When, in 1835, the South Carolina Bank removed to more convenient quarters, and offered for sale their building at the corner of Broad and Church Streets, it was thought advisiable that the Society should have a permanent resting place, and negotiations were set on foot, which resulted in the purchase of the property. The funds of the Society were insufficient to meet the price, and the cost of removal. An appeal, therefore, was made to the people. To every subscriber of one hundred dollars was offered, free forever from all contributions, all the privileges of the Library, except the right of voting and of holding office; and the subscribers became with the Society joint tenants of the building. Ninety-six gentleman responded to the appeal. The purchase was made, and the Library opened in the new hall in May,1836.
This seemed to be a successful financial operation; but it proved to be a blow at the prosperity of the Society, from which it never recovered. It created a secondary class of members, who, paying no contributions, unconsciously tempted persons desirous of joining the Society, to purchase their shares in preference to those which the Society had to offer. It was an early and a favorite project of the Society to extinguish those shares, by purchasing them as they came upon the market. But the needs of the Library called for the money at its disposal. In spite of every effort to prevent it, the roll of contributing members became every year smaller. Then came the war, with its desolating influences; and when peace was restored the Society seemed on the verge of ruin.
In the year 1870, the Apprentices' Library Society, which had lost its books and its building in the great fire of 1861, having converted into cash some property which belonged to it, was reorganized and in a condition to purchase books. Application was made to the Charleston Library Society for the use of its shelves, and an agreement was entered into by which the members of the two Societies might use each others books. The arrangement seemed to be mutually beneficial. The Charleston Library had the building and its valuable collection of books, and the Apprentices' Library Society had the money to purchase new books. But it was soon found that the smaller and younger Society was absorbing the older; and that the old Society, with its building, its books, and its traditions, was incapable of sustaining itself against its junior associate, which had unconsciously and unintentionally become a rival. It was, therefore, proposed to unite the two Societies. The negotiations occupied upwards of a year. An Act of Legislature was obtained to sanction the union, and in 1874 the younger Society merged itself into the older; and it is hoped that with the new life a new era of prosperity is before both. The building shares still continue to constitute a class of privileged members, but the reduced price of subscription, and the increased facilities of becoming subscribers, do not permit these privileged shares to exercise an injurious influence on the prosperity of the Society.