Berkeley County Public Library

The first mention of library service in Berkeley County was in the summer of 1934 when a reading room for the public was opened and maintained during the summer months.

In 1936 the Home Demonstration Agent, Leona Hewitt, called a meeting of representatives from various organizations and civic groups of the county to discuss the need for a public library. At the close of this meeting a steering committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of organizing a library as a community project. Soon afterwards two rooms over Barron's Store on Main Street became the first home of the Berkeley County Library with approximately 300 volumes donated by friends or purchased with money furnished by public-spirited citizens. During the summer the Berkeley county Library Association was formed with Mrs. M.M. Murray as President, Mrs. W.K. Fishburn, Vice-President and Miss Marie Harvey, Secretary- Treasurer.

In June 1937 the library was moved into quarters in the Berkeley Grammar School but continued to be operated apart from the school system as a separate library open to the general public.

As the use of books increased, the Association became more and more aware of the necessity of having an adequate building to house the library. As a step toward a building program, a state charter was applied for and granted to the Berkeley County Library as an eleemosynary corporation.

The Berkley County Library Association soon discovered that the WPA work program would provide most of the labor necessary to build a library building if a lot and materials could be secured. The County donated a lot in an excellent location and, as the Pinopolis Public School had been closed, this building was donated to furnish the material for the library building.

The new Berkeley County Library building was dedicated on November 10, 1938. The Berkeley County Library board had worked unceasingly to obtain money with which to purchase books and to meet all obligations connected with the construction project.

In 1948 demands for service became so insistent from throughout the county that the board, with the cooperation of the County Council of Farm Women and the County Delegation, purchased a small bookmobile. This bookmobile provided service to the entire rural area of the county and was replaced some twelve years later with a large walk-in type vehicle.

In 1955 a branch library was opened in St. Stephen and in 1965 a branch was opened in Hanahan.

With the expansion of library service the need for larger quarters--more shelving, more room for readers and working space for staff became very apparent. The Berkeley County Library Board spearheaded a campaign to secure the funds for a new library building and was successful in securing local funds and a $75,000 grant from LSCA Title II funds administered by the South Carolina State Library. The new building was begun in April of 1969 and completed in 1970. Handsomely furnished and equipped, the library had the added distinction of original paintings or watercolors by several South Carolina artists.

With a building providing adequate space for book collection, staff and patrons, the library's program developed rapidly. The branches were strengthened in Hanahan and in St. Stephens. A completely modern bookmobile brought library service within reach of all county residents. Special programs were established for the elderly and for children and young people. A consistent effort was made to reach Berkeley County residents who were not library users and provide them the kind of service they would use.

Recieving strong local financial support, the library supplemented local funds with State Aid and with Library Services and Construction Act grants administered by the South Carolina State Library. These funds made possible books, periodicals and services which could not have been provided with local funds alone. The library looks forward to continuing progress. Its population base is rapidly expanding and the influx of new people is bringing with it requests for new services and improvement in depth of traditional services of the library.

Board Chairmen
Mrs. Marvin Murray, Moncks Corner, 1946-63
Marie Harvey, Moncks Corner, 1963-72
J. Russell Cross, 1972-

Julia M. Kirk (Mrs. Joseph Heward),1944-55; 1956-57
Emma Ritter, 1955-56
Mrs. Georgia L. Adams, 1957-59
Mrs. Marion T. Rudloff, 1959-62
Mrs. Eloise G. Gowder, 1962-73
Mrs. Patricia Jackson, 1973

Estellene P. Walker,
"'So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. 14.

A note on the text

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