Interest in books and reading in Georgetown County goes back to its founding fathers. The planters' interest in books was reflected in their extensive private libraries and in the collection of a valuable library by the Winyah Indigo Society, which provided in its handsome building quarters for a subscription library and eventually for the Georgetown Public Library.
The subscription library was started in 1908 by Miss Susan Allston. She, with the help of Mrs. Congdon and Mrs. Weston Rosa, canvassed the entire community for book donations and secured a home for the library on the first floor of the Winyah Indigo Society building.
The library had a relatively uneventful history until 1936 when, with 3500 books, most of which were in dilapidated condition, the librarian at that time applied to the WPA for aid in repairing the books. In cooperation with the County Board of Education, a WPA library project was initiated. The City Library Board agreed to make the library free to the entire county and a traveling library with a separate collection of 900 books was started. Soon the two book collections were merged and made available to the entire community. Six years later when the WPA project ended, the City of Georgetown and the County Board of Education joined forces to maintain the public library service which had been established. The cooperative program between the city and the county lasted until 1949. After that date, the city having withdrawn its support, the library was funded by the county through an appropriation made by the County Delegation and funds from the County Board of Education. The library participated in the State Aid program provided by the South Carolina State Library Board. The library was heavily used in Georgetown County and soon outgrew the room in the Winyah Indigo Society hall. The County Delegation, under the leadership of Senator James R. Morrison, appropriated $50,000 to convert the historic old jail building at Highmarket and Screven Streets into a modern public library building. The old jail was located in one of the most historic spots in Georgetown and every effort was made to plan a library building which would fit in with the handsome colonial architecture of the neighborhood. Hopkins, Baker and Gill Architects designed the building, removing the third story of the old jail and using the old brick to face all the new construction. The building was completed and dedicated in 1953.
Since 1953 the library system has grown steadily. The Andrews Public Library Branch was moved into a completely renovated building in 1976. The Town of Andrews furnishes the building, equipment, and utilities and the county library supplies service and materials.
Service from the Georgetown County Library Headquarters in Georgetown is extended to the entire county through bi-weekly visits of a modern bookmobile. Special attention is given to children's services and to programs of special interest to Georgetown citizens. The county library has the active support of the Friends of the Georgetown County Memorial Library Association, which represents the continuing growth of the community's awareness of the value of library services.
R.T. King, Georgetown, 1946-47
Rev. H.D. Bull, Georgetown, 1947-49
Albert Greene, Georgetown, 1949-52
James R. Parker, Georgetown, 1952-56
John T. Walker, Georgetown, 1956-64
Violet St. Germaine, Georgetown, 1964-65
Allen D. Read, Georgetown, 1965-80
Mrs. Patricia Doyle, Georgetown, 1980-
Mrs. Effie Bruns Thatcher, Mrs. Mary Bonds,1944-53
Genevieve Chandler, 1953-56
Mrs. Effie C. Thatcher, 1956-60
Mrs. Mary S. Bonds, 1960-67
Mrs. M.T. Paris, 1967-73
R. Michael Newman, 1973-75
Mrs. Barbara P. Nickel, 1976-79
Mrs. Kate W. Hood, 1979-
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p.28.
A note on the text