South Carolina Public Library History: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Patrons and library staff at the Orangeburg County Library bookmobile

During National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021), we reflect on the importance of library service in our state. We also think about all the changes and innovations that have built stronger library services statewide to help educate citizens from the heart of urban areas to the most remote rural spaces. We learn from our past and move forward into the future of what great library service can be.

The South Carolina Public Library History, 1930-1945 collection consists of photographs and documents from the archives of our library. These digital images highlight public libraries, bookmobiles, librarians, and patrons from around the state. Many photographs and documents relate to the federal Works Project Administration (WPA) Library Project in South Carolina, which provided statewide library services from 1935 to 1943. The WPA's major objective was to provide each county of the state with some measure of area-wide public library service. The WPA Library Project helped establish library service in some areas and enhanced existing libraries' operations in others. The WPA program made possible the establishment of bookmobile service in 23 counties formerly without rural library service. The federal WPA Library Project purchased books to lend to public libraries around the state. 

Photo: This image shows patrons using the bookmobile service from the Orangeburg County Library. Back of the image reads 'Negro Service, Orangeburg County Library, 1950.' From the South Carolina Bookmobiles Collection

Upcoming Event

Speaker at the Center event with Charlie Meshaw

Speaker at the Center

Join the South Carolina State Library and the SC Center for the Book for our next Speaker at the Center Author Talk featuring Charlie Mewshaw, author of Arcane Carolinas:  Folklore, Urban Legends, and Tales of Modern Weird from the Carolinas and co-host of the Arcane Carolinas Podcast.