The Development of School Libraries in South Carolina

The following speech was delivered by Margaret Ehrhardt on March 31, 1988 as the Third Annual Deans' Lecture of the University of South Carolina College of Library and Information Science.  Ms. Ehrhardt was Supervisor of School Library Services for the South Carolina State Department of Education from 1970 until the early 1980s.



The years 1945-1985 were crucial years for school library programs, not only in South Carolina, but for the nation as well. The ALA Handbook for 1944 showed that only 15 states had school library supervisors. It was interesting to note that seven of these were Southern states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

Tonight I should like to explore with you some of the significant events that have helped to shape the development of school library media programs in our state.

The first significant factor was the employment by the State Department of Education of the first Supervisor of Library Services. It is seldom that one can pinpoint the beginning of a library media program, but this is not true of school library media services in South Carolina. The date was March 29, 1946, and the time was 11:00. It was then that an announcement was made to the School Library Section of the South Carolina Education Association which was in session at University High School here in Columbia that the State Department of Education had received a grant from the General Education Board (of the Rockefeller Foundation) to employ a Library Supervisor. This was the first attempt to bring structure into what had been haphazard library development in the schools.

The fight for a supervisor had been a long and hard one. As early as June 1945, William Henry Shaw, Superintendent of Sumter County Schools, had met with Dr. Fred McCuistion, Assistant Director of the General Education Board, and the Superintendent of Education, Dr. James A. Hope. At this time Dr. Hope had agreed to recommend to the State Board of Education that a grant be requested from the G.E.B. for a director of public school libraries in South Carolina.

Under the agreement, the G.E.B. was to pay a salary of $3600 to the person selected for one and 1/2 years. Travel was at the rate of $1200 per year and to be matched for the second year by the State Department of Education not to exceed $600 for the part to be paid by the G.E.B. (this was similar to the way the G.E.B. had financed the supervisors in other Southern states). At the end of the 1 1/2 years, the state would be expected to assume full responsibility for the position.

Mr. Shaw then wrote to Dr. Frances Lander Spain, Librarian of Winthrop College, to alert her to this new development and to suggest that she consider the position when it was funded. Dr. Spain was at that time the Chairman of the School Library Section of S.C.E.A. (the section was the forerunner of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians.

Since no action had been taken on the matter by the State Department of Education by October 1945, Dr. Spain wrote to Dr. Hope and recommended Miss Nancy Jane Day for the position when it was set up. In her letter she stated, "As chairman of the School Library Section of the S.C.E.A. I feel responsible to the school librarians of this state, and to all persons connected with the education of our youth, in the matter."

And responsible she was--the correspondence is voluminous. She wrote to anyone who could further the course of obtaining a library supervisor for South Carolina. The fact that the Department of Education finally employed such a person was due largely to the persistence of this woman.

She asked for support from such persons as Mr. C.M. Lockwood, Superintendent in Lancaster, Mr. E.R. Crow who had replaced Mr. Shaw as the Superintendent for Sumter when Mr. Shaw had gone to Columbus, Georgia as a Superintendent, Mr. W.F. Loggins, Superintendent of Greenville Public Schools, Mlss Nancy Blair, Executive Secretary of the State Library Board, Mr. Harris Marshall, Superintendent of the Darlington City Schools and President of the Department of Superintendance of the S.C.E.A.

She also sent letters to members of the State Board of Education, Mr. J.R. Coates, Secretary of S.C.E.A., Mr. W.N. Nixon, High School Supervisor in the State Department of Education and Mary Cox, President of the South Carolina Library Association.

She worked closely with Miss Nancy Hoyle, Field Representative for the Southern Association Library Committee and an agent of the G.E.B.

She wrote Miss Mary Frayser, Chairman of the State Library Board that all library development must go hand in hand.

In December 1945, she wrote to Dr. Hope requesting an audience for herself and other representatives of the Section to appear before the State Board of Education at its December meeting. The request was granted and she and three other representatives of the Section appeared before the Board on December 17 at 12:00 noon. The Board minutes for this date only mention Dr. Spain, but we believe that the others were Mrs. Von Eta Salley, Librarian at Columbia College, Sophie Sullivan, Librarian at Columbia High School, and Lila Grier, the latter two having been past presidents of the Section. The Board directed the Superintendent to apply for the grant.

Dr. Spain had left nothing to chance. Prior to this meeting she had sent copies of an application she had drafted with the assistance of Miss Hoyle of the G.E.B. for the State Department of Education to use in making a formal application to the G.E.B. to all of the Board of Education members for their advance study.

Governor Ransome J. Williams was at this time Chairman of the Board of Education. One of his concerns was whether public library supervisors and school library supervisors should be combined. It had to be explained to him that the public library supervisor worked with the public librarian and the school library supervisor would be in the Department of Education and work with the school librarians.

In the correspondence regarding this matter there is a very significant letter written by Miss Mary Frayser on December 14, 1947, to Governor Williams that she had met with Miss Nancy Hoyle of the G.E.B., Dr. Henry Sims, President of Winthrop College, a Mrs. Rogers, and Dr. Spain to discuss the question of a supervisor for South Carolina.

She noted that the Southern states had profited from the G.E.B.'s very generous offer and cited the advantage to the citizens of South Carolina with the appointment of a library supervisor in the Department of Education, that this would compliment the work being done by the State Library Board, that the two agencies had profited by cooperation in the past, and she closed by saying, "You can count on a continuation of teamwork from the two agencies."

Apparently Dr. Hope had had some concerns as to what action the State would take after the G.E.B. placed the responsibility on the State because he wrote Miss Frayser urging her to have the State Library contact the Legislature.

In any event Dr. Hope did not file an application with the G.E.B. even though the State Board of Education had instructed him to do so. Dr. Spain had written the Board members and Dr. Hope personal letters of thanks for the opportunity of appearing before the Board at the December meeting so Board members brought up the question of a supervisor again in the February meeting. This time considerable pressure was brought to bear on Dr. Hope for him to follow the Board's directive of December 17.

After two letters from Dr. Spain to Dr. Hope had gone unanswered, she wrote again to Governor Williams on February 16 saying that further delay would make it impossible to find a suitable person before the Fall semester. Governor Williams referred this letter to Dr. Hope.

Miss Nancy Hoyle also wrote to Dr. Hope as representative of the Southern Association saying that she would be making a report to the Southern Association in March, and she hoped to be able to recognize South Carolina as having a library supervisor along with the other Southern states.

Dr. Spain also contacted the High School Supervisor in the Department of Education asking that he speak to Dr. Hope about the matter.

So sometime around February 19 the application was finally sent to the G.E.B. and a major hurdle had been overcome, but there was still another decision to be made. The G.E.B. had been concerned for some time about the competency of the person to be appointed. As early as October 1945 Dr. Spain had recommended Miss Nancy Jane Day as being the most qualified candidate. The G.E.B. had agreed to release the funds as soon as a person was appointed. Miss Day, who was on the faculty of the Emory Library School was invited to come to Columbia for an interview with Dr. Hope in April. Several persons also recommended Dr. Spain for the position, but as she wrote to Dr. Hope she was never a candidate. She said, "I would never have helped you set up the position and get the grant for it if I had had any intention of being an applicant for it."

We do not know how many others actually applied for the position, but the correspondence indicates that a high school librarian in Louisiana had made inquiries.

However, after Dr. Hope interviewed Miss Day, the position was offered to her. She was to begin her employment in September 1946. South Carolina would not be the last Southern state to employ a supervisor, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Texas would follow later.

Dr. Spain had invited Dr. Hope to attend the March 29 meeting of the School Library Section to bring the good news to the school librarians that South Carolina would at last have a supervisor of school libraries. He declined, however, due to a conflicting speaking engagement.

She wrote to him again requesting that he announce Miss Day's appointment. She said, "I am so pleased that this additional staff member was appointed during your superintendency and that it is another of the many forward steps taken during your administration to give South Carolina better educational advantages." Dr. Hope had by this time announced that he would not offer for reelection to the next term of office.

Then Dr. Spain contacted Mr. J.P. Coates, Secretary to the S.C.E.A. and suggested that an announcement of Miss Day's appointment be made in their next publication. This was done and an article was published in the South Carolina Education News in the fall of 1946. This publication was sent to 8000 lay persons as well as to all teachers.

What was the status of school libraries in South Carolina in the fall of 1946 when the new supervisor took office? There were libraries in only 39% of the schools, and books per student numbered less than 2. The larger high schools had the semblance of a library, but elementary libraries consisted mainly of a few books in a cloakroom.

As early as 1941 there is a reference in the annual report of the Superintendent of Education to the amount of $764 being received by each county from the Legislature for the purchase of library books. A library committee from the counties had met and selected the approved materials which were then placed with the Textbook Commission so that teachers could examine them and make their selections. As new materials were published, they were approved by the Library Committee and added to the collection.

This report also encouraged high schools to meet the standards for state accredited high schools and maintain adequate libraries. So a Suggested List of Books for Junior and Senior High School Libraries of South Carolina was prepared by the committee. Mention was made that it would be increasingly difficult to obtain the services of adequately prepared librarians and to get the necessary books for the library.

In 1942 plans were made to publish an elementary list of books as a selection tool.

So in 1946 the role of the new supervisor would be to aid in the growth, development, and usage of school libraries--the first priority being to build the collection, of non-print, as well as print materials.

Grants from the General Education Board allowed workshops to be held at both Winthrop College and at State College for the untrained librarians.

The new supervisor began to collect data on the status of the libraries and to advocate state aid for materials. She also emphasized the need for the elementary standards, so by 1950 there would be committees at work on drafting elementary and secondary standards. New suggested lists of elementary and secondary materials were also published on a regular basis, and a newsletter was initiated as a communication tool. The S.C. High School Library Association had been organized in 1950 with 50 high schools in membership and 964 individual members.

By 1951 enough data had been collected to present a reasonably accurate picture. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of the schools had organized collections.

There were 115 high school librarians with 24 semester hours or more.

There were now 31 librarians with degrees from ALA accredited library schools. (There had been only 15 in 1946)

Membership in MSL during this five year period had increased from 11 to 56.

An increase in appropriations in the State high school standards had accounted for the support to high schools almost doubling.

Thirty-three (33) schools employed a librarian for an extra month.

Library lessons were being taught--often not related to classroom activities.

By April of 1951 elementary standards had been set up and endorsed by the South Carolina Committee of the Southern Association Gooperative Study in Elementary Education.

Emphasis in the 50's was on improving collections, improving the training of librarians, providing better facilities and encouraging better usage of the school library. It was noted in one of the Superintendent's annual reports at this time that pupils from schools with good library service were making more use of the public libraries.

Salaries of the librarians ranged from $2500 to $3600 annually.

ALA membership had increased to 68.

The School Library Section of S.C.E.A. was becoming very active during the 1953-54 academic year. The State Department of Education had the services of an acting Supervisor--Nancy Burge--since Miss Day had accepted a Fulbright Lectureship at Chulalonghorn University in Thailand and was on a year's leave of absence from the Department. Miss Day was also the President-elect of both MSL and the Southeastern Library Association.

Several important events took place during this year:

In response to numerous requests a list of materials by and about Negroes was begun.

The minimum requirement for the certification of teacher-librarians was increased from 12 to 15 semester hours.

Plans for a full-time department in library service at the University of South Carolina were completed during this year. This would alleviate some of the personnel problems in the schools, since previously only summer courses had been offered.

Local supervision was seen as the greatest need of the school library program and the State Department of Education recommended library supervision for the largest school systems. In 1955 the University of South Carolina held a workshop on supervision.

The Negro student assistants had become organized as the Student Library Assistants Group of South Carolina and were affiliated with the School Library Section of the Palmetto Education Association. Now 92% of all high schools were using student assistants.

By 1956 the high school allocations had increased to $2.07 and the standards no longer allowed the library to be used as a study hall.

More flexibility in the teaching of library skills was being allowed.

Elementary librarians were now counted against the enrollment in order for the librarians to receive state aid.

The South Carolina High School Library Association offered its first $200 scholarship to a library science student for the academic year 1955-56.

During the next year a grant from the Southern Educational Foundation allowed for three conferences to be held for Negro librarians on the use of student assistants in the library. This was directed by the Head of the Library Science Department at State College and the State Supervisor of Library Services.

In 1958 a one-day conference was held for all Negro librarians on the use of pupil assistants with almost 100% attendance.

The School Library Section of S.C.E.A. and the State Department of Education sponsored a series of workshops in the judicial circuits on the selection and use of materials.

It is significant that two districts added part-time supervisors at this time.

The second event that drastically altered the course of school libraries was the advent of Federal funds in 1958. Title lil of the National Defense Education Act provided funds on a matching basis for materials in the areas of math, science, and foreign languages. The act also provided for high school guidance materials. Funds were also available for workshops. The State Department of Education and the Southern Foundation sponsored eight one-day conferences for Negro principals and librarians to discuss common problems in providing good library service. This was the first of this kind at the State level.

The third event affecting the future of school libraries occurred in 1960. Elementary standards were adopted by the State Board of Education on July 15, 1960. This proved to be one of the major achievements of recent years when they went into effect in 1961-62. Up until this time elementary libraries had leaned heavily on PTA's and PTO's for funds and personnel.

It was also about this time that the film library was set up in the State Department of Education, and the first full-time library supervisor was employed by a school district-Greenville County. During the summer of 1962, the city of Spartanburg had kept its elementary libraries open in the summer staffed by librarians.

Thanks to the new elementary standards by 1963-64 67% of all elementary schools now had central libraries. Personnel continued to be a problem. It was difficult to recruit librarians from the teaching ranks since there was no graduate degree in library service offered in the state. Also some of the librarians left the high schools because of study halls in the library.

By 1964-65 the new high school standards stated, "The librarian shall not supervise a study hall." NDEA categories had been expanded to include English, reading, history, geography, and civics.

The academic year 1965-66 was considered a phenomenal year in the development of school libraries. An Assistant Supervisor of School Libraries was hired in the State Department of Education as well as two Project Evaluators for Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Act. Under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, library funds were made available to the disadvantaged, collections were brought up to state standards, and librarians and district supervisors were hired.

Under Title II of the same act funds were available for strengthening of collections in the school libraries.

A pamphlet Sources of Selection was printed by the State Department of Education as a selection tool.

During this year alone, 31 portable libraries were set up, 11 libraries were constructed, and 15 others were remodeled. Since more emphasis was being placed on the use of audiovisuals, audiovisual rooms were being provided and wired carrels added to the libraries.

A giant effort had been made to bring all of the libraries up to state standards, but personnel continued to be a problem--there were too many untrained librarians.

In the Superintendent's Annual Report for 1968-69, there is this statement, "The University of South Carolina is planning a graduate library school, a long needed facility since only 55 librarians have master's degrees in library science." The next year carried this statement, "A study of library personnel needs in South Carolina, made by the Division of Advanced Studies and Research of the University of South Carolina indicated the need for a graduate library program. The University is making progress in this direction."

The late 60's had seen a change in the professional organizations. The South Carolina Education Association and the Palmetto Education Association had merged, so the Library Section of each had also merged. When their parent organizations became one, the South Carolina High School Library Association and the Student Assistants of South Carolina united to form the South Carolina High School Library Media Association.

The early 70's would see still another change affecting the libraries. The School Library Sections of the South Carolina Educational Association and the Palmetto Library Association eventually became a separate organization, the South Carolina Association of School Librarians, affiliated with the American Association of School Librarians, a section of the American Library Association.

In 1970 Furman University held an Institute on Independent Study for 24 secondary librarians. Emphasis had shifted to the multimedia approach to teaching and in February 1970 the Department of Education hired an audiovisual consultant.

There were by now 97.6% of the schools with central libraries. There were also 20 district supervisors.

A reorganization in the Department of Education resulted in the Assistant Supervisor of Library Services and the Audiovisual Consultant becoming secondary consultants. A Title II Project Evaluator was reassigned to elementary and a second elementary consultant was hired. Miss Nancy Jane Day retired in June of 1970.

The School of Librarianship opened its doors to students in the Fall of 1972. This was the fourth significant event affecting the future of school library programs in our state, and it paved the way for future expansion.

The numbers of uncertified librarians was reduced by 41% in the 70's.

Federal funds made summer and evening programs possible. There were now 21 full-time District Supervisors. There was clerical help now in the libraries.

The reinstated Library Committee which South Carolina law requires published a new List of Sources of Selection, including audiovisual services for the first time.

The 70ís also saw the videocassette recorder and the video camera come on the scene, and librarians and students began to be more involved in the production of media.

Masterís degree librarians, or media specialists (since the name had now changed) numbered 394. Three-fourths of the districts had written policies for the selection of materials.

The South Carolina Book Award program sponsored by the South Carolina Association of School Librarians began in the fall of 1976 and has been gathering momentum ever since. This program has had a significant effect on reading in our state.

In April of 1978 new certification requirements for media specialists, media

communication specialists, and media supervisors were adopted by the State Board of

Education. This was another milestone toward the goal of a master's degree for every

school media specialist or communication specialist.

With the 80's came the microcomputer and still another landmark had been reached. This is the fifth event that has altered the course of librarianship.

The library consultants in the State Department of Education--by now only two--were transferred to the Curriculum Section. This was a positive step since it resulted in better planning with other subject area consultants and emphasized the fact that the local librarians should plan cooperatively with teachers.

Programs were expanding in the schools. Special groups and the community were being served. There was more cooperative planning between media specialists and the sharing of resources.

One district--Spartanburg District #3-- was recognized as a Britannica Awards Finalist for having exemplary elementary programs.

The College of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina--it too had changed its name to reflect the expanding services--was now broadening it offerings through television courses--including the highly successful program on early childhood education, "Jump Over the Moon."

The South Carolina Association of School Librarians was growing and now added a supervisor's section.

The Education Finance Act had been passed by the Legislature and additional funds were available for education.

The year 1984-85 was the first year of the Education Improvement Act. Although the school library program was not included as one of the areas the programs did benefit through increases in salaries of media specialists, improved facilities, and in materials provided for special programs. The following year the media specialists would be eligible for teacher competitive grants.

But with success has come additional problems. Declining Federal funds and increases in the cost of materials has affected the collections in the school library media centers--in quality as well as in quantity. For the first time since 1965 elementary books per pupil have fallen below the standard of 10 books per pupil.

There are concerns also that the duties of the media specialists have increased far beyond their ability to perform good service without the addition of clerical and professional assistance.

Compare these statistics from last year if you will with those you heard earlier. There are now:

1072 media specialists serving in the schools.

66% of them have Master's degrees.

Only 42 are uncertified.

41 are males.

29% are on 10 month employment.

There are 572 aides in the media centers.

There are 17 district coordinators employed by the local districts.

Statewide holdings in the schools number over 8 million volumes.

Progress has been made in the transition from formal libraries to school media centers, but there are still other challenges on the horizon, involvement in automation, the need for increased budgets for materials and for additional staff members. A statewide assessment of the collections would provide hard data for budget requests.

These are exciting times to be involved in school library media programs. The new MSL and AECT standards Information Power will provide models for schools seeking excellence, the Adopt A Library Program will provide unheard of resources, both material and human, and the pilot networking programs will lead the way to the ultimate realization of a statewide network.

Through the years we have had many dedicated librarians who have furthered the cause of school librarianship in this state. We are now on the threshold of a new era, one in which we can make the technology our ally. This will require the same dedication our librarians have had in the past if we are to realize our ultimate goal--unlimited educational opportunities for all of our children.


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