When Lee County was established in 1902 the Bishopville Library Association was already a year old, had thirty-nine members and 772 books. The library was housed in a modest little building, "too small to be a barbershop", adjoining the old opera house in downtown Bishopville. The Lottie Green Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy took the library under its wing and bought needed furniture and equipment to make it more attractive. By 1913, however, the old Bishopville Library Association had practically ceased to exist and the remaining books were turned over to a joint committee of the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Civic League.
Another early effort to establish a public library in Bishopville was made by Grace Dell James in 1908. Miss James, a Winthrop graduate, inspired by Ida Jane Dacus, rented a small office building on Main Street from 1908 until 1910, stocked the building with books and operated a lending library. The fate of this library is unknown but it was a notable effort on the part of a young woman to start a public library for the people of her community.
Around 1935, the Lee County Board of Education entered a cooperative agreement with the WPA to provide countywide bookmobile library service. The original books from the Bishopville Library Association, supplemented by books donated in the town, and books added by the WPA, formed the core of the book collection. For the first time the citizens and school children of the whole county enjoyed systematic organized library service. The bookmobile brought books and reading to all rural areas. In 1943 when the WPA program was discontinued, the county assumed the responsibility of providing library service, employed a librarian, and with the books remaining from the WPA library project, established the first Lee County Library. For a time the library was housed on school property but was eventually moved to a residence in Bishopville. In 1949 an act was passed by the General Assembly creating the Lee County Public Library Commission. The act was revised in 1952 and again in 1968. In 1979 under the new home rule legislation, the Lee County Library was re-established by an ordinance of the Lee County Council.
In 1949, to house the county library, Lee County built an attractive brick library building on Dennis Avenue. Four years later in 1953, the Lee County Library moved again into the Woodward Memorial Library Building which had been provided by the Hosea Woodward Memorial Library Foundation, a self-perpetuating board of community leaders. By 1979 the library had outgrown its quarters and was completely renovated with a large addition added.
Since its establishment the library has been an integral part of the community serving all citizens either directly through the main library or by bookmobile. The library, in addition to books and reading, provides art exhibits, crafts demonstrations and exhibits of historical relics.
From its beginning as a small library society in 1901, the library has taken its place in all county activities. The library's book collection and its budget have grown to meet the ever growing needs of the county and its citizens.
Mrs. J.E. McCutchen, Jr., Bishopville, 1947-49; 1956-62; 1968-72
Mrs. D.A. Quattlebaum, Bishopville, 1949-50; 1966-68
Mrs. R.M. Cooper, Wisacky, 1950-51
Mrs. T.H. Clyburn, Bethune, 1951-53
Mrs. Lucille Shaw Scott, Mayesville, 1953-55; 1964-66
Mrs. R.S. Latimer, Bishopville, 1955-56; 1972-73; 1976-77
Mrs. Dowling Woodham, Bishopville, 1962-63
Mrs. Ernest L. Dickinson, Bishopville, 1963-64
Mrs. Charles M. Mimms, Jr., Elliott, 1973-76
Mr. Thomas H. Alexander, Bishopville, 1977
Annie Cunningham, 1944-48
Mrs. John S. Baskin, 1948-57
Mrs. Daphne H. Muldrow, 1957-62
Mrs. E. H. Brown, Sr., 1962-74
Carol Lynn Kirkley, 1974-80
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia, South Carolina State Library, 1981), pp. 36-37.
A note on the text
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