The first mention of library service in Berkeley County occurred in the summer of 1934 when a reading room for the public was opened and maintained during the summer months. In 1936 the Home Demonstration Agent*, Leona Hewitt, called a meeting of representatives from various organizations and civic groups of the county to discuss the need for a public library. At the close of this meeting a steering committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of organizing a library as a community project. Soon afterwards two rooms over Barron’s Store on Main Street became the first home of the Berkeley County Library with approximately 300 volumes donated by friends or purchased with money furnished by public-spirited citizens. During the summer the Berkeley County Library Association was formed with Mrs. M.M. Murray as President, Mrs. W.K. Fishburne, Vice-President and Miss Marie Harvey, Secretary-Treasurer. In June 1937 the library was moved into quarters in the Berkeley Grammar School but continued to be operated apart from the school system as a separate library open to the general public.
As the use of books increased, the Association became more and more aware of the necessity of having an adequate building to house the library. As a step toward a building program, a state charter was applied for and granted to the Berkeley County Library as an eleemosynary (supported by or dependent upon donations) corporation.
The Berkeley County Library Association soon discovered that the Works Progress Administration (WPA) work program would provide most of the labor necessary to build a library building if a lot and materials could be secured. The County donated a lot in an excellent location and, as the Pinopolis Public School had been closed, this building was donated to furnish the material for the library building.
The new Berkeley County Library building was dedicated on November 10, 1938. The Berkeley County Library Board had worked unceasingly to obtain money with which to purchase books and to meet all obligations connected with the construction project.
Within ten years, demands for service became so insistent from throughout the county that the board, with the cooperation of the County Council of Farm Women and the County Delegation, purchased a small bookmobile. This bookmobile provided service to the entire rural area of the county and was replaced some twelve years later with a large walk-in type vehicle.
In 1955, the library opened a branch in St. Stephen. A library branch in Hanahan followed in 1965
With the expansion of library service, the need for larger quarters, more shelving, more room for readers and working space for staff became very apparent. The Berkeley County Library Board spearheaded a campaign to secure funds for a new main library building and was successful in securing local funds and a $75,000 grant from LSCA (Library Services Construction Act) Title II funds administered by the South Carolina State Library. The new main library building was begun in April of 1969 and completed in 1970. Handsomely furnished and equipped, the library had the added distinction of original paintings or watercolors by several South Carolina artists.
With a building providing adequate space for book collection, staff and patrons, the library’s program developed rapidly. The branches were strengthened in Hanahan and in St. Stephen. A completely modern bookmobile brought library service within reach of all county residents. Special programs were established for the elderly and for children and young people. A consistent effort was made to reach Berkeley County residents who were not library users and provide them the kind of service they would use.
The library opened a branch library in Goose Creek Shopping Plaza on Red Bank Road in 1971.
In the 1980s, the library received strong local financial support which it supplemented with State Aid and with LSCA grants. These funds made possible the purchase of books, periodicals and services which could not have been provided with local funds alone. The library continued to flourish. Its population base rapidly expanded and the influx of new people brought with it requests for new services and improvement of in-depth traditional services of the library.
In 1991, the current location of the Goose Creek Library branch opened at 325 Old Moncks Corner Road.
A brand new Main Library adjoining the new Berkeley County Administration Building at 1003 U.S. Hwy 52 opened in April 2006.
The Library’s Administrative Offices, Technical Services, and Systems Administration soon moved into the empty 100 Library St., Moncks Corner building.
The library celebrated its 75th anniversary in June 2011!
The groundwork was laid to fund a mobile library to serve Berkeley County residents in 2008, nearly 29 years after book mobile service ceased. M.O.R.E., as the mobile unit is named, stands for Moving Our Resources Everywhere. Fully funded, it established its first scheduled stops in 2014.
In May 2014, the Hanahan Library branch moved from Yeamans Hall Plaza into a brand new library building at 1216 Murray Court.
In 2012, a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant was approved for the renovation of the 1928 historic St. Stephen School at 113 Ravenell Drive as joint site for the new St. Stephen Library branch and a Berkeley County Magistrate’s Office. The facility opened in 2015.
The Cane Bay Library branch, 1655 Cane Bay Boulevard, opened in 2019 as the library’s second joint-use facility sharing the building with the Cane Bay YMCA.