.
RVW: What about your work in ALA and those kinds of groups.
ES: Well, I didn't do very much in ... [I was] a counselor for a period. I guess four years or whatever the date was and I went to meetings and so forth. And then I think I was membership chairman for a short while. Then I was on SCLA ... I mean SELA Board ... for awhile. And I can't remember anything memorable at the time.
RVW: SELA seems to have played a minor role in South Carolina or would you say again it was the function just to get folks together throughout the Southeast?
ES: That was a good part of it certainly. And the programs were good. I don't know how they are going now.
RVW: I would say fairly weak.
ES: Plugging along. Yes.
RVW: A meeting every two years, but maybe ...
ES: Every other year. Once in a while we'd have a joint meeting. We'd have a joint meeting with North Carolina and I think once or twice we had a joint meeting with SCLA if I remember ... vaguely.
RVW: Did you play any role in the legislation that took place for the Library Services Act and then later with SCLA? Talk to your congress people, senators...
ES: Yes, we wrote a lot of letters and I know some of our board members and interested people wrote and also went to see them, but I know there were quite a number and a lot of people, if you'd ask them, would say, "Certainly I'll write them" or "Certainly I'll call them". Many of them did.
RVW: Was Senator Hollings a fan of the library, as a Charleston person?
ES: Yes. From the very beginning. Maybe Miss Mosimann told you, but they are old friends. I remember his coming in and he was in the State Legislature before he was anything else but a Representative on the State Legislature. He would come into the library on 94 Rutledge Avenue, look up something in the Reader's Guide and not ask for help. 'Cause he looked it up himself and found what he wanted and so forth. So from the very beginning he was one of the first ones to write a letter to the editor for a new building. He and Thomas D. Bowers, who was a public relations person, who had done our brochures, and there was a third person. who wrote a letter about the time that we were asking for the bill.
RVW: And later did he help out with LSCA and support that?
ES: Yes. He would always vote for it. Right. And Mendel Rivers ... [Short portion here accidentally erased.]
RVW: Well Mendel Rivers certainly has ...
ES: He was one of these people who ... he was a doer ... somebody described him as "life bright" if you know what that means.
RVW: That's what?
ES: Life bright. I mean he was always ... if you asked him to do something. I knew somebody who asked him to do something in connection with libraries and they said you asked Mendel to do something and he'd do it. He'd do something right away. He wouldn't just put it off until tomorrow, he'd do it right away. And you could depend on him for that. It was very helpful.
RVW: What other kinds of things stand out in your mind about your years as director. Satisfactions, frustrations...
ES: Oh, one of the wonderful things that happened just after we moved into the new building which gave us such a lift, the Home Federal Savings and Loan Association said they were going to give us an amount of money to buy three different sculptures to put on the outside of the building by a local, very distinguished sculpture Willard Hursh. And that gave everybody, board and staff and everybody, such a lift. And he did one sculpture which is over the children's room door. Alice in Wonderland. And then another one on the south side of the library towards the battery showing people, different kinds of people, using the library, the newspaper and so forth. Somebody reading a newspaper and so forth. Then in the early days of County Council they had adopted a county seal, so he also put the county seal on the door way next to the door. And that was a nice lift. Nice things like that happening.
RVW: Any other kinds of things? Frustrations that ...
ES: I remember, not frustrations, we had various county managers whom we had to deal with and they were all -almost without exception as far as I know - when they left to go somewhere else or whatever, they'd always say to County Council well there are problems here and problems here, but the library's fine, except they don't have enough money. So we seem to have been able to keep County Council ... the managers of the county ... the manager ... the county manager at any rate, comparatively happy. So ...
RVW: But never able to get the kind of support that you wanted?
ES: Well, they had do deal with County Council and that was a group of people I can understand, they had only so much money. If they didn't use the money they had then they'd have to raise taxes and they didn't want to raise taxes because people would squeal. So I could see their point of view. But I also saw our point of view. So there are always two sides to a problem. But ...
RVW: County Councils in South Carolina seem particularly reticent to raise taxes for those kinds of public service agencies.
ES: Well, the library, as you probably know, was a self perpetuating board up until the state - I think it was 1977 or 78 - until the state - until the overall state law was enacted which was very fine because we may have been the only self perpetuating board left. But that transition was in the late seventies and early eighties and that was when Ms. Margaret Mosimann was director. And it was a very easy transition because the same people were on the board and it just gradually became all appointed and I felt, I felt it was the thing to do. An overall state law which would regulate everybody. And I think that that's been a plus. I know it's hard for any board to have somebody else saying, "You can't do this or you can't do that", but after all it's their money. You have to remember that.
RVW: When it came time for retirement, any thoughts about that. Were you ready to go onto other challenges, other things.
ES: Well, I thought I'd be bored stiff, but I never was. I seemed to have made the transition very well. By the way in this report there is a purpose of the public library at the very beginning and that was written by a board member. That was, I started to say, that when you spoke of county [manager?] Black, who was here for a number of years, he decided we had to go on...everybody had to present there budget zero budget. Go back to zero as if you didn't have anything and build up. And one of the things that he wanted was a purpose of the library, so Alice Cabinist, she was Alice Cabinist at that time -she's now Mrs. Jack Bass - she wrote the purpose of the library that was incorporated into the first part of the booklet.
RVW: That's a nice statement.
ES: And it's a nice statement and it's her own ideas. Nobody edited it.
RVW: Library work seems to have kept you young looking and young acting...
ES: Thank you, sir.
RVW: ... all these years.
ES: It's been fun. I've enjoyed it.
RVW: Have you been back to Pratt after all these years to see what they looked like?
ES: I went to a Pratt meeting once ... some of early conventions ... library school I guess it was. I didn't know anybody. So many years had passed that I didn't recognize anybody. I think there was one man that I vaguely remember having seen somewhere before. But ... Pratt was a great experience in those years.
RVW: A great time to go to school there.
ES: Oh, it was a great time to go to school, it certainly was. Let's see what else I have here.
RVW: Other kinds of things you want to add. I think we've about run out of questions.
ES: You've about run out of questions. Okay. I think I told you most of the things that I thought of.
RVW: Well I was going to ask you about your year at Chicago. How did you happened to get up there?
ES: Oh,no. I didn't have a year in Chicago.
RVW: Was that for just a little while?
ES: That was just a correspondence course.
RVW: Oh, it was? Okay.
ES: It was in city personnel...city personnel management, I think. Yes. City personnel management. And then I later took a course at the Citadel in municipal ... municipal and county finance administration and the three students were the county manager, the county treasurer and I. We took an evening course one year. I don't know how they gave the course with only three pupils. That was interesting.
RVW: Only three?
ES: I guess we all three needed it.
RVW: Again back to you as a woman in these adventures and such, always particularly dealing with what must have been mostly men, you seemed to have survived very well in terms of dealing in mostly a male world. Did this give you any problems or, again did you feel you [weren't being] discriminated against.
ES: No, I used to look at salaries sometimes and you know comparing it in my mind, but then when it came to women's rights and so forth, I didn't want any more responsibility than I already had. That was plenty. So, I've just repeated what I said before. I think I've said about everything. Let's see if I've got anything in this. Oh I forgot to say. I've noticed several mentions of Alexis de Tocqueville and he was the one that way back yonder said when he came to the United States in the eighteen hundreds, he noticed that there were so many associations and civic clubs and groups joining together for this and voluntary this and voluntary that. I think when you think of the Charleston County Library that really applies to us because look at all the people and all the clubs that had something to do with the coming to be of this library.
RVW: Particularly women's clubs, too.
ES: Yes. But then the Chamber of Commerce, the exchange clubs ... they were all listed in those early days. They really ...
RVW: Would you say one was more influential than the other?
ES: The Council of Jewish Women is another women's organization. I had all these others down somewhere. Oh, here we are. The people who were represented at that early meeting at Ashley Hall were representing Charleston's civic, paternal, patriotic clubs, Civic Club, Garden Club, Iron's Club, Charleston Museum, Rotary Club, Jim Simmon's School PTA, Satcher Labor Union - the same Mrs. McGowan some years later said we've got to have a representative of labor on the board so she nominated Mr. James Cools, who had been the person at this meeting to represent the labor union. He was a good board member. The Council of Jewish Women, the Society for the Preservation of Old Buildings, the Graduate Nurses Association, Meminger High PTA, College of Charleston, Citadel, Medical College of South Carolina supported that, Ashley Hall, endorsements from the Exchange Club, Women's Auxiliary, the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, Minstrel Union, Bishop England, a Catholic High School, County Superintendent of Education and then the twenty clubs canvassed -this was in the early days -canvassed for the library. Actually sent people out from door to door. So I think Mr. de Tocqueville was probably right. We still had it.
RVW: It sounds like you'd been reading either Jesse Share or Sydney Ditzion books?
ES: Somewhere I read, just recently.
RVW: Well, Ditzion, I don't know if you've read his ...
RVW: ... Ditzion's Arsenals of a Democratic Culture or Shera's Foundations of the Public Library.....
RVW: Marvelous. Great books.
ES: Did they say the same thing?
ES: Oh, how nice.
RVW: Well, no. I mean they quote de Tocqueville.
ES: Oh, they quote him? I see. Oh, gee. Book discussions ...
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