County libraries offer much, plan for more

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

“The Library is more than a collection of books, DVDs, CDs, e-books, magazines, newspapers, and databases. It is a place where lives are enriched through the variety of collections, programs, and services we offer. To continue to do this, we must always look into the future to anticipate what the residents of Darlington County will want and need.” This was the message delivered by Darlington County Library Director Jimmie Epling at the Aug. 17 meeting of County Council, as he laid out a strategic plan for keeping local libraries vital and relevant in coming years.

Darlington County Library System Director Jimmie Epling Photo by Samantha Lyles

Darlington County Library System Director Jimmie Epling
Photo by Samantha Lyles

Business is booming these days at county library sites in Darlington, Lamar, Society Hill, and Hartsville, with over 280,000 visitors in the past year. Epling said that during this period, more than 300,000 items were checked out, and 80,000 sessions were logged on public access computers.

Library youth programs also charted high numbers: 7,215 children and 630 teens attended library programs, and 803 outreach programs helped another 17,723 children.

More than 230,000 books are available at the physical lending libraries, along with 12,000 DVDs, 5,000 audiobooks and CDs. Epling said the library is working to accommodate users of tablets and e-readers by offering 2,278 e-books for adults and 622 for kids, and 32 e-magazines – all of which can be downloaded free of charge. This is made possible by Darlington County’s partnership with the Palmetto Library Consortium, a network of six South Carolina public libraries (including Dillon, Georgetown, Marion, Marlboro, and Sumter) sharing resources.

Through the website, over 500 free classes are available to educate and enrich, with subjects ranging from accounting to creative writing. For those interested in learning a new language, free lessons are available through the SC State Library’s Mango Languages program.

Libraries are working to serve the community in other ways as well. To inform the public – and perhaps help with local economic development – Epling says the website now includes a deep library of statistics about Darlington County and the surrounding metropolitan area. This convenient cache of facts and maps could be useful to anyone from a student researching a paper to a plant manager seeking demographic data for a potential expansion site.

“The idea was to create a one-stop spot for anyone that’s interested in Darlington County,” said Epling.

Looking to the future, the Darlington County Library System plans to develop more programs to help underserved and underrepresented segments of the community, and will continue to keep pace with advancing technology.

To explore all the programs, resources, and opportunities available online, visit the Darlington County Library System website at

Author: Duane Childers

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