At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Newberry County Library on November 6, 1947, a proposal was made that Newberry County join with one of its neighboring counties to form a regional library system. The Board saw in the idea an opportunity to improve library service in Newberry County and extend service to a county which had not yet been able to establish county-wide library service. After careful consideration it was decided to discuss the regional library system with Saluda County and contacts were immediately made with the Saluda Legislative Delegation, the Superintendent of Education, teachers, service clubs, and ministers in the churches of Saluda County.
On April 2, 1948 Mrs. Elenore Driscoll, Chairman of the Newberry Library Board, reported that Saluda County was interested in the formation of the regional library. The Newberry Legislative Delegation had met with the Saluda Legislative Delegation and had agreed on a seven-man board composed of the four from Newberry and three from Saluda. The new regional system eventually was legally established by act of the legislature and designated the Newberry-Saluda Regional Library.
Mrs. Driscoll, herself a fully qualified professional librarian, resigned as Chairman of the Newberry county Library Board, which would dissolve upon the formation of the new regional library board, and became a candidate for the position of regional librarian.
On May 4, 1948, a meeting was held of the legislative delegations from both counties and the seven members appointed to the new regional library board. The purpose of the meeting was to organize the new library system and to have it ready to go into operation by the first of July of 1948. Mr. R.C. Lake of Whitmire was elected the first chairman of the regional board and Mrs. Elenore Driscoll was appointed librarian. A contract was worked out outlining the responsibilities of the two counties in operating the regional library system and the type and extent of service to be provided. The contract was signed on May 13, 1948 clearing the way for the service to begin on the first of July.
The regional library was housed in the Newberry County Library headquarters in the old Newberry Courthouse. The Saluda County Library continued to be housed in the Town Hall. The library was supported by a millage on both counties.
One of the first actions taken by the new board was to order a modern bookmobile and to plan the extension of service into the rural areas of both counties. Two years later in 1950 the Whitmire Library building was complete as a memorial to the men of Whitmire who had lost their lives in World War I and World War II. The building housed a branch of the regional library to serve the entire community.
Mrs. Driscoll served as regional librarian until 1949 when she retired to be succeeded by Miss Marjorie L. Chandler, later Mrs. B.A. Fretwell. Under her direction service to children was greatly expanded and improved with the establishment of story hours at the main and branch libraries. In the ensuing years the regional library had several librarians among whom were two who were graduates of the South Carolina State Library scholarship program.
Two major building projects were completed, in 1968 the headquarters building for the Newberry-Saluda Regional Library in Newberry and in 1975 the headquarters for the Saluda County Library in the Town of Saluda.
State and Federal aid have been of great significance in the development of the regional library. The greater part of the materials collection has been purchased with State Aid. Grants under the Library Services and Construction Act have enabled the library to purchase books and materials to improve the general circulation and reference collection as well as to add much essential equipment. In 1974 a filmstrip, cassette, and slide collection was begun and in 1979 the first microfilm was acquired. By combining two LSCA grants it was possible to employ a librarian to serve in the capacity of children's librarian and outreach librarian.
The Newberry-Saluda Regional Library has made steady progress. Its trustees have given long and dedicated service to the library. In spite of a limited budget, the staff has provided a good level of service in both counties served.
With 1980 the library has come to an end of an era and is on the verge of entering a new and exciting stage. With the momentum given the development of public library service by the 1979 White House Conference, there is no doubt that the people of Newberry and Saluda counties will demand and take advantage of the advanced library and information services which will soon be available.
R.C. Lake, Whitmire, 1947-50
Mrs. C.A. Dufford, Newberry, 1950-52
J.W. Hipp, Whitmire, 1952-62
Rev. G.L. Hill, Little Mt., 1962-65
Keith Prucell, Newberry, 1965-68
Mrs. B.A. Fretwell, Newberry, 1968-71
Earl Bergen, Newberry, 1971-
Mrs. Elenore Driscoll, 1948-49
Mrs. Marjorie Chandler Fretwell, 1949-50
Mrs. Mary King Mitchell, 1950-51
Mrs. Joella S. Neel, 1951-60
Mrs. Lois J. Cromer, 1960-62
Mrs. Lurlyne K. Shinn, 1962-64
Mary Catherine Tanner, 1964-70
Verna S. Kohn (Mrs. Martyn Cavanaugh), 1970-72
Mrs. Lurlyne K. Shinn (Acting) 1972
Catherine Slaughter, 1973-80
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), pp. 41-42.
A note on the text
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