It was a favorite project of the Society to establish, in connection with it, a High School or College; and to this end, as well as to provide a permanent fund, a portion of the income of the Society was regularly funded. In 1762 estimates of the cost of the proposed School were made: but as they called for an immediate outlay of about fifteen thousand dollars, together with an annual additional expenditure of upwards of two thousand dollars, the project was suspended as being beyond the means of the Society; and subsequent events caused it to be entirely abandoned.
The Revolutionary war, of course, suspended all schemes of improvement. The debts due the Society could with difficulty be collected; and it was even more difficult to invest the money when collected. A large sum was deposited in the Treasury, the certificates for which, through long unproductive, became ultimately valuable, and . In fact, furnished the germ of the present Library. In the great fire of 1778, the Library was almost entirely destroyed. Out of more than five thousand volumes only one hundred and eighty-five were saved. The loss was at the time irreparable. This great loss will explain the otherwise unaccountable absences from the Library of the numerous pamphlets which preceded the outbreak of the war. Nothing is transitory than such a literature, and by the time the Society was in a condition to resume operations, these pamphlets had been taken out of circulation, and were to be found only by the curious, and doubtless did not possess the same interest for the members as they would now us.
With the return of peace the Society was reorganized. But its funds were in ruinous condition. The accidents of war had dispersed its members - many were dead; and few or none were left who, in the general desolation, could render effectual aid to its treasury. The work of collection went on so slowly that in 1790 its catalogue showed only three hundred and forty-two volumes. In that year the Legislature made provision for funding the money which, at the beginning of the war, had been deposited in the Treasury, and the Society realized from its certificates about eleven thousand dollars; of this amount six thousand four hundred dollars was subscribed to the Bank of the United States, to be the nucleus of permanent fund, and the rest appropriated to the purchase of books. In 1792 the books purchased with this appropriation reached the city, and may be considered the foundation of the present collection. From that time. Except during the last war the increase has been moderate, but steady. In 1808 the catalogue showed about four thousand five hundred volumes; in 1811 seven thousand, andin1826 nearly twelve thousand. The number indicated in the present catalogue is about fifteen thousand five hundred volumes.
The Library was kept first at the house or store of John Sinclair, the first Librarian. When Mr. Sinclair left the Province, Mr. Will. Henderson was appointed Librarian, and the books were kept at his house. The places of abode of these gentleman are not known. In 1765 Mr. Will. Carwithen was appointed Librarian, and the Library was removed to his residence in Elliott Street, "a central part of the city very convenient to the members." In1764 Gov. Boone offered the Society a room "which had been the Council Chamber," but it was ascertained that the building belonged to the Crown and that neither the Governor nor the Legislature could give the Society a tenure which would justify the expense that the removal would occasion. Gabriel Manigault, Esq., who had been President or Vice-President of the Society for many years, gave it a lease for twenty-one years, of a convenient building in or, near Kinloch Court, a cul de sac running out of the Northern part of Union (now State) Street, and prepared the rooms at his own expense, for the use of the Library. This was destroyed by the fire of 1778. From that time to 1792, the Library had no permanent abiding place, but was frequently removed from place to place. In the latter year, the new State House having been completed, the upper rooms were put at the disposal of the Library Society, and the books were carried thither, and there kept until 1836, when they were removed to the building at present owned by the Society.