Community effort builds new Barnwell library

By Tom Lollis

new libraryCapital campaign training organized by a Clemson Extension agent was vital to bringing a new library to downtown Barnwell.

“We had needed a new library since 1989,” said Terri Smith, Barnwell County Extension community development agent and chair of the Barnwell County Library Board. The old home that had served as the Barnwell Library since 1953 was cramped and deteriorating. “The State Library said that Barnwell needed 10,400 square feet of floor space, but we didn’t have the money.”

In 2000 Smith assembled a group of volunteers and organized capital campaign training. In 2002, the Barnwell County Library Board acquired a vacant downtown store and set a fundraising goal of $3.5 million to renovate it and to improve the libraries in Blackville and Williston.

The campaign raised $3.2 million, with $300,000 still being sought. Construction began in the spring of 2004 and a grand opening was held in October 2005.

“The new 17,000 square-foot facility gives the library enough space for the next 20 years and room to expand in the future,” Smith said. “It revitalizes Barnwell and brings people downtown, which is a big boost for merchants.”

For information: Terri Smith, 803-259-7141,