The Richland Library Archives collection consists of photographs, pamphlets, and assorted ephemera from library scrapbooks and other collections that document the library's history as it has evolved throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A list of directors of the library as well as a brief history are provided below. In addition to this brief history of Richland Library, please see the more lengthy pamphlet A History of Richland County Public Library, available in our digital collections.
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List of directors of the library
|Name||Years of Service|
|Annie Rees Locke
|Lucy Hampton Bostick
|Anna Davis King
|Charles David Warren
|Helen Ann Rawlinson (interim)
History of Richland Library
Richland Library has served the readers and information seekers of Richland County for over a century, yet the library had modest beginnings. In 1896, the Lend-a-Hand library was established in Columbia. There had not been a library in Columbia since the antebellum era, when the Athenaeum library served the learned men of the city, but this library was destroyed during the Civil War. The Lend-a-Hand library was located at the corner of Washington and Main streets in City Hall and run by a single librarian, Martha Cramer. It was begun through the efforts of the local women’s group, the Union of Practical Progress, in order to provide reading materials to the citizens of the city. Soon after the library was established, the Columbia Library Association was chartered and provided a limited operating budget. Dr. James Woodrow served as first president of the Association. Members were charged an annual fee to use the library and many books were provided through private donations.
In 1899 a fire at City Hall burned down the building, including the Lend-a-Hand library, but the efforts and contributions of local citizens quickly restocked the library with new books. The Library then became known as the Columbia Public Library and moved to new quarters on Main Street. The library’s location would change several times over the next few years.
In 1905 the library was again renamed the Timrod Library in honor of the poet Henry Timrod. A portrait of the artist was donated to the city and hung in the library in its expanded location, and this portrait is still in our possession. The library slowly grew to circulate 18,000 books in 1923, as reported by Anne Locke, the head librarian at the time. In 1924 the city took a more formal responsibility in funding the library, and it was again renamed the Columbia Public Library. In 1927, a strange turn of events brought more funds into the library’s budget. The wooden bridge across the Broad River was burned and an insurance payment provided a sudden influx of funds to the city of Columbia. The city used these funds to greatly expand library service. At this time the staff was increased, many new books were purchased and service to the county was expanded through branch libraries.
In 1929 Anne Locke retired and turned the position of head librarian over to Lucy Hampton, later to become Lucy Bostick. The Library moved into the home of the library’s first president, Dr. James Woodrow, which would be its longest-occupied location on the corner of Washington Street and Sumter Street. In 1930, funding from the Rosenwald Foundation was provided to expand library service even further and in particular to provide books to African Americans of Columbia and Richland County. The library opened the Phillis Wheatley branch to serve African Americans and operated its first traveling book truck. These funds were administered by the County, and in 1934 the library was renamed Richland County Public Library to reflect the expanded nature of the service area and the financial support of the County. During this period many new services, buildings and materials were added, and library card registrations increased steadily. In 1993 the library expanded into the new Main Library at 1431 Assembly Street and added several new branch locations throughout the county.
Today, with the support of Richland County, Richland Library provides service to hundreds of thousands of people annually with 11 locations, freely accessible reading materials, online research tools, media, Internet access, research assistance, story time, community programs, meeting spaces and more. We look towards a bright future for Richland Library and all of the citizens it serves.