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1969-1989 RCPL History

Anna Davis King (Mrs. George S., Sr.) became the Director in May of 1969, having served as acting Director since Mrs. Bostick’s death. During her 10-year tenure, Mrs. King strengthened and further developed the library’s services. The Waverly branch closed and a new branch opened on Devine Street to serve the city’s eastern residents. Two new branches, Landmark Square and North Main, were opened for the citizens in the southeastern and North Main areas of town. Evening hours began at the Cooper and St. Andrews branches. Magazine, journal and newspaper subscriptions grew from 200 in 1967 to more than 1,100 10 years later. Added resources included The New York Times from 1851 to the present on microfilm. An emphasis on excellence increased the number of professional librarians tenfold. During Mrs. King’s tenure, the Friends of the Library was formally organized to establish closer relations between the Library and the Richland County community.

Mrs. King also introduced the newest technologies to the Library. Richland County Public Library was the first in the state, and one of the first five libraries in the Southeast, to join the Southeastern Library Network, which provided computerized cataloging, gave online access for interlibrary loans and allowed retrospective conversion of the card catalog into digital format for Online Catalog Library Center database entry. The reference staff began indexing The State and The Columbia Record, while the addition of The New York Times Information Bank made researching local, national and international topics quicker, easier and more successful. By 1978, patrons using the library found information relating to careers, colleges offering pertinent courses and job availability in South Carolina. It was during Mrs. King’s tenure as director that the county and city began to cooperate more closely, and home rule came to Richland County. The new county council continued to support the library and its Board of Trustees. Mrs. King retired in June 1979, ending a distinguished career and 10 successful years of promoting library services, growth and development.

Three months later, C. David Warren became director. A dynamic, visionary leader and manager, Mr. Warren foresaw the library’s potential to provide innovative, expanded services to the growing metropolitan area of Columbia and the surrounding county. The library’s holdings became one of the first in the county to be completely computerized as the old card catalog entered history to be replaced by PACs, public access catalog computer stations. A new building was constructed for the Eastover Branch in 1985, and a new branch was built to serve the Northeast area in 1986. By this time, the 32,000-square-foot main library building was stretched thin. Although the Library’s Board of Trustees had discussed the need for a new building from 1957 forward, in 1985 the need became imperative. The walls of the main building literally began to bulge. In 1988, plans to acquire and renovate the downtown U.S. Post Office at a reasonable cost failed to materialize. Mr. Warren and the energetic Board of Trustees, led by Mr. Julius W. McKay, took the request for funding a physically and technologically expanded library system, to include a new main building, directly to the voters. On February 14, 1989, the citizens of Richland County overwhelmingly passed the $27 million bond referendum by a 73 percent majority.

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