History of the Library

The Lexington County Public Library System celebrated its 100-year anniversary of service to the citizens of Lexington County in 2012. During this century of service, much has changed in the world, the nation, the state, and the county. The library, being an essential part of the community, has changed and developed along with the flow of these global and local events. Lexington County, once almost an exclusively rural area, has transitioned through the 20th century into a vital suburban area in the midlands of South Carolina and the library has played a supporting role for the people of Lexington County. In 1912 the library system was started by the Batesburg Women’s Club with a mere 325 books, and today there are 10 libraries, a mobile library, scores of online databases, virtually unlimited resources of downloadable materials, many meeting spaces, a circulation of over two million items annually, and thousands of programs offered for children and adults each year.  Here are some of the watershed moments in the historical development of our library system.

1912

The Batesburg Women’s Club started a library with 325 books in the Batesburg Town Hall.

1935

The Batesburg Library received assistance from the Community Service of the WPA (Work Projects Administration) to expand the library operations.

1938

The “Faith Cabin,” a separate library opened for the Black community, was opened in the town of Lexington.

1942

The Batesburg Library operated by the Batesburg Women’s Club deeded the library to a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees and became a free public library. The name of the library was changed to the Batesburg-Leesville Public Library. Lorena Miller, one of the first public librarians in the state to receive a Professional Certificate from the South Carolina State Library, became the first library director.

1948

The South Carolina State Assembly authorized the creation of the Lexington County Circulating Library Board. The Batesburg-Leesville Public Library was reorganized and became the Lexington County Circulating Library. The new library moved into a remodeled carriage barn and would remain there until 1967.

1948

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was opened in the town of Lexington in a building beside the Town Hall.

1948

The two rooms vacated by the Batesburg-Leesville Public Library in the Batesburg Town Hall became the home of the so-called Negro Branch Library.

1949

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was opened in the town of Chapin in a remodeled guardhouse of the old jail.

1949

The Lexington County Circulating Library established its first Bookmobile, a remodeled pickup truck with covered shelving offering outdoor library service.

1950

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was established in the Brooklyn-Cayce Municipal Building to serve the residents of Cayce and West Columbia.

1950

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was established in Robert’s Grocery Store in Swansea.

1955

The Lexington County Circulating Library purchased its first dedicated Bookmobile. It was a modern walk-in style bookmobile and it was the first in the state of South Carolina to be air-conditioned.

1967

A dedicated building built in Batesburg for the Headquarters of the Lexington County Circulating library was opened on October 29, 1967 and it is currently still in use as the Batesburg-Leesville Branch Library.

1974

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was opened in the town of Irmo in a remodeled trailer.

1976

The Central Midlands Regional Planning Council published a study entitled A Facilities Plan for the Public Library Systems of the Midlands Region, which included an assessment of the library needs of Lexington County in anticipation of the population growth projected to continue through the end of the 20th century.

1978

The South Carolina General Assembly passed Act Number 564, which amended Title 4, Chapter 9 of the South Carolina Code of Laws enabling counties to establish county libraries on a uniform basis.

1979

The Lexington County Council passed an ordinance designating the library system as a part of county government. The Lexington County Circulating Library was renamed the Lexington County Public Library System.

1981

A branch of the Lexington County Circulating Library was established in the Town Hall of Gaston.

1983

A branch of the Lexington County Public Library System was established in the town of Pelion in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church parsonage.

1985

The Lexington County Library Board used The Central Midlands Regional Planning Council’s studies to formulate its goals and objectives for the following two decades. These included relocating and enlarging library facilities, increasing staffing and hours of operation, upgrading professional requirements for branch librarians, and establishing a courier system for inter-branch deliveries.

1988

A branch of the Lexington County Public Library System was established in the town of Gilbert in the old Town Hall.

1992

The R.H. Smith Branch, which had provided service to the Cayce-West Columbia area from 1960-1992, was closed and the new Cayce-West Columbia Branch Library was established in the old Compton’s Department Store on Highway #1 in West Columbia and it is currently still in use.

1994

The Lexington County Council approved a $9.7 million bond for the construction of libraries in Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Gilbert, and Gaston, as well as a renovation of the library in Batesburg-Leesville.

1996

The Lexington County Council passed an ordinance (No. 96-1) that made the Lexington County Public Library System a full department of Lexington County government.

1996

A dedicated building built for the Gaston Branch Library was opened on March 4, 1996 and it is currently still in use.

1996

A dedicated building built for the Gilbert-Summit Branch Library was opened in February and it is currently still in use.

1997

A dedicated building built for the Chapin Branch Library was opened on October 20, 1997 and it is currently still in use.

1998

A dedicated building built for the Lexington Main Library was opened on January 26, 1998 and it became the new headquarters of the Lexington County Public Library System. Also, in March, a dedicated building built for the Irmo Branch Library was opened. Both are currently still in use.

2000

A dedicated building built for the Pelion Branch Library was opened on June 1, 2000 and it is currently still in use.

2007

A dedicated building built for the Swansea Branch Library was opened in June and it is currently still in use.

2007

The Lexington County Public Library System established a branch in South Congaree-Pine Ridge. A dedicated building built for the South Congaree-Pine Ridge Branch Library was opened on July 19, 2007 and it is currently still in use.

2012

The Lexington County Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary of services to the citizens of Lexington County with celebrations throughout the county culminating with a celebration at the Lexington Main Library on September 23.