South Caroliniana Library celebrates 175 years

“A Night at the Library,” the official opening of the yearlong celebration of the 175th anniversary of the South Caroliniana Library on the University of South Carolina Horseshoe, will take place at 6 p.m., Nov. 10.

The event offers an opportunity to learn about the history of the country’s oldest freestanding academic library. Library leaders also will share plans to renovate the structure, which will be done in two phases: first, properly storing and maintaining the library’s treasures; and second, upgrading the library’s public spaces.

“USC is so fortunate to have this remarkable treasure on our campus and we want to show it off to the community as we celebrate this significant milestone,” USC Libraries Dean Tom McNally says. “This is also an opportunity to raise awareness about our need to raise $5 million to ensure the historic building and the unique collections that are housed there remain safe and accessible for another 175 years and beyond.”

While the event is free and open to the public, an RSVP is encouraged. Call 803-576-6016 or reply by email by Friday (Nov. 6).

The original opening event for the celebration was postponed last month because of the historic flooding in Columbia. Despite the flooding, the building was protected from significant damage.

Other events are scheduled throughout the school year to mark the anniversary, including:

“Oral History at the Caroliniana: Sharing Stories from the Collections,” 5:30-6:30 p.m., Nov. 17: Oral historian Andrea L’Hommedieu showcases South Carolina stories. Free and open to the public.

“University Archives at the Caroliniana: Two Centuries of Living and Working on the Historic Horseshoe,” 5:30-6:30 p.m., Dec. 8: Authors Elizabeth Cassidy West and Katharine Thompson Allen present highlights from their new book, “On the Horseshoe: A Guide to the Historic Campus of the University of South Carolina,” which provides a closer look at the Horseshoe’s buildings as well as the men and women who lived, worked and studied in them. Free and open to the public.

The library opened on the Horseshoe in 1840. Its iconic structure is distinguished by the four white columns and the second-floor reading room, which is a replica of the room that housed Thomas Jefferson’s personal library in the second Library of Congress.

The building served as the main university library for 100 years, housing one of the finest academic libraries in America. In the years following the Civil War, it benefited from the stewardship of Richard Greener, the first African-American professor at the university.

Today, the South Caroliniana Library is recognized as the most architecturally distinctive building on the Horseshoe and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also holds one of the largest Southern manuscript collections in the U.S. and one of the most important American history collections.

To find out more about the history of the building or events celebrating its 175th year, visit the South Caroliniana Library’s website.

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