County moves to take charge of Carnegie Library building
By Bobby Bryant
Plans are in the works to have Darlington County, rather than the city, take responsibility for the old Carnegie Library on North Main Street, which has been vacant for decades as officials have hoped to one day turn it into a civic center or museum.
During its Oct. 6 meeting, Darlington City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would let the county lease the 100-year-old library for 50 years for a token rent of $1. Under the plan, the county would be responsible for maintenance of the building.
One more vote is needed for final approval, and that vote is expected at council’s November meeting.
Darlington City Manager Howard Garland called the plan a “win-win for everybody.” He said the city has been responsible for the library since about 1999.
It wasn’t clear from council’s brief discussion what the county hopes to gain from taking charge of the library building, and a spokesman for County Administrator Charles Stewart said the county did not want to comment on the plan yet.
Garland said he could not comment on what the county might envision for the building.
Veteran County Council member Bobby Kilgo said he would prefer to wait until the plan is finalized before discussing it.
The library was built in 1920, one of many libraries across the nation financed by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and his Carnegie Foundation. The library ceased operation in 1988 after a new library was built, also on North Main Street.
Since then, efforts have been made to preserve the building until a new purpose for it could be found and until enough money could be raised to finance whatever renovations would be needed. Generally, Darlington leaders have hoped that it could become a museum or civic center.