Society Hill Library is 200 years old

The original 1822 Library today. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL SEGARS

The current Society Hill Library on Carrigan Street. PHOTO BY BILL SEGARS

When the St. David’s Society was organized in 1777, it was established for the purpose of founding a public school for “educating youths in the Latin and Greek languages, mathematics and other useful branches of learning,” according to Gregg’s History of the Old Cheraws. The St. David’s Society established the Society Hill Library Society on December 7, 1822, the year the first library was built in the town.

A meeting of about a dozen prominent citizens was held and each contributed approximately $20. Contributions totalled $240 (approximately $6,171.00 today) and, Elias Gregg took this money to Philadelphia, where he purchased books. The group established very strict rules for the care, handling and lending of the books. They all signed their names as endorsement of the following rules:

    Annual elections of a President and Librarian were held. The Librarian also served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Library.

    The library was open from 10am to 12pm every Saturday for taking out and returning books.

    No person was allowed more than two folios (12” x 19” books), four quartos (9.5” x 12” books), six octavos (6” x 9” books) or eight duodecimos (5” x 7.38” books).

    No person was allowed to lend a book outside the family to which he/she belongs.

    For any injury, writing, penciling or scribbling done to a book, the person who checked it out paid such a sum as the Librarian and 2 Purchasing Committee members deemed, provided it was not above the total cost of the book(s) in question.

    Anyone who lost a book would replace it (or the entire set it came from) or pay the original cost plus 50 cents.

    The annual dues in order to use the library were $5 per year, payable in advance.

    To become a member, you had to get consent (by ballot) of thee-fourths of the members present and pay an initiation fee of $20.

    If you were issued a share in the organization, you were a member in good standing, provided your dues were currently paid up. This share could be passed on after your death, as long as your membership was not in arrears.

    To alter, change or repeal any of these rules, a 2/3 majority must take a vote and, only after a proposition is made and has remained from one annual ruling to another.

So, as you can see, they were serious about their books and the care given to them. The people of Society Hill are very proud of their literary and cultural history.

The original building was restored in early 1971 by the Dogwood Garden Club and the Society Hill Township for use as and was placed near the Society Hill Town Hall.  It was reopened to the public in April of 1971. The town is now improving certain boards around door sills which have accrued age and water damage.

Sixteen years ago, seeing the need for a better library facility in Society Hill, Senator Gerald Malloy and the Darlington Legislative Delegation presented Darlington County Council and the Library Board with a check for $250,000 on September 18, 2006.  These funds were used toward the construction of a new library to replace the small library.  Construction of the new building was started in December 2010.  The new 4,400 square foot Branch on Carrigan Street opened in August 2011.

Author: Stephan Drew

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