The Bamberg County Library was established in 1945 by the unification of the Bamberg City Library, which had been operated by the Friday Afternoon Book Club and the Bamberg County Free Library, which was operated by the WPA.
The Friday Afternoon Book Club had initiated library service in Bamberg by opening a small library in 1922. The library was located on the campus of the Carlisle Military School and remained in that location until 1924 when it was moved to the second floor of the Bamberg City Hall. A paid librarian was employed until 1931 when, due to the Depression, funds were no longer available for a salary. At this time Mrs. G. Frank Bamberg, "Miss Nell", volunteered to assume responsibility for keeping the library open. For fourteen years from 1931 to 1945 she served as librarian without compensation. Under her direction the library grew and was used so heavily by the public that the need for a special library building to house the service became urgent. Although in the midst of the Great Depression, the Friday Afternoon Book Club undertook a building campaign and managed to raise the money for a lot and building materials. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation supplied the labor. The entire community participated in the effort to raise the funds for the library building. The new building was completed early in the summer of 1933. In 1945 with the consolidation of the Bamberg County Free Library and the Bamberg City Library, the building became headquarters for the new Bamberg County Library system.
In spite of limited funds, the Board of the Bamberg County Library was determined to improve library service for the people of the whole county, and with this in mind explored the possibility of becoming a member of the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library.
With membership in the regional library and the additional services this made possible for the people of the county, it was soon apparent that a more adequate library building was essential if services were to continue to improve and expand. A commodious site on the corner of North Street and Railroad Avenue was secured. A grant of $50,000 to the project was made by the State Library from LSCA funds under its administration, local matching funds were secured, and a new building was completed in 1969.
As a member of a large regional library, Bamberg shares the resources, training opportunities, and the direction of an expert staff of professional librarians. Rural Bamberg County is served on a regular basis by the regional bookmobile. The Denmark Library is a member of the county library system. It has recently moved into new and commodious quarters in the community center building in Denmark.
The Bamberg County Library has become a real community center for local activities. Art Shows are a regular thing and through a program funded by the South Carolina Committee for the Humanities, such outstanding South Carolina authors as William Price Fox, Ben Greer, Elizabeth Boatwright Coker and Alice Cabiness have been brought in for literary evenings at the library. The library also serves as the center for the annual flower show in Bamberg County.
The Bamberg County Library enjoys unusual community support. The country ranks second in the state percentage of income allotted to library service and two bequests from wills of local persons interested in the library have been received.
Mrs. Harry Hiers, 1946-
Mrs. Ethel M. Johnson, 1944-45
Mrs. Elizabeth F. Bellamy, 1945-46
Mrs. E.A. Hooten, 1946-61
Mrs. Herman Rice, 1961-
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. 11.
A note on the text