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The Evolution of Richland Library

Our library had modest beginnings. “Lend-a-Hand” was the first name for the Richland Library, which, in 1896, was located 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.” Later the Columbia Library Association was chartered and provided a limited operating budget. Members were charged an annual fee to use the library and many books were provided through private donations.

In 1899 the City Hall burned, including the Lend-a-Hand library, but the efforts and contributions of local citizens quickly restocked the library with new books. Around this time the library became known as the Columbia Public Library. 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, which is still in our possession. The library slowly grew to circulate 18,000 books in 1923, as reported by Anne Locke, the head librarian. In 1924 the city took a more formal responsibility in funding the library and it was again renamed the Columbia Public Library. In 1927, the covered Gervais Street Bridge 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 Mrs. Hagood Bostick. 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. 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.

On December 3, 2012 the library became Richland Library as it turned to meet the needs of modern information seekers. 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, storytimes, programs, meeting spaces and more. Welcome to the future of Richland Library.