Few states can boast a library history as interesting as that of South Carolina. Beginning in 1698 with the establishment in Charles Towne of the first public library in America and coming down to the present day when county and regional libraries serve all forty-six counties, libraries in the state have had an adventurous and exciting existence. Growing up with the state they have shared the vicissitudes of its changing fortunes. They have suffered the natural disasters of earthquake, hurricane and flood; they have been the object of enemy attack, have been invaded, captured and carried off into captivity. They have been supported by silver teas, waffle suppers, contributions, donations, local taxes, state and federal aid. They have fostered friendships and sometimes have contributed to romance. But always, wherever they have existed, they have been used and loved by South Carolinians.
Today South Carolina has public library service in each of its forty-six counties either as county or as regional libraries. The libraries are legally established, in charge of legally appointed boards and are largely supported from local tax funds. State and federal aid, in supplementing local funds, has done much to enrich local library programs. Wherever you are or whoever you are, you are never far from public library service in South Carolina. Service is available for the visually and physically handicapped, for the disadvantaged and for the non-English speaking. It is a total program to serve a total state and owes its success to the dedicated service of librarians, library board members and library staff throughout the state.
Estellene P. Walker,
"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980
(Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. vi.
A note on the text