Library service in Edgefield has been continuous since the early 1800's when the Edgefield Library Society mentioned in Mills' statistics was organized. Over the years the organization has had several names, eventually becoming the D.A. Tompkins Memorial Library in recognition of the legacy received from Mr. Tompkins in 1929 for a building to house the Abney collection which had been presented to the library by the widow of John Rutledge Abney. The Abney collection contains many rare and valuable books.
At present public library service in Edgefield County is provided by the Edgefield County Library, established in 1958 by act of the legislature. Immediately upon establishment, the Edgefield County Library entered into a cooperative library demonstration of regional library service with its neighbors Aiken and Barnwell Counties. South Carolina's regional library demonstration program gave priority to any regional program, which included a county without previous county-wide library service. Edgefield County met this requirement and with the appointment of the new county library board, the stage was set for the establishment of the Aiken-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library. (Bamberg became a fourth member in 1964.)
Mr. Everette Derrick was elected the first chairman of the Edgefield County Library Board and Mrs. Nancy C. Mims was appointed Edgefield County Librarian.
With the establishment of the Edgefield County Library, the main library facilities were provided rent-free by the Civic League of Edgefield for the period of the demonstration in the D.A. Tompkins Memorial Library Building. The county library headquarters is still located here. In 1958 branch libraries were established in Johnston and Trenton. Quarters for the Johnston Branch were provided by Johnston Jaycees who continue to maintain the building. The Trenton Branch is housed in the Benjamin Tillman building, formerly occupied by a town library organized by the Kill Kare Club of Trenton in the early 1920's.
In compiling Edgefield's report to the Committee on Welfare of Children and Youth, practically all questions involved in public library service to children and youth could be answered affirmatively. The report was a part of a national study, preliminary to the White House Conference on Children and Youth held in 1960. Serving on this Edgefield County Committee was Mrs. M.H. Mims, County Librarian. Twenty years later the Edgefield County Library took an equally active part in the South Carolina Governor's Conference on Libraries and the first White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services.
Service from the county library in Edgefield, the Johnston Branch Library, Trenton Branch Library and from the ABBE Regional Library bookmobile which covers rural areas is free. Patrons are only required to apply for library membership cards which gives them the privilege of checking out books in any of the four counties included in the regional system. From its beginning, the county library, due to its excellent "downtown" location and the enthusiastic community spirit of the county librarian, has continued to serve effectively as the town's "courtesy center", daily providing local history and general information for out-of-town visitors.
Everette Derrick, Johnston, 1957-76
Mrs. B.L. Mims, Edgefield, 1976-
Mrs. M.H. Mims, 1958-
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. 25.
A note on the text