The Pickens County Library System currently has four locations: Hampton Memorial Library in Easley (Headquarters), Central-Clemson Library in Central, Village Library in Pickens, and Sarlin Library in Liberty. Our mission is to provide all county residents with access to information through the development of appropriate collections and services. These collections and services must cover the informational, educational, cultural, and entertainment needs of county residents.
Hampton Memorial Library
Although the official date of the library’s beginning is April 30, 1935, efforts began as early as 1929 to provide a library in Easley. At this time (1929) the Easley Woman’s Club, Easley Garden Club, Child Study Club, and the Civic League set-up, sponsored and maintained Easley’s first public library. It was two bookcases, housed in Edwin L. Bolt’s store on Main Street in Easley. However small, this library was to become the nucleus of what is now the Pickens County Library System.
By 1935, the Pickens County Library Association was organized and membership drives began. By the end of the first year over 4000 books had been donated. The library, needing more space, was moved to Commercial Bank, just up the street from Edwin Bolt’s Store. The bank provided two rooms for the library. More books forced a third move to the former high school known as the Lanier Building. A fourth move found the library across the railroad near the Easley Progress Office.
A permanent home was needed. In 1947, the City of Easley bought a corner of the Lloyd Smith property on West First Avenue where a colonial building was constructed. This was through the generosity of E. S. McKissick, Sr. and other Easley benefactors who let the county use the building rent free. In this fifth move, the library found a place that it could really call home. In 1968 the building in Easley was expanded with an additional 7000 square feet bringing the total to 12,000 square feet.
As time went on, this building became small and overcrowded. In May of 2001, nine acres of land were purchased from the Oates Family Estate on Biltmore Drive in Easley. The old buildings were torn down and the property cleaned up. This has become the location for the Hampton Memorial Library.
Captain Kimberly Hampton, a native of Easley, SC, was killed on January 2, 2004, when her OH-58 Kiowa Warrior observation helicopter was attacked near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. Captain Kimberly Hampton is the first female combat pilot killed by enemy fire in United States history.
The Central-Clemson Library began years ago as two separate branches, each in its respective town. In 1962 in Central, the Pickens County School Board offered one of the rooms in the Central School Building for a library. It was opened a total of nine hours a week. As circulation grew, the Library expanded to two rooms and a hall in the same building. This Central Branch Library re-opened on November 1, 1970, with more space and was named the Allen Community Library Branch in honor of Mrs. Mattie May Morgan Allen, the driving force behind the library for so many years.
In 1950/51 the American Association of University Women started a Children’s Library within the Clemson College Library. In January 1962, a decision to end services to students not enrolled at the college brought an end to the Children’s Library. At that time a request was made to the Oconee and Pickens County Library Boards to establish joint library service to Clemson. It was necessary to involve both Pickens and Oconee Counties because at that time Clemson was a split community.
In January 1963, both county libraries approved the establishment of a joint branch library in the Clemson Community. Oconee County was to provide adult books, and Pickens County was to provide children’s books. Later Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Willis donated a rent-free building on Oak Street to house the library. On April 21, 1963, the Clemson Branch was dedicated and opened to the public. Since that time the county situation has changed and the Clemson Branch became a full part of the Pickens County Library System.
By the 1990s, both facilities began to show signs of aging. A more up-to-date facility was needed at each location. Rather than build two small buildings, the idea of building a large regional facility located between the two towns was decided upon. With this in mind, the Central Clemson Regional Branch was designed and built at 105 Commons Way in Central. It was opened in April 1997 with 12,000 square feet of floor space. Currently the branch is open 67 hours per week.
The Liberty Woman’s Club was the driving force in opening a library in 1947. The Library was located in a small corner of a room upstairs over the Liberty City Hall. As the library collection grew and circulation increased, the room became inadequate. In 1958, the library was moved to another second story room, located over Fedder’s Fashion Shop on Commerce Street in Liberty. In December 1964, the Sarlin Family donated property on Palmetto Street for the site of a new library building and $5,000 in cash to go toward the construction of a building. The Liberty Woman’s Club and the Friends of the Library began campaigning to raise an additional $5,000 that was needed to begin construction of the new library building. On April 17, 1966, the dedication of the new library building was held. The building was named the Sarlin Library in honor of the Sarlin Family’s generous donation that helped make the library possible.
As the library’s circulation grew, the need for expansion soon became apparent. The community again came together with the donations to expand the facility. In 1977, a new addition that doubled the size of the library was completed. Dedication of the new building was held on June 12, 1977, on the library’s thirteenth anniversary.
As population growth continued and circulation increased, the need for more space and new technology became evident. In December 1996, a new 6,400 square foot building replaced the existing structure. The Sarlin Library is located at 15 South Palmetto Street in Liberty, and is currently open six days a week.
Early in 1937, the Pickens Branch was started in Dr. J. L. Valley’s office waiting room with donated books in a bookcase. The books were circulated by the Doctor’s receptionist.
This continued through most of the first year until a small building was donated to the Town of Pickens. This building was to be used as a library and as a Relic Room by the local D.A.R. Chapter. The building was given by the Appalachian Lumber Company, and it was later moved to the Court House Square. In the fall of 1937, the name Village Library was chosen for the town library, and the cost of membership subscription was set at $1.00 a year.
In the early 1940s, the Village Library moved to a larger building which was vacated when the city offices moved into a new location. In 1967, a lot on the northeast corner of West Main Street and Florence Street was purchased from the Cox Family. Excavation for a new library building began in the spring of 1972, and on November 22, 1974, it opened.
As time passed, the library’s circulation increased and the need for expansion became apparent. Pickens County purchased the old Dillard Funeral Home in 1990. After funds were secured, design and renovation began. In the summer of 1992, the new branch opened. The Village Library is located at 124 North Catherine Street in Pickens. It has 8,200 square feet and is open 50 hours per week.