In November 1901 a group of Greenwood women, led by Miss Mary McGee, organized a library association for the purpose of establishing a public library in Greenwood.
Membership dues, hot suppers, and ice cream festivals provided income for this first library. The library was first housed over Bolton's store and later in a room over the fire department.
In 1905, at the suggestion of Dr. Harry A. Bagby, then pastor of the First Baptist Church, a hundred men in Greenwood each gave $2.00 a year to support the library. The library association, appreciating this financial aid, elected an advisory board of men to help with the library program.
In 1917 the Carnegie Foundation provided a grant of $12,500 for the construction of a new public library building. The City of Greenwood provided a lot on Monument Street and agreed to maintain the library. The library association donated their entire collection of books to the new city library.
The first professional librarian was Miss Mary Ferguson who had received her training at Emory University. It was she who was instrumental in building up the rare book collection.
In 1928 the Kiwanis Club provided funds to establish a Children's Room in the library and to maintain it for five years. In subsequent years Kiwanians have continued their support of the public library and have provided valuable gifts.
The Greenwood County Council of Farm Women, determined to have library service in rural Greenwood County, urged the legislative delegation to provide for county library service. In 1937 a 1/2 mill tax on county property was voted to supply revenue to support the rural library service which would be provided by a county department of the Greenwood Library. It was at this time that the library became the Greenwood City and County Public Library.
In 1956 the library board purchased the lot which had been occupied by the First Baptist Church on the corner of Main Street and Bailey Circle. Two years later the Greenwood County Library building of more than 10,000 square feet was completed. By 1962 tax support had been increased to two mills.
The Abbeville-Greenwood Regional Library, formed in 1966, resulted from a demonstration of regional library service partially funded by a grant from the South Carolina State Library Board. The three year demonstration was successful and in July 1971 the contract between the Abbeville County Library and the Greenwood County Library, having been in effect for the demonstration period, was renewed.
The regional library consists of two county libraries and four branches. The system included branch libraries in Ninety Six, Ware Shoals, Donalds, and Calhoun Falls.
No history of the Abbeville-Greenwood Regional Library can be complete without a mention of Miss Elizabeth Porcher who served first as Greenwood's head librarian and later as the regional library director. Her administration saw twenty years of great progress and growth for the public library.
During two intervals in the 1960's and 70's, the Abbeville-Greenwood Regional Library provided by contract bookmobile service to neighboring McCormick County.
In 1976 additions and renovations of the Greenwood County Library were completed, almost doubling the size of the building. A challenge grant of $25,000 given by the Self Foundation, sparked the drive for funds and a Library Services and Construction Act grant of $121,136 provided a further boost. The project was completed at a cost of $575,661.
In support of library services in the area, Greenwood County Council increased the public library appropriation from two to three mills in July of 1979. Governed by able, dedicated trustees, Greenwood's public library has kept pace with the growth of the county, adding new services and reaching out to a more diverse readership. Today more than 30% of the population of Greenwood County are registered library borrowers.
J. Perrin Anderson, Greenwood, 1946-56
W.L. Bross, Greenwood, 1956-59
Edgar Davis, Greenwood, 1959-66
Dr. L.A. Schneider, Ninety Six, 1966-71
Dr. William T. Rice, Greenwood, 1971-
Nell Garrad, 1944-46
Winona Walker, 1946-49
Elizabeth L. Porcher, 1949-65
Mrs. Harold McCord, 1965-69
Frances McNinch, 1969-
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), pp. 30-31.
A note on the text