Library service in Williamsburg County owes its origin to the Kingstree Civic League which applied for and received a grant from the Carnegie Foundation for the construction of a public library building. Complying with Carnegie Foundation requirements, the Town of Kingstree provided a centrally located site for the building and guaranteed a small annual appropriation for its operation. The new library building was completed in the summer of 1917 and opened with a formal dedication and "shower" of books given by public spirited citizens of Kingstree and Williamsburg County. Mrs. Erban W. Kennedy (Olive Benton) was named first librarian.
Although meagerly supported, the library continued to serve the people of Kingstree and the surrounding countryside. In order to provide a greater variety of books, in 1946 the State Library Board offered the Kingstree Library a book deposit of 200 volumes to be exchanged quarterly. The offer was accepted and this service was continued without interruption for some fifteen years. At the end of that time the State Library Board was able to offer the Kingstree Library financial assistance to enable it to contract with the Florence County Library for some supervision and direction in the development of the book collection at the headquarters library.
In 1967 the Williamsburg County Library was legally established by act of the legislature and the following year, 1968, the county library was able to qualify for one of the State Library's Small Library projects which aided in the improvement of reference service and in the general circulating collection. The Small Libraries Project terminated in 1971 and at that date the county library, in order to meet the requirements for participation in the State Aid program, contracted with the Florence County Library for bookmobile service to the major communities in the county including Hemingway, Greeleyville, Cades, and Lane. The Florence County Library continued to provide this service until 1977. At that time a contract was signed with the Sumter County Library for bookmobile service to Greeleyville.
Hemingway had established a small public library and this has become a flourishing branch of the Williamsburg County system.
In July of 1979 the Williamsburg County Library entered into a three-year library demonstration program sponsored by the South Carolina State Library and partially funded from federal source. The program is designed to provide sound county-wide library service throughout Williamsburg County. The demonstration program has made possible the employment for the first time of a fully qualified professional librarian, the purchase of many additional books and of much needed equipment. One of the requirements of the program was the renovation of the headquarters library in Kingstree to adequately house public library service for the county. When the demonstration program ends three years from now it is expected that Williamsburg County, its rural areas and major communities will have access to a good level of public library service.
Claude H. Smith, Kingstree, 1946-73
MauriceJoy, Greeleyville, 1973-
Mrs. Shirley Street, 1970-80
Mrs. Juleigh M. Clark, 1980-
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. 50.
A note on the text