Although the Pickens County Library Association was formed on April 30, 1935, there has been a continuous effort for a public library in the town of Easley since 1929.
Back in the hey day of the twenties before the depression of the early thirties, all civic clubs were sponsoring "Better Homes Week". A home would be built, furnished completely in the latest mode and opened to the public for inspection and entertainment during the stated time. The Women's Club of Easley sponsored a very successfully event and the public gave unusual cooperation. The members had decided "IF" they should be awarded a cash prize for their efforts the money would be spent to form the nucleus for a library.
When scores were added up, Easley settled for an "honorable mention", but the idea of a town library still simmered and the next year a reading circle was formed in the club. From that small step, two book cases were built and Mr.E.L.Bolt gave the club the privilege of using the mezzanine floor of his store to install the cases and open the library to the public. the Easley Garden Club, The Child Study Club and the Civic League cooperated with the Women Club the next year in setting aside a certain sum of money for the purpose of buying new books. Different members of the clubs served as librarian two days a week. The newest books were rented, the others circulated without charge.
When the interest in a library seemed to be growing beyond what could be supplied by the two book cases, the school officials of Easley high opened the school library two afternoons a week to the public during the summer months. Miss Atlalee Bauknight, then a Winthrop student, was in charge of this experiment.
In Pickens high school, Clemson-Calhoun, Central and Liberty there were also Libraries (inadequate) but the county as a whole was without any other service than that mentioned above.
When the E.R.A. office at Pickens was in charge of W.H. Farr, he contacted members of the Women's Club, certain Easley school officials civic leaders in Pickens, Central, Dacusville, liberty, Six Mile and asked them to call a meeting to discuss the organization of a county library which under the proper set up would be a project that he would approve and E.R.A. would furnish part of the support for it. The result of his call was the meeting held in the high school at Pickens. Enthusiastic response was evidenced by fifty or more citizens attending and forming the Pickens county Library association. Mrs.Ben Day presided over the meeting and the following officers were elected: President, Ben P. Woodside; vice Pres. W.W. Cobb: Secretary Tres. Mrs.Ben Day. Woodside and Lloyd H. Smith were asked to draw up a constitution and by-laws and their plan with a few minor changes is used today. The trustees who were next selected represented every section of the county and were as follows: W.W.Cobb, Catachee; Mrs.S.J. Campbell,Central; Mrs. Thomas, Dacusville; Remsen Bauknight, Georges Creek; Mrs. S. T. Mckirrtick, Six mile, George E.Welborn, Pickens B.F. Freeman, Roanoke; Mrs.J.A.Dillard, six Mile and Mrs. Annabell Tollison, Zion.
After the organization was perfected, and old truck was purchased for the sum of fifty dollars, Mr.Farr supervised and helped build a body to make a bookmobile, as a membership drive was put on-- regular fee for a membership, $1.00 in certain cases produce such as eggs, chickens, beef,etc., was accepted for the membership fee; library headquarters were established in Easley at the place where the Women's Club Library had been located. Mr.bolt gave additional space and the assets of the W.C.Library were turned over to the county.
Mrs.G.G. Christopher was chosen as librarian and the real struggle was begun. A drive was put on for books. Boy Scout and club women solicited usable books from the homes of the people who would donate. While many worth while and valuable volumes were given, the library also received a heterogeneous collection of old school books (particularly old arithmetics out of date history and science books, religious, literature of different churches etc. They helped to fill up space but did not do a great deal to taste for reading among the school children.
Miss fanny Taber rendered invaluable service to those who worked with the library that first year. She came over to meetings, she invited officers and trustees to visit the Greenville Library and explained their mode of operation, she let the workman use one of their bookmobiles as a model for building the Pickens county first body. She also assisted in calling a meeting held in the Easley high school building prior to the one in Pickens in 1935 where the actual organization took place.
Mrs.Annabelle Tollison was elected as librarian a few months after the organization and served a little over five years. To her is due much of the county today. When the E.R.A. became the W.P.A. and set up $10,000 as the budget for yearly operation, the county was asked to raise $1,000 of the amount through penny showers in the Easley schools, the Washington Birthday Ball held in the Easley Armory each year and various other money raising schemes the county did its part.
Mrs.,O.K. Higgins has also played an important role in the development of the library. She has seldom failed to make her scheduled route in spite of the fact that many of the mountainous roads become almost impassible during long spells of inclement weather, and as some one has said "no one but Mrs.Higgins could have ever driven the first old truck the Association owned. Mrs.Higgins says: "It is the most remote section of the county that the library renders it greatest service. It being practically the only reading contact that many have with the outside world. To those this service includes books on prenatal care, care of infants, and young children, cows, horses, poultry and agriculture. Occasionally a young bride, anxious to improve her skill in the culinary art, will borrow a cook book. There are many calls on biographies, current-fiction books and of course, fiction. Some boys who live near Eastatoe have lately become interested in reading of the Cherokee Indians. This interest is probably due to the fact that these Indians once had a settlement there.
When Mr. Bold sold his store, another good friend, the late Albert S. Hagood gave the association permission to use two up-stairs rooms in a building on main street. This was also rent free and provided comfortable quarters for the library. When the new high school building was completed in 1939 two rooms of the old high school were turned over for use by the library. This arrangement was most convenient for it gave a first floor outlet, the rooms were large and airy and provided ample space for the needs of the library. This arrangement, however, did not last long for the building was sold to a business firm and the library again had the problem of finding new quarters. A building with a partition making two rooms was selected and the fourth home of the Association was set up. Under construction in Easley at the present time is a handsome library building made possible largely through donations of public-spirited citizens - the largest gift was by E. S. McKissick of Greenville. In this new building, the library will have a permanent home as long as it desires.
The funds for the operation of the Pickens County Library since it was started 12 years ago have come from many and varied sources; No considerable amount has been donated by any one individual, but hundreds have helped. In 1939 the legislative delegations appropriated $150.00, and this was soon raised to $600. IN 1942 when the W. P. A. aid was withdrawn the appropriation was raised to $1,200. Since then it has been increased from $300 to $500 provided we spend the same amount for books.
The following have served as presidents; Ben P. Woodside; Mrs. Ben T. Dat; Remsen Bauknight; Hoyt S. Bryan; Floyd O. Durham; Mrs. A. G. King; Mrs. Lloyd H. Smith; Mrs. W. M. Scott. As Secretary: Mrs. Ben T. Day; Mrs. Annabelle Tollison; Mrs. Johnson Simms; Mrs. Ben Martin; Mrs. B. E. Allen; Mrs. E. Y. Phillips; Mrs. Franklin Smith. Mrs. O. K. Higgins and Mrs. Bernice Hagood are now the efficient librarians and we also have two branch librarians - one in Pickens with Mrs. B. F. McDaniel and in Liberty with Miss Carrie Hutchins as Librarian.
We now have 7,557 books as well as the following Encyclopedias: Americana, Britanica, World Book, and several others. The circulation for last year was 34,826, magazines 4,875. The Library truck covers all the different sections of the county, making 95 stops visiting 50 schools and 45 other stops including homes, mills, drug stores, country stores, villages, the library at Pickens and the Liberty City Library.
The City of Easley has been very generous in helping the Library in many different ways.