Edgefield Public Library:

a history

Edgefield Female Library Society

Recognized as one of the oldest libraries in the state, this society was formed by families from the area before the village of Edgefield was incorporated. Although it was called the Edgefield Female Library Society, the membership showed an equal number of gentlemen. They met fortnightly in the homes of members, but also sponsored cultural lectures. The EDGEFIELD ADVERTISER contains reports of these social-cultural events from as early as 1838. Many of the members regularly contributed original prose and poetry to this local paper, which also carried weekly book reviews during the 1850's and instituted a Ladies Department reserved for lady contributors. The Lyceum, which had earlier been called the Literary and Thespian Club, was a parallel men's organization responsible for bringing such notables as William Gilmore Simms to the village. The men often donated proceeds from these lectures to the library society. Although the Civil War years constrained the activities of the library society, the Edgefield Ladies' Literary Club marked the fiftieth anniversary of the organization in 1870. The second generation (in many cases) members continued the library society which in 1905, under the a auspices of he Auf Wiedersehen Society, was granted a charter as the Edgefield Free Library. This library by 1922 had a collection of 3000 books and 300 reference works which formed the basis of the D. A. Tompkins Memorial Library (1927). This is one of the few examples of c continuous library organization in South Carolina.

D. A. Tompkins Memorial Library (Edgefield County Library)

The organization of the library service in Edgefield has been continuous from prior to 1817 when the Female Library Society was formed. By 1826 the volumes in the library numbered over 300. Taken over by the Auf Wiedersehen Society in 1905 the name was changed to the Edgefield Free Library. D. A. Tompkins, a wealthy industrialist and publisher, gave the community a legacy which purchased the bank that now houses the library. This building was bought and renovated specifically to house the Abney Collection of rare books presented to the town by Mrs. Abney in 1929, the vault also containing the files of the EDGEFIELD ADVERTISER from 1836. The D. A. Tompkins Memorial Library's facilities serve as the headquarters for the county wide public library service in Edgefield County, and have since it was established in 1958. The library also contains a courtesy center and archives.

See a brief chronology of the Edgefield Public Library System