|The Libraries of South Carolina
by Mary Frayser
||(Click on image|
to view scanned
of Mary Frayser's booklet)
An act of importance to library development was passed in 1903 by the General Assembly of
South Carolina. According to it towns and cities are permitted to subscribe to the maintenance
of a free public library within their limits.*
In 1904 a library act was passed which resulted in the establishment of small book
collections in some rural schools. The salient feature of this act "to encourage the establishment
of libraries in the public schools of the rural districts" was the provision for an appropriation
of $5,000 annually by the state to be offered in small amounts to schools raising an equal amount,
which in turn must be met by a third like sum from the county board of the applying school. The
number of schools to receive the benefit in a county was limited to twelve. The amount to be
contributed from each source was fixed at $10.00 and the books were to be selected from a list
furnished by the State Board of Education. This act stimulated interest in rural school libraries.
It was several times amended. The law is still on the statute books but it is inoperative. Since
1927 there has been no state appropriation to support it.
The Marion library was established in 1898 as a subscription library. This was prior to
any provision by the General Assembly for the establishment of public libraries and it was
necessary for the Secretary of State to issue a charter authorizing the establishment of the
library as a corporation which was supported by fees and annual contributions from public
After several years the trustees of the library wished to extend its service and to
provide for library support from public funds. Accordingly in 1912 an act was passed authorizing
the board of trustees of any school district of Marion county to establish, accept, and support a
public library. Under the terms of this act a board of school trustees may order an election for
the levying of a tax not in excess of one mill for the support of a library. Marion school district
laid such a tax upon itself in 1912 and the Marion library income and service were enlarged in
The Latta library (Dillon county) was opened to the public June, 1914. It was built from
funds donated by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and provision for its support was made by a
one-mill tax on all property in the Latta school district. In 1930 the Dillon county legislative
delegation recommended the placing of a tax of one-half mill on all property in Dillon county for
the extension of the service of the Latta library to every resident of the county. This tax was
levied, thus raising Latta school district's library tax to one and one-half mills. The library
entered upon a larger sphere of usefulness as a county library. A plan was worked out for pooling
the book resources of the schools and the Latta library, and also for use of the Latta librarian
and the school bus during school hours for book delivery throughout the county, every school in the
county to be visited twice each month. The books given by the schools were taken to the library
and those which could be used were added to the general collection from which the county was to be
served. A distributing plan was put into operation and the boxes of books were placed in the
schools for pupil use and for loans to adults in the surrounding rural area. The boxes of books
are exchanged for others upon application to the central library.
In the vacation season of 1931 books were located with some competent person in each
community where they were available for the first time during available the summer months.
The library is establishing deposit stations as convenient to adults as the school deposits are
In July, 1931, the Latta Library Board applied to the State Library Board for help with the
reorganization of the library.**
This service was rendered by the State Library field agent.
*Acts 1903, Act 45. page 772.
**See page 21 for account of the Organization of the State Library Board.
Figure 2. -- A farmer's wife (left) whose home is a book deposit station
from which she gives bookloan service to her community.