History of Horry County Memorial Library

As early as the mid-19th century, library services were offered in Horry County. By 1855, the Presbyterian Church had established library services in Conway. In 1877, the Burroughs School began and maintained a library for public use. By 1935, a movement to establish a public library in Conway was underway. A group of about thirty citizens of the community met in the home of Colonel H. L. Buck and appointed Mr. M. A. Wright as temporary chairman of the Library Association. This group worked to establish a county library system, and in February of 1936, L. D. Magrath was appointed chairman of the Library Committee.

On March 4, 1938, a small public library was opened in the auditorium of the Conway Town Hall. The Junior Charity League of Conway donated $200 for the purchase of books for the library, and local citizen Dr. J. A. Norton gave a large number of books from his private collection. Books and money were also donated by other citizens, and the Town of Conway appropriated $25 a month to operate the library. The library remained in operation during the 1940′s, sustained by its small appropriation from the city and by gifts from patrons. During this time the Library Committee worked with legislative delegations to secure county-wide service. In 1944 the County Delegation passed a Joint Resolution appropriating $15,000 to begin a construction fund and named its own members as the building committee. Also, $6,000 was appropriated for a memorial plaque containing the names of Horry County citizens who served in World War I and World War II. The County originally planned to place this plaque on the Horry County Courthouse grounds, but later delegated it to the Library.

On March 20, 1946, an Act creating the Horry County Memorial Library Commission was passed. On March 21, 1947, the first Library Commission meeting was held at the Horry County Courthouse. The existing Conway Library and the County Board of Education bookmobile services were absorbed into the new county library system. The Horry County Memorial Library began operation in July 1949 with 16,420 books and a budget of $23,272. Mary Parham, who had begun preparing for the opening of the library since August 1, 1948, became the first county librarian. She was succeeded by Dorothy Smith on January 15, 1952. Kathleen Gilleland served from 1957 to 1959, and Catherine Lewis served from January 1, 1960 until September of 1987. There was a quick succession of directors with Raymond Riddle from 1988 to 1989, Robert Ward from 1990 to 1993, and Molly Westmoreland from 1993 to 1994. John R. Gaumer served from January 1995 to March 2008. The current director is Clifton Boyer who came in January 2009.

Horry County Memorial Library has identified itself as a centralized library system with Conway as the main library. As a result, the facilities development plan needs to include space for incorporating centralized services within the Conway location. The Board of Trustees has also stated that resources and services are to reflect the demand at each library location.

Conway Library

Fifty thousand dollars were allotted for the construction of a building in 1946. The County levied a property tax of one mill to the citizens of the community for support of the Library. The Act was amended in 1947 to increase the building appropriation to $100,000. In addition, the Horry County Appropriation Act (1948) provided that 20 percent of the liquor, wine and beer tax would be set aside for maintenance of the Library.

Under the 1946 Act, a Library Commission was appointed, its members consisting of J. C. Burroughs, Joe H. Derham, W. Walbert Johnson, Mrs. P. E. Sasser, Miss Louise Stone, H. H. Woodward, Jr., Mrs. C. D. Prince, J. K. Floyd, and Dr. J. J. Jordan. The enabling legislation read “free library service should be provided for the entire people.” This phrase means service is provided despite the age, race, economic circumstances or level of education of the citizens. At the first Library Commission meeting held on March 21, 1947, Mr. J. C. Burroughs was elected chairman, Mrs. P. E. Sasser was elected secretary, and Mr. J. J. Woodward was elected treasurer.

The architectural firm of Hopkins & Baker of Florence, South Carolina was employed to design the building. On December 15, 1948, the Library Commission contracted with W. P. Crosland to construct the building. The building was located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street, one half the land donated by Henry L. Buck and Eugenia Buck Cutts, heirs of the late H. L. Buck and one half donated by the Town of Conway. By April 1949, construction of the building was underway and on July 1 of that year, the building was opened to the public. The building on Fifth Avenue consisted of 8,500 square feet and had an auditorium, a garage for the bookmobile, and areas for reading rooms, and shelves.

During the 1950′s and 1960′s the Horry County Memorial Library experienced a dramatic increase in collection size and services rendered, and soon the building on Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street was too small for the needs and demands of the citizens it served. In 1967, the Board allowed for an expansion study to be done and in 1987, the Horry County Council appointed a Building Task Force. Throughout the last decades of the 20th century, more shelves were added and seating space removed to allow for a rapidly growing book collection. The auditorium and garage were converted into shelf space. In 2003 library personnel met with the architectural firm Craig, Gaulden, and Davis to design a two-story 23,000 square foot library, more than double the size of the library on 5th Avenue. Groundbreaking for the new building on Main Street (next to the old Burroughs High School) occurred in March 2005. The new Conway Library opened on October 2, 2006, featuring an 85-seat meeting room, a young adult room, a children’s program room and 28 public access computers. The Conway Library currently serves Horry County with 10 full time and 6 part time staff.

Administration/Support Services

Support Services consist of three departments: Library Administration, IT and Technical Services

Library Administration is located at 1008 Fifth Ave in Conway. This places the library offices in proximity to other County offices and officials.  Administration started out with the director and accounting clerk.   In 1992 a courier position was added, in 1996 a Deputy Director position was added and in 1998 a secretary position was added.   As the collection and library use grew in 2012 another courier position was added and the deputy director position was reclassified to a Librarian position and designated for Carolina Forest Library manager.  At the present time Library Administration consists of 5 FTE (director, office manager, administrative assistant, 2 couriers).

In 1996 the Library formed its own IT Department. The Library IT department is located in the same building as Library Administration.

At this time, the Technical Services Department is located at 1603 Fourth Ave in Conway. This location has been called the Extension Building. Technical Services consist of 5 FTE (Automation Librarian, Supervisor and 3 Library Assistants) to order and catalog material for 10 branches and one bookmobile. In 1996 the Library added an Adult Service Coordinator, who selects the adult material. This position is housed in the Conway Library where they serve as Reference Librarian also. .

Bookmobile Services

The Horry County Memorial Library also provides library services to rural and homebound patrons, day cares, schools, retirement and nursing homes, through its bookmobile. The Bookmobile/ Outreach program covers the whole County, a land area of 1,154 square miles. In the 1930′s the Works Progress Administration began bookmobile service to the rural areas of Horry County. After the start of World War II, the Works Progress Administration stopped this service and the bookmobile was turned over to the Horry County Department of Education, which continued limited service until 1949. At that time the equipment was handed over to the Horry County Memorial Library. Service was provided to the public schools until the passage of the ESEA, which established school libraries in the early 1960′s. Originally, the bookmobile provided service to rural and isolated areas of Horry County. The Library provided this service for people who, because of distance or lack of transportation, were unable to go to a library location.

In 1970, the Library Services and Construction Act Amendments gave a new direction to library service to the poor. In the same year, the South Carolina State Library offered incentive grants to public libraries for “use in extending services to residents who because of economic, social or educational disabilities, could not use the traditional library.” In 1971, the Horry County Memorial Library established a service program for the disadvantaged. This pilot program was begun with federal (LSCA) funding. The Horry County Memorial Library called its project Operation Know Power. Operation Know Power was used as an example by the State Library for other libraries as they also began outreach programs. The outreach program’s goal was “to make unserved and underserved persons and groups aware of the available library services and to make appropriate service accessible to them.” This program included film programs in nursing homes and Senior Citizen’s Nutritional Sites, carrying books to homebound patrons, identifying and certifying people who need Talking Books, along with many other services to the disadvantaged. Today, the Bookmobile/Outreach program focuses more on institutions (schools, day cares, retirement homes, nursing homes) rather than residential areas. People who continue to receive individualized service are primarily homebound. There are few neighborhood stops on the bookmobile’s schedule because of declining use by library patrons at those stops. The bookmobile was replaced in 2000 with a new 28-foot Thomas chassis vehicle (Matthews Specialty Vehicles located in North Carolina). The Bookmobile/Outreach department is housed in the Library Administration building located on Fifth Avenue in Conway.

Aynor Library

The first library in Aynor was opened July 1941 in the old Masonic Building on Ninth Avenue and Main Street by the Works Progress Administration. The library was called the Aynor Free Public Library. Mrs. Sophie R. Blanton, Works Progress Administration Regional Library Supervisor, was instrumental in getting this library started. However, the WPA project was ended in March 1942 and the books were transferred to the Aynor High School Library.

During the 1950′s Mrs. Thelma Thomas, a member of the Horry County Library Commission, encouraged Aynor citizens to start a new branch library. The books were returned from the high school and the Aynor Library again opened in the old Masonic Building. Mrs. W. M. Gerald was appointed library clerk and the library was kept open two afternoons each week. In 1953, the library was relocated into a small part of the H. C. Lewis building. In June 1954, the Aynor Public Library became a branch of the Horry County Memorial Library. Miss Dorothy Smith, County Librarian at that time, transferred the books to a building on North Main Street and 8th Avenue. In 1962, a new location was secured in the P. B. Huggins building.

In 1972, Mrs. Doris Cooke Vanderhoff assumed the position of library manager. In 1976, construction of a new building began. The financing of this building was made possible with County revenue sharing funds. Instrumental in getting this funding for the new building were Aynor Mayor Eugene Carmichael, Councilmen Jimmy Ray Johnson, Charles E. Bagnal, J. H. Goodson, and McKinley Richardson, and W. G. Hucks, a member of the County Board of Commissioners. The new building was completed and opened to the public on September 7, 1977.  In 2012 the Aynor Library was expanded and redesigned which included a new roof, carpeting, paint, landscaping and a 1,000 square foot addition.  The total cost of $444,000 which was partially paid with a grant through the Horry County Community Development Block Grant Office and a County Bond.

Bucksport Library

The Bucksport Library is in a joint-use facility shared with the County’s Fire/Rescue Service on Highway 701 South, approximately eight miles south of Conway, just outside Bucksport The library was constructed in 1994/95 by the County’s Maintenance Department and opened for library service in September of 1995. Bucksport was one of the first libraries to offer computer usage for the public. In 2013 Bucksport Library renovation included the reconfiguration of space to make room for 12 computers and more space for programming.  The library also received new carpet, fresh pain, new furnishings and shelving.  Bucksport is the first library in State to install mobile shelving that is accessible to the public.  This allows for additional space options to accommodate patrons and various programs hosted by the library.


Carolina Forest Library

In response to community needs, a Carolina Forest Branch Library has been added to the Horry County Memorial Library System. Despite many setbacks, including budget restraints and the clearing of many bombs, this $4 million library was opened on September 4th, 2012. This new addition to the library system is 20,000 square feet and boasts 24 public access computer stations, a public meeting room, separate young adult and children’s areas, and a Friend’s gift shop.

The property that the library sits on came from a swap between the county and a private entity. It took 6 months to prepare the land for building. This preparation included the removal of bombs that were buried on the property. These bombs were left after WWII, when the property that Carolina Forest Library now proudly sits upon was uses as a bomb training site for airmen. This is just one aspect of the rich history that came with the property and is fitting tribute to the service members to whom Horry County Libraries were memorialized.

Funding for this new facility was made possible by the Horry County Council. PHM Associates designed the property and Gary Watson and the maintenance department worked closely with the library system during the construction of this project. The Carolina Forest Library is handicap accessible and environmentally-friendly, meeting LEED status. While initially, there was some question about staff funding, the library now has 4 full time and 2 part time staff members.

Green Sea/Floyds

Beginning with the 1990′s the Library noted that the northwest corner of the County was unserved by any library facility. At that time, the Library’s Bookmobile was serving the area but it was felt the area was sufficiently large enough to support a library building. In 1991 the Library purchased from the Horry County Board of Education a 2-acre parcel of land at a cost of $1.

Construction began on the 7,400 square foot facility (the Green Sea/Floyds Library occupies half the building and the other half houses a community center) in the spring of 2000. The Green Sea/Floyds library opened its doors in January of 2003.

Little River Library

In the early 1990′s the County Council approved construction of a 33,000 square foot multipurpose facility in the Little River area. A 4,000 square foot library was included in the facility. Construction began in 1995 was completed in the late fall 1995. The library opened in April 1996. In July 2006, the library changed its name from Stephens Crossroad Library to Little River Library.


Loris Library

Records show that the first public library in Loris was founded by the American Legion Auxiliary in 1939. Located in the new Masonic Hall on Main Street, the Loris Library was funded for two and a half years by the Works Progress Administration. Miss Lalla Stevens was the first librarian. In 1949, the Loris Library became the first branch of the Horry County Memorial Library. The Loris Parent-Teachers Association sponsored it and secured a room in the local high school to house the book collection. In 1952, the location was again changed and the Loris Garden Club secured a room on the second floor of the new Town Hall; on November 17 of that year the Club held a reception formally opening the branch at its new quarters. Volunteers served the Loris Library from its opening through the next five years.

On February 1, 1958, Mrs. H. C. Milligan became the first paid branch assistant. In October of 1965 the book collection was again moved, this time into an office building at 4131 Main Street. By January 1968 the County Legislative Delegation had introduced legislation to appropriate $30,000 for a building to house the library. Representative James Blanton was a prime mover in this action. On January 17, 1969 the committee finalized the purchase of land at 4316 Main Street from Miss Elaine Hughes and Mrs. D. C. Prince. Funds, however, did not become available until 1976. On October 2, 1976, the Loris Library was completed and opened its doors to the public. The original square footage of the building was about 1,600.

In 1994, Charles Freeman and the Felburn Foundation provided a $60,000 matching grant if the County would expand the library. By spring 1995, the County followed through with matching funds and the Loris Library was enlarged to 4,300 square feet. In November 2007, the library expanded once again with the addition of the 1,500 square feet children’s wing. The wing consists of two main rooms: one for children’s programming/meeting room and the other provided much needed space for pre-reader and beginning reader books, interactive play items, enticing kid displays and bean bag seating for children to relax and read. The new area more than doubles the available shelving space for children’s easy books. The Kelly Anne Cox Learning Center, provided through the donation from the Kelly Anne Cox Foundation, is used by teachers, tutors, mentors and students as a quiet place to study. The room was dedicated in Kelly’s memory. The entire expansion was estimated at a cost of over $285,000. Funding was provided by a fund raising event sponsored by the Friends of Loris Library. Other contributors were Charles Freeman and the Felburn Foundation, Kelly Anne Cox Foundation, Waccamaw Community Foundation, Lewis E. Sikes Foundation along with many, many community leaders and local businesses.

North Myrtle Beach Library

On May 15, 1958, Mrs. Glenn Kelley, President of the Crescent Beach Garden Club, and Mayor J.W. Perrin of Crescent Beach wrote to the Horry County Memorial Library Commission formally requesting that a branch be built in North Myrtle Beach. On May 22, this request was approved, and on October 11, 1958 the Crescent Beach Garden Club held an open house to celebrate the opening of the library. The library was housed in the city hall and consisted of three bookcases in Town Clerk Glenn A. Kelley’s office. The fire station was located next door and the firefighters assisted in checking out the books.

In 1965 the Town Hall was enlarged and a special room built on one end to accommodate the library. On August 15, 1968, Jane McDaniel, former director of Union County Library in North Carolina, assumed duties as library manager. Also in 1968, the library moved into the former Windy Hill Town Hall to accommodate the increasing number of patrons.
The City of North Myrtle Beach then sold the Windy Hill Town Hall and donated the proceeds towards the construction of a new building. The Friends of the Library of North Myrtle Beach also contributed thousands of dollars through tireless fundraising to double the originally planned size of the building. The library was temporarily located in the North Myrtle Beach Community Center while the new facility was being built. On May 17, 1982, on a one-acre site on 2nd Ave. N. donated by Charles Tilghman and Mrs. Jean Dusenbury Joyner, the North Myrtle Beach Library opened its doors to the public. Prior to 1994 the library was known as Grand Strand Library, but in 1994 the Library Board of Trustees voted to change the name to North Myrtle Beach Library to give it better location recognition.

Recognizing that the library had outgrown it’s 2nd Ave. N. location by 2005, the City of North Myrtle Beach and Horry County cooperated to build a new facility on 1st Ave.S. With the City providing the property and the County handling site work and construction, groundbreaking took place in the Fall of 2009. On Thursday, May 5, 2011, the new almost 20,000 square foot building opened its doors to the public. Moving into the new library was accomplished by hard work from almost 40 volunteers from the community and Friends of North Myrtle Beach Library, library staff and the Horry County Maintenance Department. The old library building was returned to the City of North Myrtle Beach to house the North Myrtle Beach Historical Museum.

Socastee Library

The first Socastee Library opened in 1991 as a 6,600 square foot leased facility in the Socastee Plaza strip mall. In 1999, three acres of land were purchased so that at a later time a new library could be built for Socastee.

The new 23,000 square foot Socastee Library opened for business on July 24, 2003. The Felburn Foundation and Mr. Charles Freeman contributed funds as well as other donors and Friends of the Library for the construction of the facility. It stands on three acres of land and houses more than 74,600 items which include books, audiobooks, videos, dvds, music cds, and magazines. Socastee Library averages 1,200 visitors per day, provides numerous programs and services including preschool story times, baby, youth and adult programs. In FY08, Socastee Library circulated 276,184 items, answered 10,358 reference questions, and had 6,091 people attend library programs. The library has a large meeting room available for use by non-profit groups of up to 61 people and a small conference room for 8 to 10 people. Socastee Library has 32 public use computers and free wi-fi for those who wish to bring their own laptop computers. Computer classes are offered regularly in the computer lab and tables around the perimeter of the facility are used by tutors and other patrons. Pleasant reading areas with comfortable chairs give library users places to read and converse while the children’s room offers a multitude of materials for youngsters, tables for studying or doing puzzles, computers, and a play area. A playground is also located on the grounds.

Surfside Beach Library

With Mr. James A. Calhoun, Jr., offering a wooded lot on 10th Avenue North near U.S. 17 and the Horry County Council providing $42,000, the Surfside Beach Council in June 1977 appointed a Library Building Committee with James F. Squires as chairman. The Committee conducted a fund raising campaign. Mr. Calhoun donated another lot and the proceeds of its sale went into the building fund that totaled more than $23,500.

Construction began in April 1978, and the library opened October 18, 1978. The library outgrew its current building and site in the early 1990′s. By 1995 a new facility was built for $700,000 consisting of 7,260 square feet and is now located at 410 Surfside Drive.  At that same location in 2011, Surfside Library was renovated and expanded to include a new children’s room, additional public computers and a designated young adult area.  The library was expanded to 17,800 square feet.