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1926-1934 RCPL History

1926 brought not only the move to Kramer’s, but also an amazing windfall through a series of unusual events. The county had contracted to build a new Broad River Bridge. During the new bridge’s construction, the old, still-insured bridge burned. The insurance money was duly deposited in a bank to earn interest and await dispersal determination. During this interim, the bank failed. Citizen interest and a petition resulted in a county delegation promise that any recovered funds would be used for the public library. Ultimately, the library received $40,000 of recovered funds which became a new books reserve fund. The most important gain, however, was the county delegation’s realization that the community highly valued the library. Consequently, the county delegation now fully supported the library and even encouraged expanding the services to county schools and rural areas.

With the county delegation’s endorsement, the library experienced many “firsts.” In 1929, the library moved into what would become its first permanent home, appropriately, the first floor of Dr. Woodrow’s home on the northeast corner of Washington and Sumter Streets. Later, in 1939 the library purchased this property from the estate of Mrs. Felie B. Woodrow, Dr. Woodrow’s widow. In 1930, the first “traveling library” motor truck made its circuit of the county. Book deposits, another first, flourished in neighborhoods such as Five Points and Park Street. This system of rotating book collections in the growing suburbs proved popular, leading eventually to permanent branch libraries. 1930 also marked the year that the library began receiving its first regular, secure funding, and the county delegation agreed to match an appropriation from the Rosenwald Fund for a five year period.

The move to Sumter Street began an era of expansion, slowed in many instances, but never completely stopped. The County and Rosenwald combined funds provided more growth, notably the Phillis Wheatley Branch that opened at 1429 Park Stret in 1930. From 1929 to 1934, the library’s circulation jumped from 82,057 to 449,855 books annually, the number of volumes on the shelves tripled to 97,000, and 12 assistants now worked with the librarian. By this time, Miss Lucy Hampton, later Mrs. Hagood Bostick, had replaced “Miss Annie” Locke as head librarian. Beloved by the patrons, “Miss Annie” continued to serve the library’s patrons, especially genealogists, for many years.

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