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Library History: Dream to Reality

More than two million visits by users to the library in one year show the appeal of the library’s services to the greater metropolitan Columbia area. For not only are the physical facilities new and state of the art, but so too are the technical aspects of the new system.

Joined by a computer system and an online catalog with dial access for patrons, the Main Library and its branches bring the latest technology to Richland County residents. All of the continuously updated and augmented book collections, as well as all library materials, are online providing availability and location. The system includes community information, CD-ROM access and allows patrons to check their own records, place holds and renew books. With a modem, patrons can access the library’s system from outside the library, a convenience utilized more than 78,000 times in 1995. Through the same system, patrons can also access RCPL’s catalog, online magazine and reference databases, as well as the Internet.

Those who established Columbia as the capital recognized the value of libraries, and city residents struggled long to have a library that met the needs of all the citizens. Colonel Preston’s antebellum dream of a lively meeting and discussion center has at last become a reality. The city’s matrons who founded the one room Lend-a-Hand Library would be pleasantly astounded at the practical progress their library has made in 100 years. The library’s value to the community is evidenced by the citizens’ wholehearted vote in favor of the bond issue and their continuing support through gifts and patronage. The Richland County Public Library system truly is the heart of the community, useful and of service to all the residents. RCPL reflects the Twenty-First-Century-from printed matter to online information. It is a veritable gateway to the world.

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