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1933-1968 RCPL History

In 1933, the county assumed fiscal responsibility for the library and assessed tax millage. The 1934 South Carolina General Assembly established the library as a county institution supported by the one mill tax and governed by a Board of Trustees. The library’s name changed for the final time. Now officially the Richland County Public Library (RCPL), user privileges became completely free for all county residents. Two years later the Phillis Wheatley Branch was moved to new, larger quarters on Gervais Street. This new Waverly Branch, located in a former church, was popular and widely used. A new or second bookmobile was acquired in 1936 to cover routes in outlying county areas. During the 1930s, a branch library was also established in Eastover.

In spite of expansion into the entire Woodrow house, the library desperately needed more space for the growing collection and increased circulation. A county wide bond drive in 1940 netted $350,000 for new library construction. The architectural firm of Lafaye and Lafaye completed plans for an imposing two story edifice that would take the place of Dr. Woodrow’s home. But, before work began, World War II intervened, and all construction materials and labors went to the war effort.The bond money rested in an interest bearing account until 1950, when construction on a new main library finally began.Unfortunately, post war inflation meant that the accrued funds purchased fewer materials than earlier. Lafaye, Fair, Lafaye and Associates submitted a new, contemporary design, and construction began on the now $390,000 project. The library itself moved into temporary quarters, a spacious mansion at 1428 Senate Street. The temporary quarters caused no discernible changes in service or circulation even though the dwelling had not been constructed to serve a population of 142,000 and lacked central heat and plumbing, as well as sufficient space. Nonessential books and equipment were stored in the basement of the Waverly Branch.

On October 20, 1952, with the move back to Sumter and Washington Streets completed, the new main county library opened. Mrs. Bostick continued to lead the library system admirably and capably in steady growth. A new branch opened in east Columbia through the generosity of the Cooper family. In 1961, they donated both the land and the building on North Trenholm Road to honor John Hughes Cooper and created the county’s third branch library. The bookmobiles reached the outlying areas of the county so efficiently that the book deposit system ended. School services were curtailed as the number of media centers in the schools grew. The city’s rapid westward expansion called for more library services to that area. St. Andrews, the fourth branch, opened in 1968. Tragedy struck that same year when Mrs. Bostick was fatally injured in a car accident enroute to work on July 5, 1968. She died on July 18. Her leadership will long be remembered, and she will always be missed.

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